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Jeepenfool95

[TR] Oregon Cascades - Salmon Slab (Zig Zag) / Belay accident report 9/2/2007

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Trip: Oregon Cascades - Salmon Slab (Zig Zag) / Belay accident report

 

Date: 9/2/2007

 

Trip Report:

Hello All,

 

I just wanted to write a quick report from my trip this last weekend.

 

I climbed at Salmon Slab, located just south of Zig Zag. I took my girlfriend, and her two girls. The Slab isn't to difficult, there are two or three 5.7's a couple of 5.8's, and one 5.9 (that I didn't get to climb).

 

I started on the 5.7 on the far left, it was an easy run and it seemed like a good climb for this kids, who are 5 and 9. The nine year old made it all the way to the top on her second try.

 

We moved over to another 5.7 (second from the far right)with a bit of a bulge in the beginning, that turns into an easy low angle slab. I started climbing and noticed there was a lot of loose rock. I looked down as I heard my girlfriend telling her youngest to stay away from the wall while I'm climbing. I also explained to her youngest the danger of standing next to the wall. I clipped my third bolt and was about halfway to the next when I grabbed a juggy hold that came off in my hand when I pulled. I went backwards as I fell. My girlfriend saw me fall, but had been distracted by her youngest who was continuing to stand in the fall zone. My girlfriend did not have a tight hand on the brake, and I grounded. She was able to slow my fall, and suffered severe burns on both hands because of it. I was very lucky, she broke my fall enough for my feet to get underneath me, and I glanced off the slab just before the ground which seemed to sluff off some of my momentum. I apparently did a good rag doll impression too, and was able to crumple up at the bottom. My only injury was a pretty good rock rash on my elbow. As soon as I got up, I checked my girlfriend who was quite distraught with having just let me fall. I knew she was watching her kids instead of me (which I understand), and as bad as the situation is or could have been, I wasn't upset with her.

 

So Beta for climbers at Salmon Slab, be careful... some of the rock is rotten even though it looks OK.

 

Also, this is a very good example why the belayer has to be able to pay complete and total attention on the climber. I really enjoyed taking her girls out to the crag, but we are going to have work on some awareness issues, and listening issues too.

 

Approach Notes:

Look out for nails and broken glass when you park.

Edited by Jeepenfool95

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Doesn't ANYONE wear belay gloves? Why did she burn her hands? Same story on the other guy that broke his ankle a few weeks ago... His belayer burned up his hands too. Just wear one - on the brake hand - no more friction burns. Why not?

 

Just curious...

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Trip: Oregon Cascades - Salmon Slab (Zig Zag) / Belay accident report

 

Date: 9/2/2007

 

Trip Report:

Hello All,

 

I just wanted to write a quick report from my trip this last weekend.

 

I climbed at Salmon Slab, located just south of Zig Zag. I took my girlfriend, and her two girls. The Slab isn't to difficult, there are two or three 5.7's a couple of 5.8's, and one 5.9 (that I didn't get to climb).

 

I started on the 5.7 on the far left, it was an easy run and it seemed like a good climb for this kids, who are 5 and 9. The nine year old made it all the way to the top on her second try.

 

We moved over to another 5.7 (second from the far right)with a bit of a bulge in the beginning, that turns into an easy low angle slab. I started climbing and noticed there was a lot of loose rock. I looked down as I heard my girlfriend telling her youngest to stay away from the wall while I'm climbing. I also explained to her youngest the danger of standing next to the wall. I clipped my third bolt and was about halfway to the next when I grabbed a juggy hold that came off in my hand when I pulled. I went backwards as I fell. My girlfriend saw me fall, but had been distracted by her youngest who was continuing to stand in the fall zone. My girlfriend did not have a tight hand on the brake, and I grounded. She was able to slow my fall, and suffered severe burns on both hands because of it. I was very lucky, she broke my fall enough for my feet to get underneath me, and I glanced off the slab just before the ground which seemed to sluff off some of my momentum. I apparently did a good rag doll impression too, and was able to crumple up at the bottom. My only injury was a pretty good rock rash on my elbow. As soon as I got up, I checked my girlfriend who was quite distraught with having just let me fall. I knew she was watching her kids instead of me (which I understand), and as bad as the situation is or could have been, I wasn't upset with her.

 

So Beta for climbers at Salmon Slab, be careful... some of the rock is rotten even though it looks OK.

 

Also, this is a very good example why the belayer has to be able to pay complete and total attention on the climber. I really enjoyed taking her girls out to the crag, but we are going to have work on some awareness issues, and listening issues too.

 

Approach Notes:

Look out for nails and broken glass when you park.

 

Whooooh dude......that sounded close.

 

Like real, real, real close. Shit.

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I'm buying her gloves as soon as hers hands are healed enough to try them on. Her hands were burned pretty baddly. One of the pads on her right hand, finger next to the pinky finger, had burned pretty deep into the meat.

 

We're leaving for Lake Tahoe, in two weeks, I don't think we will be climbing yet. Just watching from the ground, I think.

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I think that when you have kids with you, it's good to have a third adult along, if possible to help supervise the children, so that the belayer can focus entirely on her task. I realize this isn't always possible. I can easily see how this sort of accident can happen. Also, a GriGri might be a good investment for this sort of family climbing.

 

I might add that the belay technique taught in most gyms, the "slip-slide" method, is not the best for situations where you either can be distracted, or can't see the leader. There is a modified belay method in which the guide hand is taken off the standing part and moved down to the tail to hold the rope when the brake hand is moved in. The guide hand moves back and forth between tail and standing part and the brake hand always stays in a down position. In this way the tail of the rope is always ready to stop a fall.

 

I realize that you were leading, but there are times when rope needs to come in, such as when a high clip is made. Remind your girlfriend to keep her brake hand down at her side as much as possible.

Edited by catbirdseat

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the rock at salmon slab is surprisingly loose. I almost got beaned (belaying) by a baseball sized rock once when my partner (climbing) did exactly what you did.

 

glad you're ok, sounds like you got lucky

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In all the years I have been climbing with kids, this sort of thing has NEVER happened to me.

Which, of course, is due to extremely good luck and nothing else.

Glad you are OK. Tell your GF to use vitamin E oil when the wounds close to reduce scarring.

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Scary. The alpine habit of testing holds before weighting them may save you from a few future falls.

 

Current thinking on wound healing is that moist is best. Cover under bandage and copious antibiotic ointment until closed. Then use serious moisturizer (eg Eucerine) until completely healed.

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Glad you're ok.

 

Belaying - irrespective of gloves and device type - is pretty much a binary, on-or-off activity in that either you are belaying or you are not. If you are then - regardless of gloves or device type - your hand positions, rope handling, and lock-off (and attention) need to be fully operative. If those conditions can't be met it probably means you shouldn't be doing it right then.

 

Concern about children in the DZ is a pretty good example of a paramount priority which can definitely create a situation incompatible with belaying - hence climbing.

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Agree with JH, you can buy all the gloves you want it won't matter. Your girlfriends doesn't need gloves, she needs practice. Without it, next time you are climbing, even just toproping, plan on dying when she drops you.

 

You lucked out this time. Thats my opinion.

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So glad you're okay. Wow. I really, really appreciate you telling how this happened. With three kids ages 4-9 and being a newbie, I've wondered about the logistics of family climbing (we've only been out twice so far and both trips at Smith with guides) without extra adults around.

 

Hope your girlfriend's hands heal quickly! Take care.

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She has plenty of practice, and has belayed me often, I trust her with my life. I think that it was a conflict of interest "Do my kids get hit with a rock, or do I ignore them". I accept the repsonsibility of the incident. I should of had an additional adult there to watch the children.

 

Also, I got some more information on treating the wounds. When their deep like they are, the fingers need to keep moving, it will hurt, but it will keep the fingers from freeezing due to deep scarring.

 

Thank you for all of the other treatment advice as well, I will give her this information tonight.

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I climbed SRS for the first time this summer. Decided it was a good place to learn how to climb bad rock. I agree with the Gri-Gri recommendation if any type of distraction is a possibility, esp. at a crag destination...though nothing beats undivided attention. Glad you two are relatively okay and thanks for the post, discussing these events keeps us mindful.

Edited by OrygunJim

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She has plenty of practice, and has belayed me often, I trust her with my life. I think that it was a conflict of interest "Do my kids get hit with a rock, or do I ignore them". I accept the repsonsibility of the incident. I should of had an additional adult there to watch the children.

 

I'm glad you did not get hurt and that your girlfriend's injuries will heal over time.

 

A few questions I have are: when her child would not move from the unsafe area, was there any communication about pausing the climb until the child complied and moved? Was there any consequence to the child for not listening and creating an unsafe situation? I grant that 5 years old is a bit young to understand consequences and to have self discipline, but generally kids that age can understand clear rules.

 

Would having a third adult helped? Aside from physically dragging the child out of the way, which would also have been distracting to their mother, what would have changed? You still have a child who did not have the discipline to understand that climbing is dangerous and if s/he did not listen and behave properly, the activity would be stopped. I think crags are seen as somewhere to go "have fun" but it needs to be recognized (by kids and adults) that there are risks. That's why there are rescue litters on each side of the Smith Rocks cliffs.

 

IMO, lowering off and dealing with the fact that the situation was unsafe and that the child was creating a distraction that could result in serious injury or death, then reclimbing or leaving a couple draws on the climb would have been better than the worst possible scenario.

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You're not kidding about the loose rock. I don't park directly under the slab for just that reason. Too many portable holds and general crud that comes down. I actually saw a guy pull off a fist size hold that almost clipped his belayer's shoulder. Unfortunately for the leader, the belayer was sitting on the bumper of the leader's new-ish Honda when he ducked out of the way.

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She has plenty of practice, and has belayed me often, I trust her with my life.

 

IMHO this accident was your GF's fault. The belayer should never drop the climber (unless the belayer is knocked unconcious or something like that). She needs to improve her belaying skills. Getting a gri-gri is probably a wise move.

 

 

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I'm sure I'm just being over-protective, but I have to admit that the idea of sending a 5-year-old up a 5.7 route descibed as "rotten even though it looks OK" gave me pause. Did I read that right?

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The route that we started on was not nearly as rotten. I lead the route first to make sure that it was safe. Plus I knew that the five year old would only get a few feet off the ground anyway.

 

The second route I set up was for the older daughter. Though in retro-spect, I probably would have chosen a differnet route after I climbed it. I did not realize how loos the rock was until I got on the secodn route.

 

 

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Doesn't ANYONE wear belay gloves? Why did she burn her hands? Same story on the other guy that broke his ankle a few weeks ago... His belayer burned up his hands too. Just wear one - on the brake hand - no more friction burns. Why not?

 

Just curious...

 

I don't know if you were refering to my ankle breaking fall?? but for the record my partner did not burn his hands because he knows how to belay. the fall was my fault. DON'T MAKE UP BS INFO!!!!!!

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Doesn't ANYONE wear belay gloves? Why did she burn her hands? Same story on the other guy that broke his ankle a few weeks ago... His belayer burned up his hands too. Just wear one - on the brake hand - no more friction burns. Why not?

 

Just curious...

 

I don't know if you were refering to my ankle breaking fall?? but for the record my partner did not burn his hands because he knows how to belay. the fall was my fault. DON'T MAKE UP BS INFO!!!!!!

 

No, it wasn't you, so cool off.

 

Don't give yourself so much credit - I've never even heard of you.

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Some of you sure put a lot of faith in gri gri's. In my opinion those things do nothing but teach bad habits and are especially dangerous in the hands of a beginning belayer.

 

They are counterintuitive in that you are supposed to basically do nothing when your leader falls and in order to feed slack for a clip you have to hold the camming mechanism in place. I've heard other stories about accidents with these things and I personally know someone who shattered his calcaneous (heel bone) in the gym of all places because of one of these things. He blew a clip while his girlfriend (an inexperienced belayer) was holding down the camming mechanism to feed him slack. Her reaction was to tense up and hang on tight when he fell, thus the rope fed freely and he decked.

 

I can't count how many times I've been walking around at Smith or other sporty areas and seen many belayers standing around jawing with no hand on the rope at all. They have their place, but I personally don't think it's with new belayers.

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I am so glad to hear you are okay.

 

this is a really good example as to why i have not climbed with my kids very often. it impairs my climbing and my attention to the climber to have to be watching two active boys all the time. it is better now that they boys are older and have a better understanding of what is going on and that lives hang in the balance. when my boys were younger i climbed in parties of at least 3 adult climbers. one to watch the kids one to belay and one to climb. this worked exceptionally well for me.

 

I strongly suggest you get all of you plus another adult back out climbing as soon as possible.

 

 

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She has plenty of practice, and has belayed me often, I trust her with my life. I think that it was a conflict of interest "Do my kids get hit with a rock, or do I ignore them". I accept the repsonsibility of the incident. I should of had an additional adult there to watch the children.

 

I'm glad you did not get hurt and that your girlfriend's injuries will heal over time.

 

A few questions I have are: when her child would not move from the unsafe area, was there any communication about pausing the climb until the child complied and moved? Was there any consequence to the child for not listening and creating an unsafe situation? I grant that 5 years old is a bit young to understand consequences and to have self discipline, but generally kids that age can understand clear rules.

 

Would having a third adult helped? Aside from physically dragging the child out of the way, which would also have been distracting to their mother, what would have changed? You still have a child who did not have the discipline to understand that climbing is dangerous and if s/he did not listen and behave properly, the activity would be stopped. I think crags are seen as somewhere to go "have fun" but it needs to be recognized (by kids and adults) that there are risks. That's why there are rescue litters on each side of the Smith Rocks cliffs.

 

IMO, lowering off and dealing with the fact that the situation was unsafe and that the child was creating a distraction that could result in serious injury or death, then reclimbing or leaving a couple draws on the climb would have been better than the worst possible scenario.

 

exceptionally well said. any time we had an issue with discipline at the crag the boys were grounded from all climbing related activities until they could prove they were able to follow rules.

 

imho as soon as the 5 year old started to push limits the trip should have been called whether there was a third adult or not. If children are going to climb they have to learn that what they do affects the whole party of climbers... just as it would if they were and adult. often times children are treated as accessories rather than team members. I think this is a mistake and if you want the kids out there give them responsibilities and clear boundaries. why was the older child not entertaining the younger one?

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I'm buying her gloves as soon as hers hands are healed enough to try them on. Her hands were burned pretty baddly. One of the pads on her right hand, finger next to the pinky finger, had burned pretty deep into the meat.

 

We're leaving for Lake Tahoe, in two weeks, I don't think we will be climbing yet. Just watching from the ground, I think.

 

From the sounds of it glove could help your gf from burning her hands again, but they are not going to help you from decking. She recieved rope burns because the rope was passing through her hands when she grab hold of the rope and locked off.

 

I would second checking hold before pulling on them, especially if there was a concern about the childeren being hit by rock fall. Granted it was sport climbing in popular and well traveled area, but tuft is not really known for being the most solid rock out there.

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