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Englestead Fatality

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

  1. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    Speaking solely for myself...

    Yes, that is what I inexorably think and say to myself when I read the reports. Not because I see myself as superior, but rather I see the canyons as a resource; a resource that, if enough people die, can be taken away. And that is not me being dramatic... it is the reason the pesky permit system was enacted, and why a certain trail in the park was closed and washed off the maps.

    Am I selfish for thinking that way? Probably. But that's the main reason for my eye-rolling and disdain for clumsy canyonistas.
    Skyloaf likes this.
  2. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    REALITY check.
    On rope sports including canyoneering can be DEADLY.
    The majority of people on this forum share knowledge and experience to help others enjoy the canyons and stay ALIVE.
    Hurt feelings are not the same as compressed spinal disks, busted ribs, skull fractures, and epic rescues.
    Please come with a thick skin and an open mind.
    Scorn tends to be heaped on the arrogant/ ignorant as they can be a threat to themselves, to others,
    and to the sport.
    Dave Melton, Skyloaf and townsend like this.
  3. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Different strokes, but, that's probably the last thing I think about.

    I try to have fairly simple safety protocols. Use of a certain device with a certain rope type and diameter. Wet or dry. Then, double check, triple check the system. Consider back ups. Go on rappel prior to actual launch to test I'm hooked in correctly. Etc.

    I certainly don't want to be personally involved in an accident...for a number of reasons, the absolute last one would be stinging commentary from the community soap box. Absolutely my last concern.

    YMMV, obviously. And...that's ok. Whatever gives you motivation for being safe.
  4. Skyloaf

    Skyloaf

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    "REALITY check.
    On rope sports including canyoneering can be DEADLY.
    The majority of people on this forum share knowledge and experience to help others enjoy the canyons and stay ALIVE.
    Hurt feelings are not the same as compressed spinal disks, busted ribs, skull fractures, and epic rescues.
    Please come with a thick skin and an open mind.
    Scorn tends to be heaped on the arrogant/ ignorant as they can be a threat to themselves, to others,
    and to the sport."

    Absolutely! I feel that most people understand innately unless they're entirely devoid of any fear. Where I think the important focus should be is certainly on learning, questioning why something works or doesn't work, and willingness to outgrow old information you've been running on for years. I know that if I moved myself within close proximity to a canyon in Utah and just sat there watching netflix for two years it won't help me know how to handle a 300' rappel. Active learning, and opening myself to a community with a wealth of information has been great, along with these types of discussions where people can actually work out and debate best practices. And as much as people give Tom grief for being so vocal and opinionated, I absolutely love it because he tears past this idea that we have to gently coddle bad ideas into good ones rather than give a straight argument and debate it with some solid information.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
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  5. Skyloaf

    Skyloaf

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    Well yeah, obviously! That's where all the rest of it comes in - which is training, preparation, practice, and all the things required to get through anything safely - then putting everything into practice, because, I assume, everyone has a healthy sense of self-preservation and care about the people around them. It would be hard to find anyone who wants to be involved in an accident, but maybe I'm just making wild assumptions. You guys need to learn how to take a joke lol
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
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  6. Skyloaf

    Skyloaf

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    Also I've finally discovered the 'Reply' button.
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  7. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    We need that "lol"...ha!

    Interesting to ponder, a hind site perspective versus self-preservation versus the newby-esque enthusiasm and willingness to get out there.

    It does seem, given some of the accident reporting, that some folks are just begging to have one. And, sooner or later it seems, the more we put ourselves out there in the arena, the more chances that a mistake will be made.

    I've never shied away from parsing accidents, especially when I can talk with someone directly involved. Adds to my own knowledge and helps me and mine keep safe.

    Let's all stay safe out there!
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  8. townsend

    townsend

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    We have devoted threads to safe techniques. And still people get hurt. Part of it is the learning curve -- rope sports have a steep learning curve -- one can get in over one's head real quick. Mistakes and accidents don't just "bruise egos" -- instead, one gets broken vertebra, ribs, fractures (arms, legs, pelvises, etc.), amputation of limbs, concussions, and even death. And rope burns are very unpleasant.

    One critical important preventive step mentioned by Brian is "testing the rappel" before launch. How many times have we heard of individuals -- esp. inexperienced ones -- rappelling on the wrong side of the biner or rope knot block?

    It's really sad. I really hate to hear of young people getting hurt, crippled, or dying. They had a whole life ahead of them, and I don't like them getting short-changed. And of course the older crowd don't really want to check out either . . . we tend to hang on as long as we can.

    IN Gonzales' book, Deep Survival, he writes philosophically about survival. This isn't a "how to" build a fire, stay warm, catch fish with your bare hands type of book. It is fascinating reading.

    In one of his articles (I can't remember its title), he talks about a famous accident where an elite skier, who knows better, goes out and checks the terrain for avalanches. Gonzales emphasizes how that everytime we don't have an accident, our brains register that behavior as "safe". Humans tend to experiment a little, and explore the limits -- that gray poorly demarcated zone between safe and danger.

    At any rate, in the article that skier felt confident that the avalanche risk was minimal, and guess what: he died that day. He ignored the clear signs of avalanche danger. Makes you wonder.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
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  9. Skyloaf

    Skyloaf

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    Yes! And that's totally fair! I spend a lot of time reading accident reports, and while I know I have a lot of newbie enthusiasm, I also don't want to die, or get injured and I don't want to drag anyone down with me or become someones 'situation'. I have a lot of respect for people who are willing to post their accident reports. It takes a lot of character, self-reflection, and humility to bare your mistakes so that others can learn from them.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
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  10. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Thanks for bumping this post, Skyloaf.
    Adding some icing to the cake of potential death and loss in the canyons you can now expect to be sued
    for everything you will ever own should you survive while a companion does not
    :facepalm:
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  11. gajslk

    gajslk

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    And even if you win the lawsuit, you'll be broke, having spent all of your money on lawyers ...
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  12. Skyloaf

    Skyloaf

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    It's okay I spent all my money on gear.

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
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  13. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    I like the technique, except for the obvious issue that if the belayer fails, you now have two injured people.
  14. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The belayer should never* be directly underneath the rappeller.

    Tom

    *almost never
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  15. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    Also the rope coils quite a bit if using an 8-based device like a Sqwuwuwuwurrel, and if it's in your device it won't unwind...
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  16. cesar.castro

    cesar.castro

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    I am going to write my experience rapelling into Englestead 3 weekends ago.

    I am fairly new to the sport and have complete 8 canyons prior to Englestead with very experience leaders. See below:

    Nevada: Sheepbone/Quarry 3A II, Mud Spring 3B III, Keyhole 3A I

    Utah - Zion: Keyhole 3BI, Pine Creek 3B II, Lodge 4A III, Orderville 3B III, Mystery 3B II (2x)

    I have also taken L1 training and know how to position the rope to increase friction.

    I was also trained on adding friction on the fly in my L1 class but I have not practice nor use it in any of my previous canyons.

    As others here noted, adding friction is a skill that you must have and will want in a rapell this long.

    My tools: ATS, Rope ( dont have additional details) no auto block as the group knows them to add more complexities to a repel.

    There were 3 in our group. I was the middleman for obvious reasons.

    The rapell

    Rope was in the ATS friction 1

    I did alot of research on this rapell but did not pay enough attention to the fact (stated several times) that adding friction on the fly is key to rapells this long.

    The first 150 feet of the rapell felt normal and I was controlling my descent by placing the rope further into my back. After the mid way point I noticed that I was moving at an uncomfortable rate ( not dangerous but since I'm new I'm slow) and decided to place the rope completely behind me with the expectation to stop but I did not. There was not enough friction.

    The belayer

    I caught my self breathing very hard. I usually dont, even under stressful situation but I told my self relax and think of next steps. There were maybe another 100 feet to go.

    I yelled out to my belayer to add friction and he did. I did not feel my decent rate slowing or my friction increasing but the decent speed was still ok and under control. My guess is that if I had not asked for him to tighten the rope it may have been a different story. He told me at the bottom that he had tighten the rope as much as he could. I made it down ok but feeling very unprepared and unskilled. This rapell was not like any of the others I had done.

    I was feeling very embarrassed with my team.

    My longest rapell prior to this was 200 ft at the lodge at zion.

    Moral of the story. Learn to add friction on the fly. A belayer will have a hard time stopping you on a 300 ft repel but they will definitely slow you down.

    I was stressing and hyper sensitive due to my research and being new to the sport. Breathing hard and fast, I could have hyperventilated.

    This type of rapell requires rope skills that MUST MUST MUST be practiced.

    I loved the canyon. We were able to get permits for Orderville and ended in the narrows a few hour later.

    I hope that this helps.

    I ended up buying a CRITR to PRACTICE adding friction on the fly. You can do this with ATS, it's just a bit easier with the CRITR.

    NOW. let's go do something



















    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  17. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Thanks for sharing your near miss. Important lessons learned there. And yes, your life was likely saved by the fireman belay you received. Good job to your team to ensure that happened.
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  18. clangingsymbol

    clangingsymbol

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    I would be interested in knowing two things

    First, you mention:

    I imagine (assuming you are right handed) you rapped the rope around you so that the rope either did a loop around you and you are still using your right hand as a brake, or, the rope is forming a "U" so that the rope comes down through your ATS and around the right thigh, under your softer back side and up your left thigh to your left hand (which you are now using as a brake hand), and back down to the ground from there. Or, was there a different scenario in play?

    Second, you mention:

    What was the method of applying the fireman's? I have applied a fireman many times with no issue...meaning when I pull on the rope, the rappeller is no longer able to move! Both for fun (to frustrate a friend while rapping...stopping them cold in their tracks...sometimes only inches off the ground) and as an example, teaching newbs how it works and what happens when I do it. I have also used it to pull people across a water feature, keeping them dry by pulling with all my might and then allowing them to pull against me to move along the rope and bypass the water horizontally. Most recently, this was done at the bottom of the first (I think it is the first) rap in Spry to some of my less experienced friends. I have also done it in Behunin and had it done to me in Punch Bowl down in the Superstition Wilderness outside of Phoenix, just because I was a sissy and didn't want to get wet (little did I know the water was coming in Punch Bowl!!! But it was fun practice!!!).

    Hoping to learn.

    Brian
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  19. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous

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    @cesar.castro

    Welcome to the CC and good to read about your near-miss (glad it was a near-miss). Thanks especially for the details on your experience, reaction while on-rope, etc. And...it's pretty unusual for a first post to be an incident report - way to step up.

    PM sent.
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  20. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    @cesar.castro thanks for sharing and good on you for having a plan (bottom belay), recognizing the problem, and acting positively. :thumbsup:

    If I may chime in with a response.

    A bottom belay ("fireman's") is most effective based on a couple of variables. (1) the amount of available friction that exists in the descending device, (2) the amount of momentum or kinetic energy in the rappelling mass. From your examples I would expect the momentum was low and the friction was high or adequate. In the example @cesar.castro relates those values are somewhat inverted.

    The higher the momentum the longer it will take to arrest it with a bottom belay. And quite possibly, if not recognized in time, no amount of force below will completely stop momentum. Factors of time and space.

    Unfortunately (I suppose), the mechanics of a bottom belay are not equivalent to a tailhook on an aircraft carrier.
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