Bolt Failed, Resulting in Death

Owens River Gorge

Owens River Gorge. Image Jonathan Fox

On March 13, Scott Sederstrom failed to return home after a day of climbing at the Owens River Gorge. That night, Sederstrom’s fiancée drove to the Lower Gorge parking lot, where she found his van and dog.  A deputy and a Fish and Game officer were unable to locate Sederstrom, and at 6:30 a.m. called in the Inyo County Search and Rescue.  An hour later, a friend who had joined the search discovered Sederstrom’s body at the base of Life in Electric Larvae Land (19).


According to Frank Klein, a member of the Inyo County SAR who investigated the scene, Sederstrom was found on the ground, with a stick clip attached to his harness (holstered through a gear loop) and an eight-foot loop of slack between the tie-in point and a threaded GriGri clipped to his belay loop. A quickdraw was clipped through the loop of rope, with a bolt hanger (no bolt) on the outer carabiner of the draw. The third bolt of the route was missing.

It appears that Sederstrom was stick clipping his way up the climb, going from bolt to bolt, unclipping the bolt below him as he went, when the third bolt failed. Sederstrom fell 25 to 30 feet to the ground and suffered trauma to his head. He was not wearing a helmet.

A Mini Traxion, a device commonly used for toprope soloing, was sitting on Sederstrom’s pack. Friends have speculated that he was clipping up the route in order to set up a rope for soloing.

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