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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DeTour
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Re: Near Misses

Post by DeTour » Sat May 12, 2018 9:31 pm

I'm pretty sure you both mispronounced it when you said it in your head.
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TallGrass
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Re: Near Misses

Post by TallGrass » Sat May 12, 2018 11:44 pm

d_baker wrote:Brad2's public checklist is eerily like that of his friend, TG.
How do we know either of you have ever hiked a 14er?!
Such as Capitol Peak?
Brad2 wrote:I have certainly never falsely claimed an ascent of any mountain.
Holy Mole, we have something in common.
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Re: Near Misses

Post by TomPierce » Sun May 13, 2018 9:24 am

I've had my share of unplanned "events." In no particular order, a sampling: frostbite, snowblindness, setting off an avalanche, two severed bicep tendons, several climbing falls, etc. etc. Don't get the idea I'm a backcountry train wreck, those are all spaced out over a couple of decades.

But the most recent, and frankly disturbing, close call happened just a few years ago. I like doing remote 5th class stuff. I'd spent about a year visiting one huge formation near Utah, getting up it might have been a first known ascent(?). Here's the public trip report posted by a later climber:

https://www.listsofjohn.com/tr?Id=4723&pkid=6168

Anyway, I finally figured out 2 possible routes up, both with significant hazards. One weekend I found a willing partner and picked what I thought to be the most promising line, off we went. The crux proved to be an awkward high step, but after that it went easily enough. We topped out and began the descent. Our ascent route had been up a v-slot, a natural funnel for rocks dislodged by a rap line. I wasn't keen to rap down that, so we opted for a solid tree as an anchor. The problem was the rap route was now going over a huge overhang and really significant air. Basically coming over the top of a natural sandstone amphitheater. Seemed like a gazillion feet off the deck, but our twin 60m ropes hit the ground with a few feet to spare. But that ground? Yikes, lots of sharply toothed rocks, angling up to the sky. Incisors, not molars.

My partner likes a fireman's belay from the bottom, so I went first. Down to the edge, then that inelegant move to pass over the lip. A few ways to do it, I usually lower below the lip with feet still on it, then use a hand to brace against hitting the lip when I move my feel lower, fully airborne. Regardless of technique, there comes a point when I have one hand on the brake, the other is busy preventing me from whacking the lip with my head. It was about there when, and I cannot fathom how it happened...I lost control of the brake line. It was hot that day, I had a pack on, maybe slightly sweaty hands? But yes, an absolute error. Before the armchair chorus scolds me about this or that, consider: I've been climbing for a while, have probably done over...a thousand (??) raps, and I'd rigged an autoblock prussik, something I always do when I'm doing a what I call a "blind" rappel. Nonetheless, I was now falling unchecked. But as the skinny cord (I favor 7.7mm twins for adventure climbing, low impact force on the anchors) whipped through my hands, it began to saw through the flesh of my palm, badly. Yes, yes, the autoblock...In the second or two of near freefalling my mind was so intensely focused on regaining control of the brake line that my other hand on the autoblock kept gripping it, preventing it from screeching me to a halt. Down I went, in a blur, the incisors waiting for their meal. I braced for impact.

To this day I have no idea what synapse fired in my brain, but it did, and I let go of the autoblock just in time to have it stop me 20' above the rocks. I was safe, or so I thought. I needed to disengage the autoblock to get to the ground, but the horrific speed of the fall had literally melted the sheath of it onto the sheath of the main rap lines. Now stuck solid. So there I was, 20' off the deck, gently swinging in the wind, out of my partner's earshot far above, glued in place. After I'd calmed a bit I rigged another prussik with a sling, retrieved my climbing knife and carefully sawed away the melted autoblock, hoping the main lines weren't compromised. They weren't, I dropped onto the new knot. I gingerly lowered myself to the ground with my now raw brake hand, in between two of the nastier rocks. Safe.

I've since considered the irony: I had been planning to use rap gloves, but decided for whatever reason to leave them behind that day. And I had a new locking rap device that I was intrigued to test. I'd also left that behind (fwiw, an Edelrid MicroJul). I now religiously use both.

Lessons, IMO: No matter your experience, if you play with snakes you'll very occasionally still get bitten. A safety system works only so long as your mind remembers to use it. And my own saying for the experienced: Complacency is the big killer. Always try to pretend this is your first day out. Sorry for droning on, stay safe out there.

-Tom
Last edited by TomPierce on Sun May 13, 2018 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Near Misses

Post by jmanner » Sun May 13, 2018 9:33 am

Tom you always have the most thoughtful pertinent responses.
A man has got to know his limitations.-Dr. Jonathan Hemlock or Harry Callahan or something F' it: http://youtu.be/lpzqQst-Sg8

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"That man's only desire was to stand, once only, on the summit of that glorious wedge of rock...I think anyone who loves the mountains as much as that can claim to be a mountaineer, too."-Hermann Buhl, Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage
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Re: Near Misses

Post by Brad2 » Sun May 13, 2018 9:45 am

Yes, thank you Tom Pierce for guiding this thread back on track. It is certainly a valuable and thought provoking discussion. Mountains and rocks can be extremely unforgiving.
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Re: Near Misses

Post by TallGrass » Sun May 13, 2018 2:59 pm

TomPierce wrote:I've since considered the irony: I had been planning to use rap gloves, but decided for whatever reason to leave them behind that day.
Glad you fall was caught and you were able to self-rescue relatively uninjured. Your account reminds me of something similar I read in ANAM, but I think that one he rapped off (over an overhang above jagged rocks) differed in not being able to see his rope didn't bottom out. Curious if your rope ends were knotted.

I prefer rapping and belaying with a glove, and a fireman over autoblock when available. Some who have never injured their hands or fingers may not see the benefit of PPE, same as a lot of rock climbers I see that don't wear helmets. I once got a tad of rope burn, not on my brake hand which was gloved, but because for an instant I touched it with my ungloved non-brake hand. I also learned off the bat to hop-n-drop fast to get past airy overhangs like you describe, the farther from the anchor, the easier. I've seen a lot of people try to inch over them instead.
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Tiredness is the shortest path to equality and fraternity - and sleep finally adds to them liberty."
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Re: Near Misses

Post by highpilgrim » Sun May 13, 2018 3:01 pm

TallGrass wrote: I also learned off the bat to hop-n-drop fast to get past airy overhangs like you describe, the farther from the anchor, the easier. I've seen a lot of people try to inch over them instead.
It's just cause you're such a badass, gasbag.

Most of us would have just let Tom's great post stand, but while you may be smart you don't have enough sense to know when to just shut (thefuck) up.
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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TallGrass
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Re: Near Misses

Post by TallGrass » Sun May 13, 2018 3:14 pm

highpilgrim wrote:
TallGrass wrote: I also learned off the bat to hop-n-drop fast to get past airy overhangs like you describe, the farther from the anchor, the easier. I've seen a lot of people try to inch over them instead.
It's just cause you're such a badass, gasbag.

Most of us would have just let Tom's great post stand, but while you may be smart you don't have enough sense to know when to just shut (thefuck) up.
So there's never something to be learned from people sharing Near Misses? And doing so without profanity?
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Re: Near Misses

Post by highpilgrim » Sun May 13, 2018 4:17 pm

TallGrass wrote:So there's never something to be learned from people sharing Near Misses?
Let me be clear:

Tom did exactly what you ask about. You, on the other hand, showed how superior you are because while he admitted to struggling to deal with the initial difficulty of an overhanging rap, you proved how bad YOU are because you learned how to avoid the "inelegant" moves Tom referred to in humility.

Simply stated, you lack humility. Every post you make is some version of proving just how bad you are. Even if in proving so you spout gibberish to do so.

And if that weren't enough, even when obviously wrong you will NEVER admit to having misstated anything. You posted you never falsely claimed to have ascended any mountain. Legally speaking, I'm sure that's true. And yet you constantly give advice to the uninformed on routes you have never climbed, implying you have.

That's why you don't post your teener list; you could not talk your smack if it was clear when you are just outgassing.

You're the chief outgasser.

As Bill so clearly stated: /stoopidshit
Call on God, but row away from the rocks.
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Walk away from the droning and leave the hive behind.
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Re: Near Misses

Post by workmanflock » Sun May 13, 2018 8:24 pm

It's almost like " Prate and Prattle". The old days were funny days.
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Re: Near Misses

Post by SolarAlex » Sun May 13, 2018 10:07 pm

I've had a few avalanche encounters, either me/my party or other groups in the same zones. Scariest one was on Bald last May, when a pair of climbers brought down a big one on top of me and my friend. We were getting ready to bail at the base of the NE Shots due to heavy wind loading...I was about to start transitioning when I saw a heap of avalanche debris coming down the slope towards us. We skinned/ran downhill and across the runout zone to a rock rib. Debris piled up 6 feet deep where we stood not 30 seconds before. One of the other guys went for a 700 foot ride and stood up just as we were starting a beacon search. Turned out that they were acquaintances I knew...No one was hurt but it was a very quiet trudge back to the trailhead.

I've had a couple close calls with rockfall, one on an obscure 10er outside of town that very nearly was my last step. Thankfully it wasn't.

I like the way Tom Pierce said it...if you play with snakes, you'll get bitten occasionally. I know it and I accept it.
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Re: Near Misses

Post by TallGrass » Sun May 13, 2018 11:54 pm

highpilgrim wrote:Image
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