Leader Fall injury - Discovery Wall

3/31/04 Climbing accident on Discovery Wall (far left end).

A climber was leading in the "Fern Grotto" (possibly on Nailbox Crack). He believed he was on Portent, then fell while downclimbing and sustained many injuries (notably a broken arm) in a 30 foot ground fall.

From the NPS Morning Report:

Thursday, April 08, 2004


Pinnacles National Monument (CA)
Rescue of Injured Climber

On Wednesday, March 31st, rangers received a report of a fallen and unconscious climber in Fern Grotto. Climber Michael Silva and belayer Scott Falkowski believed that they were following the Portent route on Discovery Wall, but started to climb back down after realizing that they were mistaken. As they were retreating, Silva slipped off rock about five feet above his last piece of protection, an Alien one-inch cam. The cam came out and Silva tumbled approximately 30 feet to the ground and was knocked unconscious. A nearby hiker ran down a trail to report the fall to rangers.

Responding park EMTs and First Responders assessed Silva, applied a cervical collar, reduced and splinted an open fracture of his left humerus, and packaged him in a litter. Eighteen staff members and on-scene volunteers raced to evacuate the litter to the trailhead. Silva was then driven to the helipad, loaded into a CALSTAR helicopter and flown to San Jose Medical Center. His injuries included a concussion, open fracture of the left humerus, seven cracked ribs in the front, five cracked ribs in the back, and a collapsed and punctured lung. Silva was put on a ventilator to assist his breathing. Two four-inch-long metal plates and six screws were used to piece his humerus back together. Had he not been wearing a helmet, his head injuries would undoubtedly have been much worse. Staff members from every division in the monument participated in the incident.
[Submitted by Chief Ranger's Office]


Portent and Nailbox Crack look very similar in the guidebook, but Nailbox Crack is harder and much more dangerous. Other climbers have had the same confusion in the past. It would be helpful to have an improved guidebook description for Portent, suggesting that people check a few things to make sure they are not on Nailbox Crack.