CALGARY -- Two climbers who plunged to their deaths while rappelling off a cliff near Canmore, Alta., were friends from Calgary who were active in the sport, RCMP say.
Ranjit Sidhu, 31, of Calgary, and his friend, a woman in her 20s who has not yet been identified, were rappelling off a rock face in the Heart Creek day use area, 80 km west of Calgary, on the same rope before they fell about 100 metres, Canmore RCMP Staff Sgt. Brad Freer said.
"They were rappelling on the same rope, it's a climbing practice -- it's a practice they can use and things can go wrong," he said, adding the fall was witnessed.
Kananaskis Country Public Safety specialist Mike Koppang said the pair were on a six-pitch, 180-metre-long climbing route called Sciatica, on the Amphitheatre Wall area of Heart Creek.
He said they were simul-rappelling from the fifth pitch to the fourth pitch, a distance of 30 metres, when the accident happened.
"It appears one climber came off the rope while rappelling and as a result of that there was nothing to hold the other one and the rope pulled through the anchor," he said. "Essentially the rope ran through the anchor."
The route is a sport climb -- meaning permanent bolts are fixed to the rock face and climbers have to bring their own quickdraws -- considered in the middle range of difficulty, he said.
Koppang said the bolts were inspected and there's nothing to indicate anything was wrong with them.
Freer said the pair were active climbers but the extent of their experience is unknown.
On Monday, provincial officials were back at the scene collecting evidence.
The area is a popular spot for hikers and climbers and can attract 300 visitors in one afternoon.
It remained open Monday.
Climber Jarrett White, who works at the Calgary Climbing Centre, said guide books may rate the climb as medium difficulty, but it feels three to four grades harder.
He speculates the two may not have known the difficulty level.
"It's a really challenging climb to begin with," he said. "If you climb for a year you can probably do that but the rating was harder than it appeared.
"They seemed experienced, especially to do that, so we think it was equipment failure."
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