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.”