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Author Topic: Climber lowered off end of rope  (Read 4486 times)

JBrochu

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #30 on: March 16, 2011, 11:35:28 AM »

I know we all need some humor now and then, but I have to say that the some of the comments concerning a near fatal accident seem a bit over-the-top.  If you want to see the comments from a couple of other climbing forums on this incident:

http://gunks.com/ubbthreads7/ubbthreads.php/topics/56206/7

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1379530/Help-a-Climber-Round-2

I see plenty of instances of folks lowering partners without tying in or tying a knot in the end of the rope (Including myself). I'm sure if I asked, the answer would be that it's not needed because the climb is well under half a rope.

We all do the right thing nearly all of the time, or we would all be crippled or dead. We should admit though that it is just possible this could happen to any of us some day and take a lesson from someone brave enough to write about their incredibly difficult experience.


Let's not kid ourselves - if the victim and his partner were not so prominent in the climbing community and also on the message boards that you posted links to, it's likely the comments would be far more critical.

While I respect those folks for choosing to remain tactful regarding what I consider to be questionable conclusions regarding fault (seriously, the first ascent team is to blame?) I also respect Strandman for not sugar-coating his feelings about it.

I think we can question those conclusions that were drawn in the write up, and yet still hope that both of them recover fully from this physically and mentally.
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Mike G

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #31 on: March 16, 2011, 04:20:38 PM »

All jokes aside I hope the best for them that they find themselvs well in the future. However, I do feel that the only way either of these people can move on is to take complete responsability. Pointing fingers at the rout setter and taking back seat to the "Alpha" climber when there is the slightest chance they could be wrong will never resolve the conflict of the mind. As soon as you tie in it is all you and your partner. How can you search the soul when you are looking outside for the blame?
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Admin Al

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #32 on: March 16, 2011, 06:35:07 PM »

How can you search the soul when you are looking outside for the blame?

and

Quote
Let's not kid ourselves - if the victim and his partner were not so prominent in the climbing community and also on the message boards that you posted links to, it's likely the comments would be far more critical.

+5
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strandman

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #33 on: March 16, 2011, 06:58:07 PM »

I  am done with this one.

Spring is coming, lets argue about bolts   ;D
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rgold

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #34 on: March 19, 2011, 12:12:37 AM »

When Myriam wrote her piece, she knew what might happen.  The internet can be a repository for all the base human behaviors that face-to-face contact usually suppresses.  Isolated behind their keyboards, some people indulge in casual cruelties that would not see the light of day in real human interaction, and others stand by and watch, like kids at a playground fight.

She knew all this, but wrote it anyway.  For one thing, she knew that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, that anyone could say that she had not already said herself.  And secondly, in a search for some spark of good to come from her experience, she felt that illuminating the dimension of human pain and suffering, the physical, financial, and emotional tolls of a moment of complacency, might drive home in a personal way the lesson of vigilance, and so help someone else avoid a similar tragedy.

The idea that there is any attempt to shift responsibility somewhere else is just a misreading of the account.  Which does not, on the other hand, change the fact that there have been a number of similar accidents related to anchors set too high for 6om lowering, the most recent one in Eldorado Canyon I think.

An attempt to help others avoid similar accidents, one that exposes the writer to all kinds of attacks, criticism, and second-guessing, could be appreciated as a courageous and public-spirited gesture.  And it has been; just not here.

As it has turned out, the comments that surfaced here are an anomaly.  The overwhelming majority of climbers reacted with empathy to the terrible trial Rich and Myriam went through.  They understood the sobering fact that a moment of negligence can happen, has happened, and will continue to happen to even the most careful and experienced climbers.  They knew there are no excuses, but they also understood, in many cases through their own long personal experience, that imperfection is an unavoidable component of the human condition.  Then they came through with an astonishing level of emotional and financial support.

Years ago, I was on a rescue on the Grand Teton.  A climber who was not wearing a helmet stood directly under the standard rappel to the Upper Saddle and took a direct hit to the head from a grapefruit-sized rock that fell 120 feet.  He had a depressed skull fracture and considerable loss of blood.  By the time the team got up there, it was late afternoon, and we spent the entire night carrying him down the steep scree and cliff bands that separate the Upper and Lower Saddles.  It was dark, loose rock was everywhere, and there  continual shouts of "rock!" from the gloom above.  Every time that warning call was heard, the six carriers on the belayed stretcher flung their bodies over the injured climber, protecting him from whatever missiles were headed his way.

I have often thought about these actions. Really, there was no rational reason for them.  The people doing the protecting were healthy; the patient was severely injured and his survival was certainly in question.  And yet, the stretcher-bearers, in defiance of logic, and in spite of the fact that this guy had made a nearly fatal pair of stupid mistakes, protected him with their bodies.  Here, I have always thought, was an incredible outpouring of human decency, an instinct to protect a total stranger even to the extent of risking injury oneself.

I was a very young climber at the time, but I thought that this was my tribe, these were people with whom one could journey through the most extreme situations, and know that when danger struck you would have whatever they could manage for support.

I'm an old man now, with 53 years of climbing experience (and counting), and I've seen a lot.  By and large, the response of the climbing community to Rich and Myriam's accident has confirmed, all these years later the tribe I glimpsed so many years ago is alive and well.

Climb hard, climb well, be careful, and come back safe everyone.
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Jeff

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #35 on: March 19, 2011, 07:22:21 AM »

Rich: as usual, a reasoned, mature and caring response. Thanks. I, for one, wish Myriam and Rich all health and happiness as they deal with the aftermath of their accident and thank Myriam for her candor. Jeff
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old_school

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2011, 08:17:29 AM »

Climb hard, climb well, be careful, and come back safe everyone.

Eloquent and to the point. Thanks for posting.
grammy
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JBrochu

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2011, 01:29:26 PM »

The idea that there is any attempt to shift responsibility somewhere else is just a misreading of the account.

Really?


Quote
As if dealing with guilt, shame, and grief were not enough, then came the anger. I was angry that someone, somewhere put a route up not thinking that someone, somewhere, may not be using a 70 meter rope. Did the last three meters really make a difference in the route? No. Then why not place the bolts so a standard 60 meter rope reaches the ground? It was plain stupidity and misplaced ego and pride from the route setters, from my standpoint.

City of Rocks is becoming notorious for having bolted anchors that are more than thirty meters from the ground. Jim Bridwell rapped off the end of his ropes there a few years ago, and unfortunately, there have been many other accidents of this type that ended up having more serious consequences. Another couple had the same unfortunate experience just a few weeks before us, except that her husband fell 50í and didnít live. How many people will have to die before safe bolt anchor practices become standard?


I'm not sure how to take any other meaning from that quoted bit. The people that placed those anchors have absolutely zero culpability in this accident and to suggest they might be stupid and egotistical is frankly ridiculous imo.

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DWT

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #38 on: March 19, 2011, 01:32:55 PM »

Very true.  I was amazed that so many people on T4T dropped the "You fucked up card"  about the recent avalanche in Gulf of Slides.  I wonder how many of those folks would say the same face to face with the victim.  I can't say I've never been guilty of shelling someone online though.
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Mike G

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2011, 02:16:23 PM »

She dropped him. Not the fault of the rout setter. I'm not so sure I see Myriams post as a humanitarian effort. To make the accusation that we can not read and hide behind a keyboard is ludicrous. SHE dropped him. I expect my tribe to tie a knot in the rope and skip the afterfact hero stuff. Climb hard,climb well, be careful, be smart and you will come back safe.
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strandman

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #40 on: March 19, 2011, 02:25:09 PM »

I said i was done with this but I feel myself getting sucked back in........................................
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cjdrover

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #41 on: March 20, 2011, 02:31:55 AM »

Here, I have always thought, was an incredible outpouring of human decency, an instinct to protect a total stranger even to the extent of risking injury oneself.

I'll just point out that the fact that the rescuers sought to protect him at their own peril does not preclude them from acknowledging his responsibility for the accident.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2011, 02:33:28 AM by cjdrover »
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DLottmann

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #42 on: March 20, 2011, 07:03:01 PM »

rgold, well thought out post. And my sincerest and deepest sympathies for those still emotionally dealing with the accident. The only part of your post that I raise an eyebrow to is:

"Which does not, on the other hand, change the fact that there have been a number of similar accidents related to anchors set too high for 6om lowering, the most recent one in Eldorado Canyon I think."

This, along with the previously quoted lines from Myriam, indicate a defense mechanism that is passing the blame, to some degree, to someone who deserves none, the route setter.

We do not need regulations on where anchors should be placed (though I would prefer not next to good cracks). We do need to close the belay system each and every time to avoid this pointless tragedy, which is what another post by Myriam the day after the accident was focused on:

http://gunks.com/ubbthreads7/ubbthreads.php/topics/54460/ALWAYS_tie_a_knot_at_the_end_o#Post54460

Sincerely,
David Lottmann
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OldEric

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #43 on: March 20, 2011, 10:26:51 PM »

It was an accident.  Pure and simple.  Happens to everyone - usually without the dire consequences that occurred here.  It's easy in retrospect to say how it could have been avoided.  Again typical of most accidents.  I think most climbers who climb for a long time have usually done something similar - but usually get away with it.  - See the end of the rope in the knick of time and so on.  It is  unfortunate hat there does appear to be an attempt to shift the blame - climbers historically have always clammered to be unregulated - proud to be self sufficient.  And I also think there is some truth in the sentiment that lesser luminaries would have been throughly roasted and not treated with kid gloves.  If the exact same incident had happened to "gym climbers" can you imagine the uproar?
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rgold

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Re: Climber lowered off end of rope
« Reply #44 on: March 21, 2011, 02:21:34 AM »

Rather like Strandman, I swore I was going to post just once on this topic. But really, what I have to say is mostly off the main topic.

I think the anger Myriam expressed in her piece is natural and understandable, and I do not think that admitting to those feelings amounts to shifting responsibility, which they both know very well lies with themselves. That's the truth as I see it, and there is nothing more for me to say about it.

I do not agree that setting anchors for 70m raps is stupid and egotistical, but (and here I am worried about starting a new flame war) I do think it is kind of thoughtless.  When most of the world is still climbing on 60m ropes, setting anchors that require 70m ropes is creating a potentially dangerous situation for no good reason.  Yes, climbers are supposed to be prepared for such things, and yes, not being prepared is no excuse, but still, why should one do anything that increases the likelihood of an accident for others when there is a choice? 

One reason might be that the entire area is, by common agreement, set up for 70m ropes, but that is not the case in City of Rocks.  Another reason might be that stopping fifteen feet sooner is a really bad idea; I don't know whether or not that is true on this particular route, but I don't think so.  I really hope that there is some clear reason.

In a negligence case, the jury often has to apportion the blame to the various parties as part of deciding the award.  If I was called on to make the judgment in this case, and if some overriding reason for the 70m anchor placement was not advanced. then I'd say responsibility for the accident is 90% the party's and 10% the route setters.  They get 10% for creating a situation a rational person would have realized could be dangerous to others.

If we have a giant flame war over this and just one route setter thinks twice about putting in extra-high anchors, then I think it will be worth it.

Sport climbs are totally different from trad climbs in that the climbers have to totally trust the judgments and skills of the equipping party.   In my opinion, this imposes a very high moral responsibility, one that I know is not always met, on those who decide where the bolts go.  If you are going to put 70m anchors in a place that has many at the standard height, I think you ought to be able to offer some ironclad reasons for that choice.  If you're just not thinking about it and happen to be using a 70m rope at the time, that's not good enough in my book. Do not misconstrue this as an attack on any particular individuals---I have already made clear my ignorance about the nature and requirements of the particular route Rich was on.

Since the question of regulation has been raised. I think that it is a ghastly idea.  The last thing in the world climbers want is to get a bunch of bureaucrats thinking they have to regulate safety practices.  Absolutely no good, and a whole world of harm to climbing, will come from that.  On the other hand, one has to worry about the reverse issue, which is that, in the face of a bunch of accidents, the bureaucrats will independently take restrictive actions (banning all climbing comes to mind).  If one is immune to arguments about common decency, perhaps the specter of imposed climbing bans would make one more likely to think hard about extra-high anchors.

Given the proliferation of anchors that are too high for today's standard ropes, I think it might be time for climbers to take some action.  It seems to me to be an act of common decency to mark such anchors as a warning to those who might not be appropriately equipped, and it would be nice if the climbing world could decide on something simple but universally recognized.  Surely if sport climbers can hang a red tag on their projects as some sort of "keep off" sign, and trad climbers can mark a dangerous loose block with a chalked "X,"  the rest of the world could agree on something simple for extra-high anchors.  A little loop of red cord perhaps?  Maybe a plastic cable tie?  A red tag with a decent purpose?  Who has a practical idea?

Anyone who is hauling a Hilti and a bunch of bolts and hangers up a route can certainly also bring some tiny token of some sort that indicates 70m ropes are required.  Shouldn't this be as much of an expectation as the one that assumes the bolter is competent and the bolts will actually hold falls? How much longer does the list of accidents, every one of them  the "fault" of the victims, have to get?
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