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Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011
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socalclimber


Apr 20, 2011, 6:54 AM
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Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011
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There was a rappelling accident on Monday on Walk On The Wild Side that resulted in a fatality. Unfortunately I do not have all the details yet. I am in touch with the leader of the SAR team and will give the details when the results of investigation are complete.

I am not trying to keep you all in suspense. What I am trying to accomplish is to control something we are all guilty of, conjecture and speculation.

As a public service announcement I will say to those of you who are either new to climbing, or new to Josh, don't underestimate the ratings out here, or anywhere for that matter. You may be a 5.11 climber at your home crag, but don't bet on it here.

When I was on SAR I responded to a number of bad accidents involving climbers who were basically in way over their heads. This included two deaths.

Another thing that I have noticed is that people are constantly assuming there are rap anchors everywhere. There are not. Josh descents can be very challenging and in some case dangerous if your down climbing skills are not solid or non-existent. Just because you heard or the guide book said there are rap anchors, don't bet on it. There has been an on going battle for years over "convenience" anchors and they have been routinely chopped. If the route does have one or more rap stations, be sure to know whether you need one rope or two in order to get down. Don't assume anything.

If you are new here or new, start on some of the moderate classics like Toe Jam and Hands Off, Sail Away etc. This will give a basic idea of the area. Also realize that Josh cracks can be tricky to protect. The cracks vary wildly and can be flaring in odd ways.

I'll let you all know the status of this incident as the investigation finalizes.

Thanks much,
Robert Fonda
Joshua Tree CA


(This post was edited by socalclimber on Apr 20, 2011, 6:58 AM)


lemon_boy


Apr 20, 2011, 7:16 AM
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Re: [socalclimber] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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"As a public service announcement I will say to those of you who are either new to climbing, or new to Josh, don't underestimate the ratings out here, or anywhere for that matter. You may be a 5.11 climber at your home crag, but don't bet on it here."

What does this have to do with anything, other than some needless chest puffing? Josh grades are about average. The vast majority of accident reports that I have seen at Josh have been associated with climbers that lived in the general SoCo area.


socalclimber


Apr 20, 2011, 7:25 AM
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Re: [lemon_boy] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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lemon_boy wrote:

What does this have to do with anything, other than some needless chest puffing? Josh grades are about average. The vast majority of accident reports that I have seen at Josh have been associated with climbers that lived in the general SoCo area.

That is patently untrue.


kennoyce


Apr 20, 2011, 7:29 AM
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Re: [lemon_boy] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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lemon_boy wrote:
"As a public service announcement I will say to those of you who are either new to climbing, or new to Josh, don't underestimate the ratings out here, or anywhere for that matter. You may be a 5.11 climber at your home crag, but don't bet on it here."

What does this have to do with anything, other than some needless chest puffing? Josh grades are about average. The vast majority of accident reports that I have seen at Josh have been associated with climbers that lived in the general SoCo area.

I also find this kind of funny, He says that there was a rappelling accident then goes on to talk about not getting in over your head with ratings. I guess they may have been trying to rap from somewhere midway up the route they were bailing off of or something, but since he hasn't provided any info on the accident it is all just speculation.

Personally (and I've climbed all over the western US) I find the grades at J-tree to be on par with most other traditional climbing areas, but it is true that the descents can be a bit tricky sometimes.


socalclimber


Apr 20, 2011, 7:55 AM
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Re: [kennoyce] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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kennoyce wrote:
lemon_boy wrote:
"As a public service announcement I will say to those of you who are either new to climbing, or new to Josh, don't underestimate the ratings out here, or anywhere for that matter. You may be a 5.11 climber at your home crag, but don't bet on it here."

What does this have to do with anything, other than some needless chest puffing? Josh grades are about average. The vast majority of accident reports that I have seen at Josh have been associated with climbers that lived in the general SoCo area.

I also find this kind of funny, He says that there was a rappelling accident then goes on to talk about not getting in over your head with ratings. I guess they may have been trying to rap from somewhere midway up the route they were bailing off of or something, but since he hasn't provided any info on the accident it is all just speculation.

Personally (and I've climbed all over the western US) I find the grades at J-tree to be on par with most other traditional climbing areas, but it is true that the descents can be a bit tricky sometimes.

I've been on the incidents, I've done the accident investigations afterwards. The victims were from all over the place. As I said, if you are either new to climbing or new to josh, heads up.

I live here, I have for years. I hear all the time from new comers to the park around camp fires and at Nomads. If I had a dime for every time I hear that Double Cross is a sand bag at 5.7 I'd be rich.


trenchdigger


Apr 20, 2011, 7:59 AM
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Re: [lemon_boy] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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lemon_boy wrote:
Josh grades are about average.
I'd tend to agree here, but I did learn to climb at JTree, so I'm used to the style of climbing. I'm sure routes at the Gunks or Seneca are similarly graded (old school trad) but take a 5.10 Gunks or Seneca climber, throw them on a 5.10 JTree slab, and watch the ensuing disaster.

lemon_boy wrote:
The vast majority of accident reports that I have seen at Josh have been associated with climbers that lived in the general SoCo area.
Source? To make much of a supposition about this, you'd need to know what % of JTree climber-days are from the So Cal area, as well as detailed info about those involved in each accident.

As a SAR member and a climber, I appreciate the OP's goal of learning the FACTS about the accident and look forward to hearing a report from the rescuers involved in the recovery. Condolences to the victim's partner, family, and friends.


socalclimber


Apr 20, 2011, 8:04 AM
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Re: [kennoyce] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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I will say one other thing, you sound like competent trad climber. What you fail to realize is this is being flooded with new trad leaders or pure sport climbers breaking into trad. They come into Nomad in droves.

I'm off to work, hopefully I'll more info this afternoon.


raingod


Apr 20, 2011, 8:07 AM
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Re: [socalclimber] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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socalclimber wrote:
....Josh descents can be very challenging and in some case dangerous if your down climbing skills are not solid or non-existent....

This is the part I focused on, and I certainly found it to be true.

As for the grades and protection, its always a good idea to calibrate yourself to a new area by starting off well within your comfort zone.

Ron


socalclimber


Apr 20, 2011, 8:12 AM
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Re: [raingod] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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Without question some of the scariest times I have had out here have been the descents.


boymeetsrock


Apr 20, 2011, 8:15 AM
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Re: [socalclimber] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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ST Thread

News Article



This is very sad. RIP


kennoyce


Apr 20, 2011, 8:35 AM
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Re: [socalclimber] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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socalclimber wrote:
I will say one other thing, you sound like competent trad climber. What you fail to realize is this is being flooded with new trad leaders or pure sport climbers breaking into trad. They come into Nomad in droves.

I'm off to work, hopefully I'll more info this afternoon.

I'm not trying to argue with you, I agree that there are tons of new trad leaders or pure sport climbers breaking into trad at J-tree. Of course these people will feel that the grades are sandbagged, especially if they get on a pure crack route (double cross) or a slab route. I think that it is very important that people don't get in over their heads, I just didn't (still don't) understand how that was related to this particular accident.

I'm sorry to hear about this accident and feel terrible for all who were involved or knew the climber. I look forward to getting more details so that I can hopefully learn something from this accident.


jakedatc


Apr 20, 2011, 8:47 AM
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Re: [kennoyce] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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kennoyce wrote:
socalclimber wrote:
I will say one other thing, you sound like competent trad climber. What you fail to realize is this is being flooded with new trad leaders or pure sport climbers breaking into trad. They come into Nomad in droves.

I'm off to work, hopefully I'll more info this afternoon.

I'm not trying to argue with you, I agree that there are tons of new trad leaders or pure sport climbers breaking into trad at J-tree. Of course these people will feel that the grades are sandbagged, especially if they get on a pure crack route (double cross) or a slab route. I think that it is very important that people don't get in over their heads, I just didn't (still don't) understand how that was related to this particular accident.

I'm sorry to hear about this accident and feel terrible for all who were involved or knew the climber. I look forward to getting more details so that I can hopefully learn something from this accident.

+1... rapping accident could have happened on a 5.4 or 5.12 it isn't relevant. the anchor and downclimb situation is good information but the rest is unnecessary.


jakedatc


Apr 20, 2011, 8:53 AM
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Re: [trenchdigger] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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trenchdigger wrote:
lemon_boy wrote:
Josh grades are about average.
I'd tend to agree here, but I did learn to climb at JTree, so I'm used to the style of climbing. I'm sure routes at the Gunks or Seneca are similarly graded (old school trad) but take a 5.10 Gunks or Seneca climber, throw them on a 5.10 JTree slab, and watch the ensuing disaster.

that is a difference in style not in grades. I'd much rather walk up to a 5.__ roof than a similar slab multiple grades below that because that is what i'm used to. Can watch the opposite happen at RRG or the Gunks.. super confident slab climbers who don't have the power or endurance for steep stuff.


trenchdigger


Apr 20, 2011, 8:57 AM
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Re: [jakedatc] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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jakedatc wrote:
that is a difference in style not in grades. I'd much rather walk up to a 5.__ roof than a similar slab multiple grades below that because that is what i'm used to. Can watch the opposite happen at RRG or the Gunks.. super confident slab climbers who don't have the power or endurance for steep stuff.
Precisely my point, I just failed to state it clearly.


patto


Apr 20, 2011, 9:06 AM
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Re: [jakedatc] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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Domesticated sport climbing crags allow people with little or no real skills and rock intelligence become confident and comfortable with climbing outdoors. Many can climb hard sports grades but lack many of the basic skills.

Unfortunately it happens all too often that such people get themselves in over their head when heading to trad locations.

Basics such as knowing your descent and the terrain are forgotten. Unsure


enigma


Apr 20, 2011, 9:24 AM
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Re: [trenchdigger] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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trenchdigger wrote:
jakedatc wrote:
that is a difference in style not in grades. I'd much rather walk up to a 5.__ roof than a similar slab multiple grades below that because that is what i'm used to. Can watch the opposite happen at RRG or the Gunks.. super confident slab climbers who don't have the power or endurance for steep stuff.
Precisely my point, I just failed to state it clearly.


I spoke to this guy. He was sweet. However, when I asked what he was able to lead, he was unsure, when I asked when he lasted lead he didn't know. When I asked where he usually climbing he didn't answer. When I asked about what gear he had, he didn't have any with him either, trad or sport or a rope. Unless maybe he did use someone else's.
I told him I wasn't available during the week, he said he was going to go to j.tree or red rocks and wasn't sure. That he would call me. I didn't feel confident that he had skills for outside climbing based on my conversation with him. I opted out.
He said he was going to "wing it" and look for a partner. I told him just to get a boulder pad and enjoy that.
However he said he wanted to climb routes. He was very sweet on the phone. He was anxious to climb, anywhere, right away.
I wasn't sure how this could be managed . He said he would get a group together. However wasn't sure how?
I just felt unsure of any of his skills, belaying, and how long it was since he climbed. I told him there were some top ropes at jtree.
He was confident he would find someone wherever he went.
I'm am truly sorry about his accident. I did not know him. Though he sounded nice on the phone. Truthfully he could have used a guide. or an experienced mentor.
Sympathy to his family and friends. I am very sorry for this accident. He sounded like a nice guy.


wonderwoman


Apr 20, 2011, 9:31 AM
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Re: [jakedatc] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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keep it civil in here folks. This is an incident where someone has died.

Like many of you have already said, I don't understand how grades are relevant to a rappelling accident. But there is no reason to fly off the handle over sport / trad / gym skill competition.

RIP to the fallen climber.


majid_sabet


Apr 20, 2011, 10:39 AM
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Re: [socalclimber] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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Based on my own personal record keeping ,in 2009 some 16 climbers with numerous climbing experiences died from rappelling alone and if I have to back track 10 year records, rappelling fatalities were always the number one on the list next to avalanche related incident.Based on what I have seen, almost 90% of the accident was preventable as simple as adding a safety knot or double checking the rap anchor before rappelling.


silascl


Apr 20, 2011, 11:01 AM
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Re: [enigma] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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enigma wrote:
trenchdigger wrote:
jakedatc wrote:
that is a difference in style not in grades. I'd much rather walk up to a 5.__ roof than a similar slab multiple grades below that because that is what i'm used to. Can watch the opposite happen at RRG or the Gunks.. super confident slab climbers who don't have the power or endurance for steep stuff.
Precisely my point, I just failed to state it clearly.


I spoke to this guy. He was sweet. However, when I asked what he was able to lead, he was unsure, when I asked when he lasted lead he didn't know. When I asked where he usually climbing he didn't answer. When I asked about what gear he had, he didn't have any with him either, trad or sport or a rope. Unless maybe he did use someone else's.
I told him I wasn't available during the week, he said he was going to go to j.tree or red rocks and wasn't sure. That he would call me. I didn't feel confident that he had skills for outside climbing based on my conversation with him. I opted out.
He said he was going to "wing it" and look for a partner. I told him just to get a boulder pad and enjoy that.
However he said he wanted to climb routes. He was very sweet on the phone. He was anxious to climb, anywhere, right away.
I wasn't sure how this could be managed . He said he would get a group together. However wasn't sure how?
I just felt unsure of any of his skills, belaying, and how long it was since he climbed. I told him there were some top ropes at jtree.
He was confident he would find someone wherever he went.
I'm am truly sorry about his accident. I did not know him. Though he sounded nice on the phone. Truthfully he could have used a guide. or an experienced mentor.
Sympathy to his family and friends. I am very sorry for this accident. He sounded like a nice guy.

Are you claiming you talked to David Pinegar, the man who died in Joshua Tree? From the supertopo link it seems he was an experienced climber, so your understanding of his needs seem to be completely wrong. The news article said he was on a motorcycle trip, so maybe he just didn't bring his own gear.


moose_droppings


Apr 20, 2011, 12:04 PM
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Re: [socalclimber] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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Condolences to all of his family and friends.


sp115


Apr 20, 2011, 12:26 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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majid_sabet wrote:
Based on my own personal record keeping ,in 2009 some 16 climbers with numerous climbing experiences died from rappelling alone and if I have to back track 10 year records, rappelling fatalities were always the number one on the list next to avalanche related incident.Based on what I have seen, almost 90% of the accident was preventable as simple as adding a safety knot or double checking the rap anchor before rappelling.

Here is a reliable source that goes back to 1951...

http://www.americanalpineclub.org/documents/pdf/anam/anam_2007.pdf


kovacs69


Apr 20, 2011, 12:42 PM
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Re: [sp115] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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sp115 wrote:
majid_sabet wrote:
Based on my own personal record keeping ,in 2009 some 16 climbers with numerous climbing experiences died from rappelling alone and if I have to back track 10 year records, rappelling fatalities were always the number one on the list next to avalanche related incident.Based on what I have seen, almost 90% of the accident was preventable as simple as adding a safety knot or double checking the rap anchor before rappelling.

Here is a reliable source that goes back to 1951...

http://www.americanalpineclub.org/...f/anam/anam_2007.pdf


Clicky!


majid_sabet


Apr 20, 2011, 1:20 PM
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Re: [sp115] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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sp115 wrote:
majid_sabet wrote:
Based on my own personal record keeping ,in 2009 some 16 climbers with numerous climbing experiences died from rappelling alone and if I have to back track 10 year records, rappelling fatalities were always the number one on the list next to avalanche related incident.Based on what I have seen, almost 90% of the accident was preventable as simple as adding a safety knot or double checking the rap anchor before rappelling.

Here is a reliable source that goes back to 1951...

http://www.americanalpineclub.org/documents/pdf/anam/anam_2007.pdf

Even the AAC record is not up to date and accurate cause not all reports make to their system. That I know for sure .


enigma


Apr 20, 2011, 2:08 PM
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Re: [silascl] Accident in Joshua Tree - 4/18/2011 [In reply to]
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silascl wrote:
enigma wrote:
trenchdigger wrote:
jakedatc wrote:
that is a difference in style not in grades. I'd much rather walk up to a 5.__ roof than a similar slab multiple grades below that because that is what i'm used to. Can watch the opposite happen at RRG or the Gunks.. super confident slab climbers who don't have the power or endurance for steep stuff.
Precisely my point, I just failed to state it clearly.


I spoke to this guy. He was sweet. However, when I asked what he was able to lead, he was unsure, when I asked when he lasted lead he didn't know. When I asked where he usually climbing he didn't answer. When I asked about what gear he had, he didn't have any with him either, trad or sport or a rope. Unless maybe he did use someone else's.
I told him I wasn't available during the week, he said he was going to go to j.tree or red rocks and wasn't sure. That he would call me. I didn't feel confident that he had skills for outside climbing based on my conversation with him. I opted out.
He said he was going to "wing it" and look for a partner. I told him just to get a boulder pad and enjoy that.
However he said he wanted to climb routes. He was very sweet on the phone. He was anxious to climb, anywhere, right away.
I wasn't sure how this could be managed . He said he would get a group together. However wasn't sure how?
I just felt unsure of any of his skills, belaying, and how long it was since he climbed. I told him there were some top ropes at jtree.
He was confident he would find someone wherever he went.
I'm am truly sorry about his accident. I did not know him. Though he sounded nice on the phone. Truthfully he could have used a guide. or an experienced mentor.
Sympathy to his family and friends. I am very sorry for this accident. He sounded like a nice guy.

Are you claiming you talked to David Pinegar, the man who died in Joshua Tree? From the supertopo link it seems he was an experienced climber, so your understanding of his needs seem to be completely wrong. The news article said he was on a motorcycle trip, so maybe he just didn't bring his own gear.
He told me himself he was leading about 5.7. three days ago.
Which would have been fine with me.
My concern was more about his availability and if he had been climbing recently. he said he would call me later in the week to tell me where he was, and the situation.
As well as the fact he mentioned he had no gear with him.
He sounded like a very good natured individual.

Yes , I spoke to him 3 times. he called me when he was leaving from Sacramento. He wasn't sure at that time whether he was going to go to Red Rocks, or Joshua Tree.
He didn't mention how he was traveling, he did say he didn't have gear available..
I told him I couldn't climb until the end of the week. He planned on arriving Sunday or Monday.
He was very nice, and anxious to climb. He felt he would be able to "wing it" and find partners.
I am in shock, and very sorry for him. He was a looking for work as a physics teacher.
He sounded like he hadn't climbed recently, perhaps due to the weather.
I am quite sad to hear of this tragic loss. My heart goes out to his family whom he said he lived with.

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