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NEWSTIPS

Leavenworth Climbing Accident

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Just wanted to pass this along to you guys from the Associated Press.

 

(Leavenworth-AP) -- A climber fell about 400 feet to his death

on the Snow Creek Wall, a popular climbing destination near

Leavenworth.

The Chelan County sheriff's office says the accident yesterday

took the life of a 28-year-old from Glacier, near Bellingham.

Rescuers then helped his climbing partner who was shaken up but

uninjured in the accident. He was identified as a 27-year-old

graduate student from Bellingham, Matt Burns.

 

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Thank you very much for the pertinent information. My condolences to the family and friends of the unfortunate climber. RIP.

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Damn, that sucks. Any more info? Route they were climbing? How the guy fell?Was he at the top?

 

As a side note, I have been fairly dissapointed with the number of accidents I have heard about in the Pacific Northwest that are never reported in the AINAM. Please, if you are a party involved in an accident, please report it. Many other climbers will learn from mistakes made and may even save a life.

My condolences to family and friends.

 

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I checked the User List, I don't think it's either of the mattb or MATT B registered users on this site?

 

RIP Matt Burns frown.gif

 

bigdrink.gif for the fallen

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The accident occured on Outer Space just above the Pedestal. The name of the climber is still withheld as of this morning. The accident involved an rappel failure that allowed him to fall from above the Pedestal to the ground, taking the rope with him. CCMRA personnel assisted Matt to the top with a 600 foot rope and off via the climbers trail.

 

I'm sure there will be more information on the cause of the accident - right now it is speculation.

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Oly, don't trust the Wenatchee Daily Lier to get it right. We'll see how badly they've misquoted me when I get home tonight.

 

If this is our MattB, could you please PM or e-mail me. We will want to clarify some things before we speculate on the cause. Even if is turns out to be pure speculation we can possibly learn some things from this accident.

 

wrt the comment about NW accidents not appearing in AINAM - it really is a lot of work to write up a meaningful report and usually when one of these things is over its hard to muster the energy. In Chelan and Kittatas Counties Fred Stanley has taken this task on in the past. Fred was up there last night - I'll talk to him about doing the report.

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Thanks Freeman. Yeah, the most recent AINAM which covers accidents from last year (2002) did not have a thing about Erik's friend who fell at the top of S. But on Cutthroat or the Chilean who fell down the Cooper Spur on Hood last year. Both incidents seemed like they could have provided some beneficial insights and learnings for other climbers.

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i realize now i was posting to the climbers board and not the spray thread about this topic regarding the veracity of Newstips, my apologies... my condolences to the family...

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I just talked to a dude at Marymoor a couple of hours ago that was on the route at the time (right next to the above mentioned party). He said the dude fell right past him, hit a ledge and flew about fifteen feet out and kept sailing. He said that some rather large rocks came down with him. ???

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catbirdseat said:

There's quite a few ways to go wrong on rappel. Be careful everyone.

An old friend of mine got dinged on rappel on the north face of the Grand. No knot at the end of the rope. A rock hit his head and he bounced two thousand feet. I thought about that this weekend when we were rappelling off the base of the gendarme on the NR of Stuart. Little rocks were whizzing by now and then. I tied a knot for myself and clipped the rope in for Greg. Maybe someday, remembering Marvin's fall will help prevent another accident. Careful out there guys and gals.

My condolences to the family and friends.

bigdrink.gif

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Jens said:

I just talked to a dude at Marymoor a couple of hours ago that was on the route at the time (right next to the above mentioned party). He said the dude fell right past him, hit a ledge and flew about fifteen feet out and kept sailing. He said that some rather large rocks came down with him. ???

Wow, now that is not a pleasant visual for me. frown.gif

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Jens said:

I just talked to a dude at Marymoor a couple of hours ago that was on the route at the time (right next to the above mentioned party). He said the dude fell right past him, hit a ledge and flew about fifteen feet out and kept sailing. He said that some rather large rocks came down with him. ???

 

God that is terrible! frown.gif

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I want to publicly apologize for my quip about the local newspaper, the Wenatchee World. They did an excellant job reporting the accident and rescue - accurate without sensationalizing it, and sensitive to the people involved.

 

Michelle and Kelly, you rockband.gif

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Sad to get news like this, even when you have never met the guy . . .

 

Does anyone know a newspaper online with info about the accident that I can go to that doesn't require registration or a subscription? I tried King-5 news, the wenatchee world online, and a few others . . .

 

My condolences to the family, and to the community of climbers that are affected either directly or indirectly by this accidental death. I hope that websites like this -- and accident reports, and news reports, and conversations can help some of us avoid whatever happened to the fellow on Outer Space.

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this is from yesterday's wenatchee world

 

By Michelle Partridge, World staff writer

 

LEAVENWORTH - Matt Burns and a friend headed up the Snow Lakes Trail early Monday with hopes of scaling a towering rock face considered to be Washington's premier climbing route.

 

By midday, a team of rescuers were on their way up the same trail to recover the body of one the climbers and attempt a daring rescue of the other from a ledge several hundred feet up Snow Creek Wall.

 

And as darkness fell over the picturesque Icicle Valley southwest of Leavenworth, rescuers working by the light of head lamps were still hours away from getting the stranded man off the sheer rock face and back to the trailhead.

 

"We don't really know for sure what went wrong," said Deputy Gene Ellis of the Chelan County Sheriff's Office. "Maybe we never will."

 

It was the first deadly accident on the climbing wall since 1983, when two British Columbia men died in a 300-foot fall.

 

Coroner Gina Fino did not release the dead climber's name this morning because she was unable to locate and notify his family. He has only been identified as a 28-year man from Glacier, east of Bellingham.

 

The ordeal started around noon on Monday, when Burns and a friend from college were about halfway up a route called Outer Space on Snow Creek Wall, a nearly vertical cliff rising about 800 feet above Snow Creek.

 

"It is the five-star rock climbing route in Washington state," said Freeman Keller of Wenatchee, a longtime climber and member of Chelan County's Mountain Rescue Team. "It's difficult, but not too difficult. It's got good exposure and good rock."

 

The two climbers had completed the first three pitches, or climbing sections, considered to be the hardest part of the seven-pitch route, Keller said.

 

Burns, a 27-year-old graduate student from Bellingham, waited on a ledge about 350 feet up the rock face, while his friend started up the third pitch toward the top.

 

Meanwhile, a second group of climbers, Jessica Campbell of Kirkland and Ben Shrope of Redmond, arrived and began climbing the route. They said they kept an eye on the climbers above them, and noticed that the top climber was taking a long time on the fourth pitch.

 

"There was a commotion, and we heard someone yelling 'Are you all right?' "Campbell said.

 

The man, about 50 feet above Burns, had fallen 15 to 20 feet, striking the wall and slightly injuring his shoulder, said rescue climber Tom Clausing. The man decided not to continue the climb and to rappel back to the ledge where Burns sat. Burns disconnected himself from the rope so his partner could rig the rope for the rappel, Clausing and Keller said.

 

"It appears as if either his anchor failed or he got disconnected somehow from the anchor," Clausing said.

 

As he tumbled down the cliff face, the climber knocked loose rocks that sprayed Campbell and Shrope, who were about 150 feet up the route, leaving a gash in Shrope's head.

 

"I thought it would cut our rope," Campbell said, adding that she hugged the rock face to avoid the falling debris.

 

"I thought I was done for," Shrope said.

 

The falling man struck a ledge just a couple of feet from Campbell, then fell to the base of the rock face, taking all the rope with him and leaving Burns stranded on the ledge. Rescuers estimate he fell about 400 feet.

 

Shrope continued climbing up to a lower ledge where Campbell sat, then called 911 on his cell phone. The pair stayed on the ledge for several hours, talking to Burns as they waited for help to arrive.

 

Nick Runions, a medic for Cascade Ambulance and a member of the Mountain Rescue Team, was among the first to reach the scene, radioing back that one climber was dead and Burns would need to be rescued.

 

Just two of his teammates were available to take part in the rescue attempt, so the Chelan County Sheriff's Office enlisted the help of three rescue climbers from Kittitas County and six U.S. Forest Service firefighters from Leavenworth for the difficult rescue and body recovery.

 

The group hiked up about two miles of switchbacks on the trail, crossed Snow Creek on a narrow log, then scrambled up several hundred feet of boulders and fallen trees to reach the base of the climbing wall.

 

"Any time you have a rescue at Snow Creek Wall, it's going to be technical," Keller said.

 

Keller and Clausing, of Leavenworth, hiked up the steep back side of the wall in order to rappel down to the stranded climber.

 

Meanwhile, as Burns watched on from the ledge high above, a half-dozen people lowered the body of his friend down the rocks in a litter.

 

The Forest Service crew cut down a big snag to make a larger bridge, and the Kittitas County climbers rigged a pulley system to bring the body across the creek at 6 p.m. Then it was a two-hour hike back to the parking lot, the final steps in darkness without flashlights.

 

Up on the rock, also at 6 p.m., Clausing rappelled down the face toward Burns, but his rope wasn't long enough to reach the man. So Keller lowered a longer, 600-foot rope to Burns, who climbed up to Clausing. The two reached the top at 9 p.m., then hiked three hours, much of it across dangerous rock slopes and treacherous boulder fields, to reach the trailhead.

 

They arrived just after midnight - exactly 12 hours after the harrowing accident on Snow Creek Wall.

 

Two women who identified themselves as friends of Burns but would not give their names were waiting in the parking lot when the weary group arrived.

 

"This guy needs a hug," Clausing said of Burns, and the emotional women embraced their friend.

 

Burns told Ellis that he had been climbing with his partner for about two months, and that his friend had about eight years of climbing experience.

 

Ellis said Burns was "tired and shook up" but otherwise uninjured. He spoke only briefly with the deputy before he left with the women to return to Bellingham.

 

Michelle Partridge can be reached at 664-7152 or by e-mail at partridge@wenworld.com

 

 

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