Accident on Black Fly today

Posted by: SethG

Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 01:14 AM

I wasn't in the Gunks today but I heard there was an accident on Black Fly, in which a top rope anchor failed, causing a climber being lowered to fall to the ground.

Does anyone have more information?

My thoughts and prayers are with anyone injured.
Posted by: bkg

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 01:31 AM

the accident your referring to occurred on Easy Keyhole. The climb to the immediate left of Black Fly in the early afternoon. Some of the details you mention might be correct I can't say for sure.
Posted by: Critter

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 12:47 PM

The accident was on Easy Keyhole. I was belaying a climber on Black Fly at the time. I was glad to have a guide with our group because i almost forgot about my climber when the accident happened and he reminded me i still had a climber on belay and needed to get him to the ground safely.

A girl fell when their top rope anchor failed. They said she was about 15 feet up but judging by the beta we were hearing we thought she was higher. We couldn't actually see where she was at the time though. She was climbing not being lowered when it happened.

I think they said they had webbing girth hitched around the tree at the top. Nobody seemed sure what part of it failed, a knot or a the webbing itself. Someone in my group said they thought they saw a tear in the webbing a couple inches from the knot. It all came down with the fall though. The ranger found an unlocked lockerbiner near the tree at the top but was unsure if it came from their anchor.

The girl was in pretty bad shape but still conscious but that seemed to be fading. She may have had a neck injury as her group was focusing on keeping her neck stable.
The rangers were there pretty quickly with a backboard and neck brace to get her to the ambulance that was waiting at the road by the bridge.

This was my first weekend climbing outdoors and this serves as a good reminder to keep anchors redundant and not get complacent.

I really hope she pulls through and ends up ok.
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 01:16 PM

Gail Blauer posted some info she got from some rangers over on rc.com:

Quote:
Sunday, April 29th

Apparently a group of climbers set up a top rope on the tree above Black Fly. According to the rangers, the rigging failed (6 or so slings somehow attached and wrapped around the tree). Apparently one climber was lowered to the ground, the second climber ascended and when she sat back the rigging failed and she hit the deck.

The rangers were very concerned about her well being as she was altered, very pale and had some type leg injury.

Thoughts and prayers to the injured climber and those who set up the rigging. I hope they all recover quickly.


rc.com thread

If it's just a leg injury that sounds like good news.
Posted by: bkg

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 03:02 PM

the accident yesterday was on Easy Keyhole. Rangers and emergency personnel were on the scene immediately. Despite the efforts of the Rangers, medical personnel and volunteers the climber died.

The TR anchor did fail. The climber was not wearing a helmet though they fell a great distance hitting the ground. my thoughts are with the family and friends of the young climber.
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 03:13 PM

Horrible news. I am so sorry for anyone involved or related. Sincere condolences. Such a tragedy.
Posted by: Critter

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 03:14 PM

I'm deeply saddened to hear that the climber died. My thoughts are with her, her family, and the other climbers with her as well.
Posted by: Julie

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 03:26 PM

I am so very sorry to hear this news. My condolences to friends and family, and anyone involved.
Posted by: ianmanger

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 04:36 PM

Oh crap. This is awful news. My sincere condolences and thoughts to all.

Originally Posted By: Julie
I am so very sorry to hear this news. My condolences to friends and family, and anyone involved.
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 05:45 PM

Article in the Record

Quote:
GARDINER — A New Jersey woman was killed when she fell 20 feet while rock climbing at the Trapps cliff area of the Mohonk Preserve Sunday afternoon.
State police said Stephanie Prezant, 22, of Haworth, N.J. was climbing with friends when she fell and struck her head. She was not wearing a helmet.
State police in Highland said that the Prezant's harness had come undone.
The woman was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie where she was pronounced dead.


Rest in peace, Stephanie. So young.

I assume the state police in Highland don't really know that her harness came undone. Although anything's possible.
Posted by: TerrieM

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 08:06 PM

Oh. I am so very sorry for her friends and family. So horrible.
Posted by: oenophore

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 08:09 PM

Bkg's post: "The TR anchor did fail."
News article: "State police in Highland said that the Prezant's harness had come undone."

Which account is correct?
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 08:27 PM

I don't want to keep quoting from the rc.com thread (link above), but a person who was belaying on Black Fly next door said that the TR anchor failed, and that the webbing and rope fell down with the climber. So I think the newspaper has it wrong, as they often do.
Posted by: oenophore

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 08:31 PM

So I think the newspaper has it wrong, as they often do.

Or perhaps the State Police in Highland is wrong here.
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 08:36 PM

Right, as I initially suggested. I didn't mean to blame the newspaper.
Posted by: Critter

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 09:10 PM

I guess "quick reply" isn't always a quick reply as my earlier story just popped up now.

The only addition to it is that the person from my group that saw a tear in the webbing was a fairly new climber also and what he saw could have easily been the tail to a water knot. A couple of the climbers from her group, as they were packing up after she was taken to the ambulance, were looking at their webbing and seemed confused as to how it actually failed.
Posted by: bkg

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 09:48 PM

the newspaper account is incorrect. all this speculation is understandable but its speculation. Many people were there and are offering elements of what might have occurred. Given time I am sure w. time some sort of analysis will be done perhaps by Rangers at the M.P.
Posted by: BNRhiker

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 10:25 PM

My condolences. Is everyone talking about the big pine tree at the top of Black Fly / Nice Crack Climb? It seems like this tree is way too far to the right to make a suitable TR anchor for Easy Keyhole. Has anyone ever set this up before?
Posted by: bkg

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 10:36 PM

BNRhiker. the title of this thread (and the one on rc.com) is wrong & the references to blackfly are wrong. the accident happened on Easy Keyhole. Coincidentally both climbs have large trees at the top of them.
Posted by: Valpine

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 11:24 PM

So sad. It always hits close to home when another climber dies. For me, even more so when I was occupying the same crag at the time the accident took place. My condolences to her family and friends. Thoughts also go out to those who witnessed, responded, and participated in the rescue. I know how difficult it can be to be so closely involved in an incident such as this.

I wonder if a girth hitched dyneema sling was involved.
Posted by: alicex4

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 04/30/12 11:49 PM

Condolences to family, friends, and rescuers. Prayers offered for all.
Posted by: LarE

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 12:25 AM

Horrible news. What a terrible thing. Condolences to all.
Posted by: quanto_the_mad

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 02:21 AM

That's so sad. My condolences to the family.
Posted by: rg@ofmc

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 02:50 AM

This might be the worst climbing accident I've ever heard of. It is one thing for someone leading to take a bad fall; they presumably chose to take the risks that caught up with them. But a 22 year-old girl, who has every reason to believe she is safe on a top-rope, being killed because of a failure of the anchor rigging? Awful, just awful, and all the more so because nothing like this should happen, ever.

May she rest in peace, and may her family find solace in her memory.
Posted by: mrhutt

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 04:03 AM

Wow, unbelievably tragic. My siblings and I attended the same tiny, private elementary school as Stephanie. My sister was the grade above her and they did know each other. I believe she will attend the funeral tomorrow.

My deepest condolences to the family. May the Lord comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Posted by: oenophore

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 10:11 AM

Imagine how the one who set the top anchor must feel.
Posted by: talus

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 10:15 AM

absolutely horrible. my sincerest condolences to her family! RIP
Posted by: crimpy

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 01:11 PM

so sorry to hear, i wish the family strength. cant imagine the loss of a child.
Posted by: phlan

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 01:16 PM

this is truly a worst nightmare scenario... the more I think about it the worse it feels... my deepest sympathy for the survivors of this trauma, and the family... it brought to mind how terrified my stepdaughter is of being lowered because she doesn't trust the rope, gear and belay, and she is right to do so. if she ever does get interested in climbing when she is older maybe she will survive it because she will question everything. that is more important than us being able to "take her climbing" because it is convenient to us.
Posted by: chip

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 01:48 PM

I was stunned when one of my patients yesterday told me that the young woman had died, a friend of the family. So very sad. An activity we all love but understand that the body of knowledge needed is significant. As has been discussed before, you don't know what you don't know and all of us have done potentially catastophic things when climbing but were fortunate to learn from them and become safer. She won't get that chance. I pray for her and her friends/family.
Posted by: donald perry

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 02:06 PM

It is difficult to rip a piece of webbing on body weight, unless it is being worked over a sharp edge or another rope. It is extremely difficult to break a climbing rope on body weight. It can be done while climbing, it has happened, but you have to allow new and special circumstances.

On most harnesses, even if the strap comes undone, you are still in the leg loops or as it begins to loosen you can notice it. And it does not always happen all at once.

Sometimes "redundancy" only makes for confusion and danger. In other words, sometimes redundancy can mask the fact that nothing is good. Or sometimes redundancy in a knot or the way a long piece of webbing is used masks the truth that nothing is as it should be. Sometimes redundancy can cause a sling to be cut by another sling. In this regard one anchor, one new non-locking biner, one loop of webbing is better than two or three locking biners and can be perfectly fine. "Redundancy" is not the primary directive when you want a secure anchor. Foremost, each piece needs to be suitable to stand alone with no redundancy necessary.

Knots in webbing require maintenance. As any knotted piece of webbing is used the knots begin to work themselves apart. This is more so the case with solid thick pieces on nylon that are not, for lack of a better word, "braided". Some tape over the ends can be used to measure where the ends should be, and as they start to work into the knot you can measure how far they have moved and retie them.

Allow time to look over your equipment and call to mind everything that happens and what could happen and test it out completely, either mentally or physically before actually using it.

This is a very sad story. I am sorry to hear about it.
Posted by: paul mourer

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 03:31 PM

incredibly sad, hits home climbing nearby for my 24th birthday just the day before. do we know if this was a "fixed" anchor or was this something those climbing had put together?
Posted by: mr.tastycakes

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 03:56 PM

Tragic. Condolences to her friends and family.

This is an awful accident, everything about it.
Posted by: stackednuts

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 04:00 PM

Really sorry to hear this, my deepest condolences to her friends and family - especially those who were there that day.
Posted by: rg@ofmc

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 05:44 PM

Comments from Stephanie's mother:

http://www.northjersey.com/news/Haworth_woman_killed_in_upstate_NY_rock_climbing_fall.html
Posted by: chip

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 06:23 PM

Thanks, RG. Her first time out close to graduation, incredibly sad.
Posted by: oenophore

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 08:09 PM

Note that the news account claims that her equipment failed.
Posted by: retroscree

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 08:31 PM

Originally Posted By: oenophore
Note that the news account claims that her equipment failed.

A reporter who knows nothing about climbing would lump together everything she was using as "her equipment", including rope, anchor, etc. It's usually pointless to parse news reports on climbing accidents to that fine a degree to get insight about the cause.
Posted by: AOR

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/01/12 09:34 PM

I believe the only way to know exactly what happened is to hear directly from those who were in the group, who set up the top rope anchor and how they did it, her harness set-up, etc., and how they managed the entire system.

As a caveat and respectfully, I certainly don't expect to hear from them anytime in the near future as it is just an observation.

My sincere prayers to the family...
Posted by: Leemouse2

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/02/12 01:32 AM

This breaks my heart. First time climbing, too. My thoughts and prayers to her parents and family. I simply cannot imagine.
Posted by: Smike

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/02/12 02:14 AM

Incredibly sad to hear. As RG said I think this is the most tragic climbing accident I've heard of. An TR anchor should never fail, even the worst of them.

Thoughts to her friends and family for what is a terribly tragic time.
Posted by: JordanF

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/02/12 12:28 PM

This accident is truly tragic, and hard to fathom, considering the preventability. The victim likely didn't think she was taking any serious risk on TR, and trusted her party. I cannot imagine the grief her family is facing, amid the lack of answers or reasons for their loss.
The widespread media coverage will reinforce misconceptions in the public eye regarding climbing safety, unfortunately, and the extreme rarity of a TR failure may not be conveyed.
There are plenty of subtle reminders such as near misses and minor injuries to force safety to the forefront of the community. A needless, preventable death such as this is beyond explanation.
Posted by: Jannette

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/02/12 01:59 PM

It's often misleading when the press says it was due to a "failure in her safety equipment". Statements such as this make non-climbers even more suspicious of the sanity of our sport. In almost all but the rarest cases, it's usually a failure in the usage of the safety equipment, not the equipment itself.
Posted by: fear

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/02/12 05:17 PM

Wow... What a horrible thing.

Whoever setup that anchor probably is going to need a lot of help getting through this. Take care of yourselves.
Posted by: Mim

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/02/12 07:01 PM

There are no words to express how sad this makes me feel. My condolence to her family and friends.

Be careful out there, everyone, accidents happen very fast...
Posted by: Coppertone

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/05/12 11:19 PM

Horrible to hear this. As a few others have said this is the worst accident I can think of. Condolences and strength to all involved.
Posted by: GOclimb

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/09/12 02:59 PM

I saw this today: splice in webbing reportedly cause of accident

Anyone know if there's anything to this rumor?

GO
Posted by: jakedatc

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/09/12 03:37 PM

I don't know where Mr Weber would have go that information. it is a possibility since that is how webbing sometimes ends up on the roll but since no one has an official cause yet he is just guessing?
Posted by: mrhutt

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/09/12 04:03 PM

There is nothing but pure speculation everywhere on this terrible accident. Each forum is reporting something different, and in person, people are saying totally conflicting things as well.

That is the first I'm hearing of anything relating to a splice.

I'm from the same community as Stephanie and my dad was at synagogue with a friend who was actually at the Shiva (the 7 days of mourning held after the death of a jew) at the Prezant household. This individual reports that the discussion at the house revolved around an entirely different cause of the fall - not related to an equipment failure at all. However, it's a safe guess that this individual, along with those who were at the Shiva are not climbers and have a poor understanding of the mechanics of our sport.

On top of that, I am friends with Stephanie's cousin. He is an accomplished boulderer and sport climber. He reported to me yesterday that as far as he heard, the fall was the result of yet ANOTHER form of error, and again, not relating to an equipment failure.

I will not publicly disclose the nature of either of these scenarios because they are pure guesses and the last thing I intend to do is fuel the rumor mill. However, it's patently clear that no one anywhere actually knows what happened.

I think it's appropriate that we all stop speculating on this one. By carrying on, all we're doing is besmirching the names of those she was with or the manufacturers of the gear that was in use when her death may in fact be faultless and truly a freak accident.

Posted by: wivanov

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/09/12 06:44 PM

Originally Posted By: GOclimb
I saw this today: splice in webbing reportedly cause of accident

Anyone know if there's anything to this rumor?

GO


I don't see how that could be true, since it was reported by an eye witness that someone had lowered down prior to Stephanie. Hard to imagine that a taped splice could hold someones weight even once.

Although, it's also hard for me to imagine someone not seeing a taped splice and having it fail - but apparently it has happened.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/09/12 08:32 PM

Cordage and climbing web has been coming to shops spooled with these taped splices for decades, probably from the beginning of their use. Though shop staff should be ever vigilant, so should the climber/consumer.
Posted by: jakedatc

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/10/12 02:41 AM

Well, I sent a PM to Rick to see where/if he had actually heard that a splice was the issue. we'll see when he writes back.
Posted by: phlan

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/10/12 12:41 PM

I recall reading a story from yosemite golden age where Chuck Pratt or Frost or somebody made it half way up Half Dome and discovered one of those splices in the webbing of his swami belt. the swamis being made up of multiple loops around your waist it survived that long without coming apart. maybe this was urban legend, but does anyone else recall that tale? close call I would say...
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/10/12 03:43 PM

I hope Rick gets back to you Jake. He really ought to clarify that post. I don't intend to register just to fight with a bunch of people in Kentucky, but I think in their hostile response to you they are a little blinded by their loyalty to one of their own.

Of course they also can't be expected to know the history of the Gunks so they don't know how silly it is to say he was likely referring to some other fatality, which we on this forum all know never happened.
Posted by: Mike Rawdon

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/10/12 10:35 PM

Originally Posted By: jakedatc
Well, I sent a PM to Rick to see where/if he had actually heard that a splice was the issue. we'll see when he writes back.


I heard via an admittedly non-direct source, that there was no part of the anchor left atop the route. To me that says "no tape splice".
Posted by: donald perry

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/10/12 11:20 PM

Originally Posted By: Mike Rawdon
Originally Posted By: jakedatc
Well, I sent a PM to Rick to see where/if he had actually heard that a splice was the issue. we'll see when he writes back.


I heard via an admittedly non-direct source, that there was no part of the anchor left atop the route. To me that says "no tape splice".


around a tree?
Posted by: quanto_the_mad

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/11/12 01:23 PM

Even if there was a splice, the anchor might still hold body weight. Not the splice itself, but because it was girth hitched to two other slings, the friction of those two knots would hold some weight on the single strand between the knots. Hard to say how long it would hold, but I could see it holding for a while before the free end slipped through.

If they had girth-hitched the slings to the tree, and the failure happened behind the tree, it would pull down both ends leaving nothing up top.

I'm not saying that's what happened as I've heard nothing about it.
Posted by: Em Cos

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/18/12 09:01 PM

Is there any update on the cause of this accident? So far all I've seen on the various forums is guesses based on what little information we've heard so far, but I may have missed something. Is there an investigation taking place?
Posted by: donald perry

Re: Accident on Black Fly today - 05/20/12 03:24 AM

http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_flat;post=2581260;page=1;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25;

Quote:
Re: [wonderwoman] Gunks Accident: Black Fly [In reply to]
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The rangers told Mitch that there were no tears in the slings.
In other words the slings were entirely intact.
There is a large tree to the (climber's) right of the climb. You need a long cordalette to sling the tree.

THe rangers thought that the TR was set up by somehow joining 5-6 slings together and wrapping them around the tree. Somehow, the system failed.

Slings not properly joined? Slings not clipped with a locking biner?


(This post was edited by gblauer on Apr 30, 2012, 6:50 PM)