In a harrowing incident at Vertical Rock gym in Virginia, an experienced climber endured a serious leg injury after a critical safety oversight. Hector Diffut, a 26-year-old climbing coach, reached the summit of a route but failed to secure himself to the auto-belay system, leading to a devastating fall.
Diffut’s mishap unfolded when, believing he was safely attached to the auto-belay, he leaned back to descend. Tragically, he had neglected to clip into the system. His descent ended abruptly as he plummeted to the ground from approximately 10 meters above while attempting a 5.11 dihedral climb.
Compounding the situation, Diffut was wearing headphones during his climb, rendering him oblivious to the urgent warnings from fellow climbers. The accident transpired within the very gym where he worked as a climbing coach, Vertical Rock.
Reflecting on the incident, Diffut expressed, “I literally forgot my rope. It was no one’s fault; I just should’ve known better. I made the landing, but when I tried to get back up, I couldn’t. When I looked down, my fibula and fibula were out of my skin. My foot was pretty much at my calf, behind my leg, and fragments of bone were on the floor.” Emergency services promptly airlifted him to Inova Fairfax Hospital for critical medical intervention.
The fall resulted in multiple fractures in one of Diffut’s legs, necessitating an extensive and challenging recovery process. To aid with his medical expenses, a fundraiser has been initiated, amassing over $12,000 in support for Diffut’s recovery efforts. Those who wish to contribute can do so by visiting the fundraiser [here](insert link).
While such accidents are relatively rare, instances of climbers neglecting to clip into auto-belays have occurred in the past. It serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of rigorous safety practices within the sport.