Climbing safety is one of the most important aspects of enjoying the outdoors.

That is why BETA Fund is working to install more emergency medical kits at climbing areas in the Midwest. With your financial support, BETA Fund is able to keep each kit stocked with medical supplies. In an emergency situation, these supplies make a difference and can save time during the evacuation process.

Climbing safety is one of the most important aspects of enjoying the outdoors.

That is why the BETA Fund is working to install more emergency medical kits at climbing areas in the Midwest. With your financial support, BETA Fund is able to keep each kit stocked with medical supplies. In an emergency situation, these supplies make a difference and can save time during the evacuation process.

Area

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

North 40

Date

October 14-15

2017

Project

Medical Kit

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

Overview

The following details an accident that occurred this past October at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas. With her permission and encouragement, we are sharing Kayleigh’s story to help illustrate key lessons to help us all climb more safely.

Kayleigh, a student at Baylor University, visited the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch with her friends over the weekend of October 14-15, 2017. The group was enjoying a warm fall day at the North 40 where some climbers were top-roping and others were leading. Kayleigh and her partner planned to climb a route she was confident was within her ability to lead. Kayleigh clipped the first bolt easily, but as she made progress, she was surprised to find the climbing more difficult than she had expected. As she reached the second bolt, she found herself in a difficult position that she could not reverse. While attempting to clip the second bolt, Kayleigh fell and hit the ground.

Kayleigh’s friends and belayer immediately rushed to her side and began calling for help. HCR staff was in the area, equipped with first aid skills and a two-way radio. An off-duty Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and firefighter who also happened to be climbing at the North 40 quickly joined the effort to stabilize and treat Kayleigh’s injuries. Kayleigh was wearing a helmet, but had been knocked unconscious. The group retrieved first aid supplies and the backboard from the BETA Fund’s North 40 emergency medical kit. The group carefully secured Kayleigh to the backboard (concerned for spinal injuries) and began the delicate and difficult process of moving her down the rough trail, through the campground and finally to the trading post where she could be airlifted to the hospital in Fayetteville, AR.

Kayleigh sustained several injuries including two broken ribs, a concussion, a collapsed lung, a broken sternum, a sprained neck, elbow and wrist, and several contusions on her elbow. She landed primarily on her back and left arm, and hit her head. Even several weeks after the accident, Kayleigh does not remember much about the experience. Her memories pick up when she arrived at the hospital. She has been working through physical therapy and life is slowly getting easier. Over time, Kayleigh is expected to make a full recovery.

Lessons

1. Kayleigh wore a helmet.

The helmet most definitely prevented more serious and long-term head trauma.

2. Kayleigh was very lucky on many points.

  • The ground she hit was mostly flat with little or no protruding rocks and objects.
  • The emergency response was conducted by skilled people.
  • Supplies were available to stabilize and safely extract her without complicating her injuries.
  • The total time from the fall to loading the helicopter was about 1 hr., an incredible pace.

3. Kayleigh believed she was climbing a route well within her sport-leading abilities.

Unfortunately, she was on a different route, several grades harder than expected. Knowing which route you’re on by referencing a reliable guide book or online topo to confirm the difficulty, coupled with a genuine understanding your abilities, will help you avoid getting on the wrong route at the wrong time.

4. Kayleigh was unable to clip the second bolt.

While it’s not exactly clear what happened at the second bolt, there are a couple of options that may help if you find yourself in a similar situation:

  • Stick clip the first and second bolts. This significantly reduces the risk of a ground fall. Prioritize your personal safety over the conventional practice of climbing from the ground up.
  • If possible, down climb to safety.
  • Have a sling with a locking carabiner attached to the belay loop of your harness. This will help when anchoring at the chains and might allow you to directly clip a bolt mid-route if you find yourself at risk of a ground fall.
  • As a belayer, prepare to run for it! If the climber faces a potential ground fall, the belayer must be prepared to take up slack as quickly as possible. This might mean running away and hauling in line when your climber falls. Unfortunately, the catch will be violent for both of you, but you just might avoid the worst case scenario of decking.
  • Seek qualified Wilderness First Responder and First Aid training. Having skills when someone needs it can make a tremendous difference.

It's your turn to make a move.

Donate now to help BETA Fund install additional medical kits.

Donate Now