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Chockstone Forum - Accidents & Injuries

Report Accidents and Injuries

 Page 1 of 2. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 38
Author
25-26/12/2019 Candlestick accident
davedave
30-Aug-2020
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.


Background

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 Climb:

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.
dan_b
31-Aug-2020
10:21:15 AM
Thanks for sharing. I suspect a lot of people who can climb relatively difficult sport routes, and safely clean them, have little to no experience rapping, and that people (myself included) take this for granted when heading out with less experienced partners.

Iíd also be interested to understand why the initial firemanís belay was unsuccessful? Just a function of narrow single rap line + that particular device + climber already accelerating/out of control and lack of friction?

Itís a pretty intimidating place for most climbers, glad to read the outcome wasnít worse.
PDRM
1-Sep-2020
2:51:50 PM
6mm is too skinny for the rap and the tyrolean for my taste
gfdonc
1-Sep-2020
5:21:21 PM
Me too.
One Day Hero
1-Sep-2020
5:43:23 PM
On 1-Sep-2020 PDRM wrote:
>6mm is too skinny for the rap and the tyrolean for my taste

Thank you for being the one to say this.

What in the fuchity fuch is going through the head of someone who takes bumblies to the Candlestick and raps them down coarse dolorite on a single strand of 6mm string?

Seriously, what the hell? The "experienced climbers" who made that decision should take a long look in the mirror then bitch slap their own face. Fuch that shit, beginners trusted you with their lives and you thought a 30m Tyrolean on 6mm cord was acceptable? The only good decision was when one of the newbs pinged the epirb to avoid getting killed by incompetent morons.
dan_b
1-Sep-2020
8:45:05 PM
On 1-Sep-2020 PDRM wrote:
>6mm is too skinny for the rap and the tyrolean for my taste

Agreed, but just wondering out loud how the primary link and the backup in the system failed. Itís kind of mind boggling.


gordoste
2-Sep-2020
12:38:04 PM
On 1-Sep-2020 One Day Hero wrote:
>On 1-Sep-2020 PDRM wrote:
>>6mm is too skinny for the rap and the tyrolean for my taste
>
>Thank you for being the one to say this.
>
>What in the fuchity fuch is going through the head of someone who takes
>bumblies to the Candlestick and raps them down coarse dolorite on a single
>strand of 6mm string?
>
>Seriously, what the hell? The "experienced climbers" who made that decision
>should take a long look in the mirror then bitch slap their own face. Fuch
>that shit, beginners trusted you with their lives and you thought a 30m
>Tyrolean on 6mm cord was acceptable? The only good decision was when one
>of the newbs pinged the epirb to avoid getting killed by incompetent morons.

Total guess, but who wants to be the one who says "Nope, I'm out" when you're with a bunch of peers? Perhaps the lesson that will be learned is to actually take a stand when you feel it's a bad idea.

Clubs should also not be allowing members with zero experience to sign up for this kind of outing.
One Day Hero
2-Sep-2020
9:48:57 PM
On 2-Sep-2020 gordoste wrote:
>Clubs should also not be allowing members with zero experience to sign
>up for this kind of outing.

Who's going to police that? It's bumblies being guided by bumblies who are administered by bigger bumblies. Inexperience and gross incompetence all the way down.
dan_b
3-Sep-2020
7:56:41 AM
On 2-Sep-2020 One Day Hero wrote:
>On 2-Sep-2020 gordoste wrote:
>>Clubs should also not be allowing members with zero experience to sign
>>up for this kind of outing.
>
>Who's going to police that? It's bumblies being guided by bumblies who
>are administered by bigger bumblies. Inexperience and gross incompetence
>all the way down.

ODH, that applies to a lot of things in Vic atm...

gordoste
3-Sep-2020
10:45:16 AM
On 2-Sep-2020 One Day Hero wrote:
>On 2-Sep-2020 gordoste wrote:
>>Clubs should also not be allowing members with zero experience to sign
>>up for this kind of outing.
>
>Who's going to police that? It's bumblies being guided by bumblies who
>are administered by bigger bumblies. Inexperience and gross incompetence
>all the way down.

I suspect policing is not necessary. If someone put together a "lessons learned from accidents" highlighting this stuff, and then sent it to the clubs each year then that would probably remind them.
One Day Hero
3-Sep-2020
5:13:27 PM
On 3-Sep-2020 gordoste wrote:
>If someone put together a "lessons
>learned from accidents" highlighting this stuff, and then sent it to the
>clubs each year then that would probably remind them.

It's going to be a pretty long list if it needs to cover every potential mistake as stupid as "do not rap on 6mm cord".
kieranl
3-Sep-2020
8:14:51 PM
Yes, the 6mm abseil cord is a red flag. Colin Haley might rap on 6mm cord but he's in a different class to any of us, and, this is really important, he practises. According to the instructions for the Edelrid rap line it's meant to be used doubled or with another rope for abseiling, and for any other human load except for glacier travel. If they were rapping on it as a single it was out of scope and it's a wonder they got away with only a case of rope-burn. Likewise using it as a single for a tyrolean is also way out of scope. If people are going to use technical gear like this they have to understand its limitations and train with it before going into the wild. Given there were 7 climbers in the party there was no pressing need to save weight on the walk-in.

The team size and mix is another red flag. Five people, including novices on the Candlestick? That's a benightment waiting to happen. And there appears to have been some unease apart this as they re-jigged the team membership to change the experience mix. I guess they made the mistake of not being hard-nosed enough to tell some of their friends that they couldn't come.
Olbert
4-Sep-2020
7:10:41 AM
On 3-Sep-2020 kieranl wrote:
>Yes, the 6mm abseil cord is a red flag. Colin Haley might rap on 6mm cord
>but he's in a different class to any of us, and, this is really important,
>he practises. According to the instructions for the Edelrid rap line it's
>meant to be used doubled or with another rope for abseiling, and for any
>other human load except for glacier travel. If they were rapping on it
>as a single it was out of scope and it's a wonder they got away with only
>a case of rope-burn. Likewise using it as a single for a tyrolean is also
>way out of scope. If people are going to use technical gear like this they
>have to understand its limitations and train with it before going into
>the wild. Given there were 7 climbers in the party there was no pressing
>need to save weight on the walk-in.
>
>The team size and mix is another red flag. Five people, including novices
>on the Candlestick? That's a benightment waiting to happen. And there appears
>to have been some unease apart this as they re-jigged the team membership
>to change the experience mix. I guess they made the mistake of not being
>hard-nosed enough to tell some of their friends that they couldn't come.

Who raps with a 6mm tag line in Australia anyway? I can't remember ever seeing this in the wild and always seemed much more like a big-wall technique from the States. Why not just do what the rest of us do and bring single full rope?

gordoste
4-Sep-2020
12:02:40 PM
On 3-Sep-2020 One Day Hero wrote:
>On 3-Sep-2020 gordoste wrote:
>>If someone put together a "lessons
>>learned from accidents" highlighting this stuff, and then sent it to
>the
>>clubs each year then that would probably remind them.
>
>It's going to be a pretty long list if it needs to cover every potential
>mistake as stupid as "do not rap on 6mm cord".

I wasn't meaning a technical guide - just stuff relevant about running a club. Have some kind of test that trip leaders need to pass, have minimum experience requirements for people to come on advanced trips, etc.

Rocksinmyhead
4-Sep-2020
6:39:20 PM
Hi DaveDave,

Thanks for sharing!

Ye gods, if even if half of this is true, I reckon clusterf..k is about as "constructive" an opinion you'll get on here...

Besides the rapping and trying to Tyrolean on single strand of 6mm accessory cord ( really? No, seriously, really???), another biggie is the burn injury being assessed as "minor" , so the day could go on. Wtf?

Burns are likely to have increased swelling, and probably blistering in the following hours. So why would you think it'll be ok to use intensively by climbing on it for the rest of the day, on harsh, salt covered rock, instead of bailing to seek medical treatment? They weren't half way up some alpine wall. I'm very suspicious the "experienced" members of the party "helped" make this call, just so everyone's Xmas day wouldn't be ruined. No wonder the injured climber needed hauling...

Groveller
5-Sep-2020
7:24:37 AM
Thanks Dave Dave and Gordoste,
I am in a local club with some very wise and experienced climbers but accidents and near misses still occur. Recently I had the decision to make of either retrieving expensive stuck gear in the dark in a potentially dangerous place or bailing and losing gear. I chose the latter and lost money but went with my friends to have tea at the Nati pub. The latter outcome was much better than what could possibly have happened.
I'm sure the peer pressure of such a large group was a factor. Its no fun to be the one to say "No, lets go home".
patto
5-Sep-2020
7:42:48 AM
The story I heard from somebody who was on the cliff that day/morning pretty much aligns with the above summary.


For further explanation of the 6mm rap line, it was the EDELRID RAP LINE 6MM.
https://www.edelrid.de/en/sports/accessory-cords/rap-line-protect-pro-dry-6mm.html

So a line specifically made and advertised for use as a rappel line. Though it was clearly not the best choice given its involvement in two of the events that day.

The Megajul I believe failed to provide much appreciable friction as its depth is just too shallow. Try it if you have one lying around, it performs exceedingly poorly with ultra thin ropes. (6mm likely would exceed the work rope range of most belay devices carried by climbers, but most will still work just with less friction. A Megajul gives drastically reduced friction.


To their credit they did do a decent job of self rescuing until they were told to not continue jugging lines by the rescue crew that were called out.
PeterW
5-Sep-2020
1:26:05 PM
I have no problem with the concept of a 6mm rap line. I've used the equivalent of a 7mm rope in the distant past. However it absolutely falls into the "advanced" category and all participants should have tried it first somewhere other than a wilderness setting. In particular, with modern devices I find the idea especially scary. (When I learned to abseil people still used leather gloves. I reckon that would still be a good idea with a 6mm rope!)

However using a 6mm line for the Tyrolean is just outright wrong! As was demonstrated...
Stugang
5-Sep-2020
6:26:36 PM
The more i think about this one the more fked up it becomes...and it started off being pretty fked up.
patto
5-Sep-2020
7:31:17 PM
davedave, thank you for posting about the incident.

I think people should tone down some of the rhetoric here. It is hardly encouraging for people to post incident report if people start getting stuck into the participants or groups they represent. Most of us here have had an epic of some nature. Sometimes from the unexpected, sometimes when we've known that we were pushing the limits.

Yep some mistakes were made. (In particular the group size/experience and the 6mm rope) But from my understanding is that the group did have some people of notable experience. They did manage to mostly self rescue by swimming, tyroleaning and then aiding out. From my understanding they would have gotten back to camp early that morning themselves had the PLB not been triggered.

(The group had mobile reception. I was hearing about this epic as it was occurring. Yes they bit off more than they could chew, but they seemed like they handled the situation appropriately. This has also been posted and discussed here before, but not in this amount of detail.)

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There are 38 messages in this topic.

 

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