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Ledgemere Accident Tuesday

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by Charleen, Aug 26, 2018.

  1. Charleen

    Charleen

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    Incident Report- Ledgemere, BCC, UT 26Aug2018

    Charleen Angell- Author

    Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT.

    Attendees: Sara Morger, Charleen Angell and Wendy Underwood

    Sara Morger and I were practicing with Wendy Underwood for our Aspirant Assessment at Ledgemere. The last skill we were practicing was a guided rappel. Sara set the rope and rappelled down. We all met down by the river. I took some webbing and went to make an anchor around a large rock we have used many times for a guided rappel. Wendy asked to place the anchor in another area. She took the webbing and placed it between a pinch point on 2 large rocks. She said her and Sandy Crow had used these rocks. I did not like the anchor choice very much but was not thinking of rappelling down it at this point. I just wanted to see if I could set up the guided rappel with the totem correctly. After we were talking about the use of guided rappels I decided to go up to rappel. I did not feel really comfortable about the whole set up but felt it was ok because it was a newish skill for me. I rappelled down and when I reached about mid-point the rope gave and I fell to the ground about 10 feet Sara and Wendy told me. After I caught my breath as the wind was knocked out of me I realized I could feel all parts of my body and even though I was in a lot of pain I could move. I rolled to my knees and stood up. Wendy quickly drove me to the hospital emergency at LDS. The x-rays showed I fractured my pelvis in 3 areas and compressed my L2 vertebrae 50 %. They say I am lucky and should heal completely but my L2 disk flattens out anymore as I heal I will have to have a lumbar fusion/back surgery. I cannot work for about a month and they recommend I not canyoneer till next Spring. There are many things I have thought about over the past few days in the hospital.

    I really did not understand guided rappels so I should not do them without supervision. I did not understand that all of my weight would be on the anchor at the bottom as I rappelled. Now I do!!. Never use marginal anchors for guided rappels. I need to speak up when I am not comfortable with how anchors are set up and I need to say something when I am unsure of things. "SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING"

    I take full responsibility for rappelling down a rope I was unsure about. I hope others will speak up and be more careful than I was when practicing guided rappels.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
    Ram, Jenny, Rapterman and 1 other person like this.
  2. townsend

    townsend

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    So sorry to hear of your injuries. Best wishes on a complete recovery.

    In the hierarchy of safe and reliable anchors, pinch point is almost always last . . . for a reason.
    Rapterman likes this.
  3. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous

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    Not sure I understand what you are saying. If a given pinch point can be included in a "safe and reliable" hierarchy, then it is safe and reliable. Are you suggesting that in general (i.e. as a class), pinch points are less secure than other anchor types?

    Sidebar: the security of a pinch point depends on multiple factors, and can sometimes be improved by placing a chock behind the sling material, so that the chock must pass through the pinch point in order for the anchor to fail. Not suggesting this was a factor in the OP accident.
  4. townsend

    townsend

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    Hank, in a hierarchy, the items listed are not EQUAL. The items are ranked, from most safe and secure to least.

    I'll take the tree -- alive, sufficient diameter, and well-rooted -- over the pinch point.
    Ram and hank moon like this.
  5. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous

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    @Charleen thank you for sharing and best wishes on your recovery. Re-posting for emphasis:

    Amen to that; many accidents might have been avoided with better communication.
    Ram and Jenny like this.
  6. Jenny

    Jenny

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    Thank you for posting this incident. There are always at least two sides to every story (usually many) and it is so important to get the perspective from the participants.

    Charleen, thank you for placing emphasis on speaking up and taking personal responsibility. Believe me, it often seems more difficult to make your voice heard as a woman. Sorry, but it is true. I've learned this over a half dozen decades and it is still a challenge at times. Don't forget this in the adventures ahead. Mistakes are lurking everywhere in Canyoneering and in Life. Accidents occur, even to the best. Calculate Risks. Fail. Speak up. Learn. Teach. Repeat.

    Mark Twain said something along these lines; "I don't waste time on my mistakes...it doesn't leave me time to make new ones".
    Get back in the game with more confidence having learned.

    'Wishing a full and speedy recovery.
    Again, thanks for sharing.
  7. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    To Townsend's point:
    Big friendly boulder-
    Forget the pinch point,
    SLING THE WHOLE BOULDER
    Bshapiro, townsend and Ram like this.
  8. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    When I set the bottom anchor for a guided, I also clip into it myself (unless it is a BFsomething). In the case of bottom anchor failure, my body dragging across the ground is likely to slow down the failure, hopefully a significant amount. And at least provide direct punishment for failing at an important job.

    Best wishes for a fast and complete recovery. I have fused three vertabrae around my T1, and it worked very well. I know people with disc problems that suffer for years.

    Tom
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  9. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    This location is just around the corner from Dogwood, at the end of the picnic area? What route did you anchor your rope at the top from?

    Also, I'm not familiar with the term, "aspirant assessment". Is that a type of certification of sorts?

    Great advice above. Like Tom offered, you can always clip a person into a bottom anchor for backup. Guided rappels can put an immense amount of force on a rope. Best to have a robust anchor as you've stated above.

    Sorry to hear about your accident. Hopefully some PT will help keep the disc in good shape. Lower backs are a pain in the...uhh, well, just above the ass...ha ha.

    Heuristic traps...they're out there...good reminder to be on the watch out. Good advice to speak up.

    Heal well!
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