I'd like to report an accident I was involved in in the Wilder Kaiser on July 25th.
A friend and I climbed the Predigtstuhl Nordkante (700 m, IV+), then descended the Botzong Kamin to the Botzong Kessel. From there we decided to climb the Predigtstuhl Mittelspitze via the Westschlucht (~250 m, IV+). We climbed 3 pitches, encountering loose/dangerous rock. After the 3rd pitch, which traversed around a corner and into a great gully (I guess this is why it's called the Westschlucht route), I brought my partner up to an anchor which was a fixed rope around a large block wedged in the gully. I tested the rope and considered adding my own sling, but decided what was there was good enough.
My partner came up, and I started off again to lead the last significant pitch (52 m, IV). Because of loose rocks on the sides, the only way to climb was directly up the large wedged block. As I touched the top of the block, something was wrong. In fact the block was moving under the influence of my weight. I fell on my belayer ~1 meter below, then hit the ground in the little niche he stood in. The block tumbled into the abyss, and I was certain it would pull us with it because of the fixed rope, to which my partner was attached in order to belay me.
However, the rope around the block was severed as the block fell. Therefore, after some enormous noise and considerable confusion, my friend and I were left relatively safe in our little niche.
My friend lost his glasses and was bleeding from a cut above one eye. I could see, and was sitting at his feet with an arm around one of his legs. I had a broken heel from the fall, and I could slowly get 3 cams into 2 good cracks near me, clove hitching us into the gear. I was in lots of pain from the heel. My friend carried on a conversation with people elsewhere who called the mountain rescue service.
We were rescued via a longline from a helicopter from the St. Johann in Tirol Bergwacht. This team deserves tremendous thanks for the professional, kind and efficient service offered to us, at real risk to themselves.
There has been a spate of accidents involving loose rock in this part of the alps lately.
The route is described as having excellent climbing, and I don't disagree. The first pitch of the Westschlucht is a bit intimidating but rewarding. However there were two "exploding piles" of loose rock on that pitch -- my partner let one loose, and I warned him carefully about the other one. Higher it continued this way, such that it felt like the route hadn't been climbed in a long time and several seasons of accumulated freeze/thaw cycle had developed. This is not to make an excuse! I should have been more wary. The failure was costly -- my hope is that I can walk again in three months. I'm very glad no one else was seriously hurt.
Thanks for your time,
--Ebersberg hospital, Germany