Anyone have info? (fatality in Zion)

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Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 6, 2007 - 07:30pm PT
Just caught on the news that there was a rappeling death in Zion today.

I'm wondering if this is a case of a canyoneer being labeled a "climber". The report named the victim and said he had a permit and fell on a 300' rap in the Heaps Canyon area.
Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
Jun 6, 2007 - 07:36pm PT
Ron,
It was a canyoneer exiting a canyon I believe. very sad.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 6, 2007 - 07:44pm PT
Whats your source?
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
Jun 6, 2007 - 07:48pm PT
I read this yesterday on a canyoneering webring. Rapping out of Heaps. Southern California man. No specifics given.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 6, 2007 - 07:52pm PT
Hmm. Thought it was reported as "today".

Probably that hanging knot pass. The water is not deep enough for someone who goes 30-40m.
Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
Jun 6, 2007 - 08:02pm PT
Ron,
Got info from canyoneering websites. That last rap is 200 feet plus--believe it was day before yesterday maybe..not today
crackfiend

climber
Jun 6, 2007 - 08:17pm PT
I heard they were rapping a single line with a biner block at the anchor, last guy pulled the biner and relied on a knot block which pulled through either the quicklink or bolt hangers themselves when midway down. Got the info from my co-worker at the outfitting shop here in Springdale.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 7, 2007 - 11:03am PT
heard they were rapping a single line with a biner block at the anchor, last guy pulled the biner and relied on a knot block which pulled through either the quicklink or bolt hangers themselves when midway down. Got the info from my co-worker at the outfitting shop here in Springdale.

Eeeek. That is tragic.

There's been a bomber cordalette equalized through four bolt hangers at that final rappel station for some time. Well done, really. Someone had even incorporated one of them small orange Petzl plastic pulley wheels into it, to make the rope pull easy. I seem to recall the rapide there was pretty good size (although I think folks swap them out a bit due to where and tear). Also seem to recall there was two rapides, one large with the pulley, and one smaller. Like, a 3/8" one and a 5/16" one. But, bet folks have been swapping them out for wear.

Last rap out of Heaps is around 285' or so. Most folks carry a 300 foot rope through the canyon (or stash it on the ground below the final rappel), then rap single on it by blocking it and tying it to their pull cords, usually their main canyon ropes used to descend the main canyon (two 50 or 60 meter ropes tied together). That way, there's no stopping to pass a knot and its relatively easy to retrieve all the rope. Its a very high angle rappel. After the first ten or so feet, the wall cuts completely away and its pure air to the edge of the upper Emerald Pool.

Pull cords must have been small diameter? I wonder what prompted removal of the biner block. Maybe they thought the rope pull would be easier. I think this happened in the dark and folks were tired after a long day.

Makes me wonder if the pull cord broke when he hit the knot connecting the two ropes...makes me ill to think about it.

Bird's eye view of the last rappel here:

http://canyoneeringusa.com/utah/zion/imlayheaps.htm

My condolences to friends and family. The canyon community is pretty tight knit, and, this has and will effect a ton of folks.

-Brian in SLC

Press Release
Canyoneering Fatality in Zion National Park

Date: June 5, 2007
Contact: David Eaker, 435-772-7811
Contact: Ron Terry, 435-772-0160

Keith Beidermann, 48, of Garden Grove, California, fell to his death while canyoneering in Heaps Canyon in Zion National Park on Monday evening, June 4. The fatality is currently under investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in cooperation with the National Park Service.

Upon completing the 285 feet last rappel out of Heaps Canyon, Beidermann’s two companions were at the Upper Emerald Pools waiting for him to descend. For unknown reasons, Beidermann fell to his death. Once his companions determined that Beidermann had not survived the fall, they hiked down the trail to Zion Lodge and reported the incident to Zion Dispatch at 11:34 p.m. Park Rangers responded to the scene and confirmed that it was a fatality. Beidermann and his two companions had a valid permit for Heaps Canyon on Monday, June 4.

Superintendent Jock Whitworth warns that Heaps Canyon is a very difficult and technically challenging route. It should only be attempted by skilled and experienced canyoneers. Heaps Canyon is temporarily closed to canyoneering while the incident is under investigation.
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno, CA
Jun 7, 2007 - 12:15pm PT
"Makes me wonder if the pull cord broke when he hit the knot connecting the two ropes...makes me ill to think about it."

OK, so I'd been trying to make sense of what was going on there (this `biner block talk) and thought I had, until I read this sentence.... This sentence leads me to believe that he was rapping on both the 300' strand AND the two pull ropes tied together, rather than single strand as mentioned before... That would negate the need for a "block" of any sort though.

To see that I am understanding this rap correctly, there is a 300' rope used to rap on, single strand, which is blocked with a biner at the rap anchor. The two pull ropes are tied to the rap line (attached to the `biner block) and then used to pull the rap line, as you would pull a normal rap? The block is necessary to prevent the rope from pulling through, as only the 300' line is going through your rappel device. This is to avoid having to pass a knot on the way down. Is this correct?

Can someone explain the 'biner block? Is one end of the 300' rap line tied into a `biner, also with one end of the two pull ropes (which are tied together) also tied into the `biner too? The accident is theorized to have happened because the last man down removed the `biner and tied a knot in it's place which malfunctioned...? Am I visualizing this correctly?
L

climber
A small kayak on a very big ocean
Jun 7, 2007 - 12:23pm PT
Thanks for the info, Brian. Some friends and I were thinking about doing Heaps this fall...it's good to know about this situation at the rap.

What a tragedy. My sincerest condolences to the friends and family of the canyoneer who fell.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 7, 2007 - 12:32pm PT
Can someone explain the 'biner block?

Typically a clove hitch tied onto the spine of a carabiner. Spine is then the "block".

Is one end of the 300' rap line tied into a `biner, also with one end of the two pull ropes (which are tied together) also tied into the `biner too?

Not typically. Usually, the ropes are tied together, then a biner block installed above the knot connecting the rappel line with the pull line(s).

The accident is theorized to have happened because the last man down removed the `biner and tied a knot in it's place which malfunctioned...? Am I visualizing this correctly?

Sorta, except the knot most likely was already in place, and, he would have simply removed the biner block. May have been tired and not realized that the knot connecting the rappel line with the pull cord(s) had a small profile.

Speculation at this point. Plausable scenario though.

Hopefully the official word will come out. Would be good to get whatever lessons learned to the community.

-Brian in SLC
Phil_B

Social climber
Hercules, CA
Jun 7, 2007 - 12:34pm PT
That truly sucks. Rapping is my least favorite part of climbing.

Nef, I Googled "biner block" and found this:
http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/utah/tech/blocks.php
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno, CA
Jun 7, 2007 - 12:34pm PT
Thanks, Brian! Makes perfect sense now. Just wanted to visualize what was happening there... Thanks again!

edit: This seems more in line with what was described here - two strands tied together. As well, the locking biner backup may confuse people. This is removed before the last person rappels

http://canyonwiki.com/wiki/index.php/Image:Autoblock_s.JPG

Linked the image, originally, but it was HUGE!
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 7, 2007 - 12:43pm PT
More info, from another website. Tragic.

"From an email (second hand, not received directly from the author)
For anyone who is interested in the accident which happened the other night in Heaps canyon, I think that I might be able to shed a little light on the subject. My party and I were the first group to go down Heaps the morning after the accident. We didn't even know there had been an accident, however, as we descended the first of the last three rappels a ranger with a mega phone called up to us and told about the tragedy. They sent up a camera so we could take pictures of the anchors. The anchors looked bomber. The only abnormality was a pear shaped locking biner attached to one of the rappel rings. After all three in our party had made the final rappel we talked to the ranger about the accident. He said that it looks like the deceased had tried to make a biner block. When they arrived on the scene they found his body still tied into this three hundred foot rope and six feet above him there was a biner tied to his rope with a clove hitch. The current hypothesis is this: instead of running the rope through the rappel rings he ran it through the locking biner, and when he weighted the rope, the biner pulled through the locking biner which was larger than the biner he used for the biner block. However, there are several questions still unanswered. We don't know if the group had head lamps. It was somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00 when he fell. Maybe in the dark something went wrong that could better explain the situation. Also, when the rangers got to the scene, the 300 foot rope was not attached to the two 200 foot tag ropes. Maybe one of his partners was supposed to weight the tag line and one of the knots attaching the ropes came loose. However, the rangers don't think this is the case after interviewing the other members in his party. At any case, there does not appear to have been any equipment failure that resulted in the accident."

Looks like the biner block may have pulled through a large carabiner. Yikes yikes yikes.

-Brian in SLC

Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno, CA
Jun 7, 2007 - 01:00pm PT
Hmmm... The pear locking `biner sounds like maybe they had set a contingency anchor and that something happened when the guy was trying to set the biner block and start his rap, or that he simply did the block wrong and as soon as he weighted the rope....

Sad, regardless.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 7, 2007 - 02:43pm PT
Sounds like they stashed their 300 foot rope. First guy down is lowered and is on rappel, positioning his rappel device below the knot connecting the two "pull cords". Kind of a slick trick for avoiding passing a knot.

The partner just posted on a canyons egroup what happened. Still not super clear, but...see below.

-Brian in SLC

Partner posting:

"Hi again,

Let me start off with a photo of Keith....

http://www.canyoneering.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/770/limit/rece
nt

Ok, so first off not enough can be said for the overwhelming support
of
so many canyoneers but also it was just amazing the kudos for the
park
service and people..just beyond words....I know you have all helped
me
so much.

I know there are many people with a hole in their heart so I thought
its time to release the Q&A:

Q: What happened?
A: Keith freefell over 260ft(most likely 270+)to his death

Q: Explain
A: User error - rigging - biner block failure - rope run through
large
carabiner used for lowering blocked by much smaller Petzl Attache.

Q: Go on.....
A: Well Keith was the last person down the final rappel in Heaps. I
was
the first...lowered...then finally the rap to the bottom to retrieve
the brand new Imlay 8mm 300ft rope...there was a significant delay on
my descent from the end of the rap rope being stuck and then released
but being thrown on top of me resulting in 30-45 mins of tied off
massive knot undoings...I attached the rope for raising
via a water knot with a radio communication(incl to be replaced)...it
was dark and the remaining two had working safe headlamps.


The rope was rigged,I then took off all my stuff off my harness save
for my large rescue steel carabiner. I then was attached to the rope,
although not "onrope"..basically I didnt think a firemans belay was
safe enough for the next descender.

The next descender descended on the system Keith went on and it was
very eventful, but not as far as the rigging.

Final sequence:

Adonis to Keith: "...lost control..not injured...Keith - recheck the
system....this is it..but we have as much time as you need, if you
want
to take 2 hours to rest or whatever so be it"

Keith:"Im fine..."
Adonis: "Ive changed from a loose attachment belay to a munter hitch
bottom belay with about 5ft of slack."
Keith :"Why?"
Adonis: "Had too much diffuculty with the belay...(person) almost
died...

Keith:"On rappel"
Adonis:"Roger that"
......
Keith:"Too much..Adonis release more slack"
Adonis:"Well, alright then"
Keith:"I know what Im doing(as opposed to the previous
descender)..let
it out.....

I then was on a very loose bottom belay and radioed that. Moments
later
Keith fell to his death.

...

The only scenario that makes any sense based upon the evidence, is
that
Keith started the rap(ATC with leg munter hitch(rope runs through ATC
then munter on carbiner attached to leg portion of harness)), then
tied off(rope
wrapped around both legs) with the slack to address the pull
cord side thus unweighting the rope and allowing the Attache to move
to
slip out.
I was told that the carpet on Heaps(which was attached via a sling)
had
been cut away by the 2nd descender. It wasnt on the last conditions
report but this should be verified as I think I heard some real
reliable info...anyways Keith was untying the waterknot,
and as soon as the two ropes were unjoined the system was somehow
weighted, the Attache pulled through. Just before that, there was a
loss of control on the rope, I was going like mad to tighten the
system, but before that could even happen, the rappel rope started to
fall(I knew immediately it was a biner block failure), I looked at
the
pull cord which was someways away from me and it wasnt moving up,
Keith
died downhill of me and the rest of the rope fell on top of me.

The above info will be the basis of the explaination(with a more
easier way of explaining it) given to the surviving family ..and has
been reviewed endlessly by everyone.

I received the final verdict late that day after I posted the first
time, as I am still totally mystified why the rope was not run
through a rapide, and will carry to my grave if I was upthere Keith
would be alive..but then..anyways I know of the support, but just
dont want people to think that Im cavalier about it. I am quitting
canyoneering, but will remain to help if I can the canyoneering
community reconcile it or whatever, but take heed: Any talk of Keith
being an "inexperienced Choprock style descender" assault will be
firecely derided.

Eventually I will write a trip report but it may be a little rambling
so bear with me.

Oh also, I am not on the other boards per say, so I havent read
anything but the canyoneering.net and this one but will do so...

Based upon the family reception to when I talk to them next, I will
see if what in the way of condolences, etc...I can only tell you I
was basically the one who broke the news to them that Tuesday early
morning and they need time."
xkyczar

Trad climber
denver
Jun 7, 2007 - 02:46pm PT
Hope noone from the yahoo canyons group minds me posting this. Keith was well known and respected amoung many of the members there. This was posted by one of the members of Keith's group and may answer some of the questions people have asked here. My thoughts go out to Keith's wife and kids.

Hi again,

Let me start off with a photo of Keith....

http://www.canyoneering.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/770/limit/recent

Ok, so first off not enough can be said for the overwhelming support of so many canyoneers but also it was just amazing the kudos for the park service and people..just beyond words....I know you have all helped me so much.

I know there are many people with a hole in their heart so I thought its time to release the Q&A:

Q: What happened?
A: Keith freefell over 260ft(most likely 270+)to his death

Q: Explain
A: User error - rigging - biner block failure - rope run through
large carabiner used for lowering blocked by much smaller Petzl Attache.

Q: Go on.....
A: Well Keith was the last person down the final rappel in Heaps. I was the first...lowered...then finally the rap to the bottom to retrieve the brand new Imlay 8mm 300ft rope...there was a significant delay on my descent from the end of the rap rope being stuck and then released but being thrown on top of me resulting in 30-45 mins of tied off massive knot undoings...I attached the rope for raising via a water knot with a radio communication(incl to be replaced)...it was dark and the remaining two had working safe headlamps.

The rope was rigged,I then took off all my stuff off my harness save for my large rescue steel carabiner. I then was attached to the rope, although not "onrope"..basically I didnt think a firemans belay was safe enough for the next descender.

The next descender descended on the system Keith went on and it was very eventful, but not as far as the rigging.

Final sequence:

Adonis to Keith: "...lost control..not injured...Keith - recheck the system....this is it..but we have as much time as you need, if you want to take 2 hours to rest or whatever so be it"

Keith:"Im fine..."
Adonis: "Ive changed from a loose attachment belay to a munter hitch bottom belay with about 5ft of slack."
Keith :"Why?"
Adonis: "Had too much diffuculty with the belay...(person)almost
died...

Keith:"On rappel"
Adonis:"Roger that"
......
Keith:"Too much..Adonis release more slack"
Adonis:"Well, alright then"
Keith:"I know what Im doing(as opposed to the previous
descender)..let
it out.....

I then was on a very loose bottom belay and radioed that. Moments later Keith fell to his death.

...

The only scenario that makes any sense based upon the evidence, is that Keith started the rap(ATC with leg munter hitch(rope runs through ATC then munter on carbiner attached to leg portion of harness)), then tied off(rope wrapped around both legs) with the slack to address the pull cord side thus unweighting the rope and allowing the Attache to move to slip out.
I was told that the carpet on Heaps(which was attached via a sling) had been cut away by the 2nd descender. It wasnt on the last conditions report but this should be verified as I think I heard some real reliable info...anyways Keith was untying the waterknot, and as soon as the two ropes were unjoined the system was somehow weighted, the Attache pulled through. Just before that, there was a loss of control on the rope, I was going like mad to tighten the system, but before that could even happen, the rappel rope started to fall(I knew immediately it was a biner block failure), I looked at the pull cord which was someways away from me and it wasnt moving up, Keith died downhill of me and the rest of the rope fell on top of me.

The above info will be the basis of the explaination(with a more
easier way of explaining it) given to the surviving family ..and has been reviewed endlessly by everyone.

I received the final verdict late that day after I posted the first time, as I am still totally mystified why the rope was not run through a rapide, and will carry to my grave if I was upthere Keith would be alive..but then..anyways I know of the support, but just dont want people to think that Im cavalier about it. I am quitting canyoneering, but will remain to help if I can the canyoneering community reconcile it or whatever, but take heed: Any talk of Keith being an "inexperienced Choprock style descender" assault will be firecely derided.

Eventually I will write a trip report but it may be a little rambling so bear with me.

Oh also, I am not on the other boards per say, so I havent read
anything but the canyoneering.net and this one but will do so...

Based upon the family reception to when I talk to them next, I will see if what in the way of condolences, etc...I can only tell you I was basically the one who broke the news to them that Tuesday early morning and they need time.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 7, 2007 - 03:06pm PT
When its late, and I'm tired, and I have to make one last big rap to get home,..





little alarm bells and lights are going off in my head.


This is a lesson that has been repeated countless times in ANAM for those that read the lit.





A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the errors of others.
Anguish

Mountain climber
Jackson Hole Wyo.
Jun 7, 2007 - 03:14pm PT
Not new, but official:

Zion National Park (UT)
Canyoneer Killed In Fall In Heaps Canyon

Keith Beidermann, 48, of Garden Grove, California, fell to his death while canyoneering in Heaps Canyon the evening of Monday, June 4th. Beidermann’s two companions were at the Upper Emerald Pools waiting for him to descend after completing the 285-foot last rappel out of the canyon when he fell to his death for unknown reasons. Once his companions determined that Beidermann had not survived the fall, they hiked down the Emerald Pools trail to Zion Lodge and reported the incident to park dispatch at 11:34 p.m. Rangers responded and confirmed the death.  Beidermann and his two companions had a valid permit for Heaps Canyon. Canyon district ranger Kevin Killian was the IC; ranger Craig Thexton is the primary investigator for the NPS, working in conjunction with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Heaps Canyon is temporarily closed to canyoneering while the incident is under investigation. [Submitted by Bonnie Schwartz, Chief Ranger]
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