4.27.13 accident on Tahquitz


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Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 29, 2013 - 12:17am PT
Anybody know how the Croatoan climber who took a huge leader fall on Finger Grib is doing? He was helicoptered to Riverside county Saturday afternoon after RMRU hoisted him off the jungle ledge.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Apr 29, 2013 - 12:56am PT
If anyone has info please post. If he's from out of country please let us know if there is anything we can do to help. Lynne

Social climber
Colorado Plateau
Apr 29, 2013 - 02:25pm PT

in case you folks didn't know where tahquitz is.

Mountain climber
Apr 29, 2013 - 02:36pm PT
Maybe 'Finger Trip'?

Hope there's a speedy recover!
Damn this looks high

Trad climber
Temecula, CA
Apr 29, 2013 - 02:40pm PT
Fingertip Traverse, 5.3 is the original. Fingergrip is a 5.8 variation, Fingertrip is a 5.7 variation.

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Apr 29, 2013 - 03:27pm PT
He was picked off of Jungle Ledge apparently, which more or less rules out Fingertrip. Sounds like he fell on Fingergrip or the layback section on Fingertip Traverse..both of which are directly above Jungle Ledge.

Hope he's okay.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Apr 29, 2013 - 03:35pm PT
The article says he fell 20-30 feet. There appears to be no update on his condition, but it sounds like (or at least I hope that) the injuries did not threaten his life.

There was an interesting internet discussion/rant following the linked news articles, though. One commentator asserted that the whole SAR apparatus wastes taxpayer money simply to save "daredevils" hurt in the course of pursuing their hobbies. The responses would surprise no one who has watched public reaction to helicopter-intensive rescues (this one apparently had three on call).

I did read one defense of free rescues that I had not heard offered before: If rescues cost money, people would be afraid to call for them for fear of financial liability, and would therefore end up dying unnecessarily. Those of us who like to climb in the same sense that we like to breathe sometimes forget that the rest of the public doesn't see climbing as we do. I don't think I could offer that particular explanation to a non-climber with a straight face.

Off-topic musings aside, I hope he is well on the way to recovery.



Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 29, 2013 - 08:47pm PT
The climbers first name was Teen, anyone heard anything about his condition

Social climber
Apr 30, 2013 - 02:38pm PT
That sounds... odd. Les is RMRU and might have been at the scene, he solos routes like that all the time...

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 30, 2013 - 03:11pm PT
I assisted in the Rescue, so I can clear up what exactly happened. Tin was unable to help himself down or up due to his injuries. He was in considerable pain, and with a possible hip,neck, and head injury.

Climbing to him or rapping to him would not of been an issue, but with his injuries and our concern for his well being, the helicopter was the only answer to getting him off the rock quickly. Putting him in a litter and lowering him was not an option as he would loose consciousness anytime his feet became lower then his heart, and a ride down that pitch in a litter and a walk out down lunch rock trail would of not been pleasant for him at all. That would of only worsened his injuries in my opinion.

Thanks Eric for the update, I am very happy to hear he is doing OK, please pass along my good wishes to him,

Just to clear up what Eric said

Quote: 'An interesting note: From all reports the helicopters were completely unecessary but were called because none of the SAR folks could either climb 5.3 or had ascending gear of any kind.

We where the only SAR team there and only called when all the other options where exhausted., All of the personal there where Firefighters "Cal Fire and Idyllwild Fire" and you are correct they are not equipped or trained to climb or rappel. People confuse SAR from fire fighters and convict crews, that happens all the time. As for me and my partner that day we had the ability to ascend, rappel, ect, but Tin's injures merited the copter insertion and extraction.

Les Walker


Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 30, 2013 - 03:40pm PT
Eric, not at all, it's all good, I am just happy he is ok. I sent you a private message.

funny example of reported rescue.
We rescued 2 guys of off Finger Trip Traverse last year in the dark and fog, it was reported by the media that two hikers where found on rock and escorted back to their car.

Trad climber
Apr 30, 2013 - 03:42pm PT
Glad Tin is doing ok and wish him a speedy recovery.

Most SAR guys I know would not want the victim footing the bill, heck, the SAR guys live for this kind of thing and jump at the chance to do what they have been trained to do. Same goes for the pilots. It's kind of like firemen not going fires, we always complain around the firehouse about how slow it is and how we never go to fires anymore. It's fun and satisfying to actually do the work you where trained to do.

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Apr 30, 2013 - 03:52pm PT
Best wishes to your friend Eric. Like you said, we all run it out periodically, and stuff like this is nauseating to hear.

Trad climber
Southern California
May 2, 2013 - 04:50pm PT
A great job by all!


May 4, 2013 - 08:17am PT
Last Saturday, April 27th, around 1:30 PM I fell on Tahquitz rock above Idyllwild in South California, on a route called Fingergrip, the 5.8 slab/dihedral pitch above the ďJungle LedgeĒ, a very easy climb for me. I was a handís reach from the bolted anchor when I slipped. I was injured in the fall and quite helpless after it. I had to be rescued.

This was my first climbing injury. Iíve been a climber since the high school days in the late 70ís. I climbed around the world alpine, trad and sport, at all elevations on rock, ice and snow. My pastime used to be soloing 300 meter faces in the 5.9-10 range.

As if my past was my warranty, as if I were entitled to safety, I optimized my climbing to that, to ďit wonít happen to me.Ē I wasnít there 100% on Fingergrip. I didnít visualize a few moves ahead. I didnít check how I executed them.

This is how the fall felt:

My left foot slipped, not a problem. Then - with increasing interest - I looked at my hands as they pulled from the rock, too. I was suspended and surprised in the thin air like a cartoon character for that one moment and it felt like this is how itís going to stay. Plenty of time to ask myself how many times have I corrected an imperfect move just a bit, without a glitch. I thought this part of my character.

Then the slow motion kicked in: I gradually peeled off. Lost contact with the rock. Took the rope to keep it up. Looked down the slab to see the path I was to pass inevitably. Checked the last protection. The orange Alien was well wedged in the crack below me. 30 feet below me.

For Iíd decided to runout a 5.8 and take a risk of a 60-70 foot fall, not a matter of great concern or even choice in many harder climbs, but this time - was I lazy? Cocky? Feeling invincible? I remembered talking to myself during the last 30 feet: donít fiddle with the nuts, your smallest cam is not small enough, itís easy enough and youíre almost there.

What bothered me now was the lack of a safe plan for this long, non-vertical slab fall. I hate doing things without a plan.

No whistle of wind picked up with speed, no hit, no nothing. I just woke up in terrible pain hanging by a screaming rib-cage a few feet above the belay stand. Kathryn remembers me moaning like an animal. I remember begging her to be lowered to the ledge to relieve the suffering.

Half an hour passed at the margins of consciousness, hours shaking in shock. Kathryn hovered over me, profoundly soothing and calm. Lei too, a solo climber who came to help and called the rescuers. Time and pain were one and the same. The sky was a blue lid over it. Then two shadows lowered from this lid, from a big bird cutting its blades into the cliff. One said, Iím Les - heís Lee. They strapped me carefully into a gurney, with inhuman effort got me into a position to be hauled up to the bird. Kathryn operated the GriGri. I was utterly helpless. Full of gratitude. Thank you Les and Lee, thank you Kathryn and Lei, thank you pilot and copilot.

I was rushed into the Riverside hospital where they suspected broken hip, ribs, fingers, neck and brain hemorrhage. Quite a list, so they kept me. The kind hospital personnel dismissed one suspicion after the other, until on Sunday afternoon I was cleared to go home. The fall truly spared me - I was just bruised like hell.

Weíll never know what happened in those 2-3 seconds it took me to fall. I was knocked out, Kathryn was breaking the fall and watching the rope. It seems plausible that the rope tightened and pulled me backwards into the dihedral where I hit my right side and my head.

Lessons learned?

I felt entitled to climb this climb with ease. This was based on things I climbed in the past. Yet I was supposed to earn it. We earn each climb, again and again. The climbs go through their subtle changes, get dirty, wet, holds get lose and break, and Iím certainly not the same from day to day.

I should have been focused, and if not, be frank about it. Take a rest, take a whole day.

Climbing takes constant optimization. (Body positions, power output, rest, protection placement, time, weather assessment, steering clear of falling rock/snow/ice, positions of the belay stations and overnight camps, things you carry, etc.)

What was I optimizing for when I placed no gear for 30 feet? I was sure I wouldnít fall. Hubris, invincibility - I chose to optimize for that, rather than safety.

Now it will be interesting to see how will I deal with and optimize all the runouts where the first ascenders left potentials for truly long falls.

Thank you for all your good thoughts. Happy climbing! And obligatory: climb safe.


Social climber
May 4, 2013 - 08:29am PT
hey there say, umump.... whewwwwwwwww, oh my.... :O

glad to hear you are going to be well and made it through this...
i did not see this the first time around, or, i'd be
praying for you then... sure will now, as you continue to recover,
god bless...

happy too, that all the folks that rescued, were kept safe throughout this,

edit: khanom, please check your email... :)
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
WA, & NC & Idaho
May 4, 2013 - 09:48am PT
That was a great and introspective write up.

I am so glad you are going to be ok!

We all have been over confident at one time or another,
One of my mentors use to say "place pro early and often".
Words to live by!

Props to your partner, the soloist and the rescue crew!

Thank you,

Edit: Tin, were you wearing a helmet, and would it have helped/ did it help?

Ice climber
May 4, 2013 - 09:53am PT
Glad your gonna be Ok to climb another day. Heal up quickly and get back out there!

May 4, 2013 - 10:07am PT
Thanks for the report Tin. Wishing you fast healing and a full recovery. Wow!

Ice climber
Soon 2B Arizona
May 4, 2013 - 10:48am PT

That was a great and introspective write up.

I am so glad you are going to be ok!

I agree. An amazing self critique
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