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The Bachelor Party


Submitted by southernmtguide on 2004-09-09

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The Bachelor Party

It started innocently enough, Carrie, my fiancť suggested that I get together with some of my friends and have a party to celebrate our impending nuptials. I had other thoughts, and quickly rallied a few friends for a quick climbing trip. I was to be joined by Ed, a faithful companion on many epics, a past client of mine visiting from Japan, and Paul and Mike, both well seasoned alpinists.

We picked an easy objective in the Tatoosh Range for a number of reasons, foremost being that it was an easy drive from Portland, had a fairly short approach, and Fred described the routes on Pinnacle Peak as fairly good.

We met in Portland for the short drive up to the park, and I met Paul and Mike for the first time. Both seemed to be really competent climbers, and I looked forward to a fun day.

We made short work of the drive, and had a bit of coffee in the parking lot as we racked up. We made tentative plans to travel as a team of three on one route, and a team of two on another route. The approach was a great warm up, and allowed us to all get a feel for each other.

Paul was super stoked, and feeling more motivated than anyone else, and made a passing comment about soloing one of the routes, to make sure we moved fast. After looking at the chosen routes, and the horribly fractured, chossy rock that they were on, we were able to convince him to lead with a cord, so he would not get too far above us, and knock crap down on us.

We third and fourth classed up to a semi good belay ledge, and with a huge effort were able to build a belay for the start of the first pitch. The belay consisted of a couple of shitty stoppers, numbers three and four, in really fractured rock. I belayed Paul as he set off, and Mike belayed Ed.

Both started off on some of the crappiest rock I have ever been on. I truly wished that I was at a bar having a more traditional day, as I mentally implored Paul to place a piece of gear. He was eighty feet off the belay ledge before he put in anything. It looked like crap from the belay ledge, and I yelled over to Ed to place more gear, hoping that Paul would pick up on my angst and place more as well.

Paul moved quickly and confidently for another eighty or so feet to a good size ledge, mantled up on it, and I breathed a big sigh of relief. Ed was off about twenty or so feet to his right, about twenty feet below the same ledge, when I heard a horrific sound. The sound was followed by a blood-curdling scream, and I looked up to see Paul holding a refrigerator sized block arc backwards off the ledge, the fridge pushing him downwards. I yelled rock, and looked over to see Mike and my friend staring in disbelief as Paul started to bounce down towards me. I realized that the force of the fall was going to rip myself and my friends off of the ledge, as we were all on two crappy stoppers. I reached over and unclipped myself from the belay anchor. I knew at once that Paul was falling to his death, and he was taking us with him, and I was going to cut the losses. I had enough time to tell Mike to hold on as Paul and tons of rock bounced past me. He kept going, and I locked off the belay device. The next thing I knew I was hanging a few feet off of the ledge, and Paul had stopped yelling.

I was freaked, but went into autopilot. I managed to get back down to the belay ledge, and told everyone to hang tight. Ed was above, afraid to move, as the rock had fractured all around him. I put in a knifeblade pin below the two stoppers, and tied off Paul. I then said a quick prayer, untied, and rapped down to Paul.

Paul was drifting in and out of consciences when I arrived, and blood was everywhere. There was a party of two approaching up the talus field below when I arrived, and they related that they would go and get some help. I attended to Paul as we hung there. I used up so many bandages, and pieces of clothes to stop the bleeding. I knew Paul had fallen hard, as I watched him. What really drove it home was the fact that I had to dig a cam out of Paulís thigh, which once I recovered it, had bent cam lobes!

I got Paul hooked up onto me, and rapped with him to the talus below. My feet touched the ground, and I carried him off to the side so neither of us would get hit by more rock fall. Ed managed to get in an anchor, and was able to rap down to the others, and arrange a rappel back to the ground.

One by one they joined me on the ground, Ed last, and I hugged him like he was the last human on earth. We shared about six cigarettes in a speed- smoking bout, our bodies needing the nicotine to replace the depleted adrenaline.

We got Paul stabilized just as the Park Service Paramedics arrived. It was decided that Paul would be slid down the talus slope in a stokes litter, and we all pitched in to wrestle him down. We finally hit the trail and Paul was whisked away, first by ambulance, then by helicopter.

Paul arrived safely in Portland later that night, before we were even able to call our significant others and let them know we were going to be late for dinner. The long drive home that night was unbearable. We all knew that we had to explain why we climbed to our loved ones, and were all desperately trying to put a positive spin on the day. It was going to be an uphill battle to get out again soon.

I always heard that having a Bachelors Party was a Rite of Passage; I guess itís true.

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