Ground Fall @ Drive-By

Access, Rehab Projects, Derbyfests and more...
Post Reply
captain static
Hippifried
Posts: 2438
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2002 2:05 pm
Location: On Yonder Mountain
Contact:

Post by captain static » Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:28 pm

That both the climber and the belayer have come on here and given the first hand account details is truly appreciated. There is much undue speculation and innuendo posted on climbing bbs's about accidents. I concluded that this was purely an accident after reading CLee's account.

This may seem morbid but I play a game when I traverse at the Eden Park Wall called "Climb Until I Fall to my Death". My goal is to climb to muscular failure but sometimes I pop off when my foot or hand slips. When the later happens I will say to myself, "Whoops, I just fell to my death".

The lessons I get from this incident are: 1) people should more seriously consider wearing a helmet when sport climbing; 2) be a vigilant belayer, feet/hands can slip, holds can break; and 3) one I haven't yet heard in this thread - clip at waist height not above the head if possible, especially for the first two clips. Another lesson that has not been mentioned but that I will point out is that not all sport climbs are bolted ideally for safety. This is especially true for older climbs. Many of the older climbs in RRG were bolted with the thinking that the climber would be solid at that grade. This includes the thought that where the grade eases back the spacing forces a runout, especially the higher off the deck you go. Climb Smart out there people.
"Be responsible for your actions and sensitive to the concerns of other visitors and land managers. ... Your reward is the opportunity to climb in one of the most beautiful areas in this part of the country." John H. Bronaugh

User avatar
bcombs
Generic Jerry
Posts: 2048
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 12:20 pm
Location: Cincy

Post by bcombs » Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:34 pm

Is that why I saw you laying in the field at Eden Park yelling "Oooo... Its the Big One... You hear that Elizabeth... I'm comin' to you, I'm comin' home to Georgia " :lol:

Izzy
Mad Skillz
Posts: 147
Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:24 pm
Location: Richmond, KY

Post by Izzy » Sat Jun 05, 2010 1:11 am

captain static wrote: Another lesson that has not been mentioned but that I will point out is that not all sport climbs are bolted ideally for safety. This is especially true for older climbs. Many of the older climbs in RRG were bolted with the thinking that the climber would be solid at that grade.
Absolutely. After climbing a lot in the PMRP and Muir Valley, I got on an older line at Eastern Sky Bridge ridge and scared the crap out of myself (and my belayer). There are so many variables, assessment from ground level and overall experience become paramount regardless of the grade.
" Gimme the bat Wendy... just, gimme the bat."

http://izzyill.carbonmade.com

bob
Shaman
Posts: 108
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 9:28 pm

Post by bob » Sat Jun 05, 2010 1:31 am

How many hundreds (if not thousands) of safe ascents has this route seen? Climbing is not antiseptic, it's a bit dangerous. Accidents happen. Wake up and handle the responsibility. If you want to make breakfast burrito safer, maybe you shouldn't be climbing.

FYI This is Chuck posting from Torrent under Bob's account.

weber
Star Trek Kid
Posts: 1017
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2003 1:44 pm
Location: Indy & Wolfe Co., KY
Contact:

Post by weber » Sat Jun 05, 2010 7:11 am

bob wrote:If you want to make breakfast burrito safer, maybe you shouldn't be climbing.

FYI This is Chuck posting from Torrent under Bob's account.
?!

So I guess I shouldn't be climbing. Aside from possibly getting the FAer's panties in a bunch, it is a trivial matter to move the first two bolts on routes where they are positioned to guarantee a decking when the leader blows clipping the second bolt. Routes similar to BB in Muir have been corrected and there are a few more that will be done soon. And no, I am not advocating pirate rebolting of 1 and 2 on RRG routes. But to developers of moderate routes: Come on guys, consider putting the first bolt at about 16 feet up and the second at no more than 5.5 feet above the first. Whether or not the leader chooses to stickclip is his choice. But when you mis-position #1 and #2 and he cannot reach #2 with his stickclip, you as the developer have just set up your route with a written guarantee to the leader that he/she will deck if they screw clipping #2.

Funny...we advocate all kinds of safety in this sport, except when it comes to the sacred cow of suggesting to the developer how he might add a bit of safety to his route without changing an iota of its quality as a climb.

Free country - do what ever you want, but just don't do it at Muir.

Rick
We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. - Randy Pausch
None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm. - Henry David Thoreau

kneebar
Closet Renaissance Hardman
Posts: 725
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2003 5:49 pm
Location: Trying not to fly in CO

Post by kneebar » Sat Jun 05, 2010 8:35 am

I am having a tough time with this one. It is nice to have an area like Muir were the owner has all say on the safety aspects of routes, trails, roads, dogs, hours of climbing, parking, etc. Rick and Liz have created a climbing area suited for many people coming to the area for the first time, and I don't just mean the inexperienced. I have recommended muir to quite a few. I wouldn't be surprised if one day helmets are not required there and in the direction of safety measures implemented in muir perhaps it should. It is a proven safety measure after all. Rick and Liz have done there homework to make Muir as safe as posible and backed it up with tons of cash and effort. You have a nice safe place to park your car, bathrooms to poo in............sweet! Thanks Rick!

On the other side I think it is important to have climbs like BB at the red. At least on BB you can see what you are getting into before you leave the ground. You know you are soloing when approaching the second bolt or at least you should. It is part of the thrill for some of us.

In some areas I have been to, Black Hills in the Dakotas for example you are fucked if you fall on some of the routes, it is just the way it is. But it does light a fire inside when you top out. Leading can be dangerous and is, hell I've seen belayers screw up a toprope. Climbing is never going to be 100% safe, this isn't Disneyland we are trying to create here. Sometimes you just have to walk away or put the big girl pants on.

And CLee glad to hear you are okay, keep climbing and watch for rope burn!

User avatar
climb2core
Loser
Loser
Posts: 2224
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:04 pm

Post by climb2core » Sat Jun 05, 2010 8:55 am

You know you are soloing when approaching the second bolt or at least you should. It is part of the thrill for some of us.
If you desire the thrill of ground fall potential, just ignore the second bolt and jug on up to the third... Hell, why not just skip the 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc... The climb should get more thrilling with every move you make ;) Seriously though, isn't the fall thrilling enough without the added bonus of decking?

BTW, I am not advocating rebolting every route in the Red with GF potential from 1-2... but I do think we have to move away from the old-school mindset of bolting the easier routes assuming they are only the warm ups for the studs of the sport...

kneebar
Closet Renaissance Hardman
Posts: 725
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2003 5:49 pm
Location: Trying not to fly in CO

Post by kneebar » Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:21 am

Or, just move on to another climb. I am not saying new routes should be put up in this manor, it is a new era. If you think about it the climbing world has gone to both ends of the safety spectrum. Super bold to altra-safe. My point is routes exist like this all over the country, at some point you have to draw a line as to were safety starts and personal resposibility starts.

I personally would be fine with adjusting the bolts on BB, I honestly don't remember the climb, don't care, there is just so many classic routes in the red. Hume put the route up, ask him. Pretty sure Gene just boulders anymore........he has been dropped too many times leading, kind of ironic don't you think!

Don't drink the kool-aid

User avatar
clif
Loser
Loser
Posts: 1731
Joined: Thu Dec 25, 2008 5:24 pm

Post by clif » Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:24 am

pointing out the obvious, even if one adopts the 16/5 foot bolt rule does not mean the belayer and climber can climb without consideration of complications or poor judgement.

respect the uncertainties. i don't have the mindset that 10d is an easier route bolted for the warm-ups of the studs of the sport. spotting isn't only for bouldering and protecting the climber only before being on belay.

for me, the tendency toward simplification is as troubling as sub-optimal bolt spacing.

User avatar
Josephine
Mean like vegetables
Posts: 2216
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2006 6:38 pm
Location: lexington at last
Contact:

Post by Josephine » Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:40 am

As for adjusting bolts. There are about 840 sport climbs in red river gorge and about 240 in Muir Valley. for arguments sake, let's say the bolting jobs in MV are done perfectly with respect to the first and second bolt. That still leaves about 600 sport climbs - or 1,200 1st/2nd bolts.

1. who is going to go around and check them
2. who is going to invest the time to move them
3. who is going to pay for that

I know the answer is NOT the RRGCC (they are an access organization). I also know the answer is NOT Team Suck. while they do rebolt, they don't have the man-power or the money to address every route! That is a very time-consuming and expensive process to say the least.

My personal solution is to carefully assess the routes I climb, and the ones i feel are bolted badly - well, i don't climb those. or i TR them to death before i do lead them. the other solution would be for me to fix them, and right now that's just not practical as i lack the experience, time and money!

personally, i led whip stocking long before breakfast, and the bolting at the bottom was part of it. i also led 5.11 before i would lead a particular 5.9+ because i knew if i botched the 3rd clip, i'd hit the ground and would likely not walk away.

one of the things i did when i was really new was to look at a route and determine where the "bad falls" were. then i'd talk to my belayer, who usually had been climbing for 5-25 years longer than me and ask him to check and make sure i'd gotten it right. learned a lot that way!

and of course, i wear a helmet 8)
"Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game." ~ Under the Tuscan Sun

OZ
Gumby
Gumby
Posts: 129
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2004 11:55 am

Post by OZ » Sat Jun 05, 2010 11:06 am

It might also be worth noting that not every climb will allow for a good clipping stance at ideally placed intervals. No matter the good intentions of a bolter, sooner or later one will run into a situation with ground fall potential. It's all just risk assessment between the belayer and climber.

User avatar
Clevis Hitch
My Name is Joe.
Posts: 1461
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:10 pm

Post by Clevis Hitch » Sat Jun 05, 2010 11:47 am

It amazes me how everyone wants to know the mechanics of what happened when its obvious. Everyone wants to place the blame anywhere other than where it ultimatly lies. Go after the original equipper. Go after the CC for not policing. Go after Gyms for not teaching. Fuck I'm surprised that they haven't gone after George Bush over it!

Here's the truth. It's the FUCKING BELAYER'S FAULT!!
It has been everytime. From the incident at Darkside to this current debacle. Every time its the fault of the belayer.

Most belayers in the gorge stand around with their thumb in their ass jackin their stupid fucking jaw to every jackass around them rather than doing their FUCKING JOB!! Which is to constantly assess everything that the climber is doing and to talk to the climber. It ain't social hour when the climb is on. If climbing is your business then be about your business.

Sorry for stating the obvious. I will not be responding to this thread. This is a rhetorical statement
If you give a man a match, he'll be warm for a minute. If you set him on fire, he'll be warm for the rest of his life!

User avatar
climb2core
Loser
Loser
Posts: 2224
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:04 pm

Post by climb2core » Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:20 pm

Here's the truth. It's the FUCKING BELAYER'S FAULT!!
It has been everytime. From the incident at Darkside to this current debacle. Every time its the fault of the belayer.
Not speaking about Darkside, but specifically the BB incident.
Clevis I have a bet for you...

Lets meet at BB. I will attach the rope to a 50 lbs sack, run it through the first draw and bring it up to about 3 ft. below the second draw. Then I will pull enough slack to clip the second bolt. You will stand under the 1st bolt at the base of the rock. Next, without warning I will throw the sack back off the wall in the trajectory CLee fell. $100 says the sack will deck despite you knowing ahead of time there is a fall coming. Loser donates the $$ to the RRGCC.

PM me if you want to take that bet...

Now that being said, I completely agree with you other statement:
Most belayers in the gorge stand around with their thumb in their ass jackin their stupid fucking jaw to every jackass around them rather than doing their FUCKING JOB!! Which is to constantly assess everything that the climber is doing and to talk to the climber. It ain't social hour when the climb is on. If climbing is your business then be about your business.
Ian

User avatar
clif
Loser
Loser
Posts: 1731
Joined: Thu Dec 25, 2008 5:24 pm

Post by clif » Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:39 pm

cause Clevis said he wasn't going to respond and i generally get my climbing fix online these days..

i think your experiment may prove an interpretation you don't intend.
if you are right, can one conclude that the situation was foreseeable and
still unavoidable? (which i guess was your point with your first longish post)

so to kind of repeat, that is not the place to stand, that is not the place to clip from, and Josephine describes a fantastic approach to smart climbing.

User avatar
climb2core
Loser
Loser
Posts: 2224
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:04 pm

Post by climb2core » Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:27 pm

think your experiment may prove an interpretation you don't intend.
if you are right, can one conclude that the situation was (you mean unforseeable, right?) foreseeable and still unavoidable? (which i guess was your point with your first longish post)
My point is this:
1.) Clevis' statement put the blame directly on DonnyP. That is a powerful statement and shouldn't be made by someone who did not witness the fall or evaluate the physics of it.

2.) Potential for ground falls exist despite the best and attentive belaying. Not every accident can be attributed to belayer error. That being said I completely agree that there tends to be a lack of focus when it comes to belaying and MANY injuries could have been prevented with better belaying.
so to kind of repeat, that is not the place to stand, that is not the place to clip from, and Josephine describes a fantastic approach to smart climbing.
1.) I am not sure if that is not the place to stand. While moving to higher ground gives you the advantage of dropping to the ground during a fall, it also puts the rope to first bolt at a fairly sharp angle and you would definitley swing into the wall. I like to think of myself as a reasonably cautious belayer, and I have not chosen to stand up on the rock when belaying. It would be interesting to drop that sack and try both belay positions in the interest of learning how to be safer.

2.) Ideal clipping doesn't always automatically mean clipping at your waist. Case in point... I was on a 10d at Chocolate factory 2 days after the fall. The second bolt was placed high and right before the crux. My options were stand low and clip from a decent stance/hold while pulling out more rope, or to try to clip of a difficult crimp with poor feet. I chose the first option, full well knowing that if I fell, I would deck. Also knew that would not be belayer error... Also had two other members in our climbing group come over to spot- and I know that is not something that would have happened had we not been at Drive by during the fall.
So, with regards to BB, I cannot recall what holds are like a couple of moves up the rock from where CLee fell. But regardless, that is ultimately the responsibility of the climber to evaluate their best clipping stance and cannot be blamed on the belayer.

3.) I think Josephine makes an excellent case how to approach sport climbing safely and couldn't agree with you more.

So, to reiterate, I agree with much of what Clevis had to say, but take exception when he places judgement on the belaying of DonnyP during CLee's fall. I actually think he should issue a a public statement on this forum titled "Sorry DonnyP, I was an ASS"

Just my 2 cents...

Ian

Post Reply