Tahquitz rescue 5-17-2013

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JillianDunn

climber
Hemet
May 24, 2013 - 11:38am 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.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
May 24, 2013 - 11:42am PT
Jillian , "Leading" is the first climber that goes up a route. As he goes he places cams , chocks or clips into fixed pieces of gear as a safety margin in case he falls. The fall length will be roughly twice the length of distance he is above the last piece of protection he placed like a "cam" for instance. The belayer stops his fall. Then the second "follows" removing the pieces put in by the first and is "top roped" by the leader who belays him from above, or through anchors.. Greg should explain the rest. My very SINCERE CONDOLENCES..



edit: "Anchors" are mostly fixed pieces of protection that form a belay stance on the rock. Mostly drilled expansion bolts with hangers that the climbers clip into to belay or rappel from. A large tree can be a belay anchor as well. Or Cams and chocks put into cracks by the climbers themselves to be later removed.. Anchors can be fixed , removable or part of nature-- ie blocks that can have slings around them, or trees etc.
pud

climber
Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
May 24, 2013 - 12:20pm 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?
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
May 24, 2013 - 01:15pm 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.
Port

Trad climber
San Diego
May 24, 2013 - 02:10pm 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.
meld

Trad climber
So Cal
May 24, 2013 - 02:58pm 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!

Melani

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

climber
SF bay area
May 24, 2013 - 03:07pm 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.
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
May 27, 2013 - 09:28am PT
Memorial Day Bump

Susan
pud

climber
Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
May 27, 2013 - 10:30am PT
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.

NJ,
The problem with this practice is overhand knots may fail under body weight. By doing this you are therefore giving the second a false sense of security.
This practice should be eliminated unless substantial knots can be placed.

A prusik or other friction knot above the belay device is helpful in the instance where a rope barely reaches anchors or a safe stance.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
May 27, 2013 - 01:55pm PT
I see your point pud. Friction knot above belay device seems like a better general strategy; also avoids the risk of forgetting knot in end and getting a rope stuck during a pull. Maybe one other point it helps with: on a tricky exit, if you need one hand on a jam or crimp, it's easier to slide off end of rope (on purpose) and pull down a friction knot with you, versus trying to untie a half hitch or unclipping belay device from rope above the half hitch it might be getting stuck in. One risk though is your hand has to stay on the friction knot to keep it from catching, and then it's hard to grab one end of the rope strand to prevent it from recoiling when the load is removed, and ending up out of reach above you. I'm not settled on what's the "right" way to handle it; I can see different approaches in different scenarios.

I was at Taquitz climbing for the first time yesterday. Cool place, but my mind was not in the right space for being on the sharp end with spicy protection. I ended up bailing right before the end of the first pitch of some 5.9, and I made a big production of it. Was thinking a lot about Greg and Lucas out having fun, in their element, and then the unexpected. I was definitely more aware of my mortality than usual, and I was more aware of the good things in my life that I have to lose.

Courtesy booty call: after passing the roof on P1 of Grandote, you can find a big hex, a small wired bliss cam, a double-length dyneema sling, and 2 bail biners. I won't have time to be down that way for a while... finders keepers.
pud

climber
Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
May 27, 2013 - 06:11pm PT
was this anchor failure ? loose rocks, bad protection , bad knot/bolt/hanger etc,...
was this rapping error ? no knot, rapping on one rope instead of two...
was this user error ? Disconnecting personal slings from anchor before running the rope in to rap ring or loosing hand grip on rap device etc

The report is very succinct and I think GDavis did a tremendous job of presenting the facts under what must have been extreme duress.


What is clear:
The victim was attached to the rope the entire time.
He had seen his partner complete the rap.
He was an experienced climber.

guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
May 28, 2013 - 10:07am PT
I have a question.... 60m rope or 70m ????

GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Topic Author's Reply - May 28, 2013 - 11:21am PT
60m I believe, as we'd climbed on it for hundreds of pitches and I don't remember ever talking about it being a seventy.
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
May 28, 2013 - 11:31am PT
You don't know??? for sure?!!!!

Might make a bit of difference, when devising a plan to decend.

Just saying.

I spent all 3 days, when we were out climbing, thinking about this and how it went down.

We have all been in dicy rap situations before... ends not on the deck, downclimbing hard face, jumping etc.

I just wish to know... then it can't happen to me.

That is how I look at all mishaps, always have.

sad, tragic.

GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Topic Author's Reply - May 28, 2013 - 11:39am PT
You don't know??? for sure?!!!!

No, I don't. It wasn't my rope, and I have no reason whatsoever to believe that it was a 70 - but I don't speculate. We used that rope almost exclusively on longer routes, almost never rapping off them (tahquitz, the high sierra, tuolumne.... all walk-offs) and usually just belay at the usual belays.

I'm sure if we found ourselves in a situation where the conversation of "do we need a 70m" would come up, Lucas would say "oh well I don't have one." But I don't know 100% for sure. I know 95%. I know that is hard for some to understand, but I would prefer to be honest.

I spent all 3 days, when we were out climbing, thinking about this and how it went down.

I don't fully understand how it happened and I was 20 feet away. There might never be a reason.


I just wish to know... then it can't happen to me.

That is how I look at all mishaps, always have.

Be aware of loose rock nearby when rapping, and if there is some blocks that look funky that your partner might stand on/put his hand on/catch a pulled rope build and anchor and clip in before going off rap. That's what you can do.
Richard Conner

Mountain climber
Snohomish, WA
May 29, 2013 - 11:07am PT
Hi Greg, Thank you for the transparent write-up. I am sorry for your loss. I have met you a few times with the North County Adventure group and have always found you to be a super nice guy in addition to an exceptional climber. I didn't know Lucas but have also lost too many friends in the mountains over the years. What a tragedy - hang in there.
westofjess

climber
squamish
May 29, 2013 - 11:45am PT
Thank you for your write up. Sh#t happens.

My deepest condolences.

Having gone through a similar experience lately, I can say this:

- only do what feels right, in the moment. make plans, cancel plans, climb, don't climb...

be good to yourself. Seeing anyone, let alone a friend, die so quickly is a shock to the body mind and soul, isn't it!


My key has been to accept. Accept accept. How it went - accept that. How you responded - accept. How you feel right here on this breath... accept.

Not to go all star trek on you, but resistance truly is futile.


It does sound like you're doing well though. yay.

Hugs!
Pie

Trad climber
So-Cal
May 29, 2013 - 12:41pm PT
Said a prayer while strolling past the Vampire yesterday. RIP
x15x15

climber
May 29, 2013 - 01:23pm PT
I spent all 3 days, when we were out climbing, thinking about this and how it went down.

ive been thinking about it a bunch myself. my wife talked to greg and he graciously answered all her questions this past sunday. This incident continues to remind me why I HATE rapping... and Bad Traverse Ledge is just waiting to crumble down.

you rock greg. hope to run into you a bunch more times as I walk this earth.

Philip
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Topic Author's Reply - May 29, 2013 - 01:27pm PT
Thanks Phil, you rock too. Went to South Ridge a few days back with Jeremy, got a few problems I'd been thinking about. So beautiful up there, watching the sun set on the desert divide.
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