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Rock Climber Murders Mentor at Carderock, Gets 10 Years

David DiPaolo, 31, has been given a 10-year prison sentence for the February killing of 69-year-old Geoffery Farrar. The charge is voluntary manslaughter and DiPaolo was ordered to pay for the funeral expenses and medical bills. The killing took place at the Carderock Recreation Area in Bethesda, Maryland, in 2013. Investigators said that DiPaolo and Farrar began arguing in the parking lot. It escalated and DiPaolo hit Farrar multiple times in the head with a claw hammer. Farrar was taken to a hospital where he later died of his injuries. DiPaolo’s attorney, Michael Citara Manis, argued mental illness was a factor and DiPaolo asked for the forgiveness of Farrar’s family.

David DiPaolo inset on a photo of Geoff Farrar climbing.
David DiPaolo inset on a photo of Geoff Farrar climbing. Source Washington Post

In 2014, OutsideOnline.com published an article titled “Hammer Blow: The True Story of the Carderock Killing.” In it, the author Sid Balman wrote, “DiPaolo is believed to have attacked Farrar with the hammer in those three minutes between the time the climbers finished rigging Butterfly and DiPaolo sprinted by them. With the hammer in his right hand, DiPaolo came up behind Farrar, striking him on the back and top of the head with enough force to fracture his skull. When Farrar, probably already critically wounded, spun around, DiPaolo hit him on the right temple. DiPaolo dealt one final blow to his mentor’s jaw, probably as he lay defenseless on the ground.” Read the full story here.

Farrar was the area expert and was sometimes referred to as Carderock Geoff and was known to take on young climbers and show them the ropes. He was an avid highballer, which led confusion to how he died immediately after he was found injured at the base of a wall by other climbers. Ken Otterbourg wrote in an article for the WashingtonPost.com, “‘The thing about Geoff was he was a little bit abrasive, but he was a very likable person, actually, and once you really got to know him, you really liked him,’ said Todd Bradley, who learned to climb at Carderock. Farrar taught him the physical aspects of climbing — footwork and balance — as well as the mental component, that climbing was as much about problem-solving as about strength. Farrar could be counted on to be at Carderock most every afternoon if the weather was good. That had been the case for more than 30 years. He didn’t work, hadn’t worked for years. At one time, he repaired microfilm cameras for the federal government and banks. He sometimes told people he had worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, but nobody really believed him. Some friends knew he owned a lot of guns; others weren’t supposed to know.” Read the full article titled “He hammered a hiking buddy to death. Soon he’ll learn his fate.” here.

On Feb. 8, DiPaolo entered a guilty plea to manslaughter after realizing the risk of a trial could upgrade his sentence from a decade and time-served. His father, Vincent, is also a climber who encouraged the relationship between the DiPaolo and Farrar. Vincent said that when his son is released they will move out west to a place they can climb together and will never return to Carderock again. Read a note about Farrar and the incident by his friend Dave Rockwell here.