Never Trust a Single Anchor, an Analysis of a Rock Climbing Accident

by Tom Markiewicz on January 2, 2009

Stewart Green writes up an excellent and detailed analysis of a climbing accident at the Garden of the Gods, Colorado. Apparently there were two sets of anchors at the top of The Practice Slab, an 80-foot sandstone slab route on South Gateway Rock, but the climber used the older set.

This climber, however, disregarded the new anchors, choosing instead to thread his rope directly though one of the old bolts. He top-roped three routes off the single old bolt and then according to Josh, a fireman and climber who was on the rescue, he switched to the other old bolt ??because he didn??t like the way his rope was running in the anchor.? He then began to rappel, but after descending 25 feet down the slab the bolt snapped off and he fell 50 feet.

The old ½-inch eyebolt that the climber had rappelled from had broken cleanly at its juncture with the rock surface. A close inspection of the bolt indicated that the break was caused by the stress of rappelling and the single anchor being loaded with the weight of the 230-pound climber.

Read the entire analysis, but the moral of the story to me is don’t be complacent – always check (and potentially backup) fixed gear.

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