New Info on Japanese Deaths on The Nose, October 2004

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 20 of total 70 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
knighTrain

Mountain climber
Yosemite, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 25, 2007 - 06:29pm PT
Friends of YOSAR has posted new in-depth analysis of the tragic deaths of two Japanese climbers on The Nose of El Capitan during a winter storm, October 2004.

http://www.friendsofyosar.org/rescues/rescues1.html

Moof

Trad climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Jun 25, 2007 - 06:56pm PT
Wow, good read. The basic gyst is that they really did not do anything wrong, while they could have been more prepared, they were indeed still in the butter zone of preparedness.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Jun 25, 2007 - 07:19pm PT
Is there, I wonder, a similar analysis of the 20 yr earlier crew those guys eerily doppilgangered?
kimgraves

Trad climber
Brooklyn, NY
Jun 25, 2007 - 07:35pm PT
>The basic gist is that they really did not do anything wrong

I don't agree with this - if for not other reason than they died while others didn't. It does no good to say "there was nothing they could have done differently." So what did they NOT do that the other did?

1) they didn't have someone on the ground to communicate with and act as their advocate.

2) they didn't understand that "weather happens". They became hypertermic and lost the use of their hands. When you loose the use of your hands all kinds of errors can happen because your options become very limited. They dropped their haul bag with all the survival gear that could have saved them. Did they have gloves, hats? The report doesn't say.

3) apparently they didn't have enough food to stay fueled in the face of the weather. This is mentioned but only in passing.

4) they were too inexperienced to be climbing in a "marginal" month like September. They didn't understand that September is a marginal month and that mountains generate bad weather all year round.

5) they didn't know when to bail.

I'm sure others will come up with other examples. This is not to "blame the victim." But a post-mortem hopefully means that there is something to be learned from these terrible deaths.

Best, Kim
John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Jun 25, 2007 - 07:46pm PT
4) they were too inexperienced to be climbing in a "marginal" month like September. They didn't understand that September is a marginal month and that mountains generate bad weather all year round

Mmm... I always have considered september as a great month. Could you please explain why Sept is now considered marginal. Thanks.

John

Edit: I just reread the report. They climbed during October.
kimgraves

Trad climber
Brooklyn, NY
Jun 25, 2007 - 07:50pm PT
Marginal; September in the mountains. Can be great; can be awful - as they found out. The first part was great. The second killed them. Marginal. Okay?

Edit: As I said, October.... ;-)
Tahoe climber

Trad climber
a dark-green forester out west
Jun 25, 2007 - 08:38pm PT
Hi, I just read the report, and to keep the facts straight, it did mention that they didn't have heavy gloves, though I don't remember mention of hat.

They did in fact have food to stay fueled - for approximately 3 days of the weather - in fact they weathered two days of it, and dropped some food, apparently accidentally, which indicates they maybe could have stayed a third, based on fuel alone.

In fact this was October - not September. And for what it's worth the guy seemed to be experienced - they made it to within 3 pitches of the top of El Cap, in epic conditions, for Chrissakes!

And they possibly figured that it would be faster - and safer - to finish up, rather than bail. They were probably right.

The moral is, they pretty much did the right things.
1) better communication with ground folks would've probably saved their lives, but so close to the top, they probably didn't realize just how dangerous the situation was
2) gloves and hats might've saved their lives.

They mostly did the right things. Just the small things they did wrong added up big.

-Aaron
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 25, 2007 - 08:54pm PT
> 5) they didn't know when to bail.

Kim, would you have bailed from Camp 6 in those conditions?

I don't think there is an easy or obvious answer to that.
kimgraves

Trad climber
Brooklyn, NY
Jun 25, 2007 - 08:57pm PT
>They mostly did the right things. Just the small things they did wrong added up big.

I agree with this. The point is that the margin for error can be quite small. And it can all go to sh#t VERY quickly. One minute you're okay/marginal and the next your hands are shutting down. I've been there. October is a "marginal" month. September is a "marginal" month. I've been in 30 degree weather in August on the top of Mt Washington - gloves; hats; belay jackets; industrial plastic bags you can crawl into; GU taped to the top of your helmet; hand warmers in our pockets.

My point is that I won't let these poor souls deaths mean nothing. In their deaths, they've given us a gift. Let's think: what would we do differently?

Best, Kim
pimp daddy wayne

climber
The Bat Caves
Jun 25, 2007 - 09:32pm PT
crazy story
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Jun 25, 2007 - 09:45pm PT
Shoulda Coulda Woulda It could have been any of us and in a cosmic way they were part of us. The whole thing is just so sad.

Tom
David Nelson

climber
San Francisco
Jun 25, 2007 - 10:02pm PT
Nate, thanks for the post. If you remember, we have discussed this online and offline last year.

I think your post is nicely done, with no blaming. We all have launched with gear/skills/prepareness that could not handle the worst that Nature could deal out, and certainly that storm was the worst that Nature could deal out. Nothing in this thread is meant to demean the climbers; it is meant only to help us learn from this disaster and prevent a repeat.

The SuperTopo community did a tentative analysis previously (see http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=57522&msg=57522#msg57522);, but we specifically held off judgement pending your facts and review. We agree on all points, it would seem.

Communication capabilities, gear appropriate for the worst weather of your season, and a contact on the ground were some conclusions offered. Although they had proper clothes, in the most part, they did not have a platform that could stand a long time in a storm. Most don't take a portaledge, but most don't climb in October. The summer storms are a lot shorter than the fall or winter storms. Full raingear would also be appropriate in many seasons, if not all (I carried a full set for a May ascent of the Nose.)

Thank you for posting your analysis. These threads have a link to your site, as well as a link to John Dill's great essay (on this site under the Big Walls section), so hopefully we will climb wiser and safer. All aspiring wall rats should read them both.

As for our fallen friends and fellow climbers, may they and their families have peace.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 25, 2007 - 10:19pm PT
Dingus, I am surprised at your comment that the storm was predicted. In two places in the report there are comments that indicate that the storm was not expected.

“A large storm hit the valley around 11:30 that night, October 16. There was little indication before hand of what type of storm this would be. Having left the ground four days earlier, it is unlikely Mariko and Ryiochi expected it.”

“If this particular storm had been predicted earlier, would it have changed things for Mariko and Ryoichi? Possibly, but not likely.”
murse

Trad climber
Nashville
Jun 25, 2007 - 10:52pm PT
That was tough to read. A question that pops in my mind: does YOSAR monitor any of the channels on the little Motorola radios?
WBraun

climber
Jun 25, 2007 - 10:58pm PT
Does YOSAR monitor any of the channels on the little Motorola radios?

NO

But if someone is yelling distress and they have one then we use them. General monitoring of FRS is not done by NPS.
quasitrad

Trad climber
Corvallis, OR
Jun 26, 2007 - 02:27am PT
Sad story. It sounds like Camp VI is not the place to be in a rainstorm. It's amazing how fast things can go south when you're stuck in a waterfall.
paganmonkeyboy

Trad climber
the blighted lands of hatu
Jun 26, 2007 - 02:36am PT
from the read it seems like warm hands were a life or death issue...warmers, socks with holes, gloves, anything might have helped ?

in any case - Damn Sad.

-Tom
troutboy

Trad climber
Newark, DE
Jun 26, 2007 - 10:19am PT
>2) they didn't understand that "weather happens". They became >hypertermic and lost the use of their hands.

I think you mean hypothermic. If they were overheated during a cold storm that would be unusual :-)

TS
WBraun

climber
Jun 26, 2007 - 10:41am PT
DMT is correct as it was predicted.

I knew this storm was going to be a serious problem because of the number of parties on El Cap and their locations on the wall.

They were high on the wall where retreat would most likely be a tough option once it hit.

Being here in the Valley you can almost feel at times when all hell is going to break loose just before it happens.
nate23

Trad climber
c-ville, virginia
Jun 26, 2007 - 10:56am PT
the forecast posted at the camp 4 kiosk did not in any way reflect the severity of the storm even the day before. When they went up i don't believe it showed any weather at all. A great way to cut down on deaths and rescues might be to post better weather there for the majority of people in C4 that aren't wired.
Messages 1 - 20 of total 70 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta