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funnelator


May 30, 2011, 4:20 PM
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Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11
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An experienced climber was in a serious rappelling accident at the Gunks on Saturday 5/21.

Without mentioning names, can anyone share details about how the accident occurred?


(This post was edited by funnelator on May 30, 2011, 5:07 PM)


gblauer
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May 30, 2011, 5:11 PM
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Re: [funnelator] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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I don't have details, but, I do know that she:
1) Is a very experienced gunks climber
2) Injured her back
3) Injured her ankle (open fracture)
4) Required surgery
5) Will recover and is on the mend now

They were on "Sente" and apparently the rope ends were not even when she began her rappel. She rapped of one side and fell ~30+ feet.

J...I hope you have a speedy recovery. Take care.


(This post was edited by gblauer on Jun 5, 2011, 6:30 PM)


funnelator


May 30, 2011, 8:44 PM
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Re: [gblauer] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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I was hoping names could be left out. There are a few good threads for well wishes over on gunks.com.

I'm more interested in what sequence of events led to uneven rope lengths. It's a pretty big and, in this case, costly mistake. What led them to uneven rope lengths?

Was it simple oversight?

Was the middle mark of the rope improperly marked as in another rap accident at the gunks?

What led an experienced climber to rap off the end of their rope? Really, whatever happened could happen to any of us, so it might be of benefit to know how it happened.


(This post was edited by funnelator on May 30, 2011, 8:50 PM)


mr.tastycakes


Jun 8, 2011, 2:42 PM
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Re: [funnelator] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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funnelator wrote:

Was the middle mark of the rope improperly marked as in another rap accident at the gunks?

bi-pattern rope with the change in patterns occurring (evidently) pretty far from the true middle of the rope.

see the thread on gunks.com


patto


Jun 8, 2011, 3:44 PM
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Re: [mr.tastycakes] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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mr.tastycakes wrote:
bi-pattern rope with the change in patterns occurring (evidently) pretty far from the true middle of the rope.
WOW. Thats a pretty serious equipment error if that is the case!

Still, I simply don't understand how people rap off the end of their rope. When I rap I look down to inspect the rope path and see where I'm going. Until I can see that both ends are on the ground there is no way that I would just rap straight down.

Do some people not look down because of fear of heights?


(Back in January I was rapping and discovered that the sheath in one of my ropes had been cut completely due to rockfall. Scary sight to see while 200m off the deck on a rap.)


(This post was edited by patto on Jun 8, 2011, 3:47 PM)


patto


Jun 8, 2011, 4:03 PM
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Re: [patto] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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From reading the Gunks.com thread i see no indication it was an error with the bi-pattern rope. However there is talk about a DIFFERENT INCIDENT where this was the case.

Or maybe im reading the wrong thread...


gblauer
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Jun 8, 2011, 6:30 PM
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Re: [patto] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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You are totally correct. There was NO indication on the Gunks.com thread that the rope was defective.

This was a user error. Fortunately, she is going to recover, albeit she suffered some very serious injuries.


(This post was edited by gblauer on Jun 9, 2011, 2:47 PM)


mr.tastycakes


Jun 8, 2011, 7:51 PM
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Re: [patto] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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oi...sorry for spreading misinformation, not sure where i read that.


Partner j_ung


Jun 8, 2011, 7:52 PM
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Re: [patto] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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patto wrote:
Still, I simply don't understand how people rap off the end of their rope. When I rap I look down to inspect the rope path and see where I'm going. Until I can see that both ends are on the ground there is no way that I would just rap straight down.

I know this is common occurrence, but I wonder the same thing. I think of rope ends every time I rappel. In hundreds (thousands?) of rappels, I think there was never even one when I wasn't actively concerned about the rope ends at least until I saw them myself.


jakedatc


Jun 8, 2011, 8:47 PM
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Re: [mr.tastycakes] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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mr.tastycakes wrote:
oi...sorry for spreading misinformation, not sure where i read that.

to your credit, someone mentioned another incident involving that as a possible thing for the climber to check in her gear as part of her own analysis.


rtwilli4


Jun 9, 2011, 4:25 AM
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Re: [j_ung] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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j_ung wrote:
patto wrote:
Still, I simply don't understand how people rap off the end of their rope. When I rap I look down to inspect the rope path and see where I'm going. Until I can see that both ends are on the ground there is no way that I would just rap straight down.

I know this is common occurrence, but I wonder the same thing. I think of rope ends every time I rappel. In hundreds (thousands?) of rappels, I think there was never even one when I wasn't actively concerned about the rope ends at least until I saw them myself.

I'm in the same boat. I just don't see how this happens. I've done A LOT of rapping, mainly because I lived in Thailand and developed and repeated all of the towers that I possibly could. There is absolutely no walking off so you rap every time, usually 4 raps per tower. I've never EVER gotten even close to the ends of the rope without having them in sight.

I'm glad that the climber is OK, and wish her a speedy recovery.


Partner rgold


Jun 9, 2011, 2:37 PM
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Re: [rtwilli4] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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Like many things in climbing, you can do it right thousands of times, screw it up once, and you're hosed. The problem with uneven ends is most acute when the rope reaches the ground with lots to spare. Then you look down and see a pile of rope and mistake it for both strands.

I don't find it at all difficult to see how this can happen. Be careful out there, folks.


bearbreeder


Jun 9, 2011, 8:23 PM
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Re: [rgold] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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i find it weird ...

usually i get both ends and thread through the rope so that they are equal

when i rappel on single pitch climbs, i dont usually go so fast that i cant see the ends coming towards me


sp115


Jun 10, 2011, 4:07 AM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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bearbreeder wrote:
...when i rappel on single pitch climbs, i dont usually go so fast that i cant see the ends coming towards me

I actually saw someone at the Gunks last weekend doing something like that. I was taking my oldest son up Three Pines and got to the second pitch anchors when another party traversed over and prepared to rappel. The guy doing the setting-up clearly knew what he was doing so I wasn't paying too much attention. But when he finally started down, he dropped so fast that for a second I actually thought he fell. It caught me by surprise until I realized he was fine, but just flying down the cliff.

I have to admit I simply don't care for rappelling and will almost always choose the walk-off if it's a reasonably safe option. We finished the day by doing Casa Emilio and then walked the entire over-cliff trail back to the Uberfall. It took us 30 minutes exactly and we had a beautiful view and a nice talk all the way back.


funnelator


Jun 12, 2011, 10:23 AM
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Re: [rgold] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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There is one detail heard through the grapevine that hasn't come to light yet. There was reportedly a rapidly approaching storm, which created a sense of urgency to rappell. So perhaps in addition to the take away message that this could happen to any of us and so we should strive to avoid complacency, perhaps also we should be acutely aware of distractions, especially when rapping.

That and, if rapping to the ground, rather than looking for a pile of rope on the ground before zipping on down, be sure to look for two ends on the ground.

This is the third accident in recent years involving a very experienced gunkee in which one end of the rope has slipped through the belay device. Hopefully it's the last.


(This post was edited by funnelator on Jun 12, 2011, 4:49 PM)


Partner robdotcalm


Jun 12, 2011, 10:32 AM
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Re: [sp115] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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sp115 wrote:
I was taking my oldest son up Three Pines (Gunks) and got to the second pitch anchors when another party traversed over and prepared to rappel. The guy doing the setting-up clearly knew what he was doing so I wasn't paying too much attention. But when he finally started down, he dropped so fast that for a second I actually thought he fell. It caught me by surprise until I realized he was fine, but just flying down the cliff.

Rappelling fast is as stupid as making love fast.

Rob.calm


blueeyedclimber


Jun 12, 2011, 2:09 PM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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I just want to report that Tiff and I went to visit Julie today and she seems to be recovering nicely. I thought she looked great. She is in good hands and is expected to make a full recovery.

It could have been a whole lot worse and we are just happy that she is alive.

We always think that things can't happen to us. That is, until it does. Just to reiterate rgold's point....Be careful out there!

Josh


altelis


Jun 12, 2011, 2:32 PM
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Re: [funnelator] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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funnelator wrote:
There is one detail heard through the grapevine that hasn't come to light yet. There was reportedly a rapidly approaching storm, which created a sense of urgency to rappell. So perhaps in addition to the take away message that this could happen to any of us and so we should strive to avoid complacency, perhaps also we should be acutely aware of distractions, especially when rapping.

I think this bears repeating. Especially in circumstances when the sense of urgency is apt to make us over-estimate the negative outcomes of not going quickly and ignore/underestimate the negative outcomes of going too fast.

If you are already at the rappel station, and its not a "flash-boom" thunderstorm, getting a little wet isn't going to kill anybody. Someplace like the gunks, starting your rappel in the rain is really not the end of the world. You'll be quite able to get down, pack up and get back to the car without risk of hypothermia, even if you are just in shorts and a t-shirt.


chilli


Jun 12, 2011, 2:57 PM
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Re: [j_ung] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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j_ung wrote:
patto wrote:
Still, I simply don't understand how people rap off the end of their rope. When I rap I look down to inspect the rope path and see where I'm going. Until I can see that both ends are on the ground there is no way that I would just rap straight down.

I know this is common occurrence, but I wonder the same thing. I think of rope ends every time I rappel. In hundreds (thousands?) of rappels, I think there was never even one when I wasn't actively concerned about the rope ends at least until I saw them myself.


I'll have to disagree in that i CAN imagine rapping off the end of the rope in several situations of user error or miscalculation. For that very reason, not only do i THINK about the ends of the rope, but i also TIE them every time... and i mean EVERY time.

i can't tell you how many times i've been rapping off a bottom/single pitch that seemed like it was half the rope length to the ground and still tied knots, regardless of how much i muttered to myself about the waste of time; just because one of these days when i'm on autopilot in a hurry, it'll be there even when something else goes to shit.


jakedatc


Jun 12, 2011, 3:17 PM
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Re: [chilli] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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chilli wrote:
j_ung wrote:
patto wrote:
Still, I simply don't understand how people rap off the end of their rope. When I rap I look down to inspect the rope path and see where I'm going. Until I can see that both ends are on the ground there is no way that I would just rap straight down.

I know this is common occurrence, but I wonder the same thing. I think of rope ends every time I rappel. In hundreds (thousands?) of rappels, I think there was never even one when I wasn't actively concerned about the rope ends at least until I saw them myself.


I'll have to disagree in that i CAN imagine rapping off the end of the rope in several situations of user error or miscalculation. For that very reason, not only do i THINK about the ends of the rope, but i also TIE them every time... and i mean EVERY time.

i can't tell you how many times i've been rapping off a bottom/single pitch that seemed like it was half the rope length to the ground and still tied knots, regardless of how much i muttered to myself about the waste of time; just because one of these days when i'm on autopilot in a hurry, it'll be there even when something else goes to shit.

great in theory and on slab. But when you're chucking ropes through trees and in the wind it's not always the best idea to tie the ends.


Partner rgold


Jun 12, 2011, 3:23 PM
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Re: [chilli] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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It is true that tying knots in the ends of the rope is the only absolutely fool-proof way to prevent going off the end(s).

But knots can create problems too. In the Gunks, trees, sometimes rather large ones, grow out from the cliff, and sometimes thrown ropes go through the trees. They are usually not too difficult to pull through the tree, but with a knot in the end of the rope, a single Y-shaped branch can effectively capture the rope.

There you are, hanging on rappel, with the rope going back up above you, or straight horizontally out behind you, into a tree, and you can't pull it out. Major epic potential, which you certainly wouldn't want to deal with with an incoming T-storm.

The tree problem can be avoided by keeping the ropes with you (of course, then you can't see whether they reach the next stance). But this too can be very slow if the flaked rope you are carrying tangles---something that happens quite a bit in my experience.

As for speeding up in bad conditions, I've found this to usually be a mistake. You have to be disciplined, methodical, and above all efficient, but rushing will frequently get you into more trouble and in many cases is only slightly faster.

Something I think we don't do nearly enough is to lower the first person down when the conditions are trying. No ropes to tangle and hang up, no possibility of going off the ends even in rope-stretchers, the ability to climb up and/or sideways if needed, all with total security. This may not be a good idea if communication is going to be very difficult, but otherwise I think it makes a lot of sense.


funnelator


Jun 12, 2011, 4:42 PM
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Re: [rgold] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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Another rap option is to tie a bite in each rope end and then clip them to your harness. The knots go down with you instead of into the trees or, if you are in a place like Black Velvet Canyon instead of into a crack, or if in a place like the Thaiwand Wall on Railay Beach in Thailand, off into the wind at dusk. This allows you to "close the system" and keep control of the rope without time consuming and often cluster f stacking.


(This post was edited by funnelator on Jun 12, 2011, 4:58 PM)


patto


Jun 12, 2011, 5:23 PM
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Re: [chilli] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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chilli wrote:
I'll have to disagree in that i CAN imagine rapping off the end of the rope in several situations of user error or miscalculation. For that very reason, not only do i THINK about the ends of the rope, but i also TIE them every time... and i mean EVERY time.
Well if it works for you then I can't object.

Personally I rarely tie rope ends together. For me every RAP is serious and I treat it as such. Due to that I have already considered most possibilities dangers**. As I said if I properly check the rope below me I cannot rap off the end.

For any rap that is right on the full rope length then I usually tie knots. The other month I did a "45m" rap with just a 60m rope. The guide book was wrong and with stretch my rope got to ~35m. I definitely had knots!


**One danger that I haven't properly considered and been alert for is loose rocks. Earlier this year I had a TV size block get dislodged by my rope 6m above me and fly through my legs!! Shocked. That same rock ended up landing on my rope 10m below me and cut the sheath completely!

I was lucky. It was only my quick reactions that I didn't end up with shattered legs. But I should have been more aware in the first place of the path and movement of the rope above me.


chilli


Jun 12, 2011, 7:48 PM
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Re: [patto] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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patto wrote:
Personally I rarely tie rope ends together...

i apologize for not being more clear... i have never tied the rope ends TOGETHER. just a stopper knot on each side.

@ rgold: i've been up and down the eastern US (i.e. the land of trees), encountered plenty of trees, gotten the rope snagged several times, and never encountered a situation in which i couldn't either pull it before i got to that point or give a few firm yanks to free it. i don't tie huge 8-on-bight or anything. an overhand is plenty to keep from sliding through your tube. maybe you came up against a different gunks or breed of tree than i know, but i've never had anything a little bit of proper attention couldn't fix...
...of course, now that i've made such a definitive statement, i'm sure i'll get the rope good and stuck next time i'm out Wink

patto wrote:
Earlier this year I had a TV size block
glad to hear it worked out well. those freak occurrences are certainly sobering moments.

edited for addition


(This post was edited by chilli on Jun 12, 2011, 7:52 PM)


billcoe_


Jun 12, 2011, 8:27 PM
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Re: [rgold] Gunks Rappelling Accident 5/21/11 [In reply to]
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rgold wrote:
Like many things in climbing, you can do it right thousands of times, screw it up once, and you're hosed. The problem with uneven ends is most acute when the rope reaches the ground with lots to spare. Then you look down and see a pile of rope and mistake it for both strands.

I don't find it at all difficult to see how this can happen. Be careful out there, folks.

Thank you. I'd just read "I just don't see how this happens" about 3 times and was going to say pretty much what you just said. There is a lot happening as you rap, none of has shit that doesn't stink, including those who want to repeat the mantra "I just don't see how this happens".

It does, so pay attention, there is a lot of stuff happening. Double check.

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