Bob Locke Memorial Buttress, Mt. Watkins. Story?

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Messages 21 - 40 of total 85 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 6, 2007 - 11:44pm PT
Unpleasant memories for you guys to be sure. I had a box seat along with Mark and Dennis Udall, six pitches up the regular route on Half Dome. It was quite a sight with the searchlights illuminating the beautiful face of Watkins but I sure didn't sleep too well that night.....
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Sep 7, 2007 - 12:20am PT
wow, Peter, thx for making that point on this unfortunately story. It seems that slack liners are really pushing the limits on 1" tube webbing, especially as they pop and have to fall on their line. not long distances, but same movement with the tube under tension. has anyone done testing on this nutty of sports and the forces involved?


Locke Rock in the Courtright Reservoir area was named after Bob Locke.
couchmaster

climber
Sep 7, 2007 - 12:44am PT
Rick A, the puffing on the rope ends describes the effect of battery acid on a rope to a T.

I too saw this effect in person, 1977. Rope fell apart under bodyweight rappelling. Kid weighed maybe 130-140 is all. We made a rope litter and carried the kid out after splinting the compound fracture of the Femur (thigh). He was fortunately unconscious.

This was before cell phones, remote area, there were no houses, phones or towns near. We had to just deal so we did our best.

We got him to the hospital stat. Survived, no complications. The fall should have killed him.

Sorry - didn't mean to drift too far off topic.
bachar

Trad climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Sep 7, 2007 - 10:28am PT
Steve G,
I was on that rescue across from you. They used a C-130 or something with a huge floodlight to illuminate the face while Dale lowered down to Bob... quite eerie that night. They shined the light on the face of Half Dome a couple times and it lit the whole damn face as if it were a drive in theater! Incredible sight from where we were - must have been the same for you except you probably knew something was terribly wrong...

RIP Bob.
Jerry Dodrill

climber
Bodega, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 7, 2007 - 01:11pm PT
Crazy story guys. Thanks for sharing.

With that background laid down, I'd like to hear more about the route named in Bob's honor. A training route for Uli Biaho? Sounds like a good tale. I bet those two experiences were a bit different. Wasn't Sports Illustrated or someone like that funding the expedition to U.B.?

Anyone hear from Largo?
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Sep 7, 2007 - 01:41pm PT
I e-mailed him Jerry, to get some storied reportage on the memorial route; no response yet, maybe he is out of town.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Sep 7, 2007 - 02:09pm PT
Ricky A. just e-mailed me - hadn't seen this thread till now. I'll try and crank out a few words on this incredible route sometime this weekend. Right now I'm totally booked.

The BLMB is IMHO one of the best and most novel walls in Yosemite. If it was on El Cap it would be as popular as the Salathea. It has features (like a gigantic angling dike) I've never seen before and spectacular positioning and exposure - that Watkins is ginormous. But sh#t was it hot in August.

More later.

JL
Jerry Dodrill

climber
Bodega, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 7, 2007 - 02:37pm PT
Hi John. Thanks for posting. This sounds great. I'm on the edge of my seat...
Walleye

climber
The back seat of my 69 Nark Avenger
Sep 7, 2007 - 03:23pm PT
John Roskelly wrote a story about the Uli Biaho climb in the 1979 American Alpine Journal. A real big job, seventeen days to hike in, 2000 ft of gully and ice climbing just to get to the base of the 4000 foot face (or something like that)...Kauk got some hideous offwidth assignment up there.

I look forward to Largos account of the BLMB..
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Sep 7, 2007 - 03:47pm PT
Always remember Bob from the rescue team in Tuolumne Meadows in the 70s. He was one of the best all around nice guys who ever lived and his untimely death was a real blow to the "spirit of the age". Remember also how he made us all feel like warriors out of Homer, making clear our links with an earlier Heroic age. RIP Bob.
Lovegasoline

Trad climber
Sh#t Hole, Brooklyn, NY
Sep 8, 2007 - 03:15am PT
The classic SAR book ‘Wilderness Search And Rescue’ by Tim J. Setnika [copyright 1980] begins with a chapter recounting in detail the Bob Locke rescue/recovery entitled ‘Prologue: At Night on Mt. Watkins’. The book then delves into the history of SAR going back to the Bible.

"Bob suddenly fell while attempting a hard move. Chris said Locke swung down like a pendulum and immediately ripped out the two nuts he had just placed. He slid down and across the face, almost hitting Falkenstein, who ducked as he flew past. The force of the fall pulled the belay rope through Chris’s hands so rapidly that his left one was burned severely.

"Finally, after what seemed like a long, slow-motion dream, Locke crashed into an inside corner to the left and slightly above Chris. He hung limp on the rock, barely conscious. Although it all happened in an instant, Chris noticed a dramatic rupture in the rope now taut between them and instantly began lowering Locke the remaining meter or two to the ledge. Just as Chris was grabbing Locke, the remaining two strands of the rope’s core broke. Bob plummeted again.

"A haul line – a light rope used to pull up sacks containing the food, water, and clothing necessary for multiday climbs and not meant as a safety rope – was casually tied to his harness. Miraculously, it kept him from falling the rest of the distance to the ground, although it was radically abraded in the process. Bob halted a full rope-length down, about 50 meters below Chris’s ledge.”

Gulp.

Request for a CH-130 flare ship to provide illumination was declined on account of fire danger. The light used to illuminate the rock on the rescue was a nine million candlepower spotlight known as a Carolina Moon (powered by a separate jet fuel source) mounted in a U.S. Coast Guard CH-130 based in San Francisco.
My book includes 5 b&w pictures from the rescue and also an aireal shot of the face of Watkins. It’s an engaging and dramatic piece of writing.

Setnika explains that although Locke expired before his rescuers could make it to him, it was a landmark rescue insofar as it was a complex operation undertaken in the dark ... which potentially opened a Pandora’s box. At the time of the writing he states that the rescue "remains a glimpse of the possibilities of fusing training, technology, and decisive action into a coordinated effort capable of performing difficult and dangerous tasks".

RIP.


P.S. I fly into SF on Sept 13th. I'm looking for a ride to the Valley within a few days of that and can kick in some gas $$$ (I'll have one fat pig, a large backpack, and some other crap). I'll be there for the season until the weather changes (and then I'll probably look for a ride to J-Tree or IC).
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Sep 8, 2007 - 09:21am PT
JB-The “Carolina Moon” was amazing. It would light the face as the plane passed for less than a minute.During that time though, it was as if it were broad daylight. Graham and Richard Harrison were also on that rescue, if I recall correctly.

Steve-That must have been an amazing sight from across the valley on Halfdome. Interesting also that you were with US Representative , and likely next year to be Senator, Mark Udall.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 8, 2007 - 10:02am PT
No finer political family ever graced public service. But for the bandwagon effect and that silly guitar jingle ("why not the best") Mo would have been president in place of Carter and the country would certainly be farther along. The family joke at the time was that the Secret Service was going to have their hands full since all six children were avid outdoors enthusiasts! A stellar picture of Brad and I on top of Fairview Dome hung on the wall in Mo's congressional office while he was able to serve. Mo was a giant in politics and a beacon of relief in the midst of a very backward and reactionary state. I learned most of my mountain skills from the Udalls early on. Great people!
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Sep 8, 2007 - 10:20am PT
Agreed. Brad and Jane are neighbors and we get out in the winter once in a while.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 8, 2007 - 11:04am PT
Say hello for me. I am long overdue on a trip to CO....
graham

Social climber
Ventura, California
Sep 8, 2007 - 12:30pm PT
Reading all this reminded me I had some photos of what we were hoping to be Bob Locke’s rescue.

First thing I want to say is Chris Falkenstein’s amazing effort in his descent and sprint to park headquarters set the pace for this effort. The only helicopter available that night on the few minutes notice was a small Bell 47 and not having much “useful load” we had to shuttle in pairs to get to the top of Mt. Watkins. This first photo gives you the feeling of the slope landing with only lanterns for markers. The pilot joked on my trip it was his first night flight but I think he did that on every leg to break the ice with his passengers. Must have done it a dozen times that night



This is a shot under the Carolina Moon



This was our ride home the next day.



There is really too much to say about this tragedy
Jerry Dodrill

climber
Bodega, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 8, 2007 - 01:15pm PT
Wow. This is turning into a time machine. Odd this story isn't better known. Aside from that SAR book, has it ever been printed? I'd never even heard the name Bob Locke, aside from seeing the route in the book for years.

CF frequents this site- Chris, I hope this isn't opening bad/troubling memories for you.

Peace,
JD
smith curry

climber
nashville,TN
Sep 8, 2007 - 01:34pm PT
Anyone know what pitch he fell on? I just did that climb a few months ago: there were a few heads up spots, and some tricky routefinding....Great route though.
Jerry Dodrill

climber
Bodega, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2007 - 12:04am PT
Bump. Looking forward to Largo's story.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 11, 2007 - 12:23am PT
Tales of the Oiled Bone.........
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