Climber Falls 140 Feet and Lives

来源: Rock and Ice,192, 2011.2.25

关键词:下降

做顶下降, 期待确保者放下, 确保者已经解除了保护.

On October 16, a 29-year-old climber from the Bay area arrived at the second anchors of the two-pitch sport climb Members Only (5.10d) at Owens River Gorge and prepared to descend.

While the first pitch is a popular five-star 5.10d, the second pitch is a run-out 5.9 and not often done. Combined, the two pitches ofMembers Only are more than 50 meters, making it possible to link them as one pitch but impossible to lower from the second set of anchors, even with a 70-meter rope.

Though as of press time the climber was not ready to answer questions, it is reasonable to assume that while clipped “in direct,” she untied her rope and fed it through the anchors. The belayer (who requested anonymity) unclipped and removed his device.

The climber retied, unclipped her direct attachment to the anchors, leaned back and fell to the ground.

Olivia Nguyen, Holly Hansen and Patrick O’Donnell were climbing at the nearby Mothership Wall when a noise caught their attention.

“I heard this whack, glanced over and witnessed the free fall,” says Nguyen. “Then something happened to her rope and flipped her, slowing her down.”

Hansen, who helped check the injured climber’s vitals, says that the climber and her belayer had never climbed together outside prior to that day. The climber suffered a broken pelvis and fractured vertebrae among various other, less serious injuries. She is back in the Bay area, has undergone four surgeries and remains hospitalized, receiving rehab to regain function in her left leg.

ANALYSIS

Witnesses noted that the climber set up intending to be lowered, while her belayer thought she was going to rappel.

“A river [makes communication difficult]. It would be hard to know if she yelled or he didn’t hear,” says Hansen.

The climber fell 40 feet before her rope kinked and caught at the anchor. The kink jerked through the chains but the snag slowed her down before she fell another 100 feet to the ground.

PREVENTION

Roughly 5 percent of the recorded accidents in 2009 were related to rappelling, according to Accidents in North American Mountaineering. Here are two surefire ways to prevent becoming a statistic.

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