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Smith Rock - Fall or slip on rock, lead rope caught under leg!

The primary purpose of these experience reports and the Annual Report of Accidents in North American Mountaineering is to aid in the prevention of accidents.

Narrative Description of Accident:
Matt Amling, 21 of Portland traveled to Smith Rock State Park with his climbing class from a Willamette Valley Community College. The class was working on Five Gallon Buckets, a 5.8 climb rated four stars by Jonathan Thesenga, in his new guide “Smith Rock Select”, published in 2006 by Wolverine Publishing, Newcastle CO.

Five Gallon Buckets is completely bolted and is a very popular Smith Rock top rope climb.

Matt was lead climbing his final pitch of the day. He notes that he was pretty tired and was just about to clip the top anchors when his instructor warned him that his climbing rope was under his leg. At that moment, Matt lost friction with the crag and fell.

Matt dropped about ten feet, ending up jerked upside down. His head banged hard against the rock, he recalls. He was wearing a helmet. He was not knocked unconscious, but he received a cut on his forehead, perhaps from his helmet, that later required stitches. He was bleeding profusely.

The instructor called 911 from a cell phone. Matt was lowered to the ground and was helped down the climber’s trace to a waiting State Park ATV which transported him up the steep trail to waiting Paramedics from Redmond Fire Department.

The Paramedics cleaned the cut and applied a temporary bandage and agreed that he could be transported by the Instructor in a private car to the ER, thereby saving the high cost of ambulance service. He was stitched up at the ER and released.

This mishap is one of five reported minor accidents to sport climbers at Smith Rock in 2006. There were several un-reported accidents that were resolved unofficially by the injured climbers and their friends.

Analysis of Accident: What knowledge and techniques will help prevent future accidents?
If Matt had not been wearing a climbing helmet he feels he might have died.

If the climber allows the rope to pass under a leg and the climber falls, he or she may be jerked upside-down at the end of the fall. Keep the climbing rope in front of your legs.

Traditional climbing techniques can be studied at home. Climbing can be practiced at local Crags with the understanding that there is ever present risk in climbing that can be mitigated only in part by traditional techniques, good gear and knowledge gained from the experiences of others.

Report filed by Robert Speik for the 59th edition of ANAM to be published in 2007
Copyright© 2007 by Robert Speik. All Rights Reserved.




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