Forums: Climbing Information: Accident and Incident Analysis:
07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV
RSS FeedRSS Feeds for Accident and Incident Analysis

Premier Sponsor:

 
First page Previous page 1 2 3 4 Next page Last page  View All


ontherocks


Jul 13, 2009, 6:46 AM
Post #1 of 76 (19787 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Sep 3, 2001
Posts: 155

07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I've got some sparse information about a fatality at Seneca Rocks last Saturday.

The information I got so far is that a leader was climbing the route "La Bella Vista", fell, and the (single) rope he was using was cut by a sharp edge, falling all the way to the ground.

La Bella Vista is a two pitches 5.10a trad, on the East Face of the South Peak, close to the South End. Most of the teams do only the 2nd pitch (there are other routes that converge to the base of that pitch), but I am not sure where the accident took place. This second pitch climbs an vertical arÍte to an overhang, easing the angle immediately after.

I usually use a single rope at Seneca, but I am considering to climb in doubles more often...

Someone has details of what happened? My sympathy and condolences to the friends and family of the climber.


naitch


Jul 13, 2009, 7:36 AM
Post #2 of 76 (19633 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 17, 2002
Posts: 535

Re: [ontherocks] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I was there Sat. on on a different part of the mountain. After getting down I talked to a guide that was in the vicinity of the accident. The climber had a new 9.4 Bluewater according to him. I didn't ask, but I also assume that it was on the second pitch of the climb

I too would like to pass on condolences to the climber's family and partner.


IsayAutumn


Jul 13, 2009, 7:55 AM
Post #3 of 76 (19577 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Oct 8, 2008
Posts: 355

Re: [naitch] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I was there on Saturday also and was told by some of the guides in the vicinity of the accident that the belayer did not even feel any tension in the rope when his leader fell.

Nobody can say for sure what this means, but it would seem then that the rope was indeed cut by something sharp.

I was also told that the climber was high up (2nd pitch) on Bella Vista and that he was not wearing a helmet.

I don't think that I knew the climber, but I was told that he climbed at my local gym. I would like to offer my condolences to family and friends.


scrapedape


Jul 13, 2009, 8:04 AM
Post #4 of 76 (19556 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jun 23, 2004
Posts: 2392

Re: [IsayAutumn] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

My thoughts are with the friends, family, and partner of the victim.

A good friend and partner of mine was nearby when this accident happened. He was pretty shaken up by it.

Everything I know about the accident is hearsay, so I won't repeat it here.


glytch


Jul 13, 2009, 8:07 AM
Post #5 of 76 (19541 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Aug 28, 2006
Posts: 194

Re: [ontherocks] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Thank you for posting this information, and my condolences to any family members or friends who are reading this. A cut rope is a terrifying prospect, and I hope that more information will come to light as to the circumstances surrnounding the fall.


majid_sabet


Jul 13, 2009, 8:17 AM
Post #6 of 76 (19502 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 12, 2002
Posts: 8360

Re: [ontherocks] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (2 ratings)  
Can't Post

is there any picture of the route that you guys can post ?


scrapedape


Jul 13, 2009, 8:48 AM
Post #7 of 76 (19395 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jun 23, 2004
Posts: 2392

Re: [majid_sabet] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

http://mountainproject.com/...069_large_675a22.jpg

The route should be visible in this photo from MountainProject. I believe it follows the fin of rock which is visible on the right of the photo, above about the middle of the photo, to the right of the shadowed chimney.


Gmburns2000


Jul 13, 2009, 8:51 AM
Post #8 of 76 (19383 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Mar 6, 2007
Posts: 15171

Re: [glytch] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

glytch wrote:
Thank you for posting this information, and my condolences to any family members or friends who are reading this. A cut rope is a terrifying prospect, and I hope that more information will come to light as to the circumstances surrnounding the fall.

+1 very scary. Condonlences to the family and friends.


bandycoot


Jul 13, 2009, 9:23 AM
Post #9 of 76 (19280 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Nov 25, 2002
Posts: 2028

Re: [Gmburns2000] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (1 rating)  
Can't Post

Definitely a tragic day on the rocks, and best wishes and condolences to friends and family. I, however, disagree with all those who call this scary. A fully cut rope is such a rare occurrence that it is pointless to let this affect your climbing. Someone died on the road today, somewhere, and I'm still driving to work. Is the climb bolted? Should a bolt be moved? That would be my main concern.


Gmburns2000


Jul 13, 2009, 9:41 AM
Post #10 of 76 (19224 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Mar 6, 2007
Posts: 15171

Re: [bandycoot] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

bandycoot wrote:
Definitely a tragic day on the rocks, and best wishes and condolences to friends and family. I, however, disagree with all those who call this scary. A fully cut rope is such a rare occurrence that it is pointless to let this affect your climbing.

I think the scariness is a result of feeling unintended free fall knowing the rope isn't going to catch you. It is certainly rare, but to say that moment where you realize the rope isn't going to catch you isn't scary is, well, crazy (in my opinion).


naitch


Jul 13, 2009, 9:43 AM
Post #11 of 76 (19217 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 17, 2002
Posts: 535

Re: [bandycoot] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

bandycoot wrote:
Definitely a tragic day on the rocks, and best wishes and condolences to friends and family. I, however, disagree with all those who call this scary. A fully cut rope is such a rare occurrence that it is pointless to let this affect your climbing. Someone died on the road today, somewhere, and I'm still driving to work. Is the climb bolted? Should a bolt be moved? That would be my main concern.

It's trad...no bolts that I know of. Spinnaker which shares the same fin/arete is the bolted route


scrapedape


Jul 13, 2009, 9:58 AM
Post #12 of 76 (19167 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jun 23, 2004
Posts: 2392

Re: [bandycoot] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

bandycoot wrote:
Definitely a tragic day on the rocks, and best wishes and condolences to friends and family. I, however, disagree with all those who call this scary. A fully cut rope is such a rare occurrence that it is pointless to let this affect your climbing. Someone died on the road today, somewhere, and I'm still driving to work. Is the climb bolted? Should a bolt be moved? That would be my main concern.

The very rareness of a cut rope is precisely what makes it so scary, in my opinion.

I think it would be misguided to not let this affect one's climbing, at least to the extent of maintaining a vigilance for sharp edges and managing your rope accordingly.

We are accustomed to thinking that ropes don't fail. This is a stark reminder that they do, given the opportunity.


glytch


Jul 13, 2009, 10:06 AM
Post #13 of 76 (19136 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Aug 28, 2006
Posts: 194

Re: [bandycoot] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (1 rating)  
Can't Post

bandycoot wrote:
Definitely a tragic day on the rocks, and best wishes and condolences to friends and family. I, however, disagree with all those who call this scary. A fully cut rope is such a rare occurrence that it is pointless to let this affect your climbing. Someone died on the road today, somewhere, and I'm still driving to work. Is the climb bolted? Should a bolt be moved? That would be my main concern.

You raise a very well taken point cautioning us against an alarmist response.

What is alarming, here, and where I think your driving parallel weakens, is in the nature of a car accident. The equivalent driving example of a cut rope is something on the order of a steering or complete braking failure on the highway. If I turned on the news this morning, reports of a fatal car accident caused by an rare but very dangerous mechanical failure would definitely give me pause.

If I had plans to go climbing today, I'd still be going... but I would have a keen eye on any ominously sharp looking rocks.


dingus


Jul 13, 2009, 10:38 AM
Post #14 of 76 (19018 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 16, 2002
Posts: 17392

Re: [scrapedape] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (3 ratings)  
Can't Post

scrapedape wrote:
bandycoot wrote:
Definitely a tragic day on the rocks, and best wishes and condolences to friends and family. I, however, disagree with all those who call this scary. A fully cut rope is such a rare occurrence that it is pointless to let this affect your climbing. Someone died on the road today, somewhere, and I'm still driving to work. Is the climb bolted? Should a bolt be moved? That would be my main concern.

The very rareness of a cut rope is precisely what makes it so scary, in my opinion.

I think it would be misguided to not let this affect one's climbing, at least to the extent of maintaining a vigilance for sharp edges and managing your rope accordingly.

We are accustomed to thinking that ropes don't fail. This is a stark reminder that they do, given the opportunity.

Fewer things scarier to me than jugging on a loaded fixed rope left in place for a period of time.

I give rope cuttage ample consideration when lead climbing. So this incident will not affect me to 'make me do it more,'

I already do it.

What seems to stick in folks craw is this...

'rope cuts happen so rarely that its basically not worth worrying about'... rationalization completely evaporates when the rope actually gets cut.

The thing? Yall can't hide from the inherent RISK of rock climbing. You can do everything right and still die doing it.

YOU CAN DO EVERYTHING RIGHT AND STILL DIE ANYWAY.

You cannot eliminate this risk from climbing and still call it climbing.

Your rope could get cut. This incident obliterates the 'can't happen to me' rationalization. Sensible people get nervous when their rationalizations are revealed to be self-delusions designed to hide risk.

DMT


(This post was edited by dingus on Jul 13, 2009, 10:42 AM)


dingus


Jul 13, 2009, 10:40 AM
Post #15 of 76 (19001 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 16, 2002
Posts: 17392

Re: [glytch] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

glytch wrote:
If I had plans to go climbing today, I'd still be going... but I would have a keen eye on any ominously sharp looking rocks.

Well if you never paid heed to rope cutting before... then your newfound attention is a good thing.

But you should have been thinking about this all along.

Cheers
DMT


moose_droppings


Jul 13, 2009, 10:48 AM
Post #16 of 76 (18960 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jun 7, 2005
Posts: 3356

Re: [ontherocks] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Peace and condolences to all family and friends.


majid_sabet


Jul 13, 2009, 11:39 AM
Post #17 of 76 (18819 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 12, 2002
Posts: 8360

Re: [dingus] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (3 ratings)  
Can't Post

Dingus is right about risks and cutting rope cause this would be the third report I had ever seen involving rope cut however and not to derail this post, I like to know if using smaller size rope diameter (in this case 9.something) lowered the safety factor vs using 10.5 or 11 mm rope which some of the old schoolers including myself are prefer to use on lead.


hyhuu


Jul 13, 2009, 12:13 PM
Post #18 of 76 (18721 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jul 25, 2001
Posts: 492

Re: [majid_sabet] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

My condolences to the climber's family and friends.

Something must have gone really wrong. If my memory serves me correctly, the hard climbing for the route is in the intial sectionof the 2nd pitch just right off the belay station where there are no sharp rocks. The rocks only turn sharp on the upper section but the climbing up there is relatively easy but good protections are hard to find.


scrapedape


Jul 13, 2009, 12:13 PM
Post #19 of 76 (18717 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jun 23, 2004
Posts: 2392

Re: [majid_sabet] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

majid_sabet wrote:
Dingus is right about risks and cutting rope cause this would be the third report I had ever seen involving rope cut however and not to derail this post, I like to know if using smaller size rope diameter (in this case 9.something) lowered the safety factor vs using 10.5 or 11 mm rope which some of the old schoolers including myself are prefer to use on lead.

Majid, in my opinion at least that is not derailing the thread, but is a very valid question as far as analysing this accident is concerned.

To my mind, there can be little doubt that all else being equal, a skinnier rope is going to reduce the margin of safety compared with a comparable but thicker rope. Whether that would have made the difference in this specific case is an open question and will probably never be resolved.

Ropes have gotten skinnier and the market has eagerly embraced them. These ropes pass the same tests and meet the same standards as older, thicker ropes, so what's to lose? But there are myriad attributes that are not captured by standardized drop tests, and it is possible that these skinnier ropes have become less cut-resistant than their fatter predecessors. Much like our anchors are rarely subjected to worst-case loading, our ropes are rarely subjected to falls with nasty cutting potential - so it's possible that we've diminished that margin of safety without even realizing it.

But in this specific case, I doubt we can ever conclude decisively whether this was the deciding factor.


jacurry243


Jul 13, 2009, 12:29 PM
Post #20 of 76 (18655 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Aug 24, 2005
Posts: 18

Re: [ontherocks] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (2 ratings)  
Can't Post

Me and two friends were waiting for mitch to get up the burn when we heard the noise. We dropped our kit and made our way over to the drop zone. At first we didn't see anything and then we looked down onto the trail that leads off Roy Gap Road up to the drop zone. Three other climbers who were about to head up skyline had made their way over and sent someone down to call 911. My two friends are nurses so we were going through the ABC, checked pulse and realized that the climber had expired.

At first I didn't see a tie-in so I thought perhaps he had fallen somewhere on the lower broadway and down into the drop zone. The amount of rock fall we heard along with the fall made me think he had simply slipped on some rocks up close to the top of the buttress- mnay of us unrope after we have finished that route and are about to traverse over to lunch ledge on the west face.

After examining closer though I saw the core strands and then realized that part of his rope was wrapped around his leg- I couldn't tell maybe 5-8 feet- which had probably occurred during the tumble.

A guide closeby who saw the whole thing was busy getting his clients down and at the same time talking the partner above through calmly rapping down to safety. The partner rigged a retrievable rappel on his anchor (which was about the base of the second pitch of La Bella Vista or basically the top of skyline P1. He made it down to the Candy Corner anchors and fixed a single rope and came down. Me and my friend's wife were there at the bottom to kind of calm the partner down and keep him from walking down to the fallen climber.

Everyone came together in the community and was extremely helpful and outgoing in the most sincerely humane way. It reminded me how much I love climbers and of the bond we all have in this sport. I know the partner was very appreciative of this.

La Bella Vista is an interesting lead. The second pitch is the money pitch and no one climbs the first pitch. if you've ever topped out on P1 of Skyline buttress and looked straight up and the thin, somewhat overhanging arete that's Bella Vista. Is climbs te spine of the arete.

The climber's partner mentioned that the leader was about 10 feet above his last piece when he fell and that there was a tug on the rope but not the tug he was anticipating. He kept waiting for the standard 20 foot lead fall YANK and it never came. The piece held, which means that the rope severed somewhere between the leader and his last piece. Furthermore, if a piece is rated for 10-15KN, the rope rated for 25+KN the rope simply didn't snap, or else the gear would have been severely compromised- we would have had that evidence. The only reason I mention this is because one person that morning mentioned that he thought the rope just snapped from the fall alone. This is probably not the case.

I've seen some other posts here so no need to replicate information: rope was brand new; rope was 9.4mm blue water; rope was 60 meter.

After talking through this with many of my friends who also climb I have made an estimate, that I wholly put to everyone as my own, I am by no means stating what indeed happened. I don't want to speculate wildly and honestly we may never know what truly happened. But after going through it in my head here's what I beleive [believe] happened:

The leader was climbing a very thin flake that at one point is overhung. After the overhang the angle backs off. One can see this in the silouette of the climb. I'm afraid that as the leader progressed above the belay, a height I do not know of, he crossed from one side of the flake to the other- climbing the way we all do which is going where the holds are. This also might have meant that his rope transversed teh [the] flake depending on where his gear was. No matter though, he was 10 feet above his gear and there was 5-8 feet of rope attached to him in the drop zone. His rope cut after the final piece. My estimation is that he was on the east face of the flake and his rope was dangling below him on the west face and that it was hung up on eihter [either, eater, ether] a small ledge, flake, or rope eating constriction. We have all gotten our ropes stuck in one of those stubborn rope-eating cracks and know how tough they are to retrieve- especially after rapping from a long day's climbing.

I'm afraid that the initial light tug the second felt was the rope beginning to become taught through the constriction, an that the constriction cut the rope, or at best tightened down on the 5 feet of rope. Put this length on on a 20 foot fall, and that's a factor 4 stress on the rope. They aren't designed for that purpose, although I imagine it could withstand that force without the presence of any sharp objects. Throw in a few dirt particles in the core, or the slightest sharp edge and at that tension I bet you could look at the rope acutely and it would snap.

I'm really sorry this is probably a horrible description. My heart goes out to all climbers about this whole thing and to the family and friends of the leader.

One after thought is that doubles are safer on this terrain where there is a risk of one rope cutting exists.

All climbers are intellectuals and climb taking calculated risks, accepting responsibility for our actions. I encourage everyone to keep climbing in light of this horrible season we've had so far. It truly has been horrible. Think deeply about the joy you have when you climb and the freedom it brings you and the bond you form with other climbers.

Again sorry for the poor penmanship here.

James Curry


jacurry243


Jul 13, 2009, 12:38 PM
Post #21 of 76 (18638 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Aug 24, 2005
Posts: 18

Re: [majid_sabet] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Hey Majid, I seriously doubt that an 11mm could have withstood what I beleive cut this rope in this instance. I've thought about it a lot and talked to some other friends. I honestly think that any rope would have cut in this situation.


ontherocks


Jul 13, 2009, 1:07 PM
Post #22 of 76 (18566 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Sep 3, 2001
Posts: 155

Re: [jacurry243] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Thanks a lot for the information and analysis, James. I believe it is very helpful, and hopefully will get us all a bit safer.

Very sad indeed.


majid_sabet


Jul 13, 2009, 1:36 PM
Post #23 of 76 (18463 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 12, 2002
Posts: 8360

Re: [jacurry243] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (2 ratings)  
Can't Post

Several important things are missing about the whole accident which are extremely critical and i hope you could provide some info about them.

1- Rope distance between the tie-in fig 8 and the cut area
2-Any visual examination of the edge area to see if they were any evidence of rope material been left on the rock .

Thanks


jacurry243


Jul 13, 2009, 1:41 PM
Post #24 of 76 (18449 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Aug 24, 2005
Posts: 18

Re: [majid_sabet] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I said 5-8 feet wrapped around his leg. As for the edge I can't help you there.


tradmanclimbs


Jul 13, 2009, 1:47 PM
Post #25 of 76 (18423 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 24, 2003
Posts: 2599

Re: [jacurry243] 07/11/2009 - Accident and fatality at Seneca Rocks, WV [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

 Sad day in a sad week... Rope does not need to get jammed in a constriction to cut, all it needs to do is hang over the flake/fin and if there is a sharp edge there it wil cut like butter when weighted. Body weight usually does the trick even without a fall if the edge is truely sharp. That being said, in Sterlings tests the fatter the rope the better the cut resistance.... But they all still cut if the edge is sharp enough...

First page Previous page 1 2 3 4 Next page Last page  View All

Forums : Climbing Information : Accident and Incident Analysis

 


Search for (options)

Log In:

Username:
Password: Remember me:

Go Register
Go Lost Password?



Follow us on Twiter Become a Fan on Facebook