Dealing with emergencies


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Springdale, Utah
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 12, 2013 - 08:08pm PT
I had the unfortunate experience of being first on scene of a very bad climbing accident yesterday in Zion NP. I witnessed a young guy take a 100ft lead solo fall on the second pitch of Moonlight buttress. My partner and I were at the anchor getting ready to head up Sheer Lunacy. The guy had traversed about 50-60 feet right and above the anchor, lead solo with a gri-gri, and popped his only piece of gear (purple mastercam) while going around the roof. He hit a ledge about 20 feet below and then bounced off the ledge and fell another 70-80 feet.This pitch traverses and his rope nearly sawed me in half. When he stopped falling he was alert and screaming in pain. His rope had a about 2 feet of exposed core about 10 feet below the anchor with core strands that were cut. I quickly got a prussik below the core shot and tied in the anchor and immediately rapped to the guy on my tag line. I clipped the guys daisy onto my extended rappel device and helped him first get his hand out of the carabiner/cam that had popped. His hand had gotten tangled inside of the carabiner/sling of the cam and wrapped in the rope. Most of his weight was actually on his arm/hand. His hand was majorly disfigured with cuts to the bone. His right leg had a compound fracture below the knee and was bleeding heavily. I quickly rapped to the anchor/ledge below and had my partner come down with our very meager med kit. We got gauze/dressings on the wound and got the bleeding under control. There was a party roping up at the base when this happened and one of them went to call the rangers. The remaining guy, Tony, who was a wilderness EMT came up to the ledge we were on and then assisted us in getting the patient to the ground. Zion NP SAR medics were there in 30 min and a litter team shortly after. I cannot applaud their efforts and proficiency in dealing with these types of emergencies. This was the most horrific accident i have ever witnessed and really made see the need for climbers to be dialed with their self rescue and first aid skills. You never know when you will be faced with a situation you have no choice but to deal with. Without competent climbers nearby this young man could have perished, it was a miracle the fall didn't kill him and his rope didn't get chopped. This was this young man's first aid solo and the seriousness of the fall was directly attributed to not protecting the belay and placing adequate protection. I am very thankful for the WFR courses I have taken and that I decided in the morning to throw my med kit in the bag. I am also thankful that I have practiced my self rescue skills and could implement them effectively when the sh#t hit the fan. Once again the Zion NP SAR crew is amazing and highly competent in what they do. l hope this incident can serve as a valuable lesson to the community and illustrates the seriousness of what we do and what measures we need to take to prepare ourselves. Climb Hard!!!!!!


Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Nov 12, 2013 - 08:12pm PT
Well done.

A cool head makes all the difference, regardless of your situation or resources. Sounds like you guys performed a 9+.

Hats off to you!

Nov 12, 2013 - 08:15pm PT
Major props to all who probably saved this guy's life. Best wishes for a complete and rapid recovery of the soloist. Damn! He's very fortunate you and the others were there.

Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Nov 12, 2013 - 08:15pm PT
Screaming is a good sign that everything's A-OK with an airway.

Really great you got there first and controlled the bleeding.

Job well done ! ! !

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Nov 12, 2013 - 08:43pm PT
I hope the guy will be OK. And I hope you'll be OK, too. Being first on the scene can be a traumatic experience.

Houston, TX
Nov 12, 2013 - 08:48pm PT
Bad situation crack fiend, but a great response. Impressive the way you kept your head and knew how to deal with the situation. I hope that young man realizes how lucky he was that the right people were around.

I'll want to put some self-rescue courses on my training list.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 12, 2013 - 09:01pm PT
Lucky the river is low.

Who were the SAR personnel?

Springdale, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 12, 2013 - 09:13pm PT
Here is a shot of his rope, I took this after the rescue when I jugged up to retrieve our gear. One strand completely cut and all others heavily abraded. When he feel his rope came in contact with tiered ledges and had 4 other core shots beside this one.
Credit: crackfiend

For anyone who wants to know more about exactly what I did it went somewhat as follows. I immediately descended to below the core shot and attached a prussic. In retrospect this was not totally necessary but the extent of the damage and the climber thrashing around a bit on the line it freaked me out and I wanted to secure it.

Next I got to the anchor and attached our tag line and single rope rapped with my rappel extended as I was anticipating attaching the guy to my rappel, I also backed up with a autoblock so I could go hands free.

I rapped to the guy and attached his daisy to my rig a snug as I could and then had to lift the guy 1-2 feet before he unweighted the rope enough to get his hand out. I was on a flat wall but was able to lift the guy enough, in other scenarios one may need to have a mini haul of some sort to lift the person enough. I was able to detach his gri-gri but could not open the carabiner with a back up knot attached. I had to cut him out of his rope.

Once his hand was free he was on my rappel device, (rappping a 8.4 mil static single line), the autoblock was a must have to control our descent and go hands free. We the descended about 100 feet to a ledge and starting fixing him up from there.

I was very happy I had two prussic cords and my knife handy when this went down. I don't think he would have been able to remove his hand and self rescue on his own.

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Nov 12, 2013 - 09:50pm PT
Yikes! That guy almost got the chop. Nice work helping him out in a pinch.

A long way from where I started
Nov 12, 2013 - 10:09pm PT
Job well done.

Once this young gentleman recovers, he should be sending you a note to the effect of "The drinks are on me. Forever."
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Nov 12, 2013 - 10:16pm PT
HOLY CRAP! That is about as close as you can come to dying, without actually dying!

Damn, look at what's left of that rope - KNOTT MUCH.

OK, you really need to help me with this part:

"The guy had traversed about 50-60 feet right and above the anchor, lead solo with a gri-gri, and popped his only piece of gear (purple mastercam) while going around the roof."

Are you telling me he had only ONE piece of gear in the entire pitch? What stopped his fall? The anchor? Did he Factor 2 onto it?

Please help me understand precisely how this [dumbass] lad had protected himself on his solo. After which, I will begin my RANT. Man, I am starting to get all feisty already... Biting my tongue for now til I get more facts ....

Note: Even when I was young, dumb and full of cum, I *still* placed protection for f*#k's sake!!

P.S. This dude most likely owes his life to you, so that has to count for a few beers!!! Nice job with the prusik [only one "s"] and the lifesaving - well done.
Delhi Dog

Good Question...
Nov 12, 2013 - 10:24pm PT
^^ was wondering myself.
Good job with the rescue/1st aid
thanks for adding paragraph breaks on that second post:-)

Rope may be core shot but it sounds like it did it's job or knott?
What kind was it?

Trad climber
Nov 12, 2013 - 10:32pm PT
Nice work. After all these years I finally became a WEMT this fall. Lots of work but worth it knowing I could actually help somebody.

Trad climber
Save your a_s, reach for the brass...
Nov 12, 2013 - 10:56pm PT
Good job! Nice quick thinking in a nasty situation. Those core shots are scary!!

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Nov 12, 2013 - 11:18pm PT
That guy is so lucky you and the others were around to help.
Props to you for a great emergency response.

Springdale, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 13, 2013 - 12:21am PT

Yes this guy fell directly onto the anchor. Not quite factor 2 as he had traversed 50-60 feet and was about 30 feet above the anchor The pitch starts off with easy scrambling, traversing up ledges for 50 feet or so feet. It then becomes 10+ or C1 around a roof. He placed NO gear until this point and his first piece (purple mastercam) under the roof popped. He had weighted the piece with an aider and shifted to the right to place another and the piece pulled. He had passed up many good gear placements along the way. I do not know the brand of the rope but it appeared to be new or lightly used.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 13, 2013 - 12:27am PT

You have to be a little crazy to solo walls in Zion,..

Springdale, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 13, 2013 - 12:33am PT

I forget the names of the medics first on scene, I think one was named Ben? There are a lot of new LEO's this season I am not acquainted with all of them. Craig Thexton appeared to be in charge of the carryout/operations. The rest of the crew was a smattering of LEO's, wilderness rangers, and fire crew guys. PM me if you want more details..

Jim Henson's Basement
Nov 13, 2013 - 09:39am PT
That story is just crazy. Good job man! I can't believe that guy didn't cut his rope and deck. Seems like traversing that far out... yikes.. you build a whole new anchor? I'm sure this guy has reviewed his errors at this point though. Probably will have nightmares about them for years.

Glad he's alive and hope he has a good recovery.

I've taken self rescue and a WFR class but it's been years. Time for some refresher courses. Every climber should get a self rescue course and at least a basic outdoor first aid course under their belt IMO.

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo, CA
Nov 13, 2013 - 10:09am PT
I too had to deal with a emergancy on monday! instead of climbing this was a gang banger thing...

Got out and did some fun stuff and started driving home in between pinns and Soledad something very very real happened! There was a young kid that was on a jog bent over waving at me for help. As we run over he said"somebody shot me, I have been shot"! Turns out some gang banger as#@&%es decided to shot the guy 4 times with a f*#ken shot gun. As we call 911 we help him out to the best of our abilities and wait for more help. It was gnarly and made me wish I knew more about saving lives but the para medics eventual came and took him away and I hope he does good and they find the dicks who decided to have some fun by shooting an innocent 20 year old college kid named rubin Martinez!
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