Accident in the Owen's Gorge yesterday


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Gnome Ofthe Diabase

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


"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
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.

Trad climber
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.

Trad climber
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


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.
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

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.


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.


Mountain climber
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.

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!


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.

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 .......

Trad climber
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 it all figured out these days

I still have friends that say(when I bitch) 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?

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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!
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