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Accident on Mt. Lemmon
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Partner robdotcalm


Dec 7, 2009, 8:19 PM
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Accident on Mt. Lemmon
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The following accident report appeared on Mt. Project.
http://www.mountainproject.com/..._mt_lemmon/106622608

The opinions expressed are sufficiently mystifying and unique that I thought some here might find it of interest.

« Hey fellow climbers. I wanted to make a note on this climb after an accident a climber I was belaying had on this route on friday December 4th 2009. As we know a lot of routes on Mt. Lemmon have a pretty good run-out to the first bolt. With this climb there is a long run out to the first safety bolt. The climber did not know this was a mixed route and started the climb. After making the first 15ft to the fist bolt he realized it was a trad route and despite my plea to come down he decided to attempt the 15 ft run out to the second safety bolt with no gear. (climber ego got in the way). While clipping the second bolt the climber fell 30 ft to the rock below. I was the belayer on the fall and was able to slow him down enough that he didn't die. The climber broke his L1 &L2 vertebrae and his right arm. If the climber was prepared and had studied up (like he said he did) this fall could have been avoided.This is a great, easy, fun climb with the appropriate gear. Bolts and small cams (1-2's will work great) I now have 2nd degree rope burns on my right hand from creating tension on his line to slow him down. I couldn't run backwards because of a large tree located in the belay spot. I now know to take a different spot while belaying but even still i am not confident a run backwards would have slowed him down adequately to achieve the same result. The climber had to be heli-vac'd off the mountain, it took 3 hours total to get him down. It took 45 minutes for the first rescue personnel to arrive on scene. I learned a lot from this accident and I hope the climber did too.»

From a second post by the belayer


« learned a few lessons:
1. A climber cant climb without a belay. I was never really aware that I could refuse a belay on a more experienced climber even if the climber is insistent.
2. As a belayer I also have the authority to lower a climber down if he/she does not listen to me mid route. In this case I told him to come down at the first clip... knowing what i know now i should have lowered him down when he was sitting at that clip.
3. It the responsibility of all parties on the mountain to research routes before climbing them.
4. Although I was wearing belay gloves they were too big and did not fully protect my fingers, so having the right size gloves is very important.
5. Check your belay spot, make sure there is enough room to make evasive maneuvers in case of a fall like running backwards or jumping off a ledge. (in my case would not of helped my climber because of the rate of fall and the weight difference between us)
6. Flip flops make great splinting tools
7. Carry extra webbing to make gear if need be.
8. Leave your ego at base camp
9. Climbers and belayers have a symbiotic relationship. The climber needs to make sure the route they are choosing to climb will also be a safe route to belay.
10. I know you are not supposed to pull on the rope for risk of injury, and i know that having 2 injuries on the mt is way worse then one. In this case pulling on the rope was the only way to save his life... I would want a belayer to do the same thing for me. Many climbers out there say I was wrong and that they would just take slack, break, and pray... Me? I would much rather have 2 concussions then one casket. If i was in the same situation again: I would pull the rope and this is after days of reflection. This experience has made me very aware of the people I climb with, and they qualities I expect from a partner.»

Gratias et valete bene!
RobertusPunctumPacificus


patto


Dec 7, 2009, 8:58 PM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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Sounds like a silly mistake by the leader.

May I ask how you got your rope burns? Was it on your brake hand and was your brake hand below the device or behind your at your side? Or where you busy taking in rope?


jakedatc


Dec 8, 2009, 7:02 AM
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Re: [patto] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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patto wrote:
Sounds like a silly mistake by the leader.

May I ask how you got your rope burns? Was it on your brake hand and was your brake hand below the device or behind your at your side? Or where you busy taking in rope?

patto rob was not the OP. he's just cross posting it here.


boadman


Dec 9, 2009, 12:20 PM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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It's weird that no one on MP asks the OP about the burnt hand issue. To me that sounds like she actually dropped him. If there was 15 feet between the 1st and second bolt and between the first bolt and the ground and he fell before he reached the second bolt he should have been kept just off the ground by an attentive belayer. It sounds like she tried to pull in slack, lost control of the rope, and got her hand burnt as she watched him hit the ground.


hansundfritz


Dec 9, 2009, 12:28 PM
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Re: [boadman] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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Based on what I read on MP, I think her brake hand was fine -- she burned her off hand trying to pull in slack after she locked off. Again -- I THINK that's what I understood from reading between the lines. Not sure how she burned her hand with belay gloves on. That's another interesting question.


jt512


Dec 9, 2009, 12:36 PM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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Gumby belayer drops gumby leader. Welcome to Tucson, the Pennsylvania of the West.

Jay


boymeetsrock


Dec 9, 2009, 12:39 PM
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Re: [boadman] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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I think you may have misread. Leader was clipping at the second bolt.


jt512


Dec 9, 2009, 12:41 PM
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Re: [hansundfritz] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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hansundfritz wrote:
Based on what I read on MP, I think her brake hand was fine -- she burned her off hand trying to pull in slack after she locked off.

It's a little weird that she burned her right hand. My best guess that she was belaying left-handed, and, instead of pulling in slack with her belay hand to shorten the fall, as a competent belayer would, she pulled in slack in the leader's side of the rope with her guide hand. Gumby.

In reply to:
Not sure how she burned her hand with belay gloves on. That's another interesting question.

This is plausible. I have had my hand get quite hot through a glove when trying to lower a climber quickly.

Jay


deschamps1000


Dec 9, 2009, 2:20 PM
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Re: [jt512] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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jt512 wrote:
Gumby belayer drops gumby leader. Welcome to Tucson, the Pennsylvania of the West.

Jay

Ha! Jay, come on out for a visit. We'll put you on some lines put up by some of our "gumby" locals that will make you pucker nice and tight for weeks!


ClimbClimb


Dec 9, 2009, 3:20 PM
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Re: [deschamps1000] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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Terrible, hopefully the climber gets well soon. And whatever fault there is or isn't in this, it's got to take a whiel to process watching your partner deck from 30+ feet above.

It'd be good to get more details. Could happen to anyone, not sure how much there's to learn here beyond "don't fall on no-fall sections -- or place extra pro if you plan to".


jt512


Dec 9, 2009, 7:05 PM
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Re: [deschamps1000] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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deschamps1000 wrote:
jt512 wrote:
Gumby belayer drops gumby leader. Welcome to Tucson, the Pennsylvania of the West.

Jay

Ha! Jay, come on out for a visit. We'll put you on some lines put up by some of our "gumby" locals that will make you pucker nice and tight for weeks!

Thanks. I was out there weekend before last, and plan to return weekend after next.

Jay


Trixie


Dec 10, 2009, 3:42 AM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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I had to read it a few times before the penny dropped (oops, soz). With approx 30 ft of rope out and a single bolt at 15 feet, the climber is lucky to be alive! With the slack in the system as the climber tried to clip the second bolt.....just doesn't beare thinking about.

I have to admit, that would be my nightmare scenario as a belayer. Too much rope, nowhere to run backwards. How much rope could you realistically expect to pull through a belay device? Given the stretch in the rope, would it be about 6 feet you'd need to stop the climber decking?

Be gentle with me, I'm a noobUnsure

Trixie Cool


acorneau


Dec 10, 2009, 8:29 AM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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Sorry to hear this person decked.

However, my first thought: I wonder if the leader pulled out a lot of rope to try to clip the second draw way above his head (like so many people do). If he did he probably negated any slack the belayer tried to take in when he fell.


Partner robdotcalm


Dec 10, 2009, 9:26 AM
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Re: [jt512] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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jt512 wrote:

This is plausible. I have had my hand get quite hot through a glove when trying to lower a climber quickly.

Jay

Lowering a climber so fast that your hand gets hot thru a glove seems to be a gratuitously unsafe thing to do. Why does anyone do that other than to show off (as I've observed in gyms and sport crags)?

Cheers,
Rob.calm


Gmburns2000


Dec 10, 2009, 9:50 AM
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Re: [Trixie] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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hmmmm...


jt512


Dec 10, 2009, 10:10 AM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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robdotcalm wrote:
jt512 wrote:

This is plausible. I have had my hand get quite hot through a glove when trying to lower a climber quickly.

Jay

Lowering a climber so fast that your hand gets hot thru a glove seems to be a gratuitously unsafe thing to do. Why does anyone do that other than to show off (as I've observed in gyms and sport crags)?

Doing laps for endurance training, you want to simulate continuous climbing, so you want to get the climber to the ground as quickly as possible, to minimize the break between laps. That's one reason.

Jay


Partner robdotcalm


Dec 10, 2009, 11:13 AM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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The belayer has contributed the following information on Mt Project:

«What i meant by creating tension on the line was: I had my left hand on break, had take up as much slack as possible that way but at the last minute I realized there was still too much rope so with my right hand I jumped up and grabbed the climbers side of the rope to create tension while still breaking with my left.»

Well, her heart's in the right place, but I don't think her R hand was.

Cheers,
Rob.calm


olderic


Dec 10, 2009, 12:33 PM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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robdotcalm wrote:
The belayer has contributed the following information on Mt Project:

«What i meant by creating tension on the line was: I had my left hand on break, had take up as much slack as possible that way but at the last minute I realized there was still too much rope so with my right hand I jumped up and grabbed the climbers side of the rope to create tension while still breaking with my left.»

Well, her heart's in the right place, but I don't think her R hand was.

Cheers,
Rob.calm

If she had tried braking with her hands she probably woudn't have burnt them.


dugl33


Dec 10, 2009, 1:21 PM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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I've spent a little time at Mount Lemmon and its got some great climbing.

People, perhaps fairly often, mistakenly think this a sport climbing area -- in many ways it is not. You might even say bolts supplement the runouts between gear sets, not the other way around. Its just the nature of the rock there and the bolting ethic of the FAs. Routes quickly go from PG to R or even X when this reality is ignored.

The leader made an unfortunate call that didn't work out. Its not for me to judge, the guy saw the risk and decided to go for it. Its also tough to say if the belayer could have done more. Somehow I've never had rope burns from belaying in many years of climbing, yet somehow I read about them fairly often. I certainly don't think the belayer had a moral obligation to refuse the guy a belay, locking off the rope at the first bolt so the dude couldn't continue. I guess if as a belayer you simply aren't comfortable with your partners risk... hmmm, that's interesting territory.

With a high first clip, its actually tough to take out much slack with a bruce-jenner belay, due to the angle of the rope through the pro. Probably the best one can hope for is a single slack pull of a few feet and sit down, which can take out another couple of feet.

I had a climber fall once from down low (second bolt, clipping 3rd) with a full arm of slack out trying to clip. She was panicked, I told her to drop the rope, she did not. I told her to grab the draw, she did not. Adios, airborne. She didn't deck, but not by much. She nearly puked, but was ultimately unscathed. A belayer can only do so much. Don't expect a miracle.

BTW, no rope burns.Tongue


ClimbClimb


Dec 10, 2009, 2:58 PM
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Re: [dugl33] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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[quote "dugl33". A belayer can only do so much. Don't expect a miracle.
Well-said.


zeke_sf


Dec 10, 2009, 3:08 PM
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Re: [jt512] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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jt512 wrote:
robdotcalm wrote:
jt512 wrote:

This is plausible. I have had my hand get quite hot through a glove when trying to lower a climber quickly.

Jay

Lowering a climber so fast that your hand gets hot thru a glove seems to be a gratuitously unsafe thing to do. Why does anyone do that other than to show off (as I've observed in gyms and sport crags)?

Doing laps for endurance training, you want to simulate continuous climbing, so you want to get the climber to the ground as quickly as possible, to minimize the break between laps. That's one reason.

Jay

I'd rather downclimb than get decked fagging off like that.


jt512


Dec 10, 2009, 3:28 PM
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zeke_sf wrote:
jt512 wrote:
robdotcalm wrote:
jt512 wrote:

This is plausible. I have had my hand get quite hot through a glove when trying to lower a climber quickly.

Jay

Lowering a climber so fast that your hand gets hot thru a glove seems to be a gratuitously unsafe thing to do. Why does anyone do that other than to show off (as I've observed in gyms and sport crags)?

Doing laps for endurance training, you want to simulate continuous climbing, so you want to get the climber to the ground as quickly as possible, to minimize the break between laps. That's one reason.

Jay

I'd rather downclimb than get decked fagging off like that.

So would I, but I'd rather get lowered quickly without getting decked than downclimbing.

Jay


boymeetsrock


Dec 10, 2009, 7:55 PM
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Re: [jt512] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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jt512 wrote:
zeke_sf wrote:
jt512 wrote:
robdotcalm wrote:
jt512 wrote:

This is plausible. I have had my hand get quite hot through a glove when trying to lower a climber quickly.

Jay

Lowering a climber so fast that your hand gets hot thru a glove seems to be a gratuitously unsafe thing to do. Why does anyone do that other than to show off (as I've observed in gyms and sport crags)?

Doing laps for endurance training, you want to simulate continuous climbing, so you want to get the climber to the ground as quickly as possible, to minimize the break between laps. That's one reason.

Jay

I'd rather downclimb than get decked fagging off like that.

So would I, but I'd rather get lowered quickly without getting decked than downclimbing.

Jay


heh... In the running for jt's worst post of the year. Crazy


Trixie


Dec 11, 2009, 2:11 AM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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robdotcalm wrote:
The belayer has contributed the following information on Mt Project:

«What i meant by creating tension on the line was: I had my left hand on break, had take up as much slack as possible that way but at the last minute I realized there was still too much rope so with my right hand I jumped up and grabbed the climbers side of the rope to create tension while still breaking with my left.»

Well, her heart's in the right place, but I don't think her R hand was.

Cheers,
Rob.calm

Where should her right hand have been? I'm confused. If it joined her left hand on the brake, the climber would have decked at full speed. The fact that her hand got burned shows that she managed to take some energy out of the fall and probably saved his life.

How quickly can the average belayer take in slack through a belay device? Come to think of it, what is an average belayer? Laugh


patto


Dec 11, 2009, 3:50 AM
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Re: [Trixie] Accident on Mt. Lemmon [In reply to]
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Trixie wrote:
Where should her right hand have been? I'm confused. If it joined her left hand on the brake, the climber would have decked at full speed. The fact that her hand got burned shows that she managed to take some energy out of the fall and probably saved his life.

If she braking properly then there shouldn't be any rope movement anyway! Maybe she took a last arm length that couldn't be locked off but she would have done better by sitting down!!!!

There is VERY little use holding onto the non brake side rope. I might yard in any loose slack in the moments before the fall but by the time the rope comes tight i will normally have BOTH hands on the brake side.

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