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Jul 20, 2009 - 06:48pm PT
setting the bar pretty high there cragman.

california boy, borrowed gear, trudging up slope below my first and almost only waterfall ice as the caboose. all kinds of sharp stuff strapped to my pack. as the creek narrowed and steepened i "stemmed" across to a little snow topped mushroom and instantly launched on a luge run involving a little air between the turns. to this day i have to pause and be sure before i speak the word sacrum or talus. even though i'm quite clear about the meaning of each, those words got knocked into each other's cubby hole in my brain. (which must have been in the region at the time) all the more mysterious since the last word on the subject belongs to my coccyx

somehow i never screamed, neither did i peep. under the power of adrenaline, i caught up with the others though my shame was overwhelming.
if there's ever a thread about confessing our most deceitful omission, i'll have to repeat this story.

i know that's kind of weak, but mr. magoo probably filed some pretty short trip reports too

edit: it strikes me,
after straining a little harder to distinguish a hasty from an honest response,
that successfully executing a dumb plan, rubs out the dumb.
summiting in some of the most heinous conditions,
and returning to bask in the glory,
might be my dumbest

Not here
Jul 20, 2009 - 06:55pm PT
Dumbest? Heck, I am still improving on that.
How about getting my hair caught on the dang hanger I was clipping in? Or when I decided to onsight solo, miscalculated and howled before the crux like a cat stuck in a tree?


Trad climber
Jul 20, 2009 - 07:08pm PT
no way am I going to tell you about it, my wife reads this forum.
Scared Silly

Trad climber
Jul 20, 2009 - 07:08pm PT
Lets see:

Started a rappel, did not like how I was starting. Decided to start over, dropped the rap line to belly flop back to my stance, lost my footing, promptly fell 60 feet to the deck.

Hand Stands on the top of Prusik Peak (sans rope). It has a very small summit.

Walked across a crevasse bridge solo in a white out at over 6000m, got to the other side and the bridge collapsed. Was now stuck on the uphill side. Decided to continue to the summit and deal with the implications on the way down.

Played "Climb that Climb" (Think of the old game show "Name that Tune). See if you can lead a climb with fewest pieces of gear. Got to the point we were basically soling 80 foot 5.10 routes.

Let my partner start climbing before they were on belay. Watched him take a 150' fall while I jumped off the other side of the ledge to catch the fall. An oh only one piece of gear in.

Decked while climbing, thinking I was okay I drove 12 hours to home. Unloaded my truck then decided to have my shoulder checked cause it hurt. Had a broken facet on one vertebra.

There are probably a whole host of other dumb things that I have done while climbing. As a good friend said we all do dumb things, most of the time we get away with it. Sadly though not always.


Trad climber
Jul 20, 2009 - 07:15pm PT
I have wanted to do Frigid Air Buttress, but now I am a little gunshy of it, stuck ropes in red rocks, you can count on it. Anastasia howling like a cat stuck in a tree while soloing, now that must have been a sight to behold.
Dumbest thing I ever did was about 30 years ago climbing the west ridge of Prusik Peak with 3 guys, one rope and a couple hexs. I had done it several times before, and since it is a long hike in we went ultralight. Final pitch we anchor off a block on a ledge and the most inexperienced guy leads off thinking it is a easy cruise, but instead fires up this 5.9 crack. He gets one piece in, and then as he is struggling over the crux in tennis shoes 40 feet up the piece slides out and down the rope. The other guy on the ledge with me who is tied into the block starts untieing from the rope as fast as he can. I kept the belay on, but I learned that day it doesn't pay to be casual, even on the easy stuff. My friend made the lead without falling but it was touch and go and both feet came flying off several times scaring the bejesus out of us. The block I am sure would have gone off if he had pitched with me attached to it.
Josh Nash

Social climber
riverbank ca
Jul 20, 2009 - 07:20pm PT
Took up climbing.....

East Coast US
Jul 20, 2009 - 07:35pm PT

East Coast US
Jul 20, 2009 - 07:54pm PT
I don't know, Cragman, your story freaked me out pretty good and sounds like something I would have done in the past.

Trad climber
slowly dying in the OC
Jul 20, 2009 - 08:06pm PT
My first ice climb. I decide to lead. I couldn't get my crampons to bite. I took a mighty kick only to have the front points bounce off. Now pissed, I take another mighty kick...right into my calf. Front points stuck. Oops! I pull them out.
My partner, 15' below immediately starts getting a shower of freezing blood. "You wanna bail?" he asks. His suggestion sounded like a good idea.

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Jul 20, 2009 - 08:09pm PT
soloing coonyard. also one of the most satisfying things i've done climbing, btw.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Jul 20, 2009 - 08:14pm PT
About an hour and a half ago I hit myself in the leg with a wall hammer to KILL a black fly.....

Trad climber
The Great North these days......
Jul 20, 2009 - 09:23pm PT
Many dumb things I guess but the dumbest has to be doing the west face of sentinal in 72 or so as a dumb 17 year old. After the first dogleg pitch I ran it out past the belay and ended up out of rope in the middle of the following pitch. Lucky for me there was a quarter inch bolt where I proceeded to hang, haul and have my partner jumar off of......One quarter inch bolt. In those days we thought they were bomb proof.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 20, 2009 - 09:29pm PT
I've done nothing climbing that comes anywhere close to you folks, but perhaps thats because I took up climbing after learning a lot of lessons the hard way. When I was younger, I basically crashed my way through life because my energy and enthusiasm (and ego) greatly exceeded my skills and abilities (and judgement). We won't talk about my VERY brief hang gliding career...


Trad climber
slowly dying in the OC
Jul 20, 2009 - 09:29pm PT
Cut the lead line? That's sick. They cost money.

Legs heal.

Trad climber
Morgantown, WV
Jul 20, 2009 - 10:01pm PT
Had a friend who was terrified at the idea of micronuts. Placed one in a seam, clipped my aiders to it, stepped up, said, "see? no--"

The piece popped. I decked from three feet up and blew my PCL. Never got to say "--big deal."

Not terribly epic, but pretty damn dumb.

Trad climber
One Step Beyond!
Jul 20, 2009 - 10:47pm PT
Almost died or got paralyzed 4 times, and somehow didn't.

I have posted all four at various times here - see if I can dig them up.
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
way, WAY out there....(OMG)
Jul 20, 2009 - 11:16pm PT
I didn't clip all those fixed heads, & woke up in a litter......
Pretty dumb. Was lucky(?) to wake up at all.

Gym climber
Jul 20, 2009 - 11:47pm PT
back in mid-70's, Pete Livesey coaxed me into following him up Hairline, 11b, westside of Elephant Rock. Start at top, rappels, then a start from a tree, with hundreds of feet of exposure instantly. First, a steep 10b? corner that leads to the crux, a short curving crack, very steep...Pete is in his element and cruising. I am not. Can't make it up the crux, no matter what. So it bacame apparent we had to retreat. think he rappeled from a small tree to my stance. Not wanting to leave expensive gear, he assured me a # 9 hexentric in the crack at our feet would do nicely. Didn't seem adequate...but think it was largest nut we had. My nut, with 8mm. cord. very scary rappel but I trusted Pete, who had more experience. OK, we obviously made it, despite my being afraid while rappeling, but not letting on. Next day, someone we knew repeated the route and found us to return the hex. They said they couldn't believe we trusted it. it didn't seem that good to them.

The lesson I never forgot was that despite someone having more experience, reputation, etc....go with your gut. We could have backed it up. This of course is only one of many rappel stories that illustrate how easy it is to die trying to get down. I've lost two friends in rappel accidents.

That story of retrieving, or trying to retrieve the umbrella off the roof had my wife and I in stitches. Fantastic piece of writing ! Gene Drake

Iron Mtn.

Trad climber
Corona, Ca.
Jul 21, 2009 - 12:23am PT
August 1994, I dropped my shoes off in the city of Joshua Tree with the Late Jules George to get resoled for my trip to the Cascades in a month. We have a full rack in the car, extra shoes, and the J-Tree guidebook. My partner suggests that since we are already out there, why don't we climb the SW Corner on Headstone Rock, to which I readily agree. Never mind that it's 105 degrees. We get to the climb and do a successful ascent. The guidebook says to rappel off the north face, it looks very exposed and scary so we rappel of the south face instead. I start to pull on my rope to no avail as it's stuck. After 45 minutes of trying everything in vain to get my rope unstuck. I call out to some campers at Ryan Campground to ask if anyone is a climber and has an extra rope to which (I assume they were from Europe because who else would be crazy enough to camp in J-Tree in the middle of August)they replied "What is Climber?". Much to my frustration, I decide that a $150 rope is worth more than my life, so I decide to French Free Solo the SW Corner(I am no Bachar). As I start the route, my foot slips on the initial slabby part below the overhang. My partner says "This isn't worth your life!" to which I reply "Shut the f*#k up!!!". I pull up the arete and top out, scream at the top of my lungs and flip that rope over to the north side (which in hindsight, doesn't seem that scary anymore), have my partner check to see if the rope will pull out and rappel off. I always check the rope movement before the second rappels off and I follow what the book suggests. I cheated death once, I figured the next time I wouldn't be so lucky.....

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Jul 21, 2009 - 12:27am PT
^^^^Oldcragster Those Brits are the cheapest sob's! I loved climbin' with 'em except for their low evaluation of human life.

This thread should prove to have serious 'legs' if we're at all honest. I, for one, much prefer hearing about how others may remotely approach the depths of my extreme 'tardedness over the return of baby jeebus or how retarded the politicos are on both sides of Neanderthal Line.

I think I already set the bar pretty low with my story of putting in my first bolt...
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
way, WAY out there....(OMG)
Jul 21, 2009 - 12:55am PT
Thanks for re-visiting that, Reilly.....sounds terrifying!!
Sheesh, the things we do, & live through, huh?

Trad climber
One Step Beyond!
Jul 21, 2009 - 12:58am PT
Said a fair bit there, Aye

Jul 21, 2009 - 01:00am PT
1984, we're 16. Nuff said. My friend and I climb Mt Pilchuck north of Everett, Wa. and come to the lookout at the top. Mostly we marvel at the incredible cliff below us fantasizing how great it would be to repel the sucker. Being experts, having repelled out of several trees in his yard, we figure we could do it with the right equipment.

We head down and that night we're rummaging through my dads garage where we find a spool of nylon anchor rope he uses for our boat. Says 300 feet on the spool so we figure that's almost enough. Rick pipes up that the telephone repair guys left a really long rope at his house when they were fixing the lines. We lay it out and figure that its gotta be around 150' or so, maybe more. Should be enough if we tie 'em together.

A Week or so later we head back up said mountain. We get to top, tie the two together with about 10 overhand knots - We've never heard of a figure-eight. We throw the rope over and watch it get hung up around halfway down. Hmmmm... wonder if its long enough. Gotta be. I take out my 10' piece of nylon rope I've successfully used as a swami in all those trees and harness up. Its only then that we start wondering about that knot tying the two ropes together. How we gonna get it through the biners we were using to repel. We come to the obvious conclusion that there must certainly be a ledge somewhere down there on that blank cliff face that we can stand on, unclip from the rope and then reclip below the knot. There must be.

The repel started out fairly well, just like all those 30' trees, but after around 50' or so I noticed that nylon rope stretches. A lot. About 250' down I come to where the rope is hung up and I throw it out and away, curious to see if it will reach the bottom. It didn't, but it did reach what looked to be the start of some steep talus so I figure no big deal. Did I mention we never even thought of tying a knot in the end?

Now the miraculous thing here is that there WAS a ledge and when I got there the knot was only about 10' below me and with the rope stretch it slid back up until it jammed into the biners. After much wrestling to unclip from the still tight rope I finally freed myself and watched the rope spring back up 20' or 30' feet. I cheerfully yelled up to Rick to come on down as I stood on a 12" ledge just big enough to hold two people. Down Rick came and the knot went down below me again. Rick arrived at the ledge and after the same struggle freed himself from the rope and then clipped into the lineman's (hemp?) rope. 60 seconds had passed so of course, being 16, we had forgot all about the rope stretch. He stepped off backward and proceeded to fall around 30' or so, back-peddling for all he was worth until the rope caught him. How he remembered to not let go of his brake hand I'll never know. He repelled off the end of the rope ended just as he reached the start of the talus and he was able to stop sliding after only 50' feet or so. Forewarned I did a much better job of anticipating the sudden drop and I only slid 30' or so in the talus.

I always was the better climber.

Trad climber
Jul 21, 2009 - 01:01am PT
Garden of the Gods. 1976. I was true n00b. My friend and I were doing some 5.7 climb and finished rapping off, leaving the rope through the fixed pins. This was BITD when we were hip belaying and rapping on 6 carabiner brakes.

So along comes Bryan Becker and his entrougue. He hustles his way on to the loose end of our rope to top rope a route next to the 5.7 I'd just finished. So one of his friends sees that I'm giving him a hip belay. Said friend then clips a stitch plate onto my swami and pulls the rope off my hips and threads the rope through the plate. Problem was it was not a swami, it was my chalk bag belt fastened with a simple overhand knott.

So I'm sitting in the dirt, watching Bryan climb, knowing that if he falls the chalk bag belt will rapidly disintgrate. As everyone had all eyes on Mr. Becker, I unclipped from the stitch plate and reinstated the hip belay.

Bryan reached the anchors and asked to be lowered. I wore the rope burn for years.
Hard Rock

Trad climber
Jul 21, 2009 - 10:02am PT
Tetons - mid 70's - South Buttress Right.

On the way down got our rope stuck. It was dark but August so we could bivy. This made it one quart of water for 24 hours but it wasn't to bad. Free the rope the next morning and continued down. Coming down to the last rap couldn't find a anchor. Used a good size boulder with a 20 degree slope on the top and a 1 inch sling. We both rap real slow and easy - got to the ground - flipped the rope and got the anchor back.
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jul 21, 2009 - 12:06pm PT
This thread has a place for everyone. I suppose it could be narrowed if it were titled "Dumbest thing ever done while climbing." This might qualify for both:

I posted this story a few years ago:

I talked TM Herbert into following me over to DAFF dome to try a new line between Crescent Crack and West Crack. It must have been 1975 or '76. We both guided and would sneak in climbing when we could. I had lots of free time when I was in the Meadows, but TM was there with Jan and boys, so he had less time for non-work climbing.

I started at the base of Crescent Crack and traversed up and left out onto the steep face towards West Crack, skated around on loose micro-chips, dinked in a bolt for protection, and got to the straight in cracks, quite a ways off the ground. Except for the chip skating, the pitch was pretty good.

The next pitch had to pass an overhanging bulge. There looked to be cracks that would go, up and around to the left.

But, it was the Meadows, the summers were endless, so we bailed.

The next year, we decided to go back with Kauk. TM took my lead from the previous year and then belayed me up. We ended on the giant horizontal groove--not a ledge--but low enough angle so that you can sit or stand on the giant knobs. TM kept the belay, and Ron started up.

I un-roped and climbed round the corner to scope the next pitch. I returned and stood next to TM on one leg on a giant knob, chatting. I could banter with TM all day long. Trying to make each other laugh, telling tale tales, no pretense of importance. The weather was beautiful in that special Tuolumne way.

Also we knew that we were well prepared to belay Ron, and he could get us up the steep next pitch if anyone could. Hey, come on, what are friends for?

Mid sentence, the knob I was standing on broke off, and I was in the air, about 200 feet off the ground.

(Side note: Ron used to do this little mime where he would hold his hair straight up above his head as if he were falling and make a whistling wind sound. Captured the moment perfectly as I was shooting down.)

I lunged for the loop of TM's tie in. I was at full extension and my fingers barely got around the loop.

Just as my fingers grabbed the rope, TM's hand slammed around my wrist like some kind of a sprung trap.

I stopped abruptly, arm elongated, legs flapping in the breeze, whistling noise trailing off, hair settling back down on to my head.

TM had caught me with one hand.

Ron was mid-pitch. When he got the belay, we rapped off.

I never went back. Ron and TM did the climb later. They named it Black Bart.

A long way from where I started
Jul 21, 2009 - 02:01pm PT
Most of my real stupidity has been on (or flying off) my bicycle. But I've been around when some fairly dumb things happened on climbs, though. And most of them involve our pal Tami.

The best of them had to be when we made the first winter ascent of Yak Peak, about 100 km NE of Vancouver. I wanted to spend the day climbing ice. Tami hated ice climbing, but agreed to come anyway. Fortunately for her, we never did see the incredible ice lines that were supposedly waiting to be climbed in that area, and rather than waste the day we decided to climb Yak. The main southeast face overlooks the highway. Lots of rock routes on good granite, up to about 15 pitches.

Steep granite slabs partially covered in powder snow wasn't really on our list of things to do that day, so we headed up the left side of the face to the col as shown in the summer photo below.

It was a gorgeous sunny day in early February, colder than a witch's tit, but calm and beautiful. So we chugged up to the col where we were met by a screaming windstorm blasting in from the north. We put on fleece layers, windsuits, goggles, and scarves, and angled up and right, staying below the ridge whenever we could to avoid the wind, then angling over to the base of the headwall.

The headwall is mostly fourth-class in summer, but has a lot of short steep ice steps in winter. So we put on our crampons and got out the second tools. We debated roping up, but it was so incredibly cold and windy that we were unwilling to sit around and belay, and decided just to solo to the summit. Most of the little steps were just one or two moves and the ice seemed good, so we weren't too worried.

And then, about ten feet up a fifteen-foot ice runnel, Tami popped a crampon off her boot.

I had the rope, but was below her, so couldn't do anything other than offer to try to get a screw in then climb up and tie the rope onto her. But she decided she could sort things out on her own.

Looking back twenty years later it's pretty funny to picture her hanging there by one tool in a Force 8 gale while trying to re-attach her crampon (it was dangling from the ankle strap) with one hand, with her goggles constantly fogging, her scarf getting in the way of both breathing and seeing, all while looking at a 2,000-foot screamer if the tool popped. There was some serious cursing.

I offered to come up and deal with the crampon from below while she hung off two tools, but she just said "Nah, this f*#kin' thing comes off all the time. I'm used to it."

Since she posts here, y'all know that she must have managed to get the crampon back on and finish the climb, but at the time it seemed kind of serious.

Sport climber
topanga, ca
Jul 21, 2009 - 02:19pm PT
I still get sweaty palms from an experience I had on my first trip to Tuolumne in 88. We were doing 'On the Lamb' and I had not yet gotten it into my head that thunderstorms come in real quick in the pm.

I met my second for the first time earlier that day ('say you wanna do on the lamb - I can lead 5.11?'). We started the route and got a couple of pitches in and he began to freak out. The rain began to fall and he promptly left a bunch of my gear in the route and stood with me at one of the stances being all freaky. We were soaking and water was running down the face all around. Lightning and thnder started and the storm got really fierce and I began to get real cold - the weather and this guy are really killing my buzz.

I put a couple of wires in opposition in the horizontal crack and lower him off to a ledge system some ways below. At least now I'm just wet - My new partner is 120 feet below and out of immediate ear shot. Now its my turn. I fully weight the wires for the first time and about 10 feet below the stance and ... CHUNK ... they shift together. In that split second for real I thought I was a gonner. ... but they stopped and I covered that remaining hundred or so feet in no time at all.

I ran into the guy again later in the valley. He had found someone else of a similar disposition and was headed up Washington column armed with a 5 day supply of sardines. They has a sardine smelling epic.

In retrospect the wires in opposition were dumb - I should have sacrificed a bunch more gear, a friend even and perhaps I should have tried something a little more mellow with a total stranger, and better yet read the weather report that morning.

Jul 21, 2009 - 02:25pm PT
"Dumbest thing I've ever done while climbing?' Ummm, which time?

My wife & I were taking her father on a quick tour of JT, and swung by Real Hidden Valley for a walk and a climbing demo- we went out to Thin Wall, and it was real busy- several people/colleagues that I knew, and a couple of large groups. I ran up top, set up a TR on No Calculators Allowed, and ran back down. Distracted by discussions and my father-in-law's watchful eyes, I tied in and climbed. Upon topping out, a friend was there and as we chatted, pointed down and said, 'dude, you really ought to tie in properly'- I had only tied into my leg loops.

Though I felt pretty stooopid, I took it as a message from somewhere that maybe I'm becoming too complacent, and need to focus on the basics. It was an especially meaningful lesson as the person who I topped out in front of is a colleague I have great respect for...
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jul 21, 2009 - 05:52pm PT
Yeah, tell me about it. I would have been dead and really bummed.

I remember the feeling in my wrist. No uncertainty that my hand, at the least, was staying on the ledge. TM was really strong, and fast.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Jul 21, 2009 - 07:29pm PT
Not only did I Hit myself in the leg trying to KILL a black fly, I did it a bunch of times. at least once for a moscito that was full of my fresh squeezed blood. Hit drill 3 times while turning repete for 6 cycles then swing hammer at NASTY insects, then hit drill again....... repete..

Trad climber
Calgary, Alberta
Jul 21, 2009 - 07:56pm PT
Climbed a route in Scotland called Zig Zag on Creag Meagaidh in winter back in 1986 or something. Not a serious route. We were a party of three and were following two slower climbers. Topped out in a blizzard at about 6:00pm. I had taken a rough compass bearing in the light for the walk along the ridge to a col called The Window. Unroped and had to swap sides with one of the guys as he took a more careful bearing. Took two paces forward and I went straight through a cornice. We failed to notice the edge cut back in at this point. Down I go at a hell of a pace on the upper snow slope, over a ~30ft crag, onto another snow slope and then decide I had better take action, and fast. Ice axe brake with as much power I could put over the head. Stopped with feet hanging over another crag. F**k how dumb can one be? Cursing myself all the names under the Sun and then some, I get my headlight out with spin drift trying to push me off. Turned on the head lamp which immediate diminishes to a pin of light sufficient to see arms length at the most and why not? Might as well make this really interesting. Shit! What now? Fortuately I had one of the two ropes. Traversed along the snow slope to a sort of corner full of small icicles. Slammed in an Warthog or was it a Snarg, I forget and rap/downclimb these icicles, over the next crag to the next snow slope. Dachsteins sliding as if the rope is coated in 5/30w oil. Tied off a clump of partially formed icicles and rap and down climb again. Same deal another couple of times to the point where my arms were screaming with down climbing overhanging crap ice. I then made a very cool, calm decision (well I thought so at the time. Actually it was make out of shear terror) that if this went on for another rope length I would jump off, canít be that far off the bottom and a long easy runout. I must have thought of Haston on the Cima Ovest after rapping in mist and eventually decide to rap off the ends of the rope. He was 10ft off the deck I believe, as the story goes! Just as I am about to jump off the weather clears somewhat to reveal I am indeed one snow slope away from the base. Saved! Well not really. Headlight now done. Weather closed in again as it can only do in Scotland and twice as bad. But wait, sh#t, the other two guys must think Iím dead! A hard, blind walk out in the pitch dark and cold thinking of the two other guys having to sit up there and mull over all night what to tell my family ďDumb sh#t walked through a cornice!Ē Yep thatís about right. Had a twelve foot high, precariously swaying deer fence to climb over as the last parting gift from that day.
Another eerie part to this story is that my usual partner would not go that day as he felt something was wrong. Yes indeed very wrong! The other two walked out safely the next day just in time for the pubs to open and so we all got pissed as newts to celebrate!
There is another hallowing part to this story which cites a number of other climbers involved in the so called search for our two guys. Later maybe.

Jul 21, 2009 - 08:03pm PT
^^^that is a fabulous story with a fabulous ending! cheers!

Trad climber
Jul 21, 2009 - 08:04pm PT
You mean, like, besides farting in front of my new girlfriend while busting a move on a strenuous, overhanging boulder? (We still got married...)

Trad climber
Jul 21, 2009 - 08:11pm PT
Oh yeah, and there was the time I was hand-drilling a bolt in a limestone face, when my hammer missed the drill and hit my ring finger instead - full bore. It broke off the end of that bone, and I passed out from the pain--twirling unconsciously for a time on the rope. Once I woke up, I drove home to tell my wife that I didn't feel so good. She drove me to the local hospital to have it X-rayed. Sure enough, it was busted clean off. Unfortunately, the only doc on duty was a pediatrician who couldn't seem to crawl out of his pediatric persona.

I sat in an exam room on a tiny little chair, looking around at wall paper that could only have been ordered from a pediatric exam room catalog. Lots of rainbows and cartoonish hippos, and the like. My wife was sitting on a tiny chair beside me while the doc explained to HER - not me - that, "The little man with the hammer is gonna visit Tom's finger tonight, and that's when you want to give him his pain killers..." I wanted to stand up and shout: "Dude, I'm like 30 years old! Talk to ME!" But then I thought, "If I do that, maybe I won't get a lollipop..." Score!!

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Jul 21, 2009 - 08:18pm PT
That would probably be running the rope through my soloist the wrong way, and not realizing it until I'd reached the anchor to set up the rap. I've possibly pulled the move twice. It would have been a lot less effort to have simply free soloed the route, as I hadn't tied back up knots.

Then there was the time I was bolting a new route and forgot the hammer. A fist sized size rock will do the trick, so long as you have a hilti to drill the holes. Then there was the time I plugged the hilti in the night before going out to bolt a new area, and not realizing I'd put it in the switched circuit. Turned the ligths, and charger out. This was discovered the next day after hiking back a good hour, and the drill quiting 1/2 way through the second bolt.

Off White

Tenino, WA
Jul 21, 2009 - 08:41pm PT
The first grade V I ever did was The Happy Hooker on Trono Blanco with BVB in 1978. Since I dropped one of my EB's in Watusi's driveway on the way out, Bob got all the harder free pitches and I got the one aid pitch - A3 small wires for my first ever aid lead. Took a large fall which rattled both our cages, and took forever finishing the pitch. From the top of the pitch there's a third class ramp we unroped for, and scooted up to the next pitch: a 5.8 ramp with no protection, diagonaling up over a jellyroll roof.

A little psyched out by the coming pitch, Bob takes a small bit of the rack and sets out. He finds he has nothing for the belay but the 1" tube gear sling I sewed on my mother's 1946 Sears Kenmore sewing machine, which he wraps around a small dead tree. Bear in mind we're now about 1200' off the canyon floor. On belay.

Since Bob left the rack behind, I wind up wearing the fish pack stuffed full with the bivy gear on my back, and a chouinard tear drop pack full of gear kangaroo style, climbing with one EB and one rotten burlap surfer shoe with my sock showing on the ball of the foot, following a pitch sure to drop me over the roof if I fell, which would then pull the belay and send us both for the big ride. I was a little bit cautious while climbing.

I join Bob successfully and put in a better belay. It's getting dark by this time at the end of day two, so Bob sprints up until he's out of rope. He sits on a slab ledge with a crack on the bottom, and shouts down that he got one #4 stopper in edgewise, and while he couldn't see it, it must be good since he couldn't get it out.

I follow the pitch, fortunately with only pack. In the gathering gloom I wound up on a slightly different line, with BVB off to my left and the rope hooked under a flake. I tugged the rope and discovered all my anxiety about the last pitch was misplaced: having failed to complete my figure 8 knot at the end of the 3rd class ramp, the rope came right out of my harness and I stood there on the precarious stance with half a knot in my left hand.

I quickly tied back in, down climbed a little, and got up to Bob's scant ledge where we waited for the moon to rise so we could do the last pitch, make the descent, and climb out the South Gully in the dark. Climbing amongst the deeply shadowed chasms between the huge boulders in the gully, we'd toss rocks into the pitch black depths to decide which way we should go. We had sleeping bags, we'd drunk from the scummy pools on top of the wall, but it seems like I had to be back in San Diego that night so I could leave on a trip the next day. Finally driving away in my old 4x4 truck with the defunct front driveshaft removed, I promptly made a wrong turn and sunk into the soft sand of a wash. Finally, this day was over.

I'd say that one trip contains the bulk of the stupidest things I've done while climbing.

Trad climber
Jul 21, 2009 - 08:55pm PT
Now THAT's a dumb day! ;-) But dumb days can make for the best stories!

Social climber
Truckee, CA
Jul 21, 2009 - 09:21pm PT
I've gotten away with some stupid things, but the last time I top-rope soloed and forgot to bring my brain along, I paid the price. While rapping down to the roof on the Hook (Donner), I utterly misjudged how much lateral potential energy I built up prior to the lip. In other words, I was going a lot further out from my anchor, not just down, which wouldn't be an issue except for the fact that the rope can run cleanly through the offwidth all the way back to the anchor. I got to the lip, tried to ease my way under, popped both feet, and in the process of slamming into the wall below, did this to my talus:

Surgery was a year ago yesterday.

Jul 21, 2009 - 09:48pm PT
in winter '77 eddie b and i spent 3 weeks in canon tajo, cragging between weather events so in order to view the big feature from all sides we decided to descend the gully on the south, and complete the survey on the last day after a bivy beneath it. before dawn we scooted in under a boulder due to rain, at daybreak the creek was rolling so we hastily crossed and stuffed our sacks on the correct side while it rose to an impassable level before our eyes.

the ascent of the north gully and back to camp was it's very own adventure. the houdini move of the day was high deluge bouldering avoided by threading a crooked tunnel pushing our packs ahead and birthing out onto a narrow ledge while pinning the pack off to the side. but we made it to camp. "critical" supplies were exhausted, snow abated but rain persisted, and henry barber was showing some slides that night in la jolla.

there is a section of the road which is one and the same with the wash and it cuts a bank about as tall as the tires. so i'd say entering a galloping sluice in a vw van was a "dubious" call and wouldn't have succeeded but that it was down stream and we could match rafting speed at high revs in first gear. the steam boiling out of the defroster forced me to drive with my head out the window to find the crucial exit point where slamming the sandy cutbank with enough uomph and at the proper angle in a one shot slam bam huckledy-buck...well that was all that saved us from careening downstream into a V notch affair that led to who knows where.

they say release of tension equals joy, and so it was in this case. as the heater tubes dried out, crud and debris danced like bingo balls in an aerial display above the defrosters. we didn't miss a meal and the show was painless. big whoop huh?
but it makes my point posted up thread that success obscures stupidity
Big Piton

Trad climber
Jul 21, 2009 - 10:06pm PT
I started dating my partner, then she excepted me to carry everything to the rock.

I asked her what was up? She told me she was talking to a girl at the cliff and her dude took care of everything when they went climbing. So, the following weekend she called and found that I was heading to yosemite without her. She freaked out, when she found out I was with her sis.

I told her that since "sis" wasn't my girlfriend I would get more climbing in. Well that's my story and I am sticking to it.

BTW: she cut up my extra rope into 2 " pieces while we were gone.



A long way from where I started
Jul 22, 2009 - 12:00am PT
Ha ha. Dummies all!

Keep the stories coming.
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
way, WAY out there....(OMG)
Jul 22, 2009 - 12:40am PT
Yeah, this is a great thread.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Jul 22, 2009 - 01:09am PT
Oh, eh, rappelling down the NA after I had broken (rebroken actually, I orginally broke it in Colorado 10 days before while bouldering but had plans for the NA and had hiked loads up to the base with a cast on my leg but had jumped into the Merced and had chopped the cast off with a piton and then gone up on the route but had broken it again while hauling) my ankle. I had a big pack with all our cans of food and the first 4 pitches of the NA being very steep, had gotten my hair stuck in the rappel system.
It wasn't exactly fun tearing the hair out of my head and the rappel system, all the while my ankle hitting the wall, killing me, trying not to let go of the rope and dropping to my death.

That was pretty much not fun, but yes, stupid.
Dick Erb

June Lake, CA
Jul 22, 2009 - 02:30pm PT
Once in my early Yosemite days I decided that it would be a good idea to rope solo the Chouinard-Herbert route on the NF of Sentinel. Things were going well and nearing halfway I started feeling rain. I looked around, the sky was dark with clouds, and and chose to rap off. A few rappels later I am on top of Chessman pinnacle. There was some third and fourth class down to the next rappel, so to save the time of coiling and uncoiling the rope I grabbed one end of the rope hanging above me and started climbing down a gully that narrowed to a chimney. It was here with my back on one wall and my feet on the other that I heard a block tumbling down. It looked about like a cubic basketball ricocheting off the walls into the funnel I spanned. As I was trying to get into the back of the chimney it sailed past about a foot or so away. Now that was dumb and I knew it right away, so it must not be the dumbest thing, which was probably soloing the Lost Arrow Tip with only one jumar clipped to my swami for a belay, and not even knowing I had done anything dangerous until much later.

Gym climber
Jul 22, 2009 - 03:17pm PT
Nice shot of your injury and the road below Black Wall. Sure Mark H. recognized it too Willoughby. Great epic accounts all! Reminds me of all the dumb things I did at Donner. One has to be the time I belayed Rocko Rampino while he tr'd Goldilocks. Getting to the top, he proceeds to move anchor slings/biners down to Gold Dust anchor bolts, then climbs over edge expecting to be lowered to the ground. Problem is: I'm too far back now and talking to Rick Sylvester with my back turned. Needless to say, I find myself being dragged on my back toward base of cliff over boulders. When I stop, I look up to see Rocko just above me. Nice lowering job for him since I kept the belay hand steady the whole time. I ended up with broken ribs. Only bones ever broken climbing.
Gene Drake

Boulder climber
Jul 22, 2009 - 03:54pm PT
Belaying Largo on at tr, on the wall above Camp 4, he says he's off, at the same time some friends walk up and start talking to me, I let go of the cord, next thing I know, the cord is sizzling, Largo yelling, I grab the cord and stop his fall. He yells, what kind of f###ing belay was that. I never did tell him what really happened.
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
way, WAY out there....(OMG)
Jul 22, 2009 - 04:25pm PT
Pure Gold.
Love the foot shot, W.(arrrggh.)
Off White

Tenino, WA
Jul 22, 2009 - 07:38pm PT
Well Jefe, I sorta think you might have told him now!

Trad climber
Joshua Tree
Jul 22, 2009 - 09:23pm PT
3 hits of acid.

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
Jul 22, 2009 - 10:49pm PT
Just last night I was climbing for about 4 hours. Hot. Sweaty. Dirty! Shirtless. Some manky old steel that really made me wonder. Cord got stuck a couple times. Eventually, had it wired.

Then one of my partners asked where I left the wire cutters. I said I think I left them on the scaffolding he was working on.

Turns out I laid them down on an air duct after snipping a cable tie.


Big Wall climber
The Immaculate Conception
Jul 23, 2009 - 01:37pm PT
Spit on another party below....not purposeful, of course. Big loogey hit the dood square on top of the noggin'!

Social climber
Raleigh NC
Jul 24, 2009 - 11:04am PT
Bump! More!

climber's near nevada...
Jul 24, 2009 - 11:10am PT
narrowing it down is the hard part...

clipping into my knott bight instead of my harness, then starting to untie the rope ?

grabbing the damn pro as i peeled and ripping my shoulder ?

putting the top prusik on one rope and the footloops on the other, instead of both on both, and pulling myself upsidedown as soon as i weighted them ?

soloing bolted quartzite with daisy chains and hooks ?

the list goes on...

Jul 28, 2009 - 07:25pm PT

C'mon. There's gotta be more dumb things done by supertopoans. I've read to many of your posts to believe otherwise :)
corniss chopper

Mountain climber
san jose, ca
Jul 28, 2009 - 10:00pm PT
During college a friend got accepted to be in the Shuttle
program and we were partying . About 10pm after talking about rock climbing for awhile we somehow loaded the car and drove up the
Scottsdale Hwy to the rockpile. The idea agreed on was the full moon was just up and we could use its light to climb a short wall. No headlamps.
I led, and had to lean sideways a lot to see the holds.
My future astronaut friend freaked out on the way up and was
twitching like a spaz as I pulled him the last bit up to the ledge.

Had to lower him to the ground as he was messed up. Later I had that 'moment' of fearful clarity that this genius had been belaying me! But the desert at night is magic so not a total

Big Wall climber
Nor Nev
Feb 11, 2010 - 06:22pm PT
I did not do this but my partner and I were headed up Zodiac and he is leading the first pitch. Gets to the traverse over to the anchor and from about 5 feet away he thinks he is going to do some sort of jumping lunge to the anchor. He goes to jump after I give him some slack and the piece he is standing on blows as he jumps and blows a few moreand he takes a good 30 footer. I asked him every pitch after that if he was going to jump to the anchor when he gets close.


Big Wall climber
Kalispell, Montanagonia
Feb 12, 2010 - 02:42pm PT
I'm too lazy to type it all again, so I am copy and pasteing it from an earlier thread of Jul 08.

Not the dumbest, but pretty amusing and dumb to boot. The thread was about backup knot use. It may help to visualize Willie Coyote.

Yes, I have. Scared the crap outa me but I'm still here to tell the tale. Never have and wouldn't consider not using one. Fallen quite a few times solo, mostly free climbing.
It was the manzanita choked approach ledge of Liberty Cap last May, and anchored my rope off on the more exposed part and the docking tether of the haulbag to my belay loop so I had enough slack to toss the pig over and under the many obstacles. Nearing the 3/4 section of my rope, I had to toss the pig uphill on some loose sandy stuff, and scoot it around until it would stand on it's own, and then try to climb my sweaty fat butt up to it. In the process I stood up and slid down a little and pulled the top of the very overstuffed pig towards me and it yanked my dumb a$$ off faster than I could have imagined. Soloists do not catch head first falls so I went to the backup, which was nearing the end of a 60 meter rope. Went about 50 foot with the stretch and all the give in the slung manzanita I had used for pro.
Scared the crap out of me, but relatively unhurt. Hanging by the backup knot, with the over 100 lb. pig pulling on the belay loop, I was just not having a good time. Had to pull the chest cord off the soloist and prussic the pig up enough to get it off the locker and let her go to the deck. about 250 to 300 feet I suppose. All the basics I needed were in the bag, ascenders, more slings and biners,ladders etc..
Climbed the rope back up to the ledge and got really pissed and scared that I was getting in over my head for a first solo wall, went and gathered my crap, tucked my tail, and went back down to the valley, pretty whipped.
Still love to solo. Still think the way I do it is the right way. I would never hesitate, thinking that the system will not do a good job of keeping me on the cord. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Feb 12, 2010 - 03:09pm PT
Trying to pick out the John Muir Trail right before it meets up with the top of Nevada Falls:

Mckinleyville, Ca
Feb 12, 2010 - 05:25pm PT
Another Dumb Stunt

Sometime in the early '80's, after I had successfully exiled myself from the Valley, and was working as a carpenter on Bay Area concrete tilt-up jobs, I felt a great need to escape the big city crush. My muse assigned me a vision of a solo ascent of Mt Shasta, complete with a nordic ski descent from Lake Helen. I believe it was spring, because there was a nice deep base of snow on the mountain.

I had a week off work, and on monday I spent the day driving up through central California, arriving in the afternoon at the Bunny Flat trailhead for the Avalanche Gulch route. About 7,000 ft altitude.

Next morning I set out with some rather old-school gear and a comforting sense of delusion. I knew I was in good fitness -well, skeletal-muscular at least -not sure about the lingering effects of San Jose bar-hopping and Camel straights, but upon reflection, I have little doubt that it somehow contributed to a hypoxic-induced lack of good judgment. I felt at home in the wilds, but perhaps my confidence and escapist joy allowed me to downplay certain acclimatization issues from living for months at sea level.

I went up the main ridge which is the south edge of the whole Avalanche Gulch bowl. A pair of three-pin Fischer metal-edged 215s strapped to my pack, plus an ice axe, I used my pair of cane ski touring poles. Always thought old-style wood poles were cool.

On the way up, the weather was partly sunny, and the snow was a fresh deep layer which hadn't yet melted or iced up. The snow base was deep enough in the bowl to cover all the rocks. Beautiful. Looking down into the bowl as I climbed the ridge, I fairly drooled at the sight of my anticipated descent of a couple thousand feet of moderate and easy terrain. It was past noon when I arrived somewhere near the base of the Red Banks.

Somehow, I had apparently decided not to summit that day, but to do the skiing first. I had gotten greedy and become lured to the steeper slopes above 10,000 ft Helen Lake for a super-long descent. But I was oblivious to the consequences.

This was it. Time for skiing bigtime. There was still some intermittent sun, and I had hoped to catch my run when the snow would be warmest -to help with any unwanted crust I might encounter. So finally, there I was on my boards, ice axe strapped to the back of a nearly empty daypack, traversing out from some rocks, into the center of a couloir -maybe 300 ft wide. Somehow in my high-altitude glee, I had failed to notice an important detail or two. I was now somewhere over 12,000 ft. And I hadn't registered the steepness or the condition of my departure point. After traversing about 50 feet out, it dawned on me that the center of the broad chute was an icy consolidated snow surface. I could almost touch the uphill side by just reaching out my right arm. Way too steep for me, especially with the ice.

Ok, I thought, just a careful kick turn here and traverse back. I examined the contact of my edges. Each ski was contacting the snow on a just a few inches of edge. I was barely on. I knew I couldn't guarantee reversing my track without slipping off. Looking downhill to my left, I acknowledged my spectacular demise. Ice axe couldn't be reached without unsafe shenanigans. I decided to continue traversing to the other side of the bowl, where I could see better chance of re-rigging my situation.

It was going okay until I reached the very middle of the couloir. My edge contacts dwindled to nothing on a bad icy section, and I slipped off for a good 1,000 ft of ride. At least there were no rock formations in my path. It was zero to 50 in 5 seconds. Instantly I self-arrested with my bamboo ski pole. It snapped off uselessly. My next instinct was to keep from going into a tumble. I spread out my arms and legs flat on the surface, while trying to keep my ridiculously long non-release skinny skis from catching and either ripping my legs off, or slicing up my head with the tips. I couldn't control anything else. Sometimes I would rotate so my head was downhill. Even though my path was basically a smooth incline, my speed caused the exaggeration of little bumps, and I was flipped into the air a few times to land on my stomach or my back, but thankfully I still never began tumbling. My vision was a total incoherent blurr from all the rapid bouncing. It went on this way for what may have been 30 to 45 seconds, and included several sharp painful jolts to my back. Finally, as I approached lower altitude above Helen Lake, the snow became soft, and the angle laid back. I slowed and then came to an abrupt halt, on my back, head uphill, and my right ski tail jammed in up to the boot. The left ski was gone.

Lying there I figured I'd broken my back and was paralyzed, but I found that I could move very painfully. Here I was around 10,000 ft. It was afternoon, quiet, windless, and sunny. My truck was about 4 miles away, and it was Tuesday; the mountain was deserted. Well, I post-holed down in thigh-deep snow that was melting into mush; crawling sometimes to rest my back. Reached the truck by dusk, and could barely drive with the clutch pedal and column shift. Waited into the night to get x-rayed in Shasta town, to learn that I'd cracked my tailbone. Stupid ice axe... Stayed in the Mountain Aire Hotel that night to soak in their outdoor hot tub before next day's painful drive back home. Live and learn, if you survive.
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