Accident in the Nears on Saturday

Posted by: NYZoo

Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/07/13 08:59 PM

Anybody hear anything about the accident that happened this past Saturday 4/6/13 in the Nears? Apparently leader was belaying from above & dropped follower 50', groundfall. Leader couldn't hold fall & sustained rope burn on hands. Curious as to what went wrong with setup and how fallen climber is doing. He was conscious when brought out with feeling in all extremities.
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/07/13 11:56 PM

Sounds terrible, best wishes to all concerned.
Posted by: joeantol

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/08/13 02:21 AM

I spoke to one of the rangers on Sat afternoon. The accident was on Yum Yum Yab Yum. The second, who outweighed the belayer by around 100 lbs, sustained some cuts and bruises and may have broken a few ribs. He also had a nasty cut on his head, probably from his helmet. Nothing life threatening. Apparently a piece popped when he fell which didn't help the situation. The belayer sustained what was described as "third degree burns" on both hands. The ranger described it as "horrible". One theory as to the cause is that the belayer had her device rigged to the anchor instead of redirecting through the anchor and belaying off her harness. Since both hands were burned it seems likely that she screwed up to some degree.
Posted by: llamaclimber

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/08/13 02:35 AM

I wasn't at the scene at the time of the accident (so I won't comment on exactly what happened--I'll leave that to the leader), but I know the victims. The fall was from the second pitch of Yum Yum; at least 60ft, if not higher. Thankfully (somehow) he suffered only a few broken bones. He'll be laid up for a while, but should be no worse for the wear, all said and done. He was wearing a helmet, and it saved his life. The leader's hands were pretty torn up, but she'll be ok, as well.

They would like to sincerely thank everyone who helped out with the rescue. It was a huge team effort. Andrew the ranger was especially awesome and deserves a ton of credit for leading the rescue.
Posted by: rg@ofmc

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/08/13 03:34 AM

With a weight mismatch, I don't think redirecting an upper belay through the anchor is a great idea. Some kind of direct belay off the anchor seems preferable to me.

But if you use a guide plate and accidentally thread the device backwards, so that the braking strand is not pinched by the load strand, you may get very little resistance to a fall load.

Even with so-called autolocking devices, belay gloves are a good idea.
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/08/13 10:17 AM

Wow, these folks sound very lucky indeed! Glad it wasn't much much worse,
Posted by: Julie

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/08/13 06:59 PM

There's a note on MP from late March about a nest of black vultures about 10-20 ft left of the P3 belay.

I'm very glad to hear this wasn't worse.
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/08/13 07:37 PM

So it was a vulture attack?
Posted by: Julie

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/08/13 07:56 PM

you never know!
Posted by: Gail

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/08/13 09:23 PM

Speedy recovery to all involved.
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/15/13 01:55 AM

And sirens again Sunday morning. We were in the Nears, but we didn't see any sign of an accident in the Nears, so we figured this was in the Trapps. Everyone ok?
Posted by: rg@ofmc

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/15/13 02:27 AM

Did anyone hear any more information about the Yum Yum Yab incident? I am interested in potential problems involving autolocking upper belays and would like to know if that was involved in this one.
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/15/13 03:35 PM

So no one heard about any accident yesterday morning?
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/16/13 03:12 AM

Glad that there seems to have been no accident. Must have been Kent calling the cops on some trespassers.
Posted by: Kent

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/16/13 10:01 AM

Have you been trespassing again Seth?
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/16/13 04:36 PM

Hard to trespass again when you haven't done it the first time. Anyway just kidding around, Kent.
Posted by: Kent

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/16/13 04:41 PM

No worries. Me too. :-)
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/16/13 04:49 PM

Ok cool
Posted by: llamaclimber

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/22/13 10:13 PM

RG:

First of all, as a general update, all involved are doing well. Everyone's been out of the hospital for more than a week and the climber who fell is walking around and recovering nicely.

The belayer has given me the go-ahead to post some details of the accident so others can learn. The belayer was not using an autoblock belay to belay the second. What happened was this: The belayer got to the top of the second pitch and anchored into the tree with the rope. She realized that the tree was about ten feet to the right of the route, and having run out the last bit of the pitch, didn't want the second to swing if he fell near the top. So, she tied off to the tree long and walked over to belay directly above the pitch. To make sure that she didn't get yanked off the ledge if the second fell, she put in a "directional" nut in a horizontal crack around five feet above the ledge (i.e., head height), and redirected the rope from her belay device, through the horizontal nut, down to the second. The second fell and the nut popped. The belayer had been breaking "down" (i.e., with the break end of the rope on the bottom and the climber end of the rope on top in the belay device), but when the nut popped, the rope to the second suddenly pulled straight down, rendering her "downwards" breaking motion worthless. (Does that make sense?) The second was quite heavy, and once he got going, the belayer was unable to get control of the rope.

The takeaway from this accident is that we must always keep in mind the importance of preparing for the direction of pull when belaying, and setting up the system to make sure that the direction of pull is constant. The belayer was prepared to be pulled up into the nut, but once the nut popped, she had no chance to move her break hand to proper brake for a downward pull. Personally, I always prefer to belay directly off my harness, ready for a downward pull (and and "upward" break) when on a ledge.
Posted by: Gail

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/22/13 11:53 PM

Glad that all are recovering.

Thanks for posting the information.
Posted by: SethG

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/23/13 12:30 AM

I think the lesson is don't redirect your belay through a single nut. Glad it worked out okay.
Posted by: Jeff D.

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/23/13 04:15 AM

Personally, I'm surprised more of these types of accidents don't happen. Its often that I see directional pieces placed that, if they were to fail, would cause a significant fall to be experienced by the second. Even toproping, I see people place single pieces as directionals that could cause in excess of 15 or 20 feet of rope to enter the system if the piece were to pull. A groundfall from 15 or 20ft is absolutely unacceptable, especially when people are climbing under the assumption that they are protected by a toprope.
Posted by: Adrian

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/23/13 12:42 PM

Glad everyone is OK now. Unless I misread something, if you are belaying off your harness, regardless of direct or redirect, the breaking method is the same "Down to your hip".
Posted by: rg@ofmc

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/23/13 12:48 PM

I'm glad to hear the party is recovering and that their injuries are not extremely serious. The outcome could easily have been a lot worse.

As the incident illustrates, a belay redirection point has to be either the belay anchor itself (i.e. a multiple-point distributed anchor when gear is involved), or has to be constructed like a belay anchor, meaning at least two pieces and load-distributing rigging.

The same goes for a directional point that is way off to the side of the belay, as Jeff D. says. Such anchors absolutely cannot fail and so should never consist of a single piece, no matter how apparently bombproof it seems to be.

I've seen this principle violated repeatedly on Pink Laurel, where the leader traverses way left to the bolted anchor over Jackie. Using just a single piece for a directional at the top of the Pink Laurel corner is dangerously incompetent (no matter how purportedly experienced the leader is)---the failure of that piece would result in a horrendous pendulum, probably terminating in a ground fall, and there is plenty of opportunity to rig a multiple-point anchor there.

Leaders have choices about how much protection they use, but seconds are entirely dependent on what the leader chooses to do for them. This means that there is, or ought to be, a much higher standard for the protection of the second then there is for the leader.
Posted by: rg@ofmc

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/23/13 12:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Adrian
Unless I misread something, if you are belaying off your harness, regardless of direct or redirect, the breaking method is the same "Down to your hip".


Absolutely not. If you are belaying off your harness with an ATC type device, the braking position is up near the chest, and this was the the primary reason that the belayer in this accident was not able to control the fall once the directional pulled.

Once the redirection point had failed, the "down to the hip" hand position has no braking effect and the belayer effectively has nothing more than the rope making a 180 degree bend around the device carabiner for friction. This is the reason an ATC belayer belaying the leader begins with a palm-up braking hand position and is ready to bring their braking hand to their chest in case the leader falls with no pro in.
Posted by: Doug

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/23/13 01:15 PM

Thanks for posting details on the circumstances. Glad to hear everyone is recovering.
Posted by: Adrian

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/23/13 03:14 PM

Originally Posted By: rg@ofmc
Originally Posted By: Adrian
Unless I misread something, if you are belaying off your harness, regardless of direct or redirect, the breaking method is the same "Down to your hip".


Absolutely not. If you are belaying off your harness with an ATC type device, the braking position is up near the chest, and this was the the primary reason that the belayer in this accident was not able to control the fall once the directional pulled.

Once the redirection point had failed, the "down to the hip" hand position has no braking effect and the belayer effectively has nothing more than the rope making a 180 degree bend around the device carabiner for friction. This is the reason an ATC belayer belaying the leader begins with a palm-up braking hand position and is ready to bring their braking hand to their chest in case the leader falls with no pro in.


I think my mental picture is completely off. In belaying leader, the brake position is brake hand down to the hip. In this video, at 2'50.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvEQrKOtUZg
Posted by: gunkette

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/23/13 04:18 PM

But the accident didn't occur while belaying a leader - it happened while belaying a second from the top. If the redirect pulled, the braking position is in fact the opposite direction from what it would be with an intact redirect.
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/23/13 04:40 PM

It's great to hear that the climbers involved in this accident are going to be ok. Scary.

There are a couple points that I'd like to make about this scenario. First is to add to RG's comment about redirects. This set up must be built like a top rope anchor because that's just what it is, it's got to be able to support the forces/weight of the falling climber + the weight of the belayer, both are hanging frrom it when the second falls. You would never make a slingshot top rope anchor with a single piece and a redirected top belay must be viewed the same way; strong, equalized and redundant.

The second point is that a redirected top belay is not the correct technique for the situation, it is less good, a lot less. Because of the significant weight difference between the belayer and second even a bomb proof redirected belay presents significant faillure potential. My understanding is that the second outweighed the leader by nearly 100lbs. This means that with even a small amount of slack in the system the falling second will be pulled quite a distance towards the redirect/anchor. Assuming that the leader used some sort of sling to tether themselves to the anchor they were probably a few feet, at most, from the master point. Not a stretch to assume that the belayer will likely be smash into the redirect making loss of control of the brake strand a significant possibility.
There is a lot of debate out there about whether belaying directly from the anchor or using a redirect is preferable. It seems to me that, especially in this scenario, a belay with a munter, gri gri or plaquette style device directly from the master point is infinitely better than a redirected belay from the leaders waist and would have prevented the accident.

From some of the posts it appears that folks might not completely understand how these techniques work. Please, please, puh-lease figure this stuff out before your life and that of your climbing partner depends on it.
Posted by: Adrian

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/23/13 04:43 PM

Originally Posted By: gunkette
But the accident didn't occur while belaying a leader - it happened while belaying a second from the top. If the redirect pulled, the braking position is in fact the opposite direction from what it would be with an intact redirect.

I was just following r's comment about belaying the leader. I kinda get what R's saying, but I probably just getting the words and mental pictures wrong.

When belaying second off the harness with redirect, the ATC configured is in the same mode of lead belay (not in guide mode), the brake hand position is the hip position, no?

Anyway, I probably should start a different thread to clear this for myself.
Posted by: gunkette

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/23/13 05:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Adrian

When belaying second off the harness with redirect, the ATC configured is in the same mode of lead belay (not in guide mode), the brake hand position is the hip position, no?


Yes, but WITHOUT a redirect, the brake position for belaying a second from the top, off your harness, is up by your chest. The sudden change in positions and the forces involved would make it pretty difficult to catch your second if the redirect failed, which is why it should be bomber. As stated above, it's essentially a top rope anchor, and the consequences of failure could be dire.
Posted by: Mike Rawdon

Re: Accident in the Nears on Saturday - 04/23/13 09:37 PM

Brake hand down, brake hand back...by hip...by chest...whatever.

The key thing I get from this event is that once the redirect piece popped out, the belayer was basically confronted with a force equivalent to a large leader fall by a very heavy climber. And took this force directly onto her harness. In a downwards direction. It's hard to imagine a worse scenario when it comes to it being difficult to maintain control.

Glad everyone will be OK.