Surviving Sedona.....January 8th is my new second birthday


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Beatrix Kiddo

Mountain climber
Jan 11, 2013 - 02:40pm PT
Happy belated!!! Scariest 6-7' fall ever! Quick thinking saved you. We are glad!
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 11, 2013 - 03:11pm PT

Jan 11, 2013 - 05:16pm PT
In contrast to you, a friend of ours was more unlucky.
When the old sling he was rappelling from broke, he fell
the entire remaining length of the east face of Matterhorn
to his death.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 11, 2013 - 06:05pm PT
re: testing the system

Hardly any mention here of testing the system before letting loose.

Test the system.

I love to rappel. I've done it hundreds of times - but NOT ONCE EVER without testing the system (visually, under body weight, dynamically under movement) before removing backup daisy, whatever.

In the gym, too, I also see many climbers reach the top anchor and without any pause let go or jump off without a second thought. When it's so easy, why not take a second and double check the system before asking to be lowered? Besides, it's great habit building for outdoors. I do it every time without fail.

In climbing it can be over in a second. The devil is in the details.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jan 11, 2013 - 09:02pm PT
OMG Jim, that's effin' scary as hell!

I've never broken webbing but once in the Bugaboos when the rope got jammed and two of us pulled extra hard, we retrieved not only the rope but the entire flake that had been the anchor, thereby giving new and additional emphasis to the term "rappel."

A notable aspect of Jim's experience is the anchor he trusted was worthless and the anchor he thought worthless held a seven-foot fall. I think this illustrates that, although we learn many things through experience, there are still things we don't know how to judge, and sometimes our "experience" can convince us (because we've gotten away with stuff many times in the past) that we know things that we really don't (such as the strength of old webbing and the solidity of fixed pitons and bolts).

I think another danger for those of us with many years' experience is that we can forget to shift gears, by which I mean that we may apply standards that were appropriate for serious conditions in remote settings to little crags, where we have all the time in the world and, usually, access to lots of extra gear to make the situation redundant, even if it slows things down a bit. If we're going to get the chop, at least it should be on something big 'n nasty and not some little pimple of a crag, but as Jim says, gravity never sleeps, and we nod off, even for an instant, at our peril.

As we all exhale our communal sigh of relief, we can take comfort in the fact that experience did win the day; the back-up anchor was clipped and did what it was supposed to do.

Thank god you're ok Jim. Happy New Birthday.

Jan 12, 2013 - 06:43am PT
Everyone that posts here has been lucky at some time. Glad your luck hasn't run out!!!!!!!!!!! Grateful for the post as a reminder to us all to be diligent - always.

Jan 12, 2013 - 06:58am PT
Yeah, good to hear you're still gonna be around for a while!
Captain...or Skully

Jan 12, 2013 - 09:49am PT
I'm glad you're not dead, Jim, but discipline NEVER relaxes. You know this.
Don't be a bonehead. Yep, it can happen to anyone, if you let it. I like you much better alive.

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Jan 12, 2013 - 10:50am PT
Jim, were you the first to rap, or your partner?

Jan 12, 2013 - 10:58am PT
Seriously I can't believe you even thought that was an acceptable piece of webbing with all the years you have in the mountains and rock.

Straight up noob sh#t right there. Next time hire a guide to teach you some safety techniques. Coz here's a new client for you.

You have come full circle from noob to master and back to noob. Wake up Jim that's on par with skinner using an old harness.

Lucky to be alive you are old noob.

Trad climber
Where the Hoback and the mighty Snake River meet
Jan 12, 2013 - 11:00am PT
It would have been a real bummer to read this accident report.
Really glad you are humble enough to share here.

Not trying to be a smartass, but is your near vision not so good? Because there is NO WAY I would have rapped off of that!

(I too carry tied slings for this and I pretty much always use a fresh one to rappel off of, taking the worst of the tat with me. But I have not had to rappel off of slings for a very long time.)

Thank you for the heads up, glad your still with us man.
Tony Bird

Northridge, CA
Jan 12, 2013 - 11:30am PT
not being much into doniniolatry, i'll ask my question a little more pointedly. jim read something that seemed to influence an unfortunate lapse in judgment. i think we need to pick the thing apart.

Social climber
san joser
Jan 12, 2013 - 11:43am PT
How about testing the rappel anchor this way:

1. Always climb with a partner at least 50 lbs heavier than yourself.
2. Make them rap first.
3. If the rap anchor fails (and your ropes and partner are now at the base of the cliff), call Werner to come pick you up in the heli.

Problem solved. No extra webbing needed.

Trad climber
Where the Hoback and the mighty Snake River meet
Jan 12, 2013 - 11:44am PT
know what? THAT^^^^ was not funny, I know someone that his happened too and I have a feeling you are referring to that incident azzhat.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jan 12, 2013 - 12:17pm PT
Complacency, no offense, and luckily dodged a bullet.

A bullet I tell ya.


Social climber
san joser
Jan 12, 2013 - 01:36pm PT
Sorry if I offended, Hossjulia. I do not know of anyone who this has happened to.

What I do know is that all but one of one of my climbing partners outweigh me. And yes, I would send them first. Of course there would be a temporary gear back up to be removed before I went down.

Trad climber
Where the Hoback and the mighty Snake River meet
Jan 12, 2013 - 01:50pm PT
Is cool cragershagger, but this really did happen, although I don't think the brother that was killed outweighed his sibling.
Helicopter off, Valley, all that. Werner knows.
I'm friends with the survivor and I tend to be overly protective of my friends.

Social climber
Jan 12, 2013 - 02:14pm PT
Heh, actually its alpine climbing technique to have the heavier climber (could be one with more gear or a pack or just a fatty fats like me) go first while the anchor is backed up, then the lil guy (or gal) goes second and pulls the backup, if the back up might be vital for another rap station.

Kind of like glacier travel and crevasse crossings.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jan 12, 2013 - 02:15pm PT
Tony: always the guy who looks like he's sucking lemons...

I know it is always hard to post up something I did which could be seen to be so obviously stupid in retrospect that at the time seemed entirely reasonable. The responsibility of surviving the stupidity seems to be honored by fessing up...

Jim Donini didn't have to post this incident up... that he did speaks volumes about him and it serves as an important lesson to all of us: that we all can make mistakes of judgement no matter our experience.

Independent of any "hero worship" I am glad he survived, I don't wish injury or death on any climber and I celebrate their survival. I also think that "lessons learned" are a very good way to teach people... the many times I've read ANAM thinking "how dumb, but how close to that I've come!"

so pick the incident apart... what's your analysis...

Social climber
Jan 12, 2013 - 02:17pm PT
Ed brings up a good point, because for myself I've been at points where I've been so beaten and tired and cold and wet that I've made really idiotic decisions. Sometimes it was just a warm day in joshua tree but I was distracted or let my ego get ahead of us...

I definitely wouldn't trust that webbing, but I say that sitting behind a keyboard not having to go through what Jim did to get to it, both on the climb and in his past experiences in life.

As far as the incident itself is concerned, I am trying to visualize HOW this webbing is around the block? Is it pinched underneath a rounded spherical thingy or is it literally just wrapped around it like a bow? COuld affect how easy it is to visually inspect, and sometimes the less convenient to fully inspect get less inspected (not implying that Jim didn't inspect it, but as an educational takeaway).
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