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Climber Survives Free-Solo Fall in Colorado

The climber suffered several injuries before rescuers transported him down the Second Flatiron to a waiting ambulance

Photo by: Brandon Pullan

A rock climber survived after falling around 30 metres from a route on the Second Flatiron in Boulder, Colorado, this week. At 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the Boulder County Communications Center got a call about a 48-year-old who fell and was seriously injured, the Boulder County Sheriff’s office said. He was not using a rope.

Officials said that he hit several rocks during his fall and that when he landed on a ledge, he had injuries “across his entire body.” Two climbers rushed to his aid, called 911, and helped as best they could. The injured climber was unable to move but was conscience.

From summer 2022: climbers free-soloing on the First Flatiron in running shoes. Full story here

Rocky Mountain Rescue Group rescuers and rangers with the City of Boulder Open Space Mountain Parks provided medical assistance before evacuating him in a full-body vacuum splint. They had to lower him 70 metres down the lower slabs of the Second Flatiron and the approach trail via a wheeled litter to a waiting ambulance. No other details were available on this incident.

Over the decades, countless climbers have fallen while free-soloing the Flatirons. In 2019, Kyle Walker fell 20-metres and survived with broken wrists, eight broken ribs, a shattered pelvis, and a punctured lung.

“In the middle of my final move I realize I’m tiring quickly and I have one chance to explode over the rock to a resting place,” said. “Instead, my feet slipped on the lichen-covered section of the wall and I was in free fall before I knew what had happened. “Accepting that I was dead, I didn’t flail or grab, I just fell,” Walker wrote. He was found by a hiker and rescued hours later.  “I consider myself beyond lucky and wouldn’t recommend climbing new routes without practice or ropes to anyone.”

In a recent issue of Gripped, we featured a story about climbers free-soloing the Flatirons, and how it’s become well accepted by some. Read Soloing in Sneakers: a Return Trip to Boulder and the Flatirons.

Watch Walker’s fall below – warning: extremely graphic content.

Lead photo: Brandon Pullan