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Smith Rock - Fall or slip on rock, Nut or chock 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.

Narrative Description of Accident:
Mark Kent, 42 and his father, Terry Kent, 64, arrived at Smith Rock State Park on a Saturday morning to find that the trad sport climbs they had researched were taken by other climbers. They found Godzilla around the corner near Monkey Face, a 5.8 climb rated one star by Alan Watts in his Climber’s Guide to Smith Rock.

Godzilla is a traditional unbolted climb given a mixed review by Watts for its climbing, including a dirty flair, a bulge and a 5.8 under-cling at the top of the route. Godzilla requires gear to three inches according to Watts.

Mark’s father, Terry Kent, is a past Climb Leader with the Portland based Mazamas club. Terry belayed as Mark worked his way up the route. Near the top of the first pitch, Mark set a flexible shaft cam in a two inch horizontal crack and climbed upward over a bulge. Roughly eight feet above his last piece and with clear air below the bulge, Mark found no where to go and after warning his belayer, he dropped off.

Mark remembers a jerk as the last piece pulled out, before falling an estimated 25 feet to a ledge. He landed flat footed on the ledge and then fell over backward, striking his head and hanging upside down. He was wearing a helmet that may have saved his life, according to Mark.

Terry Kent lowered his son toward the ground as Mark made his way through the complexity of the climb. They were alone in this part of the Park. They called 911 from their cell phone. A Ranger appeared and soon two firemen charged with rescues at Smith. Mark was given morphine. The four carried Mark down the steep narrow trail to the Crooked River where other firemen were rigging a boat to a waiting ambulance. Mark was released from the hospital with his x-rays and two soft casts. He returned to work five weeks later and is mountaineering again.

Analysis of Accident: What knowledge and techniques will help prevent future accidents?
Mark suggests that climbers should create below a known crux move, a secure, redundant protection point rigged for no extensions. Also, he is concerned about the soft nature of the rock in this part of Smith which does not protect well. He feels, in retrospect, that this route was a bit beyond his current level.

Report filed by Robert Speik for the 58th edition of ANAM to be published in 2006
Copyright© 2005 by Robert Speik. All Rights Reserved.




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Smith Rock weekend
Smith Rock Monkey Face practice