A man is suing a climbing guide and the Association of Mountain Guides of Canada for “negligence and breach of contract” which led to a near-fatal rock climbing accident this summer.
In July 2021, Ian Manson of Whistler, BC was planning to climb Mount Rogers in Glacier National Park. The 63-year-old climber hired a local climbing guide with whom he was able to climb the multiple pitches of the summit.
According to a recent press release, the guide was belaying Manson from above when he tested a wobbly rock outcrop the size of a refrigerator. The test caused rock to detach from the formation and Manson to fall, brushing against it on the way down.
Seeing the rock graze Manson, the guide would have “dropped the rope causing the client to lose his balance by falling backwards. When the client fell, the rope unwound its full length, then went taut, pulling the guide from his belaying position, catapulting him through the air and onto the face of the mountain.
An account of the accidentas reported by Manson’s attorney at MacKenzie Fujisawa LLP, continues:
“The client was able to arrest his fall on a small ledge below. As the guide flew over the client, the client was able to grab hold of the loose rope dangling from the guide’s belay loop. The customer tightened the rope tightly to try [to] modify the arc of fall of the guide. The guide slammed into the rock face within the length of the rope below the client so the client was not pulled off their ledge and the guide’s fall was arrested.
A Parks Canada helicopter team rescued the climbers after the incident. Both were then airlifted to different hospitals. The extent of either man’s injuries is unknown.
On November 9, 2021, Manson’s attorney filed a notice of civil suit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. In it, Manson seeks compensation from the guide and the ACMG for “general damages, special damages, and costs” resulting from the guide’s alleged negligence.
Can we learn from it?
Currently, very little is known about the incident. Clarifying some details could provide better insight and learning opportunities for the climbing community, including guides and guide associations.
Below is a list of information that we do not yet know. This is information that, if it becomes available, could help climbers, guides and guide associations identify and address comparable gaps with their own protocols.
- The climbing guide‘s ACMG certification level and previous experience.
- Mr. Manson’s previous experience in multi-terrain climbing.
- Which road they were going up and where along the road the incident happened.
- If the climbing guide was anchored to its belay position at the time of the incident.
It is possible that the climbing guide built an anchor according to standard multi-pitch safety protocol, but the anchor broke under the strain or angle of the fall. It is also possible that the guide was testing the stability of the fridge-sized rock as he was looking for a safe place to build his belay anchor.
If so, then climbing protocol would have required Manson to remain anchored to his anchor at the lower belay station until the guide had established an anchor above and made it clear that Manson could begin. to climb.
GearJunkie has contacted Mr. Manson’s lawyers for clarification and comment, but had not received a response at the time of publication.
Beta risk management
So what can you to minimize safety risks when climbing? Adventure expert and climber Does Gadd have some ideas. Check out Gadd’s short Ted Talk on managing risk in nature below.