Woman dies after fall at Ascent Studio Climbing & Fitness in Fort Collins

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — Police say a woman fell about 40 feet to her death at Ascent Studio Climbing and Fitness Saturday.

Investigators said it appears the woman became unattached from the auto-belay system. Belaying is what secures a climber from falling and allows a climber to safely and slowly return to the ground.

No faulty equipment was found.

“Our heart goes out to them we really feel bad for what happened,” said Jason Haas, owner of a climbing gym in Broomfield, G1 Climbing + Fitness.

Haas points out the climbing community throughout Colorado is very close. Tragedies like this one are felt by every climber.

“Once an event like this happens, big or small, everyone stops and takes notice,” said Garnet Moore, with the Climbing Wall Association.

While this isn’t the first indoor climbing death in the front range, incidents like this one are extremely rare.

“Statistically the majority of those accidents are due to complacency,” said Haas. “People are not clipping into the device. It’s not that the device malfunctioned, or they did it wrong, it’s simply that they didn’t use it.”

There are several types of indoor climbing, including bouldering, sport, and lead climbing. Climbers can choose from an automatic belay system, or have another person belay them from below. Each type of climbing presents its set of unique risks. Climbers should always be aware of them and stay vigilant during the entire climb. 

“At the end of the day when you are 25 feet up a wall at an indoor gym or 1,000 feet up in an outdoor climb, you are the only one in your immediate world that has any impact on what’s happening there,” said Moore. “It’s an important thing to keep in mind as climbers that we bare that responsibility.”

“What we see across the industry, climbing inside and outside, is that the majority of the accidents are starting to become the older generation of climbers,” said Haas. “The experienced climbers that have done it so many times, they take it a little bit for granted.”

Police have not yet identified the name of the climber, or what exactly happened on the wall that caused the fall.

Ascent Studio posted an update on Facebook on Monday:

Dear friends of Ascent Studio and the greater Northern Colorado climbing community: We are sad to say that on Saturday there was a tragic event at the gym. The climber died as a result of the injuries received following a fall from height. Our hearts go out to this person’s friends and family. Many of our staff are also quite shaken by this event and we are all still trying to cope. We closed the gym on Sunday to help with this, but did reopen on Monday to help get back to some normalcy. Please know that the safety of our patrons is always top of mind. There was no apparent equipment failure, but out of an abundance of caution we decided to take our auto belays out of service at least until a full investigation is completed. We do not know how long that will take, but will update with new information as it becomes available. Thank you all for your expressions of concern and care, and for bearing with us in this time. It helps knowing that the climbing community is there for each other.

-Sincerely, Jon, Brandon and the whole Ascent Studio family

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