What's your longest fall climbing?


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Trad climber
phoenix ,az
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 20, 2004 - 02:11pm PT
45 ft while soloing a volcanic pile of crap (with my hiking boots) in ochoco ntl forest oregon the rock broke I fell slid and abraided, next day pulled a soft ball sized block on my head while bouldering, but I was 16 and good for it.

Lunar X 35 ftr on to a offset nut while trying to hook on the amoeba.

Ventilator slab 30ftr while missing a bolt and trying to clip the next one, I was 17 and too proud to grab the bolt, This scenerio still occurs at least two times a year I just get in the zone and forget about the gear, good for sending bad for failing.


Sport climber
Fresno, CA
Feb 20, 2004 - 02:20pm PT
Damn, kids. I love these horror stories.

Mine was 40ish, which seems to be the popular number. (I wonder if it has something to do with the storytelling, like 50 seems like too much of a stretch but 30 is too pissant?) It may not have been that, but it sure felt like I jugged back up to my high point FOREVER.

Just one of those aid stories where you think you're hot stuff, backclean a couple pieces, then a natty fixed head, then a hook move, then you squeeze in a two-cammed blue alien and it's somehow a surprise when you go for a ride.

Just curious: anybody ever do some serious zippering?

Feb 20, 2004 - 02:55pm PT
Jacob's Ladder is to Table Mt., South Africa what Nutcracker is to Yosemite. Ultra classic mid grade route. In a nutshell (sic) i led the last pitch on this 5 pitch route. While taking in the slack the rope get's caught around a bollard. Gunther Zeppel has already detached himself from the anchor and is ready to follow (it had started to rain). He slips, taking the 50 feet of so of slack with him. Rope snaps ,11mm Edelrid and he lands in a Blister bush 300ft below. Result: broken femur and a gammy back. No long term injuries.

Gym climber
estes park
Feb 20, 2004 - 03:06pm PT
Surprised with all the wall trash around here noone has the 200 footer story.

Running a winter push on Smash the State on the Diamond. Crux pitch, bad beaks, 60 footer clean and scary.

Far enough. Probably have a couple 30-40 footer free climbing falls.

Good stories, keep em coming

Trad climber
Feb 20, 2004 - 04:16pm PT
30ft on a sport route,

That AC Devil Dog at the Grotto. I skipped a bolt and went to clip the next one and foot popped as I was pulling up slack. Was fun. So far still too chicken to run it out enough take more than 15-20 footers on tougher trad routes.

Trad climber
San Rafael, CA
Feb 20, 2004 - 04:21pm PT
25-30 feet on 5.9 slab at Donner Summit(first lead ever) but it didn't resemble falling so much as it did sliding down a cheese grater. It took a few weeks to regrow finger tips. I've never really liked slab climbing since.

Feb 20, 2004 - 04:34pm PT
not my longest.. but ... extra points for 2 whippers back-to-back?

’79? So I’d been climbing only 2 years..a gumbie.. Diamond Dogs in JT.. you know.. the cool undercling, then face climb off to past 2 bolts.. . I had already led the thing no prob… so I go back with Larry Loads for another go ‘round, but whip off the mantle before the first bolt? 25’ onto friend plugged underneath the undercling. Go back up and freakin’ pop off the mantle again. Two 25 footers in the span of 5 minutes. I shoulda sacked it up finished it, but I said screw this music.. I was blown.. .
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Feb 20, 2004 - 05:10pm PT
Hardman exclaimed:

I think you should tell the story. It would be interesting to hear it from your perspective.
Don't forget the rope diameter, the fact that it had never been fallen on, the 2 arm-loads of slack taken in during my sprint--on the Munter-Hitch belay, ect.

It was AT LEAST 40 feet! Was it Knott?

It was on this trip that I discovered my climbing partner, underneath that Hardman exterior, was, in fact, a potato(e) connoisseur...

I wanted to do climb Snake Dike. The problem was, how to find a suitable partner? Most the folks in the bay area had either done it, or it seemed way below their ability. In what must have been a Russian River induced haze, Hardman Knott agreed to partner me up this fine route.

Since I was on a business trip, and I like to climb on my own gear, I offered to bring the stuff, and mindful of the newer baggage restrictions, I made sure it was, ahem, lightweight. A smallish rack of a couple of stoppers, a scant few cams, a few light draws and slings and the coup de grace: a nice light rope, this being my BD 8.1mm ice line.

We dropped Dave's car off at my hotel in Vallejo, and as we pulled out, I felt the ESD glow of multi plug-in electrical devices and soon we were GPS'd, CD playered, and goodness knows what else. A quick stop at the grocery store for some food and beverages, and we were off. We arrived late, and lucked into a spot with another group in the upper pines when the feller mistakingly asked if we had a reservation...(I think it went, "no, but we'll bunk with you"). We set up camp and a racoon set a land speed record raidin' the tent. Ahhh...restful sleep...only interrupted every few minutes by partying campers, car stereos, slamming doors, rangers chasing bears...

Up early, quick jaunt up the Muir trail. Tactical error by me for not refilling empty water bottles in the creek, and waiting too long for the water at Lost Lake, which didn't materialize (passed on trying to strain the mud thru a hanky). Thankfully, after a footrace to the base of the route, some overloaded fellers off'd some of their water on us. By the time we arrived, two parties were already started. Dave discovered he was missing his belay device (probably in the gym bag, but, a gri gri wouldn't a worked on that skinny cord anyhoo). I convinced him I knew how to belay on a munter hitch and he kindly offered to use my ATC. We got in line, and, after a short wait, I dialed in the first pitch, stretching the rope out to the bolted belay station. Sweet. Dave got the second pitch, and quickly traversed over to the right, plugged in some iffy gear at the small roof, clipped the bolt then stepped up and headed to the belay anchor. He was moving pretty quickly, gym shoes slappin' granite as he shuffled confidently up the dike. Clipping into the belay anchor, Hardman heroically decided to extend the pitch to the next belay station on the other side of the far dike separated by the frictiony traverse to the left. Off he went, hoppin' and a skippin', not a care in the world: this was no Mission Cliffs or Ironworks crimp fest and a gym full of hardman worshippers weren't gawking in silence or cheerin' him on.

He must have have been dreamin' about all the betties who'd tossed their room keys at his feet following yet another of his proud plastic leads or bouldering sesh's, because, all of a sudden, he pops off. I'm kinda payin' attention. We are in the valley, you know, and, even though some idiot plans a controlled burn on MY weekend in the valley, the scenery is pretty ok. But, one eye on the prize, the other on the view, and I see the movement, which couldn't hardly be Dave payin' a social call. He comes unhitched kinda fast, then, like one of them snowmobiler's tryin' to outrun an avalanche, turns around, faces straight downhill, and starts his feet a movin'. Pretty cool to watch, especially the look of focused determination on his face. I'm not sure what was going thru his head, but, I'm thinkin', watchin' him come down and all that rope boil up, this is a goin' to be a rope stretcher. Even belayin' off a munter, as Dave sort of jogged by, I was able to reel in two full armloads of slack before the rope started to s-s-s-s-s-stretch tight. During the downward plummet, Dave did a nice bunny hop over a little dike, but, when finally coming to a full stop, had still managed to ding his foot on the rock which caused him to limp back up to his high point at the belay station.

There wasn't any thing leakin' out of him, or his shorts, and I didn't see any bad swelling, besides the usual increased hat size associated with roping up in the presence of greatness. I offered to lead thru, but, Hardman would have none of it. I says, "I think you missed the clip on that traverse". "There's a bolt up there?" "Yeah, just before where you fell". "Oh...shit". A haughty laugh and he leads thru without further incident. On the way down, Dave scared the tourists (me included) by waltzing down the cables no hands. With his bad foot, I was almost able to keep up on the way to the car.

Man, that rope stretched. He kept going and going...and that 8.1mm looked a might skinnier and skinnier. I'd think around a 45 footer, at least, maybe 50 feet. Lookin' at the topo, fell just to the left of the bolt (which he'd failed to clip) between the two sets of belay anchors on the second pitch, well past me at the first belay anchors. Geez, add'n in the inebriated campfire factor, maybe was closer to 100 feet...

Hey, fun day...

Brian in SLC
Brian H.

San Francisco
Feb 20, 2004 - 06:49pm PT
Brian -
Good story. I paired you description of Hardman running DOWN the dike route with his picture/post from the "Cop" thread earlier.....makes for a hilarious visual.

Trad climber
Feb 20, 2004 - 07:18pm PT
Longest fall...hmm...I guess that would be off Petch's deck after too many green labels.

Great weekend to all!
(enjoy your green labels)
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Marin Hot Tub Country
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 20, 2004 - 08:35pm PT
Fine piece of writing there, Brian...

It was on this trip that I discovered my climbing partner, underneath that Hardman exterior, was, in fact, a potato(e) connoisseur...

I brought along a Webber propane BBQ and some apple-wood chips to smoke the roasted potatoes with.
They are unbelievable! You haven't lived until you've had smoked roasted potatoes...

We dropped Dave's car off at my hotel in Vallejo, and as we pulled out, I felt the ESD glow of multi plug-in electrical devices and soon we were GPS'd, CD playered, and goodness knows what else.

The radar detector, of course! (we avoided a ticket on the way back--it saved us for sure)

I have to share a couple more tidbits of this story: One of the 2 parties that started before us was a couple
of Englishmen in their late 50's. They were very pleasant, and we talked with them for a bit before they
started up. One of them told of how a couple of American climbers had been "pressurizing" them
by following too closely on some route and vibing them. I laughed and said something like:
"Well, you better not climb too slowly or you might find us nipping at your heels"...

After they set off, Brian started up the first pitch, and as he neared the belay, 3 guys arrived
breathlessly at the base. So this pretty-boy with bleach-blond hair says to me:

"So you guys really need to climb fast".

I said: "Oh?"

He says:

"We're going fast and light"...

At that point I noticed that the 3 of them were all wearing T-shirts and shorts,
with no packs and no extra clothing, not even hats. Keep in mind this was late October (!)

Anyway when I slipped, I turned and sprinted down the slab as fast as I could, holding the rope off to the side.
Afterward, Brian said he couldn't believe how fast I was moving. I finally had to jump over a dike,
and I kept waiting and waiting for the rope to pull tight. I slammed my heel so hard that I was
sure it was broken. It hurt so bad I just immediately started climbing again after about 15 seconds.
There was only one way to go at this point: up. I wasn't about to let a mere broken heel ruin the day!

So after I finished this pitch, Brian led the next. My next lead was the 4th--the one with no pro.
I remember reading on Supertopo that it had huge jugs everywhere. I didn't find a single one.
It was pretty much all slopey polished divets and greasy "holds"--as I remember it.
As I neared the top of the pitch, one of the Englishmen was standing on what looked like
the best hold on the pitch. Anxious to grab a solid hold after the heroic (and scary) run-out, I asked the
guy if he wouldn't mind moving his heel. So I ended up literally "nipping at their heels" indeed.
While I was at it, I just reached up and grabbed his slings on the belay to pull myself up and clip-in.
Since I had already "blown the on-sight" of Half Dome, a little French-Freeing wasn't going to hurt! ;-)

Looking down we could see Blondie (who Brian nicknamed "Johnny Wonderstud") leading and bringing
his partners up two-at-a-time. They seemed to be moving at a reasonable pace, but were certainly
not closing in on us by any means. As we finished the 5th pitch, the wind started coming up and
the temperature dropped markedly. I put on my wind pants, wind jacket, fleece sweater and hat,
and was still a bit cold. I was wondering how Johnny Wonderstud and his 2 charges were enjoying the
sudden change in weather. After this pitch we never saw them again. We got to the top and we met
a very attractive and friendly ranger named Laurie. She was packing a Glock semi-auto.
Since I wasn't sure if I would be able walk the 9 miles to the Valley floor,
I (only half) jokingly asked about the feasibility of getting a chopper ride down.
She laughed and said I would have to be a lot worse off than I was. She did say I could get a donkey-ride
down if I couldn't walk, but that it would take several hours for them to up get there.
Suddenly, the pain didn't seem so bad. We ended up hanging out with Laurie and we all shared our food
in a little impromptu picnic, chatting for about an hour. So much for the rangers being "tools", eh?

After a while a guy came up and asked if we had seen a party of 3 on the route.
I asked if one of them had bleach-blond hair. He nodded. I said they had been right behind us,
but had apparently fallen back for some reason. (I felt no need to heckle, especially after being possibly
the only person in recorded history to suffer the indignity of taking a fall on Snake Dike)
This guy had hiked all the way up to the top of Half Dome with a bunch of ice cream
to meet Johnny Wonderstud and his yearlings. We never found out what happened to them,
but I seriously don't think they made it. Anyway, I had to walk/run all the way back to the car
on my instep, since I couldn't put any weight on my heel. It was sore for a month.
We made it back just as it got dark at our heroic pace.

A fine day indeed!

Hardman Knott

Trad climber
Feb 20, 2004 - 09:27pm PT
HEAD FIRST, 38 Feet, on "The Good Book" 5.10d, Yosemite, while laybacking up the crux pitch. The route was still wet. The route also still had a fresh fine granite powder from a recent huge rockfall. No, cuts or anything, but damn I literally felt my guts move around when I came to a sudden stop just a few feet above my belayer. Needless to say I didn't attempt to run it out again, gear was placed every five feet.

My buddy made Accidents of N. America when he fell 70+ feet and dislocated and fractured his shoulders on El Capitan and had to be helicoptered out, but that's another story.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 20, 2004 - 09:55pm PT
This thread is jogging my memory... unfortunately....

Another time, in the 'Gunks, after a long layoff from rock climbing I went out, for the first time, with a new climbing friend Naoto. He was Japenese, and a very aggressive and driven climber. He wanted to lead everything, and I was fine by that, not really being in shape to do anything.

We decided to do a classic, "Shockley's Ceiling" which is a 5.6, well loved, often climbed and the scene of the infamous Williams FNA picture ("First Naked Ascent"). We opted for clothes... it must have been the early nineties.

Anyway, the memorable pitch is the pull through the roof, which is not all that hard and then steep climbing to the top. For some reason I always found that steep section harder then the roof section, all those pull ups on horizontal cracks or something. Well my gravity was high that day as I huffed up the roof onto the steep. At some point I was really tired so I sort of called up "tension" and leaned back off the cliff... as I did this I realized the rope wasn't coming tight, I started moving down the cliff, sort of running, and spotting a ledge coming up quick. Just as I was about to hop over the ledge and continue running on the down hill side the rope came up tight. I don't know how long it was, must not have been too long given I was still "on my feet" running down the cliff. But it was annoyingly too long for a second to fall.

My rapid, adrenaline fueled ascent to the top brought me onto the scene of Naoto with burned hands. He had learned to belay through a 'biner, pulling rope in and using the slightly less then half wrap as a friction device. Apparently he was "in between" pulls when I weighted the rope and quickly lost control. He told me he stepped on the loose end of the rope, got it slowed down enough to grab, and brought me to a stop before coming up on the end. I am not sure if he was tied in at that point!

Well that was the end of the day, Naoto was in no condition to climb, nor was I. Somehow I suppressed all memory of this until reading through this thread. Part of it, no doubt, was the embarassment of nearly buying the farm on an easy 5.6.

Naoto seemed to be similarly unimpressed with this near disaster. Later that year he was pressing me to go do the Bonington route on Shivling... I didn't think that that would have been a good idea.

Trad climber
Feb 20, 2004 - 10:49pm PT
I watched my older brother (clay) take a 40 footer of of course and buggy (11b/c)in josh last christmas. 2 cams poped, was crazy, a number 1 camalot caught him. The two that poped, he said was pumped and not really looking when he shot them in. He fell from the top crux, near the topout of the route, fell to about near, mid-route. I went flying up 4 feet off the ground while muttering loudly a few explitives when he took the whip. It was pretty cool, it only stoked him for me to run to the car grab a few headlamps and for him to do it again. I think experiences like these can either get a person to fully stop climbing, or it drives them to push the limits more... as for my brother it acted positively on him...
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 21, 2004 - 03:49am PT
Last bad memory... also in the 'Gunks...
my partner this time was Mike who was climbing strong this particular season. I don't know what year, it was the 80's though. We had been climbing quite a lot and decided to knock off "Anguish" a 5.7 in the Traps. The only note I have in my guide book is the word "crux" written next to the third pitch description "Climb face leading to corner in overhangs. Move up left and pass overhangs onto the face above, then up to the top (50 feet)." The first and second pitches were not memorable in any way... I had the second pitch, I got to a ledge and put a sling around a flake... loosely, clipped it and shouted "on belay". Mike wasn't going to fall and I wasn't going to need an anchor, really. Up he came, we reracked and exchanged gear and off Mike went into the corner up to the overhang. I had watched Mike climb a lot of overhangs that year, he seemed solid as usual, but he was not working the problem through very quickly. I was a little worried at this observation but I had no thoughts that Mike would fall off.

He had a number 2 stopper in between me and him, and he was out 20 to 30 feet.

I lowered my head from watching him work the overhang and was looking at the nice view along the Traps, and beyond to the Near Traps and Millbrook distanced by the summer morning's haze, when my eye caught the motion of a black object moving through the sky towards me, Mike.

The rope came tight through my belay device (a Stitch plate) cranking on the lone number 2 and pulling Mike to a stop just as he hit the ledge next to me... instant sore feet. But the number 2 held! I remember staring at the sling anchor around the bogus flake and asking Mike, without looking up, if he was ok. He was standing right next to me, "I'm ok, my feet hurt".

I promised myself right there and then never ever ever to make an anchor like that again. If the number 2 popped I don't think the sling or the flake would have held...

We traversed off to the right onto either "Simple Ceilings" or "Three Pines", I think we left that wonderful number 2 welded in the crack. Whenever I place one I always think of "Anguish" and a certain little good feeling wells up inside before I'm onto the business of climbing again.
Dragon with Matches

Bamboo Grove
Feb 21, 2004 - 07:48am PT
I can't stop laughing about Blondie Wunderbuff and his ice cream and his cold hike in the dark. Great stuff, HK.

All my rides have grown to mammoth proportions in my mind, but I don't think I've surpassed 20 feet more than once or twice. It is pretty cool how time really seems to slow down when you're airing - those are some value-packed moments.

My biggest may even have been a grounder - about 25 feet to a bad landing - from above the crux roof on Touch & Go in Eldo. New to leading, I was hoping to practice placing pro on a moderate classic (and too eager to heed the December cold weather forecast). I started up the route but was too cold to stop moving, so I never placed gear, just climbed up through the roof, then realized my entire body was numb with cold. I decided to retreat to the base and wait for the sun. Downclimbing, my frozen paws skated off jugs and I sailed forever, thinking I was gonna die. Landed in boulders and bounced down frozen mud slope until my belayer caught me. Too cold/shocked to feel really hurt, I wanted to give it another go, but my belayer (my date, actually) was already packing up and heading for her car and, presumably, other dudes who could put together a better date. I got away with a few broken bones in my foot/ankle and a cheap lesson (in climbing if not in chasing the fairer sex). Much later I went back and got big laughs at the sight of the obvious tunnel-thread (placeable at a no-hands rest) that would have caught me had I known what I was doing.

Trad climber
Feb 21, 2004 - 02:43pm PT
I took a 130 foot ground fall at lumpy ridge. Broke both ankles, hurt my back, and my hip and had to be carried out by search and rescue. I fell while leading the second pitch of a route up on batman rock. My partner was using a figure 8 to belay but he had a bite of rope through the large hole and then clipped into his locker without the rope going around the neck of the device. This configuration does not offer much in the way of friction to hold a fall, especially since he was dicking around with something else when I fell and he didn't even have his break hand on the rope! I fell until the rope came tight at my partners tie in knot. Luckily we had a good belay anchor and my partner was not pulled off to his death. The standard rope length at the time was 150 ft.(20 years ago)so with tie in knots and the belay anchor I figure there must have been around 130 ft of rope left. The rope did decelerate me a bit before I hit the ground, otherwise, the injuries would have been a little worse. Oh yeah, I got to meet Billy Westbay because he helped with the rescue!
can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 22, 2004 - 01:04am PT
just a wee bit off thread, but since a few of these were about Snake Dike, I'm curious to know whats the fastest anyone here has done it car to car? Four of us did it in two parties of two back in 82 I think, in 7 hours and change.

Gym climber
san diego, ca
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 23, 2004 - 11:39am PT
fell off some finger crack about a year back. Too drunk to tie in, so i soloed the badboy. Fell about 10 feet to the deck. Dont worry about the 2 heinkens in my chalkbag, they were unscathed.
Brian Biega

Rocklin, CA
Mar 25, 2005 - 05:12pm PT
80' on the Cobra. Approx. 14 years ago. For me, at the time, it was pretty big air. Nothing compared to "PTs" fall above. Or Dean's base fall in the cave down south.
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