As promised... sans pics. We don't have a pic of the scar from where this chunk popped, but we'd be interested in seeing one if someone has the chance in the near future. I can add a couple pics of us toting Craig out once i get them.
Sun, 4/25/05. L'worth: Castle Rock:: Midway
Clapton leading 2nd pitch, believe he's at the large ledge just before the traverse-y portion; belayed by Golan. Craig next to Golan after having lead 1st pitch, belaying up Yves, aka "Dr_Crash."
If this image link works, believe Clapton was on the obvious ledge just before the rightward traverse on the 2nd pitch. For more detail, look at MattP's excellent topo @ http://www.seanet.com/~mattp/Midway/midtopo.pdf ; believe flake that popped directly under the "5.5" marking to the left of the optional belay on the 2nd pitch.
Clapton downclimbed to backclean a piece, then executed the same move off the ledge he'd made previously, only this time a piece of rock approximately 7' in height, 3' across and 6-8" wide popped with no tell-tale wiggling or creaking, fortunately depositing Clapton sideways directly back onto the ledge he'd just been leaving, while he immediately began screaming "ROCK!!" of course.
Our coffee-table-ish size friend tumbled, and apparently hit hard enough to air-burst into a substantial number of smaller size pieces.
Craig, at the first belay, was struck by 1-2 pieces of unknown size: major piece directly struck him on the top rear-left of his helmet, glanced off and then struck his left shoulder. Second strike was to Craig's lower left shin, leaving a 4" gash exposing his tibia; believe this piece then struck his foot/ankle, leading us to suspect it may have broken toe(s).
Golan, belaying at top first-pitch, dodged as far away from rockfall as he could and fortunately wasn't struck.
Yves struck directly on head by a rock of fair size; apparently separate hits from smaller pieces to right shoulder, right arm/elbow, pretty substantial hit to top right thigh with substantial bruising, and right lower leg with some scrapes / bruising.
Rock debris continued down face of Castle Rock to pepper area around the 3 parked cars at trailhead, and one piece approx. softball size struck yellow line of Hiwy 2 and peppered...
Golan then assisted Craig; he tied off Craig's belay line to Yves, tied off his own belay line to Clapton, assessed condition of folks, and set plan. Lowered Clapton down to belay ledge to assist him, then lowered Yves to ground, re-rigged lines, then lowered Craig with Clapton attending / assisting. Then Golan rapped off and lines were pulled.
On ground, I checked out Yves and found him to be in mild state of shock; helped him clean off his elbow hit, checked to make sure he wasn't bleeding too badly elsewhere, and sat him down to eat a donut and not wander off.
Once Craig to ground, I looked at his leg and though seeing 3-4" of his bone exposed wasn't exactly heartening was pleased to see that it had already clotted well and there was little bleeding. He was in pretty serious shock after shot to head and shin. Checked for other bleeding, then washed out his shin gash and bandaged him up to keep clean while we got him out. Yves, in his infinite generosity and slightly reduced mental state, kept trying to feed Craig donuts, which I didn't think was a great idea since I think Craig had enough already without spewing rainbow sprinkle donuts once juiced up on painkillers and antibiotics. I loaded Yves down with an extra pack & ropes, and set him off down trail to get my truck ready to transport Craig into the L'worth clinic.
Only took us a few minutes to set our plan, pack up, and get Craig mobile down trail. Took turns carrying Craig in arm-bar, then once to mellower ground just helped him along with one of us under each arm. Third to halfway down trail the pain of carrying seemed to have blown through the fog of the rock hits, and he started hopping down trail on one leg so as not to suffer our bouncing him along. He made it a most of the way down one-leg hopping with a shoulder to lean on, then Clapton piggy-backed him out.
Threw him into a nest of sleeping pads & bags in the back of truck, then straight into the clinic. Just under two hours from time of rockfall to getting Craig & Yves checked out in L'worth clinic, where we spent a delightful afternoon... x-rays, irrigation and painkillers, o' my.
After leisurely afternoon in faux Bavaria's clinic, a leisurely drive home, some take-out Snappy Dragon, and lots of collective "holy crap are we glad to be alive" reflections and a couple well-deserved
1. We were very lucky: considering everyone was basically lined up like bowling pins in the line of fire from this rockfall, we were very lucky the rock didn't catch Clapton when it came off, very lucky it burst into pieces, and very lucky no one was injured any worse... This could have played out very differently... i'll assume most folks who've been in a similar situation feel the same way afterward...
2. We'd assumed that a route as well-traveled as Midway would naturally be in pretty bomb-proof shape, but fortunately had our helmets on... If we hadn't... well, again, this incident could have been far more traumatic.
3. Only possible thing would be to consciously have tried to belay from a more "out of the way" position, but not even sure how possible that was given the terrain...
4. We all kept very cool and were zero-bullshit in getting Craig out safe asap. And hat's off to him nutting up and hopping his own as out most of the way... Hardman.
Here's to with your buddies after something like this... Buhk-soon indeed.
Live long, climb strong.