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.