Near Misses

Threads related to Colorado mountaineering accidents but please keep it civil and respectful. Friends and relatives of fallen climbers will be reading these posts.
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Trotter
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Re: Near Misses

Post by Trotter » Mon May 14, 2018 8:02 am

Another tallgrass spat, wonderful :roll: . Let me try to get this back on track.

On a couloir this season, we were all at the base putting on crampons right at sunrise. 3 of us looking down at our gear, 1 person happened to be looking up, when a marmot dislodged a cantaloupe sized rock and it hurled down towards us. We dove for cover, and the rock literally hit the exact rock a friend was sitting on. Probably would have killed or maimed her. We learned to keep one person on rock watch.
After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. -Nelson Mandela
Whenever I climb I am followed by a dog called Ego. -Nietzsche
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Re: Near Misses

Post by TomPierce » Mon May 14, 2018 8:29 am

Hey Trotter,

Yikes! Close call for sure. I've been pelted with a few small rocks, dodged a few bigger ones. But a cantaloupe-sized rock? Yeow...an impact for sure wouldn't have ended well.

Similar story, from back in the 90's: Sitting on a coffee table sized rock in, hmm...May/June(?) at the base of the OB couloir on Kit Carson. With a group, I was planning to go to South America with them. The self-anointed group leader gave me an uncertain vibe, he was keen to do the route the next day no matter what. As I looked up the couloir, I was mentally clicking off all the things that gave me the heebie jeebies: Aspect, slope angle, cornicing, etc etc. I began to develop a Han Solo-like uneasiness, "I got a bad feeling about this..." That night I told the leader I was out, it created a rift in the group.

The couloir slid in the morning, buried our coffee table sized rock under a few feet of dense, wet snow. Lesson: Go to a lot of Star Wars movies, listen to The Force, esp when it says "I got a bad feeling about this..." :lol:

-Tom
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Re: Near Misses

Post by seano » Mon May 14, 2018 9:02 am

Wow, Trotter, that's a whole new level of "marmots behaving badly." I've seen them chew on people's pole grips, and had one run right up and drink my pee before I was finished, but never had one try to bomb me with rocks. Mountain goats are another matter.

Dragging things back on topic, I've been saved a couple of times by always keeping three points of contact. The most memorable was between Baldwin and Morrison in the Sierra, one of the chossiest parts of the range. I was trying to make my way around a gendarme when the microwave-sized block I was standing on cut loose. Fortunately I had both hands on solid holds, and my grasping reflex kicked in; otherwise I would have splattered. I've scrambled plenty of choss since, but I'm not going back to that ridge.
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Re: Near Misses

Post by TravelFar » Mon May 14, 2018 9:17 am

TomPierce wrote:That night I told the leader I was out, it created a rift in the group.

The couloir slid in the morning... Go to a lot of Star Wars movies, listen to The Force
Some people may think Tom is joking around here, but this is a real thing called "mountain sense." It's an undefinable type of instinct attainable only through considerable experience in the mountains. Reinhold Messner tried to describe it in one of his books, how a type of sixth sense can keep a mountaineer safe, enabling them to predict such things as unstable snow and rockfall even without obvious red flag indicators. :bow:
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Re: Near Misses

Post by HikesInGeologicTime » Mon May 14, 2018 9:25 am

TomPierce wrote:Lesson: Go to a lot of Star Wars movies, listen to The Force, esp when it says "I got a bad feeling about this..."
I distinctly remember that The Force tried to warn me about the Longs Peak Incident I wrote about on Page 1 of this thread. Couldn't exactly call it mountaineering sense, as I was still in Denver and waiting on my friend to join me at my place so we could drive up together when it was pinging hardest, but I had a lot of anxiety that didn't seem to be based on anything taking place in real life, so I decided to ignore it and go anyway.

Suffice to say I have not ignored it since.
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Re: Near Misses

Post by 12ersRule » Mon May 14, 2018 9:28 am

TravelFar wrote: Reinhold Messner tried to describe it in one of his books, how a type of sixth sense can keep a mountaineer safe, enabling them to predict such things as unstable snow and rockfall even without obvious red flag indicators.
That sounds like the biggest bunch of hokum ever. There's no bubble hanging around the most experienced mountaineers. The most experienced are generally the ones pushing their luck with avys and other unstable places.
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Re: Near Misses

Post by highpilgrim » Mon May 14, 2018 9:50 am

One of my near misses was rockfall on Maroon.

My partner and I were on the climb up to the ridge on the grassy slope early in the morning. A well established trail with mostly steep grass around us, we had been seeing little brown birds that were fluttering around and chirping as we ascended. Neither of us were wearing our helmets, which were attached to our packs since we didn't really see the terrain as susceptible to rockfall. We passed a small rock outcrop and I looked up to see what I thought was another of the brown birds above me. Before I could even register that it was not a bird, a baseball or slightly larger rock drilled me right in the belt buckle. The buckle absorbed most of the hit, but it still bruised the area under it pretty well

Needless to say, we both quickly donned our helmets.

I use that lesson to consider more carefully where and when a helmet should be on my thick skull because if that rock had hit me in the head it would have turned my lights out
Call on God, but row away from the rocks.
Hunter S Thompson

Walk away from the droning and leave the hive behind.
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Re: Near Misses

Post by handonbroward » Mon May 14, 2018 10:15 am

By far the scariest near miss I had was on Capitol. It also happened the same day that Sean Wylam passed away on Snowmass (RIP), so we were already extremely anxious after seeing the chopper/body go out from Snowmass.

We were traversing back across the face to the Knife Edge on our descent, probably about half way across. As my partner stepped out onto the next small bus sized block, the block, and the 4 or 5 small car to small bus sized blocks around it started to slide down the face. I screamed out "run!" well aware of just how dangerous being caught between any of the blocks for even a split second could be, especially with their size. We sprinted across shifting boulders for about 30 feet before we reached non-moving blocks and then continued for about another 30 feet before we had the nerve to stop and look back.

In the end the whole mess of blocks only shifted about 20 feet downhill, but it would have been more than enough to injure both of us fatally had we lost our footing and ended up between them at all. The day ended up pretty morbid as we learned of Sean's passing upon our arrival back at the Capitol Creek trailhead. Upon learning more details of Sean's accident and some reflection, I spent a lot of time thinking about how close we came to ending up in an almost identical predicament to what happened to Sean. No injuries to us at all, but the coincidence of what day it occurred on made me realize how sometimes s**t is completely out of your control, regardless of how safe you think you are being.
"I hurt, therefore I am" - Barry Blanchard
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TravelFar
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Re: Near Misses

Post by TravelFar » Mon May 14, 2018 10:24 am

Well, regardless if anybody chooses not to believe in The Force, this Capitol trip report from AnnaG22 is appropriate at this juncture:
https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... trip=16683
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Re: Near Misses

Post by painless4u2 » Mon May 14, 2018 11:23 am

highpilgrim wrote:...if that rock had hit me in the head it would have turned my lights out
Or, "Well this is nothin...but if this gets dented then my hair just ain't gonna look right"

dented.jpg
dented.jpg (5.28 KiB) Viewed 1295 times
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Re: Near Misses

Post by highpilgrim » Mon May 14, 2018 12:11 pm

painless4u2 wrote:Or, "Well this is nothin...but if this gets dented then my hair just ain't gonna look right"
"Every time Catherine would turn on the microwave, I'd piss my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour."

Gotta love Cousin Eddie.
Call on God, but row away from the rocks.
Hunter S Thompson

Walk away from the droning and leave the hive behind.
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Re: Near Misses

Post by WVMountaineer » Mon May 14, 2018 12:57 pm

SkaredShtles wrote:
pbakwin wrote:That darned thing would not stop bleeding!
Pro-tip: feminine pad and duct tape. I keep these in my pack now due to a similar experience mountain biking locally one day...
I carry a tube of super glue and some basic medical supplies in my pack. Super glue will close a gushing wound and help get you off the mountain but it'll be a pain to clean and get stitched up later.
Fortune Cookie Says "Calamity is the touchstone of a brave mind."
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