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billcoe

Dramatic 4 am rope solo rescue in Vegas

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Our own Joseph Healy. 4 AM in the cold-assed frikkan Dark Las Vegas morning, that's just obscenely burley.

 

 

Link to Mountain Project thread

 

 

 

 

I'd like to thank Joseph Healy (of Portland, OR) for roped soloing the first two pitches of Beulah's Book in order to bring the stranded ladies jackets and heat packs at 4 AM. Soon after first light, Mike Ward and John Goebel (of Blue Diamond) climbed to the ledge at the top of pitch 2 of Beulah's Book to assist in the rescue. At twilight, the ladies had rapped from the anchors atop Johnny Vegas, but had pendulumed left to Beulah's Book to try to retrieve stuck gear. With such a severe angle, the ropes would not pull and they spent the night on the small ledge with temps falling to the low 30's.

 

The most important issue that comes to my mind is that there is no official technical rescue team in Vegas. There's Metro, with a great helicopter team, but there's no official SAR team of competent, experienced rock climbers. The climbers who helped the ladies were informal volunteers who used their own equipment, their own time, and accepted huge potential liability. I urge climbers who use Red Rock to contact BLM to propose that an official, competent, paid technical rescue team be created.

 

Good on ya for takin' care of business in a big way Joseph.

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Bill, thanks, but it wasn't quite that 'dramatic' - turns out they were stuck up on the route we had done that day so I was pretty familiar with it already. And I wasn't actually planning on going up to them when I went back in, but rather just humping in the gear, clothes, food, and water for a morning rescue and let them know we were still on it and had a game plan that Mike Ward would be out to lend a hand at first light. But, after a short nap when I first arrived, I was so damn cold myself (it was 31 degrees) the idea of just sitting around wasn't all that appealing and the girls and I figured out they were on a different route then we had all initially thought. It was a bit of a hump to get back in there from the highway as the loop road was closed and the whole affair made for a pretty long day of climbing, but it all went off fine.

 

People should be really conscious of their rope paths and pulls when rapping in Red Rocks as ropes hang up easily there. You should also be aware you can't necessarily depend on a quick rescue outside of some of the more easily accessible sport venues. Also, cell signals aren't readily available in many of the canyons. And last, thermal management is something all the Red Rock locals really excel at given how fast conditions can change there over the course of minutes, let alone hours and days. Be prepared to repeatedly operate both hot and cold this time of year.

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Ping the BLM all you want but it is the locals who have to organize and there probably isn't much of a tax base to support a rescue when the whole area is desperate for water and numerous other growth related problems.

Just assume you are going alpine and alone.

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Bill, thanks, but it wasn't quite that 'dramatic' ...

It may not have seemed "dramatic" compared to some of the high profile rescues about which we hear, but I have a hunch that it was hugely so to those who received your assistance, Joseph. I'm really glad Billcoe shared this here...showing off the good nature and good skills of one of our own. Way to represent! :tup:

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YES! Good work Joseph.

Having been benighted a few times, I know your efforts were VERY appreciated.

 

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Thanks folks! The strongest of the girls is from the 'couve and has climbed Beacon so it was just as much a matter of taking care of our own as anything. And I did get her number and my wife and I are going to go out to dinner with her when she's in town for Christmas. The girls are actually pretty strong and experienced climbers (our local gal's been up Mt. Blanc), they just got classically suckered into an unwise penjy on the rap to try and retrieve a shiny new Link Cam they had left on the way up. We've all been there, but sometimes it's just best to remember 'it's only gear' and not worth the trade that can ensue trying to get it back. Most of us old guys have this lesson down as we learned on dirt cheap hexs and stoppers not worth dying for; expensive modern gear we work hard for can have a draw of its own that sometimes is best ignored.

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...they just got classically suckered into an unwise penjy on the rap to try and retrieve a shiny new Link Cam they had left on the way up. We've all been there, but sometimes it's just best to remember 'it's only gear' and not worth the trade that can ensue trying to get it back. Most of us old guys have this lesson down as we learned on dirt cheap hexs and stoppers not worth dying for; expensive modern gear we work hard for can have a draw of its own that sometimes is best ignored.

 

Ahhh yes, truer words have never been spoken.

 

Great job helping out when the cause presents, Joseph! Cheers!

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was their rope stuck in the anchor or caught in a crack? did they not have jumars? headlamps?

 

good to see all that beacon rope-soloing payign off!

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Ivan, in the morning we could see their ropes were stuck in a tall, narrow, deep, and bottoming slot about 5-8 feet tall, 2-5 inches wide at the top and real deep - pretty much a perfect knot catcher. The girls, at our direction, had weighted both sides of the lines with their combined weight with a prusik when they were first stuck in the early evening and the ropes were not coming out of there. In fact, some guys that went up the route in the morning were only able to free one of the lines, a party the next day got the other one.

 

And no, they didn't have jumars, so an impromptu prusik ascent would have been the only option. That still presented a number of problems, though, and even with jumars, as the slot in question was above the lip of a pretty large roof. To have ascended in the dark you'd have to have decided that your free-hanging jugging wouldn't cut the rope over the edge of the roof and then there was the whole issue of clearing the lip and getting past a deeply slotted and stuck knot/line. How would you ascend past it? The only scenario for success would have been to ascend the knotless half of the line and pray it was slotted outboard of the knot and not inboard so you would have a chance of ascending past the slotted knot. Pretty much a total crapshoot in the dark, and not one with great odds. I personally would have taken a shot at it in a remote or alpine setting with zero possibility of rescue; but not on a trade route in a canyon known for sunlit buttresses. Their best option was definitely waiting for someone to bring them up a line.

 

Yeah, the roped-soloing did come in handy. Two summers ago when it was way too hot during the day to work on the anchors out at Beacon I spent about two weeks of nights out there doing laps up to different column anchors on the upper Grassy Ledges in the dark and got pretty used to it by the end of the heat wave. Had the girls not coincidentally been on a route I had just done that day I probably wouldn't have gone up for them, but given they were, it wasn't that big a deal - and it sure beat freezing my ass off waiting around all night anyway.

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Bill, thanks, but it wasn't quite that 'dramatic'

 

Well, I can assure you that if I'd been stuck on that damn shelf in butt-freezing cold all night, you would have heard the histrionics, wailing and lamentations in Vegas it would have been so dramatic. :lmao:

 

Rope soloing a 5.9 in the dark and bitter cold is still Uber-burley, nobody can dissuade me otherwise. Especially so after climbing all day yourself, then hiking back in at night with the road closed no less. Bigtime Burley. And Knarley too. Burley and knarley. They were lucky that you were there.

 

It is a good lesson for all of us and a reminder to be prepared: there's so many places like nubbins, chickenheads and slots that eat ropes down there...

 

so take your BD down sweater. Maybe have you around somewhere too. :)

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Well, we told them we, or someone, would be back soon. As it was they were periodically strobing cars on the highway when I pulled up at the exit of the loop road. I answered their strobe with my headlights and then headed in. It had been about three hours since we had left earlier and I couldn't, in good conscious, leave them out there with no word after we told them someone would be back for them. And like I said, climbing was a way, way better option than eight more hours of sitting around getting colder and colder myself.

 

Night climbing and roped-soloing are both sort of odd pre-occupations, but once you do them enough and get through the first 15-20 minutes, they pretty much get to be like regular climbing in your mind. And in an odd way they sort of complement one another. For anyone interested, here's a link to an rc thread where I described my rope-soloing system. It's not necessarily for everybody, but it is a good thing to know how to do. For the night climbing part, I used two headlamps on my helmet - my normal, higher power BD Zenix IQ above, and my backup, low power Petzl Zipka right below it. That gave good coverage both near (hand holds) and far (routefinding).

 

 

 

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Excellent detail on your system, Joe. Awesome pics and description. Gonna have to bookmark that rc thread for later consumption. :pouring glass of red:

 

Again, right on for your "antics" down in Vegas. Wonderful to be prepared, no?

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Bill, thanks, but it wasn't quite that 'dramatic' - turns out they were stuck up on the route we had done that day so I was pretty familiar with it already. And I wasn't actually planning on going up to them when I went back in, but rather just humping in the gear, clothes, food, and water for a morning rescue and let them know we were still on it and had a game plan that Mike Ward would be out to lend a hand at first light. But, after a short nap when I first arrived, I was so damn cold myself (it was 31 degrees) the idea of just sitting around wasn't all that appealing and the girls and I figured out they were on a different route then we had all initially thought. It was a bit of a hump to get back in there from the highway as the loop road was closed and the whole affair made for a pretty long day of climbing, but it all went off fine.

You helped some folks out in a big way AND you are humble about it. You rule! :tup:

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