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Coming in hot in Englestead

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by darhawk, Jun 24, 2021.

  1. darhawk

    darhawk

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    We did Englestead last Saturday. Experienced group of 5 but only 1 had done E. before. He went first. We stood at the top and chatted a bit while he descended, discussing nerves and beauty. He yelled up when he was probably 2/3 down: "Hey, I'm adding friction," just to let us know he was OK and that more friction would be good. A short time later (30 seconds), we hear a sickening thud, like the sound a rope bag makes when tossed a long distance but still has rope in it and hits the ground. What could that be? Did he drop his pack? We look down. No sight of him.

    "You OK?" We hear: "Yeah. I'm OK. I don't know what happened." We all thought: he fell, hit his head, is concussed but seems to be alive. We yell again. He repeats he is OK and we look over the edge. He is walking back and forth down there, aimlessly. Then repeats that he didn't know what happened. Well, at least he is walking. What happened? What else is there to do but send someone down to figure it out? He says he can belay. We eventually figure out that he lost control of the rappel. Doesn't know how or when. He says he doesn't remember the ledge 50 feet from the bottom. How could that be?

    Anyway, he had good gloves. They were burned through in multiple places from him hanging on the rope as he went down. His left hand (non-rappel) had deep grooves in it where the skin was just totally burned off. Finger skin and places on the palm had holes in places, a couple of centimeters deep. He is a doctor, put on antibiotic cream, wrapped the hand in gauze (we had decent first-aid kits) and put what remained of his glove over it. He was not in pain. He just said he would have to finish the canyon and keep it dry. I was the last one down and saw a bunch of blood on a rock. No blood on hand. What? He bit his tongue badly too and spit out all the blood.

    We finished the canyon in good time; he kept his hand dry. As soon as possible he drove to Cedar City and prescribed himself some anti-biotics. Scary moment. Scary day. I loved the canyon, but that put a damper on things.

    Lessons? Hard to tell since he is not sure what went wrong. Put more friction on before you think you'll need it? Never get a bit casual?

    Scroll down for hand pic. Not horrible but not for the faint of heart. Feeling blessed. It could have been a lot worse. Lots.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  2. qedcook

    qedcook

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    Count yourself extra, extra lucky. It could have been so much worse. Also count it as a really important learning experience. A good glove is not enough on a big rappel. Research and learn different ways to add friction. Choose your canyons wisely as you build up experience. You only get so many "near-misses" in the outdoors. (Now I'm off my soap box.) Really glad everyone's ok.
    hank moon, Kuenn and darhawk like this.
  3. darhawk

    darhawk

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    He was on a CRITR and was practiced in adding friction. Yes, lucky. But we were prepared and experienced too. Stuff happens sometimes.

    Sent from my SM-G781U1 using Tapatalk
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  4. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Yes, super glad your doctor friend is ok, though tattered and scarred, and hopefully a bit wiser.

    Couple of questions: Tell us about the rope (size, newness, anything else you might think instructive). Did anyone else have speed issues? Did you pull the rope or return and retrieve it? (Not that it matters, just curious.)

    The most troublesome quote IMO is, "I don't know what happened." (Triage isn't only good for diagnosing injured patients. ;))

    (btw, I'm not seeing the images.)
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  5. Craig

    Craig Feeling My Way

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    The doctor should know better than to treat himself for something this serious. Symptoms from head injuries often are delayed by several days and can linger for a long time. Probably best to check up on him to make sure he is not having any symptoms. Next time, God forbid, when your partner says, "I don't know what happened" and he can't tell you every detail of the event once he has calmed down, then assume he has a head injury and do your best to get him to an emergency room.

    He is one lucky canyoneer.
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  6. darhawk

    darhawk

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    I'm sorry I was not clear. We imagined head injury but there was none. He landed on his feet, as evidenced by lack of any mark anywhere on him other than hands and tongue. I'm sure he saw additional doctor after getting back to our home.

    Sent from my SM-G781U1 using Tapatalk
  7. qedcook

    qedcook

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    Sounds good, sorry to lecture if you've got the needed experience.
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  8. darhawk

    darhawk

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    Hey, I appreciate the sentiment. It's difficult to think of all the relevant facts up front when telling the story and neglected those. I sure see plenty of unprepared parties and could sometimes do more to prepare myself! That's the whole reason for my post. Be careful!
  9. darhawk

    darhawk

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    Good question. It is a Sterling CanyonPrime 8.5. No one else had speed issues. I am about 190 lbs and had it through two SQWRL holes at the beginning and three at the end and was always great (feeding rope a bit at the start, which is also tiring; probably started with too much). That's more than I usually use. Others (smaller than I) were good with one wrap on the CRITR (that was too much for our lightest member, who fed rope a lot of the time).

    I think my friend with the accident messed up the adding of friction but he is not sure how. I think my main take-away is that it is more difficult to add friction on a long rappel, with more weight of the rope dangling below you, than one might imagine. And if you've practiced with 100 feet dangling below you, that's different than 150 feet, or whatever.

    We retrieved the rope and continued as normal. In fact, he carried it the whole way. Again, in the original post, I was not clear, but he landed on his feet somehow. Just hit really hard and did not do any damage to legs, etc. More or less a miracle, if you want to think of it that way.

    I see the images on different devices, so not sure what's going on. I cut and paste them into my post. If there is a better way, I'm happy to hear it.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2021
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  10. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous

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    re: "he landed on his feet" - ok, but that doesn't mean he did not hit his head (assuming he was wearing a helmet). Brain can get shook up w/o leaving a mark. Anyway, thanks a lot for the report and please let us know what (if any) more info comes out after he gets checked out by the additional doc.

    Almost certainly: he screwed up and got lucky - as have most of us. Echoing through the canyons: "Lucky guyyyyy!"
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  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Ram and I say to each other often: "It is good to be lucky." It has certainly saved my bacon numerous times.

    Tom
  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    the images are "google user images" which means they are imbedded on Google and do not show up here for anyone but you. If you email me the images, I can post them.

    Thanks for the report. Scary stuff. One takeaway I have had on this and other accidents is, it is better to add friction too early than too late. Seems like some people wait too long to do so, and then lose control. (I add friction about every 100 feet).

    Tom
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  13. Sutitan

    Sutitan

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    FWIW, I could see the images fine the day this was posted, but cant see them anymore. Was some cooked/ripped skin with some deep rope groves.
  14. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Here is the picture, from Darhawk... pretty gross - viewer discretion advised!!!

    Eng Messed up Hand Darhawk.
  15. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Yikes!!!!

    That is awful...

    Yeah, better to be lucky than dead.
  16. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    In cases where head impact is possible, the question is asked "Did you go unconscious?" - if the answer is "I don't know", that is equivalent to "Yes". Some people also say "just for a moment" - this is equivalent to "Yes" because they are incapable of judging how long they were out.

    Some interesting case studies on this. It does not take long for things to go south when there is swelling of the brain.

    Tom
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2021
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  17. townsend

    townsend

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    Yikes times two!! And note, if I understand the initial post correctly, this hand injury was ameliorated to the extent that he had a glove on.

    At least for longer rappels (or maybe all rappels?), can't a case be made for wearing gloves? Or a case be made for wearing gloves more often than never? Didn't the glove probably save him from much more serious injury?
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  18. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous

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    Perhaps, but a case can also be made for NOT wearing gloves, so the hand might be allowed to give an earlier warning that friction changes are required. Gloves are unnecessary for general rappelling: more for speed-rappelling (e.g. tactical use). However they do come in handy at the bottom, for handling the hot metal.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2021
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  19. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    As you pointed out, gloves are not a powerful solution.

    Getting your friction right, and increasing it as you go down is a powerful solution.

    And I wear gloves most of the time too.

    Tom
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  20. darhawk

    darhawk

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    Yes, he definitely had good gloves on. The picture of them is nearly as frightening. Others make good points on this. I think it can be said that it would have been worse without gloves (though maybe the sense of need would have kicked in sooner). This was his non-rappel hand, btw. The rappel hand was a little less bad, presumably because it had a bit more friction or something. He was hanging on with both hands for dear life.

    Sent from my SM-G781U1 using Tapatalk
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