Fatality on Snake Dike 11/8/15


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SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Moab, A sailboat, or some time zone
Dec 22, 2016 - 10:32am PT
^^^^^. You've said what so many of us feel.

Tears flowing rather liberally on your comments.
It just hurts.

Al Fylak

Trad climber
Rochester Hills, MI
Dec 22, 2016 - 01:11pm PT
Unfortunately there will always be accidents in climbing. I am always saddened to hear of deaths, but not surprised. If it was totally safe most of us would not bother to do it. I am not judging but clipping into an anchor is a very basic skill. We should keep it simple. Girth hitch a sling to your harness and clip into the power point with a locking biner. That should be good enough. The PAS is an interesting modification to the basic girth hitched sling. Sometimes the added complexity confuses people. Watch your buddies as best you can, but that is not sure proof either. I and most of you have made plenty of mistakes over the years that have been near fatal. The leader can not catch all errors .. no one was at fault. Rest is peace young lady.

Trad climber
Dec 23, 2016 - 05:30pm PT
I met Angela a few times in Lake Tahoe. What a wonderful radiant woman she was.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 23, 2016 - 07:23pm PT
Climbing is somewhat unique in that one thing can be the deciding factor. In most aviation
accidents it is usually a series or combination of smaller errors that reach a point of no return.
In this case I see a similar series of judgement errors that lead to the final error.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Dec 23, 2016 - 08:36pm PT
Beautifully said, BASE104. That gets to the heart of it. We've all made some mistakes that could have been disastrous. Let's all do our best to avoid them.

ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
Dec 23, 2016 - 10:20pm PT
no need to place blame

Trad climber
Dec 23, 2016 - 10:32pm PT
this is a tregedy. i agree with clint's comment there are a multitude of factors that create an accident. I also apprecate the accident report. at least there is a tiny positive kernel that can be shared from another terrible fatality.

redundancy is good- coming from someone who has single clipped many bolt anchors and rapped from non-redundant anchors- often carefully - for lack of good alternatives.

i once leaned back on a solid two bolt anchor (3/8 button heads) where one bolt simply slid right out of the bolt hole and disengaged entirely. that was pretty sickening. we didnt pull too hard on the second one since we still had to belay from it. we went back and replaced them the following week thanks to the ASCA. we were cash poor at the time. my point being redundancy is good even when we are accustomed to trusting bolts rated to 5kips. they are not always good.

ive made some mistakes too over the years- primarily as a novice climber where i made hasty anchor attachments- i got lucky and noticed them before i died. i have also noticed other experienced climbers make similar mistakes and have luckily caught them too. be careful people- we all make mistakes. plan for them. assume that you will too- in the dark, thirsty, in a state, off route, in a rush, in the rain, headlamp bateries low, and improvising for lack of gear.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Dec 24, 2016 - 07:26am PT
Thankful for 95% humanity over 5% idiocy in the objective responses of the community. We have all been a moment away from such a mistake.

Boulder, CO
Jan 19, 2017 - 10:57am PT
The point with enforcing a habit of redundancy is that it changes the equation, from the chance of making one mistake, which even the most seasoned climbers have experienced, to the likelihood of having two different mistakes at the same point, at the same time. If circumstances force you to pare down to a solitary rap anchor, etc. at least you can be pretty sure you're going to inspect the crap out of it before committing your life to it.
Visual complexity, i.e. the new, "safer" belay loop link daisys, certainly could increase the risk of mis-clipping while dealing with anchors, especially in a hasty retreat, oncoming darkness, weather, etc.
Experience can make us lazy, but also set in ways which mostly work safely, most of the time. The least little change in our program might reveal an unexpected weakness, another reason for being redundant whenever possible.
The climbing rope may be a single link - and stories of cut ropes are out there, leading to many who now use twin/double ropes for leading - but it ordinarily is a redundant backup to the climbers actually not falling on it. Rappelling, by its total dependence on the rope, harness, rappel device, and anchor system, is a series of potential weak links with not much room for redundancy. Beginners used to routinely be belayed while rappelling; keeping this inexperienced woman on belay until definitively reanchored at the other station might have been a possibility, but tedious, slower, and not obviously necessary until after her fall.
I recall the Yosemite standard speed anchor in the 70's being clove hitches into two plain ovals in the typical two bolts, then clipping the trailing rope with one more oval into the section of rope between the other bolts. This may have been the Death anchor on "Anchors Away." Live and learn.

Jan 19, 2017 - 11:34am PT
The nut on the one bolt his fixed line was attached to loosened and came off which caused the failure on Anchors Away.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Jan 19, 2017 - 12:13pm PT
"Live and Learn" can be a very near thing…

I led the first pitch of Devil's Delight at Tahquitz. I knew when I started that a woman was belaying a leader on P2, but knowing she was at good bolts on a bit of a ledge I went up anyway, we were just doing P1 and rapping.

I don't recall clipping the anchor or how I set it up, just that I did it out of habit and showed the young woman, still belaying, what was mine and what she should unclip when the time came.

The Sarge came up second, so now we are three at the belay. The next thing I hear is "Climbing" from the young woman. Now we are two. I organized the rope to toss, leaned out to see where it should drop, and began falling outward. I'm sure many of us here have had that experience where everything slows down to a crawl as you realize the unthinkable is happening. Two ends of the rope were threaded through the anchor, and running into the lapped coil I held in my right hand. I turned and grabbed for that doubled cord.

I'll never forget looking at that pair of ropes, slack and separated by a couple of inches. Still in slow motion, I collected them in my left hand and held on for dear life as they snapped tight. By then I was leaning out over the fall by about 30 degrees. Somewhere in the middle of this I had dropped the coil and got both hands on the rope. The Sarge, one of the most composed people I have ever known, was a little "saucer-eyed" as pulled back to the security of the belay and stood there panting.

So I was unclipped. I'll never know if the young woman unclipped me. I do know that I moving fast and did'nt double check anything, a nearly fatal mistake. And of course when I knew she was leaving the ledge I nearly paid with my life by not taking another look at the set-up.
For the most part I think assigning blame in an accident on a public forum is uncool. We can all draw our own conclusion; "They should have sent her in the middle," "She should have been belayed," whatever…
But I cannot think, among the few really close calls I've had, one which was not largely my fault. Maybe she unclipped me, I'll never know, but It was I who did not take that extra moment to double check the set-up when she left. So when the mistake is our own we should own up to it, put it on a list of things we'll never do again. My errors on Devil's Delight that day would have only taken my life, in many cases it can be someone else's, or several others, who lose theirs.

I hope that now, after more than a year has gone by, family and friends have somehow come to peace with the event of that terrible day. To paraphrase Leonard Nimoy shortly before his death, beauty can be, but not preserved, except in memory.

Boulder climber
Jan 19, 2017 - 01:13pm PT
We have one brain. It's the source of all of our mistakes. There's no redundancy to it.

Sure we can add different brains with different perspectives and maybe improve functioning (e.g. in this case avoiding a bad climbing accident). But mostly we don't - we hang with brains kind of like ours - stoners, bold leaders, independent action heros, Trump supporters, whatever.

Yes create redundant systems with the hope that your brain won't make a second mistake exactly like the mistake your brain just made. Heck, maybe that will work for your brain.

But IMHO, the best we can do is the best we can do, and sometimes that means we fall.
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