YOSAR Rescue on Sentinel 6/17/2014

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Messages 21 - 38 of total 38 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Jun 21, 2014 - 08:27am PT
For sure.

And with various procedures in the last few years I am not a candidate for longevity. Bummer.

But I promise to get the Needles guide done before I croak!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 21, 2014 - 09:12am PT
"if not but when" is an abbreviation of a statistical comment

we all have a probability of being involved in a serious accident where someone has to go to the emergency room (or worse) as a result of climbing

that probability cannot be reduced to zero

length of climbing without being involved in a serious accident is not necessarily an indication of a low probability

bottom line, you get dealt a hand each time you go out there, stack the deck in your favor whenever you can
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jun 23, 2014 - 10:59pm PT
climbing for 57 years...no serious injuries for me or my partners...

(just lots of near misses)

stay alert
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jun 24, 2014 - 09:32am PT
I think the "not if. But when," mindset is sort of fatalistic / amotivationally resigning. If you accept that, your mental mantra is that it's inevitable, which can breed complacency and increased rescue frequency. If you climb as if rescue is not an option, it puts you more on your game.

Of course risks can't be reduced to zero. But you can do a lot to increase the odds in your favor.

I may be rescued this afternoon, but I've climbed ( a lot) for over fifty years, with no rescues. Certainly I'm lucky, but I think not planning on rescues also helps (a lot)!

As the Fish disclaimer on hooks says, "hooking is serious business, play to win"
With a little modification for all climbing that's got to a better mantra than, "if I don't really know what I'm doing they'll catch me."
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Jun 24, 2014 - 11:28am PT
hey there say, glad to hear he was okay...

and always good learning, about helicopters, etc, from werner...

good shares here from everyone and always the interesting stuff from ed, too,

happy good day, to all...
MattF

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Jun 25, 2014 - 12:53pm PT
Hey, Clint pointed me at this thread. I'm the climber that fell on Sentinel. I wrote up a post on FB describing the events, but I'll copy and paste it here:

So yesterday Nick and I woke up and headed up to the Sentinel to get on the Chouinard-Herbert. The approach is GNARLY. Way worse than the death slabs up to the face of Half Dome.

A lot of elevation gain on a decent trail led to 2nd class slabs and ramps, to a 3rd class gully, to sandy loose 4th class ledges, to 5.8 terrifying choss and steep moss covered 5th class slabs and a rap off a tree. And then we got to the start of the climb.

We decided to rope up on a 3'x5' ledge above a reasonably large 25° choss slope. Compared to the approach we felt so comfortable on the ledge that we didn't build an anchor as we racked up and tied in. I had the first lead, and I led off. Where the route went was completely unclear but the pitch was only supposed to be 5.7, so I just started up. About 15' off the ledge I hit some moves that felt more like 5.9. The rock was covered in sand and leaves. I thought about a piece of gear, but didn't see anything reasonable (though in hindsight I could have probably looked harder).

Nick was looking up at me and had a moment of premonition that if I fell there was a chance I would rip both of us off the rock since we didn't have an anchor on the ledge, so he took me off belay.

Two seconds later I committed to stand up on a foot that was probably sandier than I thought it was. As I stood up on the foot, it popped off.

I fell the 15' to the ledge, landing on the edge with my heels. Then I tumbled backwards and proceeded to do three backflips as I tumbled down the choss slope. In total I fell about 50 feet.

Nick had the rope feeding through his hands and was able to help bring me to a stop at the cost of some minor rope burns.

I lay frozen motionless as Nick made his way to me. Since I have WFR training, I coached Nick through a full patient evaluation on me, including a FOCUS spine assessment that showed I had no spine or neck injury. I sat up and got more comfortable and assessed my heels, deciding that my left foot definitely could not bear any weight, and my right foot might be able to, but likely would severely impaired.

We called YOSAR. It took them 6ish hours to get up to us, build a huge anchor, package me in a litter, and lower me 220' to a bigger ledge that the chopper could short haul me from. Those guys are awesome and super bawses.

Then I got an absolutely incredible helicopter ride down to the meadow. Seriously amazing.

A short ambulance ride to the clinic, some paperwork, and I was seen by the doc. He took a look and ordered up a bunch of xrays. He told me that if he had to guess, I had two broken heels and a possible broken ankle, and that I should feel lucky to get off with such minor injuries considering the fall.

When the xrays were developed, he walked in with a stunned look on his face, and told me that he couldn't see any fractures at all. He sent the xrays off to a radiologist to pour over them in detail, so there is still a possibility that my left heel has a hairline fracture, but he said he thinks that is not super likely. I can very gingerly crutch around on my right foot for the time being.

Overall, I am incredibly lucky. I am not in any way bummed. I fully recognize that if you play hard, sometimes the play is hard back, and overall, I got off quite easy.

Many lessons learned, but overall I'm mostly just really stoked that I'll be back climbing sooner rather than later and apparently without any permanent limitations.

I can't give enough thanks to YOSAR, and thanks to Nick for being there for me through the whole thing.

What an adventure!
MattF

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Jun 25, 2014 - 01:36pm PT
To the OP - we heard you guys starting up on Steck-Salathe(?) when we were approaching, and we definitely thought about you guys as we were chilling there at the base of the Chouinard Herbert waiting for rescuers/helicopter. We were hoping the helicopter didn't freak you guys out too much. Also remember, the start of the Chouinard-Herbert is higher than the start of the Steck-Salathe by a fair bit. So if you were up 600' into the route, you may have only been 300' above our position or something like that, and with a 2-300 foot shorthaul line, that would have put the helicopter at right around your height. They wanted to drop two rescuers right at our position, but the swirling winds made them call it off and they dropped the rescuers lower down, hence the multiple passes as they attempted the higher dropoff first and then went with the backup plan.

Whitemeat is generally correct in his report, and the two of us were quite the pair of gimps hanging out at the bridge. Hope you're healing well Mickey and you get to get on some walls this summer!

Its day 8 out from the accident and I'm hopeful to be off crutches in 4-6 more days, so something along the lines of 2 weeks of crutching around in total. After that it shouldn't be long before I'm back after it, since there's no breaks/tears of anything that need to gradually rebuild strength - its just a pain/swelling thing really.

I was down in Yosemite for 4 weeks, did a bunch of good stuff on the trip with the highlights being going up Salathe with my buddy for his first wall, and then doing HDIAD with another partner. The Chouinard-Herbert was going to be my penultimate climb (we were going to stash rope and rack and do Steck-Salathe the next day for the Sentinel double-stack), so my trip was pretty much over anyway.

As for the fatalistic attitude, I'm half inclined to agree. I've been climbing for 10 years now, probably averaging 2 days a week over that entire time, and this is the first injury I've had climbing other than finger tendons and a minor muscle tear last fall when I took a whipper while soloing the Muir Wall. Injuries and accidents of this seriousness aren't totally inevitable (as evidenced by some other commenters) but everyone is going to have close calls and whether you have an injury/accident in my opinion is mostly a matter of luck.

Last fall when I was on the Muir I had a cinder-block sized rock come off about 40' above me and it hit about three feet to my right before continuing the 2300' plunge to the deck. Totally random occurrence - if it had been just a couple feet over I might not be here typing to you guys. That was a close call, this time my number came up. I'm sure you guys who have been climbing for a long time with no serious injuries/accidents/rescues have a decent number of similar close call stories and the fact that you haven't had anything serious happen to you is really just a factor of chance. Climbing (especially multipitch/bigwall, especially slightly less commonly done/more adventurous routes, especially formations known for being not as solid) is inherently dangerous. You do everything reasonable that you can to reduce the risk and then you accept the remaining risk and realize that there is a chance (hopefully small) that your number might come up.

If we had been in Pakistan, Nick and I would have probably been able to self-rescue by leaving a lot of gear, and spending many many hours of rappelling/crawling out, but it would have been gnarly, and highly dangerous, especially for Nick who has much less self rescue training than I do. Considering that we both thought at least my left foot was broken and possibly both (which the Yosar medical point agreed, and the doctor agreed until the xrays came back), we felt that trying to self rescue was just putting my feet in too high of risk for making the injuries worse, and too great of risk that both of us would have some further accident while trying to self-rescue. More people/more gear would have made self rescue more of an option, but just Nick by himself with a single 60 was too much to expect of him.

Finally - what I would have done differently if I could have rewound would be to anchor the belayer in. Like I said the little ledge and relatively low angle choss slope below us made us feel like we were starting from the ground, which was definitely not the case. A feeling of comfort does not mean that you should stop analyzing the situation for potential hazards. That said, even if Nick had been anchored in (there was potential gear a few feet off to the side at about waist height for him) that still wouldn't have kept me off the ledge, it would have just prevented the cartwheeling backflips down the choss slope. Ultimately I wasn't really injured at all by the backflips, but that is largely due to being lucky and I think being fairly muscular and able to take a lot of the brunt of the impacts with my muscles rather than bones. In my experience beanpole type guys tend to have a much higher chance of getting injured on impact because their skeleton/connective tissue absorbs the force of the impact rather than their muscles.

I could have possibly placed a piece that might have kept me off the ledge, but honestly in retrospect I think in pretty much every instance I would have chosen to not place it. We were planning on doing a full 200' pitch with a bit of wandering and the ropedrag from a piece there would have been problematic, so my judgement to not place a piece I think was reasonable. Obviously if I knew I was going to slip on the leaves/sand I would do it, but looking back on it I don't think it was an unreasonable decision at the time.
MattF

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Jun 25, 2014 - 01:36pm PT
Also, I wanted to reiterate how grateful I am to YOSAR. They are AWESOME and they will forever have my gratitude. YOSAR YOU ROCK!
bbbeans

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 25, 2014 - 03:44pm PT
"To the OP - we heard you guys starting up on Steck-Salathe(?) when we were approaching, and we definitely thought about you guys as we were chilling there at the base of the Chouinard Herbert waiting for rescuers/helicopter. We were hoping the helicopter didn't freak you guys out too much. Also remember, the start of the Chouinard-Herbert is higher than the start of the Steck-Salathe by a fair bit. So if you were up 600' into the route, you may have only been 300' above our position or something like that, and with a 2-300 foot shorthaul line, that would have put the helicopter at right around your height. They wanted to drop two rescuers right at our position, but the swirling winds made them call it off and they dropped the rescuers lower down, hence the multiple passes as they attempted the higher dropoff first and then went with the backup plan."

Ah interesting. This is all good information! That chopper was definitely right around my height when it came into view around the corner and it just made for a bit of a surprise. I haven't been in the valley that long and I suppose in retrospect the idea that they could have been out there to rescue us based on some misinformation is fairly ridiculous.

That being said, certainly glad you came out (relatively) unscathed. Sounds like it could have been quite a bit worse. Must have been a scary experience for you two!

Yah we ended up grunting our way up S-S. I ended up leading every pitch (except one) and we actually unexpectedly bivvied at the anchors for the Narrows. My partner ended up going off route (hard right) for the pitch in the "gulley" before the tower and found some of the loosest rock I've ever seen. (Like many blocks just resting on top of one another). Despite being super-careful I sent a fairly good-sized one plummeting and it ricocheted several hundred feet below and bounced hard to climbers left. Glad I didn't hit ya'll!

Thanks again for the detailed info. You should definitely get up with that guy who posted the rescue pictures. He really wants to send you some!

P.S. " what I would have done differently if I could have rewound would be to anchor the belayer in. " - Sounds like a good plan to me!
eKat

Trad climber
Jun 27, 2014 - 06:54am PT
From NPS:

http://home.nps.gov/morningreport/


Yosemite National Park (CA)
Injured Climber Rescued From Sentinel Rock

On Tuesday, June 17th, dispatch received a 911 call from an injured rock climber at the base of the Chounard-Herbert climbing route on Sentinel Rock in Yosemite Valley. The climber, a 30-year-old man from Bend, Oregon, said that he’d taken a 35-foot fall on the first pitch of the route, that he’d suffered injuries to his lower extremities, and that he was unable to self-rescue.

A ground response team consisting of Yosemite Search and Rescue team members Everett Phillips, Matt Othmer, Ken Kreis, and Buck Yedor was dispatched to the scene. The park's contract helicopter was also ordered for a reconnaissance flight and potential short haul mission.

Following a reconnaissance flight, the helicopter lowered rangers Jack Hoeflich and David Pope and their extrication equipment via short haul to a ledge approximately 250 feet below the injured climber. Hoeflich climbed to the man and fixed ropes for Pope and additional ground responders.

The team, including Hoeflich, Pope and SAR personnel, packaged the injured man in a litter and lowered him with Pope back to the insertion ledge. The helicopter returned and short-hauled Pope and the man to the Ahwahnee Meadow in Yosemite Valley, where he was taken to Yosemite Valley Medical Clinic. The remaining team members descended to the valley via the climber’s approach.

The mission was complicated by the steepness of the north face of Sentinel Rock, gusty winds, high rockfall potential, and the relative position of the sun and cliff face, which caused the helicopter to be in direct sunlight while the short haulers were in the shadow of the cliff.

Ranger David Hahn was the incident commander for this rescue.

[Submitted by Kari Cobb, Public Affairs Officer]
couchmaster

climber
Jun 27, 2014 - 07:57am PT

Nothing noteworthy to add except congrats on the way it worked out for you both. That's one knarly story and thanks for sharing it too. I can't even imagine how much that had to have hurt. Best wishes and heal up!

HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 27, 2014 - 09:12am PT
So very glad you made it without being really seriously injured.
We are putting ourselves at risk on every climb. (would we do this nonsense otherwise?) Nearly always, the risk we didn't expect.

what I would have done differently if I could have rewound would be to anchor the belayer in
If my feet are on flat terra firma (base of Manure Pile Buttress) and my climber is not a lot heavier than me (like that's gonna happen!), I'll forego the belayer's anchor. Otherwise, I anchor.
Whether my belayer is anchored or not I really try to protect the first hard move. Even if it's "only" 5.7.

Now WHEN am I going to take that WFR course?
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Jun 27, 2014 - 09:21am PT
The Coonyard-Herbert route was my very first route in Yosemite (done wall style) and I still remember that approach well 20+ years later. Lots of "4th Class My Azz!!!" was going on just getting to where we finally got to "WTF...we should probably rope up!" Not to mention two hauls of the bag.

Glad you're okay.
C4/1971

Trad climber
Depends on the day...
Jul 3, 2014 - 02:41pm PT
Randy Hamm and I did that approach in the early morning darkness in May of 1972. We reached the base of the climb at first light. Randy managed to drop two gallons of water at the base, and we foolishly decided to continue to climb, not wanting to backtrack the approach now that we could see it. It wasn't much fun in the dark, but in the light it looked worse. We id the climb in very hot weather with two liters of water and a half dozen oranges. Gypsie and Liza met us on the descent after we had immersed ourselves in the creek for a good half hour. They had brought a four pack of Guinness. It was psychedelic drunk as I recall.

My memory of that climb was sitting for six hours in blazing heat looking down on the Merced. The next morning we were off in less than two hours. Wish we had known that the day before.
MattF

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Jul 3, 2014 - 03:26pm PT
If my feet are on flat terra firma (base of Manure Pile Buttress) and my climber is not a lot heavier than me (like that's gonna happen!), I'll forego the belayer's anchor. Otherwise, I anchor.
Whether my belayer is anchored or not I really try to protect the first hard move. Even if it's "only" 5.7.

Now WHEN am I going to take that WFR course?
Yeah, I don't ever anchor on flat ground because I like to give as soft of catches as possible, but from now on I will anchor for sure on any sort of significant slope or ledge.

And seriously - get a WFR, or at least a WFA. Its training that can save a life, maybe your own.



Thanks for the well wishes everyone else. Today is my first day off crutches, so 15 days on crutches. I'm still pretty hobbled, but I can kinda walk around sorta, and I can see more climbing in my near future. :-)
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Jul 4, 2014 - 01:50am PT
Glad you got lucky! Well luck is relative, and it certainly could have been a lot lot worse. Heal quickly.
MattF

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Jul 7, 2014 - 11:31am PT
Also, I've sorted through my photos, figured I'd post a couple here:

Trying to drop the first rescuer right at us.  Had to abort due to swi...
Trying to drop the first rescuer right at us. Had to abort due to swirling winds and being too close to the wall already.
Credit: MattF

Dropping the rescuer down below on a lower ledge.
Dropping the rescuer down below on a lower ledge.
Credit: MattF

Once I made it to the clinic.
Once I made it to the clinic.
Credit: MattF
MattF

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Jul 7, 2014 - 11:34am PT
And Bruce sent me a few he took from the meadow:

Credit: MattF

Credit: MattF
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