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dberdinka

Craig Luebben dies on Mount Torment August 9th

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Just picked this up elsewhere. Craig Luebben (inventor of Big Bros) died on Mount Torment yesterday, apparently hit by a block of snow/ice. Partner Willie Benegas injured as well. So sad. Anyone know more?

 

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Torment is a big fucking choss pile.

 

From CAG Vol 2, 3rd Ed., p. 318:

 

While Torment has diminutive status in comparison to neighboring Forbidden Peak, it has attracted continued climbing interest because of its alpine setting, solid rock (Eldorado Orthogneiss), and many feasible routes (eight done during the first 11 ascents).

 

I think it's fair to say that the rock on Mt Torment is no worse than average for the North Cascades. Considering all the different routes done on it, you could make a case that the rock is better than average. The reports so far indicate that Craig Leubben was hit by ice, not rock.

 

My condolences to Craig's family and friends.

 

 

 

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More accident details in this Seattle Times article by Susan Gilmore:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/text/2009634430_webclimber10m.html

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Monday, August 10, 2009 - Page updated at 03:00 p.m.

Colorado mountain climber Craig Luebben killed in North Cascades

 

By Susan Gilmore

Seattle Times staff reporter

A well-known Colorado mountain climber was killed and his partner was injured Sunday after they were hit by falling ice in North Cascades National Park.

 

The climber who was killed, Craig Luebben, and Willie Benegas were training for an American Mountain Guide exam at the time of the accident, said Mark Gunlogson, with Seattle's Mountain Madness. Benegas worked for Mountain Madness.

 

The accident happened early Sunday morning on Mount Torment in the North Cascades, near Marblemount.

 

Benegas was briefly hospitalized.

 

According to Gunlogson, the accident occurred when the glacier pulled away from a rock, possibly because of the recent warm weather, and chunks of ice fell on them. Luebben fell into an ice moat, like a crevasse. Benegas said there was no warning, according to Gunlogson.

 

"It's one of those things, a hazard climbers confront in the North Cascades," said Gunlogson. "These were two incredibly experienced climbers. Their timing didn't work out for them."

 

Kelly Bush, the district ranger with North Cascades National Park search and rescue, said the two climbers had crossed the upper part of the Taboo Glacier, with Luebben leading. A chunk of ice fell beneath him and he fell about 40 feet into the moat, hanging from his rope and suffering massive trauma.

 

Luebben was still alive when Benegas was able to climb down to him, move him to a ledge and call 911 for rescue. But Luebben died before he could be rescued, said Bush, adding that neither climber did anything wrong in their ascent. "This kind of thing is inherent in mountaineering," she said. "These men were highly skilled, on top of their game. Some of the elite of mountain climbing."

 

Luebben lived in Colorado and was a well-known climber, writer, photographer and teacher, said Simon Fryer, with Colorado Mountain School.

 

According to his Web site, Luebben climbed all over the world and made first ascents on rocks in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, West Virginia, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico and other climbing locations. He also wrote seven books on climbing.

 

"Craig was an incredible, generous individual with a huge heart," said Fryer. "He was a teacher at heart. He always went way out of his way to help people. Craig did it all. Anything in the mountains he loved."

 

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

 

Copyright © The Seattle Times Company

--------------

 

and from the amga website

http://amga.com/about/news.php

 

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On the 9th the pair were attempting to climb the Torment and Forbidden Traverse, starting the traverse on the SE Face of Torrent via the Taboo Glacier. At the bergshrund, with Craig leading and Willie belaying, Craig attempted to bypass the remnant ice hanging above the bergshrund by ascending rock on the right, and then traversing left on to the ice for the exit moves. According to Wille, at approximately 0630 as Craig transitioned from the rock to the ice, a block of ice described as being the size of a car calved off taking Craig with it, resulting in a 30 foot fall. While not struck by the initial block, Craig was pelted by debris as he hung from his rope. Willie managed to get Craig to his belay stance in the bergshrund, stabilize and treat his injuries, and contact rescue personnel. Despite Willie’s heroic efforts and a swift response from NCNP SAR personnel, Craig succumbed to his injuries.

 

Willie suffered minor injuries to his leg and is expected to make a full recovery.

----------------

Edited by clintcummins

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I'm really sorry to hear this. I think Leubben's rock climbing and anchors books are the best ones out there and I appreciate him for that. It's sobering it happened at a place I was at last summer. My condolences to his family.

 

DavidJo

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Enough already! We've lost too many fine folks this season. My heart really goes out to his family.

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Craig stayed with us last year when he was out here working on another part of his guide cert.. a really good guy, devoted & talented climber.. what a major bummer.. my sincere sympathies & condolences to his family & friends...

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Just seemingly random, and a great loss - what a rough year.

 

Be careful out there this year, friends - bad stuff is afoot for our ilk. :yoda:

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Very sad... You can never let your guard down in the alpine, and despite doing everything correct, there always remains an environmental hazard factor that is beyond your control. It's important to be ever vigilant and alert. That being said, you can't remove all of the risk.

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I feel for the guy and his family, and I love my big bros. The man was a talented gear designer. It's unavoidable accidents like this that reaffirms our decision 25 years ago to stop alpine climbing before having children. The wife and I miss the challenge, and the pictures from the summits, but not the danger.

 

I'd like to think that cragging is safer, with fewer variables...but I'm probably wrong. Two anchors on a rap station just doesn't seem enough to this old has been.

:o)

Flame on.

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I feel for the guy and his family, and I love my big bros. The man was a talented gear designer. It's unavoidable accidents like this that reaffirms our decision 25 years ago to stop alpine climbing before having children. The wife and I miss the challenge, and the pictures from the summits, but not the danger. I'd like to think that cragging is safer, with fewer variables...but I'm probably wrong. Two anchors on a rap station just doesn't seem enough to this old has been.

:o)

Flame on.

 

No Mark. I made the same choice as you and have no regrets. There is perhaps no more important thing in life than being a parent and being there for your kids. Cragging is safer, and feel free to back up any anchor you want anytime you want. No flames and no reason for flames.

 

stay safe all:

 

:wave:

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Additional info from NPS report. Thats a big, big hunk of ice.

 

"When Luebben moved onto the upper section of glacier, a piece of ice measuring 100 by 20 by 10 feet broke off, taking the climber with it. A single cam device held his fall, but he still fell approximately 40 feet and was critically injured by falling ice. "

 

http://home.nps.gov/applications/morningreport/

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Its scarry to think that someone died on a route that so many of us have done. I myself having done it for the first time about a month ago and also had trouble getting around the shrund (we chose to go left instead of right). It's also almost seems unfair that someone would die on a 30 foot fall being caught by a cam, when earlier this year I saw someone take nearly a full rope length and walk away with a broken foot on Mount Snoqualmie when all his gear ripped.

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Yes, the idea that Luck trumps Skill and Experience is unsettling. All those stories we tell ourselves about control and judgment feel a little hollow at this moment.

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Craig's death really unsettles me. Here's a super competent guy with a daughter similar in age to my own who dies on a route I've also done in the past. If I really believed something like that could happen to me I wouldn't be out there doing it. (Though thinking about what I've climbed in the last couple years maybe I have stopped doing it!)

 

Regardless it's interesting to hear how many apparently close calls there have been at this exact same spot. Personally I've always been terrified by the big hanging masses of snow that can exist in late season pasted to the rock walls above shrunds. Climbing on to that stuff is always going to involve a little bit of sketchiness.

 

When I climbed the Torment-Forbidden traverse we traversed into Torment Basin from Boston Basin then followed a gently glacial remnant up to the base of the south ridge. No sketchiness and a nice start to the route. In part we went this way due to getting screwed on the Taboo Glacier many years prior. I just looked in "50 Favorite Climbs" and it describes starting via the Taboo Glacier, presumably the current version of PMS' Select guide has the same info.

 

Might be nice to get the word out, particularly to visiting climbers, that there is a better, or at least safer, start to the route than that commonly described.

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Craig's death really unsettles me. Here's a super competent guy with a daughter similar in age to my own who dies on a route I've also done in the past. If I really believed something like that could happen to me I wouldn't be out there doing it. (Though thinking about what I've climbed in the last couple years maybe I have stopped doing it!)

 

Might be nice to get the word out, particularly to visiting climbers, that there is a better, or at least safer, start to the route than that commonly described.

 

Yes, this is a tragedy for Craig's family and friends and for our climbing community. My heart goes out with great condolences too.

 

The truth is that it could happen to anyone at any time. We use the rationalization, "that it can't happen to me" and accomplish a lot of things, but we are always rolling the dice with objective hazards. It is true there are ways to minimize this risk, but sometimes it doesn't matter. This is the same theme with the fall on the North Face of Mt. Terror earlier this summer. Despite their names the mountains don't care. They just are as they are and they have been shedding rock and ice for millions of years. Climbers must be willing to assume this risk when alpine climbing. It is clear and real, make your decision from there.

 

Thanks Darren for getting that beta out there!

Edited by moraineboy

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