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climber killed in Joshua Tree National Park 3/15
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dingus


Mar 17, 2009, 9:30 AM
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deleted


(This post was edited by dingus on Mar 17, 2009, 11:30 AM)


k.l.k


Mar 17, 2009, 9:41 AM
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dingus wrote:
k.l.k wrote:
If we want better reporting from US papers, we'd better begin to cultivate closer relations with what remains of editorial staff.

I respectfully ask - what's the point? Organization, group think and PR firms - these are a few of the reasons I took up climbing to ESCAPE!

If casually stupid news articles are the price for being on the fringe? That's a cheap price.

I don't believe that's the price. I think the price is land closure and regulation of a sport that most taxpayers think is stupid, dangerous, and possibly environmentally unsound. But we can have that debate in another thread.

The P-E story isn't up yet, at least online.


brotherbbock


Mar 17, 2009, 9:42 AM
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This guy was a trooper. This last year he took a long fall at Tahquitz and broke his foot or something. He was right back at the gym training with a cast on! I just remember thinking that dude is hardcore, little did I realize how hardcore he really was after reading a bit more about him. Condolences.


dingus


Mar 17, 2009, 9:45 AM
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RIP WOODY STARK!

DMT


(This post was edited by dingus on Mar 17, 2009, 11:30 AM)


jt512


Mar 17, 2009, 10:03 AM
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k.l.k wrote:
The P-E story isn't up yet, at least online.

I posted a link to it an above post.

Jay


(This post was edited by jt512 on Mar 17, 2009, 10:03 AM)


chanceboarder


Mar 17, 2009, 10:31 AM
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I was fortunate to meet and climb with Woody a couple times over the past few years. He was a very stand up guy and a true climbing pioneer. He has many friends in the climbing community and will be missed.

My condolences to his friends and family.

Jason


troutboy


Mar 17, 2009, 10:44 AM
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surfergirl wrote:
i don't know what happened but i agree that the news articles do not sound right. my partner saw him at the TOP of the wall, with his second following. she heard the fall, looked up, and saw the second swinging and the leader was gone. maybe someone with more experience than me can make some sense out of these facts.

There are at least 2 very plausible scenarios that fit this description, both of which fit with other potential known factors; however, definitive information will be available soon, so there is no reason, nor would it be appropriate, to speculate.

TS


majid_sabet


Mar 17, 2009, 10:51 AM
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surfergirl wrote:
i don't know what happened but i agree that the news articles do not sound right. my partner saw him at the TOP of the wall, with his second following. she heard the fall, looked up, and saw the second swinging and the leader was gone. maybe someone with more experience than me can make some sense out of these facts.

Was he on top belaying his partner or they were both climbing at the same time?


caliclimbergrl


Mar 17, 2009, 10:57 AM
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k.l.k wrote:
dingus wrote:
k.l.k wrote:
If we want better reporting from US papers, we'd better begin to cultivate closer relations with what remains of editorial staff.

I respectfully ask - what's the point? Organization, group think and PR firms - these are a few of the reasons I took up climbing to ESCAPE!

If casually stupid news articles are the price for being on the fringe? That's a cheap price.

I don't believe that's the price. I think the price is land closure and regulation of a sport that most taxpayers think is stupid, dangerous, and possibly environmentally unsound. But we can have that debate in another thread.

The P-E story isn't up yet, at least online.

Exactly. I wrote a bunch more and then deleted it because I don't want to hijack a thread about a tragic death, so we can talk about the how climbing is portrayed in the media and it's implications somewhere else. But I do want to say that another thing that annoyed me about the articles were that the misinformation make it sound like Woody Stark was either a novice who died because he didn't know what he is doing which is obviously not the case and is extremely disrespectful. I know journalists get things wrong all the time, but that is still going to bother me. Other articles that recognize who he was make it sound like he was some immature old adrenaline junkie who drove recklessly and took wild risks when climbing. This doesn't seem honest either. The man died -- it bothers me that they would imply these things in the result of a very sad accident that resulted in a death!

Anyway, I hope a more accurate article comes out soon.


climbingnoise


Mar 17, 2009, 10:57 AM
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This is super sad. I'm going to Jtree this weekend, I was going to make a post asking what is the best area to go to if I want to sport to 5.10- or boulder v0 -v3, but I'm thinking I would like to know what would be a good place to go to get to head up on some of Woody's routes (problems?) in tribute?


moose_droppings


Mar 17, 2009, 11:01 AM
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This is really terrible news and am very saddened to read it. My sincere condolences to all of Woody's family and to all of his many, many friends.

RIP
Woody


caliclimbergrl


Mar 17, 2009, 11:08 AM
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Is that the article we're all waiting for to give an accurate account of what happened? It still sounds like they're saying it was a lead fall and he was trying to down climb when he fell? And then the gear blew (sounds like some bolts blew?) so he took a really long fall. Which doesn't seem to match what surfergirl's belayer saw. She makes it sound like it was either a simul-climbing injury or that Woody was belaying from the top with no anchor and his second fell which jerked him off the wall. If he was yanked into the rock and hit his head, he wouldn't necessarily have to fall far to get badly (fatally) injured.

I have a hard time believing he was near the top on a lead and every single piece of gear including bolts failed which is what would need to happen (or close to it) for him to hit the belayer and continue falling the way even this article is making it sound. And it says the belayer also fell, but the equipment stopped his fall. If he was anchored in and belaying, he couldn't have fallen far. Is that really what happened?


climbsomething


Mar 17, 2009, 11:11 AM
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dingus wrote:

The vast majority of news folks will never get climbing details right. Its futility incarnate to expect it.

But having insider info about climbing reveals the wild inaccuracies of news articles. Now apply that filter to ALL THE OTHER NEWS STORIES you read....

do ALL of them contain similar inaccuracies that knowledgable insiders can detect with a glance?

OF COURSE THEY DO.

A lot of what we call news isn't news at all.... its wholesale fabrication.

DMT
I hope you'll permit me to apply my own "insider knowledge filter."

There's nothing wrong with the second story, from a journalistic point of view. It's not hysterical, and it doesn't make climbing sound a death sport. All it said was the gear failed. It didn't say it burst into flame or anything sensational. As a climber, I question that it just "failed," but as a reporter, I understand why they were vague and can sympathize if they were confused. Failing any pre-existing specialized knowledge, and a cooperative, knowledgeable source who knew and could explain exactly what happened on the Great Burrito before their deadline, they couldn't have given an explanation to satisfy the rc.com world anyway. I suspect both of those factors came into play here.

But really, the casual reader wouldn't have cared if the reporter had been specific with the technical explanation. Newspaper journalists, even if they have specialized knowledge themselves, have to write (or edit) for a very general reader with a basic education. They do not write (or edit) for niche audiences.

That's how I would have written the story, because I know the vast, VAST majority of readers don't climb. But if they skim such a story, they might want to know about helmets, if this kind of thing happens often, and, on a very basic level, what link failed. They really don't care about details, though, because they wouldn't understand them anyway and wouldn't care to. They're just not interested. That's ok. It doesn't make them or the reporters stupid.

It appears that the writers really wanted to appeal to a more universal human angle, which is why they put so much emphasis on Todd Gordon's section. To that end, they did a fine job.

*EDIT: ok, when I said second, I meant the P-E story. Not the TV station's report or the AP brief in the Merc. That said, they do source the JTree spokesman as saying he fell and his gear "failed."


(This post was edited by climbsomething on Mar 17, 2009, 11:17 AM)


caliclimbergrl


Mar 17, 2009, 11:21 AM
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That's all fine if that's what really happened. My issue isn't that they aren't being specific enough, but that it sounds like they might be just wrong about what happened. If the death and injuries really was because of gear failure, fine. But it just sounds unlikely to me that enough gear failed to result in him hitting the belayer hard enough to cause serious injuries to the belayer and then continue falling. If that's what happened, I'll take it all back and in that case, I don't think the reporters did anything wrong. But I suspect that it's not just vague because of the audience they're writing for, but inaccurate.


brotherbbock


Mar 17, 2009, 11:25 AM
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climbingnoise wrote:
This is super sad. I'm going to Jtree this weekend, I was going to make a post asking what is the best area to go to if I want to sport to 5.10- or boulder v0 -v3, but I'm thinking I would like to know what would be a good place to go to get to head up on some of Woody's routes (problems?) in tribute?
Go climb the Dogleg on the Old Woman Formation in Hidden Valley. Classic jamming.


climbsomething


Mar 17, 2009, 11:26 AM
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caliclimbergrl wrote:
k.l.k wrote:
dingus wrote:
k.l.k wrote:
If we want better reporting from US papers, we'd better begin to cultivate closer relations with what remains of editorial staff.

I respectfully ask - what's the point? Organization, group think and PR firms - these are a few of the reasons I took up climbing to ESCAPE!

If casually stupid news articles are the price for being on the fringe? That's a cheap price.

I don't believe that's the price. I think the price is land closure and regulation of a sport that most taxpayers think is stupid, dangerous, and possibly environmentally unsound. But we can have that debate in another thread.

The P-E story isn't up yet, at least online.

Exactly. I wrote a bunch more and then deleted it because I don't want to hijack a thread about a tragic death, so we can talk about the how climbing is portrayed in the media and it's implications somewhere else. But I do want to say that another thing that annoyed me about the articles were that the misinformation make it sound like Woody Stark was either a novice who died because he didn't know what he is doing which is obviously not the case and is extremely disrespectful. I know journalists get things wrong all the time, but that is still going to bother me. Other articles that recognize who he was make it sound like he was some immature old adrenaline junkie who drove recklessly and took wild risks when climbing. This doesn't seem honest either. The man died -- it bothers me that they would imply these things in the result of a very sad accident that resulted in a death!

Anyway, I hope a more accurate article comes out soon.
Do you know Woody? I don't, so I can't say anything about the portrayals. But it seems like you're extremely sensitive to them. Is there a reason?

On the most basic, basic level, yes, he fell and died. That's all these stories are saying at this point. They're not saying he was a gumby. And we all know that even very experienced people can die tragic deaths when their gear fails, isn't placed or used properly, or they just fall in such a way.

I don't think Gordon's quotes make him sound like an immature old adrenaline junkie. They make him sound like a fun, driven person who didn't let age get in the way of enjoying himself. If that's the case,and Woody were my dad, I'd be comforted to see him remembered that way.

I'd respectfully suggest that you're reading into these stories far too much. If you have a uniquely personal reason for that, I'm very sorry for your loss.


caliclimbergrl


Mar 17, 2009, 11:32 AM
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No, I'd never heard of him before this thread actually. Though in hindsight, I'm sure I've seen him name in my guidebooks since I've done some of his routes. Maybe he was an immature adrenaline junkie. But I suspect this isn't the case.

And I do think that first article posted (http://www.kesq.com/global/story.asp?s=10012862) does imply that he was a total gumby. They say that his grip weakened, all his gear blew, and his fall was eventually stopped by his partner's gear (the anchors I assume). And then they end the article saying that people who don't have proper equipment and training shouldn't climb. I guess it's not totally direct, but I do think they're implying that he lacked proper equipment and/or training.

I'm not personally effected by this, I just don't have anything better to do this morning that post on rc.com and I am curious as to what actually happened. That's all.


climbsomething


Mar 17, 2009, 11:34 AM
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caliclimbergrl wrote:
But I suspect that it's not just vague because of the audience they're writing for, but inaccurate.
That might have been all the info they had. If the truth comes out later, it will, but for now, this is all they knew, from the sources they had to trust on deadline to explain it for a finite news hole.

As is almost always the case with climbing fatalities, very few people know what happened and it will take time to explain it thoroughly, if it can ever be fully explained at all. Only Woody, and maybe his partner, knew exactly what happened. To have a detailed explanation the next day in a general audience newspaper IS pretty much impossible, but again, not because the reporters are necessarily dumbasses or don't care about accuracy. There are a lot of complex reasons why scenarios like this are very difficult to report accurately in any timeframe. (EDIT: by anybody)

Of course, it is very fashionable to just take out frustrations on the media.


(This post was edited by climbsomething on Mar 17, 2009, 11:44 AM)


Wunderkind


Mar 17, 2009, 11:36 AM
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It bothered me to read the last quote about "people who engage in climbing need to know what they're doing". It seemed to imply that Woody didn't.

He sounds like a great guy who enjoyed a long climbing career and contributed immensely to the sport and the community. I hope that I can enjoy one of his routes soon.


surfergirl


Mar 17, 2009, 11:37 AM
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my partner saw woody at the top, belaying, not climbing. maybe when the newspapers said all his gear failed, maybe they meant his anchor failed?


climbsomething


Mar 17, 2009, 11:39 AM
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caliclimbergrl wrote:


And I do think that first article posted (http://www.kesq.com/global/story.asp?s=10012862) does imply that he was a total gumby. They say that his grip weakened, all his gear blew, and his fall was eventually stopped by his partner's gear (the anchors I assume). And then they end the article saying that people who don't have proper equipment and training shouldn't climb. I guess it's not totally direct, but I do think they're implying that he lacked proper equipment and/or training.
That's obviously your opinion, informed by whatever experiences and emotions that I can't and won't project. But I still think you're being very sensitive to something that was never intended.


caliclimbergrl


Mar 17, 2009, 11:44 AM
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surfergirl wrote:
my partner saw woody at the top, belaying, not climbing. maybe when the newspapers said all his gear failed, maybe they meant his anchor failed?

Maybe, but even if it did, the next piece down should have stopped his fall. I don't understand how he could hit his belayer hard enough to crack ribs and cause internal injuries unless all of his gear failed. So maybe that is what happened. But even if that is the case, your account is still very different from the article's account. If you're right, I still think it's strange that he was pulled off of the top from a fall his second took while top roping. If that is what happened, he must not have had an anchor at the top. But for all of his gear to fail is strange. And then what was it that finally stopped the fall if his partner was climbing rather than anchored at a belay station?

Hopefully, we'll get an accurate account soon. This is a pretty tragic accident -- pioneer or not, I hate reading about climbers that die climbing!


majid_sabet


Mar 17, 2009, 11:51 AM
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caliclimbergrl wrote:
surfergirl wrote:
my partner saw woody at the top, belaying, not climbing. maybe when the newspapers said all his gear failed, maybe they meant his anchor failed?

Maybe, but even if it did, the next piece down should have stopped his fall. I don't understand how he could hit his belayer hard enough to crack ribs and cause internal injuries unless all of his gear failed. So maybe that is what happened. But even if that is the case, your account is still very different from the article's account. If you're right, I still think it's strange that he was pulled off of the top from a fall his second took while top roping. If that is what happened, he must not have had an anchor at the top. But for all of his gear to fail is strange. And then what was it that finally stopped the fall if his partner was climbing rather than anchored at a belay station?

Hopefully, we'll get an accurate account soon. This is a pretty tragic accident -- pioneer or not, I hate reading about climbers that die climbing!

No
If the bealyer falls from an anchor while follower is climbing ,it would be a disaster.


caliclimbergrl


Mar 17, 2009, 11:56 AM
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Well, than that's probably what happened.

But why wouldn't any of his gear hold him if he got pulled off from the top while belaying? I'm sure you're right -- I've obviously never had this happen and I've never seen it happen or even really thought about it -- I've just taken care to make sure my anchors were bomber. But I have seen many experienced people belay from the top without putting in an anchor. So what would happen if you got yanked off the top with no anchor or an anchor failed? Why wouldn't any of your gear stop your fall? Why would this be so different from the follower falling and yanking the leader off the rock during a simul-climb?

Feel free to call me an idiot, but I really would like to know?


curt


Mar 17, 2009, 12:14 PM
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caliclimbergrl wrote:
Well, than that's probably what happened.

But why wouldn't any of his gear hold him if he got pulled off from the top while belaying? I'm sure you're right -- I've obviously never had this happen and I've never seen it happen or even really thought about it -- I've just taken care to make sure my anchors were bomber. But I have seen many experienced people belay from the top without putting in an anchor. So what would happen if you got yanked off the top with no anchor or an anchor failed? Why wouldn't any of your gear stop your fall? Why would this be so different from the follower falling and yanking the leader off the rock during a simul-climb?

Feel free to call me an idiot, but I really would like to know?

I doubt very much that's what happened. A lead fall while down climbing seems much more consistent with the observed outcomes.

Curt

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