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JasonG

Forbidden Fatality

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Heard about this through the grapevine....any details? I think the accident was on Saturday and they were working on the recovery today. Terrible news.

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Yes, it was horrific. The fall occurred around 5:30pm on Saturday, from about the third rap station coming down from the Forbidden col. I'm not sure who the climber was, but we were right below his team and then went down to report it. It was the most traumatizing thing I've ever seen. Don't know for sure, but it seemed like he mis-clipped or rapped off the end of his rope.

Edited by mrkittles13

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There are many grieving the death of this wonderful man. He was a careful and thorough climber who anyone would be lucky to have for a climbing partner. My understanding is that a large boulder came loose during the rappel, hitting the climbing team, causing the fall. This is only what I've heard.

There are many who have questions about what happened on Saturday and we would appreciate anyone willing to share anything they know. Closure is going to be impossible because he was an exceptional person, but understanding what happened is necessary. Thank you to whoever is willing to provide contact information or more information on this post.

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I am deeply saddened to read this today and my heart goes out to the friends and family of all climbers involved.

 

I have been to war many times and suffered through many deaths and traumatic incidents. I can tell you with certainty that the best way to avoid PTSD is to talk with any person willing to listen about what you witnessed and what you experienced and how you feel about it. Don't bottle it up and wait to deal with any feelings or thoughts you're having. I'm so sorry if you witnessed this tragedy but you owe it to yourself to work out the way you feel about this now.

 

In my first TR about the TFT traverse I was asked about this decent and in part gave this response.

 

"IMHO this decent is the most dangerous place on the route. Multiple parties rapping at the same time through the tat is an invitation for trouble. There's lots of loose rock and it's easy to get it moving underfoot or with the rope."

 

I'm not Monday morning quarter backing the incident and I'm not the most experienced climber in the world.

 

I'd simply like to say that when multiple parties are using the same rap route at the same time, then you are on the same team and we absolutely need to work together and look out for each other so we can all stay safe together.

 

Again, my heart goes out to the Climber and his Family and friends. My sincerest condolences.

 

Eric

 

 

 

 

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Horrible news.

 

Like many, I am sure, I'm eager to learn more about what happened and my heart goes out to those involved.

 

I've been hearing a lot in recent years about how bad the descent from the West Ridge becomes after the couloir has melted out. I haven't climbed Forbidden Peak for many years, but when I was climbing it more frequently, it was common for people to descend the East Ledges route in late season rather than the West Ridge.

 

Does anybody do that anymore? If not, can someone explain why?

 

I know that the East Ledges require some caution, but it sounds like the descent west of the West Ridge couloir (which I have not done) is much worse. Anybody know more?

 

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east ledges certainly aren't bad, but do require care, as you say - mostly i suspect people feel more comfortable w/ the devil they know and figure the way they came up wasn't so bad - i've come down both ways, and only managed to mangle meself on the east option :)

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I've descended both the West Ridge and Coulior raps as well as the East Ledges in dry conditions this season and can say without a doubt that the West Ridge is far less hazardous. It's cleaner, more straight-forward, better protected, and less exposed.

 

This is assuming you choose the correct line descending the coulior. If you get off the arete before the second to last rappel, you end up in quite nasty terrain. The beta is to walk out from the notch to the obvious anchor in black rock about 200-300' below the notch and rap fall line staying on the arete until the final rappel which goes to an anchor in the gully at a rope-stretching 30m.

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I completely agree with Eric and Lowell that the rap line west of the couloir is the most dangerous part of the route and preferably avoidable, except if there are no other parties also on the descent (in which case, it is rather direct and efficient, albeit a bit loose). We were getting rained on by rocks immediately before the fall, when we were at the last rap station.

 

With that said, I don't think this accident was caused by rockfall. Without going into the details of the fall, there was little or no rock that came down with or around the same time as the body. Also, it was silent afterwards (other than our screams of disbelief), as if his partner did not know that he was gone. This is just reasoned speculation though.

 

Whatever the cause, my thoughts and prayers very much go out to the deceased's family and friends. I feel that the event will forever have an unshakable impact on my life. PM me if you know the climber and feel compelled to hear about the details of his fall. Also, I took some photographs of the beautiful sunset just an hour or so after the death with the purpose of providing them to any friends and family of the climber who wanted them.

 

 

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I haven't seen anything in the news, have they publically identified the climber yet?

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News Release from NCNP:

 

Sedro Woolley, WA – Tuesday, September 17, 2013 -

 

On Sunday, September 15, 2013, the body of a 31-year-old climber from Seattle was recovered in North Cascades National Park by NPS rangers, supported by a contracted helicopter from HiLine Helicopters out of Darrington, WA.

 

On the afternoon of September 14, 2013 the climber had summited Forbidden Peak via the West Ridge with his climbing partner and was descending when the accident occurred at 5:30 pm. Multiple parties were also on the West Ridge route of Forbidden Peak. During the descent of a commonly-used gully using a series of rappels, the climber was hit by a falling rock, which triggered his fall of approximately 300 feet to a rock/glacier moat. The climber was not anchored to the mountain when hit by the rock. His partner was not injured in the incident. Other climbers who had completed the climb witnessed the fall, and hiked out from Boston Basin, notifying rangers at 10:30 pm. The fallen climber’s partner was assisted in the completion of the descent by another climbing party.

The following morning, after complications of fog and an incoming weather system, park rangers completed the recovery via helicopter extraction by mid-day.

The 8815’ Forbidden Peak is among the most popular mountaineering objectives in North Cascades National Park, with several known summit routes. The West Ridge route gained notoriety when featured in the climbing guidebook “Fifty Classic Climbs of North America.” (Roper/Steck, 1979)

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I'm very sad to hear this. My heart goes out to those involved and especially family and friends of the climber.

 

It appears that all of the local media have picked up the story. Having been involved in other reported accidents, I never know how much to trust their account of things. Some of them are reporting the climber's name. So for what it is worth here it is.

 

Seattle Times - includes name

 

The News Tribune - includes most comprehensive account

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Truly tragic. Too many accidents this season. Condolences to friends and family of this young man.

 

The East Ledges descent involves a set of single rope rappels followed by an unroped 3rd class traverse back to the notch at the start of the E Ridge Direct. The 3rd class terrain is unprotectable and exposed but not loose. It's what I call 'if you fall you die' terrain. If it were wet it might be sketchy. On the plus side, because it's a traverse you won't have party-inflicted rockfall too much.

 

There are many moments on even on moderate alpine routes where a single mishap can spell disaster. If you're not attached to anything, as is often the case on terrain that isn't steep enough for a rope but isn't a flat trail, a single mishap at the wrong time could be fatal.

 

We may learn lessons by analyzing accidents, but it's dangerous to say, "I would never make that mistake". You might. People do. Managing risk is a big part of what draws us all to climbing, and I'm not suggesting we stay on the couch. Just remember that your life, and often that of your partners, is in your hands. That's a lot of responsibility. Bear it well.

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News Release from NCNP:

 

Sedro Woolley, WA – Tuesday, September 17, 2013 -

 

... During the descent of a commonly-used gully using a series of rappels, the climber was hit by a falling rock, which triggered his fall of approximately 300 feet to a rock/glacier moat. The climber was not anchored to the mountain when hit by the rock....

 

 

A friend of mine died under similar circumstances on Mixup Peak in 1987. He was descending, not anchored, and was hit by a rock after a rappel. He fell down the East Face. I think he may have been pulling down the rappel rope at the time.

 

It's a really good idea to be anchored in situations like this.

 

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Not the time or place to speculate about the causes of the incident, but I do hope that those who were there, who know the actual facts, will submit the details to Accidents In North American Mountaineering so that there can be something positive -- learning -- that comes from this terrible event.

 

Having descended Forbidden Peak multiple times -- including just a few months ago -- I can say that there's truly no easy or "safe' way off the mountain. All of the standard descents (and their variations) have appreciable challenges and require at least as much care as ascending the mountain does.

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Sad news. I climbed Das Toof with Tyler back in 2011. He's pictured on the left in this photo:

 

6293501105_96f23bf116_z.jpg

 

And here's another one of him shouldering an enourmous pack for Das Toof so that his rope mate, who weighed about 100 lbs soaking wet, wouldn't have to carry the rope:

 

6293497887_1bc9d81cff_z.jpg

 

I was very impressed with his climbing ability and willingness to help others. In the brief time we spent together I felt strongly that he'd be someone I'd be willing to share a rope with on other, more committing climbs. Regrettably that never happened. Rest in peace Tyler.

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"wise sir do not grieve

it is always better to avenge dear ones

than to indulge in mourning

for every one of us living in this world

means waiting for our end

let he who can achieve glory before death

when a warrior is gone

that will be his best and only bulwark"

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