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Chockstone Forum - Accidents & Injuries

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Topic Date User
Climber injured in bluies after 30m fall 2/Jan/13 15-Jan-2013 At 10:52:31 PM jrc
I was very sorry to hear what happenned to you Patrick & your partner, i hope you both make a complete recovery very soon .

A few musings

I have climbed and belayed in the area you were in, doing Masochist in 1972 when it was still an aid route; i probably belayed very close to your belay. in those days i made notes in the guide all the time and i wrote (above Ewbank's suggested anchor of a piton) "& spike & cracker; 3" bong handy". I doubt i was carrying the bong but i did have pegs up to 1 1/2" for the Masochist crux aid(then- done free in 77) pitch. That does suggest a fairly wide horizontal crack betwen the various strata.

I've never done WYL or Chicken Hearted but in recent years i've done Harry's latter day route Merlot Madness at least twice which is the line of 8 (I think) bolts to the left of WYL, and i remember the big horizontal going across the cliff. On one occasion I split MM and belayed in the horizontal off a couple of cams to let my partner lead the top bit. So i can see how you might have been set up.

This is not the first case of a cam placement failure leading to an accident, i remember a death at Mt York in 2006 when a climber had a groundfall off Obituary, after a cam popped. I think a discussion at the time was that the cams are probably in better if they are no more than half way open (if that makes sense) the more they go from 50 towards 100% the less holding ability they have. (I stress i do not know if this was the case in this incident, nor have i seen any data on holding power vs % open).

Trying to hold the a falling climber on the belay anchor alone has always been seen as a prodigous task, (look up Wilfred Noyce) these days possibly made easier by a fast locking belay device like a grigri or a BD toothed ATC, but that could very easily cause a big shock loading on the anchors, which might fail unless REALLY bombproof.

Earlier in 1972 there was a big lead fall (almost) straight onto the belay on a climb at Narrowneck which could have ended like this incident, or worse. Almost by chance the leader had put a runner in the belay system itself which, in hindsight, must have been enough to back up the scungy old peg and bolt that were the primary anchors that the very watchful and alert belayer depended upon. That incident was a big learning for me and i have always tried to assemble a belay since that time with a built in runner of some sort.

Pat & your partner; the very best wishes for your recovery. We hope to see you enjoying Piddo again as many of us have done over the years.

Mikl, thanks again for hanging on.

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