Climbing Death in Yosemite above the Awahanee


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Trad climber
Josh, CA
May 10, 2010 - 05:47pm PT
Thanks Japhy.

Excellent account of what happened. Very well presented considering what you have been through and how soon you posted this.

Again, my condolences.


Big Wall climber
the range of light
May 10, 2010 - 05:50pm PT

Anything you need, ANYTHING, come find me...


Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
May 10, 2010 - 06:15pm PT
Excellent! (if not devastating to read...)

You have told all of us everything we need to know to be even more careful in the future.

Thank you so very much.

tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
May 10, 2010 - 06:29pm PT
Thank you Japhy for having the strength to write that up so soon. You do the community a great favor.

I too agree with Kris- it could happen to any of us at one time or another. We've all had close calls and gotten lucky.

Trad climber
fresno, ca
May 10, 2010 - 06:38pm PT
Thank you Japhy, your concise and thoughtful write up may save lives in the future. I cannot imagine your loss or what you went through that day. May he live on in your memories. Thank you for sharing. Be strong.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
May 10, 2010 - 06:55pm PT

I wish you only the best, and that there
were some way for you not to suffer as you are.
My sincere condolences.

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
May 10, 2010 - 06:59pm PT
To Japhy and all those who were close to Brian I give my sincerest condolences. To lose a climbing partner, friend or significant other in such an unnecessary way is truly tragic.

Strangely enough, rappelling is one of the more dangerous aspects of climbing and I hope that through such tragedy we all become more cautious and take just a little more time to double check our own rappel setups. The supplemental information in this thread should be utilized to hopefully avoid other similar tragedies in the future.

Play and climb safe,


Social climber
Portland, Oregon
May 10, 2010 - 07:01pm PT
Thanks for the report - might keep someone else safe.

Sincere condolences to friends and family.

Desolation Basin, Calif.
May 10, 2010 - 07:01pm PT
Japhy (Jeff?),

I hope you're doing OK. This is very shocking. Brian was a great guy and an excellent climber. He will be missed by many.

Thanks for posting this account. It's tough. Perhaps this will help prevent another such accident.

All the best to you,
Gary Schenk


Trad climber
Bay Area
May 10, 2010 - 07:22pm PT
I cannot even imagine your strength in writing your post. Even with the horror so fresh your writing is clear, logical and honest.
Thank you for sharing your experience so that we all can learn. In that way you honor Brian and he will not soon be forgotten.


Trad climber
May 10, 2010 - 08:14pm PT
Japhy, thanks for the detailed (and courageous) explanation.

Two technical things I'd like to highlight - if only because so many people are reading this, and we all want to be safe. 1st (although not part of the problem in this case), EDKs have been tested extensively (perhaps by BD?)- and "rolling of the knot off the end" is a real risk. The takeaway from the extended article I read included a. don't use figure eight (flat figure eight where both rope ends come out of knot is same direction,they roll even more easily than simple overhands), b. leave long tails (18"s recommended), c. carefully dress and tighten knot, and d. never use ropes of significantly differing diameters (ie. a 6 and a 10). That's what the testers said.

Secondly, I use a pull line regularly but I'm always a bit nervous about it. In addition to a locking biner in the knot system (at least in the case of a 6 mill), the procedure I've come to use is to set up rappel, but then completely and firmly tie off both ropes for first person down (as someone above mentioned), then have the lower person tie off both ropes again at lower station. Second rappeler then unties upper fixed tie-off and raps one line, but he is protected from any kind of sudden pull-through because bottom of pull line is anchored. This extra step annoys my partners at times because of the extra step and time involved, but it's worth it in my book. Be safe. 45 years in the mountains so far, and - with thanks to God - no accidents yet. Yes, as someone said, keep learning and don't get complacent.

Condolences again to all involved.

(edit for bluering: maybe my wording above was unclear, but first step is to tie off (as with 8 on a bight and another locker) the single rap rope for the first one down - then go back to regular pullable rap set up for second, but with lower ends tied off.)

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
May 10, 2010 - 08:22pm PT
Nice idea, Mike, but it wouldn't have helped Brian. He was the first one down.

Tragic accident. Sorry this happened, Japhy. So sad...

Thanks for posting the account. It IS helpful.

Sport climber
California originally, Old Pueblo presently..
May 10, 2010 - 08:58pm PT
Thank you for finding the courage and strength to educate, share, and reflect on this accident. Your words and thoughtfulness are greatly appreciated.


Gym climber
berkeley, ca
May 10, 2010 - 09:16pm PT
My sincere condolences to Brian's friends, family, and all who were present at his accident.

Thanks for sharing your accounts of the accident, and hope that everyone involved is comforted by the learning that we are respectfully trying to gain from the tragedy.

Another reason to not use the retrieval cord trick as anything other than a contingency plan is that it leaves you fairly hosed if the rope hangs up (ex: knot jams in a crack) before you've pulled enough to reach the lead line. You will need to lead up to the snag on the static cordalette.

If you're worried about slippage w/ a skinny 2nd line (I use an 8.1 half rope...and have never actually seen it slip w/ careful feeding on a Jaws), set up a standard 2 rope rap, but fix one side for the first person down. The second person down unfixes the rope for the pull, but doesn't need to worry about slippage b/c their buddy is hanging onto the ends below. Given the choice, I always want to pull the fat line so that I always have some fat line to use.

Trad climber
Nevada City, CA
May 10, 2010 - 09:52pm PT
Good thoughts to you both. Thanks for the detailed account.

Mountain climber
San Diego
May 10, 2010 - 10:36pm PT
I'm so sorry for your loss. Prayers for everyone.

Thank you for sharing what happened.

Big Wall climber
May 10, 2010 - 11:16pm PT
Japhy, Sorry about the loss of your good friend. My thoughts are with you, Brian's family, and all of Brian's friends. My sincere condolences, Dana
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 10, 2010 - 11:18pm PT
Thank you Japhy for an incredibly lucid account of the accident.

I am sure it will help prevent similar accidents in the future, which is a lasting legacy of your's and Brian's, something good coming out of something so terrible.

We can only hope to learn from such tragedy.

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
May 11, 2010 - 12:30am PT

Thanks so much for your details. I can't imagine the courage it takes to do what you did. You may have saved several lives. One of them might have been mine. My thanks and thoughts are with you and everybody involved.


Trad climber
Woodside, CA
May 11, 2010 - 03:21am PT
We were topping out on Selaginella when this happened, not even a mile away. We didn't know until I checked my email in Mountain Room later that evening. Devastating. RIP, Brian. Hang in there, Japhy! Thank you for your courage and willingness to share at this awful time.

A lot to be learned from here but unfortunately none of it will bring this wonderful person back :(
Messages 141 - 160 of total 280 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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