Goto Chockstone Home

  Tech Tips

      Sponsored By

Chockstone Photography
Australian Landscape Photography by Michael Boniwell
Australian Landscape Prints

Chockstone Forum - Accidents & Injuries

Report Accidents and Injuries

 Page 1 of 2. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 22
11/02/2019: Candlestick accident Tasmania
5:29:27 PM

Bad news. Wishing them a full recovery.

6:21:31 PM
Might be this recent Chockstone poster?

I also add my best wishes for a speedy recovery to whoever the injured person is.
8:59:11 PM
The Totem Pole is a notoriously dangerous route, with a number of climbers injured on the 65-metre-tall column over the years.

How come the climbing community hasn't heard of these?

1:55:54 AM
> How come the climbing community hasn't heard of these?

Full value approach and exit, tick
Shedding rock (See Lynn Hill, Paul Pritchard, + ...), tick
Known Accidents (Paul, + ... ?), tick

Doesn't really seem too badly hyped (for a mainstream media report on climbing).

Best wishes to the latest accident victim for a good recovery.
6:58:36 AM
Sorry for the 17 month delay... Better late than never, ey? Here's what happened:

We were climbing the Candlestick (not the totem pole, as the media assumed), a sea stack in the south of Tasmania. The route involves a rap in and swim across the channel to reach the stack. Getting off requires a Tyrolean traverse back to the mainland, and this is where the accident occurred.

We had climbed ďthe Corner RouteĒ which is a 4 pitch, grade 18 ( Corner Route ). We were generally less efficient than we had anticipated and despite making an early start, we did not start climbing until about midday. Whilst no particular part was super slow, the complexities of finding the descent, crossing the channel (with an exciting swim and uneventful tyrolean) and climbing in a party of 3, took longer than expected. By the time we finished the route we had about an hour and a half of daylight left. We experienced light rain and strengthening winds, but knew that the forecast predicted that conditions could deteriorate substantially as night set in. Whilst we had torches and warm clothes, we were still rushing to get back across.

Our first mistake was in deciding to use the higher anchor station, rather than the lower station as we had planned. There are two bolted anchor stations on the candlestick from which the tyrolean could be done (although some of our resources only mentioned one, so we were unsure). We had planned on using the lower station (which all resources agreed exists). Using this lower station would mean that the tyrolean traverse is uphill - this is what we had practiced for. In the morning we had tried to spot this lower anchor station whilst we were still on the mainland, but we couldnít see it. We could see a small ledge which we assumed it was on, but couldnít be sure. When it came time to set the tyrolean we were at the higher anchor station and lazily decided to just use this one rather than going looking for the lower one. It was appealing for two reasons. Firstly, because we knew where it was, and didnít have to rap into the unknown looking for the lower station. Secondly, we figured the downhill traverse would be easier and save us having to ascend the line so far.

The tyrolean was rigged for the first person, as shown. The tyrolean line (blue) was already fixed on the mainland, and was towed up the climb. It was tensioned and fixed at the candlestick side. The green line was trailed across, as it would be used to set the releasable tyrolean from the other side. The remaining (red) line was set as a normal 2-strand rappel line. The first person traversed across with a pulley, and ascender on the tyrolean line, and an ATC with prusik on the rap line.

After ~30m, the first person ran out of rap line - the traverse was longer than expected. Having found the traverse so far to be very slow, and the rap line to be a hindrance, they happily came off rappel, and instead put a backup prusik on the tyrolean line. Pulling along the line, and sliding the prusik behind them, they finished the traverse without issue. We should have realised it was >30m since we mustn't have had the halfway mark of the blue rope, but we didnít check. If we had noticed we could have replanned whilst we were all together and communication was easy. As it was, this replanning was performed with brief shouts, whilst the first person was still on the traverse.

Once the first person reached the other side safely, they rigged the releasable tyrolean for the other two party members to come across. They rigged it as a single tensioned loop, made from two joined ropes. One rope (blue) was fixed on the mainland side, goes across and through the bolts on the candlestick side. It was then tied to a second rope (green) which came back across to the mainland side. The second rope (and the whole loop), was tensioned and fixed at the mainland side. In retrospect, this was the wrong way to rig it. Tensioning the entire loop meant that both ropes were tight, and so neither rope could be used to rap on. Other rigging methods would allow you to have one line untensioned, which could be used to rappel on.

When it was realised that the rap line would not be long enough to rap all the way to the other side and pull it from there, it was (stupidly!) fully pulled across to the mainland and removed from play. The thought being that it wasnít necessary as the traverse had been so slow and the last little bit with just a prusik had been fine - too slow even. We should have left this line up and used it as 30m of rap line for the other people. If nothing else it would have left more options to work with.

When the second person came across they had no rap line, and only a prusik for backup (as pictured). They were weighting a pulley on one of the tensioned lines on the loop. In front of the pulley was a tibloc (for ascending what we had thought would be an uphill traverse). The prusik was mistakenly rigged in front of the pulley where it would be pushed along and not bite. A biner was clipped to the other tensioned line. They couldnít properly test the system because their safety wasnít long enough. By the time they realised the situation was critical they couldnít reverse. When they fully weighted the tyrolean the prusik slipped and they zipped downhill along the traverse to contact the wall on the mainland side. They sustained fractures to their left heel, coccyx, burst fracture of L2 and L3 vertebrae, 5 ribs and 6 transverse processes.

The final mistake was to have the third party member come across in a similar fashion after the accident. They used the same set up as the second person, but with the prusik behind the microtraxion. Whilst the prusik did not slip in this orientation, the descent was too steep to easily unweight it between movements as was the intention. The third person suffered rope burns to hands and legs.

The party was carrying an epirb, but there was also phone reception. The rescue was great. Thanks Tasy police rescue team <3

- Get professional instruction - donít learn your complex rope skills from a book / internet. We had all independently researched and practiced Tyroleans together on the ground and got it terribly wrong.
- For a downhill tyrolean you need speed control.
- A prusik is NOT speed control. If you drag it along the rope you risk melting the rope and it just doesnít work very well. A prusik is used to keep you in one position whilst you adjust other things.
- A prusik wonít catch if it is being pushed along.
- When someone has been hurt think really really carefully about the safety of others.
- Make sanity checks wherever possible. If you think the traverse should be <30m, check that you still have the middle marker of the rope.
- Donít pull your ropes until you need to. If we had left the red line up we would have had more options when it became apparent it was too steep.
7:52:35 AM
Thank you taking the time to write this. Hope the injured parties are much improved.
9:51:34 AM
Yes, thanks. Always helpful to hear what went wrong, especially so with tyroleans as few climbers ever do one and even fewer do them regularly.
To help the story here's my pic of the setup from 2015:

Yes, I can see that would be quite a ride, and no padding on that dolerite at the end.
10:39:37 AM
Yes indeed. Better late than never on the write up. Sounds like quite an eventful day out. A good pair of leather gloves would probably not have sufficed to save #3's hands? What type of brake does one use in this situation?
11:44:27 AM
On 15-Jul-2020 capt_planit wrote:
>What type of brake does one use in this situation?

As the description implies, you need to 'rap' into the void, not just slide. So you'll use your normal abseiling device, on a second rope.
As noted, they tensioned both ropes meaning it was impossible to rap on one of them. In my pic you'll see the green rope is untensioned. We slid down the grey rope and rapped on the green (as a single).

Me being first, I think I was lowered on the green instead of rapping (safer, and it means you're not dropping 60m of loose rope into a windy void).

For the last person (best I can recall) the green+grey were tied together so they were threaded through the far anchors and tensioned. Dave being last then rapped into the void on a doubled third rope, tied into one end. At the 30m mark he got to pull that third rope through the anchors. (By then of course he was sitting at the low point of the Tyrolean with no risk of an uncontrolled slide.)

The major risk at that point is getting the tail of the third rope rapped around something below you. Hard to avoid this, although since you're well out from the cliff it will fall away from it, so normally you'd be fine. The complication is a little pinnacle in the middle of the void called the Totem Pole, which did in our case try to hang onto the rope.

11:47:44 AM
FYI this is what the Totem Pole looks like from the mid-point of the crossing, an unusual perspective:

2:22:08 PM
I'd forgotten how much of a vertical drop it was - terrifying to think of someone sliding down that.

GFDONC, I'm pretty sure we had four ropes and the last person was lowered using the second set of two. I'm not sure that you would be at the bottom of the pendulum by the time you got to the end of a doubled 60m - and you really would want to be sure. I remember being very close to the mainland side by the time we bottomed out.

If you only had three ropes, I think it would be safer to fix the rap rope to the side of the tyrollean rope that is going to be pulled (ie the knot side). The ends on the mainland side would be fixed of course, so you didn't just pull them through.

BTW can anyone say where the lower anchors are on the Candlestick side. It looks like they should be on the obvious ledge directly opposite, but we couldn't see them from where we were.
4:34:32 PM
The screw gate on the right hand locker half out of pic is giving me the heebie-jeebies. Can you crop it out and re-post? :)
6:40:44 AM
Yes I noticed that! I was waiting for someone else to pick up on it.
Pretty sure I sorted it out before the next person came across.
2:45:08 PM
Instead of rigging a rap line parallel to the tyrolean, wouldn't it be easier to rig a loose tyrolean? That way you "fall" to the bottom but that's somewhere near the middle, not against the wall on the other side.

That would mean less force on the anchors too!
6:31:46 PM
It does seem like an attraction for epics.

I'm not sure if there was much discussion of it at the time, but at Christmas last year a ground found themselves in a spot of difficulty on the candlestick and ended sitting out a night at the base.

The group never actually set off their PLB apparently it was somehow triggered during their shenanigans. By the time emergency crew showed one of the party had managed to swim and aid climb up to a stance high up on the mainland. But the rest were instructed to remain put at the small cove at the base of the mainland.
9:20:07 AM
Thanks for sharing. Itís always tough to examine our own failings, especially when the consequences are severe, in climbing and in life.
11:33:45 PM
Thanks Patto. Also interesting. The lone climber who self rescued is impressive. I would like to hear their narrative!
8:29:56 AM
On 16-Jul-2020 Olbert wrote:
>Instead of rigging a rap line parallel to the tyrolean, wouldn't it be
>easier to rig a loose tyrolean? That way you "fall" to the bottom but that's
>somewhere near the middle, not against the wall on the other side.

Yes but it's a bugger to have to prusik up the other side. Even the way we rigged it, it was a bit of a grunt to pull the last 3m up to the anchors. Gravity is a harsh mistress.
Cam McKenzie
7:17:54 AM
From memory, this is what we did. Had a really loose tyrolean that we rapped to the bottom of, and had a jumar to get back up the other side.
8:13:12 AM
Could OP please change the title of this thread to "11/02/2019: Candlestick accident Tasmania" or something similar to make this thread more searchable ?

Thanks again for putting this together, it looks really comprehensive, as other posters have noted tyroleans, while being iconic, are actually pretty rare in recreational climbing in Oz. Running a steep tyrolean like this even less common.

From everything you've said it just sounds like a bunch of minor errors which we all usually get away with conspired to lead to the accident.

I strongly suspect your team collectively had better judgement and skills then when I and two mates got on the candlestick many years ago. I still shudder when I think about the candlestick side anchor we used (non-redudant boulder slung with skinny cord, I think?), our training consisted of a quick read of the Phil Boxs chockstone article on tyroleans and a dry run on some trees at Fortescue Bay. Our take off point on the candle stick was lower, using half ropes and minimal tension it was a lot of diagonal ascending to get back to the mainland.

Please do not take any of the following as criticism, or as in any way informed or instructional as I've no practical knowledge of this system.

As you mentioned in person when discussing the accident, the (apparently) elegant solution for this sort of steep tyrolean seems to be setting up guided lower/rappel system. I'd never even heard of this system until you mentioned it to me.

The doubled tensioned rope with second rappel rope setup sounds workable, but would it require two separate rappel anchors to prevent the rappel line rubbing on the tensioned doubled tyrolean lines at the anchor point when it is pulled ? Also the guided rappel system should allow a rappel the full length of the tyrolean with one line for the tensioned tyrolean and one for the rappel on the backside of the biner block.

I agree with the general premise of getting professional instruction, but I worry this sort of skill/experience is pretty rare outside of the technical canyon guide/enthousiast scope (they seem to be into all sorts of rope tricks I've never heard of).

At the end of the day rigging would be a lot simpler with anchor points at a similar height. The most basic approach if all fails would be just returning to the mainland and ascending back up which must be horribly slow with 3 (with or without mechanical ascender setups) or rappeling/ascending a very loose tyrolean (FYIs diagonal prusiking somehow sucks even more then regular prusking in my experience).

I look forward to reading a public accident report on the 25-26/12/2019 candlestick accident which was a formal trip by a club. I understand one is in the process of being produced.

From my very limited, second hand understanding there are many, many lessons to be shared from that one.

Please forgive my exceptional talent at mspaint.

Hope you're all doing well.

 Page 1 of 2. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 22
There are 22 messages in this topic.


Home | Guide | Gallery | Tech Tips | Articles | Reviews | Dictionary | Forum | Links | About | Search
Chockstone Photography | Landscape Photography Australia | Australian Landscape Photography | Landscape Photos Australia

Please read the full disclaimer before using any information contained on these pages.

Australian Panoramic | Australian Coast | Australian Mountains | Australian Countryside | Australian Waterfalls | Australian Lakes | Australian Cities | Australian Macro | Australian Wildlife
Landscape Photo | Landscape Photography | Landscape Photography Australia | Fine Art Photography | Wilderness Photography | Nature Photo | Australian Landscape Photo | Stock Photography Australia | Landscape Photos | Panoramic Photos | Panoramic Photography Australia | Australian Landscape Photography | High Country Mountain Huts | Mothers Day Gifts | Gifts for Mothers Day | Mothers Day Gift Ideas | Ideas for Mothers Day | Wedding Gift Ideas | Christmas Gift Ideas | Fathers Day Gifts | Gifts for Fathers Day | Fathers Day Gift Ideas | Ideas for Fathers Day | Landscape Prints | Landscape Poster | Limited Edition Prints | Panoramic Photo | Buy Posters | Poster Prints