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Steph_Abegg

[TR] Southern Pickets - Stoddard Buttress, Mt. Terror plus other climbs 7/9/2009

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Trip: A 5-day rescue operation on Mt. Terror (plus climbs of S Face of Inspiration, West McMillan Spire, Degenhardt, The Pyramid, and Stoddard Buttress of Terror)

 

Date: 7/2-9/2009

 

Trip Report:

By now, I am sure many of you have heard some of the details of the recent 5-day climbing rescue on Mt. Terror in the Southern Pickets. It is heartening when a rescue operation ends well like this one. We were incredibly lucky with the sequence of crucial decisions that were made along the way contributing to the success.

 

Here is the link to the TR on my website which includes the story of the accident and successful rescue as well as several photos:

http://sabegg.googlepages.com/terror'>http://sabegg.googlepages.com/terror

 

Here is a small sampling of the photos in my TR:

 

IMG_1487route.jpg

IMG_7167route.jpg

IMG_7079route.jpgIMG_6829route.jpgDSCF1872route.jpgIMG_4490route.jpgIMG_7276crop.jpgIMG_2242.jpgIMG_7287.jpg

 

Again, here is the link to the TR on my website which includes the story of the accident and successful rescue as well as several photos:

http://sabegg.googlepages.com/terror

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Whoa Steph, quite an experience , I cant imagine .. Just glad it turned out as well as it did. Props for all of your teams efforts, quick healing, and peace too.

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Great write up Steph, thanks. Glad all turned out well as it did. We would all be lucky to climb with a great team, such as yours.

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Steph has, as usual, done a great job of documenting the trip and explaining the accident and the aftermath.

 

I just wanted to add a few comments specifically about the long wait to get Jason down onto the ground. When I think back on our entire trip, the great team we had, how much I was enjoying everyone’s company, the climbing we had done before Terror, the accident itself and our response to it, and then the effort to get Jason down, it’s that last 3 ½ day period that I seem to be thinking about the most.

 

I can’t say enough good things about the way this was handled by Kelly Bush and her team. After skillfully and quickly (tightly constrained by darkness, windy conditions and incoming weather) getting Steve off the wall and on his way to medical help, they immediately began addressing how to get back up there for Jason. Weather turned that process into a long 3 ½ days, and it was both educational and impressive to watch. Kelly had to constantly watch the weather (including talking to meteorologists about trying to find even the slightest opening in visibility to get Jason), evaluate Jason’s situation and condition a couple times each day, always be accessing other options and always evaluating risk. Family members had to be updated, and eventually the media arrived with questions. While Jason was clearly the major focus of Kelly and her team during this time, it was certainly not the only thing on their plate. The usual other business, both routine issues and minor crises, had to be dealt with. And everyone in the Marblemount office, Kelly and all of the rangers on her team, were extremely tolerant of having me and Steph underfoot and listening in on discussions, and were very generous in letting us know at all times what their thinking was and what options were being considered. I know it was a stressful time for all of them, and I never once felt shut out of the process.

 

And I would add that, looking back, Kelly’s decisions were right every step of the way. If I’m ever in a situation where I need to be rescued from the alpine, these are the people I’d like to be running the show.

 

That Jason was eventually pulled off of the face successfully was due not only to the caliber of the people doing the rescuing, but to the caliber of the person being rescued. The biggest gift to everyone involved was Jason’s character during this entire event. Many people have quite rightly praised him for being strong in a tough situation, but you can’t overestimate how important his behavior was to the actual rescue planning. Everything revolved around the urgency to get him back down on the ground, and another person might have made that task harder and forced earlier, possibly riskier action. He found a way to physically make himself at least tolerably comfortable, psychologically resigned himself to the fact that he had to stay there for possibly several days, and was just simply a totally tough dude. His radio calls, indicating that he was doing okay and was still in good spirits, I know gave Kelly just a bit of breathing room as she accessed her options, and certainly reduced the stress levels of all of the rest of us who were hovering around anxiously awaiting for his rescue. I can’t say how proud I am to have him as a friend. I can only hope that I would have been as cool as he in the same situation.

 

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Sounds like good decisions and a skillful rescue followed the fall. Glad to hear Jason's safe and off the mountain now.

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Nice job reporting on this incident. We should also acknowledge Wilderness District Ranger Kelly Bush's vision and leadership in working to get the NOCA operation certified for short-haul rescue with a helicopter. This was the technique that made this rescue possible.

 

From NWMJ

Kelly Bush has also been working to get their rescue program certified for another specialized application known as the “short haul.” In this application a rescuer or perhaps a litter with a patient is flown while suspended from beneath the helicopter. “Kelly has put in an awful lot of work to get it to the point that soon we’ll be certified for short haul,” Reece said. Currently only larger parks such as Yosemite, Grand Teton, and Grand Canyon, all of which have full-time helicopters based at the parks, have short-haul programs in place. One requirement in the licensing process is to develop an on-call contract for a helicopter certified to perform short-haul and step out landings. This will not represent a significant change in the park’s relationship with Reece, because, according to Bush, Reece has always placed a high priority on responding when climbers need his help. “He’s been in Eastern Washington on a fire contract,” Bush said. “He’ll find a way to break loose and show up within the hour if I call him. Some days in the summer no helicopters are really close. But he is willing to finagle himself loose and fly in. So that has been to the benefit of quite a number of people who’ve been flown out in his helicopters.”

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I would like to add my sincere appreciation and heart-felt thanks to Steph, Donn, the NPS and Kelly, and especially to Jason for being there for me when the chips were down making the tough calls to get me off of the peak and back to medical care as safely and as expeditiously as possible. I don't remember anything about the fall or the immediate aftermath, but the one memory that I do have is Jason's reassuring voice telling me that everthing was taken care of. I will always remember that voice and that tone. I don't think that the accident could have occured at a more remote spot in the Cascasdes, yet I was in a hospital bed being prepped for surgery by night-fall. I would not be here now if it were not for Jason's decision to stay on the peak and to risk his own well being for the short term surety of my rescue. One can not over emphasize the fact that one of climbings most important decisions are the climbing partners, but in this case I certanly won the lotto. Thanks Jason, Donn and Steph! I am looking for some partners to do the West Ridge of the North Twin in about a month and a half, if you can trust me not to fall! Sincerely, Steve.

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Great report Steph. I met your party the day you climbed Inspiration and couldn't believe it when I heard of the accident a few days later. I'm glad that you all made it our alright.

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thanks for the great TR Steph. I'd like to echo Donn's comments about how the cohesiveness of our team and the patience/professionalism of Kelley Bush and the rest of the NCNP are the reasons that everything ended on a positive note. This is a trip and experience that I won't soon forget.

 

Jason

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How could I ever doubt Jason would get bent out of shape shivering up on that rock?

 

I can't.

 

Because when my buddy and I showed up at camp, him and Donn were hanging out and he had the biggest shit eating grin I've ever seen from someone who had to march all the way around that place.

 

Way to stay positive and way to keep a cool head through all of that! This is frickin' brilliant, as far as rescues go.

 

Nice TR. I was waiting to see where you rapped on the S face. It looks like you found a slightly different 4 raps down that than we did. Good to know.

 

Hey in that pic from Friday night, how long was that exposure. It's great.

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The "Star trails over Southern Pickets" photo you mentioned was a 30 minute exposure. Thanks for enjoying the night photography. It's pretty cool stuff, always worth getting out of the warm sleeping bag for.

 

IMG_7124neatcb.jpg

Edited by Steph_Abegg

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