MEXICO CITY (AP) — California rock climber Brad Gobright reportedly reached the top of a highly challenging rock face route in northern Mexico, and was rappelling down with a companion when he fell to his death.
Climber Aidan Jacobson of Phoenix, Arizona told Outside magazine he was with Gobright, who reportedly performed a masterful ascent of the Sendero Luminoso route in the El Potrero Chico area near the northern city of Monterrey.
Civil defense officials in Nuevo Leon state said Gobright fell about 300 meters (yards) to his death on Wednesday. The Outside account described the fall as 600 feet (about 200 meters).
His body was recovered Thursday. The publication Rock and Ice described Gobright, 31, as a native of Orange County, California, and "one of the most accomplished free solo climbers in the world."
Jacobson also fell, but a shorter distance, after something went wrong in the “simul-rappelling” descent. The technique involves two climbers balancing each other’s weight off an anchor point.
In online forums, many climbers described the technique as difficult and potentially dangerous.
According to Jacobson, the pair might not have evened out the length of the 80-meter (yard) rope between them, to ensure each had the same amount, because Gobright’s end was apparently tangled in some bushes near a ledge below them.
That might have caused Gobright to essentially run out of rope; without the balancing weight of the other climber, both would fall. Jacobson fell through some vegetation and onto the ledge they were aiming for, injuring his ankle.
Gobright fell further; his body was so badly disfigured when it was found that officials at the Monterrey morgue said it was unrecognizable. They suggested genetic tests might be needed before the body could be handed over to relatives.