Climber Will Gadd narrowly avoids tragic fall

Veteran Red Bull athlete took to social media to talk about what went wrong

Renowned Canadian climber Will Gadd took to social media yesterday after a near miss on a climb left the veteran shaken over what might have been. 

“Yesterday I nearly had a serious accident.,” wrote Gadd, in a long post reflecting on what happened. “A literally 1 in 1,000 event... I hear “near miss” stories all the time, but almost never see them in social media. Has anyone reading this not had a close call? Our near misses are “freebies,” opportunities to learn, so here’s my latest.”

Canadian Will Gadd has long been considered one of the finest outdoor adventure athletes around, whether it be ice climbing, paragliding, kayaking, or mountaineering. He’s been a part of countless TV projects, written for publications such as the New York Times and Men’s Journal. He was even the National Geographic "2015 Adventurer of the Year" for his paragliding adventure in the Rockies.

According to Gadd, he was sport climbing with another person, another veteran female climber, in an area he described as “way, way below my famously solid partner’s level.” After a couple of moves to the first bolt, and while running worst case scenarios through his head, it happened. 

“Even though my partner doesn’t fall off, EVER, I took a step back to give myself more room. Then she was in the air, rotating backward toward me. Oh shit!,” he wrote.

Gadd grabbed his climbing partner's shoulders and jacket and slowed the impact while twisting onto his back to keep them from falling off the ledge, while the other person had reached out with one hand “like a gecko” to arrest the motion. 

“I couldn’t reply to the initial, “OK?” My ears were roaring with the adrenaline and knowledge of how close we’d come,” he continued. “If we hadn’t stopped she would have gone down below us at speed, the rope would have come tight on me before she reached the ground, and I would have been “yeeted” off violently. I figure at least a head injury and some broken stuff… Today I’m still vibrating, but feel lucky. What did we do right and wrong? Let’s talk, like most accidents it’s not as simple as it seems.”

Gadd was active in the comments section following his post, answering questions like whether or not he was wearing a helmet.

“Excellent question. Sarah was, but what really makes me mad is I had forgotten mine. It's an overhanging cliff and generally solid so I was OK with that, but if I had hit my head a helmet might have made a big difference. I've only climbed three days without a helmet in the last five years, and this was one of them…”

He was also asked whether or not they kept climbing: “We sat there for a while, talked about it, then got the stick clip from our friends and were triple careful but kept climbing.”


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