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 Page 4 of 5. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 40 | 41 to 60 | 61 to 80 | 81 to 93
Climber hit by Lightning - Pierces Pass

11:10:31 AM
On 5/01/2011 widewetandslippery wrote:
>I would never get one from the police. I HATE police. Remember in NSW it
>is no longer a police service it is a police FORCE. Thats right, given
>a chance they will force you to do things. All police are bad. They are
>nothing but standover men for the protection racket that is goverment.

Ahh, c'mon WW&S...
I would have thought that you have been around long enough to know that prior to being a Police Service, it was called the Police Force as well*.

(*I think the do-gooder-politically-correctness-mob renamed it Police 'Service' in about 1986 or '87, and it was changed back about the time of the last election?).
Mark R
11:14:41 AM
Hey Wendy... let me know when you need one and you can borrow mine (you know the number). I have a GPS enabled EPIRB and its awesome... for remote hiking, mountain routes (not all), rafting remote rivers in far off lands (not that thats my thing)...


Its not particularly small or light (and it is as small and light as 406with GPS comes). I wouldnt want to carry it on something hard (where weight counts and a day pack is unlikely to make the cut)... but thats where I might need it most. I wouldnt want to carry it on most multi pitches lets face it. It could be clipped to a harness (its lighter than approach shoes... but Ill only carry those if I REALLY have to), but would be easily damaged and has the obvious issue of not being able to be activated by a seriously injured person (ie unconscious... and if youve just got a broken leg pony up and rap off... then crawl for a week until you collapse in someones pile of shit then write a book about it like Joe... actually you could easily end up in a pile of shit at Centenial Glen much as I love the place)... so what are you going to do... carry 2?? One for each climber? Perhaps just the belayer (but they could get smashed by a rock)... and before anyone goes on about awesome rescue skills allowing one member of the team to reach the injured party and use the EPIRB they have (yes, such awesome skills exist, but in most of the cases recently discussed Im going to go out on a limb and suggest no one was going to secure and escape the system, safely move to to the injured party using cunning trickery etc etc given that more than one have involved being rescued simply because they didnt want to spend a cold miserable night on the cliff waiting for daylight to then safely climb up/rap down...THIS IS NOT REFERRING TO THE LADS IN SAID LIGHTENING STRIKE EPIC... sounds like they managed themselves admirably).

Mark R
11:14:59 AM
So its a conundrum.

Advantages include the fact that you can register your device with AMSA... the body that receives the signal and activates a response... and you can log in and tell them exactly where and what you are doing with who... eg you could for example log in and record that you and 2 friends were going to climb for the day at the Glen, that you were experienced and well equiped (rock gear, singlet, heaps of bakery produce) and that you expected to be dogging Madge for the day. Then if your beacon is activated AMSA can call you (on the mobile number you have provided) and see if you need a rescue... if you dont answer they can call your relatives and in the meanwhile they can inform blue mountains police that you have activated your beacon and you are "dogging madge". Then if they do have the guidebook they should be with you lickedy quick (them or the sex crimes unit). This could be even more useful if youre on some big(gish) wall in the grose... (insert CAVEAT)

The thing is, remote is a matter of interpretation... is the grose remote? No, its right beside australias biggest city... or yes, it can sure feel like it when youve lost the pad you were on in a storm as darkness approaches... and plenty have come unstuck there.

For me the EPIRB is something I take on some trips.. usually longish multi pitch climbs not at the outer reaches of my climbing capacity that require full day or more approaches (Im thinking Frenchmans cap for example). It might get a look in at Buffalo if Im aiding (but Im hauling the kitchen sink so whats an extra 150g?). Its an adjunct. Its less important than my ability to not get lost (my compass comes on many more trips than my EPIRB) and MUCH less important than my climbing partner(s) and choosing them with the knowledge/expectation that they could keep it in a pile and effect a rescue for me and I for them. Self rescue is the most important skill. Not always possible... definitely. Serious injuries require a serious response. An EPIRB MIGHT expediate that (but as previously mentioned it doesnt describe the best route to a crag/climb, it wont tell them what pitch youre on and it doesnt change the fact that choppers dont fly in shit weather. Its probably worth noting that many traumatic deaths (about 50%) occur within minutes of the insult (EPIRB no use), many occur within the first hour (EPIRB probably no use for most of these if youre half way up a 300m cliff and theres not a nice big ledge cos a chopper will often not be able to access you and a rap in while just see the minutes then hours while away). After the first 1-2 hrs if youre still alive you usually will be until infection gets you in a day or 3... an EPIRB will certainly bring comfort eventually. So an EPIRB is probably most useful on single or short multi pitches... when I for one am least likely to have it.

To those who say you should have one... sweet, fill your boots. But be aware there are SERIOUS limitations... an EPIRB does not rescue you and will not perform life saving surgery. Rely on developing good skills, good judgment (which may or may not come with experience) and a when the moneys down a bit of grit, desperation and luck (probably in about that order). Learn first aid. Also... Ill say this once... a cold night on a cliff is not a life threatening emergency in 99.9% of cases (like in a blizzard on the side of geryon in winter)... it can be quite good for the sole (and murder for your ass). Dont be afraid to sit still, suffer then work it out the next morning if no one is hurt.

For those who think theyre a waste of time... sweet, I have one but probably only use it once a year if that... so maybe youre right. But if someone gets smashed up on a mountain I would have the option of seeking assistance while I (or my partner) initiate appropriate actions.

None of us are immune from accident or injury. MANY very very experienced climbers have died climbing (mostly on mountains). Preparation is multi layered. EPIRBS will not stop us looking like thrill seekers to the general public. They will not help us to be understood. Why would we want to be? On the vast majority of occasions the most dangerous aspect of our sport/past time remains the drive to the crag.

(Puts soap box back in cupboard and returns to the coffee machine).. oh yeah, Wendy, can you ask Gris to roast me some more beans for the weekend?
11:24:00 AM
What I'm pointing out M9 is that dealing with National Parks in the scheme of things is bad enough without dealing with revenue protection officers. Its a situation of the lesser of 2 evils of self serving public servants.

Also the idea of going into a police station and asking a cop to track me just sits wrongly.

I'm aware of the name change turn around, I must admit I normally call them pigs (which is highly unfair to pigs) filth or c--ts. Its a great shame the rescue service part of the police isn't desolved and transfered to one of the emergency services.

11:28:59 AM
On 5/01/2011 widewetandslippery wrote:
>What I'm pointing out M9 is that dealing with National Parks in the scheme
>of things is bad enough without dealing with revenue protection officers.
>Its a situation of the lesser of 2 evils of self serving public servants.
>Also the idea of going into a police station and asking a cop to track
>me just sits wrongly.
>I'm aware of the name change turn around, I must admit I normally call
>them pigs (which is highly unfair to pigs) filth or c--ts. Its a great
>shame the rescue service part of the police isn't desolved and transfered
>to one of the emergency services.

It has been. The fieries are now the primary rescue mob.

Don't mind me; I am just being pedantic as I know it sits well with your cynicism!
Heh, heh, heh.
12:32:34 PM
Thanks Mark (for the EPRIB offer and typing a bunch of stuff very similar to what I couldn't be bothered to write earlier). Anthony is onto the case. We're heading to the Gramps and you're welcome to join us at Bundaleer on Friday if you want. Hey Sarah, I guess that means i should ask if there's food for one extra Friday night?

On these guys on HC, it sounds like they made the 000 call in the midst of a big storm, probably rather paniced and scared, and when the call dropped out, toughened the fcuk up and got themselves out of there in an entirely appropriate manner and would have managed fine by themselves. Good on them for keeping themselves together and working something out. That's the sort of thing climbers/walkers/skiers etc etc have been doing in difficult circumstances for years before all this technology came along and it should still be the first option. If people aren't able to do that for most incidents, they need to develop a few self rescue skills before they move on from Mt York.

And my cat made it home without my having to call 000, has comfortably climbed onto the window seat but still refuses to wear a helmet.
3:08:24 PM
Wendy, thats my point. They got themselves out. They are carrying there own packs in the newspaper pics. With a bit of postitive advice rather than ring for help they would be in the same position as they are now.They got bad advice to ring for help. Didn't everyones mummy tell them not to use the phone in a thunderstorm? The thing that has led them to castigation is taking a phone.

3:51:29 PM
5:01:30 PM
Hi this is one of the climbers i will be posting a report soon of the events of the day
5:05:04 PM
Hi all I am one of the climbers who was in the storm. This is a detailed report of what happened.

I had left home telling a few friends of where I was to go, giving my brother a detailed map and route description of the area and what time I may be home.

I had previous experience in the area leading bunny bucket buttress and mirrorball with absolutely no problem, and was keen with my climbing buddy to climb hotel California

I had previously scooped out the topo from the online map available on the map and the guide book. I also had watch a few videos on youtube of the climb. Spoke about it with a few people. We also spoke to another climber who had climbed it when we were at pierces passes carpark.
What we brought. The usual multipitch equipment, also a medical kit, matches, head torches also we had brought some walky talkys cause we were sick of shouting. We had brought around 4 Litres of water some apples, musli bars, 2kg of nuts donít ask. Lol. I myself had a bike jacket that was waterproof and my mate had a epic rain coat. We also had a whistle and compass.
What I regret taking out of my medical pack stupidly was my small emergency blanket a few months before. Because later when we got down to the base of the route it was a little cold. I also regret not taking more water in case of an emergency, but if we got desperate we were going to go to the stream in the valley and fill up our bottles
We knew there was a possibility of storms and had backup plans to go to centennial glen and chill there for the day but we also knew the weather reports have been all over the place lately.

Here we go:

Left Sydney at 6am
Got to pierces pass at 7.40am. The sky had now cleared and it was a really clear blue day. So we decided to go for it.
Left towards the abseil point at 8am
At 8.30am we got to the abseil point
At 10am we had reached the base of hotel California. We got slightly confused with the paths there so it took a while longer.
We really didnít like the first pitch but we got through it as most people say.
By 12 we had completed pitch 2. And had a break for 20min.
I then climbed the next 2 pitches.
And my mate climbed the 5th pitch by 2.30pm if I remember correctly.
Then we saw the storm coming and took off our gear. We thought it might be better to not have metal on us.
I think 30min later it hit and were chilling in the big cave up there.
At 4pm the storm passed and we waited another 30min for rock to dry.
We decided to push on with 3 actual climbing pitches left. After that thereís a 6, which is a scramble and then there is a 16 but so I had heard you can bail around that last pitch.
So I started the traverse pitch 6 at 4.30, and 10 minutes into it the thunder started and it made the traverse even more epic.
I got to the ledge and setted up an anchor .Got around 4 metres of rope and attached it to the anchor and used it to crawl around to the small cave on the ledge while the lightning was happening. This second storm was way more epic than the first. With lightning striking around the cliff faces. Meanwhile my mate was on the other end. The radios we had were malfunctioning. But we could here eachother well by shouting. We decided it would be best to wait the storm out at opposing ends but for retreat sake it would be better if he came up the traverse where I was and we could make a decision to continue or bail.

5:05:23 PM
During the storm i rang a friend to describe the situation and to explain that everything was ok at the time. The stormed stopped briefly and the wall was completely soaked , by 5.30 my climbing buddy reached me. We decide to both go to the cave to chill and make up our minds. After a quick discussion I had agreed to climb the last 2 pitches around 50metres together if it was possible, so we could quickly retreat, I was standing on the ledge next to the anchor and my mate was coming back from the cave to belay me. When the lightning appeared to strike extremely close by as the wall flashed and a loud thunder sound was made. My mates hands were touching the wall at the time so he felt the shock and compared it to an electric socket as his muscles cramped up in his hands. At that time we looked at each other and decided to bail. In case the storm got bigger.

The abseil is extreme and epic by the way cheers to mike law for making such an awesome abseil. We abseiled to the 4th pitch from the end of the 6th pitch, and my mate called friends to establish possible ways out. My smart phone had died as usual, with its bad battery life. We didnít have good reception so we thought that this could be the last chance we have to talk to anyone. After two hours of getting numbers and waiting for people to call us back We had decided that we would take the base jumpers route. We had an idea of where it was but Isildur if I think I know who you are provided a more detailed description of the route out. And we told them what the scenario was as well. I also called my brother and told him not to worry and we would be taking the base jumpers route, but were ok at the time and would be out by 2pm the next day max.

So by then time had stretched out till 8pm. We did 2 more abseils with the 3rd abseil the rope became stuck when we were one pitch off the ground. We had decided to land on the ambola block (I think its called) We tried using a 3 to 1 pulley system and a 1 to 6 pulley system to try to pull the knot free. We know think the rope had caught maybe over the edge.

Back at home friends started to get worried and they called for help at 8.30 and we thank climb fit staff and other people involved for their effort. When they couldnít hear back from us. Looking back if I had a friend in the same situation and was far from reaching them I would do the same regardless of what they say so we really appreciate their help.

We tried for ages to free the knot. Then decided to call it in since we were well into the dark. As we didnít know how much our pulling on the rope had worn the rope we decided it would be smart not to prussic up to move the knot over the edge, we had heard bad stories of ropes breaking. ( by the way there is a knot as we tied both ropes together to get a 60m abseil) . So at 10.30 we tried calling for help as this is the point where we knew we needed assistance. Um 112 and 000 seem to be exactly the same if that clears things up. Anyway we got through for 5 seconds each time only twice, and I doubt they could understand what we were blurting the location and scenario extremely quickly.

After that I realized I could use my quad knot anchor , take it apart and make a long rope. I anchored it to a tree and myself. Walked back to the edge of the block and luckily pulled the rope free. Which was probably the most happiest we have ever been.

5:05:33 PM
We abseiled to the ground we put our lights on flash laid our ropes on the slope and tried to sleep. As we thought it could be smarter to walk out in the morning as we would have a better chance of not possibly hurting ourselves on the way out as we knew it was a bit of a bush bash. At 2.30 we heard noises and were surprised and happy to see the rescuers. We were dehydrated and cold. But otherwise in good spirits.

In the morning we left.

The moral of the story: Bring more water than you need. Leave early if you anticipate an epic day, donít get a phone that has 6 hours of battery life, and if there is a chance of storm be prepared to bail out.

Huge thanks go out to all the climbers and non climbers that helped or contributed to us getting out of there and also to the advanced rescue team and all those involved in the back ground.

I think there was a mix up we got as far as pitch 6 until we were forced to retreat.
1. Awesome retreat abseil from pitch 6 very exposed and amazing with the lighting around.
2. It probably would not of mattered about the bivi on the half way ledge because at pitch 6 we had decided to bail out. But it still sounds like a good idea.
3. I think the rescuers knew a little about the climb, but they did not know as to my knowledge about the abseil points at mirror ball. Im not sure if they knew the exact location of hotel California, but they seemed to know there location at the time and maybe where ours was. , Im pretty sure this place was knew terrain for these guys, although it looked like they knew what they were doing. I donít know if they had a guide book im not sure. I thank them for their efforts as it is an epic walk in from the base jumpers track at night.

Apologies about the grammar I wrote all this quickly.

5:17:24 PM
Great work on keeping level heads. Sounded like good decision making to me.
5:55:31 PM
Nice TR - I agree with ambyeok, seems like the right decisions were made.

6:36:06 PM
now that you've told us the facts, how can we speculate wildly?! sounds like a true epic, glad you are all well!
7:49:07 PM
Good report Jez, glad it ended well.

A good thing to note for everyone is that the further you are from a mobile phone base station, the harder your phone has to work to transmit and receive, and the faster it uses battery. This is especially so if you are talking on it. You are best to have it turned off, and then only turn it on for any emergency use. This seems to be why every person lost in the bush has their battery die out half way through their important call.

You could also tell the emergency services that you are turning off your phone to conserve battery but will turn it back on and check text messages in 30 minutes if the services want to send you a contact phone number for any emergency coordinator. Calling message bank/voicemail will drain battery as well - save the (extremely useful) capacity for direct conversation for when it's important.

Another good thing to remember is that text messaging uses much less power than transmitting a call. Unfortunaltely delivery is not guaranteed for text messages - ask any person you have sent one to to respond so you can be assured it has been delivered.

I'm not a telco engineer but have in the past spent around ten years in the telco game and so got to talk to lots of phone designers and network designers while doing mobile phone base station rolluts.
10:06:11 PM
Wow. That is one trip you will never forget.
8:29:34 AM
On 5/01/2011 Jezlevett wrote:
>1. Awesome retreat abseil from pitch 6 very exposed and amazing with the
> lighting around.

--Did you rap straight from the belay to the halfway ledge (and how long were your ropes?), or traverse 12m left to the new rap anchors and rap from there?

> I donít know if they had a guide book im
>not sure.
--They have a number of copies and had grid references also

> I thank them for their efforts as it is an epic walk in from
>the base jumpers track at night.
--Bad enough in the daylight.
9:02:04 AM
I've spoken to someone on the rescue and they made a number of points:-
They were called just after 9 PM in the lower mountains and found the climbers at 2.15AM. Give them an hour to meet up and load vehicles, another 45 minutes drive from katoomba to pierce's pass, 15 minutes walk down pierces pass.

From here, the base jumpers track dies out below Wall's Lookdown, from Pierces Pass to the base of Mirrorball takes about 1 hour on a dry sunny day. The section from Mirrorball to Hotel Cal takes about another 15 minutes, but some parties have become horribly lost in daylight and taken 1 hour.

I think the rescuers did pretty well to get there in that time (roughly double what a party familiar with the area would take in daylight, carrying light climbing gear and not heavy paramedic equipment).

The guide book and grid references were used, and a possible helicopter recue was planned using these also (depending on the state of the climbers)..

They had scant information where the climbers were and how badly they were injured (lightening can cause terrible injuries). They didn't use the Mirrorball raps as they wanted to definately find the climbers (they could have walked past them whilst they were rapping).

The rescuers were very happy that the climbers were just dehydrated and cold, and not terribly injured, and that the climbers could walk out.

The rescuers said that the climbers
"did a superb job getting themselves off the wall and would've got out by themselves eventually. We just happened to help them along the way".

The rescuers put this in the media release at Pierces Pass staging area, but this wasn't published because it takes away from the sensationalism.

Maybe we should mark the track below Wall's Lookdown more clearly and make some uncomfortable bivi spots on the halfway ledge.

9:27:06 AM
Just sounding an idea. If caught in bad weather or dark would maybe descending right down to the river where there is a well used track and back up the main Pierces Pass track be a better option. Its a bit counter intuitive if you don't know the area as you would feel you are going away from where you want to go but once you hit the Grose you'd be walking easily, able to navigate easily and probably be able to be found easily if that was need be.

I believe this was the option used by guiding companies when they used to do commercial abseil descents of Mt Banks.

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