Accident in the Owen's Gorge yesterday

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Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 10, 2017 - 10:34am PT
Heard through the virtual grapevine that a woman hit the deck at the Great Wall of China. Lots of great help right there--including an ER doc. She was carried out by a great crew to the road where the ambulance was waiting. Once stable at the Bishop hospital, she was taken by helicopter to Reno. Let's send her some good energy and hope for the best. Be careful out there, folks. Sport climbing is dangerous, too. Word is that her helmet likely helped limit her injuries.

BAd
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 10, 2017 - 11:04am PT
Thanks for posting that, Cragman.

BAd
10b4me

Mountain climber
Retired
Dec 10, 2017 - 01:38pm PT
Thanks Dean, and thanks to Viren for the report. I hope the woman's outcome is positive.
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Dec 10, 2017 - 04:52pm PT
I really hate hearing about stuff like this.
I don't know the specifics of what happened here, but based on what I see both at climbing gyms and sport climbing areas, I surmise that a surprising number of climbers do not understand the simple math of (climber distance above last bolt) plus (belayer distance from cliff) plus (extra slack in rope) plus (rope stretch in a fall) plus ( climber pulling up rope to clip way overhead).

Virenal suggests " if you see something, say something", but sadly, observing people in potential groundfall situations is so common that I mostly feel like it's none of my business.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Dec 10, 2017 - 05:31pm PT
If that's the climb I think it is, it's been an accident waiting to happen for years.

It's the four bolt, ledgy thing where you can ground fall from the third bolt right? Not a 5.8 for a 5.8 climber or a tired climber.

phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Dec 10, 2017 - 09:02pm PT
Tom, no I think it's the next climb to the right. 7 bolts
But I personally think many sport routes have ground fall potential until you clip the third bolt, unless your belayer is belaying close to the wall, no slack.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
Dec 11, 2017 - 02:18pm PT
Iím hoping for a good outcome,
Best wishes to the climber involved.
Some really good advice above.
Majid_S

Mountain climber
Karkoekstan, Former USSR
Dec 12, 2017 - 06:24am PT
what went wrong during belay ?
Gunkie

Trad climber
Valles Marineris
Dec 12, 2017 - 06:53am PT
I had a satellite messenger that is checked out to me from Sierra Mountain Guides and I would never think about being down in the gorge on a guiding day without a sat phone or the Delorme In Reach. It would be considered negligent for me as a professional yet I typically don't throw it in my pack on personal "day cragging" missions. There is not the best view of the sky but you could probably get a message out .... I will start carrying a 2 way sattelite communication Device on my days off!!!

I had a Garmin Inreach Explorer and I used it to call for help when I came across an injured (broken leg) hiker who couldn't walk. This was pretty much no-cell phone territory and it was late in the day on a cold March Sunday afternoon. No one else was around. I was solo day hiking and this person was on a solo backpacking trip.

I was able to text with the dispatch and they found our location via the Garmin website. SRT team showed up at 9 pm, maybe four hours after making contact. Pretty impressive. That guy would have been out there at least one more night. It was freezing cold and he had a nice warm sleeping bag and loaned me an extra jacket while we waited.

Anyway, I lost the damn unit last month in a parking lot in Tuxedo NY. Reward if found. Definitely worth the money. Will buy another after Xmas, in case one magically appears in my stocking.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 12, 2017 - 07:07am PT
What Phyl said X100. Gotta be on your game always but especially near the deck. And most climbers most of the time are doing single-pitch routes, so there's a lot of near-the-deck time to worry about. In fact, we recently purchased an Ohm belay assist for my wife. She weighs in about 100 lbs. while I'm over 180 with gear and all, so it's easy for me to get her airborne. This thing should really help keep both of us where we're supposed to be.

[Click to View YouTube Video]

BAd
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 12, 2017 - 08:27am PT
what went wrong during belay ?


I do hope the injured climber makes a full recovery.


Do we have any information about just what type of a climbing accident this was?


Did a bolt pull?

Biner snap?

Knott failure?

Blow the clip?

all this secrecy, why?

inquiring minds want to know.

THX
S1W

climber
Dec 12, 2017 - 09:06am PT
It's been a few years, but I seem to recall that rig being a bit on the sketchy side for a 5.8 sport climb. A bit sandbagged, odd bolting, weird line, slick in places...

The climber/her belayer may not have done anything wrong and she simply may have fallen getting to the third bolt. I could see it happening on that route.
Aerili

climber
Project Y
Dec 12, 2017 - 09:46am PT
It's been a few years, but I seem to recall that rig being a bit on the sketchy side for a 5.8 sport climb. A bit sandbagged, odd bolting, weird line, slick in places...

The climber/her belayer may not have done anything wrong and she simply may have fallen getting to the third bolt. I could see it happening on that route.

Yes, this. Definitely odd bolting. I think the 5.9 next to it is similar in difficulty but with better bolting.
henny

Social climber
The Past
Dec 12, 2017 - 09:50am PT
My understanding after talking to a couple of good climbers who were there is that the belayer was back from the wall plus had a loop of slack in the system. Sounds like the observations and math called out by phylp were likely contributing factors in reaching the ground.

The "easier" routes on the left of the China Wall are slick and kind of sporty bolting at their starts - as people have mentioned. Its not hard to envision potential for problems on those routes.

Attentive belays are perhaps even more important when the ground is proximate. I've blown clips and come off more than once (unfortunately) with maximum rope out while making clips. It can (and sometimes does) happen when you least want it to, nothing new there.

My lesson learned: a reminder that belaying is a dead serious job that requires one to be present and accounted for. Don't get lax just because you're experienced.

Good wishes for a quick recovery to the climber involved.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 12, 2017 - 10:45am PT
My understanding after talking to a couple of good climbers who were there is that the belayer was back from the wall plus had a loop of slack in the system.
That does seem to be what was pointed out in Viren's account as well.

Soft catch, brah - leave a generous loop of slack - it seems to be what is being taught in several gyms these days. I don't like it, and it's wrong.

A loop of slack is not at all what a soft catch is about. It's about managing slack and moving your body by hopping, stepping back, walking into, or whatever needs to be done depending on fall distance and weight differences between climber and belayer - to soften the impact while minimizing the fall distance, doesn't matter how far off the deck or overhung it is.

Holy cow - I think we can say for sure - this women so did not get a soft catch. What a scary injury, hope the best, sounds like she was lucky with her company and got a competent carry out.
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 12, 2017 - 11:14am PT
henny.... thank you very much for the reply.

root cause.... climber error and belayer error.

Those climbs my be ONLY 5.8 but I have always found them to be pretty serious because of the slick stone and poorly thought out bolting.

A good belayer is golden.

The old soft catch, one of the many misunderstood concepts, so common to today's newer "climber".

I hope the climber fully recovers, and thank you to all who assisted in the rescue.

And thank you to the DWP for being so understanding and not freaking out and shutting the place down.

henny

Social climber
The Past
Dec 12, 2017 - 11:15am PT
^^^^^ (JLP), yes. Agreed on what dynamics can/should factor into providing a "soft" catch.

Indoors/outdoors, who cares. Excess rope in the system is rarely a good thing. Between a hard/soft catch, a hard one is the obvious choice if it means not hitting something - especially the ground.
Rolfr

Sport climber
La Quinta and Penticton BC
Dec 12, 2017 - 04:35pm PT

First, I hope she makes a full recovery.

The "easier" routes on the left of the China Wall are slick and kind of sporty bolting at their starts - as people have mentioned. Its not hard to envision potential for problems on those routes.

Time to contact the first ascencionists and fix that problem, it obviously wasn't an issue when the route was new and crisp but the polish from decades of use needs to be addressed with some retro bolting.

We don't own the routes we build but have some responsibility for them, speaking only for myself, why wouldn't I want one of my routes to be safe and popular rather than a contributing factor to a ground fall. Hopefully we can avoid rehashing all the previous discussions on style, if the route was built top down there is little justification for poorly placed bolts.
The Vulcan

Social climber
bishop ca
Dec 12, 2017 - 04:55pm PT
No need to contact anyone.
The climb's bolts have been relocated.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Dec 12, 2017 - 05:30pm PT
Has anyone seen a Josh belayer get dragged through the sand because they stood too far back?
hailman

Trad climber
Sacramento
Dec 12, 2017 - 08:03pm PT
I haven't seen a belayer get dragged through the sand...but you can often spot a big gang of climbers toproping Double Cross from a great distance. Must be more comfy to belay from those boulders/slabs way back from the base.

Going over a detailed plan with your belayer before launching up a climb can be such a game changer. Especially when the lead climber might be much more experienced than the belayer. Things like how much slack to have out, where the route crux is, routefinding, whether or not you want to be lowered at the top of the pitch, etc.

Climbed 'The Eye' with a new acquaintance a few weeks ago and we decided to solo up to that first ledge to cut down on rope stretch. The route is 5.3 but those ledges hurt all the same if you blow it. Talking a decision like this over with your partner can help very much!

All the best to the fallen climber in the days ahead.
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Dec 12, 2017 - 08:47pm PT
I hope the unfortunate woman is O.K.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Dec 12, 2017 - 09:32pm PT
hey there say, all... late, seeing this...

prayers for the gal to be okay...
so thankful, for her, too, that many were on hand to help her...
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 13, 2017 - 06:37am PT
Hey, zardoz:

You should know more about this device. It is NOT for this--

Ah, the Ohm. A new device to actually do the belaying instead of the incompetent belayer you hook up with.

My wife has had my back for about three decades on every type of terrain--so, no, definitely not incompetent. If you researched the device or bothered to read what I said about it, you'd understand it's to help compensate for big differences in weight between leader and belayer. I out-weigh my wife by about EIGHTY POUNDS. That means if I take a big fall, she can get yanked up into the first piece and/or I can possibly deck even with the best of all belays. And, no, you can't always find an anchor for the belayer--actually the norm for the Gorge. Check out the manufacturer's videos--very instructive. Knowledge is better than ignorance, yo.

BAd
ruppell

climber
Dec 13, 2017 - 07:01am PT
And, no, you can't always find an anchor for the belayer--actually the norm for the Gorge

I have no problem with new tech and if it helps you and the wife feel better about a big catch, use it. That line above however is not true. Just clip her to two 40lb dogs or one 80lb dog. Name one day in the Gorge that that's not possible. lol
mooch

Trad climber
Tribal Base Camp (Kernville Annex)
Dec 13, 2017 - 07:32am PT
Soft catch, brah - leave a generous loop of slack - it seems to be what is being taught in several gyms these days. I don't like it, and it's wrong.

A loop of slack is not at all what a soft catch is about. It's about managing slack and moving your body by hopping, stepping back, walking into, or whatever needs to be done depending on fall distance and weight differences between climber and belayer - to soften the impact while minimizing the fall distance, doesn't matter how far off the deck or overhung it is.

Bingo, JLP! Additionally, climbers can get distracted in a large social setting. The Great Wall Of China sees hoards every weekend, making it a "One big happy family" setting. On many occasions have I witnessed the belayer "jaw jacking" and taking their attention off the climber. I, for one, do enjoy a good time with fellow climbers. But once my partner places foot to stone and casts off, my full attention is on them. I'm not pointing at this particular situation but simply expressing my point of view from previous experiences.
Viren Perumal

Trad climber
Toyota Motorhome....
Dec 13, 2017 - 08:21am PT
Hi all I just wanted to chime in and Dean thanks for sharing my FB post. I was not trying to be secretive but at the same time not point fingers and blame on the party involved as they probably already feel terrible. It was my attempt to be gentle but at the same time informative (often something I don't see on this forum which is why I usually don't get on this site :)

Dan McD. retrofitted the route on Monday, it was one that used to require a very attentive belay to prevent a ground fall from bolt 3.

I have been in contact with the climbers family. She is still in an induced coma in the ICU but her vitals have stabilized and they were able to reduce the ICP.

Her helmet probably saved her life and its a good reminder to me to always wear mine.

VP
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 13, 2017 - 08:42am PT
Viren.... no need to "be gentle" around here... I think most of us are old crustys who will call out "S" when we see it. Thank you for the help you rendered to get this climber packed out asap.

I think its pretty quick on the draw to go and retro the root.

Is this going to be the "New Way"?

Are we going to dumb down every climb in the ORG and elsewhere?

Maybe time for a new thread to discuss.

I hope the climber continues to recover.

GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Dec 13, 2017 - 11:25am PT
Thanks Viren for helping out and the post, getting my WFR was well worth the investment.
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Dec 13, 2017 - 12:25pm PT
BITD on some of the more runout slab routes on the Apron and at the Royal Arches area we used to use the technigue of a 'running belay' to avoid a big fall. This meant that the belayer on the ground was prepared to run down the hill if the leader came off. It's amazing how much slack you can take up in a very short period of time.
ionlyski

Trad climber
Polebridge, Montana
Dec 13, 2017 - 01:05pm PT
A loop of slack is not at all what a soft catch is about. It's about managing slack and moving your body by hopping, stepping back, walking into, or whatever needs to be done depending on fall distance and weight differences between climber and belayer - to soften the impact while minimizing the fall distance, doesn't matter how far off the deck or overhung it is.

You know, I don't really want my belayer dancing around the strewn rocks while looking up at me with drool ready to do the boogie woogie. Just stay tied in, manage the slack and stop the rope if I fall. It's not going to be a big arching whipper anyway. I'll take a little jarring, knowing you're not over complicating the process, just happy I abruptly stopped.

Arne
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Dec 13, 2017 - 03:18pm PT
thank you Arnie!
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 14, 2017 - 07:25am PT
Found some good video on falling, slack, soft catch, etc. This gets into the math and science of it in a very accessible way, and the couple doing the video is super charming. The short of it is that slack doesn't help a lot, but a well-timed jump can be very helpful. I've seen several of the videos in the series. Good stuff!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0GGsBgPic4&index=8&list=PL5FEOhiQGSo_1vzKuUKpckn-_Klg5zuqE

Timing the jump is critical. I suspect it goes wrong a lot in the real world.

BAd
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
Dec 14, 2017 - 08:27am PT
The OP should go rebolt it, nuff said. This thread is DEAD.
mike a.

Sport climber
ca
Dec 14, 2017 - 08:29am PT
Morning Bad, thanks for sharing that video with us, real great stuff!!! helps to crunch the numbers and give people an idea on belaying in question. Those climbers did a super awesome job on that info on that video, be safe out there happy climbing Mike A.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 14, 2017 - 08:56am PT
Timing the jump is critical. I suspect it goes wrong a lot in the real world.
Yes it does. The video shows 2 people of similar weight. If the belayer is much lighter than the climber and the fall a long one, the jump might actually better be a squat while stepping back or they'll get slammed harder into the first piece of gear while the leader takes a longer fall. I think what to do changes with every partner and climb and takes some experience to learn.

I saw math equations in that video - cute and smart girl, knows how to give a safe belay too - just my type.

Unsafe bolting - nobody puts up with that old dad ego bolting sh!t in modern climbing areas. You'll be called out and your work will be rapidly modified. Nobody will care about your claimed FA rights. Nobody will want to see anymore of your work done in that area until your attitude changes.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 14, 2017 - 09:19am PT
JLP: Actually, the guy outweighs the woman by about 20kg. They've actually put out a video on light belayers and heavy leaders, and they'll be putting out a video on the Ohm device, too. I'm really interested to see their findings. So far, the Ohm seems like a good idea for my wife and me since I outweigh her by about 35kg. Harder catch for me, but If decking is a possibility, I'm okay with that. Also, the couple in the video make it very clear that the info re. slack, soft catches, etc. are for sport climbing--not trad. And, of course, we all must take into account ledges and other features.

BAd
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
Dec 14, 2017 - 09:21am PT
Just like the peep's that talk about chopping bolts, Just DO IT or STFU. If Bad was such a custodian for climbing he would of just fixed it done deal. The original post should of been, There was an accident at the Gorge caused by bolts placed in the wrong position for protecting against ground fall. I went and rebolted so you can't hit the ground anymore. That would be proud.
mooch

Trad climber
Tribal Base Camp (Riverkern Annex)
Dec 14, 2017 - 10:19am PT
Jebus......he was an abused child. He needs therapy and the tender promise of love from Richard Simmons.
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
Dec 14, 2017 - 10:22am PT
Mooch was a child abuser who slept with Roman Polanski's abused minors ;) lol
mooch

Trad climber
Tribal Base Camp (Riverkern Annex)
Dec 14, 2017 - 10:32am PT
Everybody stand clear.........here comes Jeff's big come back. No wait.......that's the Waaaaahhhhhhmbulance to pick you up for therapy. Richard will be waiting when you're well enough. ;)

Back to what you were saying about the Ohm, Bad. Was looking into that as well. How long have you two been using the Ohm?
Splater

climber
Grey Matter
Dec 14, 2017 - 10:32am PT
It's great to make some routes like these safer,

but for others - I don't think this needs to be a trend.
Many of the routes in the gorge were done Ground Up, not rap bolted,
and the bolts are not spaced to the lowest common denominator.

Years ago, a bolt was added to a GU route on the dilithium crystal, so the FA rightfully chopped the added bolt.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 14, 2017 - 10:47am PT
Also, the couple in the video make it very clear that the info re. slack, soft catches, etc. are for sport climbing--not trad.
It's definitely for trad climbing too.

Even if you're pinned to a hanging belay way off the deck, you do whatever you still can to minimize forces and fall distances, maybe even more-so in importance.

Holy cow fuk yes if you're sitting there over tiny gear with a ledge or a pile of talus not far below.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 14, 2017 - 11:21am PT
@Mooch:

We've used the Ohm a few times and are getting better acquainted with it. The instructional vid/info with the device are useful, but a couple of times in the field really bring the ideas home. It's a passive, partial caming device and works a lot like an atc: Once loaded, the device pivots up and the groove bites into the rope. It is critical that the belayer not be directly underneath because a slight angle helps the device to engage. It's important, too, that the clip right after the Ohm be in a direct line with the belayer--i.e. the rope runs straight from belayer, through the Ohm and the next clip. If there a zig or zag, then the leader is going to fight the device as it starts to engage and get an involuntary short-roping. So you need to eye ball the bolt following the Ohm and make sure the line is good. If not, better to skip the Ohm.

I did a little practice fall--I'm chicken--and the Ohm worked great. My wife didn't go flying and felt very comfortable. Lowering is a lot easier, too, for a light belayer. As the leader, if the route isn't too steep, I sometimes have to feed the rope through to overcome some of the Ohm's resistance, which is a little hassle. So far, I'm giving it a thumbs up.

@JLP: According to the research in the videos, adding slack, for instance, does increase forces because the falling climber has more time to accelerate, consequently adding force to the gear--not an issue with bolts but could be for trad pro. Of course, jumping from a belay where you're anchored isn't going to happen, right?

BAd
Rollover

climber
Gross Vegas
Dec 14, 2017 - 11:29am PT

Not that it matters.

Hoping for the best outcome for the fallen climber!
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 14, 2017 - 11:38am PT
According to the research in the videos, adding slack, for instance, does increase forces because the falling climber has more time to accelerate, consequently adding force to the gear--not an issue with bolts but could be for trad pro. Of course, jumping from a belay where you're anchored isn't going to happen, right?
Sorry, I don't have audio, but that's correct and that seemed to be what the video was about, great visuals.

In trad climbing there's almost always a bit of play even in the worst belays to make sure the catch is as short and soft as possible.

Exactly, minimizing the load on gear and distance fallen is even more important in trad climbing. Same exact belay goal, usually even more critical to get it right and often less room to do so.

^^^Hilarious guidebook note - "Ground up" brah. Sprad 5.8 old school madness, what a joke. Screw fixing a few bolts, dynamite that whole wall and start over.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Dec 14, 2017 - 02:46pm PT
I can only speak from fifty plus years of field experience. Everytime a leader I am belaying has fallen I have immediately braked the fall...okay so far and i suspect Iíll continue in the exact same mode.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Dec 14, 2017 - 03:03pm PT
I held a 75' factor 2 fall once.
I ended up with severe knee damage but the leader was fine.
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 14, 2017 - 03:10pm PT
I am with JD.

I am dumb and have never heard of a "soft catch", even with sketchy gear.

It must be a sport thing so you don't mess up your coiffure.

That being said, I wish only the best for the injured climber.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 14, 2017 - 03:11pm PT
Lots of rope drag on those old dad routes.

However, ANAM will quickly show how often gear gets ripped out in trad climbing, it's one of the top causes of injury and death after all the various reasons one might fall in the first place. The tables include all areas and disciplines. If you isolate a mostly trad area like Eldo, it's generally number 2 right after the initial reason for falling.
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 14, 2017 - 03:20pm PT
Bad gear is bad gear.

When someone is leading, and needs slack to move or clip, you give it to him. Is that a soft catch?

Intentionally giving someone "penalty slack" is for people groveling or people you don't like very much.
Bruce Morris

Trad climber
Soulsbyville, California
Dec 14, 2017 - 03:38pm PT
A "soft catch" seems like something that is taught in the gyms, but seldom practiced out in the field.
G_Gnome

Trad climber
Cali
Dec 14, 2017 - 03:50pm PT
If I am falling for more than 10 feet, not only do I not want any extra slack, but I fully expect my belayer to get a handful or two of rope back in so I don't fall as far as I otherwise might. I have done this myself for my leader on numerous occasions and yes, sometimes you get a bit of a burn when the last bit goes out but you just hold onto the rope. It really isn't complicated!

The only exceptions are when your leader is going to hit something that a little slack will 100% get them past then they get that extra slack. I can only think of about twice in 45 years where that has been the case.
ionlyski

Trad climber
Polebridge, Montana
Dec 14, 2017 - 04:16pm PT
I can only speak from fifty plus years of field experience. Everytime a leader I am belaying has fallen I have immediately braked the fall...okay so far and i suspect Iíll continue in the exact same mode.

You caught me once Jim on a good whipper, think it was onto the first piece too, maybe a 10 footer. Felt plenty soft to me:)

Arne
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Dec 14, 2017 - 04:20pm PT
Everytime a leader I am belaying has fallen I have immediately braked the fall...okay so far and i suspect Iíll continue in the exact same mode

Yes, but...

A friend broke her ankle when she fell and her old-time trad partner braked the fall immediately - slamming her feet-first into the wall under the overhang she'd fallen from. If he'd given her some slack, she'd have been fine.

Yes, this was in a climbing gym. But just as climbing gym methods can be dangerous outside, so can trad methods be dangerous inside.
rwedgee

Ice climber
CA
Dec 14, 2017 - 04:37pm PT
A soft catch is essential for preventing injuries to your man labia
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Dec 14, 2017 - 04:47pm PT
All this "soft" catch versus "hard" catch stuff seems really dependent on the angle of the wall you are climbing. Indoors, it seems like the most interesting climbing is on walls which are overhanging so you have lots of falls where you "slam" into the wall. A "soft" catch might be valuable there.

In outdoor climbing there just aren't that many moderate climbs on overhanging walls so most of the climbing for mere mortals are on vertical or less than vertical walls. Given this fact, I don't think that "soft" versus "hard" catch is really an issue for most of us.
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 14, 2017 - 05:12pm PT
I consider myself an expert belayer.... I have never dropped anyone and I have done what was required to keep my leader off of the deck.

The soft vs hard is very misunderstood by most climbers.

Decking on the climb in question, especially when your clipping the 3rd bolt, tells me that the belayer was somewhat at fault.

If I recall correctly, you can stand on a block and be ready to jump down if they blow the clip....it's the belayers responsibility to see a potential "grounder" situation developing and sound the alarm bells and be ready to take life saving action. The leader also needs to be aware of how hi they are in regards to the pro... and to know that they are in a no fall zone and to proceed with extreme caution.

team work is how you stay safe, not mindlessly "going for it" like back home in the cushy gym environment.

I do hope the fallen climber make a total recovery.

and moving or adding a bolt to THAT climb is probability in the best interest of safety. . . . thanks to the local Bishop climbers.

Caveman

climber
Cumberland Plateau
Dec 14, 2017 - 05:19pm PT
"I can only speak from fifty plus years of field experience. Everytime a leader I am belaying has fallen I have immediately braked the fall...okay so far and i suspect Iíll continue in the exact same mode."


Had my belayer not given me slack at the right moment I would have a flake of rock as a face ornament!
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
Dec 14, 2017 - 05:42pm PT
Still no one talking about fixing that route just about a device that belongs in the gym. lol
rincon

climber
Coarsegold
Dec 14, 2017 - 06:33pm PT
Dude,
Dan McD. retrofitted the route on Monday
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 15, 2017 - 07:25am PT
For those interested, here's the Edelrid vid. The weight difference between the two climbers is similar to what my wife and I are dealing with, and we have had a moderate "clacker" moment on a fall or two, my wife getting hoisted pretty far up the wall, both of us bouncing off each other. No injuries but worrisome. When possible, we'll use the Ohm.

[Click to View YouTube Video]

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TLP

climber
Dec 15, 2017 - 07:42am PT
Bad, why doesn't she just clip in??? This should be standard for all lighter belayers, maybe most belayers period. A device is not needed and from the description above, this one is too fiddly for real-world climbing use.

The Doninisaur is 100% correct. Primarily, just lock off. Maybe there are times to yard in slack, very very rarely justification for any hopping about or other foolishness to "soften" the catch. Many more, and more serious, injuries have certainly resulted from falling climbers hitting things than from swinging in. I clearly remember at least twice preventing a bad injury by having locked off the rope instantly and tightly, and the falling leader barely avoided hitting a ledge.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Dec 15, 2017 - 08:31am PT
DMT, I understand. But theres lots of routes that have deck potential, like every time before you get to the first bolt. Which on some routes in the gorge, can be quite high. Or how about 'Love Stinks' theres potential for a 40' er or more on that route, I wouldn't recommend that to a guy/gal who led a 5.11 at the gym. Nor would I recommend adding a bolt so that he can safely lead it. On the route in question its been fixed, but I don't think the 'new' answer is to sanitize all the dangerous routes, don't climb them until you can acknowledge the risk and decide if its one you'll confront or not.

Seems like AFTER someone actually gets f*#ked on one of these routes, it will get fixed. Like this 5.8. Im sure people who were present had a different take on how f*#ked it is to deal with another human who may die infront of you. In Viren's post he mentioned at first she seemed ok and progressively getting worse, ending up with a blank stare and fixed pupils as a sign of increasing intracranial pressure. Don't know what is going on with her now, but if she had a major bleed in her brain that caused it, she may never regain consciousness. Could have stopped breathing on scene, as brain is responsible for that too. Having to see people die, dealing with dead bodies or totally disable people at work I know how f*#ked it is to see another human that was totally ok an hour ago laying in a pool of own blood and feces, dead.
I don't think sanitizing every route of any potential long fall is the answer, if so, why don't we all just top rope? But it is sport climbing, which should be well bolted and more about the harder gymnastic moves than runouts through first clips. It is an ethical dilemma for the locals who use their drills in the gorge, but my two cents would be to protect the first clips well enough that climbers don't deck unless they really f*#ked it up. No one can be held accountable for user errors and I bet if the climbing team who had an accident were both attentive enough at those first clips, this thread would not be here...
Hope she is ok and it was only inflammation, which did not cause permanent damage that led to increased ICP.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 15, 2017 - 09:00am PT
The thing about bolted sport is that if a danger exists, itís probably there as a contrived and manufactured risk based solely on the FAís ego. As you contemplate living up to their supposed skill and boldness, keep in mind they had a drill and you probably donít.

This isnít normally an issue these days, nobody puts up with this crap anymore, the route just gets fixed. Itís only a problem when someone living in the past gets involved. Fortunately, those people, as seen so often here, tend to talk more than act.

My 2 cents for beginners and moderates, and it tends to really only be moderates that still exist in this condition, is to just say no to these bullsh!t routes. Theyíre not worth it. Thereís probably a better experience to be had nearby.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 15, 2017 - 09:07am PT
Hey, TLP:

As has been discussed here, there are LOTS of places where clipping in is not an option. This is super common in the Gorge and other places. What do you suggest? Carry around a 100 lb. sack of rocks? A anvil?

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Ryan Tetz

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Dec 15, 2017 - 09:22am PT
I agree with Vitaly.

The Gorge has some of the odder "sport" bolting choices I've seen in comparison to other climbing areas because a lot of it came about during the time of "figuring out" what actually is this sport climbing? Also maybe a lot of the FA guys thought like most long trad routes of the times -ahh this in an easy climb or an easier moves here, so it doesn't need a bolt? etc.. vs putting up more typical "sport climbs" at grades 5.10 or lower etc (or they were $ cheap too!). -The most common grades probably climbed by the always increasing masses of the newer/beginner climbers who are also most likely to fall. It seems does seem a contrived concept to attempt proof of some legacy ego boldness via "the easy routes" at a sport climbing area.
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Dec 15, 2017 - 09:30am PT
Vitaliy, I understand your frustration and I am also very upset that this person got injured.
But there are two fundamental issues going on here.

1. Not every bolted route is a "sport" route. Many newer climbers do not realize this! The modern definition of sport route is a route bolted such that all or most falls are safe with good belaying. Many of the routes in the Gorge were bolted ground up 30+ years ago. This was an era when all bolted routes were just beginning. There was no road map back then saying "these routes need to be safe for everyone". I think it was more about "now we can climb routes that won't take pro". Should these routes be retrobolted? I'm not that interested in that discussion, but I do think better education of newer climbers is important.

2. Nothing can make up for a bad belay. My post (up thread) of the common belaying mistakes I see every time I go to the gym or to a bolted climbing area addresses this so I won't repeat it. Again, better education for newer climbers is key.
Phyl

edit to say posted at same time as Ryan who makes similar points
Dropline

Mountain climber
Somewhere Up There
Dec 15, 2017 - 10:29am PT
From Henny on first page "Don't get lax just because you're experienced."

And don't be afraid to challenge your behavior about their belaying behavior.

Case in point; long ago when leading Road Warrior at the Gunks, 11c R, my belayer was a gunks legend, laying on his back as he belayed, among a group of other gunks legends and regulars. It effed with my head in a big way and although I didn't fall it would have been way ugly had I fallen at the first crux.

Thereafter I decided I didn't care who my belayer was, or who was watching, or what kind of stink I might make.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 15, 2017 - 11:17am PT
The dilemma here is the judgment of the climber...
No newbie should have to make an experienced assessment of a bolted 5.8 route in the middle of a sport area. They should not need a 5.11 trad head to safely climb it. These routes are bullsh!t. If they wanted a dose of this, they likely already knew they could have gone up to Tuolumne.

Someone out for a day of fun and climbing got severely injured being a beginner on a beginner route - it's not the right message.
Matt's

climber
Dec 15, 2017 - 11:31am PT
in my opinion, there's a lot of weird assumptions being made here:

1) that sport climbing should be 100% safe, and that it can be made that way

2) that 5.8 is a beginner grade, and climbs of that difficulty should be made idiot proof

3) that the accident in question occurred due to a bolt placement issue (rather than belayer error/ climber error/ really bad luck/etc...)


donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Dec 15, 2017 - 11:32am PT
I agree wholeheartedly with the two previous posts. Iíll take it one step further by saying that when experts put up beginnerís routes with precious few bolts, I have no problem with more bolts being added. Rainy day in Patagonia.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Dec 15, 2017 - 12:34pm PT
Pretty sure that there is broad consensus on this route that the bolt placement was inherently poor for the area (which is why it has gotten retroed already). I led it when I was pretty solid 5.11 and knew what I was getting into.

Well said.
Matt's

climber
Dec 15, 2017 - 01:22pm PT
Yea, and others warned me about it. Deck if you blow the 3rd clip, regardless of belay quality, if the belayer is a light person and the leader "king" size lol.

to be clear-- by "blow the clip", you mean falling right after pulling up rope to click the bolt?

by that definition-- my memory is that most routes in ORG feature groundfall hazard if you "blow the clip" at the second or third bolt....
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 15, 2017 - 01:52pm PT
Smith Rock comes to mind...but stick clips and spicy 2nd and 3rd clips on 5.12 are not the same as 5.8 sport routes.
Which brings up the irony I found as I worked my own way through the grades - the same guys manufacturing boldness at the lower grades were often installing very closely spaced bolts on the higher ones.

A lot of routes at modern sport areas have been bolted with the intent you'll use a stick to clip the first 1-2 draws. If you were to climb these routes without the stick, you might find the bolts have not at all been placed with any intent of getting them clipped while climbing. The goal instead was to get the rope out of the way of the moves and keep the leader off the ground, maybe also to reduce rope drag 20 clips later.
Bryan Adams

climber
California
Dec 15, 2017 - 02:05pm PT
Hi all,

The climber is doing well. Her cranial pressure is down and is staying that way. She's still heavily sedated and on some really powerful pain medication. She's mostly breathing on her own although she is getting some assistance. I don't know how she fell so far without breaking anything else. No spinal or neck injuries. Some bruises and a few scratches, but nothing that the doctors are worried about. They won't be able to really assess her mental state until they ween her off of the sedation medication. That could be a while.

I should let everyone know that several close family members are aware of this thread and have read it. Mostly, I shared this thread because of Viren's post. I couldn't find any articles in the newspaper so this thread helped me explain to people what happened. It might be something to be aware of as you write your opinions here. I'm sure the belayer and climber will eventually become aware of this too. Something to keep in mind as we all share our thoughts.

A little about the climber. I've climbed many times with her and know her to be a cautious and thoughtful. She always researches her climbs the day before and never takes any unnecessary risk. I know she also chooses climbs where the crux is higher up (no chance of decking) I've looked at the mountain project post for this climb and there's no mention of a dangerous 3rd bolt clipping or slick polished rock. I don't think her fall was a result of a poor route assessment on her part. Climbing is dangerous and there's only so much we as the climber can do to protect ourselves. I'm not here to say the climber made or didn't make any mistakes. I'm just hoping to shed some background information about my experiences with her.

As for the belay work, I don't have all the details and wasn't there, so I defer to others. Speaking broadly, a climber can make all the right judgement calls about a route, but of course a solid belay is also needed. (I know this particular climber chooses her partners with care.) Yet, at some point, all climbers have to trust that their belayer will do their job.

It's hard to assess the attentiveness of your belayer while your working to get those first clips. I agree with others that it's important to speak up if you see something unsafe. As the climber, you can only gauge the skill and competency of your belayer so much from the ground. Again some level of trust is needed right?


I suppose I should restate that in sharing the climber's background, I'm not trying to argue everything was or wasn't done right. I'm sure I'll have many conversations with her once she has recovered about that day. I just felt like it might be useful to share more context with everyone. I'm happy to share any updates I have as her condition progresses.

Thanks for everyone's thoughts on this event.


Bryan Adams

climber
California
Dec 15, 2017 - 02:59pm PT
I'm remembering the belayer saying they were on Enter the Dragon. Viren wrote that it was China Doll. Are those routes close? I wonder if they accidentally mixed them up. You're right, China Doll does have some information about some bolting. Perhaps they chose to use a guidebook that didn't have the same information about China Doll's third bolt? I'm sure I'll get a clearer story once the climber recovers.
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Dec 15, 2017 - 03:01pm PT
Bryan Adams, thanks so much for the update. I really hope she makes a completely recovery.

There is a lot to be learned from this thread. I hope a lot of people read it. I saw nothing at all in my reading of the posts that was critical of the climber herself.
Bryan Adams

climber
California
Dec 15, 2017 - 03:07pm PT
Completely agree Phylp I didn't see anything of concern either. Just thought I would give folks a heads up that some family members may or may not be following this.
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Dec 15, 2017 - 03:16pm PT
the same guys manufacturing boldness at the lower grades were often installing very closely spaced bolts on the higher ones.


@JLP, when talking about routes put up during this "transitional era", it may not even be that there was any malign intent of deliberately manufacturing boldness.

I recall a conversation I had in the late 80s/early 90s. At that point I had started to lead bolted Valley and Meadows 5.11s like Fort Knox/Golden Bars, Chiropodist Shop, Ephemeral Clogdance etc. and was amazed at how much more tightly bolted those routes were compared to the 5.8 and 5.9s. The person I mentioned this to said to me, "What happened was those people just didn't bother to put in bolts when the climbing was easy enough that they weren't going to fall. But when they started to put up routes that were actually hard for them, they bolted it to protect the falls they thought they might take."

In other words, those 5.8 and 5.9 routes were never put up for a specific level of climber. They were done by a specific level of climber. These days, I think much more thought goes into the idea of "who is actually going to climb these routes", by first ascentionists.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 15, 2017 - 03:48pm PT
In other words, those 5.8 and 5.9 routes were never put up for a specific level of climber. They were done by a specific level of climber.
What I saw personally and how I interpreted it is that the old school of climbing is to not fall.

So now you get these guys who can be just scary bold from a career of vast repetition, free soloing and just general hours logged on those stupid old dad trad routes. However - without much falling - up to maybe 5.11c or somesuch - as high as that style will get a guy.

Then they melt into scared little chickens one letter grade higher. So now these same guys are out there setting routes with bolts like 3 ft apart on 12b, the hardest they'll ever do with their style, because actually taking some falls scares the heck out of them.

Modern climber who knows the GriGri well, with some confidence at the grade, comes in and laughs at that 12b - compared to a real 12b bolted in a modern sport area - where you might be doing some for-real flying.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 15, 2017 - 03:51pm PT
Really well said, Phyl. That gets to the heart of the issue here, I think. When I started climbing and for a long time after, a "sport" route was a run-out apron slab or JT dance. There were only a few closely bolted 10's and such, but mostly not. Anything less than 10, and you had to have yer sh*t together. As a chicken-based climber life form, I've tended to avoid the Meadows because of all the scary run-outs. Just didn't have the stomach for them. I'd lead 5.9 and above cracks all day, but forty feet to that next bolt? Are you kidding me?

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clarkolator

climber
Dec 15, 2017 - 03:56pm PT
Beautifully concise, phylp. I'll stow that away for my chronologically disadvantaged friends...
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Dec 15, 2017 - 04:38pm PT
Good points Phyl. Redardless the intent of the FA, the fact remains that they do not own the route and sensible adjustments do not necessairly require their Imprimatur. Rock climbing should be exciting but there is no good reason that sport climbs, especially those within the range of new climbers, should have dire consequences if one falls.

Look folks, if you think I am being a wussy, I can direct you to some alpine climbs where real danger is a part of the game. Those that choose to go there are well aware of and willing to take the risks. People jumping on a 5.8 sport climb might expect an adrenalin rush but never do they, or should they, think that a life threatening injury is possible.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Dec 15, 2017 - 04:48pm PT
hey there say, Bryan Adams...

whewww, thank you SO VERY much for the update...

so very glad she is recovering well...

thank you! for letting us know, and, for
sharing more about her and her climbing...
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 15, 2017 - 05:02pm PT
Bryan Adams...... thank you for the up date. Good to know she is holding her own, she might not be able to recall anything about that day.

I crashed a go-kart at 75mph, my helmet saved my brain but I was in a coma for a day. I have zero recall of the crash except for when the medic had my visor up and was asking me "what day is it"

Good responses form all... esp Phylp

JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 15, 2017 - 05:03pm PT
Another thought on the injured - sounds like a pretty severe and acute head injury for someone wearing a helmet - curious.

Seems to me climbing helmets are overly designed for rockfall from above impact, much less so for a lead climber's more likely side front or rear impact.

My read of Viren's post seems to suggest back of head, helmet may have not actually been doing much.

Seems relevant.

vvvv - yeah - but I think even a bicycle helmet is generally superior to a climbing helmet for side front and rear impact, nobody is doing 200mph. Sure - many variables. I think it would be something interesting to find out more about here.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 15, 2017 - 05:14pm PT
^^^^ Climbing helmets ain't exactly Formula 1 racing helmets.
Winemaker

Sport climber
Yakima, WA
Dec 15, 2017 - 05:33pm PT
As do we all, I hope the climber recovers completely. My brother had a very serious bicycle racing accident that involved head trauma; recovery was very long and not complete. He tells me things taste different, his personality changed, he had suicidal thoughts, etc. All these things are very common with head trauma. There's an excellent website written by the former Formula 1 doctor Gary Hartstein, a specialist in head trauma, that is well worth a look; there are some really interesting discussions of head trauma, evaluation, and recovery. https://formerf1doc.wordpress.com/

As a pretty cheesy and inept climber I remember vividly my first sport climb lead, when I realized that I was no longer top roped and even after I clipped the second bolt I could still hit the ground and, in fact, I realized I had better clip that second bolt and not be stupid. It made things much more serious and changed my perspective greatly.
stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Dec 15, 2017 - 05:48pm PT
It's a tough call on what to do about some of the older, sparsely bolted easier climbs at sport areas. A good example is Barbecue the Pope at Smith. It's a solid 10b and the first clip is quite a ways off the ground. You'd better feel pretty solid to try it without a stick clip. I don't think Brooke purposely made it dangerous, but it probably seems that way to gym climbers. None the less, hundreds have climbed it without getting hurt, so I'm not sure this would fall into the category of deserving to get fixed.
As for soft catches, they really are only useful in two cases, severely overhanging sport routes well off the deck, and slightly past vertical routes with ledges. And in the second case, you'd better really know what you're doing. Otherwise, not even a good idea to try.

Best wishes to the climber for a full recovery.
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
Sands Motel , Las Vegas
Dec 15, 2017 - 06:06pm PT
And go-karts are for kids....
Winemaker

Sport climber
Yakima, WA
Dec 15, 2017 - 06:24pm PT
Here's an interesting video from Dr. Hartstein, mentioned above, on concussion; worth a watch IMHO.
[Click to View YouTube Video]
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 15, 2017 - 06:28pm PT
'Soft catches'? Are we talking about no anchor AND no pro catches?*
I gots a good three of them. Kinda like that old baseball joke...

"I got it, I got it!"

I forget the punch line.


*Like up on a mountain, yeah?
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Dec 15, 2017 - 06:54pm PT
Three good points on this thread worth paraphrasing:

1. It's dumb to have groundfall potential at the third bolt of a beginner route in a sport climbing area with bolted cracks and tightly bolted hard routes.

2. First ascentionists who put up runout moderates and tightly bolted routes near their limit are not bold, they're lazy and/or cheap. Nothing to preserve there.

3. Don't tell beginners about soft catches, stopping the fall ASAP is more important, they'll figure out the fine details later.
henny

Social climber
The Past
Dec 15, 2017 - 07:20pm PT
Thanks Marty. Good post.
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Dec 15, 2017 - 07:27pm PT
Great post, Marty.
aldude

climber
Monument Manor
Dec 15, 2017 - 07:39pm PT
^^^ +1
ionlyski

Trad climber
Polebridge, Montana
Dec 15, 2017 - 07:47pm PT
Marty for President. Nuff said.

And Limpincrab point #3
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 15, 2017 - 08:33pm PT
What Marty said.

BAd
steve s

Trad climber
eldo
Dec 15, 2017 - 09:00pm PT
Thanks for posting Marty. I hope the climber recovers. Peace.
Bryan Adams

climber
California
Dec 15, 2017 - 09:17pm PT
Looking forward to your new book Marty! Can you tell us when we'll be able to get a copy of it?

Hey so I have a question for everyone. A friend of the climber's mom started a gofundme to help pay for the medical bills. Luckily she was a member of AAC, but it's still going to cost a fortune. If anyone is interested in helping her and her family, I could post the link (assuming that's okay). A lot of people already know her name is so I'd imagine it's fine to pass the gofundme campaign along.
i'm gumby dammit

Sport climber
da ow
Dec 15, 2017 - 11:40pm PT
as a giant wuss who has backed off the climb another scenario is the risks presented by backing off from the third bolt, as well as whether a newer belayer would be taking the slack back in quickly enough.
partner at the second bolt. the third was up and left. she also backed off
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
Dec 16, 2017 - 03:09am PT
Bryan Adams,
Do you want to post a link for the climbers go fund me campaign?
I hate to ask but was she uninsured?

This thread makes me proud of our community,
Some really thoughtful discussion here.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 16, 2017 - 05:16am PT
Traditional Sport Climbing

Hmm...
F10

Trad climber
Bishop
Dec 16, 2017 - 08:34am PT
Well said Marty, I totally agree.
I believe climber responsibility goes along way. Climbing can be dangerous, know what your getting into. Unfortunately this comes with experience. Throughly look at a route before getting on it.
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 16, 2017 - 09:03am PT
Solid post Marty.



i'm gumby dammit

Sport climber
da ow
Dec 16, 2017 - 09:03am PT
In a nutshell, in a situation like this, effectively lowering the problem clip with a length of chain is an option that retains the route's original character more than chopping the original bolt and placing a new bolt lower.
IIRC on this climb getting to the third bolt also involves moving pretty far left so a chain may still result in a lot of rope out.
peter croft

climber
Dec 16, 2017 - 09:10am PT
I've been checking in on this to see how the victim is doing.
Apparently she is doing better so thank goodness for that.
It's unsettling,though,to see how the bulk of assumptions and conclusions are being made by those who weren't there. Marty certainly knows the Gorge better than anyone (and is one of my best friends) but, again, wasn't there. I was and so I thought I'd chime in.
First of all, I'm pretty sure the route in question is Enter the Dragon and apparently it has been the scene of at least one other serious accident.
Anyway, I was about 50 feet away from the two young women and although I saw the belayer a bit too far out from the wall I did not see any excess slack in the system that some have imagined. The girl fell and the rope never went tight. Having done the routes in this area I would say this one in particular is weirdly bolted - and very polished.If this were one of my first ascents I would have chopped it long ago. Retrobolting, in my opinion is a very mild reaction.
For those fearing the dumbing down of climbing or the loss of any history nobody is advocating a massive retrobolting campaign. It is important, however, to keep each other safe. If that means adding the odd bolt so be it. Or, if we witness an unsafe scenario, brave potential embarrassment and say something.
All of us have benefitted from dumb luck. This is something to be thankful for - not smug about. As far as I could tell the belayer was not to blame.
Although I did see the fall I did not see all that led up to it. What I did see was how she rallied to help her friend. On the carry-out she maintained her grip on the stretcher. Some of the others spelled off when their arms tired but she stayed, choking back tears and recounting fond memories and fun trips they had made together - first to calm the victim down and later to keep her awake when she began to fade.
None of us could ask for a better friend.
Bryan Adams

climber
California
Dec 16, 2017 - 11:00am PT
Here is the gofundme page for anyone who is interested. She's on her mom's insurance, but it's a pretty basic plan.

https://www.gofundme.com/debra-christenson
Studly

Trad climber
WA
Dec 16, 2017 - 04:37pm PT
Thanks to Peter for posting. A voice of reason prevails.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 16, 2017 - 06:21pm PT
First ascentionists put bolts in based on when and where they could find hook or gear placements, just like they always had, for the entire history of climbing.
No - not really - at the same time a bunch of nerds were putzing around in that canyon putting in easy, shitty and dangerous routes - basically operating right at the bottom of the sport - Rifle was in its prime of development and Smith was almost yesterday's news.

The girl looks a little shorter, probably didn't help.
WBraun

climber
Dec 16, 2017 - 07:59pm PT
The girl fell and the rope never went tight.

Yikes .....

Thanks Peter for your input.
aldude

climber
Monument Manor
Dec 17, 2017 - 12:03pm PT
Don't trip Marty...supertopo is just an anonymous deli sesh. Btw did you give Dan permission to add bolts to your death route?
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 17, 2017 - 12:18pm PT
Am I mistaken?
No, not really, Bachar was your idol and there a bunch of you guys were all trying to put up your own little Bachar Yerian.

Bachar approached Watts and told him he disagreed with what was going on up at Smith - Watts laughed, thought Bachar was a dork, went back to drilling the heck out Smith - and yeah - the rest is history.

If you have a drill and you are using hooks to be able to stop and depump, to get your head back together, you are an aid climber. Now that you know the route and the bolts are in, you know little about what it takes to OS the route no matter how much you claim otherwise - you haven't done it. I would go further to say the route in its free form is not yours to say anything about.

Bachar said as he was hanging there on his hooks on the B-Y, he was pushing it as far as he could to stretch the bolts out. If a bolt went in every time he set a hook, there'd be more bolts on this route. This sounds like the work primarily of ego, not boldness. I see more ego going on here than anything, and Bachar was your mentor.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 17, 2017 - 01:13pm PT
That is what I heard him say, in person.

He was speaking in the context of how exilerating the runout felt, so he kept pushing it to increase that exileration. The bolts took time to put in, he only had so many, the skyhook could rip a knob off at any moment so heís also looking for better hooks as heís going. He was telling us how exilarating that felt. Itís a clear memory, maybe a year or two before he died.

Was this distorted in my head over time - could be. Doesnít matter though - you depump off gear, youíre an aid climber.

I think understanding the culture and the ego the victim stepped into as a beginner is relevent.
Jon Clark

climber
philadelphia
Dec 17, 2017 - 01:15pm PT
Are you saying JB rested on hooks without drilling to lead the BY?

Unfortunately, he is. In addition to being incredibly disrespectful to the injured climber by bringing his antagonistic line to this thread, he's presenting factually inaccurate information.
stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Dec 17, 2017 - 02:24pm PT
And a lot of the stuff put up at Smith in the early days by Watts, Brooke and others has pretty well-spaced bolts by today's standards. Certainly I had no desire to take the whippers on the top part of Dreamin', Heinous Cling or Darkness at Noon.
And I recall a well-known Australian alpinist and strong all-around climber getting a bit gripped on Spank The Monkey, which has 6 bolts in 80 ft of 5.12 up an arete. Not the B-Y, but not gym bolting by any means.
ExfifteenExfifteen

climber
Dec 17, 2017 - 03:17pm PT
It's unsettling,though,to see how the bulk of assumptions and conclusions are being made by those who weren't there.

That's As The World Turns on the stupidtaco
Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
Dec 17, 2017 - 03:21pm PT
Sorry to hear of the accident, and best wishes to the injured person for a full recovery.

I wouldn't dare to speculate let alone comment on the circumstances. Wasn't there, don't know the area, the people, or what happened. As a general thought only, though, gravity is rarely your friend when climbing, and the further you fall the more force you're likely to generate, and the more likely it is that you'll hit something. All the more so when a climb is less than vertical - it doesn't take much of a fall to hurt an ankle, leg, or shoulder. A 'soft' catch may make sense on overhanging terrain, for climbers who are experienced and prepared. But reducing the distance fallen by a leader on a climb that's less than vertical usually is wise.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Dec 17, 2017 - 03:41pm PT
Sorry to hear of this. Best wishes for a good recovery.

There was a climbing fatality near Canon City, Colorado, Saturday. Someone fell sixty feet in the Red Canyon area. Presumably a climber, but the rock there is unpleasant. No other info.

Edit: Andrew Biebuyck, 27, from Charlottesville, VA, was a climber. No further info. Thread drift admittedly.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 17, 2017 - 04:18pm PT
Bachar was (likely) saying he was testing out potential hook placements as he went without weighting them,
Even looking at the placement and knowing itís there is a sense of security subsequent ascents are not expected to have. It is whatever it was, but it definitely wasnít as bold as the next guy who went up there.

My point is not about runouts, itís about the question of what experience this climber was expected to have as she repeated the ascent. Is she a freeclimber following the path of a freeclimber, or is she just following the smoke, ego, laziness and manufactured danger of someone who did not OS free the route from the ground as she is attempting to do?

Yeah, the vast majority care and fix things up for a real OS climber, no drama, and yeah this is just a stupid little 5.8 out in po dunk. The attitude of a member of the FA here saying tough luck thatís the nature of the beast though - it rubs me the wrong way. Iím very thankful to not be sitting in a coma right now after surviving 100ís of these experiences over the years - trying to OS free something put up by an aid climber.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 17, 2017 - 06:58pm PT
I have a question, when people are rap bolting are they aid climbing? So the rap bolters have no idea what the onsighter will experience either?
Yes, exactly my point, and they generally don't try to pass it off as anything other than construction work.

Fair enough, I spoke, so did you, this is a place to discuss such things.
clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Dec 17, 2017 - 09:52pm PT
2. Trip and Fall at Downtown Disney
In another case, Etheredge v. Walt Disney World Co., a teenager named Jalayna Jones Etheredge, who was 15 years old at the time, was taking part in a family vacation at the campground in Disneyís Fort Wilderness, over the Fourth of July holiday. That evening, Jalayna and her friends were on their way to meet Jalaynaís parents for dinner at Downtown Disney when Jalayna stepped off the curb in the parking lot, falling in such a way that her ankle was pinned in a storm drain. It was an accident that resulted in the teen having to undergo four different surgeries.

Her argument for damages here was based upon Disney failing in its duty to protect visitors in how they traveled from the parking lot to Downtown Disney. There was no claim that the parking lot had a design defect, for instance, or that there was a hidden danger: the teenager volunteered that she was having fun and not looking at where she was going.

Key here to Disneyís liability: the pathway provided by the theme park moved guests from the parking lot to the street through landscaped plant beds where the path then led visitors, like Jalayna, to cross the street at the storm drain. The court held that Disney had a duty of care in how the business invitees were encouraged to travel from the parking lot to Downtown Disney via this path.

What Should You Do?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed by a slip and fall on a Disney or other theme park property, is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.

NOW WATCH:

What do I need to prove in order to get a Florida slip and fall settlement?

 See more at: http://southfloridainjuryaccidentblog.com/2015/07/07/how-to-prove-slip-and-fall-claim-in-accident-at-theme-park-like-disney-world/#sthash.T6fZmAEX.dpuf

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Just saying
t-bone

climber
Bishop
Dec 17, 2017 - 10:39pm PT

Apparently I enjoy the result of "ego, laziness and manufactured danger". I like most all of the Gorge routes and I'm a wuss. Odd comparison to Smith too- does anyone truly think the Gorge is more runout?.

Yea, bolting on this route could have been better but it isn't (wasn't?) THAT bad. You could tell what you're getting into by looking at it from the ground. In normal circumstances you wouldn't deck from a fall off this route, but sh#t happens.

I hope the injured girl has a quick recovery.
mcreel

climber
Barcelona
Dec 18, 2017 - 12:13am PT
Variety is important. We don't need all the bolted 5.8s to have a bolt every 20', and we don't need them all to have a bolt every 5'. Being able to choose your challenge to match how you feel on a given day is one of the things that makes climbing satisfying. The fact that a person is injured on a given route doesn't necessarily mean that the route needs to sanitized, or that all routes have to fit some standardized plan. I'm sorry that a person was hurt in the route in question, but nevertheless, getting hurt is always a possibility, even on standard gym-style routes, or even in the gym.
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
Dec 18, 2017 - 06:49am PT
Ohm and a stick clip Is Bad's Mo.
Srbphoto

climber
Kennewick wa
Dec 18, 2017 - 07:15am PT
We thought we were putting in a lot of bolts and that the climbs were quite friendly.

To back up Marty...

1st climbed in the Gorge in the late 80's. We were blown away with how many and how close the bolts were.

Time changes perspective.
Bethesda

Trad climber
Bethesda
Dec 19, 2017 - 03:02am PT
Belated two cents --

It seems to me that there is an underlying question that needs to be addressed here, namely, who has primary responsibility for maximizing safety? I would say that, when outdoors, given the many changing factors, i.e., weather conditions, possible changes to the rock, etc., the primary responsibility has to be the climber's. The climber is in the best position to assess the situation on the rock and her/his own abilities at the relevant point in time. The climber has to make a continuous assessment of the situation and has to be prepared to back off if advisable. The climber cannot assume that the route is safe, that all holds are solid or that protection is adequate. And it does not matter whether the climber is a beginner or not. It is in the very nature of climbing outdoors that the climber must assume the responsibility of judging the situation (and this includes judging the quality of the belay). Every beginner, particularly beginners who have only climbed in the gym, need to learn to exercise judgment and she/he needs to leqrn it fast.

For this reason, I am afraid that focusing attention on the quality of the bolting implies a wrong message -- that there is such a thing as a guaranteed safe climbing experience outdoors.
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
Dec 19, 2017 - 04:08am PT
my $0.02...^^+1
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 19, 2017 - 07:35am PT
++ to Bethesada and Jebus. There has been some good discussion here, but, yeah, ultimately, responsibility lies with the climber. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Re. sketchy 3rd bolts: Over on Big Tower area, we did a little rig called "Naked Gun"--fun, steep 10, but as I pulled through the rather low crux and clipped the 3rd bolt, I realized a grounder was definitely possible with a blown clip. Watch yer stuff, kidz.

Thanks for the insights, Marty.

BAd
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 19, 2017 - 07:47am PT
Every beginner, particularly beginners who have only climbed in the gym, need to learn to exercise judgment and she/he needs to leqrn it fast.
So this girl learns that judgement on some number of routes while working up the grades, she was wearing a helmet in a sport area after all, then one day winds up in a coma on a well known oddball with a manufacturing defect. I donít think your arguement applies here. Itís kind of a simple and cliche one as well.
ExfifteenExfifteen

climber
Dec 19, 2017 - 08:08am PT
I just never could understand some of the points that are being made. Climbing is dangerous, it ain't a Disneyland ride. Every piece of equipment i have bought since the 80's said so. You can die on your glorious, fun and happy climb.

All responsibility falls on the climber. ALL!!! If you don't like it, I suggest you don't climb. Once you leave the ground you are on your own. Blaming it on the FA's ego and poor protection placement is moot... and plain old stupid.
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 19, 2017 - 08:43am PT
Thank you Marty for your level headed posts.

Bethesda, Bomz and X15X15.... you guys hit the nail on the head, squarely.

I hope the Climber is improving.

couchmaster

climber
Dec 19, 2017 - 08:54am PT

Thanks Marty, JLP and most OF ALL Dan for the added bolt to keep the next person out of the dirt.

Best wishes of healing to the young lady.
selfish man

Gym climber
Austin, TX
Dec 19, 2017 - 09:02am PT
It's ironic how the same individuals who tell the badly injured girl to toughen up because climbing ain't Disneyland she thought it was, are also accusing JLP of the disrespect to the injured.

ExfifteenExfifteen

climber
Dec 19, 2017 - 09:22am PT
selfish man: It's ironic how the same individuals who tell the badly injured girl to toughen up because climbing ain't Disneyland she thought it was, are also accusing JLP of the disrespect to the injured.

lmfao... wow!!! totally dumbfounded. the Disneyland post was directed at the points being slung on the Taco. And you read that its telling the girl to toughen up. WOW!!! you don't read much, do you? It has nothing to do with tough, and everything to do with self-preservation, mr. selfish man... All that other crap is nonsense. I don't care what anyone says, climbing is deadly and it is a stupid activity that I can't give up. Shite happens in a blink of an eye and you die. space dust. join the carbon club. the girl is lucky she is still here, alive, and it sounds like it was just luck of the cards. I am very glad she is still alive and she has quite a story to tell. Hoping for full recovery.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Dec 19, 2017 - 12:01pm PT
I think the discussion started by JLP was very interesting and not offending to injured climber[ wish her the best recovery as possible] it was well arguments from both points of view - JLP and Marty, and looks very civil.
Especially in comparison with similar discussion started [ end never ended] about Punchline at ArchRock in 1986
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
Dec 19, 2017 - 04:08pm PT
I am always saddened when I hear of a climbing accident, particularly one involving a young person who obviously enjoys the outdoors.

My sincere best wishes for a full recovery.

A lot of us have survived situations that could have had equally (or worse) outcomes. Climbing is dangerous, something that many people do not fully appreciate and the line between fun and tragedy can be very thin indeed.

I commend Marty for the very thoughtful (and right-on) response to what I'll categorize as "misinformed" commentary. Bethesda's comments mirror ideas swimming around in my feeble brain.

But, this being the Internet, even the most reasoned and irrefutable truths are met with confrontation, ad hominen, mis-direction and falsity.
WBraun

climber
Dec 19, 2017 - 04:46pm PT
Anyone who's upset take a deep breath of life ......
Bethesda

Trad climber
Bethesda
Dec 20, 2017 - 04:13am PT
Sketchy --

Hardly a new thought.

After the 1865 accident on the Matterhorn, Queen Victoria considered banning British subjects from participating in mountain climbing and Edward Whymper penned the following:

"Climb if you will but remember that courage and strength are naught without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste, look well to each step, and from the beginning think what might be the end."
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Dec 20, 2017 - 04:22am PT
Wow, thank you for the updates on the climbers condition, and prayers for a full recovery.
It is a sickening feature of the activity;
that pilot error is rewarded, as in flying, with a crunching stop'

I agree that the falisy of a soft catch, trying to protect anklles from slapping the wall at breaking force is a real and usefull "trick" and should be in the tool kit. Used when appropriate, but not all the time. Learning to fall, how to auger into a wall can be learned, practiced indoors, and is far more leg/ankle saving than a weak "soft catch" by a standing still, belayer.


I have followed along, and Ive climbed in the Gorge a small amount. I have a few 1st and only ascents done on trad gear that left me in that deep chossy schist that lines the false top of the vertical, with seemingly, no safe way to get back down. I've climbed the routes in question, and that was way before the thousands of repeats & top rope ascents that have now polished the holds.

climbing indoors breads complacency in both belaying & climbing, add the real outdoor tricks weathering, polish, tat and gone bad bolts, they are all things
that indoor to outdoor climbers seem to be giving less priority to, then they deserve.
& i love my some fried breaded chicken breasts, my how spellcheck mis treats. . Breeds Complacency - but in this I'll leave it deep fried & Breaded! DoH



Bethesda? hello! that , my friend, is a great quote
[ quote ] ,&, [/ quote ], with no spaces captures text inside a box

EG:

"Climb if you will but remember that courage and strength are naught without prudence,
and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime.

Do nothing in haste,

look well to each step,

and from the beginning think what might be the end."

the itailisizing happens automatically and can be a bothher , as an aside using 2 * on either side of some text gets you bold print that is also good to have in the tool belt, (so ** on either side) , trying it, it looks -
as like this
This reads Presumptuous of me, Sorry! I hope that you are not at all insulted
and
I would ask you to come into The thread by The Mouse of Merced, his Flames thread. . . .an acquired taste here at the Taco stand.
Bethesda

Trad climber
Bethesda
Dec 20, 2017 - 06:20am PT
Not at all presumptuous, Gnome. Thanks for the tip.

Another old fogey story:

Years ago I was climbing a bolted route and when I got to a bolt I really needed, someone had removed the hanger! So I used the wired stopper trick and moved on very delicately but for a long time after I carried a spare hanger and some nuts on my harness, along with my prussiks.
Bethesda

Trad climber
Bethesda
Dec 20, 2017 - 06:26am PT
BTW, Whymper quote is from Scrambles Amongst the Alps (1871), last page, if you are interested in context.

Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 20, 2017 - 07:07am PT
Love that Whymper quote. It's one I read over and over again as a young climber. Joe Simpson took a phrase from it for one of his chapters: "The Happiness of a Lifetime." A great choice. That wired stopper trick is a classic, which I've used myself on occasion. There's currently a sport route in the Alabama Hills--"Sherman's March", I think--that has a fixed drill bit! A dyneema sling or wired nut hitched over it do the trick. Kind of a neat feature, imho. That Whymper line makes me think of the Lemmings throwing themselves at Mt. Everest. The NYTimes piece mentioned in another thread is worth reading. Bloody tragic. With climbing, however, a forty foot sport route can kill you just as surely as the winds of Everest. We should be wary, as Gnome makes so clear, and keep the carbs to a minimum. :)

climbing indoors breads complacency

BAd
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 20, 2017 - 12:19pm PT
Love the Whymper quotes, among other self absorbed musings on how much danger you guys face with such competence and bravery. Enter the Dragon, Everest, same thing really.

Also - "climbing indoors breads complacency" - totally applies here as well - no gym in Bishop, woman shows up wearing helmet.

Have any of you introduced kids to this sport? Were they your own?

As of 3 days ago, it appears this one's still in a coma, for her 12th day.

http://www.gofundme.com/debra-christenson
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 20, 2017 - 12:25pm PT
Here's the quote from the page--no mention of coma, but she seems to be kept under sedation:


Update 2
Posted by Friends of Deb And Whitney
3 days ago
Share

So Whitney's days have been up and down. She developed pneumoniae due to the respirator but it being treated with antibiotics and responding well. She has had a few good days and they are they are hoping to reduce sedation Monday.

BAd
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 20, 2017 - 01:53pm PT
Have any of you introduced kids to this sport? Were they your own?


JLP.... why do you ask?

My daughter was always around the sport, when young she liked to do bigger and bigger swings on a rope. I never pushed her and she did rope up several times on trips to the mountains. When she was 16 she watched "Touching the Void" and asked me if we could go and really climb something. Over the next year I was really happy to go and climb moderates at Josh and T&S... she did climb Surprise on the weeping wall.
She had a good time... Me- not so much. I always had a nagging feeling that I was responsible for her safety. This was more than when climbing with other regular partners. It made me think about the dangers involved. I was happy when she became a flight attendant and moved to St. Louis when she was 19.

I have always known that this sport can kill you.... that was obvious to me from the first day climbing, reinforced when I made my first trip to Josh and looked at the very fresh 40 foot long blood stain on Toe Jam and confirmed when I went to the Valley and all the talk was about somebody who rapped off the end of the rope.

I do introduce a lot of the young boulders from Stony to the big time climbing world.... one of the first things I try to convey is that you can die and also kill your partner if something goes wrong.

That fact seems pretty obvious and should be really apparent to anyone.... I mean that's why you feel afraid when you look down.

I hope the climber is improving every day.

10b4me

Mountain climber
Retired
Dec 20, 2017 - 03:36pm PT
Thank you Peter.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
Jan 9, 2018 - 11:28am PT
The young woman who was injured is now walking and talking and has been moved to the regular hospital floor.

This sounds like great news!

I donít know her, I just read the update from her go fund me page.
truewhit

Sport climber
Nevada City, California
Jun 17, 2018 - 04:48pm PT
Hey all,

I'm Whitney, the climber involved in this accident. I don't think this thread is active anymore, but I wanted to provide more information about the accident itself in order to clarify the events of the day, recovery, and takeaways.

The accident was caused due to belayer error from over 20 feet of rope coiled on the ground leading towards the climber (confirmed by witnesses). What could have been a small slip on a cool-down climb became a 35 foot ground fall. Because of the amount of rope in the system, my gear didn't have a chance to catch, and the rope never went taut.

I fell onto a shrub surrounded by blocks, and was assess by Viren and seen to have deteriorating brain function after 15 minutes. I had some spinal swelling, and no bleeding. Viren sent a friend with his sat phone out to call for an ambulance. First Responders retrieved a litter placed at the Central Gorge bathrooms and people volunteered their jackets to pad the litter, and they began carrying my out over the water crossings. I was combative and aggressive due to brain swelling, and needed to be restrained.

The rescue team arrived at the power plant to meet the ambulance after about an hour. I was then taken to Northern Inyo Hospital, sedated, intubated, and flown via life flight to Renown Memorial Hospital in Reno. I was in a coma for about a month following brain surgery to relieve the inter-cranial pressure within my skull. I had two large sub-dermal hematomas, three contusions (two on my frontal lobe), and a severe concussion. I had pneumonia, a DVT, and a tracheotomy. I almost died a few times due to the brain pressure. I came out of the coma on my 25th birthday, and was further sedated until January 7th. I was moved out of the trauma ICU on January 9th, and then transferred to the Renown Rehabilitation center until January 22nd. I was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome due to a frayed and crushed nerve in my left Sciatic nerve. and have lost sensation and mobility in my left leg.

I was wheelchair bound for about a month after discharge, and I am now walking around a happily toproping some low-level slabs around Mammoth.

I've been awed by the ceaseless efforts of my medical and rescue teams, and I've been lucky to meet and thank most of them in person. As always, I am incredibly grateful for the kindness and support of the climbing community, and the efforts everyone has taken to check-in and educate one another.

Due to witness accounts, the accident was caused by belayer error due to lack of experience and attention. I was very, very lucky that I was wearing my helmet that day, and that I was in the presence of such competent first responders. My take-away lesson is to choose your climbing partners wisely, wear your helmet, and to hold your community accountable. I vet my partners much more closely now, and I watch other climbers around me closely for errors without fear of offending them or stepping on toes. If I had noticed and corrected the behavior earlier, my day would probably have had a much different outcome.

Anyways, stay safe, and have fun!


Sheets

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 17, 2018 - 04:55pm PT
Wow, that's quite a story.

Best of luck on your continued recovery and good advice about vetting people.
WBraun

climber
Jun 17, 2018 - 04:58pm PT
What could have been a small slip on a cool-down climb became a 35 foot ground fall.

YOWZA !!!!

Thanks for update,

WOW .......
HoMan

Trad climber
Wasteville,CA
Jun 17, 2018 - 05:09pm PT
Hi Whitney,

Super happy to hear you are on the up-and-up!

Careful vetting of partners is a must. I hate to say it but...especially these days.

I feel like much of the younger generation missed out on the ol'school mentorship.

Get strong in the gym, watch vids....got it all figured out these days

I still have friends that say(when I bitch)...you never fall, mellow out. That sh*t attitude scares me.
i'm gumby dammit

Sport climber
da ow
Jun 17, 2018 - 05:18pm PT
Wow. Here's to your continued recovery.
So you were lead down climbing and the belayer wasn't pulling in the slack as you went?
blahblah

Gym climber
Boulder
Jun 17, 2018 - 05:39pm PT
Hope you continue to make a great recovery
monolith

climber
state of being
Jun 17, 2018 - 05:50pm PT
20ft of coiled rope on the ground?

A good time to remind people to take a quick look down after clipping the first bolt.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Jun 17, 2018 - 06:26pm PT
Best wishes Whitney. The recovery road can be long and hard, but one must walk it.

And, as a side note -- viewing this thread for the first time -- I see that your rescue was led by Viren Perumal. Now Viren may not remember me, but I sure as hell remember him. Put on the most amazing display of climbing I've ever seen. I'm sure there are better climbers in the world, but holy sh#t, that man can climb.

Sounds like he can also be counted on when things go south.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 17, 2018 - 06:45pm PT
Great account. Hereís hoping for a continued recovery...and, yeah, pick your partners carefully.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Jun 17, 2018 - 06:59pm PT
Glad you made it out alive. In the sprit of watching out for others, know nerves are extremely complicated. Itís a lot easier for a doc to say something that sounds right, considering all the complicated vocabulary they pick up in school, than it is to actually be right - and then itís impossible to be right with the human body as we are still neanderthal in our understanding. That said - donít be afraid of second opinions, question everything, reasearch and verify, become the worldís leading expert and best student of your own injury. Good luck.
Matt's

climber
Jun 17, 2018 - 07:38pm PT

The accident was caused due to belayer error from over 20 feet of rope coiled on the ground leading towards the climber (confirmed by witnesses)

I don't... understand this. The belayer didn't realize there was 20 feet of slack between him and the climber? Or was the belayer just not paying attention at all? In any event, happy to hear you survived all of this!
monolith

climber
state of being
Jun 17, 2018 - 07:49pm PT
And the witnesses didn't warn when they noticed 20ft of rope coiled on the ground?

(hint: the scenario does not add up)
Matt's

climber
Jun 17, 2018 - 08:06pm PT
The only scenario that I can imagine is if the climber is moving quickly on easy terrain, then suddenly slows down. If the belayer isn't paying attention (at all), but simply paying out slack quickly, it seems possible to end up with the scenario described by Whitney.
i'm gumby dammit

Sport climber
da ow
Jun 17, 2018 - 10:08pm PT
^from her post
What could have been a small slip on a cool-down climb became a 35 foot ground fall. Because of the amount of rope in the system, my gear didn't have a chance to catch, and the rope never went taut.
I think i misread this to be a a cool down-climb rather than a cool-down climb, as whitney posted.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
Jun 18, 2018 - 03:36am PT
I am so glad you made it through okay,
Wise words about selecting your belayer carefully.
Best
Ezra
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jun 18, 2018 - 05:43am PT
It's really quite a remarkable recovery all things considered. Already back on the rock a little- that's awesome!

I don't think the exact details really matter- this whole scenario really drives home the importance of paying attention while you are belaying anyone.
otisdog

Social climber
Sierra Madre, Ca.
Jun 18, 2018 - 06:55am PT
Which is a point that really shouldn't need to be driven home...
Glad you're doing well, Whitney!
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Jun 18, 2018 - 08:29am PT
Whitney, I am so glad to hear you are doing better.
Your description of your ďbelayĒ is horrifying.
peter croft

climber
Jun 18, 2018 - 08:44am PT
Wonderful to hear Whitney is recovering so well.
While this is the most important thing I also think it is also important to get the actual scenario straight in order to learn what we can - and to avoid placing blame where it doesn't belong.
As I've mentioned before I was close by when this happened. Since I knew the route (that Whitney was on) was funkily bolted and teflon slippery I was keeping tabs when it became clear that she was having trouble. At no time did I see the "20 feet of rope coiled on the ground". Following the incident a number of us locals agreed that the route needed to retrobolted - there had been previous ground-falls on it - and this was done soon after. If it was purely belay error that caused the accident this would not have even been discussed.
In my view the primary reasons for Whitney's ground-fall were inadequate bolting and slippery, polished rock. And if thanks are being handed out to the rescue and medical teams then they should certainly be given to her belayer. No one tried harder or suffered more to help the fallen. When stuff had well and truly hit the fan she rose to the occasion like a champ!
couchmaster

climber
Jun 18, 2018 - 08:53am PT

^^Well spoken Peter and good on you all for fixing it^^ My best and congrats on the recovery Whitney!



"Due to witness accounts, the accident was caused by belayer error due to lack of experience and attention. I was very, very lucky that I was wearing my helmet that day, and that I was in the presence of such competent first responders. My take-away lesson is to choose your climbing partners wisely, wear your helmet, and to hold your community accountable. I vet my partners much more closely now, and I watch other climbers around me closely for errors without fear of offending them or stepping on toes. If I had noticed and corrected the behavior earlier, my day would probably have had a much different outcome."

Great advice for all of us. Thank you.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Jun 18, 2018 - 09:04am PT
No arguement on partner screening, however IMO good partners check on each other 100%, such that if anything ever happens itís pretty much accepted as a 50-50 split on fault. If Iím headed into a section I might fall on, I would check the slack situation and/or say ďwatch meĒ. If I trusted them enough to not verify or to catch a possible surprise fall, it would be based on numerous prior falls and a crystal clear acceptance of their belay habits. Iím very reluctant to climb with people who blame things on their partner without accepting a portion of the blame themselves.
Matt's

climber
Jun 18, 2018 - 09:15am PT
thanks for the clarification peter croft.

it sounds like the route was bolted in a way where falls at certain spots had a high risk of ground fall, especially without a perfect belay.

Given your description of the accident, I'm a bit surprised the extent to which Whitney's description of the accident disparages her belayer-- her account casts the belayer as grossly incompetent, perhaps even negligent.
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Jun 18, 2018 - 09:19am PT
So happy your alive!!!! 🙏

I remember reading about this and thinking ďhow the F could this happen?Ē

And the story of the rescue, the cooperation and help from strangers, is just what one can expect from climbers.

Thank you for finishing the story.... for now.

Keep climbing and heal up.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 18, 2018 - 09:26am PT
Belay failure/lowering accidents usually happen in cragging areas with closely packed routes and a lot of other climbers...primarily in sport climbing areas. I think there are several factors at play.
*The experience level...sport climbing is for many the next step in a process that began in the gym and many climbers have less experience then you would find with a multi pitch trad team although I am well aware that many sport climbers have a tremendous amount of experience.

*Letting your guard down...cragging, especially sport, appears to be safer then multi pitch and some climbers have a tendency to become less focused and more casual about how they do things.

*The social factor...cragging, like bouldering, tends to be quite social with many climbers side by side in a confined area. This sometimes leads to kibbitzing and a general lack of attention.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jun 18, 2018 - 09:33am PT
Peter, tfpu.

Wow.
FRUMY

Trad climber
Bishop,CA
Jun 18, 2018 - 10:00am PT
Thank you Peter Croft!
aspendougy

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jun 18, 2018 - 10:09am PT
One minor detail that was huge, she fell into a shrub, may well have saved her life, just some cushioning effect
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Jun 18, 2018 - 11:04am PT
If you are going to deck, it is worthwhile to choose a soft landing spot.
AKDOG

Mountain climber
Anchorage, AK
Jun 18, 2018 - 12:00pm PT

Glad you are recovering and in rehabilitation. Best wishes on the rest of your recovery.

She impacted the ground with her head neck, left shoulder and back. She was wearing a helmet that did not crack or have visible damage though her head seemed to impact a rock. I feel strongly that her outcome would have been different had she not been wearing a helmet

I had two large sub-dermal hematomas, three contusions (two on my frontal lobe), and a severe concussion.

This accident would be a good one for the helmet industry to look into.
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