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Wales Online
Wales Online
Harri Evans & Milly Vincent

Snowdonia climber fell to his death after 'rock fall' severed his safety rope

An experienced climber fell to his death after a falling rock severed his safety rope as he scrambled a ridge in Snowdonia, North Wales, an inquest heard. Kieran James Strudwick, 26, had been climbing the Dolmen Ridge of the Glyder Fach mountain when the incident occurred.

Kieran, from Uckfield, East Sussex, was on a climbing trip with his friend Tom Haynes, then 25, when a rock fall took place at around midday on Sunday, January 30. The pair had been climbing the ridge, classified as a grade 3 scramble, with all of the appropriate safety equipment, including helmets, ropes, and harnesses.

The relatively experienced climbers had prepared well for the scramble and had taken no risks, the inquest heard at Ruthin County Hall, Denbighshire, North Wales, on September 21. Despite this, tragedy occurred when a large rock flake from a rock fall above the pair severed Kieran’s rope, North Wales Live reports.

The pair had just passed a difficult area of the climb known as the ramp when Tom heard his friend-of-two-years shout "rock fall". At this point Kieran was obscured from Tom's view as he was positioned in a gully further up the route, above and to the right of him.

Tom also shouted "rock fall", repeating the warning to any climbers below and moving to one side. He closed his eyes for a moment to avoid the falling rocks, but saw Kieran falling past him a couple of metres away as he reopened them.

Kieran fell a height of around 60 metres, hitting the mountain as he fell, the inquest heard. Tom, who was in a state of shock, called 999 shortly after reaching two other climbers who were below him on the ridge.

The pair were climbing the Dolmen Ridge of the Glyder Fach mountain, Snowdonia, North Wales. (Peter S/

Qualified mountain leader Christopher Jay was one of the climbers to have witnessed the fall from below. He told the inquest that he’d heard a shout and had seen Kieran’s fall, initially expecting Kieran’s rope to suspend him but seeing him fall a height of around 50 to 60 metres and hit a ledge on his way down.

He and a climbing partner reached Kieran but "knew instantly that Kieran's injuries were unlikely to be survivable". With two decades of climbing experience and specialist training as a mountain leader Christopher decided that attempting CPR on Kieran was futile and switched his focus to keeping Tom safe.

Two other climbers arrived at the scene shortly afterwards and provided Tom a jacket and some soup before leaving due to approaching storms. There was minimal wind and a partially damp rock surface at the time of the incident, however weather conditions worsened with the temperature falling to zero degrees by the time the mountain rescue team arrived. Kieran’s body was taken on a stretcher to the OVMR base in Capel Curig, Snowdonia, where he was pronounced dead at 8pm.

An investigation by Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team found that the fall was likely caused by "a large flake of rock that had become dislodged from above." Based on this evidence the inquest heard that the most likely cause of the fall was that the rock flake fell on the rope after being disturbed by Kieran, which pulled him from the cliff and severed his rope.

A conclusion of accidental death was recorded, with a post mortem by histopathologist Dr Zain Mehdi from Ysbyty Glan Clwyd finding multiple fractures as the medical cause of death. Assistant coroner Ms Sutherland said: “On January 30, 2022, Kieran James Strudwick was scrambling the Dolmen Ridge on Glyder Fach. Both he and his friend had been climbing with ropes.

"I consider it likely, bearing in mind the evidence that Kieran was heard shouting 'rock fall', that the large flake in question was more likely than not disturbed by Kieran and that it fell on his rope, pulling him from the cliff and severing the rope. He suffered significant injuries consistent with a fall from height. This was a tragic accident of the utmost degree."

Before heading out to climb the Dolmen Ridge, Kieran sent his family a text saying "I'm so happy here, it's a lovely place”. He and Tom had stayed in nearby Penmachno the previous night and completed a number of scrambles.

Kieran’s father told the court that the 26-year-old was "always happy in life". He added: "We are in disbelief, we have had our world shattered."

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