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JayB

Double Fatality in CA - Anchor Failed

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From RC.com

 

"Two San Diego climbers died from what appeared to be a Factor 2 fall just right of the White Maiden Buttress on Tahquitz Rock today. The belayer had the anchor pieces attached to him and there were some pieces still on the rope. The climbers were still tied together.

 

The two fell down several pitches (estimated about 3-4) over Fool's Rush. Our best guess is that they were climbing The Step, judging from where they fell from, where their packs were, and what we learned about the ability of one of the climbers. They sustained massive injuries and shattered their helmets.

 

THANK YOU VERY MUCH to everyone who helped in this horrible situation. The climbers at the rock reacted quickly but, unfortunately nothing could be done. Everyone showed amazing strength and compassion in the situation. Thank you also to the RMRU, the Riverside Sheriff, and the CDF, all of whom responded to the accident.

 

We don't know anything about these climbers except their names and ages, but I am sure they were well known and respected. Our condolences to the families of both men.

 

If you have any questions about the accident, Art and I witnessed the men falling and were present through the rescue efforts in the hours before the RMRU responded. Again, condolences to the families and feel free to PM or e-mail us with questions.

 

Meg (roseraie) and Art (artm)"

 

"I was on The Trough yesterday when the climers fell. I am trying to get as much info as possible. I was leading my boyfriend up his first multipitch climb. He heard someone swearing a lot and then heard the fall. He heard the pieces fall out and a large moaning sound when the guy landed. I found someone on the radio to call 911 after I heard someone yelling for 911 and for a helicopter. I'm sure I was not the only one to call.

 

We spoke with someone this morning who said that they fell from the White Maiden's Walkway (5.4). That sounded odd and I assumed that they were novice climbers.

 

Can you tell me their names and ages? I thought maybe it was 2 guys that we met on the way in who seemed to have very little gear with them and who's car was still in the parking lot at about 7pm.

 

Thanks,

Leslie"

 

I have only heard of three instances of total anchor failure in the past 8 years or so. One involved three climbers in the Sandias who were found at the base of the route with around three pieces of distressed gear on the rope - if I remember correctly it appears that they were simulclimbing when the leader fell and took his ropemates with him. There was also a couple from CO who died as a result of total anchor failure in Yosemite a couple of years ago. I remember one more that occured when the leader fell on a sunrotted multipitch ice-climb in CO, and the first screw and the two-screw anchor ripped-out during the fall.

 

As long as there are climbers there will be deadly accidents, but fatalities resulting from anchor failure seem especially preventable. Hopefully news of this tragedy will inspire others to be vigilant about both learning and practicing solid anchor construction, getting in a bomber piece ASAP after leaving the belay, and putting in pro a bit more frequently at the start of a climb to account for the higher fall factors generated as a result of having so little rope out. Easy principles to understand that are just as easy to get complacent about.

 

If you are either a friend of or are related to the deceased climbers you have my sincere condolences.

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various posts from rockclimbing.com:

 

By KENNY KLEIN / The Press-Enterprise

 

IDYLLWILD - Two climbers were killed Sunday after falling to their deaths while climbing Tahquitz Rock, authorities reported.

 

The dead were identified Monday as Kelly Tufo, 32, of Anza and David Kellogg, 41, of San Diego, Riverside County Sheriff's officials reported.

 

The men's bodies were discovered about 2 p.m. Sunday by hikers in the area of Tahquitz Rock, which is in Humber Park, Hemet Sheriff's Sgt. David Pike said.

 

Idyllwild firefighters and members of the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit were sent to the scene, but it was too late. Tufo and Kellogg were pronounced dead after falling 200 feet and impacting with the rock face, deputies said.

 

The pair were flown out of the area by a sheriff's helicopter about 7 a.m. Monday, Pike said. The pair were not flown out Sunday because darkness and strong winds made it unsafe for a helicopter, Pike said.

 

A preliminary investigation revealed the climbers were in a hazardous area of Tahquitz Rock when their climbing anchor failed, Pike said.

 

An anchor, commonly known as protective gear, is a metal device that is put into a rock face, said Bruce Watts , manager at Nomad Ventures, a climbing business in Idyllwild. The devices are supposed to stop climbers from falling in the event of an emergency, Watts said.

 

That article is very, very inaccurate. It has one age wrong (I recovered the victims' IDs, I know this for a fact), I think it has one name wrong, and the bodies were not "discovered by hikers at around 2 p.m." I SAW THEM FALL. It makes NO MENTION of the rescue efforts by the climbers at the base. Not to mention whoever wrote the damned thing has NO IDEA what an anchor is, nor can they construct sentences. "Two climbers were killed after falling to their deaths..." WTF? God, this angers me.

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That's really awful. My condolences to the families. Please everyone, be carful out there. Jay_B makes some excellent points about anchors and placing gear above an anchor to help prevent this from happening.

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ehmmic said:

That's really awful. My condolences to the families. Please everyone, be carful out there. Jay_B makes some excellent points about anchors and placing gear above an anchor to help prevent this from happening.

ya frown.gif

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from what i gather they were above their heads and not using them. made one mistake and oops all are dead. thats to obad, but i still cannot see a lesson here that anyone with any sense does not already know.

 

 

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Bit more info

 

"I'm the wife of David Kellogg, one of the climbers that was killed Sunday at Tahquitz....I want to thank everyone for their condolences and thoughts. Special thanks to those who helped with the rescue - I know that it will hard to cope with the aftermath of such a tragic accident.

 

Just a little info on Dave........Dave was an experienced climber - he'd been rockclimbing for 13 years - started climbing when he was at Humboldt State.......proud papa of 2 year old Nicolas, who is learning to climb himself. Dave loved climbing - it was his passion in life besides his son. Dave and I traveled in SE Asia for 3 months in 2001 so he could climb in Thailand (loved Krabi!), Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. He will be sorely missed by family and friends - I miss him so much already.......

 

The Press-Enterprise article switched the ages of Dave, 32 and Kelly, 41. I've spoken to Kenny Klein - the sheriff's dept actually transposed the ages.

 

Thanks again everyone,

Florabel"

 

"First my condolences to the relatives friends and witnesses.

 

For the rest of us, all that can be done at this point is try to learn from what happened. Not always simple as often the true facts are impossible to determine.

 

The Step never was really a "trade route" and was mis-graded for many years and always had a little mystery about it. The mentioned rockfall was between The Step and Fools Rush and I don't think it affected the route, although things can change instantly. I haven't done it for a few years, but I think it was after the last major rockfall.

 

From Bad Traverse Ledge you do a short pitch to an uncomfortable but solid belay at a tree. You need to do this to allow enough rope for the next long pitch.

 

The next pitch goes up to a strenuous but very well protected move over a small roof, (5.8 on some of the older route descriptions but closer to 10b.c) There's another 10a crux after that and it is a little devious, not at all obvious how it goes. There aren't any good places to belay between the two. There is a good belay after the second crux. It's a rope stretcher with a 50m rope from the tree and I don't think you could get there with a 60m from Bad Traverse Ledge.

 

The next pitch goes up a right facing dihedral, (seem to remember it being rather wide) to "The Step" near its top.

 

From there you can go right and finish with Super Pooper or left to Fools Rush. It would be easy to get lost here and end up on Price of Fear, (a Sorensen 10c) or run out face near the top.

This area has some loose blocks and flakes also.

 

The following comments need to be taken only as general observations that have been getting people in trouble in recent years and may have no relevance to this event, but should be kept in mind.

 

Tahquitz is most properly characterized as an alpine area. It's not a sport crag or even a completely clean trad area like parts of the Valley, Suicide, Needles etc. Most climbs involve at least some spots where you must deal with less than ideal rock. You need to climb here with an alpine mind set, (minus the speed requirements). Test every thing. Even if you've done the route multiple times. Place pro to account for possibly faulty rock, not just your ability to climb it.

 

Even the easier trade routes involve significant route finding problems. Even in the Valley it's often possible to walk out in the meadows and scope out a route. That doesn't happen here often. If you are unsure, back off, ask for help, or go the most obvious easiest way. If you miss a pitch, it will be there later. Better than getting to a dead end with no good anchors. Making up your own variations at the top can lead to real trouble. If there's lots of lichen, there's a reason, and it's not that no one has thought of going that way before.

 

60M ropes have lead to many unnecessary epics here. Most of the routes here were established with 120 ft ropes and a bowline on a coil. That means that the traditional pitch lengths are around 100 ft. (120-140 ft or so with later routes done with 150s). Run out your 60M to the end and you could find yourself in a bit of a predicament with no decent anchors. When you get to a comfortable belay with a good anchor, use it. Even if it was only a 100 ft pitch.

 

Again this is not meant to even imply that any of these things are what happened in this incident. I climb there almost every weekend and kind of see it as my backyard playground. I just don't want to see anyone get hurt there.

_________________

The Gray Tradster"

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erik said:

from what i gather they were above their heads and not using them. made one mistake and oops all are dead. thats to obad, but i still cannot see a lesson here that anyone with any sense does not already know.

 

 

Thats a lot to gather from a cluster of internet rumors and assumptions jackass.

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from what i gather they were above their heads and not using them. made one mistake and oops all are dead. thats to obad, but i still cannot see a lesson here that anyone with any sense does not already know.

 

 

Your a fuckin moron dude, AS a moderator this is what you contribute?

 

You should be banned from this board for shit like that!!

 

Jesse

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prolly true

 

maybe i overstepped my right to comment.

 

but i still little if anything can be gained from this other then a personal reminder to check and double check, protect your belay and all that...ask anyone who climbs with me if i am safe.

 

i still see no point in fretting over an anomymous person dying....it is tragic but affects my life zero. it sux to see and hear people die, but why dwell on it and allow it to control your life.

 

climbing has its inhertant risks and we as individual climbers are required to understand and accept those risks.

 

 

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jesse_mason said:

Your a fuckin moron dude, AS a moderator this is what you contribute?

 

You should be banned from this board for shit like that!!

 

Jesse

 

so i am not allowed to post what i feel or think? that is dumb.

 

this seems to be personal error on one or the others part. thats too bad. we can always work harder to protect ourselves and others.

 

i do not pity the dead.

 

 

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erik said:

jesse_mason said:

Your a fuckin moron dude, AS a moderator this is what you contribute?

 

You should be banned from this board for shit like that!!

 

Jesse

 

so i am not allowed to post what i feel or think? that is dumb.

 

this seems to be personal error on one or the others part. thats too bad. we can always work harder to protect ourselves and others.

 

i do not pity the dead.

 

 

Erik,

You need to take the Mountaineers Basic Mountaineering Course.

 

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As I said above, the only reason that I posted this accident was in the hopes that others - not necessarily experienced climbers who know what they are doing - might be inspired to increase either their knowledge relating to or their vigilance about climbing safely. Anchors failing isn't Twilight Zone stuff - it does happen from time to time.

 

Had this been an "Act of God" type accident where climbers were killed by massive rockfall on a trade-route or some other such accident where the only lesson one can take away is "Shit Happens" I wouldn't have bothered to post it.

.

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erik said:

this seems to be personal error on one or the others part. thats too bad. we can always work harder to protect ourselves and others.

 

i do not pity the dead.

 

Sometimes it's not. Sometimes your number just gets called a little early. Two friends died climbing in Eldorado Canyon when a freak rock fall cut the rope and both their lives short. I got to met Scott Kinkle on Liberty Ridge, only to learn some punk shot him in the head a few months later.

Could very well be that they did everything right but were just on the right route at the wrong time.

My condolences to those close to them, esp. the young kid.

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"MCTTFAF" now start the brawling about what they should have done from those who were not there but know all rolleyes.gif

 

I always wonder - if you were friend or family of a climber who died in, say, the Gunks.... would you be reading about it in a forum on cascadeclimbers.com? rolleyes.gif or getting the probably straighter dope on gunks.com or whatever.

 

So then I wonder why people even bother to post the My Condolences to the Family and Friends (MCTTFAF) thing before they start jumping in and dfissecting the accident and flaming people? - cuz the family and friends in all probability wont be here to see your condolences.

 

JUSY WONDERING? confused.gif Move this to Spray if you think it's spray but it will not change my question at all.

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This is a bit of a reach but - I think that many people, myself included - whip out the MCTFAF on the off chance that one of the FAF's will come accross the message while trying to better understand what happened, communicate something to about the accident, or whatever.

 

The odds of that happening are admittedly low in this case, but for most people I know sympathetic words from strangers do, in fact make a difference and are worth adding for that reason even if the grieving may never see them. Judging by here comments it seems like the folks that bothered to post the C's on rc.com may have helped the wife a bit. Ditto for the C's to Kropp's FAF's, etc.

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yes but wouldn't it be more meaningful to post an actual expression of grief than a rote phrase mostly identical in info content delivered to IMHO, ROFLMAO, or RTFM?

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Yup - but most people have a hard enough time expressing their feelings about relatively mundane stuff, and I think that they are truly at a loss when comfronted with the prospect of trying to say something that will do justice to an event like what seems to be a premature death. I think that most people find that anything that they can possibly think of saying would be inadequate next to the pain that the grieving are feeling, and revert to the MCTFAF so that at the very least their feelings will not go unexpressed and remain unknown to the objects of their sympathy. I think most people that read the MCTFAFs from strangers get this and appreciate the gesture, but would probably expect more from close friends and family members.

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it seems to me - that a lot of the people who post MCTTFAF really want to engage in a pissy flame war about what the deceased should or shouldn't have done, and they just insert the MCTTFAF as a sort of "I care too" prerequisite so then they can go off the rails detailing how they wouldn't have died because they did stuff differently.

 

As for me - I don't care. Someone died. Someone else was born. Life goes on. Tell your friends you love them while they are still around to hear you say it.

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It is an egocentric visceral response to reaffirm with one's self that climbing is still a safe activity.

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iain said:

It is an egocentric visceral response to reaffirm with one's self that climbing is still a safe activity.

 

ding ding ding. we have a winner.

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