Date of Incident
We arrived at the slabby crag just after high tide, the tides being in transition from Spring to Neap tides. Our aim was to climb on a falling tide to give maximum climbing time. When we arrived we set up an abseil rope using two of the stakes at the top as anchors. We waited for a while to check the swell and were surprised to find some quite large waves still hitting some of the rocks, especially as the forecast had been for a lower swell that day. One area of the slab was unaffected by the waves, so we decided to climb there, even though I knew the climb in question had limited gear placement opportunities. Due to this lack of gear, I had initially planned to climb this route later in the day if we were going well, the grade probably around HS. I started to lead the climb, placed a good cam at about 10ft, the first viable placement, with my feet on a decent sized ledge then continued up to around 14 ft, looking for a second gear placement. At this point my right foot was on a smear and suddenly slipped away from me. I fell, caught my right foot on the aforementioned ledge and tipped upside down. The gear held and my belayer did a good job and the fall stopped just above the deck. However the force of catching my right foot on the ledge was enough to dislocate and fracture the Talus bone in the foot. We had no phone signal, so I managed to prussik up the abseil rope, belay my partner out and hop/crawl out of the cliff top area and to the walking path. Walkers nearby contacted the emergency services. Air ambulance crew were first to arrive. I was transferred to North Devon District Hospital for treatment, via Coastguard stretcher and land Ambulance.
We were too impatient to make a start and should have waited until the tide dropped further so we could start on easier graded climbs with better gear in them, of which there are a number on this slab. The weather was stunning and we had all day, but were too keen to get going. A lack of patience here has led to a forced cancellation of a marathon run and a 3 week trip to the Alps and not a little pain.
Trad rock climbing
Serious injury requiring medical treatment
Slip, trip or fall
Rescue Services Involved?
Coastguard ground based crew, Devon Air Ambulance Service and SW Ambulance Service
For more advice and guidance on good practices visit BMC skills
All reports are self-submitted and have not been edited by the BMC in any way, so please keep an open mind regarding the lessons and causes of each incident or near-miss.