Climber Accused of Killing His Climbing Mentor with Claw Hammer

1/14/14 – Virginia-based climber David DiPaolo, 31, has been charged with manslaughter after allegedly attacking well-known local climber Geoff Farrar, 69, at Carderock Park, Maryland, on the afternoon of December 28.

That Saturday, DiPaolo went climbing with three friends, including the victim, who was a prominent figure in the local climbing community. Two of the climbers hiked to the top of the cliff to anchor their ropes while Farrar and DiPaolo stayed below. Seeing no one at the base of the cliff, the two on top threw down their lines and walked back down, when they said they saw DiPaolo running down the trail. They called his name, but they said he kept running.

When they reached the base of the cliff, the pair found Farrar laying on the trail, with large amounts of blood coming from his head as it rested against a wooden beam. Farrar was taken by helicopter to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, where he died later that day.

DiPaolo was seen fleeing in a minivan, but it wasn't until 11 days later that he was pulled over near Great Falls, New York, on January 8.

According to the charging documents, DiPaolo said that Farrar started choking him as the two argued. DiPaolo claims that as he began to lose consciousness, he found a claw hammer on the ground and struck Farrar until he let go. "I'm sorry this happened. I didn't want it to happen. I didn't know it was going to happen," DiPaolo went on to comment.

Carderock is an important destination for many climbers in the mid-Atlantic states, and Farrar, who was known by many as “Carderock Geoff,” could be found at that crag on an almost weekly basis.

Charles "Chuck" Fleischman, another longtime local climber, said Farrar had mentored DiPaolo for more than 20 years. “From what we understand, this is a total tragedy. It’s not a climbing tragedy; it’s a tragedy between human beings.” He also said, "There is a predominant argument that this has little or nothing to do with the sport. Rather a sad chapter of an unhappy human being. Very sad and very unhappy.”


Previous Comments

For people who say this has nothing to do with the sport, you clearly have never been to Carderock. Geoff was an absolute staple of that area, and anyone who climbed there knew him, and probably liked/admired him. So it has a lot to do with the sport in the sense that a local celebrity climber was killed. If Chris Sharma was killed by a climbing partner, it would be climbing news, right? Geoff wasn't Sharma, but he was equally as well known to DC-area climbers. In other news, yes there's a scramble to the top. But you can also "hike" (it's not a very long hike) the long way around to get to the top. That's probably what these two did, instead of scrambling up the chute between the two rock faces.

Jared - 05/02/2014 1:04:28

Well known climber dies from heart attack = artical & condolences from community Well known climber is murdered = community saying "this should not be posted here blah blah blah" ?????? News is news, good or bad. Saying this artical should not be posted here is ridicoulous!

Andrew - 01/30/2014 9:50:10

Tragic. for both IMO.

Craig - 01/16/2014 12:15:23

This story should not have been reported by It has nothing to do with climbing and it being reported here provides no benefit to our community

mort - 01/16/2014 10:17:48

Your account is at best misleading : the Carderock cliffs fall DOWNwards from the WALK - from - the - parkinglot access --there is no "hike to the top", rather, if anything, there is a hike or scramble to descent; the top is reached by walking in from the lot. As for "found a claw hammer on the ground" ?! --how convenient, and unseemly! I don't see this allegation in the Washington Post article, and find it dubious, at best. For one thing, one doesn't much reach down when being choked upright (presumably), and such things aren't left lying around. I think that we'll see that this was part of the killer's gear (and that the choking is his invention). FYI, the cliffs run parallel and pretty close to a small arm of the Potomac river; with the single, short (70metres?) path to the lot as the stem of a "T", there is access around the RIGHT top of the T down to the base of cliffs, or by a "scramble" (class 4) dlimb roughly at the center. So, the "running down the trail" seen by the other 2 climbers is understandable best if they had set up ropes (they, ahead but making the anchors at top of cliff, to trees/rocks) to the right side, had then walked down around the right end, and then saw the killer running off towards the central, class 4 climb back up to the lot. (But I don't know of any wooden beam(s) here --they are at the other end, which is right AT the river.) .:. tragic & sad

DanL - 01/16/2014 9:38:00

Ban all claw hammers.

Bill Denz - 01/15/2014 9:27:10

Nothing to do with the sport. Yet posted here. Just like a Dj forum posting about Paris Hilton pretending to be a Dj.

This stuff - 01/15/2014 9:05:53

I noticed in the original story that "claw hammers" are "common" to the sport of climbing. Hmmmm.

Shadrock - 01/15/2014 6:01:41