Tahquitz rescue 5-17-2013


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Trad climber
Lake Arrowhead, Ca
May 21, 2013 - 08:24pm PT
wow..very much of a bummer. After reading the details we have I'm guessing it's another case of rapping off the end of the rope. It would be very easy to see your partner below you and think that's where the rap ends. Ropes are never equal length at the end of a long rap. One end blows thru device, the scramble to grab anything causes rockfall. Might be why one end of rope was still in device. Back up your raps people, we know that's where the chopper can get ya.

condolences ... to Greg and to Lucas' family and friends

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
May 21, 2013 - 08:55pm PT
Again, I hope everyone involved can find peace in this terrible event.

After reading the details we have I'm guessing it's another case of rapping off the end of the rope.

Based on my knowledge of the route and Greg's original post it sounds to me like a mishap at the end of the rope, but not exactly rapping off it.

Greg makes it clear in his post that they had one rope. He refers to Lucas throwing the rope on his back, and he refers to centering it at the middle mark while setting up the rap. He also says he left overhands in the ends with app 3" tails. It sounds like Lucas was at the ends of the rope, undid those knots (or one of them) and then whatever happened did.

I don't know the exact length of the rap from the bolts atop Bat Crack to safety at the base of the direct start, but Greg's' description "careful this is not exactly an AMGA approved rap" indicates that they were improvising a bit with not enough rope (no criticism intended - I've done that and gotten away more times than I can recall.)

I've always done Vampire with double ropes, two 50M 8.5s are ideal.

Again going by Greg's op, I'd rule out an improper setup of the device up at the anchor. That would have been a huge free fall and the results would have not been as were described.
Jack McBroom

Trad climber
Hemet, Ca.
May 21, 2013 - 09:31pm PT
I just heard about this from a student in my class this morning. It wasn't until I got to this forum that I realized who this Lucas was. He was not a student of mine, but wandered into my classroom regularly to visit and talk climbing. A really sweet and positive kid, always smiling, always full of calm energy. I had a huge stack of old climbing mags that he'd look through and I could see the dreams in his eyes and hear the happiness in his voice.
Then he graduated and I didn't hear anything again til now.

When I saw his photo, I just froze and like many of you, could only think "Oh No!"
This is not an ending I ever imagined. So terribly sorry and sad.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
May 21, 2013 - 11:23pm PT
Ugh, just saw this, Greg. So sorry to hear this.

God bless your buddy, Lucas. Take some time to deal with this. Maybe talk to Wendell (TGT), as he dealt with similar stuff with his good buddy, Woody.

Sorry, Greg.

Social climber
So Cal
May 22, 2013 - 12:01am PT
I saw Greg Sunday.

From his description, the ledge collapsed out from under Lucas just as he was getting off rappel.

Doesn't sound like any operator error was involved.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
May 22, 2013 - 12:20am PT
From his description, the ledge collapsed out from under Lucas just as he was getting off rappel.

That's what it sounded like. Still sucks though.

Glad you talked to him.
Loco de Pedra

Mountain climber
Niteroi Rio de Janeiro
May 22, 2013 - 09:20am PT
Did the end of the rappel had back up knots or not?

didn't tie ends (because until yesterday I hardly ever bother)

I donít think is anyone fault, even when is human error and based on wrong decisions. To be out there each individual assumes this risk. However, to honor all involved we MUST TRY to learn from it. I believe that no one goes in vain, we all have our callings, and that is unchangeable.

I wish understanding and acceptance to all involved on this personal tragedy.

Thanks to the author for having the courage to come forth and share this experience. Keep on moving.

Trad climber
South Slope of Mt. Tabor, Portland, Oregon, USA
May 22, 2013 - 10:48am PT
Sending good vibes your way. All the best. Sorry you lost your friend. They are not easy to find.


Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
May 22, 2013 - 06:00pm PT
Sorry for your loss GD.

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 22, 2013 - 06:22pm PT
Thanks, Bluering. I did talk to Wendell, He's a real sweetheart. Don't let the word get out.
Kathy Dunn

Boulder climber
Idyllwild, CA
May 24, 2013 - 12:53am PT
Thank you so much for all your kinds words about my son. Thank you ICA for placing Suicide Stairs with Lucas name in the rock. I had the privilege as his mom to hike many times to Suicide to see the different routes. I also had an opportunity to hike with him to the base of Lily Rock and envision what climbers must do to start the climb. Then we hiked around to the back side and bouldered our way up to the top of Lily Rock. How amazing to see the view from the top. His memorial service is June 2 at 5 pm at Camp Maranatha 54162 Maranatha Dr., Idyllwild. The service will be in the amphitheater. This is a special place for Lucas. All our welcome to attend. A meal will be served after the service. Kathy Dunn
Delhi Dog

Good Question...
May 24, 2013 - 01:04am PT
Kathy, so sorry for your loss.
Not knowing your son other than through this thread I get the feeling he was a fine young man who was following his dreams.

I wish you the best in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Positive healing sent your way.

Greg, you hang in there. I can see you are a true friend, which is a very special thing for any of us to have and to be.

With much sorrow and understanding,



Social climber
So Cal
May 24, 2013 - 10:06am PT
Just so you aren't disappointed Kathy, it will be a while before I get his name on one of the steps.

Not there yet.

May 24, 2013 - 02:38pm PT
I would like to understand the definition of "leading".

Also, the "anchor" was placed on sketchy rocks?

And the "hey be careful, this rap isn't exactly AMGA approved." Is that a common phrase amongst climbers as a serious warning or more of a phrase taken lightly?

"Off to the right was a not-so-solid looking block, that one could stand on to get an extra few inches, but it was not ideal looking (the size of a mini-fridge)." By the statement of AMGA, were these unstable rocks all communicated?

When you are rappelling, is it easy to spot sketchy rocks?

**What does this mean? "While propping his legs up I noticed the rap device clipped into a single end of the rope"

Im sure these are tough questions but I need a full understanding.

Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
May 24, 2013 - 03:20pm PT
My sincere condolences to Lucas' family.
He looked to be a beautiful human being, and from what I read here from those that knew him, he was just that.

I think analyzing this incident is the right thing to do.

I tied tiny overhands near the end of the rope so he could grab the giant, solid flake that starts the technical climbing while unclipping.

How were these knots meant to help him grab the flake?

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
May 24, 2013 - 04:15pm PT
I've been in denial, avoiding reading this. I'm saddened for what you had to go through Greg, and what you and his friends and family will continue to go through for a long time. It sounds like you're handling it with openness and grace, as much as can be expected of anyone.

Given all the shenanigans and stuff that happens over time, what we get used to accepting as common-place and pass off with macabre humor or ultimate faith in our judgment and ability to handle the situation... it just seems so arbitrary when a soul casts off this world.

Hang in there, be there for those who need it, and let yourselves be vulnerable to accepting the love and help offered by those around you.

Edit for pud: If it were me, I'd think of leaving the over-hand knots in the end as courtesy backups, so the other person would feel better about throwing a hand jam or getting established for a little downclimb with one hand, while the other hand is getting the belay device off. The idea is if you slip a little the knot would catch you rather than shooting off the end. Unless you slip right after removing the belay device, or after getting it off one of the strands of rope.

Trad climber
San Diego
May 24, 2013 - 05:10pm PT
Hi Jillian,

I'm so incredibly sorry for your loss. As climbers we always search for the cause of these events as the answers provide us with information that can save our lives. In this case, I'm not sure there's an easy answer to what happened. From what we've heard, it sounds as though Lucas may have fallen after taking himself off repel (i.e. slipped), been hit by a rock during or after rappel, or simply rapped off the ends of his rope by somehow passing the knot. Unfortunately, no one can know for sure what happened up there. All of us have lived through situations that should have killed us in the mountains, some much more serious than what killed Lucas. It's tragic what happened. As far as what Davis (I do not know him personally) communicated to Lucas, I don't think it had anything to do with what resulted.

His AMGA comment I would take as a light hearted warning not to be taken seriously. By rappelling first he tested the system and put his full trust in it. Clearly, he believed it a system that would safely get them to the ground, and for him it did. It's hard to understand (if not impossible) what happened.

Trad climber
So Cal
May 24, 2013 - 05:58pm PT
I have started to write so many times but just couldn't put the flood of emotion into words. Greg, we (speaking for my entire family) all consider ourselves blessed to call you and Lucas friends. I cant speak of him in the past tense because he lives on in all of us. I am so glad we crashed "sushi night" the week before your climbing trip and got to spend the evening with our sons and Lucas.

Kathy, so many times this past week I have questioned the wisdom of raising my kids climbing - but I wouldn't have it any other way. The opportunity to create lasting memories, cherishing the beauty and diversity of His creations with our our kids -- you can't put a price tag on that. May His spirit of peace and comfort surround you, your family, and all of Lucas's friends who are in need.

Greg, I'm looking forward to climbing with you and your mom again. Lets make it happen!


"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by.." ~Frost

SF bay area
May 24, 2013 - 06:07pm PT
I believe the AMGA remark was concerning the destination of the rappel, not the rappel itself. So little rope was left at the destination stance. There was no fixed anchor to clip into, or a safe, flat and wide, destination.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
May 27, 2013 - 12:28pm PT
Memorial Day Bump

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