Owens River Gorge Accident


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Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Oct 22, 2010 - 01:48pm PT
So, she's in a bay area hospital, now?

Thanks for that vignette, Clint, it Can happen to anyone.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Oct 26, 2010 - 06:06pm PT
Update anyone?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 27, 2010 - 12:10am PT
10/23 update: 3rd spinal surgery went well. Still in Reno. Hope to transfer to a rehab facility in the bay area in a few weeks.
11/2 update: Last planned surgeries went well. Took some steps around the room with a walker. :-)

Trad climber
Oct 27, 2010 - 01:41am PT
thanks for the up date.
my best thoughts to her.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Oct 27, 2010 - 02:57am PT
Healing thougbts and prayers going her way
Tahoe climber

Davis these days
Oct 27, 2010 - 12:27pm PT
Best wishes and speedy recovery to the accident victim.
Respectfully request her to post details so we can all have one more reminder on how to prevent what happened.

Trad climber
Danvers, MA
Nov 19, 2010 - 08:00pm PT
All the best!!! She's is the sister of my friends girlfriend! Glad we're seeing some updates!!!! I'm sure we'll eventually hear about how it actually happened. She has an angel on her shoulder...

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Dec 17, 2010 - 06:50pm PT
any updates?

Edit: wondering how she is doing with her rehab

Oakland: what's not to love?
Dec 17, 2010 - 07:57pm PT
Clint wrote:

I was part of a similar accident a few years ago - I could not see or hear my partner who had led a pitch > 100 feet. I thought he knew to make a rappel, but he started lowering himself and then he thought I was lowering him, so he let go of the rope. He started accelerating, but fortunately it was not vertical and he managed to regrab the rope and stop himself. It could have easily been fatal. The problem could have easily been solved if I had not taken him off belay until I could reliably communicate with him. But I was trying to speed up the process of his pulling up the rappel rope by taking the rope out of my ATC. Not a good shortcut to take. My mistake.

Being self-critical in any analysis is good, and that sounds like the kind of thinking I'd want in a partner.

But in the situation you've described, as much or more fault lies with your partner, who probably now will remember to never, ever take his hand off the rap unless he's 100% certain his belayer is lowering him.

Really glad to hear about any time a near accident is avoided. My partner very nearly killed himself while rapping off of Goodrich the other week. Distracted, he didn't clip into the anchor when he hit a bolted belay on a tiny stance (top of p3). Took his ATC off the ropes, pulled the lines, and chatted for a good two minutes before either of us realized he was attached to nothing.

If he had leaned back, he would have gone three hundred feet.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 17, 2010 - 10:19pm PT
Thanks, Bruce. It is a communication issue, but I still feel largely at fault for the older accident because I took my partner off belay without clear communication.
And it was for convenience - to help speed up the process of his pulling rope up to the anchor.
Now I keep people on when I'm uncertain. Often they pull up rope at about the same rate I can feed it through my ATC, so there is no real loss of speed.

For an update on my friend's condition - she transferred from Reno to a rehab ward in San Jose, was there for a few weeks, and then was discharged around December 1. She has full strength in one leg, and significant weakness and numbness in the other. She has a lot of pain due to the broken pelvis and fractured sacrum. She described it late November as level 7/10 when sitting, and never less than 5 when lying down. She moved into a ground floor apartment near the rehab hospital, so she does not have to travel far for physical therapy. It is still early in the recovery process, so she is adjusting to some of the complications, and hopefully she will regain some more function. Her friends are in contact and we use a google spreadsheet to plan visits so that we can provide a little entertainment to distract her from the pain while she is healing up.

Trad climber
SF Bay Area
Dec 8, 2012 - 05:32pm PT
Hello, all.

It has taken 2+ years for me to recover emotionally and physically enough to read, let alone post on ST again. I am the girl who fell 140 ft to the ground and survived.

I know it was 140 ft because I had just linked 2 pitches with a 70m rope. It is true, it is quite miraculous that I survived, let alone escaped without a Traumatic Brain Injury. What saved my life, probably, was the fact that about half-way down, one end of the rope coiled around my left leg, braking my fall momentarily, before I continued to fall the rest of the 70+ ft. I was also wearing a helmet.

The result of the accident was "burst" (that is the medical term) vertebrae i.e. I don't have a L2 vertebra any more, just a cage in its place, a torn spinal cord (T-10 incomplete, I was lucky there, a complete tear would have resulted in complete paralysis as opposed to my partial paralysis), a shattered sacrum and pelvis. 8 surgeries later, months of rehab, PT, time in a wheel chair, countless questions and weird looks from people as I first learned how to live life in a wheelchair, then moved on to a clunky leg brace, I am now what you would call a "walking paraplegic". With more blood, sweat and tears than I can convey, I have managed to learn to walk somewhat normally again, without a leg brace, and if I am walking on flat ground, most people would have difficulty noticing anything different about me. I know I got away lucky, but most of the time I wished I had died that day, rather than deal with the other physical and emotional effects of the accident.

I have not tried to climb since that day, even though I have not been able to bring myself to sell my climbing gear. I cut myself off from the climbing world because it was too hard to hear people talk about their wonderful adventures/trips, see places I used to climb, see this celebration of one's physical abilities. Perhaps the biggest challenge in recovering has been the emotional one, rather than the physical. One result of my accident is that I quit my job as an engineer because I decided I wanted to try and become a doctor! Haha, how many 30 year olds make that kind of career move? :) It has been hard to find new hobbies to replace climbing. Well, nothing will ever replace climbing.

My friends, family and rescuers know how much gratitude and love I have for them. They really pulled me through some very very dark times.

Best wishes and stay safe,

Wendy Ong

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Dec 8, 2012 - 05:37pm PT
Oh my Wendy......an amazing story. Incredibly courageous in sharing the reality of what you have gone through and are going through. I'm glad you have not cut yourself off from the crazy, poignant and moving ST.


Kennewick wa
Dec 8, 2012 - 05:43pm PT
Good luck Wendy!

If you never feel the urge to touch stone don't sweat it, you'll find another passion. Just don't let what happened ruin the great memories of your time moving over stone.

Believe it or not, 30 is young. you still have a lot of living to do.

Go kick ass!!!
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Dec 8, 2012 - 05:54pm PT
Wendy, thank God for the good luck of the fall circumstances, and that you are still alive. Miraculous.

I can understand the dark places, and have seen it often in such circumstances. But you are climbing out.

I think the decision to pursue Medicine is a wise one. The intense focus required will help you. The immense sense of helping and accomplishment in seeing others do better through your efforts is huge.

I'm a physician, and have served on a Medical School admissions committee in the past. If there is anything that I can do in terms of information, or you would like to bounce ideas, don't hesitate to PM me.

Best wishes for continuing progress on all fronts.

Trad climber
SF Bay Area
Dec 8, 2012 - 06:00pm PT
Well, I'm actually 31 :)

I can't believe the kind words of support I am getting from people who do know even know me. It is making me cry (in a good way).

Yes, an event like that makes you re-evaluate what is important in life and your perception of time. Shitting my life away in front of a computer screen at a job I wasn't completely passionate about was no longer an option.

On the plus side, I get to park in handicap spots. Although, I've lost count of the number of times people have yelled at me, thinking I stole the placard or something.

Dec 8, 2012 - 06:01pm PT
Holy shizzle!

Youv'e come a long way, keep it up and good luck.

Have you talked to James? He is also a walking miracle

The Desert Oven
Dec 8, 2012 - 06:12pm PT
Much respect to you for all that you have gone through. Many people would have given up long ago. You are obviously a fighter. I am sure that you will find a way to achieve your goal of becoming a doctor. Best wishes to you for making your future whatever you want it to be!

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Dec 8, 2012 - 06:18pm PT
Wendy, we are all glad that you are around to post.
As far as climbing, sure it is your passion, like it is for so many of us here.
However, it's not the end of the world if you never climb again. There are many other things to experience, i.e. kayaking, photography, just being outdoors. Don't let it get you down.
One last thing, don't be a stranger to Supertopo. Come back and enjoy the banter.

Trad climber
The Illuminati -- S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Division
Dec 8, 2012 - 11:41pm PT
I am so happy to see that you are OK!

Trad climber
The Illuminati -- S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Division
Dec 8, 2012 - 11:41pm PT
I hope you don't mind me posting this link?

Messages 41 - 60 of total 125 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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