Author Topic: climbing death in Bolton, Vermont  (Read 490 times)

Offline Nick Grant

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climbing death in Bolton, Vermont
« on: September 19, 2017, 09:52:30 PM »
Many of you must have seen the reports of the death on Saturday (9/16) of 20-year-old Rebecca Ryan, a UVM student who was climbing in Bolton, VT.  It sounds as if she must have been rapping off when the accident happened.  The details are thin at this point.

Offline NEAlpineStart

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Re: climbing death in Bolton, Vermont
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2017, 05:42:34 PM »
From
Neil Van Dyke
Search & Rescue Coordinator
Vermont Dept. of Public Safety

via Mountain Project topic

Following is a summary of the incident.

Three climbers (#1, #2, #3) were finishing up their day top roping on Harvest Moon. Climber #1 was making the final ascent of the day. Both #2 and #3 believed that the plan was for #1 to ascend, clean the anchor, and rappel down. The actual wording of this conversation is not entirely clear. #2 remembers #1 saying she would “probably” rappel, but “might” be lowered. #3 only remembers the use of the term “rappel”.

Climber #1 finished the climb, called “off belay” and #2 removed  the belay and took their harness off believing that #1 would clean the anchor then rappel down.  About 5 minutes later #1 called “are you ready to lower?”. Both #2 and #3 shouted “no” back, and #2 rushed to put their harness back on. Less than a minute later Climber #1 was observed in an uncontrolled fall down the face which she did not survive. She was tied into her harness and the rope was threaded through the bolts at the top anchor, with the free end ending up just a few inches above the ground.

Further investigation discovered that climber #1 did not have a rappel device on her harness. It was later found to have been in a pile of gear at the base of the climb.

The most likely scenario is the climber #1 had intended to rappel after cleaning the anchor, but discovered that she had left her ATC behind.  The communication of this change to a different plan was not clear.  While it seems most likely that #1 did not clearly hear the “no” and “no- wait” shouts from #2 and #3 and leaned back expecting to be lowered, it cannot be ruled out that she slipped or tripped while waiting for the lower or perhaps tried to move closer to the edge to improve communication. There is simply no way to know for certain whether #1 was expecting to be lowered at the time of the accident, or unintentionally tripped or fell while waiting to be lowered.

Offline eyebolter

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Re: climbing death in Bolton, Vermont
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2017, 06:13:52 PM »
Not sure that it is relevant in this case, but I see TONS of people say "off belay" who are intending to lower after threading.  If you are planning on lowering, say "SLACK" if you are clipped in hard to the anchors, and have your belayer keep you on belay loosely while you thread.    If you clip an eight into your belay loop you are even backed up if anything goes wrong with the anchor.  Ward
« Last Edit: September 22, 2017, 06:15:52 PM by eyebolter »

Offline Admin Al

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Re: climbing death in Bolton, Vermont
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2017, 05:45:21 PM »
if you are expecting to be lowered, regardless of what has been said, lee your hand on the belayer end of the rope until you clearly feel the belayer take tension. doing anything else is asking for trouble. read my Report this week.
Al Hospers
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Offline NEAlpineStart

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Re: climbing death in Bolton, Vermont
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2017, 09:57:05 AM »
if you are expecting to be lowered, regardless of what has been said, lee your hand on the belayer end of the rope until you clearly feel the belayer take tension. doing anything else is asking for trouble. read my Report this week.

Good report Al... one suggestion... in this line:

"Holding onto the rope while you confirm that you're actually ON rappel, tying a knot in the belayers end of the rope..."

I think you meant to say "that you're actually on belay" not "rappel"... could cause a little confusion.

I shared some thoughts on this accident and some great videos the AAC has made. If interested check it out here:

https://northeastalpinestart.com/2017/09/18/improved-belay-check/