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Smith Rock, Oregon: fall on rock, protection pulled out

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.

On June 3, 2001, Rod Lucas was leading Crack of Infinity, a 5.10b trad route rated three stars, requiring gear to 3 inches according to Alan Watts’ Climbers Guide to Smith Rock. Rod released his hold on the overhanging crux just three feet above his last solid piece and to his surprise, blew a number 3 and a number 2 stopper from the rock falling 25 feet to a ledge and then another 15 feet to the deck, landing on his back.

With a broken ankle and pelvis, Rod was placed on a stretcher and lowered to the path by Redmond Fire and Rescue and a host of helping hands from fellow climbers. He reached the hospital about four hours after the fall.

Analysis of Accident: What knowledge and techniques will help prevent future accidents?
Rod Lucas lived near Smith Rock and climbed regularly with the pioneers through the 1970s and 80s. He has climbed Crack of Infinity several times in the past. He knows that he was not off route on the adjoining Friday’s Jinx (5.7 R), described by Alan Watts as follows: ”This sinister route put a half a dozen people in the hospital during the 80s. Oddly, the rock is solid and the protection reasonable, but for unknown reasons gear-ripping falls are a common occurrence on the first pitch.”

Later, his friend Chris, a climbing instructor, inspected the route on Crack of Infinity and reported a double fist sized hole where Rod’s first solid piece blew out of the rock. His second piece was deeply scored.

Additional Comments:
This is Rod’s first serious accident in nearly 30 years of climbing, including all of the major peaks in Washington and Oregon. However, rock “Climbing is a sport where you may be seriously injured or die”, as stated in the Climber’s Guide.

Report filed by Robert Speik and printed in the 55th edition of ANAM, year 2002
Copyright© 2003 by Robert Speik. All Rights Reserved.


Read more:
American Alpine Club
Oregon Section of the AAC
Accidents in North American Mountaineering