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The Age 12/7/15: MUMC culture 'dangerous' 12-Jul-2015 At 11:55:26 AM gnarly_rider
Melbourne University climbing club culture branded 'dangerous' after twin accidents

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"A Melbourne University outdoors club has been involved in two serious abseiling accidents in the past three months amid concerns that lax safety standards have put lives at risk.

The most recent accident happened last Saturday, July 4, when a member of the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club fell 14 metres while abseiling at Wilson's Cave, near Buchan, in Victoria's far east.

The woman, aged in her late teens, suffered serious head and chest injuries and was airlifted to The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, where she remained in a stable condition on Wednesday.
It is believed she was discharged on Thursday.

It followed another accident on April 26 in which a male member fell about 20 metres while abseiling on the north wall of Buffalo Gorge, in the state's north-east.

The 24-year-old was lucky enough to fall into a pool of water, but suffered back injuries and was trapped at the bottom of the cliff in sub-zero temperatures overnight.
A picture taken from a helicopter during the April rescue.

Search and rescue police, paramedics and State Emergency Service crews hiked in to the gorge and winched the club member out the next morning and he was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the ambulance spokeswoman said.

The club did not report the severity of the Buffalo Gorge accident and told the university the injured club member was in a "good" condition, therefore not triggering a "critical incident response" by Melbourne University Sport, a university spokesman said.

The spokesman said the club had still not given an incident report from the first accident to the university. Rope-based activities have been suspended in the wake of Saturday's accident.

A club member told Fairfax Media that both accidents were preventable and that anyone with experience in mountaineering would be concerned by the club's poor safety standards, which had put young people's lives at risk. The member, who asked not to be identified, was critical of the level of training given to students before being taken "into the wilderness", and said that some instructors lacked the necessary experience.

"Ropes should be the technically safest thing you can do, so to have two accidents in the space of three month is just ridiculous."

The member said there was insufficient first aid and safety training, and that appropriate safeguards - such as leader-to-participant ratios and risk management strategies - were either not in place or sometimes not followed.

He said other dangerous incidents, such as a first year student being trapped in a river "strainer", were not reported, while members were explicitly told not to discuss the accidents with anyone outside of the club.

A Melbourne University spokesman said the university was "deeply concerned" by Saturday's accident and had offered support to the young woman involved and her family.

He said the university did not have operational oversight of the club, as it was an independent incorporated association affiliated with Melbourne University Sport, but that an investigation would be conducted.

"Given the very serious nature of the incident, the university will specifically look into the club's operations, and the university's relationship to it," he said.

The Melbourne University Mountaineering Club's committee was contacted but declined to comment."


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