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Jarred_Jackman

Death at the Coulee

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quote:

Originally posted by Fence Sitter:

the thing that makes me look at the rope is that teh cam was stripped....this suggests that it was placed well, but pulled out by brute force... i knwo it is purely speculation, but i cant think of anyother way the cam could have gotten mangled and still come out...

Well I guess we can speculate about the outcome for some time.

 

You never now sometimes. Hopefully it was not shotty gear but some things point to it. I know that I have climbed cracks there and got shotty placements in the rock sometimes but to say it was that is premature and arrogant.

 

By shotty I mean that the cam walked or that not all the parts of the caming device touched properly. Sometimes it was 2 or 3 cams instead of 4. I am sad to hear someone die either way.

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Erden,

 

I have another question. Please don't think I am casting blame, doubting your skils (which I do not know), or acusing you of anything. It seems you did everything you could have possibly done as a climbing partner.

 

However, I am confused about this statement-

 

"I was belaying with a Petzl Reverso. The belay action was delivered by the one loop around my arm, and I did not feel much pull on my belay device."

 

What's up with the arm wrap? Was it just some sort of strange natural reflex inorder to take in slack, or something else?

 

This reminds me of an experience I had back in '93 or so when I was new to climbing. I was belaying a friend on a sport route, he went way left off route, skipped a bolt and ended up in a bad place with a long runout. He fell. My gut reaction was to yard in slack and jump back, 'cause I thought he might deck out. Pulling in the rope perhaps sped up the pendulum action of he fall and he smacked pretty hard against the rock, but didn't deck. He hurt his hip, and yelled at me for it. What I did was just instinct, it happened in a split second, but to this day I am not sure if I kept him off the ground, or made his fall worse.

 

Anyway, I guess what I am asking is what went through your mind during the fall, and if you intentionaly wrapped the rope around your arm? Or did it just happen before you knew what was happening?

 

I understand this is a tough question to answer in the face of a great tragedy, and if you do not wish to reply, no worries. I guess I, as I'm sure others as well, have just been drawn into trying to form a mental picture of what happened out there. I'm not sure why, but I am compeled to ask, and try to learn from this terrible event. Thanks.

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i think anyone can get the mental picture of what happened, why dwell on the matter. ya, perhaps to get some information about slipshod equipment or something, let it go, a person died and you are blindly pointing fingers and undoubtedly making some people upset or anxious, and hey australopithocus, what is to speculate about the outcome?!

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It is not always obvious whether a rope is static or dynamic just by feel or appearance. The facts should come out during the investigation. Hopefully it will teach other people a lesson that will save their lives.

 

Erden if it is possible for you to obtain counciling, it would be good for you, just as it would for anyone who has gone through such a traumatic event.

 

Unfortunately it is impossible to climb with zero risk. Maybe that is one of the reasons we are attracted to climbing in the first place.

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Several years ago I was climbing in the Wind river range for a month until a storm kicked us out. We drove over to Devil's tower to catch the sunshine. After a month on granite, placing gear everywhere and constantly, I was feeling pretty damn confident. That basalt on the tower just spit pieces out into my face over and over. It was worse than nerve racking. Basalt is a much finer grain than granite and therefor demands a much better placement. A parallel crack in basalt is far less likely to be safe to protect than a parallel crack in granite. Friction factors are everything if you do not have a narrowed down part of the crack to place in (or right above the narrow point). The description of the gear suggests to me that everything worked as well as it could and just didn't have enough friction to hold a fall before it got to the edge of the crack. On basalt, place deep if you can't find a bottleneck. Always use flexible draws to allow the rope to run without walking the piece. Don't try to learn how to lead trad on basalt.

Sorry if I offend anyone. My heart goes out to Erden and everyone close to those involved.

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quote:

Originally posted by kevin:

While I generally agree that slings are better than qd's for trad, air guitar is so straight that no quick draw at all would probably have been fine.

I disagree. The only time I have ever had (multiple!) cams walk out of a crack was the one I mentioned earlier when I had slung them with (stiff, presewn) draws. It was pretty vertical as well. I believe it was Midnight Dihedral at Smith. Given the relatively smooth surface the vibration generated by simply pulling up the rope can be sufficient to dislodge the gear. Trust me, I was stupid enough to try it, you don't need to reproduce the experiment.

 

Unfortunately, in this case it may be moot. I now read that the first three pieces were all damaged. Assuming that happened in this fall, walking is probably not the issue.

 

I too find it hard to believe that an experienced climber would mistake a static for a dynamic rope, but the physical evidence of huge loads on the pro would support this. Distressing as it may be I think it's worth eliminating this possiblilty. Does the Sherriff's office still have the rope? Someone should go down there and positively ID the brand and type.

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quote:

Originally posted by Mr. Chips:

i think anyone can get the mental picture of what happened, why dwell on the matter. ya, perhaps to get some information about slipshod equipment or something, let it go, a person died and you are blindly pointing fingers and undoubtedly making some people upset or anxious, and hey australopithocus, what is to speculate about the outcome?!

(shrug...) Just participating in the discussion with everyone else fella. It seems to me like Erden has chosen to talk about this with us, why should important details such as the belay be ignored? I'm not pointing fingers, just wondering what "I did throw my left arm into the lead line to press it closer to the ground as I did crouch." meens, and why someone would choose to do it?

 

Doesn't it seem weird to you that a fall that generated enough force to break a carabiner and pull three big cams, only gave Erden a minor robe burn on his arm? He says that he didn't even feel it pull on his belay device...

 

I don't know, call me whatever, I am just one to look at it from all angles. If the questions I am asking are upseting people, well...sorry. I guess I'll just shut up then.

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quote:

Originally posted by Mr. Chips:

i think anyone can get the mental picture of what happened, why dwell on the matter. ya, perhaps to get some information about slipshod equipment or something, let it go, a person died and you are blindly pointing fingers and undoubtedly making some people upset or anxious, and hey australopithocus, what is to speculate about the outcome?!

I didn't want to come out and say it, but Mr. Chips has asked an important question. I suspect we will never know whether the cams were placed well. Why should we dwell on it? I've had cams (which I knew weren't ideally placed) slip and then catch during a fall, and they exhibited some deformation upon inspection. Deformation is not evidence (in my opinion) that the cams were placed appropriately, and given the experience level the victim had with gear leads, I would suggest that it might be less than constructive (and perhaps a little irreverent) to speculate about rope selection and such.

 

However, I understand the need to rationalize, to convince ourselves that the belay chains and protection points we rig are worthy of our trust, that it is reasonable for an experienced climber with modern equipment to push to the point of falling off. And it is amazing that between these episodes of momentary doubt, the wisdom we gain (at such a price), the enhanced awarness of our mortality, seems to soon be forgotten in our quest to climb at higher standards with thinner, lighter ropes and with little or no bivouac gear.

 

Finally, I would like to echo the thoughts of Dwayner when he suggests that this tragedy is doubly sad when we consider that this inspirational adventure climber should pass on at a scruffy cliff in E. Washington. I was disappointed that members of this bulletin board took the opportunity to reply with a personal attack. Classy.

 

[ 10-18-2002, 08:58 PM: Message edited by: pope ]

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quote:

Originally posted by E-rock:

Bug, check your PM's

Point taken. I soften my approach and hope we can all maintain a sense of balance.

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I've been working and have not had time to post, but the person who help me pull the gear has a end of the rope, and will call me once he gets home and I will post info. I belive erden has it right. the #3 would have been the top peice up by the small ledge which is where the climb gets wide, above this you would need a #4 or big hex(#11) it would seem this peice pulled and than the biner broke on the #2. This peice was set great, I would have done the same. This peice was five to ten feet below the ledge. I do not know how much lower the next peice, which I would think is the #1 was. But I think we are talking about a good bit. It could have been enought to pull it out. I belive Kevin was right and they did not walk out. After reading erden's post and being down there, this looks like the chain of action. Sometime there are no answers and things just happen out of our control.

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Since some of the cams show evidence of abrasion possibly caused at the time they were pulled out it might be possible locate where they were placed on the route.

 

If anyone is headed to Vantage they might take a look and possibly make some observations and measurements.

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quote:

Originally posted by Paul detrick:

Sometime there are no answers and things just happen out of our control.

Man, that is not the answer I wanted. It may be the one I have to accept.

 

Damn.

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quote:

Originally posted by Cpt.Caveman:

I dont want to die climbing. I want to die of old age.

my grandma died yesterday of old age and i only found out today. dying sucks no matter how it happens. [Frown]

 

Bye Grandma. Bye Goran. [Frown]

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quote:

Originally posted by Lambone:

Erden,

What's up with the arm wrap? Was it just some sort of strange natural reflex inorder to take in slack, or something else?


Well, this arm wrap belay is a new thing we teach at the Mountaineers, NOT!

 

It is in the report, and no, the arm wrap was not a planned action, nor had I trained myself to do it. When Goran started to fall, as straight as the line was, the rope started coming down in front of me. I had to gather up the slack. I had no time.

 

I did not have the option to yard up my hand on the belay side, I think I pulled some rope through with one extension of the right arm. Also I had to get down as fast as possible to lower the belay device. I have a scraped knee from the knee drop, that was intentional and a reflex!

 

At the same time, I leaned forward with the ducking to avoid getting hit. I must have tried to push the lead line down further with my left arm, and somehow as the rope went tight, it snaked its way up my arm. The friction of the complete loop around my arm took the brunt of the tension in the lead line. The remaining tension that transferred to my belay device was not noticable.

 

Initially since I did not feel much on the belay hand, I thought wow, the pieces pulled like they came out of butter! Obviously, I was too overrun by the rush to realize the severity of the left arm injury explaining "arm-wrap belay."

 

I hope this helps. Nothing intentional, except that I must have reached for the rope and as I leaned forward, it aligned my arm with the rope as it pulled tight...

 

Erden.

 

[ 10-03-2002, 12:26 AM: Message edited by: erden ]

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Sorry to hear that, Dru.

 

I've been thinking about whether to offer anything in this thread and I really don't have much to contribute but one thing I would note is that all of us have to recognize that CLIMBING IS DANGEROUS. Sure, we may say that we only rock climb and it is mountain climbing that is truly dangerous (a friend once pointed out that all of our friends who have died climbing were wearing crampons at the time of their death), or we may insist that we are safer than newbies because we've been at this game for a while, or we may have some other argument for how we are not likely to to be hurt or killed while climbing. But I bet that anybody who has been actively climbing for many years probably knows more people who have died climbing than who have died from cancer or car accidents. So all of us need to think about what this means to our friends and family. If not, we are simply being narcisistic (or maybe it is a nacistic activity even still??).

 

[ 10-02-2002, 10:22 PM: Message edited by: mattp ]

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quote:

Bye Grandma. Bye Goran.

There are no goodbye's. I don't think it is death, but the unknown that scares us. As I thinks been reiterated throughout this thread.

 

But till we meet up on the other side. How long will they mourn me.

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quote:

Originally posted by erden:

 

Well, this arm wrap belay is a new thing we teach at the Mountaineers, NOT!

 


I know none of this is one bit funny, but you got a laugh out of me there [smile] Cheers

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I've tried to figure out what I should say here and I think I'll offer my views from the perspective (as usual) of someone who witnessed a friend have an accident of the same magnitude but with a different outcome, and had to confront the same questions being posed here; what happened?

 

In February we were climbing at the feathers and my friend topped out of a climb, got ready to be lowered, came out of his rope, and took a 60 foot groundfall. The imagery of Erden's account was just way to real and upsetting for me. What I experienced that cold February day in Vantage I hope I never have to experience again, seeing a friend bleeding and unconscience on the ground and waiting a week while he is in a coma to see if he'll come back to us, and what the end result. I'm very thankful that my friend survived his accident although he has had a very long recovery (he made his first trip to the climbing gym last week). I'm more grateful now considering Goran's unfortunate accident from the same height.

 

I think one of the questions is whether it is worth figuring out what the specifics of what went wrong, regardless a very insperational person is now gone. The outcome of an "investigation" may not be comforting to some especially if the conclusion is "human error". On the other hand though if there is some equipment defect then that needs to be identified to save others the pain that Goran's family and friends are undoubtebly going through right.

 

In the case of my friends accident we will never know what exactly happened, we have ideas, but he doesn't know what went wrong and neither do we. And it doesn't matter, because what's important is not what went wrong but what lessons are to be learned from it. What we learned is that accidents can happen anywhere, whether it is at a roadside crag like Vantage or days out in the Pickets, and you need to be prepared to deal with the situation. Another lesson learned is you never can be to cautious, and while things like constantly checking your partners knots and using the verbal commands straight out of Freedom of the Hills may seem silly at times it's worth it considering the potential consequences.

 

I'm not sure what lesson is to be learned here. Maybe some newcomer here will read about what is being discussed and take into greater consideration the risks of climbing and proceed with greater caution? Maybe the hardmen will too? While I'm upset over the tone of Dwayner's comment, the reality is that even a world class climber who may seem immortal to many can die at a place as benign as Vantage.

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Erden wrote: "Just before I looked down to my feet while belaying, I saw him near the top, with a piece of protection by his foot. "

 

Has anyone considered the notion that Goran might have accidently kicked/knocked his last piece of pro when falling....might explain why that piece came out.

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quote:

Originally posted by nwclimber:

Erden if it is possible for you to obtain counciling, it would be good for you, just as it would for anyone who has gone through such a traumatic event.

I am fortunate.

 

I was accepted into the Seattle Mountain Rescue group a couple weeks ago, and they have come forward saying they encounter this kind of emotional trauma on a regular basis, and that they are equipped to help.

 

My friends in the Seattle Mountaineers Climbing Committee have been most helpful.

 

American Alpine Club Cascade Section has sprung into action to reach me.

 

My judo friends at my former dojo have welcomed me back when I wanted to mingle amongst them. Many white and green belts that I left now have black belts! Kinda like seeing kids grow when you leave for a while [smile]

 

I have received many emails from friends from this forum, whom I have not yet met. Participating in this forum has been a healing process.

 

Friends, climber or not, who heard through the grapevine, and lately via the newspapers have come out of the woodworks to connect.

 

My work buddies in the climbing department at the Seattle REI have embraced me and made me feel at home.

 

My father, my first hero in life, a former general, who introduced me to climbing at age 11 told me that when the cavalry would fall off the horse, they would shake the dust off, and get back in the saddle. He understood my sorrow, and also my passion for the sport, providing fatherly concern along the way for my safety and advice to be careful.

 

Last but not the least, I have my girlfriend who is also a climber, and a counselor who is the best support that I can ask for.

 

I am in good hands.

 

I will be fine.

 

Thank you for the concern.

 

Erden.

 

[ 10-02-2002, 11:24 PM: Message edited by: erden ]

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