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Jason_Martin

Fatality on Goat Wall...?

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The only rappelling mishap I can think of off the top of my head is when I started down an overhanging face w a figure 8 and a bight of rope flipped up and locked everything up. I had no prussik or other way to unweight the rope. Fortunately, I wasn't too far from the top. I had to hand over hand up the ropes to the top of the cliff, which thankfully was only 10 feet, but if I'd fallen in that length I'm not sure what the 8 would have done to help or harm me, but it probably wouldn't have been pretty. I gave the 8 away the next day and haven't used one since.

 

I haven't had other rappelling mishaps (knock on wood) and like Oly it always makes me at least somewhat nervous. That makes me check and check again.

 

I have had multiple instances where I've inadvertently unclipped myself from everything when I was in a very exposed position and high enough off the deck that a fall would at least be life-altering. In one instance, my partner grabbed my harness and asked what I was doing. In the others I realized quickly what I'd done and clipped back in. So thankfully no accidents. In all but one of the cases there was a messy anchor that likely contributed to my mistake.

 

I don't read ANAM every year, but there are plenty of patterns that keep repeating that I'm very aware of and try to guard against.

 

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in my not-so-humble opinion, there is no excuse for rappelling off the end of a rope. if you tie the ends to you, you cannot rappel off the end. stopper knots are the usual go to solution, but in formal tests, knots have been observed to capsize off the rope end, and with the figure-8 brake, knots have been observed to simply pass through the brake. tie the ends to yourself and live to climb another day.

-Haireball

Edited by montypiton

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I guess the downside of having the ends tied to your harness is that if there is any twist inducing elements in your rap setup, all those twists will build up and accumulate to a mess. But yes, twists suck less than death.

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First of all I want to say that my heart goes out to everyone involved in this tragedy, especially the family of the deceased and for the fellow who apparently lost control of the rope. There, but for the grace of God, go I. May we all take his pain to heart and reaffirm our commitment to rappel safely.

 

No matter how convenient or fast simul-rapping might be, you are ceding control for your safety to someone else. You also do that if you fall while being belayed, or if you are being lowered under top rope, but you have no choice under those circumstances, other than to not participate. Here you have an easy choice. Don't simul-rap. Simul-rapping adds complexity to an already dangerous activity.

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Having had a number of my own near fatal epics rappelling in almost 50 years of climbing, I now use an "autoblock" when rappelling. This wouldn't have saved this guy when his knucklehead friend rapped off the end of the rope, though. Simul rappelling just doesn't seem like a good idea. Maybe I'm too old to learn new tricks or maybe I'm old enough to recognize bad tricks when I see them.

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We have some thread drift going on here.

 

Learning from the incident is one thing, choosing to bash or insult the grieving members of the party (who are college students) fundamentally lacks compassion, and can create reluctance for others to share their experiences and thereby create opportunity for learning.

 

I would remind us to focus on being compassionate to the victims and focused on learning without name-calling.

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goatboy,

 

Not sure if you're pointing that last post at me. I thought I offered, in a backhanded way, two viable and potentially life saving solutions for safe rappelling. One was the "autoblock" and the other was the folly of simul-rappelling.

 

The "autoblock" is a very simple method of taking a 16" to 18" loop of 7mm perlon and put a prussic like knot below your rappelling device and clip the other end to a biner on one of your leg loops. While you rappel, you keep one hand on the prussic, releasing it as you rappel. If something goes wrong and you let go of the prussic, the rope will lock up. Here's a link to some pictures:

 

https://www.thoughtco.com/tie-and-use-an-autoblock-knot-755673

 

The other suggestion for safe rappelling is to not simul rappel. This technique is fraught with danger and potential catastrophic problems as was witnessed here. I've had partners ask me to simul-rappel off things before and I politely declined.

 

I can't even imagine what the family of the victim is going through right now. It's impossible to reconcile the unforeseen and untimely death of a young, vibrant person. My very best friend was killed when we were 16. His parents never recovered. He died because HE tied in to the rope incorrectly. The whole idea of checking and re-checking each other's knots and safety devices hadn't really caught on at that time. It was no one else's fault. No one dropped him.

 

Knuckehead was not the first adjective that came to my mind when I wrote that post.

 

I'm sure the person that dropped this guy feels terrible. He'll probably feel terrible for the rest of his long life. The other guy won't.

 

 

 

 

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That's pretty cold, dude. I agree with goatboy- I'm sure the other climber who lost control of the rope has called themselves all sorts of names and will do so for a long time- they definitely don't need anyone else calling him names, even if "knucklehead" is a fairly tame insult. I cannot come close to imagining how that person must feel right now. Have a heart.

Edited by canela

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That's pretty cold, dude. I agree with goatboy- I'm sure the other climber who lost control of the rope has called himself all sorts of names and will do so for a long time- he definitely doesn't need anyone else calling him names, even if "knucklehead" is a fairly tame insult. I cannot come close to imagining how that person must feel right now. Have a heart.

 

Agreed. Stillcrankin, you can go back and edit your post to show more compassion for the people who will have to live with this for many years to come.

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A good trick I've used for simul rapping is to have one person use a gri and the other atc with an autoblock. less clutter and faster. as always though, paying attention while simul rapping is essential. More chances to screw up, but it cuts your descent time in half so it's a good skill to have.

Edited by keenwesh

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The route and conditions didn't warrant simul rapping. And like last year's incident on prime rib, more attention to basic mountaineering skills might have helped avoid a very tragic situation.

 

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besides, simul rapping cuts into the time i get to enjoy smoking butts n' contemplating the scenery (plus sticking my buddy w/ the hassle of sorting out the inevitable rope-snarls below :) )

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You seem to be confusing who the victim is here.

 

So much of climbing is about trust and reliance. In almost every facet of all venues of climbing, you need to rely on something or someone other than yourself. most of this reliance is blind.

 

You have to rely on the harness manufacturer that made your harness to have used quality materials and done a good, complete job. You have to rely on the rope manufacturer that made your rope. When you clip a bolt out in the middle of space, you take it for granted that the bolt manufacturer used the proper procedures making the metal for the bolt (there was a batch of bad bolts in the 70's that actually killed people). You trust the fact that the person installing the bolt did a good job and did't bottom the bolt out in the hole and over-drive it. The list goes on and on.

 

Most of all, you have to trust and rely on your partner. Maybe you don't know the person well but you trust that they have enough experience to not screw things up. Your life depends on it. When you frantically yell at them to pull the haul line up and clip it in, you don't want them to ask why. You don't want them to ask for an explanation. Maybe your anchors are about to pull and you just need something solid to clip in to. You just need them to pull the f#kking rope up and clip it in. You need to know your partner is there for you.

 

In this instance, the first person to get to the ledge screwed things up and this resulted in someone dying. I AM being cold (dude?). And no, I don't have to "go back and edit your post to show more compassion for the people who will have to live with this for many years to come". There's no way to candy coat this.

 

I sincerely apologize for being so harsh but I feel strongly about this. I'm sure the surviving climbers feel badly but, damn (dude?), their momentary inattentiveness resulted in a terrible accident.

Edited by stillcrankin

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Don't edit your post or delete it. What you said is 100% true and doesn't need to be candy coated. What happened here (according to the article) is pure negligence and easily avoidable. If you're at a shooting range and put a hole in your buddy's head through the negligent handling of a firearm you can, and often will be, charged with murder. I fail to see the difference.

 

 

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If you're at a shooting range and put a hole in your buddy's head through the negligent handling of a firearm you can, and often will be, charged with murder. I fail to see the difference.

 

But was anyone called a knucklehead in your shooting range example?

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Calling something "knucklehead" is not name calling, it is what it is. I've done more than my share of knucklehead things climbing and thankfully none of them ever resulted in any harm. No one feels worse than those involved but it doesn't diminish the fact that what happened was avoidable. In this case both climbers were complicit in the final result.

 

Compassion? I can't express it enough, I grieve for them and their families. Truly a very sad day for all of us.

Edited by mazamarick

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Thanks Stefan. Some good discussion over there.

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Thoughts and prayers to all those involved. I'm chalking this up to "things that totally suck". Nobody wants to hear my long list of personal stupidities and mistakes in the 40 some years I've played the game so I'll pass on that. Yet I suspect if the survivor could talk about this, as is common with many terrible things similar, he/she would say that there was a chain of events before the horrible end. Most of which could have reversed the outcome. If we only look back and say: "Ahhah!" Do this not that or could have should have....if this, or if that. But at the end of the day all that's left is sadness.

 

My best wishes to all those left back here with us. I got nothing else to give although I wish it was otherwise, sorry.

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RIP fellow climber

 

I think what happens with a simul rap is the first person down goes into cruise control and just automatically goes into regular rapping mode and gets off the rope as soon as they get to the anchor. I've seen this happen before but the other person only fell a few feet and was unhurt.

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you should update that thread, old boy - a story w/ a post-script is to be savored....how u doin? :)

 

I am still climbing! Although not at this exact time...had and ACL reconstruction 3 weeks ago due to a skiing mishap....luckily no rappelling incidents...however, every time I rappel, there is a very short thought that goes through mind about what happened many a year ago.

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