Climbing Accident in Muir

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Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by weber » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:46 pm

Another climbing accident in the red. This one fairly serious. In respect for the patient's privacy, no details will be published concerning his condition or nature of injuries.

What can be said is that the subject was climbing at the Sunnyside area in Muir Valley and sustained a 30-foot fall.

This was the third time since being installed a year ago that the Muir Valley Emergency Stations were successfully used to summon help where there is no cell phone service. The FRS 2-way radio was used to call out, and Andrew Jones, a WC SAR team member who was in the Valley and monitoring the emergency frequency responded along with Aaron Hendricks - a Wilderness First Responder who treated the patient.

The WC SAR Team responded, packaged, and transported the patient via the Valley Emergency Road to an awaiting ambulance. He was then taken to an LZ and put onto a helicopter to UK.

Folks, we are seeing more and more climbing accidents in the Red. And, before 17 posters pontificate on this forum as to what is the problem, we need to remember that climbing is exploding in popularity. And, as the numbers grow, so will the accidents. In the past 14 days, Muir has seen over 1800 visitors.

Climbing is dangerous. Be careful. And, most importantly, wherever you climb, have a pre-plan in mind in the event of an emergency. Time can make a life-or-death difference.

A huge thank you to: Aaron, Andrew, and everyone on the WC SAR Team and volunteers who helped in this incident and also to the Access Fund who provided a grant last year to restore the emergency road so that emergency vehicles could quickly access the climbing areas.

Rick Weber
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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by francescopesci » Sun May 08, 2011 9:31 pm

Hi,

I am the guy who had the accident. I was a visiting graduate student in the US, but now I'm back in Italy because of this all situation. I just want to give you my version of what happened that damn day.

I was climbing on "Suppress the Rage" (5.12a) at the Sunny Side, Muir Valley. I was at the second last bolt and I decided to have an active rest before the last hard move (I mean I was not hanging on the rope, I just stopped on the rock). I must admit I started climbing again kind of suddenly, so maybe my belayer was not expecting it. Anyway, when I was less than 1 meter above the bolt I fell off. Before I had the time to realize what was happening, I found myself screaming and hitting the ground with the right leg and then with the butt. Fortunately the rope got tight at the very last second so I didn't have a full impact on the ground. Now I have the pelvis and two vertebras broken. Doctors said I will have a full recovery and I really hope so, cause I think I can't live without climbing!

I've been climbing for more than ten years and I consider myself a pretty experienced climber. Nothing ever happened to me before now! I talked a lot with my belayer and I think it could be helpful to let you know what happened in my opinion.

First of all, he got distracted as soon as I decided to rest for a few seconds (I saw him talking with people while I started falling). Second, I think there was already too much slack on the rope, because it doesn't make sense to take a 12 meters fall, when you're 1 meter above the bolt and should fall no more than 2,50-3 meters. Third, he told me that as soon as he realized I was falling (too late anyway!), he grabbed the rope both above and below the GRI GRI, so I guess the upper grab slowed down the rope's sliding into the GRI GRI and then its activation.

The more time passes the more I get mad at him and at myself. The moral is just something I've been knowing ever since. Sport climbing IS NOT DANGEROUS AS LONG AS YOU PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU'RE DOING. Guys, just always check out that your belayer knows how to belay properly; GRI GRI is really deceiving, people think it works by itself and just don't pay attention to how to make it function in the correct way! Fatality is part of life, but this is exactly the kind of accident due to distraction and overconfidence in the belay device. It could have been avoided pretty easily.

I have to add that it was the first time I was climbing with this person, so we didn't know each other enough and there was probably lack of good communication. It wouldn't happen to me with my usual climbing mates. If they were there.... :-)

In the end I just want to thank all the people (whose names and faces I don't know or remember) from the rescue team who allowed me to get to the hospital in the fastest and safest way! You've been great, efficient and resolute. I wish I could I have a beer with you! Red River Gorge is an amazing place and I really hope to be there again. Thank you everyone!

Francesco

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by pigsteak » Sun May 08, 2011 9:54 pm

Glad you are well. I bolted that route Francesco, and know it intimately. May I ask if you were going straight up the arete or out right to that final bolt? Also, how long did you active rest before starting again. I always say 'climbing" when I start back after a rest, becasue I know my belayer will be resting their neck while I am resting my forearms.

Again, godspeed on your full recovery.
Positive vibes brah...positive vibes.

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by caribe » Sun May 08, 2011 9:58 pm

Your belayer should pay for your medical expenses. Sounds like there was not a super amount of slack paid out. Sounds like your fall surprised your belayer, he had his hand off the brake, he grabbed your end of the rope and this made the grigri fail. This is the usual story. We have heard it before and lamentably we will hear it again.
Last edited by caribe on Sun May 08, 2011 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by climb2core » Sun May 08, 2011 10:09 pm

caribe wrote:Your belayer should pay for your medical expenses. Sounds like there was not a super amount of slack paid out. Sounds like your fall surprised your belayer, he had his hand off the brake, he grabbed your end of the rope and this made the grigri fail. This is the usual story. We have heard it before and lamentably we will here it again.
Agree for mechanics of why he decked. Choose your belayer carefully. Also, climbing safely us also about communication and never assuming anything.

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by francescopesci » Mon May 09, 2011 9:47 am

pigsteak wrote:Glad you are well. I bolted that route Francesco, and know it intimately. May I ask if you were going straight up the arete or out right to that final bolt? Also, how long did you active rest before starting again. I always say 'climbing" when I start back after a rest, becasue I know my belayer will be resting their neck while I am resting my forearms.

Again, godspeed on your full recovery.

I didn't tell him "climbing", which is something I usually do almost with everyone. And this was clearly my fault. I don't remember how much did I rest but it was a very short time, like a couple of minutes. By the way, I was going on the right, where all those little crimpers are. Nice route!
Last edited by francescopesci on Mon May 09, 2011 9:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by caribe » Mon May 09, 2011 9:54 am

francescopesci wrote:Well, I didn't tell him "climbing", which is something I usually do almost with everyone. And this was my fault.
You did not need to say anything. Would 'climbing' mean that your belayer should put his hand back in the brake end of the rope? The hand should never leave the brake. If his hand was on the brake this would not have happened because no gear failed. It really is this simple.

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by Jeff » Mon May 09, 2011 10:05 am

Hope you have a speedy and full recovery.

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by pkananen » Mon May 09, 2011 10:12 am

Belayer error, that is all this is. You have no fault. Get better.

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by Rocky Top » Mon May 09, 2011 10:17 am

francescopesci wrote:
pigsteak wrote:Glad you are well. I bolted that route Francesco, and know it intimately. May I ask if you were going straight up the arete or out right to that final bolt? Also, how long did you active rest before starting again. I always say 'climbing" when I start back after a rest, becasue I know my belayer will be resting their neck while I am resting my forearms.

Again, godspeed on your full recovery.

I didn't tell him "climbing", which is something I usually do almost with everyone. And this was clearly my fault. I don't remember how much did I rest but it was a very short time, like a couple of minutes. By the way, I was going on the right, where all those little crimpers are. Nice route!
I am glad you are doing "ok" and hope for a quick and full recovery. I don't think this was your fault at all. I have been seeing bigger and bigger loops of slack out on shorter routes over the years. A good belayer would "feel" the rope moving and stay with you, I don't think it was your fault at all...

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by Bill Johnson » Mon May 09, 2011 11:27 am

So sorry to hear about the recent accident in Muir Valley.

Rick is so correct, the sport is gaining in popularity at an increasingly fast rate.

And the "new comers" just need to be more aware of the serious nature of the sport. They get trained for indoor climbing and then decide to venture outdoors to a totally different environment. They just lack refined experience when outdoors, and should seek out good training or proper advice and etiquette, and be reminded of how serious the outdoor level can be compared to the safer indoor crags.

And I'm sure this may not be the case here as most of you have been discussing. Good belayers, and climbers, must be vigilant and focused entirely every second they are on the rock and be totally consumed in what they are doing.

And lets face it, Rick and Liz have without a doubt the safest and best maintaied area in the country and anywhere else for that matter. So it's up to us climbers to continue to make it safer for us and all those around us.

Francesco:
Mi dispiace tanto parlare il vostro incidente. Ma sono felice che sei va bene e tornare a casa ancora una volta.

Lo sono una guida e trascorrere il tempo in Italia. Portare gruppi a Italia in inverno per lo sci e divertimento. Ho avuto un folto gruppo di 38 persone in Val Gardena e Selva nel mese di gennaio.

Sono felice che hai avuto un buon momento e come l'area di Red River Gorge.

Recuperare il bene e che Dio vi Benedica,

Ciao,
Bill

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by TradMike » Mon May 09, 2011 1:09 pm

I do think the best way to belay with a gri gri and I practice a method where my hand never leaves the break end of the gri gri and I don't ever hold the cam open to feed slack. That being said, I fail to see how the gri gri would fail without a hand on the break end. I solo climb with the gri gri all the time and it has caught hundreds if not thousands of times with no hands on the device at all. I do tie backup stopper knots to keep me off the deck but have never used one to date.

Did he have his hand on the cam holding it open to feed slack and let go too late? Did he have any burns on his hands? Did he thread it backwards? Was it a skinny rope?

I ask the question because I have a hard time believing that someone can catch a fall with their hand enough to keep the cam from engaging unless he had some severely burnt hands.

Hope you heel well!

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by pigsteak » Mon May 09, 2011 1:14 pm

use a thin rope in a gri gri and you'll get the idea of slippage. my worn out gri gri slides down the rope when I am bolting, and I am a fat dude. too many variables
Positive vibes brah...positive vibes.

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by Shamis » Mon May 09, 2011 1:43 pm

Sounds like another accident that could've been prevented by letting go with both hands.

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Re: Climbing Accident in Muir

Post by Crankmas » Mon May 09, 2011 1:49 pm

Francesco, wishing you a quick and full recovery, hope you are able to return to the Red soon... Thanks for your post and positive outlook, maybe it will be of benefit to someone.

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