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The singularly most dangerous thing ...

10:58:11 AM
This thread inspired by nm's (fantastic) link on another thread;
Which contains the following quote;
For me, and I know for many others, climbing is defined by a complex array of experiences—physical and spiritual. Central to it all are people: close friends, partners—and the bond that links us when we share an experience. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, all these elements come together to create something memorable—something that is much more powerful than the sum of the parts.

~> That goes well with the words of Ian Thomas to be found in that blog ~ (see 'Bootlaces and Beerwah').

"The singularly most dangerous thing I have ever done in climbing was …"

Feel free to finish the sentence...

11:45:15 AM
Rebolting Mr Joshua pitch 2. Forgotting to bring a double rope absiel device and having to hand over
hand down my doubled rope (attached to a single prussic loop over a bollard) on the slabs to the lip of
Taipan Wall (above Mr Joshua). The rope ended right at the lip and i had to free hang by one hand whilst
trying to clip myself into a rap chain on the lip of the 60m high cave. I was pumped, panicking and
hyperventilating. I honestly thought there was going to be a large ledge to stand on whilst clipping into
this anchor. I needed half an hour to calm down after this incident. It didn't help that no-one below me
could be bothered to tell me my rope was hanging in space! Bah...shudder.

2:02:22 PM
Full length abseiling off a climb on Lion Island in the Hawksbury Rivermouth (read Sydney sea cliff crumbliness quality) back in the early 80's, using a flared sandy atrocity of a crack in the floor of a high-up & honeycomb weathered cave.
Lay a length of manilla rope in atrocity, and backfilled with fallen honeycomb pieces (found on floor), to stuff in the crack to make an anchor, & then tied the manilla into a sling around it...
Abseiled at a severe un-natural diagonal angle to ensure loading on the 'anchor' did not cause it to explode out of crack ...
Outrageous large jumbled blocks type landing far below ...

I was a brand new father at the time, and my head-space was all wrong for climbing ...
(In retrospect it was possibly the worst psychological climbing day I have ever had, though I did not fully realise it at the time ...)

I still consistently shudder whenever I think about it many years after the event.

2:16:02 PM
On 25/10/2005 nmonteith wrote:
> Forgotting to bring a double rope absiel device

You know there is a way to do doubled rope abseils with a Gri-gri, don't you?

My singular moment also came with bolting.

Instead of putting bolts into something, I was taking them out. the route overhung 60 degrees and was on the underside of the lip of a giant cave. I had put the bolts in by aiding the route on hooks. When I cam to take them out, I was by myself, and I forgot to bring a gri gri and my bathooks. I ended up solo-aiding it on a Petzl jumar, using my nut-tool as a hook. In my defence, it was a long walk in and I never wanted to have to come back.

2:47:12 PM
On 25/10/2005 tmarsh wrote:
>You know there is a way to do doubled rope abseils with a Gri-gri, don't

Yes, but my previous attempt at rapping in usign the gri-gri double rope system ended up above the
wrong part of Taipan - and then the rope
didn't pull because of the biner (silly grey jug friction nightmare). I had to solo back up the wall i just
rapped down because the rope didn't pull. My second attempt (at the right location this time) was the ill-
fated 'hand over hand' attempt.

2:49:39 PM
On 25/10/2005 nmonteith wrote:
>Yes, but my previous attempt at rapping in usign the gri-gri double rope
>system ended up above the

Fair enough. Maybe it works in a perfect world...

3:47:17 PM
so much honesty on this thread - owning up to ballsing things up.

once i forgot to clip into the anchor when belaying someone from the top (luckily i realised before he got more than 3m off the deck - he had fallen, but grabbed a draw)

someone was looking out for me!

The Elk
4:05:52 PM
While still a relative newby to climbing, I was rapping in to the photo ledge for Kachoong to take my first photo's of the 'oh so photographed route'.
I had camera gear slung all over me, clipped to my harness as well so as not to drop any of my gear I'd spent months saving for, and rapping off a one anchor point.... a tree (dead) that no longer exists up there.... but this isn't the worst of it....
As I was rapping down over the lip of the roof of Golden Echo Variant I didn't clear the roof in one swoop, so as I headed straight back in towards the wall my thought process was all about protecting my head and both hands left the rope and headed to break my hit into the face of the rock.... In less than a second (fortunately) I realised what stupidity I was committing and got my brake hand bake on the rope. I hadn't really gone too far thanks to the thickness of the rope and the great length of it still hinging below me acting as a bit of a brake in itself.... however, not something I have ever forgotten, nor will ever do again.
Oh, and there was not knot at the end of the rope, so there's strike 3 for absolutely horrendous on the scale of singularly most dangerous.
I'm so glad I'm alive!

4:14:18 PM
disclaimer - I'm not this dangerous these days, I swear...

Rapping off Uncle Ben's on the Chief at 1am, without prusik or knots in the end of the rope, still three or four raps off the deck to discover that the portaledge was some forty metres away to the right. Which led to three quarters of an hour of running across the wall, rope wrapped around leg, doing desperate one handed lunges for the portaledge, and then penduluming back across the granite face. I won't ever forget the sound of the rope against the rock.

Finally made it - but the last rap of the night off the Flake Ledge (at about 3:30am) was into the forest - again no headlamp, had knots this time which was nice as I ran out of rope 20m off the deck, pitch black, can't see my hands, tired after 24 hours nonstop and not thinking, decided the easiest way to solve it was to stand on the small ledge I could feel underfoot, get off rope and hope that my partner tied in to the tree ten metres above me and gave me enough rope to reach the deck.

He lowered to the tree, didn't trust it, gave me a body belay (!) and dropped all the gear he was carrying -including the pig, and then gently lowered himself off the tree. If I'd been thinking on either occasion I'd have used the jumars I had on my harness all along....

Still wake up thinking about how to do things better on epics like that.

4:21:00 PM
On 25/10/2005 sticky wrote:
> pitch black, can't
>see my hands, tired after 24 hours nonstop and not thinking,

Yere - a few time son big walls I have needed someone else to help me out of frustrating and
dangeorus situations. When you are totally exhausted you just can't think straight.

>easiest way to solve it was to stand on the small ledge I could feel underfoot, get off rope and hope that my partner tied in to the tree ten metres above me and gave me enough rope to reach the deck.

I did the same thing on Devils Tower - except i crawled into a tiny hole in the wall rather than a ledge -
It just fitted me in the foetal position. I then yelled up for them to move the rope down to a lower tree.
The next guy down was mighty suprised when out of the pitch black i yelled 'bo!' to him as he was
midway down rapping the pitch! My little hole was strangely comforting when i was that tired...

4:41:06 PM
On 25/10/2005 nmonteith wrote:
>Yere - a few time son big walls I have needed someone else to help me
>out of frustrating and
>dangeorus situations. When you are totally exhausted you just can't think

Which is a problem when you're (rope) soloing.

I'd just retreated back to the anchor with my tail between my legs when some unprotected face climbing had felt a little too spicy. Focused myself, went back and pulled the moves, only to find i'd left the rack on the anchor...... I had a a few offset nuts and a some draws, and there was no way i was reversing those moves. Climbed a full 50 meter pitch with only small offset wires in soft sandstone patina face, half of which lifted out on me, and of course with an insecure, wide crack crux right at the top..... Ohh and the anchor was two drilled angles.

I ended up taking a daisy fall on bomber C1 territory 2 pitches further up coz i was so screwed.

5:04:15 PM
On 25/10/2005 nmonteith wrote:
>(snip) to tell me my rope was hanging in space! Bah...shudder.

X-link to Have a chat with Hexy thread, where more detail emerges* ...

(* on the page that contains the above linked post).

5:47:09 PM
I've certainly had some close calls like rapping off the end of ropes and things like that, but for pure fear, my epic on Lemmington still sits fresh in my mind. Back in the 90s when a route like this was really pushing my limits, I remember we decided to give it a top rope first. I took up some gear and sussed what I'd need to take. Then came down and placed those exact pieces on my harness and nothing more. Began climbing nicely up the layback, placed a big wire, then made the slabby balance moves left to be confronted by the headwall and its thin seamy cracks. Very pumped now, bring on the Elvis leg. Pulled out the two wires that I'd determined fit perfectly in the placements. For some reason, they didn't. Shit. Panic. Fighting the pump, wires won't go in, start overgripping, increasing the pump. If I fall now I'll hit the ground. Now overwhelming panic. Entire body shaking. A small crowd has gathered in shocked silence. Elbows start to rise, I'm coming off. I can feel tears forming in the corners of my eyes and my chest feels like it's being squeezed. I begin to bang my forehead against the rock repeatedly. This is my way of forcing myself to calm down...

I wrote that much and then I realised - I don't remember anything more! I have no memory of what I did after that point. I know I didn't fall. I must have managed to get a single wire in and then sketch my way to the top but I have absolutely no memory of it, and yet the fear of that moment is burned clearly into my mind.

5:52:22 PM
On 25/10/2005 manacubus wrote:
>I wrote that much and then I realised - I don't remember anything more!
>I have no memory of what I did after that point. I know I didn't fall.
>I must have managed to get a single wire in and then sketch my way to the
>top but I have absolutely no memory of it, and yet the fear of that moment
>is burned clearly into my mind

repression!! :)

6:27:00 PM
Getting benighted on top of Blockbuster after going up Kaiser/Resignation and Ivan. Having to scramble down in the dark and do a 25m and then a 45m rappel. We did the first one with one rope and the second one on double ropes. On one of them (have a feeling it was the fist one as we had 50m ropes) we didn’t have knots on the end of the rope – which was just as well, as the rope was just long enough, and we would have been stuck dangling half a metre off the ground. It was pitch black and we only had 1 head torch. On the second rappel one of the ropes got stuck on a chicken head and my sister’s bf had to prusik 5-6m up the rope – in the dark (as my sis and I had the torch) to untangle it. This is my recollection of what happened anyway. I was dehydrated as we only had a small amount of water and we all felt bad drinking it. I’d left my jacket at the bottom of Kaiser as it was pretty warm – but I was hypothermic by the time we got to Blockbuster and didn’t really know what was going on – I think I was close to hallucinating as everything was spinning and I could feel things crawling on my skin. A mini epic.
7:46:53 PM
Accidentally unclipped from the anchor during a rescue on the north side of waterfall in Buffalo Gorge. Was standing on a smallish ledge above a 70 metre or so drop into the waterfall and almost leant back on the anchor I'd become unclipped from. Shudder.
8:22:48 PM
Soloing the 3rd pitch of The Bard - nothing comes close!

(expanded version)...

I had soloed the first pitch of Checkmate (supposedly harder) to reach the big ledge up on the arete - and watch the sun come up. A fantastic morning. Must have been about 3 years ago. I was totally relaxed until it became time to leave, and I wasn't looking forward to it. I started up the 3rd pitch (the section where there are 2 options to take - high or low) - and began backing out of it straight away not quite sure which street to take (it was quasi-onsight). After 3 times of downclimbing back to the ledge - my mind was fried. When I finally went for it I was shaking across the diagonal - just trying to keep my hands on the holds - despite being jugs. Had to calm myself down significantly to be able to gain the chimney and then the ledge. I pulled into that small chimney below the belay ledge and took some deep breaths! Once I survived that, the rest of it didn't even register. I did the last 2 pitches in about 8 minutes. Just goes to show that experience is nothing when compared to how you feel mentally at any given time. Breakfast that morning tasted really good.
9:00:29 PM
Hmm .. perhaps soloing Pancake (19) at Ben Cairn, when my max onsight was about 18. Often done in 2 pitches, both are 19. Long time ago, don't solo any more.
Or: taking two bumblies down Buffalo Gorge for a multi-day epic on Ozy Direct. One now chains himself to bulldozers, the other builds climbing walls. The highlight of the trip was seeing what happens to a fully-laden haulbag when it is accidentally allowed to roll off Fuhrer ledge, 80m up from the gorge floor. Thump. Shudder.

9:44:16 PM
On 25/10/2005 Crossdresser wrote:
>Soloing the 3rd pitch of The Bard - nothing comes close!

Yeah this one felt quite unsettling to me too. Later on I thought it was just a bad head situation so I went and solo'd it again but had exactly the same sensation.

But as far as actual danger goes, I'm going to have to mull it over a bit more cause I'm sure I've had some sort of abseil experience which would be much more dangerous..
11:31:18 PM
My dangerous abseil experience occurred at Morialta in the Adelaide Hills a few years ago. Someone had climbed the corner of Terrathea, placed a high cam, traversed 3-4m R to chains and got lowered down. Other members of the group could then toprope Terrathea or the harder climbs beneath the chains. But they were working on other climbs when I appeared at the top of the cliff. Seeing a rope through the usual rap station, I called out to ask them if they would mind me coming down. They said fine but must have wondered...

Hanging on by a couple of fingertips, I was about to launch when I noticed a little slack above me so pulled it through. More slack appeared and I finally twigged that the Terrathea end of the rope wasn't secured. Would have got some sort of Darwin award, posthumously by definition. I've had the usual soloing and/or mountaineering epics, but that one was a very close call and made me feel sick.

Ps. Had a little moment at La Clape in France a couple months ago. Didn't have a rope at the time so I was using two slings to (hopefully) get from bolt to bolt. All went well until I did one route which ended in the middle of nowhere. Going down was not an easy option so I went up which quickly became irreversible. Wound my way up through precariously stacked blocks and rubble searching for a way off the top part of the cliff. A few willing moves got me to high ledge. I headed R, squeezed under a huge boulder and fortunately discovered a straightforward corner to the top and freedom. That was a pretty touchy situation. Another lesson learned.

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