60 Foot Climbing Fall

by JJ Jackson
(Rapid City, SD)

My friend and I were rappelling down a steep cliff in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

I had just tied off my 7/16” rope and put my harness on. I was attempting to step over the cliff and lost my footing. I immediately started sliding down the cliff and fell over sixty feet.

I slid part of the way and was able to grab assorted plants and branches on the way down.

What I hadn’t realized is that there was too much slack in the rope and that it wasn’t tied with an effective knot. Initially I tied it to a thick tree on top, but the tree I anchored it to was too far back from the cliff, this didn’t give me enough slack so my friend moved the rope to a closer tree.

I made the mistake of not checking the tie point for myself and paid the price. I ended up on the ledge sixty feet down; I had several puncture wounds on my legs and hands, and chipped a tooth on the way down as my face made contact with the rocks.

I learned a valuable lesson that day; always check your line yourself!

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