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AlpinistAndrew

[TR] Greybeard-Attempt- North Face 5/10/2006

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Climb: Greybeard-Attempt-North Face

 

Date of Climb: 5/10/2006

 

Trip Report:

First off, I apologize for no pictures, but I no longer have a digital camera as you'll soon find out. My climbing partner and I left B'ham tuesday night and camped at the pullout for greybeard. Two dudes (from the previous Greybeard TR) rolled up at like 3:30 and headed out. We slept in until about 5. We should have left earlier, this was our mistake...We arrived at the first ice pitch at 7:30(which in the book says is a 45 degree snow slope, more like a WI2+/3 for maybe a half a rope length or so.) We could see the other party going up the first ice runnel as we began ascending the steep snow slope below the main part of the face. A few small spindrift avalanches came washing down, but they were no problem. We attempted the middle ice line as opposed to the left gully/runnel. We had been moving slow up the snow field and taking too long on starting up the ice. I attempted the middle line, but the ice was uber thin, so I went left to the gully it says to climb in the book and as I went up a decent size spindrift avalanche washed over me and we saw that it was warming up quick so we decided to bail due to our late start, though conditions were good as mentioned in the other Greybeard TR. We began down climbing the steep snow slope. We were roped up and my partner had a picket in as I descended (he was below me). We were about halfway down the face when we heard a loud rumble. I looked up and saw an avalanche come down. I tried to run to the side, but I saw I wouldn't make it. So I plunged my tools in and ducked my head. Huge blocks pelted my helmet and arms and the next thing I knew I was knocked over backwards and was fully in an avalanche. I roar past my climbing parter and we are getting tossed around like rag dolls. I yelled "Stay on top of it!!). I hopelessly grabbed for my ice tools that were attatched to my wrists but they were out of reach, getting dragged with the avalanche. One second I was on my back, the next face down, super man style, then on my back. I worked so hard to float on top and stay up right. I tried with all my might to slow down dig my toes, or hands or anything in, but the power of the avalanche was unstoppable. I was very calm, until about 3 miliseconds before I realized we were going to launch over the ice pitch I had led up a bit earlier. We probably lauchned 50-60 ft off the through the approach "gully"/ waterfall ice pitch. By the time I launched my tools were no longer attached. I covered my neck and yell FUCK as loud as I could. Several moments of flying throught the air and weightlessness and then a crash onto the snow slope below. I swam with all my might to reach the surface as the avy slowed down and solidified. I looked to my left and there was my climbed partner, face down and motionless. I yelled to him and he got up slowly. We did a quick check of ourselves (nothing major). I was wrapped up in the rope big time, so I untied myself and we ran down to our snowshoes. I had some cuts and bruises and my lower back hurt like a bitch. My buddy had the same, plus punture wounds from crampons. Later, talking to my climbing partner. He said he had attempted to arrrest with his tool as we were sliding but with no luck so before we launched he chucked his tool tomahawk style. The rack of screws I had on my harness, my digital camera, a picket, my ice tools, his ice tools, and some other items were stripped from us in the avalanche. We did a quick survey, but saw nothing at the base. Its probably buried there under a foot or two of snow. If anyone is going up there to attempt Greybeard or wants to earn $70 and beer on me, please recover my gear. Thank god ice season is over or else I'd be fucked, I have no money to buy new shit and I lost over 600 bucks worth of gear. My phone # is 360-927-4285. If anyone finds any gear there please call me. Most of my stuff has green and yellow tape on it. So my buddy and I hiked back to the car and had ourselves a huge pizza at Annies in Concrete. At first I was like "whoa dude, we survived that was awesome" now it has hit me and its pretty fucked up how we didn't get seriously injured. Certainly the most frightened I've ever been.

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HOLY FLYING FUCK SHIT! hellno3d.gifhellno3d.gifhellno3d.gif

 

Glad to hear you and your partner didn't buy the farm!!!

 

How are you feeling? Back still jacked up? Did you partner need stiches from his puncture wounds? How many?

 

How big were the snow blocks? Various sizes? Did it seem like a slab or point release avy? Did you get a look at the face after it happen? Any estimate on how far down the face you were swept?

 

600 bucks sucks but being that you're still alive I'd say you got a good deal out of it...

 

DAMN!

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We think a cornice broke or one of the snow slopes on the upper left (climbers left) of the face broke. Blocks were medium sized, up to bowling ball size maybe. When I saw it come down it didn't seem super huge, though it was pretty wide, but the blocks were big enough to knock us down. Several smaller avalanches occured afterwards, all originating somewhere on the upper face, sliding down the main snow slope and ending at the avy debris below the first approach ice pitch. We were swept a few hundred feet total. We just have cuts, his wounds were minor. My back is fine, though it still hurts a bit. Right now I am going through some kind of post trauma shit or something. the accident dominates my thoughts. i try not to think about it, but I am kinda fucked up mentally from the accident. the weird thing is my sunglasses stayed on the whole time, while my camera, which was carbinered to my harness was stripped off, WTF?

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Yeah... I almost bought the farm at 16 on a steep snow route on North Sister... ripped all the pro and my partners belay anchor... we went a couple 100' before his body impacting a rock stopped the fall pitty.gif. He fractured his foot through his plastic boot among other injuries and went into shock... I just got meatloaf arms out the deal. We managed to get out unassisted only to have me fall asleep behind the wheel on the drive home and drift through oncoming traffic and some how live through that too (no damage to my car either!).

 

That one fucked with me a little but the one that still kinda haunts me is Ivans 40 m fall off/down the Ice Cliff on Stuart... turns my stomach still and that was 2 winters ago. I still kinda have a hard time climbing with guys who are married or (even worse) have kids...

 

No reason to hang it up... the key is learning from this experience. Have you had a level 1 avy?

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congrats on being alive - life'll still seem awful tedious at times - hope you've gotten good n' drunk a couple of times already!

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Thanks for sharing Andrew. It's a great reminder to us who go ice climbing in the spring to remember what's above. Glad to hear you and your partner were okay

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holy shit andrew, glad you're ok. i have also felt the post traumatic effects of placing mysekf in a hazardous climbing situation. i felt all dirty and didn't talk to anyone for like 2 days, and barely left my house for a week. don't worry though you'll get through it, for now, dont go climbing, just mellow out, spend some time drinking, or maybe a nice nature-hike. before long the bad mojo will shake off and you will return to being a wiser and more experienced climber. i've got one straight shaft black prophet that you can borrow as long as you like, just pm me.

sol

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That's a scary ass story! Glad everyone is OK!

 

It seems that people (me included) are more willing to attempt Cascade ice/mixed routes in much warmer conditions than was once considered acceptably safe. Any old-timers agree? You get away with it 99% of the time...until that 1%.

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Andrew- Way to keep your head during a really harrowing situation. Frosty's advice seems pretty spot on. You'll be alright bro.

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Thanks for all the support. I am going to take it easy here the next week, I am moving to Mazama for the summer and I think I'll stick with alpine rock for a while, considering I'll be so close to awesome rock.

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Damn. I got caught in a slide skiing this year. Pretty unreal experience trying to swim and getting tossed around. We lost our digi camera in that episode too. Glad you didn't get the chop.

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I think the lesson learned is don't start an ice climb in may at 7:30am.

 

way to live through that. sorry 'bout your gear. nice job on getting on the n.twin right after. ha!

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WOW! You did the right things but still you're very lucky. Glad your not seriously hurt.

 

I took a thousand foot fall on hard spring ice near Steven Pass two years ago. Had the same horrible feeling when I accelerated over a cliff and through rock bands and heavy forest. I broke six ribs and my sternum and was generally beat to shit. I also had to self rescue with no gear, skis or poles, to finish the icy decent. The accident dominated my thoughts for several months but when I regained the ability to climb and ski I feel like I have more confidence and focus. I also don't get as rattled by little risks such as a few feet of runnout as I used to. Hang in there. You'll not only be back, but back better. thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

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damn, that was creepy. to know you are about to fly over a wi3 pitch is not good. glad you guys are ok. time will help!

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Whoooaaa!! Damn dude, that sounds like a pretty scary scenario. Cheers to you and your pardner for keeping it together and recognizing that you needed to bail when you did. No telling what could have happened had you been farther up the route. I think we can all learn a lesson from your story. Good luck to you in the future. thumbs_up.gif

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Moments ago, a post by Larrythellama, in which he berated Andrew for being stupid, was deleted - to which I want to respond: Lighten-up Larry, from time to time we are all contestants for a Darwin Award.

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