Bonnie & Clyde accident report

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johnnyrebel

Trad climber
heart of Texas
Topic Author's Original Post - May 20, 2013 - 10:47am PT
Accident report: Well not sure where to start but it was the making of great day. A day of fun was planned with a girl that I have never climbed with before but have seen her climb and she was solid 5.8 leader. We climbed at an area in the morning where it was all good. In the afternoon we went over to another climbing area that is off limits but the climbing there is amazing. Me being a rebel, her having rebel in her, for sure we had no problems climbing at an off limits area. The Bonnie and Clyde of climbing. It was her first time there and I have climbed there many many times over the years. The climbs were all traditional climbs, I have 20 years of traditional experience and she has 2 years.

So I point out a few climbs and come to agreement she will go after the 5.8 and I will lead a climb after. First part of the climb she walks and then she starts the steep section with a ledge below. My friend gets above gear and takes a small whip and I yell up “set up a belay on the ledge and I’ll come up” She couldn’t hear me from the wind was blowing so she sets off again. This time getting higher above her last piece of gear. I was thinking to myself she needs to get gear but then I say hey she knows what she’s doing let her climb how she wants, instead of some guy barking up what to do from below. Ok now she’s at a rest, clips a fixed piece of old gear and at this point in the climb the gear is tricky. My friend starts moving again then I hear her yell "oh sh#t I’m falling" I yell “NO” but it was too late.

Next thing I see her flying through the air, the fixed piece pop and then she hit the ledge with her head and shoulder taking the brunt of the fall. “SAY SOMETHING PLEASE SAY SOMETHING PLEASE!” she replies “get me down”. She gets lowered down and blood is gushing from her head (yes no helmet). It’s not her fault I never wear a helmet so I think she thought it was ok not to, when she normally does wear a helmet.

She is keeping cool and she says “I need to compress the injury to stop the bleeding”. I have no clue what to do at this point and she says “we need to get the bikes and get out of here”. I get her harness off pull the rope and stuff everything in the packs. We get down to the bike path and I said wait here while grab the bikes. I get back with the bikes and do a quick check for a concussion. The check is good for no concussion and she wants to bike out slow. (yeah she’s f#ckin tough!). It was about a 1 mile mtn bike ride out; I get the car and rush to the nearest Hospital. 2 hours after the accident we arrive at the ER. After time in the ER there was relief when the CAT scans and x rays showed no head trauma no broken bones. We escaped with 12 staples in her head badly banged up shoulder and bruising /scrapes.

Were we lucky? hell yes! I keep seeing the whole fall, the gear pop happen over and over again in my head and I just f*#kin loose it. I thank god that things turned out the way they did. When it comes to playing in the mountains I like to think I’m invincible that nothing will ever happen to me, I know this is not true and wish it was me on the other end falling and breaking apart. I wished this never happened and I also wished she didn’t have a boyfriend but I can’t control life’s outcomes. All I can do is be thankful that she is here today, that she will be ready to hit another adventure in the future.

I play the situation over and talk to my friends about what happened. One thing I learned is: for now on I have to speak my mind even if it makes me unpopular. I rather be unpopular and have my climbing partners safe then the other way around. I still don’t know why I didn’t say anything and I know better.

Being it was off limits climbing area one friend said “it was head trauma that I should have bit the bullet and called in for help”. Another friend said “in your situation you would have known if you needed to call 911”. I don’t know what was right thing to do? I trusted her judgment on getting out of there and feel we were able to get out of there and to the hospital faster then if a rescue took place.

I haven’t known my friend for all that long and after going through this I have never felt so close to another climbing partner. SR I’m just so happy that people will get to experience your soft voice, pleasant company and sweet laugh in the future. You are truly a wonderful person and I care about you more than words can say and emotions can show!
pud

climber
Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
May 20, 2013 - 11:07am PT
I'm guessing you expect some feedback otherwise you would not have posted.

Take this advice or don't.

*You are setting the example everytime you go out with a new partner. Set a good one.

*There is no "check for concussion". Get to an ER with any head trauma. A concussion is a nice way of saying brain injury.

*Don't talk yourself out of yelling directions to your partner if you see they are in danger.

* Be a rebel with the cause of making sure everyone goes home in one piece.

* Talk to your partner about your planned action/belay/rappel on a pitch before you cast off.

*Double check every knot and piece of gear, then check it again.

Glad you are both ok.

Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
May 20, 2013 - 11:14am PT
Arrgghghhh... GLAD things went as well as they did for you. Droppin like flies around here...
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 20, 2013 - 11:23am PT
I hate to point out the obvious but a helmet likely would have saved a lot
of grief. When I climbed in Sweden most Swedes thought it their civic duty
to wear helmets. But I guess here in the Wild West we don't worry about
going to the ER on the taxpayers' nickel.
johnnyrebel

Trad climber
heart of Texas
Topic Author's Reply - May 20, 2013 - 11:50am PT
thank you pud yes I'm looking for feedback and at the same time I want people including myself to read and learn from this accident. I'm trying to remain strong but that’s not working so well.

I know i should be setting a better example and I take full responsibility for the accident.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
May 20, 2013 - 12:26pm PT
What follows are the musings of an out-of-date old fart. Feel free to ignore whatever you want.

BITD, we didn't fall off 5.8's and we sure as hell didn't take multiple falls off them. I think the influence of sport and gym climbing, and the continuing drone about "if you're not falling, you're not climbing hard enough," combined with psychobabble nonsense about eliminating the fear of falling, conspire to make a relatively inexperienced trad leader think multiple falls on a trad 5.8 are just part of an ordinary day. Combine that with the fact the clipping bolts probably makes you even more likely to trust fixed protection, and you have the ingredients for this accident.

The first time she fell was the moment for either retreat or, as mentioned, building a belay and bringing up the second.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
May 20, 2013 - 12:44pm PT
I'm not quite as experienced as rgold, but still of about the same vintage. I want to pile on the head injury issue, though, not on anything else. The possibility of a concussion is always present in the sort of fall you described, and is something virtually impossible for a lay person to determine in the field. For that reason, if anything like that happens again, I would seek medical attention immediately. Ironically, the Docs in the Box (i.e. walk-in clinics) can sometimes be better than an ER, because it may take forever to get attention in the ER.

Also, keep in mind that the face and scalp have a great deal of blood vessels very close to the surface, so even a small wound can produce profuse bleeding. A helmet will usually prevent those sorts of injuries, but as anyone who follows football knows, helmets can't always prevent concussions.

That said, thanks for posting up in this situation. It's always unpleasant to report about potential mistakes, but doing so helps other climbers learn without repeating your experience.

John
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
May 20, 2013 - 01:16pm PT
Go up to Puds advice, and see item #2. Your report makes me believe that having at least a little basic first response training would be a good idea. I think there are a number of decisions that you made that you might reconsider, based on your report.

Life is one big lesson. The most important thing is to learn from the mistakes that we make.
johnnyrebel

Trad climber
heart of Texas
Topic Author's Reply - May 20, 2013 - 01:24pm PT
rgold I should have demanded that she hangs out and puts more gear in before setting off after clipping the fixed piece. I pointed the climb out to her and thought it would be a good lead. with modern day gear I feel it's perfectly fine to fall on 5.8, 5.7 or whatever grade, it’s a lot different then banging in pins and kernmantle rope.

John I know now that with a head injury I should have sat her down and stabilized the head & neck area.

wbw yes many things I would reconsider like being a rebel climber. I'm taking this as a learning experience and tears me apart that my friend was hurt.
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
May 20, 2013 - 01:31pm PT
it’s a lot different then banging in pins and kernmantle rope.

I still use kernmantle rope - I guess I'm just old fashioned.

Glad to hear everyone is ok.

Where are these climbs? Does the fixed piece (pin?) need to be replaced?
El Cono

Boulder climber
Tierra Del Coño
May 20, 2013 - 01:36pm PT
with modern day gear I feel it's perfectly fine to fall on 5.8, 5.7 or whatever grade,

...then, your days are numbered.
johnnyrebel

Trad climber
heart of Texas
Topic Author's Reply - May 20, 2013 - 01:37pm PT
Hi Dave thank you for the well wishes! Sorry I can't discuss anything about what climb and where. I believe It was a old fixed tricam that popped.

nice feed back El Cono
micronut

Trad climber
May 20, 2013 - 01:59pm PT
Thanks for posting and I'm glad you are both doin' well now. I hope her recovery is speedy and full. Here's a basic "Field Test" battery I would give to my partner. I really like the "Word Memory Test" given three minutes apart. If she failed any of these really, I might consider staying put:

Concussion Signs and Symptoms Evaluation Form
Check off all positive signs, symptoms and testing findings

Signs observed: Symptoms reported by athlete:

□ Appears to be dazed or stunned □ Headache
□ Is confused about assignment □ Nausea
□ Forgets plays □ Balance problems or dizziness
□ Is unsure of game, score, or opponent □ Double or fuzzy vision
□ Moves clumsily □ Sensitivity to light or noise
□ Answers questions slowly □ Feeling sluggish
□ Loses consciousness (even temporarily) □ Feeling “foggy”
□ Shows behavior or personality change □ Change in sleep pattern
□ Forgets events prior to hit (retrograde) □ Concentration or memory problems
□ Forgets events after hit (anterograde)

On-field Cognitive Testing

ORIENTATION: Ask the athlete the following questions.
□ What stadium is this? □ What month is it?
□ What city is this? □ What day is it?
□ Who is the opposing team?

ANTEROGRADE AMNESIA: Ask the athlete to repeat the following words.
□ Girl, dog, green

RETROGRADE AMNESIA: Ask the athlete the following questions.
□ What happened in the prior quarter/period? □ What was the score of the game prior to the
hit?
□ What do you remember just prior to the hit? □ Do you remember the hit?

CONCENTRATION: Ask the athlete to do the following.
□ Repeat the days of the week backward (starting with today).
□ Repeat these numbers backward:
63 (36 is correct)
419 (914 is correct)

WORD LIST MEMORY: Ask the athlete to repeat the three words from earlier.
□ Girl, dog, green

NEUROLOGICAL TESTING (from Sports Concussion Assessment Tool)
□ Speech: Slurring of words
□ Arm Drift: Ask athlete to stand with arms out front and parallel to the floor, palms down. Then,
ask athlete to close eyes while in this position. Does one of their arms drift out of the position? Any
change is abnormal.
□ Sport Related Movements: Ask athlete to repeat sports related movements – run, jump, cut,
catch, etc. Any inability to perform these movements is abnormal.

Any failure should be considered abnormal. Consult a physician
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
May 20, 2013 - 02:03pm PT
I travel to Dallas occasionally for work.

I'm curious about a secret climbing area in the middle of Texas.


johnnyrebel

Trad climber
heart of Texas
Topic Author's Reply - May 20, 2013 - 02:09pm PT
"I hope her recovery is speedy and full." Yes i hope so also! Thank you for posting up good info micronut! I just did a basic pupil test to see if they were dilating and she was more coherent then I was.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
May 20, 2013 - 02:27pm PT
with modern day gear I feel it's perfectly fine to fall on 5.8, 5.7 or whatever grade, it’s a lot different then banging in pins and kernmantle rope.

That's where we differ. Big time.

Actually, pitons were generally more reliable than modern gear, the main difference being that we place far more modern gear than we ever would have placed in the iron age, so possible falls are typically much shorter.

I think 5.7 to 5.8 trad is a realm in which the climber ought to have enough awareness and enough self-control to (1) place adequate protection even when stressed and (2) climb down out of trouble before they fall. The generally wider spacing of piton protection BITD made this much more of a necessity, I guess, and modern attitudes clearly encourage leader falls at moderate grades where we oldsters would have thought such falls a serious leading failure.

I see this accident as the inability of the leader to conceptualize the actual risks in the situation, an inability fostered by a pervasive environment of casualness about falling that makes sense in the sport context but is not, modern trad gear or not, justified for moderate trad climbs.

It isn't really anyone's "fault," it is an unfortunate byproduct of the times. Considering the young woman hit a ledge with her head and wasn't wearing a helmet, the lesson, if she is able to "rebel" against the prevailing environment and focus on what really happened, came cheap.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
May 20, 2013 - 02:42pm PT
I believe It was a old fixed tricam that popped.

yep, those old fixed tri-cams will just pop out, other than that they are great
Michelle

Social climber
1187 Hunterwasser
May 20, 2013 - 03:01pm PT
I think 5.7 to 5.8 trad is a realm in which the climber ought to have enough awareness and enough self-control to (1) place adequate protection even when stressed and (2) climb down out of trouble before they fall. The generally wider spacing of piton protection BITD made this much more of a necessity, I guess, and modern attitudes clearly encourage leader falls at moderate grades where we oldsters would have thought such falls a serious leading failure.

Well said! I hate leading therefore I don't lead (or didn't since its been a while) much harder than 5.9. Around 5.8 is when my head switches to a more serious state. But I learned from old trad dudes. I did scare my partner once using tricams but he's prejudiced.

I'm glad Bonnie is ok. I normally don't climb with a helmet but this story and the tragedy on el cap has me reconsidering this.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
May 20, 2013 - 03:02pm PT
Problem with falling on 5.7/5.8 isn't gear, modern or otherwise, it's the typical angle of that terrain. Less than vertical, ledgy, broken, rambling, etc.

You can usually count on 5.hard being steep enough not to matter, or if not steep, very clean faces with minimal features to hit. On 5.8, not so much.

I don't hector my partners or try to micromanage from the dull end, but I don't hesitate to give them the "dude, put in some gear, you'd deck/hit that ledge/take a nasty penji into the corner from there", no matter how good, experienced, or surly they are.
johnnyrebel

Trad climber
heart of Texas
Topic Author's Reply - May 20, 2013 - 03:18pm PT
"I don't hector my partners or try to micromanage from the dull end, but I don't hesitate to give them the "dude, put in some gear, you'd deck/hit that ledge/take a nasty penji into the corner from there", no matter how good, experienced, or surly they are"

Same way and I didn't say sh#t, my friend got hurt. I f*#ked up
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