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Goran Kropp Killed in Climbing Accident
Swede Rode Bicycle from Stockholm to Everest and Back

Goran Kropp
Photo: Magnus Roman

Goran Kropp Killed in Climbing Accident
Swede Rode Bicycle from Stockholm to Everest and Back
Seattle - October 1, 2002

Swedish adventurer Goran Kropp was killed yesterday when he fell while rock climbing at Frenchman Coulee, a popular climbing area near Vantage, Washington, 135 miles southeast of Seattle. 

According to Grant County Sheriff Michael Shay, Kropp, 35, was climbing on Sunshine Wall when he fell 60 feet and hit a rock ledge before continuing to the ground. The accident was reported just after 3 p.m. when Kropp's three climbing companions reached the old Vantage Highway and were able to use a cell phone to call for help. Kropp was pronounced dead at the scene. 

According to Kropp's belayer, he was within feet from the top of the Air Guitar route when he fell. 

"I lost my hero yesterday, it was a sad day for humanity..." 

"The rope went slack, then started to rip the gear. The entire chain of pro pulled... Goran impacted the shelf on which I was belaying, and fell another 25 feet onto the talus. He was dead on first impact, and did not suffer. I lost my hero yesterday, it was a sad day for humanity," the belayer said. 

The Sheriff's Office identified the belayer as Erden Sukru Eruc, 41, of Seattle. Eruc was flown to Valley Memorial in Yakima by MAST (Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic). 

Kropp's fiancée, Renata Chlumska, was notified by satellite phone while trekking in Nepal. In 1999, Chlumska, climbing with Kropp as part of the Everest Cleaning Expedition, became the first Swedish woman to summit Mount Everest. 

Kropp, who in 1996 rode his bike from Sweden to Mount Everest, then climbed the mountain and rode home again, recounted his adventure in his book Ultimate High. 

Kropp and Chlumska moved from Sweden to Issaquah, Washington, last year.
-- Staff


Pro Pulled, Air Guitar (5.10a), Frenchman Coulee, Washington
Source: Mike Gauthier, edited by Jed Williamson

On September 30, 2002, the famed adventurer Göran Kropp died from a fall while rock climbing. He was leading Air Guitar, a 65-foot 5.10a crack that requires precise nut and cam placements. Kropp was near the top of the route when he fell some 60 feet to a rock ledge. Though wearing a helmet, he sustained fatal head injuries.

During the morning and early afternoon that day, Kropp and his partner took turns leading sport routes. After climbing four or five bolted arêtes, Kropp took advantage of an opportunity to top rope a crack, Pony Keg (5.10a). Although Kropp looked solid in the crack he told his partner that he found the climb challenging. Kropp then decided to lead Air Guitar.

Kropp started up the route, placing, in order, a small nut, two micro cams, and three small to medium cams. He fell near the top of the climb, the crux, shortly after placing a three-inch cam. That cam pulled, and the wire-gate carabiner clipped to the rope on the next cam broke, causing Kropp to fall to the ledge.

This accident resulted from a series of combined incidents. Kropp was relatively inexperienced at placing natural gear and, though a powerful athlete, was at his lead limit. The fact that the top cam pulled indicates that it was either placed incorrectly or walked to an insecure position, which is possible since he clipped all of his protection with short, stiff quickdraws. Another scenario is that Kropp dislodged the piece by himself by kicking it with his foot as he climbed past it. Regardless, experienced natural-gear leaders are able to get solid protection at or near the same place Kropp's cam pulled.

Subsequent studies of the broken carabiner revealed that the wire gate was not distressed; in other words the carabiner appears to have failed because its gate was open. While a gate-closed carabiner failure is rare, carabiners with their gates open lose as much as two-thirds of their strength, making failure in a fall a real possibility.

What caused the gate to open? It could have become wedged or constricted inside the crack because its short quick draw would not let it lie outside the crack. Jammed in the crack, the carabiner could have had its gate pinned open. The short, stiff quick draw could also have let the carabiner rotate into a cross-loading orientation, another extremely weak orientation.

Leading Air Guitar pushed Kropp’s crack-climbing abilities that day. Air Guitar and other 5.10a basalt column cracks like it are steep and require technical crack-climbing skills. Mastering good crack-climbing skills takes extensive practice and training, which Kropp did not have.

Air Guitar also requires the precise placement of natural protection. Learning how to properly size and place rock protection before attempting routes with hazardous fall exposure is important. Short quickdraws are best suited for sport climbing. When using natural protection, many climbers prefer slightly longer and more flexible quickdraws or slings, which provide for a smoother rope movement and decrease the chance of protection being displaced.

Sidebar: Safety Tips:
Get in the habit of placing two pieces of protection just below the crux moves, and anywhere your protection is suspect. Doubling up also gives you an extra measure of safety in the event one piece fails in a fall. Also, when you place gear in a crack, be sure its quick draw or sling is long enough to let the rope-end track outside of the crack. This will keep the carabiner from wedging in the crack, and having its strength compromised.

From Rock & Ice #126, July 15, 2003





Read more . . .
About Goran Kropp in 

Smith Rock - WARNING - top rope belay error
Smith Rock - inadequate top rope belay
Smith Rock - climber injured on the approach
Smith Rock - WARNING - belayer drops climber off the end of the top rope
Smith Rock - novice sport climber injured
Smith Rock - fall on rock, protection pulled out
Smith Rock - fall on rock - poor position, inadequate protection
Smith Rock - pulled rock off - fall on rock, failure to test holds, exceeding abilities
Smith Rock - belay failure, fatal fall on rock

Mount Washington - Report to the American Alpine Club on the recent accident
Mount Washington - Oregon tragedy claims two lives
Mount Washington - fall on rock, protection pulled out
Playing Icarus on Mount Washington, an epic by Eric Seyler

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