TraditionalMountaineering Logo - representing the shared 
companionship of the Climb

Home | Information | Photos | Calendar | News | Seminars | Experiences | Questions | Updates | Books | Conditions | Links | Search

  Search this site!
Read more:

Smith Rock climber falls trying to clip first bolt

Smith Rock climber falls trying to clip first bolt
October 6, 2008
by Ariel Wesler

It's the beauty and thrill of the outdoors that brings many climbers young and old to Smith Rock State Park. One climber calls it the birthplace of sport climbing in North America with more than one thousand climbing
trails to choose from.

“They range in ability from very easy to stuff that the best climbers in the world are challenged by,” said Shane Polizzano, who's been climbing for fifteen years.

22 year-old Andrew Brunner was visiting from Chicago. Witnesses say he was sport climbing with a friend in an area known as revelations on the east side of the park. Brunner was trying to clip onto a high bolt on
the rock when he missed.

“He was probably about 20 feet up, fell, landed on his ankles, and broke one of them, said Pat O'Shea, Brunner's friend and climbing partner.

36 year-old Polizzano from Portland was one of the climbers nearby. He says he heard a thud, lowered his climbing partner to the ground, and came over to see what happened.

“At the bottom of his leg was a flat space like this, and his foot was off to the side with the climbing shoe still on it,” said Polizzano.

“He screamed for help and every climber around did their best to help,” said O'Shea.

Rescuers had to cut the shoe off his ankle. They then loaded him onto a stretcher and transported him to St. Charles Medical Center in Redmond. The entire rescue took about two and a half hours. O'Shea says
Brunner had been climbing for about six years, but this was his first time at Smith Rock. Polizanno has witnessed two other accidents at the park. He says safe climbing starts with knowing your limits.

“Usually when you're at the first piece of protection, you want to be at a level that you can do very comfortably.”

Deschutes County Search and Rescue, Redmond Fire, and state park employees all assisted with the rescue efforts.

O'Shea left to go visit Brunner at the hospital this evening. The two had planned on three more days of climbing, but will now cut those plans short. Brunner is expected to be ok.



Fallen, hurt climber rescued at Smith Rock State Park

Climbers occasionally get hurt at Smith Rock State Park - and when they do, it can be tricky to get them to ambulance
Recovery operation took 2 1/2 hours

October 6, 2008
By Kelsey Watts, KTVZ.COM

It was a terrifying afternoon for a group of climbers at Smith Rock State Park, after one of them fell roughly 20 feet and broke his leg, triggering a long effort to rescue him and get him to the hospital.

It happened just after 2:00 p.m., on the east side of the park.

Andrew Brunner, 22, of Chicago, was spending his afternoon climbing near Asterisk Pass when something went wrong. He fell roughly 20 feet, to the trail below, badly breaking his left leg.

Within minutes, Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, and Redmond Fire and Rescue crews were going in after him.

Vera Sutherland lives nearby, and often goes for walks at the park. But Monday afternoon, her regular loop was anything but.

"The forest ranger stopped me, and said they weren't letting anybody down," Sutherland explained.

Dozens of people waited at the top of the trail, while rescuers worked in the canyon below.

"He said it had been about an hour already, that there was a rescue going on, and he wasn't really sure about anything else," said Marcy Schreiber and Heather Toliver, referring to the State Parks official who
stopped anyone from heading down the trail.

Witnesses said the man had a bad break - his leg was reportedly pointing the wrong way.

"Apparently, from his injury, he more than likely fell directly on his leg," said Dave Pickhardt of Redmond Fire and Rescue.

While the fire department medics treated Brunner, search and rescue crews brought in the equipment they needed to get him out: a shock-absorbing litter, a few trucks and an ATV.

"In this case, the fire department got here first, and they did the medical assessment, and took care of the victim medically," said sheriff's Sgt. Scott Shelton. "And then we're responsible for helping transport him out."

But in the river canyon, that's not an easy task. Crews were finally able to put Brunner on the litter, rolling him down the trail and across the bridge, to rescue trucks. Then, a bumpy drive up the trail, to the ambulance.

"He was treated with the proper medications to make it easier to get him out, to help him be a little more comfortable," Shelton said. "It was a pretty severe break."

It took about 2 1/2 hours from the time the man fell, for search and rescue crews to get to him and bring him out of the area, just above the river trail. But, they say it was a successful day, and at least the man
suffered no life-threatening injuries.


What can be learned from this event?

The primary purpose of our TraditionalMountaineering experience reports (and the purpose of the American Alpine Club's sixty-two published Annual Reports of Accidents in North American Mountaineering) is to "aid in the prevention of accidents".

Ground falls causing broken legs and shattered ankles are not uncommon at Smith Rock. One should not attempt to lead to the first bolt if the route is above ones capabilities.
--Robert Speik





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

Two climbers die in fall from Horsethief Butte Crags, WA
Young Smith Rock climbers become stranded on Monkey Face
Smith Rock veteran slips from climber's trace and dies
AAC Report: Smith Rock Leader fall turns climber upside down
Three climbers, their MLU and a dog rescued on Mt. Hood
Three North Face climbers lost on Mt. Hood
Family of five and exhausted Great Dane dog rescued from South Sister Climber's Trail
Climbing the Snow Creek Route on Mt. San Jacinto, California
Cheating death on the Snow Creek Route on Mt San Jacinto, California
A climb of Three Fingered Jack in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness
Ten high altitude deaths on Everest confirmed for 2006 climbing season
On Being and Becoming a Mountaineer: an Essay
Climbing Mount Hood in April with Arlene Blum and friends
AAC Report - Accident on Mount Washington ends with helicopter rescue
AAC Report - Fatal fall from Three Finger Jack in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness
Three Finger Jack - OSU student falls on steep scree slope
Mount Huntington's West Face by Coley Gentzel ©2005 by AAI. All Rights Reserved
Solo climber falls from Cooper Spur on Mount Hood
Climber dies on the steep snow slopes of Mount McLaughlin
Warning!! **Climbers swept by avalanche while descending North Sister's Thayer Glacier Snowfield
Mt. Whitney's East Face Route is quicker!
Mt. Whitney's Mountaineer's Route requires skill and experience
Report: R.J. Secor seriously injured during a runaway glissade
    Mount Rainer . . . eventually, with R.J. Secor by Tracy Sutkin
Warning!! ** Belayer drops climber off the end of the top rope
Runaway glissade fatal for Mazama climber on Mt. Whitney
Sierra Club climb on Middle Palisade fatal for Brian Reynolds
Smith Rock - Fall on rock, protection pulled out
Mount Washington - Report to the American Alpine Club on a second accident in 2004
Mount Hood - Solo hiker drowns while crossing Mt. Hood's Sandy River
Mount Hood - Solo climber slides into the Bergschrund and is found the following day
Notable mountain climbing accidents analyzed 
Mount Washington - Report to the American Alpine Club on the recent fatal accident
Mount Washington - "Oregon tragedy claims two lives"
Mount Jefferson - two climbers rescued by military helicopter
North Sister - climbing with Allan Throop

Smith Rock - Young climbers become stranded on Monkey Face
Smith Rock - Veteran slips from climber's trace and dies
Smith Rock - Leader fall turns climber upside down
Smith Rock - Fall on rock, protection pulled out
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

American Alpine Club's 2007 Annual Meeting in Bend Oregon
Smith Rock Detour Bouldering Contest and Reel Rock Tour
Redmond Fire Department rescues a senior hiker at Smith Rock
Smith Rock Spring Thing in 2006
Smith Rock Spring Thing 2006 volunteer's party at the Barn
HERA climb for life fundraiser at Smith Rock
HERA climb4life party at the Smith Rock Barn
American Alpine Club and Traditional Mountaineering build another rescue cache at Smith Rock
Smith Rock Spring Thing Improvements
Smith Rock Spring Thing 2004 Party!   
Smith Rock hiking in the spring
Smith Rock from above the Burma Road
Smith Rock rescue cache by AAC/ORS and TraditionalMountaineering
Smith Rock weekend
Smith Rock Monkey Face practice