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goatboy

New Zealand Climbing Accident

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That is sad. frown.gif I was just reading a Joe Simpson book of how he hated guiding for this very reason. He mentioned a "guide knot" which looks good but came undone if it took any load.

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In "This Game of Ghosts", he mentions a "guideknot" :

 

"the knot looks safe but miraculously falls apart when an impact comes on it"

 

I'm not sure if this is an actual knot or just a joke between guides putting themselves in the same situation as happened here everyday.

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In terms of spectacular alpine climbing, there is no place in the 48 states that comes close. In terms of mountaineering fatalities, I bet Mount Rainier comes close.

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Having heard different versions, what are the Three Rules of Mtn Guiding?

 

Also, where does the figure of 214 people come from? I assume this is number of fatalities on Aoraki (Mt Cook), but what's the source?

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Most version of the Three Rules go like this:

 

1) The client is trying to kill you.

2) The client is trying to kill himself.

3) The client is trying to kill the other clients.

 

This accident sounds similar to the one that took place on Mt. Hood in which an inexperienced climber in the uphill position fell and pulled the other two climbers with him. I wonder which position the guide was in in this instance? I know almost nothing about guiding, but I would assume the guide would want to always be in the uphill position, whether ascending or descending.

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Not to sound heartless, but guides are paid to keep the client safe. Having a knot that comes apart when loaded is decietful. If you are not willing to be dragged down by someone don't give them a sense of false security by roping up with them in the first place. Last year we took a new guy up rainier, he claimed to have good self arrest skills but I think we on the rope stopped his falls at least 4 times. I never thought about pretending to be tied in.

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By all accounts this guide was a superb climber, but I wonder whether there could be something said for the MASS of the guide with regard to being able to pull off a team arrest. If you clients outweigh you, it could be a problem.

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ok, "guide knot" thing has gone too far. wally, please put your mind at ease.

 

the "guide knot" in simpsons book was meant to be a joke. if i remember correctly, he was trying to voice his insecurity about certain guiding situations and said something to the effect that sometimes he wished he could tie clients in with a "guide knot" - a knot that looks secure but magically unravels as soon as it is weighted.

 

do you really think there are professional guides out there tying bogus knots that come undone as soon as theyre weighted???

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...I would assume the guide would want to always be in the uphill position, whether ascending or descending.

 

yep. usually you should put the most experienced person up front when climbing and be the last one down when descending.

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Sure, usually that would be the case.

 

It depends on the outcomes of the activity.

 

If the goal is to foster the utmost safety, guide uphill, positioned to stop a fall, is clearly best.

 

If the goal is to teach leadership or practicing team arrest, a student or client could be uphill.

 

If the descent warrants placing protection on the way down, such as pickets, then the guide would be first or in the middle of the rope team to place gear as they descend.

 

So, to me, it's really situational. In the incident described in the article, it could have well been a situation where placing protection could have assisted the team in arresting the fall . . . .

 

Always a judgment call, complicated by many factors....

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thanks for putting me at ease. All the guides I have met seemed to really care about the safety of their clients. I just don't know where most climbers stand in reguards to pulling a "touching the void" tactic. personally I would rather fall to my demise with someone instead of coming back alive and having to tell his/her family I had to cut them loose they were dragging me down.

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he claimed to have good self arrest skills but I think we on the rope stopped his falls at least 4 times.

 

Sounds to me like he needed to practice his cramponing skills too.

 

What route were you on when your buddy fell four times?

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In terms of spectacular alpine climbing, there is no place in the 48 states that comes close. In terms of mountaineering fatalities, I bet Mount Rainier comes close.

 

Interestingly enough I think New Zealand is probably the most similar to Western Washington in terms of overall climate and similarity and variety of bio-zones. But, true, though I have not been, the New Zealand Alps appear to be simply breathtaking.

 

It's also a climbers paradise...more sheep than people. smile.gif

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most of the falls were on the Inter, which had only a few open crevasses. He fell once on the upper emmons and just flailed about as he slid instead of using his axe. It was also his first time in crampons.

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Interestingly enough I think New Zealand is probably the most similar to Western Washington in terms of overall climate and similarity and variety of bio-zones. But, true, though I have not been, the New Zealand Alps appear to be simply breathtaking.

 

Yes, in a way, the bio-zones are similar. Rainstorms sweep accross from the west accross open water and the mountains form a similar barrier, with rainforest at the foot of glaciated peaks, and bare or semi-bare valleys in the lee of the New Zealand Alps. The west coast is as wet as the Olympic Penninsula, the mountains wet and snowy all year around kind of like southeast Alaska, there is an area like the Chilcotin Plateau on the east slope, and along the east coast it feels like California or something. It has more variety and probably more extremes than we have (though I'm not sure there is any true desert), and the mountains don't get the same dry season that we have, but in many ways it does "feel like home,"

 

However, as mountains the New Zealand Alps are more like those in southeast Alaska than anything in Washington. Mount Cook stands nearly 10,000 feet above a 25-mile long glacier immediately below. The climb, from the glacier (most parties fly to a hut half way up) is kind of like climbing Mount Johannesburg, in the Spring, ON TOP of climbing some other major cascade peak. And the glaciers there are, like Alaska glaciers, something to worry about. Crevasse falls are common.

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There are a few other reasons a guide might be downhill. He or she might be downhill if there is a white-out. He or she might be downhill if there is difficult routefinding. And lastly, he or she might be downhill if the terrain is easy but the clients are slow. In this last example, the guide can move quickly and thus force the students to move more quickly as well.

 

The three rules of guiding only apply to about twenty percent of the clients. Most absorb the training they are given prior to an ascent. However there are a few who simply can't understand the most basic instruction no matter how slow it is spelled out for them.

 

Jason

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I think most understand that the Three Rules are just a sort of tongue-in-cheek dark humor between guides. In my experience teaching, only a small minority of people are unable to learn, given enough attention, but there are some. Of those, most understand their limitations and pack it in. It's that smallest minority who can't learn and won't quit that are a real worry.

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Yes, it is tongue in cheek humor, Catbird, but there is also some reality to it. The "sub-message" is that the guide needs to guard against the worst possible mistake or inattention on the part of their client - that is their job. Also, guides can get complacent about their own safety, scrambling up and down cliffs to set fixed ropes or neglecting to anchor themself or sit in a safe place, out of the way of rockfall, when they are using the rope to hasten their client along or whatever, and "humor" like this is intended to convey the idea that what you may do on your day off, with your friends, can be VERY dangerous and completely inappropriate when "on the job."

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It seems to me any terrain where a fall will be deadly should be protected by the guide. If this means slowing the party down to place pickets on steep traverses, etc, it seems to me this should be taken into account for climbing time and done, because you can't expect a client to not eat shit at a bad time.

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