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Fall before first bolt + rescue at Kesselwand, Germany

Original Post
Climb Germany · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 2,525

I'm relating this second hand. A climbing partner told me about it who was there as part of the group. A week or so ago, a group of climbers were at Kesselwand, a crag in the Swabian Alb here in southern Germany. Two other climbers had just lead an easy 5.5 route and the third, Italian climber was up. He decided not to wear his helmet because it was uncomfortable, although he had it with him.

The Italian climber tied in and started off. The first bolt was about 4-5 meters up, pretty common in this area especially for easy climbs. However, the limestone in this area is known for being pretty chossy. There's even a special word for it, "Swabian choss" (Schwabenbruch). Anyway, a near soccer ball sized piece of rock broke off that the climber was standing on. 

He fell and hit the ground. Luckily the rock missed the belayer entirely and the climber didn't land on his head or suffer anything serious, just a broken ankle. 

Given the steep approach, they opted to call the local Mountain Rescue unit which had a hut nearby, at the top of the crag. They rapped down, bundled him up and lifted him up and out. Luckily, as a DAV member, he had rescue insurance so won't have to pay anything for this.

But the lesson is, even when doing nothing wrong, climbing can still be dangerous. And don't be a damn idiot, wear a helmet. This guy could've been injured for life. He seriously lucked out. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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