Chockstone Forum - Accidents & Injuries
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|25-26/12/2019 Candlestick accident
||30-Aug-2020 At 1:08:19 PM
|The following is a placeholder for a report on events leading to a rescue on/next to the candlestick (Tasmania) over 25/12/2019.
To be replaced with a more accurate/complete report when one is publicly available.
I was not directly involved, the following should be considered limited, secondhand details and will inevitably contain many gaps and inaccuracies. Nevertheless it should be of some educational benefit
Certainly blurs the thin line between cluster/epic and accident/rescue.
Please keep any comments constructive, and avoid unnecessary identifying details.
As part of a larger climbing trip through Tasmania a group of five university club climbers planned to climb the Candlestick as a single group via the normal route gr 16 . At least one of the climbers in this group had very limited outdoor climbing/adventure climbing experience.
Another two climbers associated with the club also planned to climb the candlestick that day by the Corner Route gr 18.
Of note the usual strategy for accessing and returning from the candlestick involves using a fixed line on the mainland to rappel to the base of the mainland prior to accessing the candlestick. This rappel line is tagged along during the ascent and the P2 belay-rappel anchors on the normal route are used to configure a releasable tyrolean to return to the mainland.
The base of the routes are typically accessed by the first climber swimming a line across and other climbers either swimming or using a tyrolean to access the base of the climbs on the candlestick.
The groups planned to share a single access line for the seven climbers to rappel to the base of the mainland side prior to accessing the swim to the candlestick. Both group leaders agreed to use a Elderid 6mm (specialist) rap line (as single strand 6mm) for this purpose.
The climbing team decided to split the rappel down the mainland side into two pitches (reasons unknown). One or more climbers descended the line uneventfully, but a following (inexperienced) climber on the club team (apparently using a megajul; configuration tube/brake assist unknown) lost control during their descent. Despite a firemans belay the climbers fall was slowed but not completely arrested. The climber suffered a burn/abrasion injury to their hand.
The injury was assessed as being minor and the teams decided to continue to the base of the mainland rappel.
At some point the leader of the club team requested one of the associated climber team members to swap with one of the less experienced club climbers to improve the skill mix in the club team group, which was done.
The two groups then crossed to the candlestick and started up their respective routes.
The (now mixed) group of two ascended the Corner route and started rappelling down the normal route.
The (now mixed) group of five slowly ascended the normal route, the climber involved in the rappel accident required significant assistance including hauling.
The groups met as the group of two rappelling the normal route while the group of five was still climbing up the route. Given the lateness of the day the groups decided to return to the mainland via the tyrolean.
A member of the group of two fixed the 6mm rappel line and started the tyrolean while tagging rope for the other climbers. While only a short distance from the tyrolean take off it was clear the 6mm line was being abraded and the climber retreated to the candlestick side.
A new plan was made to return to the mainland cliff side and either ascend a mainland route and/or the fixed 6mm line.
A group of the climbers returned to the mainland and one climber started free/aid climbing a route next to the rappel line with a conventional belay (likely one of the Cape Huay Cliff routes), ultimately reaching the top anchors where their rappel line had been fixed. A second climber started ascending the new fixed climbing line and planned to tag further lines up for the following climbers.
During this time a rescue helicopter appeared to render assistance in response to a PLB which was activated by one of the group members, unknown to other members of the group (unclear if this activation was intentional or not).
Rescue personnel arrived at the top anchor and instructed the climbers at the base to stay in place, not to ascend the fixed lines.
After a previous failed attempt to pick up the climbers at the base of the mainland the climbers were transferred to a boat for transport. Another climber walked back to the camping ground unassisted.
The climber involved in the rappel accident was treated for burn injuries to the hands.
Multiple concerning areas were identified on the 6mm rap line which was subsequently chopped.
I understand the relevant club is currently reviewing a wide variety of issues highlighted by this incident.
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