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Weekend Whippers

Weekend Whipper: Michele Caminati’s Rope-Cutting Ground Fall

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Italian climber Michele Caminati takes a terrifying ground fall after his rope severs on the sharp, gritstone arête of The Elder Statesman (HXS
7a), around 5.14 R/X in Y.D.S., at Curbar in the Peak District of the U.K.

Caminati had made a rare repeat of the route—first freed in 2004 by Steve McClure—on Monday, March 27. He returned the next day to climb the
route again for photos when he slipped at the crux. Caminati’s last piece of protection, the last on the route, was on the other side of the sharp
arête. He was using a single rope, and when he fell, it rubbed over the sharp edge and cut all the way through. Caminati fell around eight meters to
the ground and landed on his belayer.

The local Edale Mountain Rescue team brought both climbers to the hospital. Caminati fractured his wrist and heel in multiple places, and his belayer suffered
a concussion.

From the hospital, Caminati told “I saw everything live, I totally remember the accident, I was completely aware of what was happening
… As I fell I got ready to hit the wall, but then the rope broke and I fell onto my belayer and then hit the ground, probably first with my wrist.

“Fortunately I’m fine, I’ve got multiple fractures in my wrist, but the operation went well and my tendons are unaffected … My heel is broken in several
places, but they’re compound fractures and I’ve been told it won’t need operating… all in all it should take four to six months to get back
to normal… yeah!”

When McClure made the first free ascent of The Elder Statesman, he used three ropes because he was afraid of the sharp edge. Other climbers
who have repeated the route, such as Steve Dunning and James Pearson [watch video here],
used double ropes—a common practice on these traditionally protected, gritstone climbs.

“I went up in the European style, with only one 10mm rope and without a helmet,” Caminati told “This time I fell off the crux and the rope, whilst getting tense shore off against the corner. I thought I would
have been safe. Perhaps I could have used the half ropes but the outcome could have been the same.”

Rock and Ice wishes Michele a fast recovery. For everyone else, climb safe out there this weekend.

Watch last week’s Weekend Whipper: One Foot From the Deck

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