Accident in the Owen's Gorge yesterday

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Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 10, 2017 - 10:34am PT
Heard through the virtual grapevine that a woman hit the deck at the Great Wall of China. Lots of great help right there--including an ER doc. She was carried out by a great crew to the road where the ambulance was waiting. Once stable at the Bishop hospital, she was taken by helicopter to Reno. Let's send her some good energy and hope for the best. Be careful out there, folks. Sport climbing is dangerous, too. Word is that her helmet likely helped limit her injuries.

BAd
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Dec 10, 2017 - 10:41am PT
Best wishes for a full recovery to the woman who decked.
Belay failure?
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 10, 2017 - 11:04am PT
Thanks for posting that, Cragman.

BAd
10b4me

Mountain climber
Retired
Dec 10, 2017 - 01:38pm PT
Thanks Dean, and thanks to Viren for the report. I hope the woman's outcome is positive.
kingtut

climber
Jingus Newroutaineer
Dec 10, 2017 - 01:40pm PT
Yes, thanks for giving us info about this accident and sharing some tips for safer climbing.

And thanks to all the first responders doing their best to care for this accident victim and safely evacuating her to a higher level of care.
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Dec 10, 2017 - 04:52pm PT
I really hate hearing about stuff like this.
I don't know the specifics of what happened here, but based on what I see both at climbing gyms and sport climbing areas, I surmise that a surprising number of climbers do not understand the simple math of (climber distance above last bolt) plus (belayer distance from cliff) plus (extra slack in rope) plus (rope stretch in a fall) plus ( climber pulling up rope to clip way overhead).

Virenal suggests " if you see something, say something", but sadly, observing people in potential groundfall situations is so common that I mostly feel like it's none of my business.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Dec 10, 2017 - 05:31pm PT
If that's the climb I think it is, it's been an accident waiting to happen for years.

It's the four bolt, ledgy thing where you can ground fall from the third bolt right? Not a 5.8 for a 5.8 climber or a tired climber.

phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Dec 10, 2017 - 09:02pm PT
Tom, no I think it's the next climb to the right. 7 bolts
But I personally think many sport routes have ground fall potential until you clip the third bolt, unless your belayer is belaying close to the wall, no slack.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
Dec 11, 2017 - 02:18pm PT
Iím hoping for a good outcome,
Best wishes to the climber involved.
Some really good advice above.
Majid_S

Mountain climber
Karkoekstan, Former USSR
Dec 12, 2017 - 06:24am PT
what went wrong during belay ?
Gunkie

Trad climber
Valles Marineris
Dec 12, 2017 - 06:53am PT
I had a satellite messenger that is checked out to me from Sierra Mountain Guides and I would never think about being down in the gorge on a guiding day without a sat phone or the Delorme In Reach. It would be considered negligent for me as a professional yet I typically don't throw it in my pack on personal "day cragging" missions. There is not the best view of the sky but you could probably get a message out .... I will start carrying a 2 way sattelite communication Device on my days off!!!

I had a Garmin Inreach Explorer and I used it to call for help when I came across an injured (broken leg) hiker who couldn't walk. This was pretty much no-cell phone territory and it was late in the day on a cold March Sunday afternoon. No one else was around. I was solo day hiking and this person was on a solo backpacking trip.

I was able to text with the dispatch and they found our location via the Garmin website. SRT team showed up at 9 pm, maybe four hours after making contact. Pretty impressive. That guy would have been out there at least one more night. It was freezing cold and he had a nice warm sleeping bag and loaned me an extra jacket while we waited.

Anyway, I lost the damn unit last month in a parking lot in Tuxedo NY. Reward if found. Definitely worth the money. Will buy another after Xmas, in case one magically appears in my stocking.
Jody

climber
Occupied Territory
Dec 12, 2017 - 07:06am PT
Gunkie, those things are amazing. I carried a SPOT for years and it did okay for tracking and "OK" messages to my wife. She had me get one since 95% of the time I am solo in the backcountry. Anyway, the SPOT was limited in it's ability to connect with satellites if in narrow, steep-walled canyons and often couldn't get the message out. I switched to a Garmin InReach this year and it is absolutely amazing. I was in a steep, narrow canyon, at the base of a waterfall, with trees overhanging the 30' wide canyon...and the message got out in about 60 seconds after turning the unit on. The SPOT never would have been successful in that area.

The InReach also gives confirmation that the message was sent(SPOT) doesn't, and has texting capabilities. You also pay about $12/mos more for the service and the unit can be pricey initially.

By the way, the price on these units went up significantly after Garmin obtained DeLorme and they came out with a newer model. The DeLorme(older) models are available at really good prices, both retail and on eBay.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 12, 2017 - 07:07am PT
What Phyl said X100. Gotta be on your game always but especially near the deck. And most climbers most of the time are doing single-pitch routes, so there's a lot of near-the-deck time to worry about. In fact, we recently purchased an Ohm belay assist for my wife. She weighs in about 100 lbs. while I'm over 180 with gear and all, so it's easy for me to get her airborne. This thing should really help keep both of us where we're supposed to be.



BAd
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 12, 2017 - 08:27am PT
what went wrong during belay ?


I do hope the injured climber makes a full recovery.


Do we have any information about just what type of a climbing accident this was?


Did a bolt pull?

Biner snap?

Knott failure?

Blow the clip?

all this secrecy, why?

inquiring minds want to know.

THX
S1W

climber
Dec 12, 2017 - 09:06am PT
It's been a few years, but I seem to recall that rig being a bit on the sketchy side for a 5.8 sport climb. A bit sandbagged, odd bolting, weird line, slick in places...

The climber/her belayer may not have done anything wrong and she simply may have fallen getting to the third bolt. I could see it happening on that route.
Aerili

climber
Project Y
Dec 12, 2017 - 09:46am PT
It's been a few years, but I seem to recall that rig being a bit on the sketchy side for a 5.8 sport climb. A bit sandbagged, odd bolting, weird line, slick in places...

The climber/her belayer may not have done anything wrong and she simply may have fallen getting to the third bolt. I could see it happening on that route.

Yes, this. Definitely odd bolting. I think the 5.9 next to it is similar in difficulty but with better bolting.
henny

Social climber
The Past
Dec 12, 2017 - 09:50am PT
My understanding after talking to a couple of good climbers who were there is that the belayer was back from the wall plus had a loop of slack in the system. Sounds like the observations and math called out by phylp were likely contributing factors in reaching the ground.

The "easier" routes on the left of the China Wall are slick and kind of sporty bolting at their starts - as people have mentioned. Its not hard to envision potential for problems on those routes.

Attentive belays are perhaps even more important when the ground is proximate. I've blown clips and come off more than once (unfortunately) with maximum rope out while making clips. It can (and sometimes does) happen when you least want it to, nothing new there.

My lesson learned: a reminder that belaying is a dead serious job that requires one to be present and accounted for. Don't get lax just because you're experienced.

Good wishes for a quick recovery to the climber involved.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 12, 2017 - 10:45am PT
My understanding after talking to a couple of good climbers who were there is that the belayer was back from the wall plus had a loop of slack in the system.
That does seem to be what was pointed out in Viren's account as well.

Soft catch, brah - leave a generous loop of slack - it seems to be what is being taught in several gyms these days. I don't like it, and it's wrong.

A loop of slack is not at all what a soft catch is about. It's about managing slack and moving your body by hopping, stepping back, walking into, or whatever needs to be done depending on fall distance and weight differences between climber and belayer - to soften the impact while minimizing the fall distance, doesn't matter how far off the deck or overhung it is.

Holy cow - I think we can say for sure - this women so did not get a soft catch. What a scary injury, hope the best, sounds like she was lucky with her company and got a competent carry out.
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 12, 2017 - 11:14am PT
henny.... thank you very much for the reply.

root cause.... climber error and belayer error.

Those climbs my be ONLY 5.8 but I have always found them to be pretty serious because of the slick stone and poorly thought out bolting.

A good belayer is golden.

The old soft catch, one of the many misunderstood concepts, so common to today's newer "climber".

I hope the climber fully recovers, and thank you to all who assisted in the rescue.

And thank you to the DWP for being so understanding and not freaking out and shutting the place down.

henny

Social climber
The Past
Dec 12, 2017 - 11:15am PT
^^^^^ (JLP), yes. Agreed on what dynamics can/should factor into providing a "soft" catch.

Indoors/outdoors, who cares. Excess rope in the system is rarely a good thing. Between a hard/soft catch, a hard one is the obvious choice if it means not hitting something - especially the ground.
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