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Half Dome


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Death on the NW Face of Half Dome
Tuesday August 23, 2011 8:05pm
My friend Jed and I went to go climb the Regular NW Face yesterday and today. For those interested, the spring is still running and the fixed lines on the death slabs are in decent shape. Yesterday we approached and fixed the first pitch for fun. There were no other parties there or up on the wall. We sat down to make dinner and discussed how excited we were to be in such a beautiful place by ourselves, gunning for a classic Yosemite route.

Then around 7pm we had an unwelcome visitor drop in. It started with loud shouting from high above, then turned into numerous, short, high-pitched screams. After we figured out that it was not likely to hit us, we were able to see a human form. Arms and legs flailing out of control, body twisting and turning in the air. The sound of a human body freefalling down a 2000 foot face is like the sound of a commercial jet near landing. After what seemed like a very long 5-6 seconds the body collided with the lower face about 300 feet from our vantage point and literally exploded. The pieces came to rest in the bushes downslope of the central bivouac site.

We called in the emergency and then tried to contemplate what we had just witnessed. After a fitful night sleep and some vivid dreams, we awoke at 4:30am and decided that we had definitely lost our mojo for the climb. We assisted the SAR crew who came to clean up and hiked up to the Subdome where we met with a Park special agent. The cables were closed and the rangers had been there overnight. The investigation as of this morning was inconclusive, but it was suspected as a suicide. We hiked down the Mist Trail. This was a surreal and crazy Yosemite experience for a couple of Eastside Sierra climbers.

The clean up at the base by SAR was likely very thorough, but the body impacted very close to the Direct Northwest Face route, approximately 2-3 pitches up. Use caution as I would not be surprised if some remains are found on this route for a while.


  Trip Report Views: 25,948
howie doin'
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Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Canada
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:08pm PT
Yuck.
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:09pm PT
Ain't it rotten for the world!

I am at a loss. . . for clear thought. . . for words. . . my heart aches!

:-(
Zander

climber
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:10pm PT
That is rugged Howie,
You and your partner take care of yourselves. An experience like that can affect you more that you think.
All the best,
Zander
howie doin'

climber
Big Pine, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:11pm PT
Thanks Zander. We will heed those kind words.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:18pm PT
What a terrible thing. I hope you guys get things going again,
and that you'll get back up on the rock.

My condolences to the friends and family of the deceased.
Mimi

climber
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:23pm PT
How terrible. Really sorry you had to witness such an incident. Process it well and get back out there.
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:37pm PT
I'm sorry that you had to be the witnesses. I hope that you heal well. It was very good of you to change plans and help with the recovery.
johntp

Trad climber
socal
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:41pm PT
Rough stuff to be a part of.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:41pm PT
PM sent
Captain...or Skully

climber
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:45pm PT
I'm sorry that you had to bear witness to a tragedy. Zander's words sound true to me, as well. As do others.
It does make for heartache. What can one say?
ME Climb

climber
Behind the Orange Curtain
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:47pm PT
PM sent
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:48pm PT
I'm bummed you guys had to experience this. It must be a lot to digest. I hope you find mental peace and have no longstanding issues from the event. May you get back on the stone soon and keep the adventures rolling. Thanks for sharing. See you around.
Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:51pm PT
You are the second person I've heard from the witnessed something similar on Half Dome.
Studly

Trad climber
WA
  Aug 23, 2011 - 09:01pm PT
Don't let it get to you, to all things a season.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
  Aug 23, 2011 - 08:53pm PT
Howie, it is a really good thing for you to have posted this.
Sharing this by writing it has the effect of purging it somewhat, by sharing it with the only people who have some concept of what you experienced. some concept.

But it is not so easily gotten out of your system. This is similar to what our men and women experience in combat. If you have access to any sort of professional counselor, it would be a good idea to access them, sooner rather than later. This sort of thing has a way of spreading tentacles into your subconscious, and doing things that you don't realize.

Also, you posted, your partner did not get that outlet.

Both of you, do what you need to, to not let this cause you long term problems. I'm sure Werner may have other suggestions, as well.

Very sorry to hear you have this experience.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Aug 23, 2011 - 09:00pm PT
Ghastly. As others have suggested above, be aware of issues that might arise from this. I know it would put me right into a bizarre headspace. I was a first aider on a death last year; I came across a fellow hiker on a trail who, as it turned out , had suffered a fatal heart attack. Six of us tried to keep the fellow alive for nearly an hour before help arrived ( we were only 15 min from the trailhead of a very busy semi-urban trail )
It took me a fair bit of talkin' with loved ones and some major letting go of the incident and also I was able to contact the victim's family which also helped....

But that was nowhere near as graphic as what you guys witnessed. Take care of yourselves.
strangeday

Trad climber
Brea ca.
  Aug 23, 2011 - 09:02pm PT
Condolences to you and your partner, and the mans family as well. I can't say I would have handled it as well as you two. Luckily nobody was at the base of the other route, or this could have been even more tragic...
Riley Wyna

Trad climber
A crack near you
  Aug 23, 2011 - 09:09pm PT
Sorry you had to see that......
Read up on PTSD and talk about it lots..
Try not to think or worry to much on it....
Honestly, the only way to deal with this stuff when you see it everyday is dark humor. I highly recommend thinking about it that way in this case..eg crispy critters, etc...
This is a pretty dramatic event but thousands die everyday in even worse ways.


First time Schaffer and I tried to climb Zodiac there was a Helo rescue up on The Nose and then in a separate incident someone dropped a haul bag and Schaffer was sure it was a person. He saw legs and arms and there was the screaming from everyone who had dropped the bag..I ran over there not sure.....but it probably was enough to kill our mojo.

Nothing is enough to kill my mojo on a wall anymore.... as I kinda proved last spring....hehe..


When I took my two brother in laws up the NW ridge of China Man's Peak there was still pieces of the dude who had died on it the week before.





ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
  Aug 23, 2011 - 09:08pm PT

Then around 7pm we had an unwelcome visitor drop in.

A+. Humor is healthy. You're good to go.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Aug 23, 2011 - 09:13pm PT
Sorry to hear about what you experienced. Part of life, perhaps, but not something you want to have happen.

And speaking of dark humour, this is one TR that doesn't need photos.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 23, 2011 - 09:30pm PT
How awful! My sympathy, prayers and best thoughts to you, your partner, and the decedent's family and friends.

John
T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
  Aug 23, 2011 - 09:31pm PT
It started with loud shouting from high above, then turned into numerous, short, high-pitched screams.
would seem to support the suicide theory I guess.
howie doin'

climber
Big Pine, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 23, 2011 - 09:32pm PT
Hopefully Jed will get in on this and purge for himself. We found it lightened the scene when the YOSAR folks were talking so casually about skull fragments and brain matter. And then they thought they saw some "meat in the crack." We have been joking about it all day, but we will see how it goes tonight. We are going cragging tomorrow near Mammoth and I think that will be good. Cheers everyone!
jedster

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
  Aug 23, 2011 - 09:58pm PT
I'm here. And out there talking with friends, joking as necessary. What a crazy world!
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
  Aug 23, 2011 - 10:04pm PT
Heavy.

Clean the slate and do your thing bro.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Aug 24, 2011 - 12:17am PT
hey there say, howie.... :(

i am so very sad you had to see that situation of such a death... i will be praying for this to heal from your thoughts and feelings, :(

my condolences to the family of this person, :(


edit:
and my prayers to you, too, jedster...
did not see you, just a bit ago...
Willoughby

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Aug 24, 2011 - 12:00am PT
Ws - sounds like you shoulda gone to the factory outlet malls in Healdsburg. Yowza.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Aug 24, 2011 - 12:26am PT
what a sad event you became a part of... and much respect to you from me for helping out with the recovery, I'd like to think I'd react the same way if I had been in you shoes...

...humor has got to be the light out of that darkness... I sat around laughing at the Fish describing of a suicide recovery he was on... classic story telling but still to have done it, stout.

T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
  Aug 24, 2011 - 12:42am PT
We found it lightened the scene when the YOSAR folks were talking so casually about skull fragments and brain matter.
See Hawkeye of M.A.S.H for the same type role models maybe. I was wondering if the perp might be related to someone in all the recent deaths in Yosemite. It doesn't seem too far outside the realm of possibilities.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
  Aug 24, 2011 - 12:41am PT
Man, that's a tough one all the way around and something no one would ever anticipate or be prepared for. Hope you find your way with it and get back to a joyful place with your climbing.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Aug 24, 2011 - 04:21am PT
I recall Bev Johnson telling me about a similar event while she was on El Cap. Sorry you had to experience it.
QITNL

climber
  Aug 24, 2011 - 04:45am PT
Los YOSAR muchachos are tough hombres, no?

On your part, an honorable bail.

An awful thing to experience, but I'm glad you shared that with us. Somewhere within you will find a blessing.
PhilG

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
  Aug 24, 2011 - 05:33am PT
My thoughts and feelings echo many of the ones written above.
So sorry when a beautiful, fun time turns so ugly and sad.
I remember years ago when a friend fell 40 feet landing on the talus 20 feet from where I was sitting (rappelling error). It took a long time to feel comfortable on the rocks again.
Here's hoping for a rapid recovery for both of you.
east side underground

climber
Hilton crk,ca
  Aug 24, 2011 - 08:23am PT
Sorry you had see such a horror, my last trip up the slabs there was a dead guy at the base of the slabs, and I almost got chopped by rockfall. Half Dome has my utmost respect
noriko nakagawa

Trad climber
the bubble, co
  Aug 24, 2011 - 08:31am PT
Wow, sorry you had to witness that.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Aug 24, 2011 - 08:37am PT
So sorry to hear about this. The Crazy things climbers see. I am glad you weren't hurt by someone elses actions. Too bad others have to go through this as well if it was by someones free will.
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
  Aug 24, 2011 - 09:00am PT
Howie & Jed, I'm so sorry you had to hear & witness this incident. Keep talking with friends, and please seek professional help- if you need it.......

take care..
Saludos..
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Aug 24, 2011 - 09:01am PT
Mid 90s there was an incident where a guy fell from the top of Tahquitz Rock. He came to rest at the base near the start of the Long Climb. I helped collect him up and carry down his remains.

For the next few days I felt weird. I felt kind of the way you do when you drive by a bad car accident, and keep looking back even though you dont really want to. But I figured I was fine and even went climbing more.

Later in the week I was in a business meeting and had a bizarre and very distracting hallucination.

I went to see a shrink who specialized in PTSD. He made me work through the experience frame by frame. I thought I remembered what happened during those few hours but actually I was repressing a lot, and he made me dig it all out. It was a great relief and after that I was fine. The process took two hours.

Some of us, the YOSAR people come to mind, see and deal with this kind of stuff often enough I suppose they become steeled to it, and learn how to process. In my case it was a new experience and I ended up needing professional counseling to deal.

Good luck to you both. You can learn a lot at times like this.


NotIt

Trad climber
SF, CA
  Aug 24, 2011 - 09:03am PT
(long exhale through pursed lips)

damn.
Prod

Trad climber
  Aug 24, 2011 - 09:15am PT
Wow. Stay tough, that must be a hard one.

Prod.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Aug 24, 2011 - 10:25am PT
I'm trying to put myself in your shoes - NOPE, can't imagine.

When we slept up there at the base a few weeks back we saw and heard a bread-loaf sized rock come down. The noise and impact rattled us both a little bit, and all night I slept in fits, curling into the trunk of the pine and worried about stuff falling down on me.

I'm trying to imagine the long bivy you two must have gone through. What a triply f*#ked experience to go through. Keep your loved ones close.

Pity the bullet and pity the man
Who both find their place in the same sad plan
Who both are like the barrel going over the falls
Crying all the way down I never asked to be involved


fgw

climber
portland, or
  Aug 24, 2011 - 12:54pm PT
Reading your tr brought back the nasty. 2 years ago had a similar thing happen to my wife & I. 3 pitches up prodigal sun when I saw a person going over the rim directly above, fly by us close engouh for me to grab a $20 bill that floated after her and impact at base. Front seats to a show we did not want to be attending. Like getting buzzed by a jet is right on. In retrospect, I was pretty f...ed up. Couldnt get the sights & sounds out of my head. Standard sh#t I guess trouble falling asleep (couple wks), probably depressed a bit thinking about all that mortality stuff (couple months). Irrational fear at base of cliffs for a few months (looking up). Nothing acute, but pretty persistent. Time goes by. Things get dulled. 2 yrs on, pretty much a 100%. Everybodys different I guess. A speedy recovery to you & your partner.
Rokjox

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
  Aug 24, 2011 - 01:00pm PT
Hummmph.


Nobody should have to see that.

sorry guys.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
  Aug 24, 2011 - 01:17pm PT
Gnarly. Thanks for posting, even though no one wants to write or read something like this I think we can heal and learn from it.
Kironn Kid

Trad climber
  Aug 24, 2011 - 01:18pm PT
Sorry that you had to witness that. I saw my best friend die in a similar manner. It may affect you for some time to come.
News Wraith

Sport climber
Madison, WI
  Aug 24, 2011 - 01:21pm PT
Sad news good report, concise well written and to the point
HeldUp

climber
  Aug 24, 2011 - 02:28pm PT
All things considered, you did an excellent job of documenting your experience up on the rock. I wrote something similar a few years after viewing a motorcyclist go down on a narrow mountain road into a brick wall right in front of me. I stayed with him until paramedics arrived. I'm pretty sure he survived. I tried to follow up but privacy laws prevent hospitals from disclosing private information to non-family members.

Kudos to the YOSAR team. I lived with some of them the summer of '86 as I worked as a backcountry ranger in the park. The things they and the fire crews had to deal with were very similar to this. From plane crashes to falling through a crevasse to horrific car wrecks and fatal domestic disputes, the Park is just a microcosm of what happens every day in the real world. As we used to joke, Yosemite is where EVERYONE goes to get away from it all.
Silver

Gym climber
  Aug 24, 2011 - 03:16pm PT
Unreal just unreal I can't even imagine how you made it through the night there.

Wishing you both the best.

Hope the eastside brought some relief to you today.
Bad Climber

climber
  Aug 24, 2011 - 03:25pm PT
Damn. That's rough. Be easy on yourself for a while. I can't imagine what you must be feeling. At first I thought this was going to be a TR about a squirrel taking a screamer, which I've seen on the Apron. Wow.

Take care.

BAd
anilk

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
  Aug 24, 2011 - 03:48pm PT
Definitely a sad incident; must have been hard to witness that tragedy. Hope you guys recover and that you come back another day to enjoy route in more peace.
Kurt Ettinger

Trad climber
Martinez, CA
  Aug 24, 2011 - 04:05pm PT
Condolences to friends and family of the fallen.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 24, 2011 - 04:30pm PT
So sorry you had to witness that!,
Humor is the answer.

My condolences to the victim's family and friends.

I had a good friend named Mike I climbed with at Indian Creek for a week. He was a Canadian who climbed in the Banff area for a summer and picked up TWO dead soloist climbers (both apparently accidents). He said it messed him up for 6-12 months. He also said all soloists should have a friend around to recover their body in the event they died, in his opinion, because it was selfish to put a stranger through that experience.

Best wishes!
Stefan Jacobsen

Social climber
Danmark
  Aug 24, 2011 - 05:21pm PT
Thanks for sharing this sad experience. It must have been terrible being that close. I hope you will get by and get climbing soon again. Long talks and dark humor helps.

Good that you had the nerve to help the YOSAR team. Kudos to them as well. I hope Ill never need them.

I was planning to climb Regular NW Face of Half Dome during October. It will be climbed in a different mindset now.

Take care all!
PAUL SOUZA

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
  Aug 24, 2011 - 10:00pm PT
Sad.

There were shouts followed by screams when 3 hikers went over Vernal Falls. That wasn't a suicide. Doesn't mean this one is.

Maybe the person got too close to the edge....people shouting to back away.....lost balance.....and gone.
Fluoride

Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA/Joshua Tree
  Aug 25, 2011 - 02:19am PT
So sad all around.

Not meaning to be the grim reaper, but did he sound like he didn't want to die? I've heard stories from people who have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and the survivors all said to a person that the second they jumped they regretted it. Those who were lucky survived.

My thing with Half Dome suicides is that you have to do a big hike to get there, and when you do it's the most gorgeous view that would make anyone think twice about exiting this world. Looking out over the Valley, after all that hike in...just doesn't add up.

Glacier Point has a lot of suicides, but you can drive right up to it and spend 5 minutes hiking to the edge.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
  Aug 25, 2011 - 05:28am PT
Howie, so sorry that you guys had to witness such a grim event.

Cheers for better days on the crags.......
Rudeman

Social climber
Diamond Bar, CA
  Aug 26, 2011 - 12:46pm PT
When I got to the top of Half Dome on my 40th B-day, I recalled all of my family and friends that I had lost in life. I said hello to all of them and smiled. With that said, a friend of mine took his own life two weeks after his 21st b-day. Add to that, he asked me to be his best man three weeks before his death. This was back in 1988. After years of trying to figure it out, I came to the conclusion that I was a victim of a selfish act. I can understand that some people feel that life is so bad that they have to end it. However, it's still a selfish act for all the rest of us who are family, friends... and, perhaps, hiking at "the wrong place at the wrong time."

I hope that I'm not sounding like a cold man, and that I do not empathize with the victim or their family. I do. But the bottom line is two human beings may very well be affected by this for the rest of their lives. I hope not. I still love and miss my friend, but for some time, I was equally disappointed, hurt, angry, and all the other psychology that goes along with it. Now, I just feel like, "live and let die" ...No worries...Life is a blessing and I'm going to live it!

Be well you two. It wasn't your fault, there was nothing you could do. Just an unfortunate event in this thing that we call life.

Blessings to you!

Climb on.

Rudy
rockgobbler

Big Wall climber
London, UK
  Aug 28, 2011 - 06:13am PT
Well done writing from the heart, that's never easy. I hope you guys can get it together and go back for NW Face someday, this was something terrible to happen but nothing to do with the route. Don't hang your bad memory too much on that piece of rock, go back, climb it and get it out of your system. And enjoy the route too!

I had an experience a while back where one of my very best friends fell from a route and nearly died. We were climbing alone so I was faced with him unconcious, not breathing and with blood coming out of his ear. Fortunately he survived and made a full recovery (long story), but the memory of that image stuck very clearly in my head.

Going back there with him and having a fun day's cragging was great, I did not want to attach that event to the crag and hold it in my mind as some kind of bad place.

Good luck and happy climbing to both of you!
Wade Icey

Trad climber
www.alohashirtrescue.com
  Aug 28, 2011 - 09:12am PT
condolences to all involved
Misha

Trad climber
Woodside, CA
  Aug 31, 2011 - 09:38am PT
What a horrible way to go (can be worse, I know...)
It was rough to read but thanks for documenting it. I will be climbing extra carefully in Yosemite this weekend
Charles Perry

Big Wall climber
Fort Collins CO
  Aug 31, 2011 - 10:02am PT
This route can be dangerious at times for tourist like to throw things off the diving board. From rocks to frisbees. Climbed this route twice and never seen anything coming down. However the upper half you are pretty much under the diving board and a dime sized rock could ruin your day. Would be pretty gross to reach for a hold and latch on to some body part.
Welsh Snowflake

Trad climber
Llanberis, UK
  Aug 31, 2011 - 10:09am PT
be gentle with yourselves over what you have seen and experienced. Go and climb in some happy places and seek some counselling. Thats my thoughts from having seen and been part of some similar things a few years ago. 'to react, is normal'. All the best x
Charles Perry

Big Wall climber
Fort Collins CO
  Aug 31, 2011 - 10:10am PT
You play in the arena of rock, ice and moutaineering and over time you will experience the dead in one way or another. Count: 3 rescues, five dead,multiple injured and multi near death experiences. Still the best sport in the world bar none.
chiindi

Big Wall climber
Lakeview, OR
  Aug 31, 2011 - 11:27am PT
I found a body at the base of the nose about 35 years ago. kinda ruined the climbing enthusiasm we had that day. I had a friend, Mary Grantham, that cratered in skydiving in the mid 60's. She had a pigtailed ripcord that hung in the housing and came in flat on her back at terminal and musta bounced 25 feet and the reserve deployed on impact and we ran around trying to stop the body from being drug around the DZ in the wind. It was like a rag doll in a jump suit. Her 2 little 3 & 5 year kids saw this happen. Then in 1969 a guy jumped from a hotel window in Berkeley, CA and clipped me on the shoulder and creamed on the sidewalk right at my feet. A drug deal gone bad according to the cops! I kicked him in the head to make sure the a-hole was completely dead. The little prick almost took me out, screw him! If he hadn't been dead I would have stomped on the back of his neck and finished it.
docsavage

Trad climber
Albuquerque, NM
  Aug 31, 2011 - 06:42pm PT
I should imagine your mojo for the climb was not all that was lost (maybe your lunch, too?). Egad! What a lovely place for such a drastic event....
Zappa

Big Wall climber
  Sep 1, 2011 - 08:16pm PT
Hideous!

Pardon the advice. Here it goes.

Yep, bodies explode when they hit from a long way up. I've seen it right in front of me. Man, what a BOOM! And you don't stop seeing it for a long time.

That is how the mind works. Your power over it is minimal, except for one thing. Either the story owns you or you own the story.

Telling the tale is good. Outside of the climbing community most won't hear about gore. Inside is much better. It kind of sets us apart for better or worse. Find the ones who will listen and master the story. Thanks for stepping out and telling the tale. Forgive the ones who won't listen to you.

Be good to yourself. Don't be shy about seeing a PTSD expert if feeling badly. Hell, see one anyway just to make sure.

You will be floored at how the sight of it can come rushing back one day in an innocent moment just like you were the there with all the horror blasting through your soul. It can make sit down before you fall down in the middle of good fun. Don't wait. Don't go solo on that experience.

And yes, bagging up a suicide victim who has gone the distance is so nasty. Done that too. My condelences on the experience and kudos to you for stepping forward and helping.
Crater727

Mountain climber
Ashland
  Sep 8, 2011 - 10:57pm PT
Good choice to bail after seeing that. A friend & I were about half way up the route in 85 when we watched as the party below us dropped their haul bag. It bounced off the wall and exploded on the rocks at the base. We were too stunned watching it to even eek out a warning to another group still at the base. I can't even imagine what it would be like to see a body do that, but seeing the contents of the bag turn to confetti was nearly enough to turn us around.
couchmaster

climber
pdx
  Sep 9, 2011 - 11:02am PT
Wow!

Got no good advice, wishing you all the best.
finbrain

Mountain climber
Philadelphia, PA
  Oct 18, 2011 - 12:00pm PT
As a side note, I took a peeler ground fall from 160 feet up thin air on Cathedral in North Conway in May of 1972. With a bit of a gash on the forehead, a broken right floating rib and a right ankle and foot broken in seven places(found that out a year later after ice climbing the Frankenstein Cliffs. Good thing I had Limmer Boots that fit like a glove that acted like a cast). Mtn rescue was there soon thereafter and spirited me to Conway Medical Center where x-rays indicated a 'bad sprain.' Who knew??
A good friend, Paul Ross visited me in the hospital and returned my coiled rope and wished me well indicating that I was fortunate to have survived a 160' ground fall. I was there for one night and left the next day in my Landrover.

I left a month later for hitch hiking and climbing in Europe with a Kelty packed with clothes, tent, sleeping bag, ropes, crampons and ice axe. All with these hair line fractures in my right ankle and foot. I wore a tight ace as well and consciously took my steps carefully. The doctor told me later that the weight of my large pack, the snug fitting Limmer Boots, kept the bones in place and he only needed to remove 11 small bone splinters from between joints in my foot and ankle.

In Zermatt stayed with August Julen in Findeln(just above Zermatt) for some time and assisted in a Matterhorn rescue of a couple whose husband died from a fall half way up the Hornli Ridge. The temperatures had dropped in the month of August and we received a bit of snow on the mtns. A lot of spindrift and not good for extreme climbing. Such was the case for this couple. Bringing them off with an assortment of volunteer climbers camping in the meadow by the train station proved efficient. The hike from there to the base of the Matterhorn takes usually 7 hours. We did it in three. All went well after that.

While in Zermatt I assisted a woman who owned a bunch of chalets translate a letter from the American parents of a son they lost in the Alps near the Ober Gabelhorn. He had approached its flanks with a day pack and sneakers. He was buried in the Zermatt Cemetery and his parents were sending a plaque to place by his grave to warn young hikers of the necessity of knowing before one goes and having the necessary knowledge and experience before venturing into the mountains.
Vic Klotz

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  Oct 22, 2011 - 05:42pm PT
A really tough experience to go through. It appears you're are not alone in the climbing community, where so many others have stories like this.

Suicides are something horrible to witness; if people weren't affected, I'd question their humanity. We all wonder, "Why?" Why do people do this? And then we feel bad for the families who've lost a loved one.

But what this thread shows is how many people have been affected by being the witness. Did the person who took their own life think about them?

A good friend of mine shouldered this pain internally for over ten years. Then one day, during a seminar he was attending about something completely unrelated to witnessing a death, the speaker told the audience they weren't responsible for situations others forced them into. They did not cause it. They did not plan it. You don't have to carry the pain for something you had absolutely no control over.

I hope you can move on, because it wasn't your choice the guy killed himself, it was his.
Tortoise

Social climber
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
  Oct 22, 2011 - 08:23pm PT
You know, death is an interesting place. We flirt with it. We try to stare it in the face. Sometimes we succeed. But in the end... its a place we shall all know. It doesn't discriminate, it doesn't seem to have a care in the world... In a lot of cultures, the taking of one's own life can be an honorable act. It allows some to die with dignity. It also forces others to bare witness to it. It sounds as though you guys have done well with this death. Time will tell. The reality is that we all do death differently. You can tell by the myriad of responses here how important the topic can be. And one other thing I can almost say with certainty is that as a climbing culture, each and everyone one of us has a certain respect for that place at the end, that we call death. Were in no hurry to get there, yet we are flirting with it constantly. Yet as climbers, our love of nature, life, the rocks and all that goes with it allows us to be a bit fatalistic. I just speak for myself... Death is just a place that I'll get to see someday. I'm not supposed to know when, less it impede my lust for life. I think as climbers we're probably a little better suited than the average bear with our ways of dealing with it. Good luck all and enjoy each day as you can... Life may suck sometimes, but it sure beats the alternative at the moment. Like someone once said, "I'll deal with it when I deal with it".
JOEY.F

Gym climber
It's not rocket surgery
  Oct 22, 2011 - 09:58pm PT
Peace to you, cannot fathom that experience.
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Half Dome - Regular Northwest Face 5.12 or 5.9 C1 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The Regular Northwest Face.
Photo: Mark Kroese
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Half Dome - Snake Dike 5.7 R - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Snake Dike, 5.7 R
Half Dome
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Snake Dike follows an amazing feature to one of the most incredible summits in Yosemite.
Half Dome - Tis-sa-ack A3 5.9 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
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Half Dome - Zenith A4 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Zenith, A4 5.8
Half Dome
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The first part of the route is hidden.
Half Dome - Blondike 5.11b R - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Blondike, 5.11b R
Half Dome
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Blondike is the red line and Two Hoofers is the Blue Line.
Half Dome - Two Hoofers 5.12 or 5.10b A0 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Two Hoofers, 5.12 or 5.10b A0
Half Dome
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Two Hoofers follows the blue line.
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