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mini TR: Ice climbing at the Needles
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Partner artm

Sep 5, 2003, 8:42 AM
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Registered: Jun 22, 2001
Posts: 17990

mini TR: Ice climbing at the Needles
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If you've never seen anyone fall from 20 feet above their last piece of protection it happens amazingly slowly and absolutely terrifying.
A 20 foot runout above a bolt will lead to a 40 foot fall and that's without factoring in rope stretch or slack in the system (for the newbies). For example 5 feet above a bolt means a 5 foot fall TO the bolt and an additional 5 feet PAST it. Get it....your pro is below you (5 ft) and you fall below IT (5 ft) which equals 10ft.
Vern cruised the crux section on Green Tide (11a)....steep and thin, real thin with hard technical moves.
At this point he's past the 4th bolt and really high off the deck. He's on easier ground and the climbing has been reduced to 5.10+ moves on glacier polished slopers, the angle has eased up a lot too. "Art, watch me here my feet are really insecure".
Vern slowly creeps upward one foothold at a time. He looks solid.....I quickly glance at the rope to check the slack in the system, too little and I could pull Vern off the rock......too much and well...that would be bad.....very bad at this point.
Vern once again calls out "watch me here" (he says this every time he moves now) I'm watching him really closely, I'm a bit nervous because Vern's a really good face climber and he should be on easy ground at this point but he seems a bit stressed.
We've been doing some runout 5.11 face climbs all weekend with Vern often having to pull the crux before reaching the first bolt and this is the first route Vern seems a little nervous on.
Vern lifts his left foot and does a crossover step to his right.
He begins to lift his right foot in order to high step onto a hold up and right.
Vern's left foot pops and he falls onto his side and starts sliding down the rock.
Time slows down.
I'm serious, I had the same thing happen when I took a 15 foot upside down fall on Illusion Dweller.
Time slowed down. I look down and to my left and realize I can jump down about 4 feet, so I do it.
I land and begin hauling in slack as fast as I can.......Vern reaches the beginning of the vertical section.
Shoot! It appears as though he's going to land on the ramp that parallels the base. I've got the rope locked off but am still holding slack in my left hand (there's a lot left) Vern flys into the air and swings back to the bolt line.
The rope comes taut in my left hand and I release it catching Vern with my right hand locked off near my ass. Vern ragdolls at the end of the rope and I slam forward into the face as I catch the fall.
Vern lives.
The damage......Vern scraped up his ass and bruised/bloodied his elbow.
I've got a minor rope burn on my left hand across the base of my middle and ring fingers from not releasing the slack end of the rope quickly enough.
But I caught the fall and Vern lived.
Afterwards I clean/toprope the route, the runout section has 5.10a/b moves on incredibly polished slopers.
As soon as you place your foot and weight it your toes start to slide's like smearing on ice.
The same goes for your fingers......I find myself pinching crystals/pebbles in the face to stay on.
Huh.......welcome to Ice climbing in the needles, next time we bring crampons

On a side note, Vern tests his bruised arm by later flashing Trade Winds 11b.......

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