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


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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
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.

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
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."

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:


Trad climber
San Diego
Jun 14, 2010 - 04:13pm PT
Also, is there really an enormous advantage to these "rubber bands" over the typical "trad draw"? At least with a tradition draw you will be able to immediately spot if something is twisted or clipped incorrectly.

At the end of the day, every climber must fully understand the system they choose to use, and more importantly its disadvantages. Clipping in twice (as was described) seems like a safe way to go. Hard to believe that she lost her life to something like this.

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

I also think this is likely the case.

I cant image what her family is going through. Rest in Peace.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Jun 14, 2010 - 04:30pm PT
I don't believe that "accident just sometimes happen" as someone said in a previous posting in this thread. When these accidents are analyzed there is a root cause to what happened and usually that is an event or series of events which were done improperly.

We can all learn from these accidents. It is foolish to believe that these things just happen on their own without a root cause.


Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 14, 2010 - 04:44pm PT
It always pains me to hear of an accident. My sympathies to the victim's friends and family.

I, too, used to believe that accidents don't just happen. They all had some root cause that was ultimately either defective equipment or poor judgment. My 43 years (and counting) of roped climbing have changed my mind. I have never met a perfectly safe climber. Sooner or later, we've all done thinkgs that, with slightly different circumstances, would have killed ourselves or others. Climber error is part of human nature. We call these tragedies "accidents" because the people involved did not intend the bad outcome.

I don't know if we are statistically more or less safe than we used to be. All I know is that we engage in an activity that has an inherent danger. The more aware we remain of this fact, the better our chances of staying alive.


Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Jun 14, 2010 - 06:05pm PT

Yes. We all make mistakes. Hopefully the overwhelming majority of these mistakes do not result in tragic consequences.

For me, 'climber error' is a root cause for an accident. I still believe that accidents don't just happen, but I've only got 40 years of roped climbing to your 43.

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