Climber plunged to his death after 'falling rock cut his safety rope'

Geologist, 26, plunged 200ft to his death in Snowdonia after a falling rock cut his safety rope, inquest hears

  • Geologist Kieran James Strudwick, 26, was an experienced climber, inquest told
  • He was with friend climbing Dolmen Ridge in Snowdonia when tragedy struck
  • Falling rock severed his safety rope and caused him to plunge 200ft to ground
  • Coroner ruled he died from the accident after suffering catastrophic injuries 

A young mountain climber was killed in a freak accident when a falling rock cut his safety rope, an inquest heard.

Geologist Kieran James Strudwick plunged nearly 200ft while on a climbing break in Snowdonia. 

The 26-year-old was climbing with his friend, Tom Haynes, on the Dolmen Ridge of Glyder Fach when the tragedy occurred at around midday on Sunday, January 30.

Before heading out on the Dolmen Ridge, Kieran sent a text to his family saying ‘I’m so happy here, it’s a lovely place.’ 

The pair decided on January 30, that they would climb the Dolmen Ridge which is classified as a grade 3 scramble, meaning that safety equipment, including ropes, is required for much of the route.

Kieran and Tom, 25 at the time, were both relatively experienced climbers, comfortable with navigating the scramble.

A young mountain climber Kieran James Strudwick (pictured above) was killed in a freak accident in Snowdonia when a falling rock cut his safety rope and he fell, an inquest heard

By the time mountain rescue crews reached Kieran, temperatures had dropped to 0 degrees

They had on the necessary safety equipment, including helmets, ropes, and harnesses, and had prepared well for the scramble, taking no risks, the inquest at Ruthin County Hall heard yesterday.

As they were scaling the Dolmen Ridge, Kieran had taken the lead while Tom held the rope.

They followed the correct procedures as they navigated a difficult area known as the ramp and Kieran, in front, progressed up the route.

Moments later Tom heard his partner shout ‘rock fall’ and he shouted the same to alert any climbers beneath them.

Moments later, he saw Kieran falling past him only a couple of metres away.

Tom told the court he saw his climbing partner fall from a height of around 60 metres, hitting the mountain on his way down.

An inquest into his death heard Kieran James Strudwick suffered catastrophic injuries

Despite being in a state of shock, he managed to call 999 shortly after coming into contact with two other climbers who were below him on the ridge.

Christopher Jay, a qualified mountain leader with two decades of climbing experience, told the court that he heard a shout before witnessing the tragic fall.

Mr Jay said he expected Mr Strudwick’s rope to suspend him – but that did not happen.

Mr Jay and his climbing partner then made their way towards Kieran but he ‘knew instantly that Kieran’s injuries were unlikely to be survivable’.

On reaching Kieran, Mr Jay made the decision – based on his specialist training – that attempting CPR was futile and switched his focus to Tom’s safety.

By the time they were reached by the mountain rescue team, the temperature had dropped to zero degrees.

Mr Strudwick’s body was placed on a stretcher and taken to the mountain rescue base in Capel Curig where Mr Strudwick was sadly pronounced dead at 8pm.

An investigation into the tragic incident was conducted by Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team.

Pictured: Emergency services on scene in Snowdonia after Kieran’s fall off Dolmen Ridge

A summary of their report was read into the record as evidence at the inquest and said that the fall was likely caused by ‘a large flake of rock that had become dislodged from above.’

Based on the findings of the investigation, the most likely scenario, the inquest heard, was that the rock flake fell on the rope after being disturbed by Mr Strudwick, pulling him from the cliff and severing his rope.

A medical cause of death of multiple fractures was provided following a post mortem by Ysbyty Glan Clwyd histopathologist, Dr Zain Mehdi.

North Wales Coroner Kate Sutherland recorded a conclusion of accidental death at the Caernarfon inquest which concluded yesterday. 

In a statement, his father told the court that Kieran was ‘always happy in life’. 

Reflecting on the tragic loss, Mr Strudwick said: ‘We are in disbelief, we have had our world shattered.’

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