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Climber, 26, falls 196ft to his death in freak accident after rock cut his rope

A mountain climber in Snowdonia plummeted around 196ft to their death in a freak accident when their rope was cut by a falling rock.

An inquest at Ruthin County Hall heard on Wednesday (September 21) that Kieran James Strudwick, 26, from Uckfield in East Sussex, was killed on January 30, on the Dolmen Ridge in North Wales.

He has been climbing with his friend Tom Haynes, then 25, when the horror fall happened at around midday.

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They had headed up to the famous mountain beauty spot to go climbing and had stayed at Penmachno, North Wales Live reports.

Having completed a number of scrambles earlier in the day, they decided they wanted to take on the ridge – a grade 3 scramble. The wind was minimal and rock damp in some places.

Grade 3 routes need certain equipment, including ropes, for parts of the path.

The pair had known each other for over two years and are understood to have had a good level of experience between them when they took on the ridge.

They are reported to have taken no risks and had been wearing all the correct equipment, including helmets, ropes, and harnesses.

Kieran is understood to have been in the lead when the horror accident happened, with Tom holding the rope.

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Kieran had been progressing ahead up a section called the ramp, before turning right into a gully and out of his climbing partner’s view.

Tom heard Kieran shout “rockfall” and he too shouted the message down to warn anyone else coming up below.

He moved to the side and closed his eyes.

As he glimpsed again he saw Kieran falling past him, missing him by just a few metres, plummeting around 60 metres (198ft) and hitting the mountain as he went.

Despite what he had just witnessed Tom was able to call 999.

Two other climbers had been below on the ridge and are understood to have witnessed Kieran fall. One of them was Christopher Jay, a mountain leader with two decades of experience.

He said he had assumed Kieran’s rope would catch him as he went down, but instead plummeted the 60 or so metres, smashing into a ledge as he fell.

The second pair of climbers made their way down to Kieran but "knew instantly that Kieran's injuries were unlikely to be survivable".

Using his training he decided that CPR was futile and opted to focus on Tom’s safety.

Two other climbers soon arrived, giving Tom an extra layer and soup but headed off again as storms were said to have been approaching.

Despite the weather being fair when they set off, by the time they were reached by mountain rescue, temperatures had fallen to freezing.

Kieran was taken to Capel Curig and pronounced dead at 8pm.

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An investigation by Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team said the fall was most likely caused by "a large flake of rock that had become dislodged from above."

The inquest concluded that the most likely scenario is that a rock had cut Kieran’s rope after he had disturbed it.

His cause of death was recorded as accidental, with investigators summing up: "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."

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