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Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria
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bearbreeder


Jan 3, 2013, 12:01 AM
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Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria
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http://cowracommunitynews.com/...newsid=2542&id=3


About 1pm, Wednesday 2 January 2013, a 31-year-old woman and 32-year-old man were scaling a 35 metre cliff at Hornes Point on Mt Piddington when the man slipped off the cliff.
He fell 18 metres to the base of the cliff and sustained a compound fracture to his ankle and a fractured leg.
During the incident the woman was pulled from her position and fell 12 metres to the ground where she sustained numerous fractures; head and internal injuries.



odd for both climbers to get hurt ... especially for the belayer (or were they simuling or rapping?) to get pulled up 12m then dropped


(This post was edited by bearbreeder on Jan 3, 2013, 12:04 AM)


milesenoell


Jan 3, 2013, 12:19 AM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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What a strange accident. The few particulars given are so weird, not just both climbers falling and the belayer managing to fall so far (but less than a normal pitch length), but then the police treating it as a crime scene.


socalclimber


Jan 3, 2013, 3:00 AM
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Re: [milesenoell] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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milesenoell wrote:
What a strange accident. The few particulars given are so weird, not just both climbers falling and the belayer managing to fall so far (but less than a normal pitch length), but then the police treating it as a crime scene.

All accidents like this are treated as a crime scene until proven otherwise. It was no different when I was on SAR. We were specifically trained exactly that way. When things like this happen, or big searches begin, everybody was on their guard not to disturb evidence, and to be careful to preserve the "scene" until foul play could be ruled out. Normally that was almost immediately. Although I was involved in a few incidents that were questionable.


patto


Jan 3, 2013, 4:03 AM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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It is accurate to say that the are many people interested in learning more of this incident. It seems to be a factor two fall incident where the belayer was injured more than the climber. At the moment very little information has emerged beyond the police report.

http://www.police.nsw.gov.au/
Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall - near Mt Victoria

Thursday, 03 January 2013 02:22:43 AM

Two rock climbers had to be rescued after suffering numerous broken bones during a fall near Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains yesterday.

About 1pm, Wednesday 2 January 2013, a 31-year-old woman and 32-year-old man were scaling a 35 metre cliff at Hornes Point on Mt Piddington when the man slipped off the cliff.

He fell 18 metres to the base of the cliff and sustained a compound fracture to his ankle and a fractured leg.

During the incident the woman was pulled from her position and fell 12 metres to the ground where she sustained numerous fractures; head and internal injuries.

A number of other climbers came to their aid before emergency services were contacted.

Officers from the Police Rescue Squad and the Ambulance Rescue Helicopter attended the scene with doctors and paramedics being winched in to treat the injured pair.

They were airlifted to Westmead Hospital where the woman is believed to be in a critical condition while the man is in a stable condition and undergoing surgery.

A crime scene was established at the cliff and examined by specialist forensic officers.

Investigations into the circumstances surrounding the incident are continuing with police waiting to speak to the injured climbers.


I had to make a couple of calls today check up on a few people that I knew were climbing in the area. I just got back yesterday from canyoning in the area.


(This post was edited by patto on Jan 3, 2013, 4:04 AM)


acorneau


Jan 3, 2013, 6:38 AM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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bearbreeder wrote:
He fell 18 metres to the base of the cliff ...
During the incident the woman was pulled from her position and fell 12 metres to the ground ...


odd for both climbers to get hurt ... especially for the belayer (or were they simuling or rapping?) to get pulled up 12m then dropped


Another possible scenario:

1. They were starting the climb from a ledge 12 meters (~40') above the lower surrounding area; leader fell, ripped the gear and anchor; both ended up in the lower area.

Hope both climbers get better soon and heal up well.


majid_sabet


Jan 3, 2013, 9:53 AM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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British and Australian reporters in many cases report anything that has to with rock or mountain as "climber's injury" but many of these accidents are hill walkers (their own terminology) so you got to wait for better report to come by.


milesenoell


Jan 3, 2013, 10:38 AM
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Re: [acorneau] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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acorneau wrote:
bearbreeder wrote:
He fell 18 metres to the base of the cliff ...
During the incident the woman was pulled from her position and fell 12 metres to the ground ...


odd for both climbers to get hurt ... especially for the belayer (or were they simuling or rapping?) to get pulled up 12m then dropped


Another possible scenario:

1. They were starting the climb from a ledge 12 meters (~40') above the lower surrounding area; leader fell, ripped the gear and anchor; both ended up in the lower area.

Hope both climbers get better soon and heal up well.

That was the kind of scenario I had imagined: climber falls about 6m up from ledge, rips the pro and both climbers tumble down off a ledge/boulder/talus slope.

However it happened, I hope they recover well.


(This post was edited by milesenoell on Jan 3, 2013, 10:40 AM)


patto


Jan 3, 2013, 11:53 AM
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Re: [majid_sabet] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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majid_sabet wrote:
British and Australian reporters in many cases report anything that has to with rock or mountain as "climber's injury" but many of these accidents are hill walkers (their own terminology) so you got to wait for better report to come by.

Crazy Lol Majid! I'm not sure any Australian knows what a "hill walker" is! At the moment we have a bit of information from a police report and at the moment it seems entirely consistent with lead rock climbing.

Regarding journalistic reporting; Australian reporters take great pride in the fact that they are at least as incompetent as US reporters when it comes to reporting climbing accidents accurately. Wink


patto


Jan 13, 2013, 11:57 PM
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Re: [patto] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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Update:

Hi Guys,
I am one of the climbers that was involved in the fall. I am recovering well in Westmead Hospital. My partner is also recovering extremely well. I believe it's time to end all the speculation and let everyone know what happened so they may learn from our mistake.

We decided to climb at Mount Piddington on the 2nd as we were looking at doing a nice easy trad climb on our rest day. We walked out to Horners point and walked down the track, not looking for anything in particular just a line which interested us. From memory we stopped off at Slape Wall at and initialed climb marked "WYL" (pretty sure this is right). We checked the guidebook and it said that the climb was a 2 pitch grade 16. No topo map was shown just a brief description.

We set down our packs and scoped out what we though was the line, looking for possible pro and carrots through the blank sections. After we had an idea of where the line went, we racked up and set off. 1st bolt was a carrot which I clipped standing on a small rock and set off.

The first pitch was easy climbing up a vertical face with heaps of bomber placements, no fixed pro was necessary. Got to the ledge which was about 1-1.5m wide and set an anchor into a nice crack, 2 horizontally placed crack and 1 vertical crack on the right. 2nd came up with no issue. Smooth sailing.
Once we were both on the ledge, I walked a long ledge to the right to take a look at the line we scoped out.

After taking a look at the line which went over a small rooflet, I decided that the pro didn't look too good pulling over the rooflet and was a bit thin following the corner up. There was some carrot bolts further up but I could spot any good gear between us and carrots. I decided that the climbing looked a bit stiff for a 16 so we returned to the original anchor.

I placed a cam deep into the horizontal crack for my partner to clip into. While I looked around for other possible routes. I stopped up onto a shelf that was about hip height to take a look at the wall above the small rooflet, again looking for gear placement or carrots for our first bit of pro. At this point of time I still had no intention of climbing on, I was just looking for the possible route, but my second put me on belay out of habit.

Whilst standing on the ledge I spied a few carrots out wide to the left, about 2-3m away. I also looked up and saw a carrot about 2-3m away up and to the left. I was looking for gear placement and didn't seem to find any until I spotted a crack to my left and a foot up, which had a dried plant growing out of it. I removed out the plant and scraped out the dirt and got a shallow nut placed. It wasn't the greatest placement and I wasn't happy with it but I left it in. I matched my left hand to the bomber pocket my right was in and felt out with my right had to see if there was a carrot I just wasn't seeing. My right hand came across what felt like a bomber crimpy flake. I adjusted my weight to the right foot and loaded the right hand to feel the wall with left hand. That's when the right hand hold broke and I popped off backwards, as I fell I can only assume I pulled the nut placement out of the crack, pulled my belay off the ledge and popped the cam.

I landed at the bottom feet first, breaking my left femur, compound fracture to Right ankle, slight end plate fractures to L4 and T1. I never lost consciousness throughout the whole experience and spent my time waiting for the ambulance staring up the wall trying to retrace my steps and figure out what went wrong.

My belay landed behind me slightly up hill in a prone position, fracturing her left femur, right fibula, ribs 2-10 on the left, 2 ribs on the right, cracked left distal radius, lacerations to the face and arm.

We consider ourselves pretty experienced climbers with 8 years outdoor combined experience and normally very careful. We chose Piddington that day because it was a popular area, easy grades, well travelled, and from what we could tell in the guidebook, well marked.

We are both currently waiting for the green light to head back home to Melbourne.



healyje


Jan 14, 2013, 4:52 AM
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So did I read that right and the anchor was a single cam?


viciado


Jan 14, 2013, 5:56 AM
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Re: [healyje] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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It's confusing to me too, but it looks like they had a three cam anchor (4th paragraph) and then an additional cam placed after changing their minds as to the line they would follow...

Whatever the case, they pulled all of it down. I am wondering...

1) Why they put in a fourth and separate cam rather than clipping into the anchor.

2) Was the anchor (thought to be) multi-directional?

2) If the anchor was compromised by the change in direction caused by the additional "clip-in cam"?


healyje


Jan 14, 2013, 6:23 AM
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Reads like they had an anchor, undid it, and then redid it with a single cam. Would love to hear those details.


JAB


Jan 14, 2013, 6:34 AM
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Re: [patto] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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If the climber himself can make such a confusing account of the accident, I think it is no wonder that newspaper reporters can have a hard time to get the facts correct.

How I read it:
* The climber led the first picth, made 3-piece anchor, belayed second up to ledge.
* The party believes the route continues far to the right on a big ledge, so the anchor is disassembled and they move to where they believe it continues (ledge apparently big enough so no belay needed)
* On closer look, it seems the route doesn't continue from there after all, so they return to the original place, this time only placing one cam, which the belayer clips into.
* Some bolts are spotted to the left, but for some reason the leader tries to go to the right, placing a bad nut, then commits to a hold, which breaks.
* Both pieces pop and both climbers fall down from the ledge.

EDIT: Posted the same time as Healyje, I think that is exactly what happened


(This post was edited by JAB on Jan 14, 2013, 6:37 AM)


viciado


Jan 14, 2013, 7:37 AM
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You guys' reading makes more sense than four cams blowing. I was reading "original anchor" as it being in place.


skellie


Jan 14, 2013, 8:11 AM
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Re: [viciado] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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Sounds like he was obviously off-route, and should have known it (pulling vegetation out for gear placements?) Why the hell would he commit to an unknown hold without a real anchor to catch him?
Don't bother spraying about how experienced you are when you make amateur mistakes like that. I love when the first thing out of someone's mouth after an accident is how experienced they are.
I saw a guy take a 40 foot ground fall at Indian Creek, and one of the first things he said when he recovered was "If it makes you feel any better I boulder v10."


(This post was edited by skellie on Jan 14, 2013, 8:16 AM)


bearbreeder


Jan 14, 2013, 8:21 AM
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Re: [skellie] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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i had to show someone who claimed to be a "sponsored climber" how to rap yesterday .... Wink


skellie


Jan 14, 2013, 8:38 AM
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The more I think about this, the more it infuriates me.
Not only did he not protect himself, but his partner also got seriously hurt. He should have known better, but his partner also should have told him to get his ass back there and build a proper anchor.
I'd like to hear what was learned from this experience. That's the true sign of an experienced climber; that they can learn from their mistakes.


bearbreeder


Jan 14, 2013, 9:34 AM
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Re: [skellie] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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well put it this way ... if you blow an anchor either

a. the rock is REALLY bad, and you probably should have retreated

b. you didnt have the skills to properly build an anchor ... and shouldnt be climbing

c. you messed up subconciously because it you were cold, tired, hungry, shivering in the dark ... still no real excuse, but its more understandable

d. the conditions were fine, but you consciously decided that it didnt matter and you were "fine"

accidents that kill both climbers are generally uncommon ... mostly rockfall, avalanche, and other natural hazards ...

but to screw up and have both people get seriously hurt or deck ... thats a major screw up usually involving blown anchors, simul climbing, simul rapping or other such ...

the thing about partners is that the follower may not know enough to question the leader or be much less experienced ...

if the leader cant explain exactly why they are doing something a particular way, dont climb with them ... this doesnt mean that a newb should go off and demand million point anchors, lockers on every draw, climbing on tripple ropes, etc ...

the answer as a newb may not be what yr used to ... but the answer should be detailed and concise as to why something is done like that

Wink


patto


Jan 14, 2013, 12:24 PM
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Yes, that is correct. The anchor was only 1 cam.

The sandstone in the bluies is generally quite poor for trad gear. The exception is Mt Piddington where they were climbing, here the rock is stronger and thus the prevalence of trad for most climbs.

Unfortunately due to the nature of in-cutting erosion, it is the ledges that are most likely to have weaker rock. This can be seen on the nearby classic The Eternity which is a bomber crack leading to a big soft chalky ledge with horrible rock.


notapplicable


Jan 14, 2013, 7:07 PM
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Re: [patto] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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We all make mistakes but belaying from a single point anchor is not a mistake, that is a bad decision.

Lesson of the story - Make good decisions.


viciado


Jan 15, 2013, 1:23 AM
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I appreciate the "make good decisions" take-home, but this was more than one single bad decision... I see several.

All of this in the context of a supposed "rest day"...

1) Choosing an unknown multi-pitch on a REST day? (arguable depending on your style and experience)
2) Lack of good knowledge of the route in question (again, arguable, but it doesn't make sense to me and thus informs my own decisions)
3) Not bailing/choosing a better known route
4) Persisting on the route in face of greater challenge than expected/not recognizing they might be on the wrong line period.
5) Breaking down of anchor due to unjustified false sense of security and failing to re-establish anchor when the route showed itself to be more challenging than expected
6) Trusting in single cam as anchor when at same place they had built a three cam anchor.
7) Exploring above single cam anchor with attitude "I'm not really climbing."
8) Failure to recognize the lack of gardening on an easy route may indicate that you are off route.

What else would you point out?

The chain of decisions and a single blown hold resulted in disaster. Fortunately they survived and look to be recovering.

My personal take away is to avoid complacency (not a new concept). In positive terms, pay attention to what you are doing... even on a rest day. I don't think we need an acronym for that.


socalclimber


Jan 15, 2013, 3:18 AM
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Re: [viciado] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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"8) Failure to recognize the lack of gardening on an easy route may indicate that you are off route."

That's a huge indicator of total lack of experience. The single piece anchor is another. Ultimately they have no route finding skills.

The other bit of this report from the leader was his assumption of how "Experienced" he considers himself to be.

Bad combination all around.


viciado


Jan 15, 2013, 6:50 AM
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Assumption of experience is a good point to think about. It makes me wonder how many accidents are the result of getting in over one's head and not knowing enough either to back down or to safely get out of the situation.

Even experienced climbers make serious mistakes though. Experience only opens the door to available options. It certainly doesn't give you a free pass when it all hits the fan and you still need to put ego and other distractions aside to make good choices among those options.


healyje


Jan 15, 2013, 6:58 AM
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Re: [viciado] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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viciado wrote:
Even experienced climbers make serious mistakes though.

Accidents involving experienced climbers usually entail raps off uneven ropes, drops while TRing, and partial tie-ins. Mistakes of anchors, protection, and actual climbing are actually quite rare among experienced climbers.

On the other hand, folks crossing over from sport at a reasonably high level without the requisite amount of trad seconding / mentoring are often positively horrifying to watch.


viciado


Jan 15, 2013, 7:21 AM
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Re: [healyje] Two rock climbers seriously injured after cliff fall near Mt Victoria [In reply to]
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Point well made, (thank-you). I had written something like that, but was trying to shorten my post in an attempt to focus on the idea of perception of experience

Your second paragraph indicates both the problem and the solution, but I doubt (because I don't observe it happening) enough people will give ear to the suggestion to "find a mentor" to make a difference. Not only is it counter culture, but it takes effort and a touch of "humble."

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