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Englestead Fatality

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by Mountaineer, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
  2. bhunte2

    bhunte2

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    Super sad news for his family.I am interested to hear more details as they come.
  3. wisconnyjohnny

    wisconnyjohnny Lagargar pockets

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  4. rick t

    rick t

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    sad news anytime someone dies. chances are he did not actually "fall", but rather as an easterner and inexperienced canyoneer he failed to fully appreciate the significance of a 300 ft rappel, and lost control with his ATC or 8 after two hundred feet, went into the ledge hard and then bounced on down to the bottom 40 ft below. This used to happen more regularly, but with the advent of canyoneering specific descenders which allow you to add addition mechanical friction as needed en route, canyoneers are using this more appropriate equipment here. Hopefully in time we will get an informed accident report.
    Tom Collins likes this.
  5. Moab Mark

    Moab Mark

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    Storm likes this.
  6. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    There but for the grace of God (and a firm telling off from @rick t about 6 years ago) go I. Tried to sign up for his trip as a newb at a Zion Rendezvous and was warned that it might be over my head. Signed on for other trips had a blast and learned a lot, went back the following year and did just fine.
  7. Shirlzrox

    Shirlzrox

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    Yes. I heard from a SAR member on the call that he was using an ATC and a brand new 8.3 canyon fire... Lost control about 80 off The ground. Not sure yet if he was first or second man down...

    Very sad! My heart goes out to his family!
    Ram, darhawk, Bill and 2 others like this.
  8. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Terrible tragedy and heart breaking to have another fatality.
    Englestead is NOT to be taken lightly.
    On the same drop a few years back my friend came REALLY close to losing control on an atc and a single line 8mm canyon pro...
    While canyon specific devices like the CRITR and Sqwurel may help to mitigate some of the hazard the real solution
    is knowledge.
    An ATC user can use TWO locking carabiners side by side with the ATC to double the friction.
    Another locking carabiner can be placed on the leg loop to thread the brake-hand rope through and be used as a
    're-direct' to increase friction.
    There are many safe variations of this set up (including munter hitches ) to get down a long drop.
    And of course beginning canyoneers should always have a back up like a firemans belay.
    RossK, Ram, Yellow Dart and 5 others like this.
  9. Southern Canyoneer

    Southern Canyoneer Desert Hiker

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    Is there a reason why auto-blocks are not used more in canyoneering? I rarely use one but seems like so many of these "loose control of rappel and hit the ground" accidents could be avoided with knowledge and some practice of using something like a VT Prussic on big raps like Englestead.
    Storm and Dave Melton like this.
  10. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Autoblocks don't address the root cause of the loss of control of a rappel if the person hasn't learned how to manage their friction given the rope, the drop and rappel device in play.

    And, once friction has been managed, adding complexity with something else attached to the rope might dilute the primary focus. As well, in real life, some/most/many friction hitches might give a false sense of security when they might not be set up properly, cord could be worn out...

    Plus, I like the ability to move my hand to add/subtract friction by changing the angle of the rope and how it lays at/on me. Maybe even trade hands or add a hand. If I need, I'll even make a wrap around my body especially for quick tie off (aka what a friend called, "the bubba hitch").

    For myself, I prefer my focus to be on the rappel and not be distracted by a back up. Also find I'm able to be flexible while on rappel to adapt rather than be tied into a backup.

    That said, I've, ahem been meaning to get around to make a back up more common for myself. I think I have one friend who uses one all the time...and, he's got it dialed.
    Ram, Rapterman, Bill and 1 other person like this.
  11. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Some interesting thoughts by Will Gadd on rappelling...

    http://willgadd.com/rappelling/

    -Use a backup auto block on the rope anytime you’re worried about rockfall, the ends not reaching, wind blowing the rope all over hell, etc. I like a Sterling AutoBlok; it slides down the rope much easier than a prussic, but locks up well. In my personal climbing I very rarely use an auto-blok, but when I do it’s for one of the reasons just listed. The reason I don’t like ‘em in general is that they cause more problems than they fix. But when things start getting weird (night, wind, etc) the backup goes on.
    Rapterman likes this.
  12. Southern Canyoneer

    Southern Canyoneer Desert Hiker

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    I agree with what you (Brian) and Will said but if it gets you stuck on a rope its just way better than death. Just sad that so much of the death in canyoneering can be avoided with taking a class or having good people teach or something as simple as a firemans belay!
  13. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    But...folks have died from being stuck on ropes. And, not sure too many folks can effect a rescue at the 220 foot mark of a 300 foot steep descent.

    I think these types of accidents are tough to prevent. Folks leap on the "backup" bandwagon but what's primarily missing is controlling the friction in the first place. Which, is tough to do if you've never had experience on a long rappel, with an ATC, on a skinny single strand of rope. Its a bit of a sleeper because the rappeller, with the weight of the rope, would start out with additional friction which diminishes over the length of the rappel. Folks from a caving background with experience doing long drops with rappel racks know how to adjust their friction on the fly. But, most climbers/canyoneers don't. And, most folks don't routinely do these big drops: they're an exception. So, add in the stress of being way out there too.

    How do we, as a community, impart this critical knowledge? Get the word out that learning how to add or adjust/manage friction is important prior to launching down a big drop like this for the first time. Also, for big drops like this, maybe try to find a mentor to tag along (so the blind aren't leading the naked).

    What else?
    Southern Canyoneer likes this.
  14. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    Also auto blocks have been the cause of a few deaths as well, it all goes back to learning to use what you have properly and know its limits. If you do that you probably won't need an auto block, and if you don't the auto block won't save you in the long run.
  15. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Here Here!!
    Replying for the sole purpose so I can like it again. :twothumbs:

    I'm not going to argue the point of auto blocks or rappel device backups of any nature. (Note: Adding friction should not be considered a backup, but that does get fuzzy in some's mind.) I've made my position pretty clear on this subject in the past. But if you missed it maybe you can pick it up from this statement.

    "The folks that use rappel backups are doing so because they either lack confidence in their primary device, their own ability, or a combination of the two. Which raises an even bigger question, "Are they really ready for prime time?"

    It should also be noted that people have died or come very close because of their auto-blocks.
    Ram, SARguru and Tom Collins like this.
  16. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I find it hard to believe that the people who cannot set up their rappel device effectively CAN set up an autobloc system effectively.

    :moses:
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  17. Phavant

    Phavant

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    I completely agree with this statement! As well as if there autobloc fails that they will have the skill set to resolve it.
  18. bruce from bryce

    bruce from bryce

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    "And of course beginning canyoneers should always have a back up like a firemans belay."

    Seems to me that when you get into the longer rappels that a firemans belay should almost become routine for beginners and veterans. It is not about ego but just being safe because we never know when we will have that hiccup on a rappel.

    As always it is sad to hear of these accidents and my thoughts are with the family.
    Ronnie Winn and Rapterman like this.
  19. rick t

    rick t

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    Its worth a reminder here that a firemans belay on a 300 footer is a whole different animal than one on a 100 foot rap, just as the rappel itself is totally different. You cannot just hold the rope in one hand at the bottom and then expect to be able to stop a sizeable rappeller who has lost control on the bottom third and is rapidly heading for a sudden and disastrous decking. There is too much rope, and rope stretch to be able to be able to apply enough pressure on the line in the moment you have, to stop the out of control descent.The system I have used, and taught, is for the belayer to have the rope connected through his own descender and harness. At the first sign of trouble he then "takes" rope, sucking up the slack and starting to apply some serious mechanical pressure using the belay device and both hands, while simultaneously walking backwards to increase the tension on the rope. A final, emergency move, after having seriously tensioned the rope, if that were not enough to arrest the rappeler, would be to just fall over backwards, using your full bodyweight on the already tightened rope, to prevent a possible implosion. This allows the fireman to tension the rope much more than anyone ever could with the normal rope in hand technique, and could prevent a serious injury, or even save a life.
  20. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    I've used the technique that rick describes above also as the belayer for others on long raps (about 280 feet I think).

    I know many here have done 300 foot (or even longer) rappels, but that is big, IMO.
    Rapterman likes this.
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