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Near miss on final rap out of Heaps.

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by spinesnaper, May 25, 2016.

  1. spinesnaper

    spinesnaper

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    This occurred on 5-22-2016. A report was posted in Southwestern Canyoneering. No one was injured but the incident definitely warrants discussion to glean lessons. Lack of experience seems to undergrid much of the event. The associated photographs are also compelling. This is taken from the Facebook post:

    "
    Danielle-Brian MonroytoSouthwestern Canyoneering
    11 hrs · Montecito, CA ·
    Heaps Incident 5/22/16

    We ran Heaps this past Sunday and came across a group of three who had stayed overnight in an unplanned bivy in the beginning of the canyon. They sought our help as they had been expected out the day before and had a friend arranged to pass up their 300 rope to them. They said they had some additional gear issues with leaky wetsuits and drysuits in the cold water necessitating a prolonged stay in the canyon and they were worried that they would not have a rope to exit. They were carrying a 200 rope and a 300 pull cord.

    A member of our group who had stashed his 300 offered to leave it for them if their friend and rope weren't waiting. We continued and reached the top and began to exit the last sequence. As we were finishing the group came upon us. Their rope was indeed waiting, as was a member of Search and Rescue.

    Our group descended cleanly and readied to leave as a member of their group began to call out. He was struggling just below the bird ledge and wearing a pack that was pulling him backwards. He called out he needed to drop his pack, and then he immediately flipped upside down. A member of our group ran over to give him a belay as we communicated suggestions. He was able to remove and hang his pack, and was struggling to untangle his jacket which had become ensnared in his piranha. My friend who was giving him a belay had him completely stopped and once he was free she suggested he could begin rappelling, but he said he was too exhausted. So she lowered him 200 feet to the deck. The S&R officer approached so we left.

    Who goes into Heaps with only a 200 rope and pull cord? Hoping for a waiting 300?

    As a community we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard or we'll start to see these beautiful canyons develop restricted access."
  2. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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  3. Jolly Green

    Jolly Green

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    There is enough info out there on heaps that every group that goes through should have every move on that final sequence planned out before they even leave the car. Who is doing the climb first? Who is down first? What length rope goes where? Who is manning the tree? Who is manning the perch? Who is cleaning the raps? What rope is your pull cord? When do you hang your pack? (At the tree). Everyone should know the plan and should be able to know what is expected of each step as someone may get hurt or have an altered LOC at that critical time.

    That way when you show up late and are freezing cold, you aren't relying on one person to think through the plan when you are dead tired and likely to miss something.
  4. Alias_Rice

    Alias_Rice

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    Crazy. I don't have a facebook account though, is there anyway to post some of the photos here?
    whansen likes this.
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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  6. Alias_Rice

    Alias_Rice

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    Glad everyone made is safely down. I can't imagine how exhausted you would have to be to feel more comfortable being lowered by a firemans belay as opposed to adding friction to your device and lowering yourself. But I guess I've never had an unplanned bivy and spent a long cold 2 days in Heaps.
    Rapterman likes this.
  7. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Glad it all worked out in the end. Good job!

    I agree it is insane to head into Heaps with a single rope.

    I want to reemphasize your recommendation to hang packs for the 2nd and 3rd rappel. I made the mistake of not hanging on the 2nd and not rigging enough friction. Kind of scary really but luckily also turned out okay.

    I think part of the issue, and one I'm also guilty of, is that many beginning canyoneers were previously climbers (or maybe not even that) and focus almost entirely on Zion. So, first you do the Narrows, then the Subway, then Pine Creek and Keyhole, then Mystery, then Something like Behunin or Spry, and then the next logical step up is Imlay or Heaps. You've read every word in Tom's guidebook and so you know it's a big step up to Imlay or Heaps, but you may not be a "real" canyoneer yet. By that I mean maybe you're missing a few skills that someone in your group ought to have. Like maybe going back up the rope. Rigging with single rope technique. How to pass a knot. Why you should be using something like a pirana or a CRITR instead of an ATC. Not to do big long free rappels with a heavy pack without hanging the pack and rigging extra friction. Pothole escape techniques. Wetsuit trouble shooting issues. That sort of stuff.

    The solution is probably for each of us that now know what we're doing (hopefully) to reach out a bit more so there are fewer groups doing big canyons without real canyoneers with real canyoneering skills. Also, perhaps prominently publishing a list of non-Zion canyons you ought to do before tackling Heaps and Imlay might help.

    Getting your jacket caught in a rappel device is no big deal if you have the skill you need to get it out and its your only mistake. But it can be life threatening without that skill.
    Nick Beef, whansen, Taylor and 3 others like this.
  8. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    It seems we keep having this discussion over and over with aspiring canyoneers:
    Just because you have done Ice Cube or Imlay does NOT mean you are ready for Heaps.
    DO NOT GO INTO HEAPS WITHOUT A HEAPS VETERAN IN YOUR GROUP.
    You MUST have your skills completely DIALED including
    SRT, station to station rappels, hanging packs, and basics like locking off and re-climbing the rope in your sleep.
    Little mistakes in HEAPS add up and can leave you exhausted and brain fried for the 'final exam'.
    And...
    GET A REAL RAPPEL DEVICE
    Nobody who canyoneers with us rappels on a PIRANA or ATS or ATC.
    It's the SQWUREL, the CRITR, or the highway.
    :D
  9. spinesnaper

    spinesnaper

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    I have not done Heaps. But I would not tackle a 200 foot plus rappel with a Piranha. For my body weight, there are just not enough friction options. That is sort of a red flag right there. I am impressed that this was only a near miss. I suspect the quick thinking of providing a fireman's belay by canyoneers present on the ground made a huge difference here. Hats off. The photos are remarkable.
  10. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Before the Sqwurel, I used to use a Pirana with a leg loop biner and a Z-rig biner. Works well. But it is not "a Pirana", it is "a Pirana with boosters".

    Tom
  11. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    to be fair, a Totem should also be acceptable... but yeah...
    Rapterman likes this.
  12. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Do you really see Heaps as that much bigger of a deal than Imlay? I mean, the approach is longer sure, and the final rappel is a little longer and free hanging, but I would consider them very comparable. You do the long station to station raps in Imlay early instead of late. But you've got twice as many drops in Imlay.

    And I don't know that you HAVE to have a Heaps veteran in your group. We didn't. There is so much beta and so many trip reports for that canyon that it seemed pretty easy to me to figure out what we were in for.

    http://canyoncollective.com/threads/how-to-descend-heaps-in-9-hours.19671/

    Certainly it's always nice to have someone who has done the canyon with you, but if I waited until I had a vet to show me a canyon I would have missed a lot of canyons and no explorations would ever get done.
    BaJenkins likes this.
  13. spinesnaper

    spinesnaper

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    I have only done the z-rig in practice. But of recent I have slavishly followed fashion from the Pirana to the ATS to the Critter, and now to the SQWUREL. I think the Pirana is a nice tool for the right job especially if you are mixing shorter raps with toss and go and single line. More than one way to skin a cat. You just need to own that way. Dialed in skills are essential.
  14. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Oh man, that would be scary! :eek:
  15. 2065toyota

    2065toyota

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    I don't see any issue with going through with a 200' and pulling the 300' up. That is fairly common. Personally never done it that way, but know many who have.
  16. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    How would you do it? Have someone waiting at the bottom of the rappel and then haul up the 300 rappelling rope with the pull cord? Am I missing something?

    People were doing Heaps long before any of those devices existed. I think the biggest change that has happened though is that so many people now like single line.

    Anyway, other than the ATC, I have never used any of those devices you list. I was thinking of using the CRTR for the first time this weekend.
    ScottM and Rapterman like this.
  17. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    :moses: :moses: :moses:

    Why you need those fancy de-vices??? Heck, we waz doin' Heaps in our Lederhausen, using a body wrap on 1/2" hemp ropes when most a youse guyz were still in diapers...

    :moses: :moses: :moses:
    Kuenn, Rapterman, Jenny and 4 others like this.
  18. 2065toyota

    2065toyota

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    Most common is to tie a 200 & 100 together with the knot below the anchor and do a rappel / lower sequence. When the person gets to the bottom, ties the stashed 300' rope on and pull it back up. I personally would rather just take the 300 through, but this has been done that way quite a bit.

    I love the CRTR, only issue I've encounted is sometimes the "legs" get caught on a log when you sliding off some of the awkward starts
    whansen and Rapterman like this.
  19. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    For me it depends on whether you're talking about the sneak or the full. Full Imlay I would say is comparable to Heaps, but I never seem to be as tired after a sneak trip as I am after a trip through Heaps.
    Taylor, Rapterman and ratagonia like this.
  20. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Yes, I am aware of that, but according to the post, they only had a 200' rope and a 300' pull cord. They didn't have another 100' rope. I don't think I'd lower anyone off a pull cord tied to a rope.
    John Styrnol likes this.
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