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Improper ATC Rappel Leads to Serious Injuries

Nicholas Gillman posted on MountainProject today, Nov. 4, about a rappel accident that took place in Red Rocks.

In his post (which included the below sketch), it says: “Yesterday I had an opportunity to interview witnesses to the account of a falling climber in Black Corridor that had to be air-Evac-ed to the UMC with broken ribs, spine, ankle and possibly more internal injuries. It took almost three hours for a heli to take the injured into the air from a narrow canyon. The climber fell to the ground from the anchor attempting rappel.

Improper rappel setup leads to injuries

“The ATC was attached to the rope as the body landed. Witness observed that three strands of rope were going up to the anchors with a bottom safety knot stuck in the rappel ring at the anchor.
According to the belayer, climber was not a novice, but a casual practitioner who’s been climbing for close to twenty years.

“Apparently it was a sport climber and a possibly a skill of rappelling was not a part of a regular competency tools. It appears that the climber got confused and instead of tucking two strands of the rope below the anchor into an ATC, made U loop pilled in between the two rap rings and plugged into a device and then leaned of the wall tumbling down unrestrained.

“Perhaps here is a lesson for us and a good idea to verify basic knowledge of rappel set up, especially with a partners we don’t climb on a consistent basis. It is care and protection for all of us. May all be well. May all be safe.”

You can read the post and comments from other users here. There seems to be more and more rappelling accidents every year. Many climbers are used to climbing in a gym, where you never have to rappel, others just don’t have the mileage to know when systems are rigged properly.

Like every rope system in climbing, rappelling requires the proper lessons and practice to perfect. No one is making sure what your doing is correct, so you have to be 100 per cent at all times.