Anyone know any details on a fatality in Yosemite yesterday?


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Trad climber
Nov 9, 2015 - 05:19pm PT
Delhi Dog

Good Question...
Nov 10, 2015 - 03:57am PT
What Abissi said.
Sincere condolences.
Floyd Hayes

Trad climber
Hidden Valley Lake, CA
Nov 10, 2015 - 12:32pm PT
I seldom tie a knot in the end of a rappel rope, but when I do I CLIP THE KNOT INTO MY HARNESS rather than tossing the end of the rope down, so it is impossible to rappel off the end of the rope, it is impossible for the knot to go through my belay device, and it is impossible for the knotted end to get stuck somewhere.

Trad climber
from Kentucky, living in St. Louis
Nov 11, 2015 - 10:00am PT
Floyd's idea sounds ideal- not sure why I've never done that.

I guess you'd have a big loop out that could get hung up... but no way you are going off the end.

I have wrapped with the ropes on me as I go down, but I'm definitely not too good at this, need to review the AMGA method mentioned previously in the thread.

The reason this is so alarming to me is I usually do not put knots in if I know where the anchors are. In unknown territory, or dark I *usually* do... that "usually" part is what gets the best of us some time :-|


Trad climber
Davis, CA
Nov 11, 2015 - 10:19am PT
Remember, this accident sounds like it was a fixed rope situation with both top and bottom anchor fixed. It was the left over tail from the bottom anchor that was rapped off. My understanding is that he mistook this end for the next fixed line. In this situation, you are probably not going to rap down with that free, bitter end attached to you. It just isn't always practical or possible, especially if you are not the one who fixed the lines. Prevention is the first key here. Don't leave a free end below the bottom anchor on a fixed line! Fix that end back to the anchor or at the very least, knot the end very well. When transferring to the next in a series of fixed lines, make sure you are on the strand that actually goes to the next anchor.

I completely understand how this can happen. Last fall I was coming down the EC East Ledges raps. One of the fixed lines ended in the middle of the rap! It did not continue to the next anchor. Luckily, the end had knots in it and We noticed before we got there anyway and were able to get to the adjacent line. But it was still a shock that a fixed line would be left that basically went to nowhere.
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
Nov 12, 2015 - 06:01am PT
It could happen to any of us

It's the sad truth, this summer I was rapping with a friend as I was preparing the ropes and he was tying himself off to the anchor. I glanced down to see his locking biner tied into the figure eight instead of this harness, he had just untied from the rope and was about to lean back onto the anchors. I immediately shouted out and he proclaimed, OMG I can't believe I almost did that. He's been climbing for 50 years or more and a 5 time El Cap veteran. Accidents happen, let's watch out for each other.

My sincerest condolences to the loved ones of Ethan.

Charlie D.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 12, 2015 - 07:08am PT
I like Floyd's idea. It seems especially good for windy conditions (Patagonia) where ropes can be blown around and caught.
Bottom attention!

Trad climber
Carson City, NV
Nov 12, 2015 - 08:28pm PT
Man, always so terrible to hear of this type of accident. Condolences...

I agree with all the what should be done as far as knots and rap routes go for some redundant safety. What I do not understand is how does one make the mistake of clipping a rap device in to a short tail as it is so so much lighter than a full length rope? An experienced climber would have to notice that and double check. Even if your partner is pulling up the rope to un weight it for you, you would think they would notice. I have to believe there is more to the story.

Double check for your partner as well as your self!


Nov 12, 2015 - 08:34pm PT
Every conditioned living entity MUST make mistakes.

There's no escape .....

Social climber
Nov 12, 2015 - 08:36pm PT
check and double check. weight the rope on rappel before undoing your tether. fix ropes at both anchors fuhcryinoutloud.

It ain't ever robot-city out there.

Mountain climber
Berlin, Germany
Nov 15, 2015 - 11:25am PT
My sincere condolences to everyone who knew Ethan. I was on the wall the day this happened, and in fact it was our fixed line that he most likely rappelled off from. Me and my climbing partner are indescribably saddened by this and it took us quite a while to soberly reflect on the events that night. At first I didn't feel like discussing this online. But like with any accident, it's important to learn from it and avoid repeating mistakes - more so if they can have such drastic consequences.

First off, what happened? We were the first team going up that day and made good progress, which is why we decided to not only fix a line from the top of pitch 5 to dinner ledge (as most parties do), but also another line for the pitch after that. The upper fixed line was fixed to anchors 5 and 6, with a loose end (maybe 20 yards) trailing off. This is likely where he rappelled off from unfortunately. It's fair to say that we will never again leave a trailing end hanging in space. However, we also never expected someone to use these lines (except for ourselves, to jug up the next morning)! We were not even aware that there was a team above us, since we could not see or hear them the entire day. The first "contact" was about an hour after sunset, when we were preparing food on dinner ledge, and someone shouted down asking whether they could use our fixed lines. All teams on the ledge (3) confirmed that they could. About 20 minutes later, the accident happened. I can only imagine that a combination of several unfavourable factors (darkness, tiredness, stress...) led to this.

For me, the lessons to take away from this are the following:

1) Please, please, PLEASE watch your rap line below you. This should make you able to stop a fall before any knot would.

2) Be very careful with rap lines that you didn't set up yourself. Rap slowly (especially in the dark) and do sanity checks (How heavy does the rope feel when lifted? Is the rope attached from the end?)

3) Do not leave loose ends trailing when setting up a rap line, even if you think noone will use it.

I never had the chance to get to know Ethan, but from what I gathered he was a very competent climber. This is a sad reminder that this can happen to all of us.

Rest in peace.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Nov 15, 2015 - 01:41pm PT
CNO, don't beat yourself up. The accident was not your fault, even if it were your rope. Responsibility belongs to the climber when it comes to this.

As PTPP said, rappelling seems to get more climbers than rockfall. It is dangerous, so be careful.

Trad climber
Nov 16, 2015 - 02:54pm PT
my biggest mistakes happen when I;m in the biggest hurry,,,It;s getting dark,,dam,every second seems to count,,now getting old and spacey adds a whole new element,,peace and love ,,take the time you still have,,
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