Rock climber dies after fall in New River Gorge 6/12/2010


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 20 of total 56 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 14, 2010 - 12:52pm PT
June 14, 2010
Rock climber dies after fall in New River Gorge

By Amelia A. Pridemore Register-Herald Reporter

A Virginia woman who fell while rock climbing in the New River Gorge Saturday has died, authorities said.

Karen Feher, 33, of Midlothian, Va., was taken to Plateau Medical Center in Oak Hill, where she was pronounced dead, said Chuck Noll, acting chief ranger for the New River Gorge National River.

Feher fell from the Kaymoor Buttress area in Fayette County around 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Noll said. She fell about 50 feet, and CPR was performed almost immediately after she fell.

Feher was using protective equipment, and she was climbing with a group, Noll said. Exactly how she fell remains under investigation, but Noll said there could have been a rigging error. There was nothing suspicious found.


Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Jun 14, 2010 - 01:23pm PT
From the thread on there is a link to a video which might explain what happened. It is well worth watching:


Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Jun 14, 2010 - 02:06pm PT
We have had a distressing number of deaths over the last two years. And we are on course to make this a record year.

How long before the authorities notice? Already insurance companies are making it better to just not mention rock climbing when you file for insurance. But sooner or later the actual safety record that we display is going to become noticed. While it was pretty good over the last few decades, it seems to be dropping pretty fast.

Dyneema slings and wire gate biners being brought outside is maybe not the smartest things we have done either. Allowing Gyms to teach the lowest common denominators of belaying is maybe another. I used to spend a lot of time carefully making placements with nuts, fiddling them in just so. The trust shown to cams, plug blindly and race away is perhaps not such a good thing also?

If climbing becomes perceived as a dangerous sport we could lose a lot of opportunity. To say nothing of accelerating the access problems we are beginning to see more and more.

Trad climber
In the mountains... somewhere...
Jun 14, 2010 - 02:12pm PT
Do you actually climb? What kind of stupid statements are those? Jesus, talk about jumping on the Bandwagon!

Topic Author's Reply - Jun 14, 2010 - 02:21pm PT
I was hoping analysis would be kept on

To her friends & loved ones, my deepest sympathies to all of you.

Just did a quick search to confirm for a friend of mine who thought maybe she knew Karen Feher, RN;
Mother/Infant Unit MCV Hospitals Richmond, Virginia; 1999 - Present

turns out she does.


'cross the great divide
Jun 14, 2010 - 02:32pm PT
"If climbing becomes perceived as a dangerous sport we could lose a lot of opportunity. To say nothing of accelerating the access problems we are beginning to see more and more."

Rokjox, your overall cluelessness about everything, and desire to push your own agenda in even the most inappropriate of contexts continues to surprise me.

Very sorry to hear about this accident.
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
Jun 14, 2010 - 02:38pm PT
All the best to the family and friends of the deceased in this hard time.

To be honest, I click on these "climber dies" posts to find out how the climber died, so I can, perhaps, avoid making a similar mistake myself. Nothing morbid or accusatory, I'd just like to stick around a while longer if possible.

Here is an intelligent explanation from a NRG climber on Thanks for the info:


Jun 14, 2010, 8:02 AM
Post #10 of 23 (955 views)

Registered: Feb 23, 2010
Posts: 4

Re: [newrivermike] Accident Kaymoor NRG [In reply to]
Average: (6 ratings) Can't Post
Firstly, I wasn't there. Keep in mind that the only person at the anchor that actually knows what happened was the victim. There is always going to be a certain level of speculation with any accident analysis.

The climber was Karen Feher from Midlothian Va. She climbed to the anchor of Rico Suave and clipped in direct. Her setup: She had two thin dyneema slings girth hitched to her harness. At the end of each sling was a locking carabiner held in place with a rubber Petzl keeper, the kind they put on spirit draws. These are called 'Petzl Strings'. Google search it if you dont' know what I'm talking about.
She clipped a locker to each bolt and probably called off belay. I'm unclear if she was going to rappel or lower. It doesn't matter. She fell to the ground.

The day after the accident a local climber named Craig (last name?) climbed to the anchor and found a locker on each bolt with a Petzl String still affixed to each one. Both Petzl strings were torn on the side.

It is unclear to me if the two slings were still attached to her harness as her harness went with her and EMS but I am assuming this to be true.
OK, how could this happen? This is to me one of the safest setups for cleaning an anchor. My friend Kirk and I toyed around with slings and strings at home and found a scary scenario:

If you loop back over one side of the sling and clip it back through the carabiner it looks like it's OK, kind of. In reality the rubber string is the only thing holding weight.

At the top of Rico is a small ledge to stand on and clean. If you're not fully weighting the system these rubber strings will hold about 15 pounds before breaking. I'm guessing they were able to hold just enough weight to feign security while she untied to feed. Until just enough weight was added to break.
I know this is hard to visualize. It took us about 30 minutes to figure it out. Check out this video for a clear visual:

Peace, -Jeremy

Jim Henson's Basement
Jun 14, 2010 - 02:43pm PT
My thoughts to her friends and family.

I can actually visualize how this happened. Terrible random accident.

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Jun 14, 2010 - 02:49pm PT
This did not start out as an obituary thread. You want an obituary thread, you put the name of the deceased in the thread title, so that the families can find the thread using google.

I have climbed longer than most of the posters on this thread have been adults, and longer than some have been alive.

My "agenda" is to make the climbing community see how they are perceived and NOT by looking through rose colored glasses, but through the lenses of ACTUAL public opinion.

We are screwing up on every level, as climbers, and we are tremendously vunerable to a change in opportunity and perception by the "others" that have the real power over our sport.

between the flat part and the blue wobbly thing
Jun 14, 2010 - 02:56pm PT
"We are screwing up on every level, as climbers"...
Wow, I really thought I was just having fun. Apparently climbing is a lot more important than I ever imagined.

'cross the great divide
Jun 14, 2010 - 02:56pm PT
I rest my case.

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Jun 14, 2010 - 03:01pm PT
First of all, my sympathies to family and friends reading this.

Rox, do you have any info to indicate that accidents are more common now than 5-10 years ago? Or that they have increased out of proportion to increase in number of climbers?

And certainly a number of the folks that have perished recently were very experienced people. We shouldn't be blaming those deaths on gear or gyms.

Let's face it, there is a certain amount of danger in the sport. Sometimes accidents will happen.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Jun 14, 2010 - 03:09pm PT
J Werlin- You should start a new thread with that video link. An eye-opener for many it would be. Or at least reinforcment. Keep It Simple Stud (KISS) has its place.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Jun 14, 2010 - 03:14pm PT
this stuff should not be happening....

Check you're gear!!!!! May the deceased rest in peace. God bless her.

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Jun 14, 2010 - 03:16pm PT
Its exactly how experienced of climbers that the deaths represent that bothers me.

The Micahs and the super experienced people dying all over the place. Two in China, a few in Yosemite, a couple here, a few more there, the publicity is becoming never ending.

And no, I have not complied the stats, I don't know how to do that, but you can bet that there are people doing that as we type. But I am sure I never heard of so many highly experienced climbers dying when I was climbing in the "Stonemaster" era. The loss of Dolt and Yabo made a big splash, yet both of them died at their own hands and not on climbs.

But the Perception of an increase is all that is necessary for our sport to become regulated and constricted. How would you like a gym style permitting process to become mandatory for permission to climb anywhere? A requirement that we all must take a series of classes and maintain logs and permits and insurance to cover both health AND rescue costs for all climbers?

Everest style requirements will, I predict, become more and more common as the public begins to feel we are all fools draining the resources of the "public lands" and administrations everywhere. Requirements to hire guides on Hood for instance if you can't show "proper" documentation and "Officially Recognized" skill sets. When climber die CLIMBING, its big news, far more so than how the public views a fisherman drowning or a dozen campers dying in a flood. We are becoming just mainstream enough to be VERY public in our failures.

And that is going to bite us bad pretty soon.

Edit: And 5-10 years is not the time period that will be looked at. It will be 50 years, or the entire history of climbing, with a dramatically increasing rate of climber deaths rising even faster than the population of climbers as a whole has increased. 5-10 years is a FAR puny time scale, and only will impress people under 30. It's people over 50 or even 60 who make the rules.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 14, 2010 - 03:18pm PT
Unfortunately, whenever a person dies on somewhat steep terrain the local papers invariably refer to the person as a "climber."

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Jun 14, 2010 - 03:24pm PT
Got that right Donini.

I remember when I had to complain to a radio station that was reporting that a base jump off of Bath Rock (Elephant rock?) in the COR was being reported as a climbing death. Given that a base jump off either of those rocks is evidence of a death wish, as both are far too short of free falls to count on opening your chute fully, it was a major screwup, yet it was widely reported as a climbing death.

AS are many unroped hikers scrambling around steep hillsides.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jun 14, 2010 - 03:28pm PT
I don't think these fatalities are really that much more widespread.

I think there are a heck of a lot more climbers, so the number goes up.

Then we have instant information, which we didn't use to have, so we hear about all the ones from different parts of the country which might not have reached our ears BITD.

So it SEEMS like there are a lot more. I don't know.

I'm sorry for all of her loved ones.
Nate Ricklin

San Diego
Jun 14, 2010 - 03:51pm PT
Seems to me that it'd be rare for a sling to clip back through a biner like that. Nothing like that has ever happened to me, with all my slings stored tripled and tossed haphazardly all over the place.

What's the likelihood of that happening to BOTH of your clip-in slings?

Seems more likely to me that she had them incorrectly configured from the start.

Is there a way for the sling to just go through the rubber Petzl "string" and not the biner and still look okay?

Topic Author's Reply - Jun 14, 2010 - 04:03pm PT
Unfortunately, whenever a person dies on somewhat steep terrain the local papers invariably refer to the person as a "climber." -donini

Got that right Donini. -rj
so annoying I cannot spell out the whole name... I'll write it off as some severe form of As(shole)perger's

at 10a, Rico Suavé, IMO, qualifies as steep

Rico Suave Area - Good steep face climbing with a big roof visor at the top to keep you dry. Rico Suave and Out of the Bag are quality lines here. (Waterstone)

edit. added for reference:

DANGER : Do not use an open webbing sling equipped with a STRING, as t...
DANGER : Do not use an open webbing sling equipped with a STRING, as the potential for misuse is too high.
Credit: reddirt
Messages 1 - 20 of total 56 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Trip Report and Articles
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews