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Slog

[TR] Hood accident- 6/17/2006

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Climb: Hood accident-

 

Date of Climb: 6/17/2006

 

Trip Report:

The weather cleared about 9pm Friday the 16 just as predicted. However; instead of partly cloudy it was crystal clear, colder and windier than predicted. This made for easy travel all the way to the Hogsback. Just before the Hogsback we noticed that things got very icy. We roped up and went around the burgshrund to the right. Immediately we were pelted with oblong ice cubes about the size of the first 2 knuckles of my pointing finger. Thousands of them showering down like a broken chandelier coming down the chutes from the Pearly Gates. This would stop and start with the wind above and continued to the summit. You had to keep your eyes down so they would hit the helmet. There was hardly any crampon purchase and the Mountain appeared to have a clear coat of very sharp ice. Stopping a fall or self arrest seemed rather unlikely, great care not to fall seemed like the best answer. I was wondering if there was a better way down. This was manageable going up but the descent was heavy on my mind.

We Summitted without mishap and there were about 15 people on top, mostly two large guided groups. These groups actually opted to use a belayed down climb to the west It took them a long time but was safe.

Jon, Carl and I headed down. There were a few butterflies in my stomach knowing what was ahead. I decided that I would use a ski pole in my lower hand and ice ax in the upper mountain side and always have 3 points of contact with the slope. Painfully slow as it was I believe it was the safest way for me to go. After much anxiety we made it past the bergshrund and to the Hogsback where we rested and watched the other teams behind us.

It gets a little foggy here but we were watching our other rope team of three come down. Jesse slipped; Doug and Wayne were able to arrest the fall. Around that same time a lower team slid and was able to arrest. It’s a serious thing to watch your friends dug in face down on an icy slope ropes taunt between everyone. No one moved for the longest time. There was nothing to do to help. Slowly people started to get to their feet and just then a group high above them peels off the mountain. Picket, crampons and ice axes flying towards my friends. They hit my buddies at maximum velocity and everyone moved but miraculously my friends stayed in there arrest position as I watched the 3 man team from above fall over 500 feet bouncing and flailing like rag dolls. Luckily they missed the crevasse at the bergshrund and slowly came to rest in the Devils kitchen. Two guys in rescue jackets were off in a flash, they had been sitting next to me. They attended the totally still team of three. There was much confusion higher up. They could not just jump up and we could not just go assist them. Three experienced teams had just fallen. Jon, Carl and I waited with much anxiety as teams slowly got up and seemed ok. Jesse, Jon’s father was up there. The two rescue guys were attending the fallen 3 and our guys arrived eventually arrived at the Hogsback. Jesse held out a frayed rope!(see the video clip at katu.com) The rope had either been severed or broke under the impact. Jesse hugged his son Jon and wept.

Knowing our team was safe Carl Jon and I ran down to assist with the others. There was blood everywhere. Doug later said that from the Hogsback he thought someone had wanded the crash site with red flags. It was blood. The faces of the 3 were unrecognizable caked with drying blood. We helped in whatever ways the more medically experience people asked us to do, holding heads still, keeping them warm, boiling water anything. Before long there were quite a few people around many with medical experience. One of our guys seemed to be in shock. We helped him and did what we could. The helicopter was not going to come for a long time. I asked if they were able to drink water. A completely blood encrusted face stuck a tongue out. The medic nodded yes so I poured some warm water in and could tell he needed more I gave him a little more and said “I’ve been praying for you”. I was very shocked to hear “thanks I’ve been praying too”. Surprisingly he asked where do you go to church. I told him and we talked. I knew he would be ok. I went to the most severely injured and he also wanted water but I was a little worried because he was so bad off, he had broken bones, his helmet was shattered so probable head injuries and numerous other issues. I wet his lips with some water and them he opened his mouth for more. I gave him warm water. This was all very disturbing. I put my down jacket on the other one who was now sitting and shivering.

There was plenty of help around now so we decided to leave. We left contact info with the rescue workers to get our gear back that they still needed. We headed down. Wayne and Jesse admitted to being quite traumatized and were acting strange. We kept a close eye on them. Jesse ended up going ahead of us later explained that he was overcome with emotion and wanted to weep in private.

One last note. After the morning’s events I was emotionally spent. I had stashed skis 2.5 miles from the lodge and was looking forward to skiing down to the car. Jesse beat me there and in being the nice guy he is he unburied both Doug’s and my skis. One of mine fell over and skied off into oblivion down into a glacial moraine. We all walked the last 2.5 mile together. ;-)

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When I read the accident report, I thought of you guys. I hope everyone pulls through ok, what a tramatic experience for all involved (well, much moreso for those two guys)!

 

glad you're ok Glenn.

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Slog, glad to hear that you and your party are o.k., albeit a bit traumatized. Way to help out and do anything you could. I am sure the rescue guys appreciate any help they can get.

 

Now, following Ivan's post on the other thread, this is not intended to armchair quarterback anything, nor is it disrespectful to any of the injured, but why were people roped up at all in those conditions? You talked about how icy it was, so why would anyone stay ropedup down through the pearly gates, your team included, without zippering the thing up with pickets? Did anyone learn from the accident a few years back under the same scenario and under the same conditions about this same time of year? EITHER TAKE OFF THE ROPE OR SET PRO on the South Side of Hood! There is no gray area with this, it is either one or the other. Anything else will simply lead to what we have seen here. There are no crevasses to worry about this time of year. The bergschrund is obvious, but could still stay roped up until past it. Other than that, it seems like this accident could have been a lot worse if the other climbers had been taken out instead of staying arrested. It also could have been a lot better where yopu would have only had one person injured if they were not roped together instead of three. You did mention a picket you observed when the climbers were falling. Did the pickert pull? Or did it just come out of someone's pack? WHy carry a picket if you don't intend to use it?

 

I apologize if this comes off as uncaring for the injured, but a few more details would help. There are plenty of accidents that are unpreventable and can be chalked up to dumb luck in the mountains. This accident is clearly not one of those instances and could have easily been prevented..... rolleyes.gif

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That sounds tragic. Hope it doesn't ruin climbing for those involved.

 

People are the number one objective hazard. To others, and of course to themselves. It's a bad idea to be climbing below or near other unprotected climbers in conditions like that. I don't completely understand the timing of the three falls, but do you think that the latter falls could have been a result of people letting themselves get distracted by the original slip?

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Believe me when I say that I have I have been replaying this over in my mind to try and learn from it. The top team had placed 1 picket. It popped out. Maybe they were getting ready to place more?? My friends were keeping 0 slack in the rope and that is how they were able to arrest without pro. They were almost to the Shrund and it was a tiny bit softer there

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I realize this is getting to be old news, but I was up there in a team of 3 the day after. Conditions were still quite icey and a ranger at the Hogsback strongly suggested short-roping. We had never done that before, and felt a little silly because it seemed like something only guided groups do (what's-her-name, the "New York socialite" on Everest in 96 immediately comes to mind), but we tried it and it did seem to make some sense as you could move quicker than you could roped up normally placing pro, but still (in theory) arrest your 'mates before they pick up too much speed. I think we still probably would have soloed if it wouldn't have been a direct affront to the ranger's advice (and we felt he deserved that respect considering all he'd been through with the fallen climbers the day before). I wanted to bring it up because it was interesting that the ranger suggested it and it's not an option I normally (okay, ever) consider. Anyone think that's a good technique for this route, or could have prevented this accident?

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...(what's-her-name, the "New York socialite" on Everest in 96 immediately comes to mind)...

 

Sandy Hill Pitman, compleat with satellite phone and internet hook-up

 

Anyone think that's a good technique for this route, or could have prevented this accident?

 

No, and no. A fall while short-roping in this scenario would just pick all of you off the slope faster. Solo it (fast) or rope up/place pro (slow).

And I wouldn't worry about any affrontery towards the ranger. Thank him/her for their concern/suggestions, and then make your own decisions and implement same. Your life is your own responsibility, you know.

 

I am continually amazed at the number of teams that rope up for the Hogsback/Pearly Gates and don't place pro, given how many times in recent memory this same accident has repeated itself.

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And I wouldn't worry about any affrontery towards the ranger. Thank him/her for their concern/suggestions, and then make your own decisions and implement same. Your life is your own responsibility, you know.

 

I am continually amazed at the number of teams that rope up for the Hogsback/Pearly Gates and don't place pro, given how many times in recent memory this same accident has repeated itself.

 

Thanks, Sobo, I appreciate those comments. I think the ranger expects that most people on the route are inexperienced, which is probably true, but honestly it wasn't that we were concerned about our safety -- we thought it was a good chance to try it out... see what it felt like and judge its usefulness... and waited until there was no one above us. I agree, I prefer soloing it. But it was good to see a lot of T-slot pits on the way up - apparently people learned, if only for a day, that pickets placed vertically won't hold too much of a fall. I'll also put a plug in for the West Crater variation -- it's a nice route & thins the crowds out.

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Thanks for your concern; everyone’s doing fairly well. My two friends are recovering at home now but will be laid up for a while. So far it looks like nobody has any serious permanent injuries. I was the least injured of the three. I’m a bit beat up and I’ll have some nice scars on my nose as souvenirs, but am doing pretty well.

 

I put together an accident write-up and am waiting for the other guys to review it before I post. I plan to have it ready early next week.

 

I want to extend a word of thanks to everyone who assumed the role of rescuer that day.

 

Special thanks to PMR, those guys were on us almost before we came to a stop and took great care of us. There were some “off duty” members who jumped in and helped even though they had other responsibilities on the mountain that day. Also thanks to Rodney from the Forest Service, the AMR R.A.T. team, and the 1042nd for taking care of my buddies. Thanks to T-line and MHSP for equipment and transportation.

 

There were also a lot of bystanders who were willing to jump in and help out and to loan us warm clothes. I’ve got some rescuer gear I need to return to folks. It’s all laundered and ready to go now, PM me with a description of what you’re missing and I’ll make arrangements to return it.

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Thanks for your concern; everyone’s doing fairly well. My two friends are recovering at home now but will be laid up for a while. So far it looks like nobody has any serious permanent injuries. I was the least injured of the three. I’m a bit beat up and I’ll have some nice scars on my nose as souvenirs, but am doing pretty well.

 

I put together an accident write-up and am waiting for the other guys to review it before I post. I plan to have it ready early next week.

 

I want to extend a word of thanks to everyone who assumed the role of rescuer that day.

 

Special thanks to PMR, those guys were on us almost before we came to a stop and took great care of us. There were some “off duty” members who jumped in and helped even though they had other responsibilities on the mountain that day. Also thanks to Rodney from the Forest Service, the AMR R.A.T. team, and the 1042nd for taking care of my buddies. Thanks to T-line and MHSP for equipment and transportation.

 

There were also a lot of bystanders who were willing to jump in and help out and to loan us warm clothes. I’ve got some rescuer gear I need to return to folks. It’s all laundered and ready to go now, PM me with a description of what you’re missing and I’ll make arrangements to return it.

 

Glad you made if off in one (fairly intact) piece!

 

I'm not being sarcastic, rude or condensending either.

 

Out of laziness, I never did the S side with pro. In perhaps 30 trips up it, no pro other than a single axe. Expected that a boot axe belay or chopping something would do the trick.

 

I can think of 3 times, but 1 real bad instance, where something, or a couple of ice screws would had eased my concerns and greatly helped out. It was not much more than luck that I never had an accident on the route, and I considered myself above average in the skill dept.

 

 

Witnessed some doozies though. So welcome back!

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Hello from one of the victims in this fall. I apologize for not responding earlier - I know there are at least a few out there who are wondering how we're doing. I've been on enough pain meds that I didn't feel like I could be sure of writing something coherant. Not that it'd be the first cc.com post composed while under the influence... wink.gif

 

A brief summary of my injuries:

--Broken left Occipital Condyle - a boney finger like structures of the skull that rotates around the spinal column

--Broken jaw

--Various facial lacerations and abrasions, requiring a few stitches

 

The facial injuries have mostly healed. The jaw now sports 2 small titanium plates and a few screws. And I'm stuck in a cervical collar for approximately 12 weeks. So no driving, hiking, climbing, kayaking, etc. for the summer.

 

I'm recovering at home and will probably be back to work in another week or two - thankfully I have a job that will allow telecommuting. And I'm backing off on the pain meds, so perhaps I'll be able to write sensible code sometime soon. Our other partner is also recovering at home, but I'll leave it to him to post other details if he so desires.

 

Yes, we learned the hard way that a vertical picket won't always hold a fall. I hope our experience might help save someone else from a similar fate.

 

As Brad said, many thanks to the PMR crews, and AMR RAT team, the 1042nd, etc. And I should probably shut up before this starts sounding like an Acadamy Award speech...

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Okay, here it is. Sorry it took so long. This is fairly short and to the point. I was trying to roughly follow the format used in the American Alpine Club's Accidents in North American Mountaineering Journal because I plan to submit this. Let me know if you'd like more detail on any particular aspect and I'll try to expand.

 

 

FALL ON SNOW, INADEQUATE PROTECTION

Fall involving a climbing team of 3 evenly spaced on a 32M rope. The climbing team came under heavy bombardment by ice fall on the sun-exposed Hogsback and moved right up a shaded couloir to the right of the Hogsback to escape this hazard. The top of the couloir was just below the Pearly Gates.

 

The climbing team was simul-climbing up the 40-45° couloir, which was approximately 40M long. One 24” picket had been placed vertically as protection approximately half way up the couloir. Placement required two whacks with an ice axe to get through the ice crust.

 

Witness accounts describe the second climber slipping just below the picket and the leader falling immediately after. The picket was pulled out of the snow intact and still attached to the climbing rope. The third climber was firmly set in self-arrest, but was pulled off by the two falling climbers. The resulting fall was approximately 500’ on firm snow into a clean run out just above Devil’s Kitchen.

 

During the fall the climbers crossed the rope of another rope team and cut through their rope, which avoided dragging the other team off the mountain.

 

Portland Mountain Rescue and a Forest Service Climbing Ranger were on scene almost immediately. Two of the injured parties were evacuated by helicopter with significant head, neck, back, and leg injuries, one walked out on his own. All three climbers were wearing helmets.

 

ANALYSIS

Snow conditions were icy. It had possibly rained overnight, creating a crust on the surface. Snow conditions under the crust are unknown. A single picket was inadequate to hold two falling climbers under these snow conditions.

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Thx a lot for the updates. I hope everyone involved makes a full recovery. I will definitely keep this experience in mind when facing similar conditions. I really appreciate people sharing their experiences like this because it's a good learning opportunity.

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Placement required two whacks with an ice axe to get through the ice crust.

 

Once through the ice crust what was placement like? This should give a clue as to how good the placement would be. For instance, if after two wacks had the picket easily gone in I would continue pounding it in past the ice crust to try and get it into firmmer snow. If it is still garbage pull it out as then your partners will not have any false sense of security.

 

Also could the ice crust have been just been a surface freeze from the night before?

 

 

During the fall the climbers crossed the rope of another rope team and cut through their rope, which avoided dragging the other team off the mountain.

 

Are pictures available of the ropes in question - while possible for one rope to melt/burn through another I wonder if perhaps it was cut by a crampon or axe as suggested. The difference would be easily distinguishable.

 

Perhaps an adendum to the report would include "secondary roped party climbing directly below another" Many/Most of the accidents on Hood are compounded due to this error in judgement. Unfortunately, for Hood this is the standard operating procedure.

 

Hopefully the secondary party learned something as well.

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ScaredSilly- I was called to the rescue with PMR that day and also initially wondered whether it was an axe/crampon or rope burn that cut through the other team's rope. The rope, when cut, was cleanly cut and starting to unravel into its individual strands, but it did not appear to have any characterisitcis that I would have ascribed to a rope burn. However, I have never seen a rope burned through by another rope, so I am still left wondering if my assumption is correct. My gut feel in looking at it was that it was cut by a crampon or ice axe.

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It is very easy to tell if a rope has been melted. The seath and core will be stiff at the ends where it has melted. If it is "clean" and still supple then it is a cut.

 

Something that I encourage everyone to do is to take two pieces of rope and use one to saw through the other. It is very easy to do. When I want to remove old tat from a climb with out a knife I often use this technique.

 

To do this tie one in a loop around a tree branch. Put the other through the loop and wrap the other in your hands pull it towards you and start sawing. I can often saw through a slings after a couple dozen strokes.

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