Climber in Medically-Induced Coma After Being Hit by Rockfall

A 26-year-old climber is in critical condition after being struck by a block knocked down from above.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

A climber in Clear Creek Canyon, Golden, Colorado, was hit by rockfall Saturday, December 4, and is now in the ICU in a medically-induced coma. 

Cameron, a woodworker and gardener by trade, and a talented musician on the side.

26-year-old Cameron [last name omitted at family’s request] was on the ground near the base of the three-pitch sport line Tortoise Scute (5.6) while his friend Riley Wilson belayed another member of their party on the first pitch of the route. A party four pitches above them, on a route to the left, knocked down a microwave-sized block, which struck Cameron on the head. “I thought I heard someone call ‘Rock!’” Wilson told Climbing by phone, “and I glanced to my left, and it was already on him.” 

Luckily, Cameron was wearing a helmet, though it was completely shattered. “I’m 100% certain that the helmet was the only thing that kept him alive,” said Wilson. “We were all wearing helmets, but there are so many people out there that don’t. If he hadn’t been wearing it, I don’t even want to think what would have happened.”

Wilson spoke with another party below the climbers who caused the rockfall. They indicated that the block passed two of their climbers on the way down, but narrowly missed them. 

After a 45-minute delay before first responders arrived, during which a couple of nearby climbers with medical training were able to provide on-scene care, Cameron was airlifted to a nearby intensive care unit, where he has been on life support for the past three days.

Cameron, a woodworker and gardener by trade, and a talented musician on the side, “is just a kind, gentle kid,” said Wilson, who introduced him to the sport in June of this year. “He’s one of the nicest kids I’ve ever met.” 

“It was just the wrong place at the wrong time,” Wilson added. “He wasn’t even on the wall. You can have safe rigging, safe climbing technique… and you can still be killed by something like this when you’re not even climbing. It’s dire that you always have yourself protected. We’d been climbing multipitch all day, with no issues, and then now, at the end of the day, [Cameron] wasn’t even on the wall and he got hit. This sort of thing can happen to any of us, at any time, and for no reason whatsoever.”

A Fundly has been set up to support Cameron’s treatment and hopeful recovery. Readers can donate HERE.