Molly Berkenhoff Climbing Back From Spine Injury After Boulder Canyon Fall

A photo of Molly Berkenhoff shared on her GoFundMe page.
A photo of Molly Berkenhoff shared on her GoFundMe page. GoFundMe
Molly Berkenhoff, who was rescued after a terrifying fall at Boulder Canyon on June 21, remains hospitalized a week later as a result of injuries to her spine. And according to her sister, Eileen Mervish, "Molly will have a long road of rehab and recovery ahead of her."

At approximately 7:37 p.m. on the 21st, as we've reported, the Boulder County Communications Center received a 911 about an injured rock climber.

The address, 32000 Boulder Canyon Drive, corresponds to an area near Boulder Falls.

According to the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, Berkenhoff was climbing the "old-school" route of the Bell Buttress with two others and using a belay — a device used to manage rope slack and tension — when two pieces of rock protection pulled out.

Berkenhoff fell approximately 20 to 25 feet, breaking her ankle and injuring her back.

Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, Nederland Fire and AMR Ambulance assisted the BCSO with the rescue that followed; a helicopter was also on call but wasn't needed. And it's a good thing the crew was so large: The sheriff's office notes that the climbing area was on the opposite side of the creek from the road, so personnel had to set up a Tyrolean traverse to transport Berkenhoff across the creek in a litter, as seen in the following photo:

Rescue personnel transporting injured climber Molly Berkenhoff after her June 21 fall. - PHOTO BY DEPUTY NEAL MCQUARIE COURTESY OF BOULDER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Rescue personnel transporting injured climber Molly Berkenhoff after her June 21 fall.
Photo by Deputy Neal McQuarie courtesy of Boulder County Sheriff's Office
Berkenhoff received other assistance as well, notes Mervish, corresponding via e-mail: "The family wants to extend its most sincere thanks to Molly's friends, the rescuers and the two climbers who Molly didn't know, but stayed with them until help arrived."

In recent days, Mervish, who lives in San Antonio, Texas, launched a GoFundMe page encouraging donations to help Berkenhoff with her medical expenses. The introduction catalogues her injuries: "She has a broken ankle, fractured foot and injuries to her back and spine. She is expected to recover with time but will be out of work for a significant amount of time."

An update published on June 25 adds new information: "Yesterday was hard, but today, Molly was moved to a regular hospital room and she was able to 'sit' in a recliner for a short time with her back brace on. She felt well enough to 'mug' for the camera a bit, which did worlds of good for me to be able to see her witty personality intact. We are very grateful for all the prayers and ask that you please keep them coming."

At this writing, more than $1,400 has been pledged toward a goal of $10,000. Click for more information about the fundraiser, titled "Help Molly Climb Back Up."
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts