Anyone know any details on a fatality in Yosemite yesterday?


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 21 - 40 of total 53 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Nov 2, 2015 - 12:44pm PT
Sad. But these sort of accidents are 100% preventable and should NOT be happening!

Hang on, accidents are just that. Accidents. And they happen.

Trad climber
Northern California
Nov 2, 2015 - 12:48pm PT
Condolences to Ethans family, friends and partners. He was obviously a bright light to want to pass on his love of nature and climbing to kids.

Social climber
san joser
Nov 2, 2015 - 01:16pm PT
Also worth mentioning that on the occasion I have had to leave a tail/leftover end on a fixed line that there is the possibility of someone else using, I still tie a knot in it just in case I/someone else mistakes it for the next line.

Worth mentioning again.

It is very easy for anyone to attach to the wrong end at a busy belay station or in the dark. The first opportunity to knot the end of the short line lies with the rope fixer. After that, every other person who passes through has the same opportunity. Takes about 15 seconds.

In construction we put safety caps on rebar that sticks up our of the foundations/ decks. What are the chances of someone tripping and falling at just the right place and angle to get impaled by a rebar? Pretty slim, but it does happen. The caps cost next to nothing and are installed as fast as you can pull them out of the box. I feel the same way with knotting mid-cliff short-end ropes.

Nov 2, 2015 - 01:18pm PT
RIP Ethan.

Trad climber
Nov 2, 2015 - 03:53pm PT
Is there any possible advantage to omitting the knot at the end that might help explain why this problem is as common as it seems to be?

Social climber
Nov 2, 2015 - 04:16pm PT
hey there say, ... my deep condolences to the family and loved of ethan... :(

prayers for them, as they have to move forward in life, without him, now...


Gym climber
Nov 2, 2015 - 04:28pm PT
Ethan gave up a PhD in the final years to live in his van and climb. And, damn, was he good.

Go with the wind.

How close have I come, so many times. So many times, just a flick, and safe! This time though, not safe, out. Over, and out.

That is painful, for friends, and for brothers in sport. Ethan, looks like a fellow I'd been happy to have known.
Heloise Pendagrast

Trad climber
Tahoe City
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 2, 2015 - 05:00pm PT
Ethan's family and friends need to get his car out of the Valley and back to Boulder. I realize it's a long shot, but if anyone in the Yosemite area is willing to do this, please send me a message and I will put you in contact with someone coordinating the effort. It's likely your gas will be paid, and possibly a flight back. Tricky logistics though ... Thank you.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Nov 2, 2015 - 05:05pm PT
In sailing, the end of the anchor line is called The Bitter End. You don't want it getting loose, or you will be screwed. The end of a climbing rope should also be called The Bitter End, because it seems to kill more climbers than anything, including letting the lead line snake through the belay device and dropping a lowering leader. It is preventable, but happens with some regularity.

Please tie fat knots onto the end. I know that it can get hung up, but it is there for a reason. Also, I never rapped a line on a wall without a jug on the line as a backup, or a simple prusik knot.

Sorrow for the friends and family. It is just such a simple and common mistake. It has been happening since the first multi-pitch routes went up, probably a century.
Steve Hickman

Norwood, CO
Nov 9, 2015 - 11:06am PT
A knot on the end is not sufficient. It can work through a brake bar or biner brake. That's what happened when Madsen died years ago on El Cap. God bless. Steve Hickman

Boulder climber
Nov 9, 2015 - 12:20pm PT
These sort of accidents are 100% preventable

If we just remember to not make mistakes then we won't make mistakes. Remember to remind yourself to not make a mistake.

But we're human. If we can't remember to not make a mistake, how will we remember to remind ourselves not to make a mistake?

We could take a step back and stay inside and watch football instead, but then our brains would beat ourselves up for living an inauthentic life. No joy there, depending on which neural pathways we've so carefully carved in our brains.

We all make choices, even if we aren't really the ones doing the choosing.

My condolences to family and friends.

Trad climber
from Kentucky, living in St. Louis
Nov 9, 2015 - 12:56pm PT
A knot on the end is not sufficient. It can work through a brake bar or biner brake.

Good point, but how often do we use a biner or a brake bar? (I'm not referring to rescue scenarios or sport-rappellers, but most rock climbing scenarios.) I never do, but that's just me.

My question is, and I do want to learn from you all who have way more experience- if the knot in the end is not sufficient, what is best practice so we can all up our game of safety here?

RIP to Ethan and much love to his family. Awful news :-(

Trad climber
Nov 9, 2015 - 01:18pm PT
Assuming the "higher" fixed line is long enough, why not connect it to the lower rap anchor with a re-threaded '8' instead of just putting a stopper knot on it?

This would certainly prevent anyone from rapping very far on it (knotted or not).
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Nov 9, 2015 - 01:40pm PT
Rappelling is DANGEROUS! It is arguably the most dangerous thing we do up there. Remember the guy who died in the rappelling accident on The Nose recently?

It happens, it can happen to you - BE CAREFUL.

RIP Monkey Brother Ethan

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Nov 9, 2015 - 02:08pm PT
I hate hearing about these terrible accidents. One moment everything is beautiful and the next all you want is to turn back the clock. I offer my heartfelt condolences to Ethan’s family and friends. I never met Ethan, but we climbers have a lot in common and every death sends waves through the community.

I don’t mean to criticize Ethan in any way. But I want to back up the comments about knotting the rope ends with a personal experience.

We had climbed the good pitches of Magical Mystery Tour on Tahquitz and were rappelling off. We had double 8.5mm ropes. It was windy and we chose against knotting the ends so they would not hang up if they blew around. I went first. As I descended I saw a buddy climbing to my right. He was just back from Nepal and I wanted to hear his stories. We were yelling back and forth making plans to meet later. I was distracted and rapped right past the anchor. When I noticed this I stopped and looked down. I was less than two feet from the “bitter ends.”

I had made this same choice many times without incident. Never again.

Big Wall climber
Fort Collins Co
Nov 9, 2015 - 03:20pm PT
How many times do we read about climbers repelling off the end of a rope. Guessing that it is close, if not the #1, cause of fatal climbing accidents. Always sad; tie ends and if windy,access the AMGA on how to rap with the rope on your side.

Boulder, CO
Nov 9, 2015 - 03:21pm PT
Accidents may, or may not be 100% preventable, but to the degree that measures can be taken to reduce or minimize risks, habitually skipping such steps appears to be the final causative decision in the process, prior to the tragedy du jour. In spite of the strong connection between seatbelt use and surviving serious vehicle accidents, thousands die annually because they chose to skip this simple step.
Successfully surviving a thousand rappels before has no bearing on the safety of the next one, yet familiarity breeds contempt. Most climbers I know have lucked out at least once, but might have become the statistic had the dice rolled another way. Accepting errors as human insults our ability to learn, to revise our decisions, and to decrease the risk factors we actually can control. I stopped climbing with folks who displayed poor judgment in routine situations, because I foresaw an eventual dice-roll with me as an unwilling partner. Only we can learn from another's fatal mistake.
Practically, a quasi-fixed rope scenario would seem to call for routinely anchoring the bottom with a few feet of slack. From above, pulling would quickly reveal the probability that the lower end was attached, therefore automatically knotted as well, providing redundant measures to prevent rappelling off an end, as well as preventing wind-blown rope tangles, twists, and such.
Habitually shortcutting safety measures, especially evident in speed ascents, is a recipe for tragedy. I once calculated that the time I spend securing each belay station would, cumulatively on the Nose, equal the total time of the current record. The mindset that prides speed over safety trickles down to making unconscious tradeoffs even when no time savings is relevant to the moment. Every one of these preventable accidents should be a wake-up call, but will soon wear off until the next go-round. Some things never change - only the names. R.I.P.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 9, 2015 - 03:34pm PT
Accidents, by definition, are impossible to avoid, but you can avoid having an accident. If you are a climber develop unchangeable good routines for rappelling, belaying and lowering. Climbers do these things so often they sometimes forget that the slightest miscue can be fatal.


Nov 9, 2015 - 04:53pm PT

The British Medical Journal has banned the term accident in regard to injuries Because the term accident implies the event was not foreseeable. I can't think of anything that is unforeseeable.

For many years safety officials and public health authorities have discouraged use of the word “accident” when it refers to injuries or the events that produce them. An accident is often understood to be unpredictable—a chance occurrence or an “act of God”—and therefore unavoidable. However, most inju­ries and their precipitating events are predictable and preventable. That is why the BMJ has decided to ban
the word accident.
BMJ VOLUME 322 2 JUNE 2001

On the evening of October 31, I was in Lower Pines with a bunch of friends. The sunset lit up Washington Column like I've never seen it before. Most of us walked down to the river to see and snap photos. It's really sad hear that this happened. It could happen to any of us no matter how careful we think we are.

Trad climber
Nov 9, 2015 - 05:06pm PT
I read the link to the story of this man. It sounds like he was a great guy, Loved by all who knew him. His passing as a result of this accident is a great loss to many, or rather to the entire climbing community. He sounds like he was the guy you wanted to tie in on the other end of your rope. I pray his family and many friends find peace and hope in his passing and may he rest in peace.
Messages 21 - 40 of total 53 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta