Jack Roberts and the Fall

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Messages 1 - 73 of total 73 in this topic
RDB

Social climber
wa
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 22, 2013 - 03:13pm PT
Jonathon's first hand account. Brave stuff.

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-fall.html


Jack running it out on Curtain Call
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Feb 22, 2013 - 03:36pm PT
Well that made me cry.... the way he was cold on the hike in he very well may have had a heart attack?
stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Feb 22, 2013 - 03:43pm PT
Wow. That's a very tough thing to write. Kudos to him for doing it, and once again my condolences to Pam.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Feb 22, 2013 - 04:34pm PT
Never knew the guy. Still made me cry to read this. Thanks for posting it.

DMT
telemon01

Trad climber
Montana
Feb 22, 2013 - 05:11pm PT

Heavy stuff. Thanks for posting this.
ELM !

climber
Near Boston
Feb 22, 2013 - 05:24pm PT
It is a sad accident. From the earlier reports I thought he had fractured his hip and then had a heart attack from either the stress or a clot.
This section :"Jack died of a Hemo Pneumo Thorax. Blood from his broken ribs and subsequent internal injuries filled his chest cavity and compressed his heart and lungs to the point they no longer worked. He had six broken ribs on his upper right back(?) side, and a dislocated and hairline fractured hip."...really shows that he took a hard fall and hit the ice maybe twice hard. That type of pneumothorax is something you see in unrestrained car accident victims.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Feb 22, 2013 - 06:33pm PT
hey there say, RDB...

thank you kindly for sharing this...

i did not know him but i loved his very nice posts...
and learning of what a good man he was...

i cried when i heard he died and i wondered whyy he could not be
saved, after he was still alive from the fall--which made it twice as sad, then... now, i understand... *i just read the story...
had to cry again... i am glad he died with you, in a warmer way, than
being alone, or not knowing that someone was with him....

thank you so much...
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Feb 22, 2013 - 07:21pm PT
Looks like our bones get more brittle when we truly get old. May be a good idea to put in more pro even if our minds still feel young. I knew Jack just a little when we were young. RIP Jack.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 22, 2013 - 07:29pm PT
thank you for posting this,
best wishes for Jonathon, I don't know him but he's a person that I wouldn't hesitate being out there with...
BrassNuts

Trad climber
Save your a_s, reach for the brass...
Feb 22, 2013 - 08:24pm PT
Jonathon - thanks so much for posting your story, I know it was very difficult to do so. I think of Jack often, especially when I repeat a route that we had climbed over the years. Here's a pic of JR at the base of the RNWF of Half Dome - one of the best adventures we shared. RIP Jackster...
JR, base of Half Dome, 1994
JR, base of Half Dome, 1994
Credit: BrassNuts
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Feb 22, 2013 - 08:34pm PT
How sad. Thank you for your beautifully written account.

This is the life and sometimes the death we share. If we wanted to play it safe, we'd stay at home.

Condolences to Jack's friends and family.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 22, 2013 - 08:38pm PT
Thanks for hosting this Dane.

Jon: no doubt, hard for you to write this down and also very important to us.
Much appreciated.
Best wishes.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Feb 22, 2013 - 09:34pm PT
Reaching out again to Pam. Huge hugs to you !!! Loads o' love from Phil & I
Double D

climber
Feb 22, 2013 - 09:38pm PT
Thanks for posting this.
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Feb 22, 2013 - 09:49pm PT
Ummm...tough stuff...

Susan
Nick

climber
portland, Oregon
Feb 22, 2013 - 09:59pm PT
Thanks for the story. Must have been very hard. Jack was a great partner.
splitter

Trad climber
Cali Hodad, surfing the galactic plane ~:~
Feb 22, 2013 - 11:30pm PT
Brave stuff.
I have always admired and had a lot of respect for Jack. From my early days in The Valley upon hearing of some of his exploits, such as the SA of Tis*sack with Charlie Porter. To his SA of The Shield with Hugh Burton.

I recall a bunch of us sitting in the meadow one Spring morning, as we all focused on what was unfolding high above on the Captain. Jack was leading the crux "30 rurps in a row" pitch on the Shield. Something which, at the time, would send chills down the spine of anyone just thinking about it, let alone contemplating leading the SA of it.

And I remember one of the heavies of that era commenting something to the effect, "Man, he must be a one bold dood, let alone a damn good climber." Indeed he was.

I didn't know him personally then, but met him briefly once at the "Adventure 16 (A16) Mothers Day Swap Meet" that was held each Spring in their parking lot. I believe it was 1982 and he was selling a bunch of his gear. He had a ton of it, a lot of it geared towards alpine climbing since he had done a lot of stuff in Alaska by that date.

He seemed surprized that I new who he was, somewhat embarressed in fact, and he obviously preferred to not be the center of attention. Very humble guy. RIP
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Feb 23, 2013 - 08:07am PT
Bump.
Jon, thanks so much for sharing...indeed, I know how difficult this whole experience has been for you, and my heart goes out to you, my friend. Dane called me yesterday to let me know this was up on his blog, and I was glad to see you had finally put it out there. We had a very nice talk....and did discuss the importance of perhaps running out ice routes a bit less, especially since screws are so much easier to get in these days.
I know that some people have conjectured that maybe he had a heart attack or some other physical glitch that caused him to fall. All I know is that they did a full autopsy on him, and didn't find anything that indicated anything like that, for what it's worth. He had been sick with a bad cough over Christmas break, so maybe it was something as simple as a coughing fit. Who knows...........
Not a minute goes by when I don't think of Jack, and don't miss him deeply, even after a year plus. I certainly have a whole new appreciation for grief and the complexities in grappling with such a blow, that's for sure! I don't know how people do it without the kind of amazing friends that I have....I am very fortunate!
Anyway, thanks to Jon for sharing...........
Pam
telluridejon

Social climber
Telluride
Feb 23, 2013 - 08:41am PT
Thank you to all, most especially to Pam and Dane. We have had numerous chats about the accident and life, and felt it was appropriate to put this out there. I didn't cry writing this, but I'm tearing up reading everyone's comments .

Thank you.

Jon
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 23, 2013 - 08:52am PT
Thanks for the post - a well written accounting.

2 things in particular jumped out for me. A couple of years ago I took my first substantial whipper on ice and was lucky to walk away after stopping upsidedown 2 meters above the deck. Without a helmet too! The stupidity that precipitated that particular event is a whole other story but as related to this story, I was using leashless tools with BD bungy tethers.

1) I had always felt confident that a little foot blow out would be arrested by my firm grip on the hooked handles. I no longer believe that as the ease with which I lost grip - despite sticky rubber palm gloves - was remarkable. I have now reverted back to android leashes for steep ice, with the option of still going leashless when applicable.

2) My pick placements were good, but the shock loading of a piddley little 1 meter drop was no match for them. Its nice to have that little real world test behind me - quite revealing with only a little bleeding for cost! It kind of makes me wish i had done a little load testing before to confirm (or more likely not) the presumed strength and security of picks "welded" into ice. I believe there has been tests done with BD Spectres that hint at this weakness. The idea of "belaying off your tools" for instance should be regarded as maybe adequate for body weight but down right idiotic for anything else.

I guess the other thing alluded to here ( thanks again to the author) was that all belays should be created for easy escape and instant conversion into lowering / rescue rappeling and ideally even raising. I certainly can get a bit lazy especially with double ropes but when the sh#t hits the fan - which is why we rope up in the first place - you need a single bomber point that you can instantly escape from, especially if your partner is entering the "golden hour" zone of getting to surgery ASAP.

My condolences to all of Jacks Friends. I never met him but his long history on Huntington, Mt Kennedy and so on sure caught my attention over the years. Sounds like he was a first rate guide too.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
Feb 23, 2013 - 08:55am PT
Vey gripping story... RIP Mr Roberts...
10b4me

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Feb 23, 2013 - 09:05am PT
Thanks for the post. The what ifs are always the hardest thing to reconcile
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Feb 23, 2013 - 09:07am PT
Thanks for sharing your heartfelt account of Jack's last climb.

What strikes me again is how,in a few seconds, a climbing outing can change from a joyous lark to a stark tragedy. We pay a huge price in grief for this passion of ours.

Rick

Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Feb 23, 2013 - 11:27am PT
Rick, pretty concise assessment! I always appreciate your words and care!
Pam
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Feb 23, 2013 - 11:32am PT
Jon... thank you for sharing.

crunch

Social climber
CO
Feb 23, 2013 - 01:02pm PT
Thanks for the story, well written, clear, heartbreaking to read.

No heart attack apparently, nothing like that. What's left is the unanswerable: why he fell.

Which is what people asked of Bachar. He had such confidence, experience, strength, such a mastery over the medium.

I was left wondering if Bachar's mistake was that he forgot that he was still playing a game with a chance of the unexpected.

And that such an unexpected occurrence could be with one's own body, not the medium. Cough, cramp, failing to notice some fracture line because one's eyesight is not so great, one's senses not so alert?

Any one of the ways in which a 50-plus body is not so trustworthy. Aging shifts the odds, and not in your favor. Recalculating this side of the equation is really difficult.

Who knows. Maybe I'm full of it, projecting, out of place. If so, sorry. Just mulling over an idea. I'm working on recalibrating these same odds myself.

Really, really sorry this had to happen to you. Thanks for writing your account.
And,

Pam, all the best,
Crusher
RDB

Social climber
wa
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 23, 2013 - 01:03pm PT
Part two is now up..

The Last Lesson.

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-fall-part-two-jacks-last-lesson.html
WBraun

climber
Feb 23, 2013 - 01:50pm PT
After reading both parts I'm assuming, yes just assuming, that he may have just had a temporary loss of consciousness, which caused the him to fall off.

We'll ultimately never fully know except that somehow Jack fell off.

When he said “Jon, I’m going to die.” that's kind of cryptic to me.

I've been on scene with one guy once who had blood running out of ears and grabbing me asking if he was going to die now.

I told him he only has a badly sprained ankle and don't worry.

He lived because SAR med-evaced him pretty damn fast and got him to the hospital in time.

It was pretty damn intense though.

I've seen a lot of folks not making it because their injuries we're far to sustained.

The only way I've understood the whole shebang is if you don't make it "your number is up".

It sounds cold and detached but after many years of seeing both sides (survival and not survival) that's all I can say.

Thanks for writing the the two parts, they were very interesting and enlightening to what you went through and your thoughts.



telluridejon

Social climber
Telluride
Feb 23, 2013 - 02:20pm PT
Just to make it clear, I wrote part one and Dane posted it on his blog. Dane wrote part 2 from his experience. He graciously allowed me to read it first before he posted it up.

The hard part of any accident is figuring out why it happened. Jack couldn't tell me and we will never know. He tried to remember, but he just didn't seem to know.

Dane took our conversations about the accident and his own thoughts to write his analysis and give his thoughts. Hopefully it will help us think about our own climbing and help us avoid our own accidents in the future.

Jon
RDB

Social climber
wa
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 23, 2013 - 03:06pm PT
It all seems kinda funny now in restrospect.
I asked and Jack never gave me a good reason he stepped into space on Curtain Call. He did how ever what to know, "how in hell did I go so far!". Implying my likely inattentive belay. As I rolled my eyes, coughed up a bs and ignored his sh#t :) But one screw each in a set of double ropes gives you a LOOOOTTTTTTTTT of stretch when you are 100' out :) It turned into a standing joke between us, "he never dropped his tools, only forgot them".

No one more aware than us we'd hit 60 this year. Or how the life we've had has aged us.

It was all good for a laugh over coffee in Chamonix the next winter.

I was actually surprised that Jack started using umbilicals. That was new for Jack and not something I ever thought he would do. We both admired style...because it does matter.

I've been using umbilicals back to the days of bamboo Zeros and Terrodactyls. Because I have no intention of ever falling off on an ice climb. Fook style at that point.

Better to blame me than actually put a lot of thought into how to prevent it from happening again? As I mentioned we have both climbed in the same manner for as long as I can remember. I still do...or may be, did. I am rethinking all that as I am packing now for a week out ice climbing starting tomorrow.

And as Craig just emailed me, "I know he is with me on every pitch I
climb. Especially when I'm running it out..."

TYeary

Social climber
State of decay
Feb 23, 2013 - 03:48pm PT
Though I hadn't really seen him in years, I remember Jack from Tahquitz days, about a million years ago now.
I have a lump in my throat that won't go away.
Too many times over the last several years I am reminded of the ephemeral nature of life. That twinkle in the eye, that Jack had in abundance, I shall never forget.
That could not have been easy to write,as works of love and remembrance never are.
Peace,
TY
GhoulweJ

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
Feb 23, 2013 - 03:56pm PT
My condolences to you and all who knew Jack.
Sounds like a great lifetime was spent in the mountains for Jack.

At least his final moments were in the mountains with his best.

Godspeed Jack.
Gilroy

Social climber
Bolderado
Feb 23, 2013 - 04:15pm PT
Curious - Last time I saw Jack he was standing outside my office at McGuckin Hardware looking at outdoor thermometers with his ice tools hooked over his shoulder. I asked him what he had them in there for and he said he was working on a better attachment point for them.

I did not know him as well as many here and my heart goes out to you for your terrible loss. Thank you for posting up the details and your feelings. They are greatly appreciated.

Keith
Nohea

Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
Feb 23, 2013 - 07:12pm PT
Thanks, hell of a thing this life.

On the shoreline of this sad tale was

He felt like she was his greatest accomplishment in life.

May I be so blessed to be remembered with these words.

Aloha,
Will


Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Feb 23, 2013 - 09:53pm PT
But sometimes a bitter pill to swallow, knowing how much more we had together, and how much more we both wanted. I would sell my soul for one more hour together........
pam
WTF

climber
Feb 24, 2013 - 06:13am PT
You will,see each other again and believe me he was thinking only of you in his final moments.

You don't need to sell your soul you need to,carry on living until you meet again.
Beatrix Kiddo

Mountain climber
ColoRADo
Feb 24, 2013 - 09:05am PT
Thank you for the post. Jack was certainly a badass. I'm sure that was hard to write but I hope it brings some relief to you. I didn't hear that he passed in your arms until I read your story. Incredibe.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Feb 24, 2013 - 09:10am PT
Thanks Will and WTF....it's always easier once morning comes, and I'm not drinking tequila! :-)
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Feb 24, 2013 - 09:15am PT
Thought I'd post up what I wrote for the Telluride paper, and what I read at his memorial. Not sure I'd done that already, so sorry if this is a repeat!



Jack Roberts
How does one condense twenty five years of life with someone into a short article? Much has been written about Jack’s amazing exploits in the mountains. He had a remarkable climbing career that spanned over forty one years. But when I think about Jack, my husband, best friend, and soulmate, I will forever feel the warmth of his kind smile, and see the twinkle in his beautiful eyes.
I first met Jack when I was working at Neptune Mountaineering. He had just moved to Colorado from California, and of course his first stop was to Neptune’s. Like any girl, I was immediately taken by his easy smile, and his intensely sparkling blue/green eyes. He moved into my best friend’s house (the infamous “Alpine House”), and although I saw him frequently that winter, he seemed shy, and kept to himself. I knew nothing about him other than he liked to climb, and he worked at a group home for autistic adults. Finally one spring day I suggested we go climbing together, and so we did. By the end of that day he had asked me to dinner, and to a certain extent that date has gone on for the past twenty five years.
Our schedules allowed us to climb frequently together in those days, and we became fast partners. Our first long trip was that June when we spent a month together in Tuolomne Meadows, and by the end of that trip we sensed that we might be in this for the long run. The following summer we spent four months travelling and climbing in the western U.S. and Canada. On the east ridge of Bugaboo Spire we got caught in a bad storm, and by the end of that arduous retreat I knew that this was a man I could trust with my life. I also knew that I probably was not destined to become the “alpine Betty” he hoped I might become. While I suppose I am gnarlier than some, I was beginning to realize that my ambitions as a climber were going to stay rooted in sunny rock climbs, the occasional single-pitch ice climb, and a big mountain here and there.
After four years, he finally asked me to marry him, and so in September 1989 we took the plunge. Our honeymoon was a six-month climbing trip to England to visit his extended family (his parents were both from Manchester), on to Spain, France, and then Joshua Tree. We lived the typical dirt-bag existence, and it seemed glorious. To be married to a remarkably handsome man (in my opinion!), living a life of adventure and passion, was beyond a dream come true.
And so the years passed. We bought a house. I became a high school Spanish teacher, Jack became a guide. We had a series of Golden Retrievers that completed our family unit. Suddenly it seemed we were middle-aged, and we were contemplating how Jack would celebrate his sixtieth birthday this coming May. We both truly felt that our most precious and remarkable achievement was our marriage.
Jack was so much more than a climber. He loved to cook, and truly enjoyed being a house-husband when I was busy during the school year. He has an amazing collection of ridiculously expensive fountain pens. He had beautiful penmanship, and could do calligraphy. He loved to write and draw, and frequently had an inkblot on one of his fingers. I have every note he ever wrote to me, which fill a large drawer. His feet were a mess. He loved Golden Retrievers, especially our current one, Pisco. He was a collector of many things, and our small house is bursting at the seams with his books, gear, photos, and trinkets from various trips around the world. He loved to buy me stuffed animals, especially penguins, but I’m pretty sure he bought them for himself. He would deny this completely. He had an insatiable drive to travel, and enjoyed the cultural component of trips easily as much as the climbing parts. He was curious and sensitive. He loved being with women because he found their conversation more interesting than that of men. He was an incurable flirt as well. He was well-read, and was a wealth of information when it came to climbing history. He was a gentleman and a hopeless romantic. Most of all, Jack loved me completely and madly, and never let me forget that. So I know that I am fortunate to have shared such a rich and wonderful life with the man of my dreams. It’s just that I am going to miss him so much.
bldrjacsis

climber
Idadho
Feb 24, 2013 - 09:41am PT
I would just like to thank Jon for posting these articles. I cannot imagine how hard it was for you Jon, but it was brave and no doubt spiritually cleansing for you. I had not really know the circumstances of Jacks death until Pam and I met over the Christmas break and then the grief started all over again as I understood the pain he went through upon his death. I can only be thankful that a good friend was with him when he died.
I recall the shock of the call I received from San Miguel EMT Santos informing me of Jacks accident and death. I could not believe it and my first thought was of Pam in Cuba and trying to find her. I called her mother, Carol and brother Richard. They were of such help, such steady nerves and gentle love, no panic only calmness but also shock at the news. I could not have made it through without the love and support of my husband, Ski, and children. My mother, I guess blessedly, has dementia and it did not fully register with her that she had lost her son to a tragic accident , much the same way she had lost her husband and our father in 1975 to electrocution.
Jack was a unique soul, loving, giving and humble, but had a very dark and dry sense of humor, something that as brother and sister can only share. The many moments we shared over the years will be missed as will his friendship and love. Many people have wondered at the cause of his death, there is no history of major health problems on either side of our families, so I believe that as Pam mentioned that he had a coughing fit and lost his grip/balance. Tragic. He was going to come out to us in Idaho after the Bozeman Ice festival, but the time would have been too short for such a long drive and the weather was getting ugly so Ski and I insisted that he go home to Pam and we would see him when he had more time. Three weeks later he was gone. A moment in time lost.
I was looking through my Mothers old photo albums and have seen another side of Jack through his childhood pictures. Many of those have his smile upon his face and others with that smile looking down on his younger sister. My childhood guardian, the man who walked me down the aisle in my Fathers place and the brother that tried to guide me spiritually will be
will always be in my heart and so terribly missed. Again thank you Jon for being so brave.

Always,
Chris Roberts Legerski

July 4, 2010 Custer, South Dakota
July 4, 2010 Custer, South Dakota
Credit: bldrjacsis
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Feb 25, 2013 - 02:35pm PT
bump...
telemon01

Trad climber
Montana
Feb 25, 2013 - 06:33pm PT

condolences to Jack's family... what a sudden and sad loss. Thanks for posting the story behind the story.
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Feb 25, 2013 - 06:59pm PT
Very moving. Your retrospective was beautiful Pam....the world would be a wondrous place if all relationships were such

Susan
JohnHemlock

Mountain climber
CO
Feb 28, 2013 - 08:41pm PT
I am sitting in a bar in Jackson Wyoming and a couple women just came in and asked if they could get pisco sours. The bartender had never heard of a drink called a pisco sour, or of pisco itself.

I smiled because if Jack was here I know this bartender would've gotten a lesson.

I never know what will make me think about that guy.

That was a tough read but I appreciate Jon taking the time and effort to write it.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Feb 28, 2013 - 08:43pm PT
what a lame bartender

pisco sour is nectar of the gods. I could have a dozen of those and be ready to send
RDB

Social climber
wa
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 1, 2013 - 03:09pm PT
"I smiled because if Jack was here I know this bartender would've gotten a lesson."

classic :)
shipoopoi

Big Wall climber
oakland
Mar 1, 2013 - 04:50pm PT
that is quite the two part story. thanks for writing it. ss
fosburg

climber
Mar 1, 2013 - 05:09pm PT
Thanks for posting this. Like many around here I'm sure, this accident cuts close to the bone, being someone who still enjoys climbing ice while also "getting along in years" and availing of modern leashless tools. All the best to surviving loved ones...
Let's do our best to keep each other safe in the mountains. It doesn't seem to me that any "mistakes" were made in this situation, just a fateful occurrence.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Mar 1, 2013 - 07:23pm PT
Well, and what would our dog Pisco have thought about that??? He's very sensitive, you know! :-) His "registered" name is Doble Pisco Sour....twice the fun in one package! :-)
A interesting dog note. Any time I go through Jack's stuff, either to reorganize, or box up, or whatever, Pisco gets REALLY upset. His ears go flat, and he looks at me with these super sad eyes that say, "where did he go, and what did you do with him, and why doesn't he come back?" Then he lets his tail hang and goes immediately to the bedroom and lays under the bed. Our furry friends grieve, too............
pam
BillL

Trad climber
NM
Mar 2, 2013 - 06:17am PT
Pam,

I don't know you or Jack. Nor do I know anything about ice climbing. At the same time, I know the details and analysis are relevant in the rock climbing world too. Thank you for your understanding the need.

Bill L
Bad Climber

climber
Mar 2, 2013 - 06:32am PT
I didn't have the pleasure or honor of meeting Jack, but we're all climbers here and human beings, and it is clear his passing is a loss for us all. I'd love to see more pictures of singular individual--and his wife, Pam, who sounds like an incredible person. I started losing it as I read her eulogy.

Peace.

BAd AKA Scott
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Mar 2, 2013 - 07:12am PT
Scott,
There are lots of pictures of Jack from the original Jack Roberts RIP thread, and many more stories! :-)
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Mar 3, 2013 - 12:30am PT
Pam and Jon - thanks for sharing the 2-part story and your comments with us. Very sad and very moving. I took a steep ice clinic from Jack at Ouray a few days before his Bridal Veil Falls accident. Thoughtful instruction and good tips/pointers. Wish I could have gotten to know him better. -- Bill
dfrost7

climber
Mar 5, 2013 - 11:28am PT
Beautifully written, Thank you for sharing such a personal account.. Condolences to the family and to you. Keeping you all in my prayers.
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
Mar 5, 2013 - 01:35pm PT
Jon, your story takes me back to an accident I was involved in on Bridalveil a few years ago that was frighteningly similar to yours. Big leader fall on the 2nd pitch by a partner I never thought would fall off ice, flipped upside down and hanging below my belay, unconscious, serious injuries including a head injury. Reading your story takes me back to my own experience which looking back, was probably more traumatic than I ever realized.

I think one big difference was that my partner fell just a little below my belay. People talk about escaping the belay, but the reality is that when you're out with a great partner, you don't usually set up a belay in advance thinking that you'll need to escape it very quickly. Maybe that is a lesson, but in our case, I never needed to escape the belay as my partner was perhaps 10 feet below me. I was able to extend my tie in and hang off my belay ledge enough to get him upright and conscious. There was no one there that day at the base to help me; I was utterly alone in my responsibility to get my friend out of there, while he was in pretty bad shape. Once I got him up to the belay, I was able to lower him to the ground. I was horrified at the possibility of attempting to lower him to the ground and running out of rope, as I couldn't see where the screw was that had held his fall, and he was unconscious. (The weird bulges of Bridalveil make it nearly impossible to look up and see the 2nd pitch very well.) He ended up in Grand Junction where they could deal better with his head injuries than in Montrose.

I think ice climbing, to a certain extent defies the rules and lessons that we want to think exist in climbing. Yes, having a tether to a tool may stop a fall, but the movement with a tether is just cumbersome enough that I can imagine that it could increase the chance of a fall. Especially if one is desperately trying to get a stick at the very apex of one's reach, while rapidly pumping out.

I have never run out ice that much, but then again, I'm not as accomplished as the folks like Jack at the top of the game. I try to protect ice in a similar way to the way I protect rock, i.e. I overprotect. I can lead steep, sustained ice in good style, but to lead things like the money pitches on climbs like Curtain Call would be a step up over anything I've ever lead. Having watched Jack lead pitches, he looked so smooth, so efficient, so natural, and I suspect part of that impressive style was the fact that he didn't stop very often to place screws. I would argue that efficiency is also an important aspect of safely leading ice, and my need for lots of protection definitely holds me back. I like to believe that I can hold on to get the screws in that I need, but maybe I'm delusional.

If we thought about things enough, we would never be out there leading ice at all. It is by nature, unpredictable, inconsistent and dangerous. I have done my hardest leads by turning my brain off, something that is difficult for a guy that probably overthinks everything.

I do know that my situation on Bridalveil ended much better than yours, but that it could have easily ended worse. Your account of that day was very meaningful to me. I walked away from that climb with an eye that was swollen shut, because the rope whipped across my face when my friend fell, and a sense that I had done something wrong. I will never forget that.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Mar 5, 2013 - 02:45pm PT
Thank you, Jon, for your story. This was, indeed, very difficult on all of us, so I can't even imagine what it must have taken for you to have to recollect that awful day well enough to write this so well and movingly. Even now, words still fail me.

John
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 6, 2013 - 03:31am PT
I am convinced that on big serious routs teathers are a no brainer. the standard put down is that I've never dropped a tool in however many years of leashless climbing but the simple fact is the message boards usually have a few posts about lost tools and it only takes once to ruin your day. I can not speak for the commercial variety but my home made teathers held a top rope fall last year. I would not count on them to hold a fall but if the tool is sunk the way I typicaly sink to place a screw they have a good chance of saveing the day.

The teathers certainly are not a replacment for enough screws to keep you from hitting ledges and bulges.
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
Mar 6, 2013 - 07:57am PT
Tradman, I believe that the risk of dropping a tool is the most valid reason for being tethered to tools. Personally, I question whether on a one pitch route with good solid ice, making leashless tools leashed is worth it. But on long routes, or short routes where conditions are unclear, it is a no brainer.

I try not to think of my leashes as backing me up in the event of a fall. Or for that matter something to hang on if the pitch is overwhelming me. On ice, it is important to keep a margin between what I can lead calmly and safely, versus what I could barely scrape through if I absolutely had to.
RDB

Social climber
wa
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 6, 2013 - 08:31am PT
Jack went from being distinctly anti tether as a matter of style and ethics to using them as he did on Bridalveil with Jonathon.

For what ever reason they failed to stop his fall. But there have also been any number of serious falls in the ice climbing community they have been stopped short with commercial or home made tethers....for decades.

I think the continued idea of tethers only needing to catch a tool is a bad idea. One that has kept the umbilical/tether from being developed into a more useful and safer accessory/tool.

Because most don't use a tether for just catching a tool. A simple shoe string will do for that.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Mar 6, 2013 - 08:45am PT
Style and ethics? What possible advantage is there in terms of style and ethics in going without tethers? The only advantage i get is the de-clutter factor, which is purely pragmatic. However the safety advantage overrules that by an order of magnitude, unless you carry a third tool which no one seems to do any more. I find the new bungies way less obstructive than the old giant loops of 5 mil I have used - and eventually discarded out of frustration.

I tell you one thing tho, nothing beats whipping out a third tool if you drop one or bust a pick way run out in committing terrain.
coz

Gym climber
Belmont
Mar 6, 2013 - 10:22am PT
RDB,

Nice piece about your friend, I knew Jack very little. He bummed a shower at my house in JT, and we talked only a few times after.

I did about 8 years on SAR in the Valley, and every accident was a strange brew of things going wrong. Often it took us days to figure out why things happened.

You didn't do anything wrong, in fact it seems you did everything right. Your guide skills and rescue skills seemed spot on.

I'm curious about the tethers however, as I have taken many daisy falls and have always been stopped. Maybe there is something to be learned from all this.

Sorry about your loss, and for Jack's death, he was a great man of the mountains, and lead a fine life.
fosburg

climber
Mar 6, 2013 - 10:34am PT
I seem to be the only one I know who still carries a third tool. My current setup is Nomics without tethers and a Grivel mini-monster children's tool as a backup. It helps me feel more relaxed.
RDB

Social climber
wa
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 6, 2013 - 12:00pm PT
Thanks Coz. Not me with Jack when he died, but Jonathon. Sorry for the confusion.

Tethers? Ethics? Style?

Jack and I had that discussion a couple of times. I was actually shocked that he had just recently started using tethers. I've been using them all the way back to Terrodactyls. Just made sense to me on steep ice early on and the inability to put in good pro quickly. Now? It is a safety issue imo.

Having snapped the head off a tool in the middle of soloing a steep ice pitch with no 3rd tool...I know that feeling. It wasn't until the late '90s that I gave that habit up. I don't see the best of the modern tools break very often these days. So it doesn't seem like much of a risk to carry just 2. If you climb on the brand that has a current or receent history of failures? Get a clue and a third tool :)

Better style to climb leashless and no tether? Sure it is. Better style to climb leashless and ropeless as well.

I like to solo on ice. But I like to use tethers:)
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Mar 6, 2013 - 12:26pm PT
hey there say, pam...

thank you for sharing your lovely story here...

thank you too for werner stepping in, as to his experience in such things...


also:
as to losing consciousness and not remembering...
mini seizures can do that... they are far more comment than folks
understand... folks that NEVER had a history of any kind of seizure can have that happen, and they are too tiny to ever discover by looking at the brain... there intesity has to grow over time, until activity is seen...

and of course, the other note:
mini strokes, exist as possiblities, out in the world, as well...

though those can be detected better, later...


both would cause not remembering or knowing, what happened or how one fell...

the only needed note on that, if either was the case, is:
it is nice to know that someone like jack WAS doing his very best,
and shining in fine style and safety...
and went down by a matter that could just not be helped at said moment...




ps:

wow pam,as to this... more crying for us senstive folks:
A interesting dog note. Any time I go through Jack's stuff, either to reorganize, or box up, or whatever, Pisco gets REALLY upset. His ears go flat, and he looks at me with these super sad eyes that say, "where did he go, and what did you do with him, and why doesn't he come back?" Then he lets his tail hang and goes immediately to the bedroom and lays under the bed. Our furry friends grieve, too............
pam


*if you ever wanted a quilt done, too, just email me...
perhaps even for the ol' pupdog...


RDB

Social climber
wa
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 6, 2013 - 12:47pm PT
Hey neebee..quick question for you or someone else reading may know.

Would a mini seizure allow one to keep both their tools firmly in hand during a long fall?

neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Mar 7, 2013 - 10:31am PT
hey there say, RDB... i will do some checks on that...

when my grandbabe had hers, (though hers were not mini) her fist grip
tightened up... she had two fist shapes, each hand...

the muscle contract, *depending on the type of seizures)...

but--i will check on this...
after a LARGE seizure, though, when the body had finished and completely
goes limp (they look like they are dead, sometimes) the
hand may fall open...

edit: there are some partial complex seizures, where a person will have one, and actually walk OUT of stores, carrying things and NOT even
know that they are having a seizure... (folks think they are stealing, and or, drunk, etc)...

i do not know, as to the mini seizures, they are so MICRO split
second... a person CAN have one right in front of you
and YOU will not even know it...


you will THINK that they just were 'off in thought' for a split
second, or any etc...


be back soon, i don't want to put out any false info, so
will find more on the mini-seizures...


this is what is so dangerous about them...


a young boy, in this area, years back, just keeled over into the water, right in front of his friend, when fishing...

there were nearby boats of folks that witnessed it, so they know there was not foul play... his friend tried to find him and get him out...
by the time they did, he had drowned...


after an autopsey they (in his case) had found that he had been having seizure activity for a long time...
his folks said they never saw him have any kind of seizure, but:
they were thinking of the full blown, or more commonly seen ones...


they did say a few times they thought he was not paying attention to something, but those again, were split second things, and, as we all know,
we ALL DO THAT... the difference though, with a seizure the PERSON will not remember or know that they were NOT paying attention, whereas,
those just 'fast day dreaming' or pre-occupied or etc, WILL have
heard what is going on, and will know that they intentionally
were tuning things out...


RDB

Social climber
wa
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 7, 2013 - 11:02am PT
"when my grandbabe had hers, (though hers were not mini) her fist grip
tightened up... she had two fist shapes, each hand..."

Pam and Jonathon have heard this all from me previous. So no surprises here. Thanks for the thought. I'm obviously just looking for some answers we'll never have.

But 60'+ of air time and a not so soft catch with a tweaked knee, and still holding onto both tools?

The "off" mentally and two "tight fists" make perfect sense to me. I was convinced the first time around. I also think Jack had a clue...but not fully aware of the circumstance/ health situation hence the recent adoption of umbilicals.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Mar 7, 2013 - 11:03am PT
The possibility of a medical condition is interesting. I have heard about the "healthy person" seizure before. The figure quoted was 1 in a 100 otherwise healthy people will have this at some point in their lives (good point to think about before you solo). Maybe a doctor can post up about this.
Why did John Bachar fall? Maybe it was related to his neck issues? Just like with Jack we will never know.

Jack sounds like he was quite a guy.
RDB

Social climber
wa
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 7, 2013 - 11:09am PT
It does indeed make one rethink soloing @ past 50.

And trust me...never trust the medical community to know you...as well as YOU, know you.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Mar 7, 2013 - 11:12am PT
hey there say, RDB....

not saying this is the reason, of course...

just sharing the info, for folks to just have an understanding what
seizures are, etc, do, and all that...


it might help other mysteries, as to when folks have something
happen, and can't remember WHAT or WHY, something happened...

keep a look-out, too, if this happens a lot in your family, or friend
circles:
THERE are more than 40types of seizures among these
main guidelines (so the epilepsy ontario, site says--those some folks
say, there is even more variety in this, as well)




HERE YOU GO:
these last about 2-10 seconds, the person does not remember:

http://epilepsyontario.org/absence-seizures/



these last about 2-10 seconds,
some folks say they don't remember these,
but many others, DO... :

http://epilepsyontario.org/simple-partial-seizures/




THESE folks do NOT remember, they last about
__2-4 min, with 'groggy dazed after affects
and confusion':__

http://epilepsyontario.org/complex-partial-seizures/

*these can later lead to grand mal (clonic tonic)



THIS one, in this case, does not sound it would have applied
at all--but is good to know about, for all of us:

http://epilepsyontario.org/tonic-clonic-seizures/
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Mar 7, 2013 - 11:22am PT
hey there say, yeah, RDB ... one can just try to put puzzle pieces together for our loved ones....

there are thousands of folks having seizures, that never know, until a full blown has built up...

this type of situation, though, is only discovered after years of noticing behavior changes, as it progresses...
(and habits that are listed on the links)...

or--when someone falls...



also, if it had been a seizure then??
perhaps??(would have to ask EXPERTS on this) once it has
passed, the BODY FEELING itself fall, AT THAT POINT???
may very well go into the normal mode of what jack did when he fell...
even if confused...

grasp tools, etc, ... but these are just among all the
various guesses, to help you all...

:)


take a READ on some of these links and see if you
witnessed anything similar...

that may help...
the fact that he did NOT know what happened, is what got me
to THINK on the seizure line... (or mini stroke, another angle entirely)

god bless to you, :)
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Mar 7, 2013 - 11:26am PT
hey there say, AP...

also, good not to go swimming or fishing, alone, as well...
these are FAR more common than folks realize...

car accidents, too, have been linked to folks that did not know
they had seizure activity...
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Aug 22, 2013 - 06:41pm PT

Rick Accomazzo wrote a wonderful memorial to Jack in
the 2013 American Alpine Journal.

Thanks, Rick.
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