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Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks
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ensonik


Nov 29, 2010, 5:39 AM
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Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks
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[http://www.ktnv.com/Global/story.asp?S=13568973]
[http://www.mountainproject.com/v/injuries_and_accidents/accident_in_red_rocks_oak_creek_111510/106971160]

From the MP.com thread, it seems like no gear pulled, but she fell 50 feet after a hold broke.


troutboy


Nov 29, 2010, 5:40 AM
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Re: [ensonik] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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ensonik wrote:
[http://www.ktnv.com/Global/story.asp?S=13568973]
[http://www.mountainproject.com/v/injuries_and_accidents/accident_in_red_rocks_oak_creek_111510/106971160]

From the MP.com thread, it seems like no gear pulled, but she fell 50 feet after a hold broke.

http://www.ktnv.com/...story.asp?S=13568973
http://www.mountainproject.com/...eek_111510/106971160


billl7


Nov 29, 2010, 6:17 AM
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Re: [troutboy] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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Given that this is in the "accident and incident analysis" section, some thoughts / questions that come to mind:

a) eye witnesses report that a hold broke; can anyone elaborate on this detail?

b) eye witnesses climbing Johnny Vegas saw Heather Gray fall report that the fall occured on Johnny Vegas; which route, pitch and how far into the pitch was Heather Gray? [edit to fix my mistake]

c) did Heather pass up reasonably available pro which could have made a difference?

Note: virtually all traditional leaders have passed up available pro from time to time despite significant run out.

My heart goes out to those close to Heather Gray.

Bill L


(This post was edited by billl7 on Nov 29, 2010, 1:56 PM)


gblauer
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Nov 29, 2010, 8:27 AM
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Re: [billl7] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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Rest in Peace Heather Gray.


vegastradguy


Nov 29, 2010, 9:49 AM
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Re: [billl7] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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i've actually heard that she was on the Friar, not Johnny Vegas, which would make sense given the comments in the thread and alot for the 50' fall- the final pitch on that route is psychotically dangerous- no (or marginal if you can hang on long enough) pro, overhanging climbing on fragile holds, very high consequences. The one time i led it, i got to the top and wondered what was wrong with me.

if she was on JV, the only plausible pitch where one could take that kind of a fall if a hold broke would be the pitch bypassing the roof (pitch 3). there is no gear there, either.


majid_sabet


Nov 29, 2010, 10:22 AM
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Re: [ensonik] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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Does anyone knows who far she was from her last protection ?

Did she wear helmet ?


milesenoell


Nov 29, 2010, 10:35 AM
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Re: [ensonik] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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Bummer.


billcoe_


Nov 29, 2010, 12:05 PM
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Re: [vegastradguy] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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vegastradguy wrote:
i've actually heard that she was on the Friar, not Johnny Vegas, which would make sense given the comments in the thread and alot for the 50' fall- the final pitch on that route is psychotically dangerous- no (or marginal if you can hang on long enough) pro, overhanging climbing on fragile holds, very high consequences. The one time i led it, i got to the top and wondered what was wrong with me.

if she was on JV, the only plausible pitch where one could take that kind of a fall if a hold broke would be the pitch bypassing the roof (pitch 3). there is no gear there, either.

If true, although I appreciate runout climbs as much as the next person and tend to run the shit out of climbs in Red Rocks, even when pro is there, you locals should look and evaluate possibly adding a bolt....or 2.

When I first read the story, it said that she took a 50 footer on Solar slab. Solar Slab? I figured "user error". Based on your info, it looks like perhaps not. In either case, its damn sad. However, if she was on the Friar as you say and there was no pro to be had, another fatality there next week, next month or next year would be a needless travesty.


(This post was edited by billcoe_ on Nov 29, 2010, 12:06 PM)


vegastradguy


Nov 29, 2010, 1:28 PM
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Re: [billcoe_] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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billcoe_ wrote:
vegastradguy wrote:
i've actually heard that she was on the Friar, not Johnny Vegas, which would make sense given the comments in the thread and alot for the 50' fall- the final pitch on that route is psychotically dangerous- no (or marginal if you can hang on long enough) pro, overhanging climbing on fragile holds, very high consequences. The one time i led it, i got to the top and wondered what was wrong with me.

if she was on JV, the only plausible pitch where one could take that kind of a fall if a hold broke would be the pitch bypassing the roof (pitch 3). there is no gear there, either.

If true, although I appreciate runout climbs as much as the next person and tend to run the shit out of climbs in Red Rocks, even when pro is there, you locals should look and evaluate possibly adding a bolt....or 2.

When I first read the story, it said that she took a 50 footer on Solar slab. Solar Slab? I figured "user error". Based on your info, it looks like perhaps not. In either case, its damn sad. However, if she was on the Friar as you say and there was no pro to be had, another fatality there next week, next month or next year would be a needless travesty.

some days i agree, others not. the Friar is notoriously run-out and dangerous- its not a popular route for that exact reason.

its odd, to be sure, that we have virtually no info on what route she was on (another report is now saying the crux pitch of Beluah's, which is extremely well protected and a crack climb), so its really hard to evaluate and analyze what may have gone wrong.

in any event, its a total travesty and my condolences to her family and loved ones.


dynosore


Nov 29, 2010, 1:44 PM
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Re: [ensonik] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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Condolences to everyone who knew her.

It is always tempting to run it out because you're on easy terrain. I know I've been guilty of this. Not saying this is what happened here, but either way it's been brought up and it's a good reminder to place gear even when you're "sure" you're not going to fall. Next time I'm out I'll pay more attention to "what if this hold broke?"

edit: I'm not talking about single pitch crags. I'm talking about long moderate routes where time matters. I know I've scrambled things many times where the consequences of a fall would be fatal. I take the time to rope up now that I'm older and have a family to think about. It's always a judgment call, but tragedies like this remind me I'm not bulletproof. All indications are she was a very competent climber.


(This post was edited by dynosore on Nov 29, 2010, 1:51 PM)


Raiden


Nov 29, 2010, 3:56 PM
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Re: [vegastradguy] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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vegastradguy wrote:
billcoe_ wrote:
vegastradguy wrote:
i've actually heard that she was on the Friar, not Johnny Vegas, which would make sense given the comments in the thread and alot for the 50' fall- the final pitch on that route is psychotically dangerous- no (or marginal if you can hang on long enough) pro, overhanging climbing on fragile holds, very high consequences. The one time i led it, i got to the top and wondered what was wrong with me.

if she was on JV, the only plausible pitch where one could take that kind of a fall if a hold broke would be the pitch bypassing the roof (pitch 3). there is no gear there, either.

If true, although I appreciate runout climbs as much as the next person and tend to run the shit out of climbs in Red Rocks, even when pro is there, you locals should look and evaluate possibly adding a bolt....or 2.

When I first read the story, it said that she took a 50 footer on Solar slab. Solar Slab? I figured "user error". Based on your info, it looks like perhaps not. In either case, its damn sad. However, if she was on the Friar as you say and there was no pro to be had, another fatality there next week, next month or next year would be a needless travesty.

some days i agree, others not. the Friar is notoriously run-out and dangerous- its not a popular route for that exact reason.

its odd, to be sure, that we have virtually no info on what route she was on (another report is now saying the crux pitch of Beluah's, which is extremely well protected and a crack climb), so its really hard to evaluate and analyze what may have gone wrong.

in any event, its a total travesty and my condolences to her family and loved ones.

Somebody on MP stated that she was on the friar - I can't imagine they would say it so definitely if they weren't sure about it. So it seems to make more sense considering what you [vegastradguy] said about it earlier.


vegastradguy


Nov 29, 2010, 4:18 PM
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Re: [Raiden] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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Raiden wrote:
Somebody on MP stated that she was on the friar - I can't imagine they would say it so definitely if they weren't sure about it. So it seems to make more sense considering what you [vegastradguy] said about it earlier.

ah, this hadnt been posted when i first posted up. The Friar is a rather committing, bold, and scary route. I dont recommend it to anyone, really, as the consequences of a fall are so high on the upper two pitches.

The first two pitches (or first pitch, if you link them) go up a beautiful dihedral system, well protected , solid rock the whole way. These pitches are easily rapped with a single line and I highly recommend them.

The upper two pitches, though, are a different story. The third (or second if you link the first two) is a dicey, run-out slab pitch on iffy rock, that, while easy, is one of those pitches that falling simply isnt an option. I remember that the exit was pretty spooky, but fairly doable as long as the rock held. It's rated 5.7, but feels more like 5.9.

The final pitch goes up the backside of the free-standing boulder, stout moves off the deck lead up non-obvious terrain on crispy holds past iffy pro to a stance above the steep part. Just past this stance is bolt, followed by some fairly spooky climbing on iffy rock to the summit. The entire pitch is about 35' or so, but is quite scary and committing for its 5.9+ grade.

For a 50' fall, she would have almost had to have fallen off the pitch leading up to the block- as she wouldnt have fallen that far if she blew off the final pitch (the ledge below is quite substantial). The terrain down and left of the climb is blocky and pretty nasty territory, if i recall correctly...definitely a terrible fall potential.

(note: i noted earlier that it was likely the final pitch, which was conjecture and upon further reflection, its much more likely that it was the penultimate pitch, but time will tell).


Raiden


Nov 29, 2010, 4:28 PM
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Re: [vegastradguy] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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vegastradguy wrote:
The upper two pitches, though, are a different story. The third (or second if you link the first two) is a dicey, run-out slab pitch on iffy rock, that, while easy, is one of those pitches that falling simply isnt an option. I remember that the exit was pretty spooky, but fairly doable as long as the rock held. It's rated 5.7, but feels more like 5.9.

The final pitch goes up the backside of the free-standing boulder, stout moves off the deck lead up non-obvious terrain on crispy holds past iffy pro to a stance above the steep part. Just past this stance is bolt, followed by some fairly spooky climbing on iffy rock to the summit. The entire pitch is about 35' or so, but is quite scary and committing for its 5.9+ grade.

For a 50' fall, she would have almost had to have fallen off the pitch leading up to the block- as she wouldnt have fallen that far if she blew off the final pitch (the ledge below is quite substantial). The terrain down and left of the climb is blocky and pretty nasty territory, if i recall correctly...definitely a terrible fall potential.

(note: i noted earlier that it was likely the final pitch, which was conjecture and upon further reflection, its much more likely that it was the penultimate pitch, but time will tell).

Here is what the guy on MP said:
"To clarify, the accident occurred on The Friar, a route in the Lower Solar Slab area east of Johnny Vegas. I believe she was on the third pitch when she fell."
So that seems to be consistent with the pitch that you now figure she fell on. Very sad.


majid_sabet


Nov 29, 2010, 4:54 PM
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Re: [ensonik] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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LAS VEGAS -- The Clark County Coroner's Office identified the rock climber who died Thursday at Red Rock as Heather Gray, 42, of Vancouver, Canada.

The coroner's office said Gray died of blunt force trauma to the head from colliding with the rock face.


(This post was edited by majid_sabet on Nov 29, 2010, 4:54 PM)


USnavy


Nov 29, 2010, 8:23 PM
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Re: [ensonik] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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ensonik wrote:
[http://www.ktnv.com/Global/story.asp?S=13568973]
[http://www.mountainproject.com/v/injuries_and_accidents/accident_in_red_rocks_oak_creek_111510/106971160]

From the MP.com thread, it seems like no gear pulled, but she fell 50 feet after a hold broke.
Scary, I think I climbed Levitation 29 the day after it happened which is right around the corner. I remember hearing a chopper the day before roaming around.


(This post was edited by USnavy on Nov 29, 2010, 8:27 PM)


ClimbSoHigh


Nov 30, 2010, 10:47 AM
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Re: [majid_sabet] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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First, condolences to all who knew her, sounds like she knew what she was doing, and what she was getting into.

In reply to:
The coroner's office said Gray died of blunt force trauma to the head from colliding with the rock face.

Any word about a helmet or not? From what Vegastradguy said, it sounds like it might not have made a difference, but still makes me wonder. I could see a 50 footer causing severe blunt force trauma even if she was wearing a helmet.

RIP


majid_sabet


Nov 30, 2010, 10:57 AM
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Re: [ClimbSoHigh] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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ClimbSoHigh wrote:
First, condolences to all who knew her, sounds like she knew what she was doing, and what she was getting into.

In reply to:
The coroner's office said Gray died of blunt force trauma to the head from colliding with the rock face.

Any word about a helmet or not? From what Vegastradguy said, it sounds like it might not have made a difference, but still makes me wonder. I could see a 50 footer causing severe blunt force trauma even if she was wearing a helmet.

RIP
disagree


(This post was edited by majid_sabet on Nov 30, 2010, 10:59 PM)


healyje


Nov 30, 2010, 1:06 PM
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Re: [billcoe_] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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billcoe_ wrote:
If true, although I appreciate runout climbs as much as the next person and tend to run the shit out of climbs in Red Rocks, even when pro is there, you locals should look and evaluate possibly adding a bolt....or 2.

If the rock on the pitch were solid I wouldn't agree, but in this case with dubious rock I'd have to go along with the idea of adding a couple of bolts to the pitch - particularly if this line gets viewed as an alternative to the typically busy Beulah's and Vegas.

I also think there may also be some note in all this to be made by climbers coming to RR for the first time who hail from granite crags with great rock quality. Leading in RR is a continuous exercise in gauging rock quality and insuring you're using the 3-point rule at all times. Holds breaking is not a common experience in most crags and areas, but it is in RR and constantly assessing the quality of the rock and holds and adjusting your stances accordingly is a high imperative there.


brianinslc


Nov 30, 2010, 3:34 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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majid_sabet wrote:
I like to see vegas taking a 50 footer without helmet to see if it makes any difference.

Really?

Anyhow...I don't know, Joe, if bolts would really be that much of an option in that soft rock. Like previously said, those first two pitches are great, and, on bomber, dark patina rock. The third pitch is heads up, especially for the grade, on rock of very dubious quality. Also, its quite a common type of rock to climb in Red Rocks. Adding fixed protection on that terrain just isn't that practical. You can get gear, then, try to climb as light as possible.

Sad deal. My profound condolences to friends and family. We were there on Friday, climbing out of Juniper Canyon, and, it gave me a cold chill to hear about the accident, especially as I'd nearly tumbled myself after busting a couple of holds. I'm usually quite solid, and, am still thinking about the consequences of a fall...humbling... Makes me wonder if the storm that hit prior, and the cold weather, made the rock a tad more bustable. Possible. Stuff that seems solid was unusually not.

Take care out there.

-Brian in SLC


billcoe_


Dec 1, 2010, 1:31 PM
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Re: [brianinslc] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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Brianinslc, I probably speak for JH as well here. I wasn't advocating adding bolts to anything. I was advocating that locals examine the idea of adding....or not. One is only looking at it, the other is doing it. They are different things. I'm not suggesting you guys add a bolt to anything. Look closely and seriously at it is all.

Back a ways in time, I was right by a guy who ripped 3 or 4 pieces and died in front of his loved ones on equally soft Smith Rock welded tuff. Once we'd finished CPR when a ER Dr showed up and pronounced him dead, I would have added a bolt right then and there with no discussion had I thought it would have done any good for the next time. It's true that I mused on it for a week. However, the young man died where pro can be normally found. That being pumped out, he didn't find the placements, or having found them he still had many of his pieces pull (having gotten off route and chosen to fall, rather than down climb) was a series of bad choices not many others would ever make on this location. Sure it was possible it could happen again, but that's part of the game, to work on the mental issues involved. That one of those pieces that had failed for this guy had actually held 2 earlier falls he'd taken on it lower down was also an anomaly probably not to be seen again.

For this Friar thing: until folks actually figure out what happened, exactly where, and exactly why..the discussion of adding any bolts is premature. I was basing my thought that folks should look at it because Vegastradguy is pretty savvy, from what he says about the serious nature of a line like this: and in addition to the potential of getting more overflow tourists starting to be hitting on it when the nearby classic lines get busy.

If a single bolt could make a clean 50 foot ledge fall become a 40 foot clean (but otherwise still terrifying with some bad scraping and massive pants filling) fall, then it's worth examining and doing. If this is just one of those things like I posted above, then let it go and it stays as is.

It is worth examining. Wish all the best.



From Mountainproject:
In reply to:
For the record she was a very cautious climber. We all know people who are super cautious, Heather fit that category. She was capable of sending 5.12 when she was on her game.


(This post was edited by billcoe_ on Dec 1, 2010, 1:42 PM)


brianinslc


Dec 1, 2010, 1:39 PM
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billcoe_ wrote:
Brianinslc, I probably speak for JH as well here. ... I was right by a guy who ripped 3 or 4 pieces and died in front of his loved ones on equally soft Smith Rock welded tuff.

Being in the game for a while and experiencing, with friends, partners, etc, some of these consequences can alter ones perspective, to be sure. We've been debating the addition of bolts to severel routes here in the the Wasatch and, recently had a meeting to discuss such, where, a feller (friend of mine) stood up and explained why he did in terms of experience that most of the younger guys in the room hadn't had. Pretty darn sobering. And, really, good for folks to get that perspective to be sure.

The nature of a lot of climbing at Red Rocks is heads up, especially on almost all multi pitch type stuff there.

Be solid, safe, and take care.

Cheers,

-Brian in SLC
ps: Joe, make sure you and the gang sign my hammer! Double cheers!


healyje


Dec 1, 2010, 2:00 PM
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Re: [brianinslc] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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For my part, anyone who knows me knows I'm staunchly anti-bolt. I don't have a problem with runouts per se, so long as you're talking solid rock. But talking with a long-time local I know who said they won't lead that pitch because of the rock quality, I'd say add a bolt that would prevent an occurrence like this one. If the rock won't take a regular bolt then use a 1/2" x 6" or 8" 5pc with a Fixe SS 13mm hanger or use a large/long glue-in.


vegastradguy


Dec 1, 2010, 2:39 PM
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Re: [healyje] Fatal fall on Solar Slab - Red Rocks [In reply to]
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I appreciate the discussion- the Friar is kind of an interesting case. It's known as a bold and scary route due to its final pitch, but not much mention is made of the dangers of the third pitch.

In terms of refitting the route- one the one hand, its currently illegal, so any real discussion of it will have to wait until the new wilderness plan goes into effect- probably in 2-3 years. On the other, retrofitting the route in anticipation of traffic...its something we'll definitely have to consider. If we added a bolt to the third pitch, then it would follow that adding a bolt to the fourth would also be prudent, as the third serves as somewhat of a guardian to the fourth.

There is also the distinct possibility that she was off-route as well- I seem to recall that there were...options on that pitch in terms of which way to go. I recall that heading up and right before traversing left underneath the boulder was the best way to go in terms of path of least resistance, but that going directly up and left also seemed plausible.

One final thought- the Friar does not receive that much traffic- Ive never actually seen anyone on it. I've done the entire thing once, and the lower two pitches several times. I only know one other person who's done the upper pitches- so I'm not sure about adding a bolt in anticipation of traffic that may not materialize. Or possibly encouraging traffic that shouldnt be there in the first place given the nature of the final pitch.


healyje


Dec 1, 2010, 2:42 PM
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Hmmm, if it's known to be runout and R/X rated and it seldom sees traffic then it leaves me to wonder how they ended up on it.


vegastradguy


Dec 1, 2010, 2:46 PM
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healyje wrote:
Hmmm, if it's known to be runout and R/X rated and it seldom sees traffic then it leaves me to wonder how they ended up on it.

Its all speculation, but the Friar is a cool feature/aesthetic line- and if you're cranking .12s, a .9ish R/X isnt out of the question on a day you know the trade routes will be busy.

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Forums : Climbing Information : Accident and Incident Analysis

 


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