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Zion Fatality

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by Dean Kurtz, May 22, 2002.

  1. Dean Kurtz

    Dean Kurtz Guest

    Man dies in rappelling accident Apparent rope failure causes man to fall in Zion Park By PATRICE ST. GERMAIN patrices@thespectrum.com

    -------------- ZION NATIONAL PARK -- A four-week vacation in the United States ended tragically for a 35-year old man from Bournemouth, England, Tuesday morning after he fell 180 feet to his death while rappelling in Zion National Park.

    Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith said the victim, Roeslan Tamin, was on vacation with a life-long friend when the accident occurred Tuesday morning.

    Smith said the two were rappelling at the "Spaceshot," an area popular for rappelling in the park, when they noticed storm clouds forming and decided to get off the face of the mountain.

    "The two were on the face of the mountain when apparently the ropes of the victim's line failed," Smith said. "There was a boulder in between the two and the friend heard the victim scream and by the time he got past the boulder, he saw his partner was gone

    David Eaker, park spokesperson said the "Spaceshot" is a route on what is called the leaning wall on the east side of Zion Canyon between Big Bend and Temple of Sinawava. Eaker said the spot is not far from the road and a visitor on the road heard the partner yelling. The visitor informed a shuttle bus driver that help was needed. Dispatch received the call for help at approximately 10 a.m. Park rangers were dispatched to the scene and found Tamin with no detectable signs of life. Tamin's climbing partner rappelled down from his position on the wall once park rangers arrived on scene.

    Tamin's partner, also from England, was not injured and rangers conducted a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing with him. Eaker said it is the park's policy to have the debriefing for people close to victims of accidents to help with logistical problems such as airline tickets, lodging and transportation.

    "We do the debriefing to help make things a little easier with the individuals close to the victims," Eaker said. "We stay with them as long as possible and as needed."

    Smith said Tamin and his friend were scheduled to return to London this Friday. Smith said it appears that the fall is the result of a rope failure or that the knots in the rope failed. There is no indication of foul play, but the park said the cause of the fall is still under investigation.

    "This looks like a tragic accident," Smith said.

    This is the first fatality in Zion National Park this year although there have been several rescues. This is only the second fatality in several years involving a foreign tourist.

    In August 2000, a German tourist hiked to the top of Angels Landing and fell on the way down. The tourist, 63-year old Georg Sender, fell only 15 feet but landed on his head.

    Since 1983, accidents at Zion National Park have been well cataloged. The only other death involving an international tourist was in 1995 when a man from Switzerland suffered a heart attack while driving a car.

    The park receives more than 2 million visitors per year and approximately 21 percent of those visitors are international tourists.

    A press release issued by the park states that technical climbing in Zion can be a challenging and rewarding activity but not one that should be entered into lightly. Only experienced and knowledgeable persons should attempt any technical climbing in the park and should talk to qualified park staff before the climb.

    Originally published Wednesday, May 22, 2002
  2. beadysee

    beadysee Guest

    Any additional info on the cause of the "rope failure"???

    Spaceshot, popular rappelling spot? Huh? Wierd. Popular climb that is commonly rappelled perhaps...

    Is very close to the road...

    -Brian in SLC

    --- In canyons@y..., "Dean Kurtz" <dkurtz@x> wrote: > Man dies in rappelling accident > Apparent rope failure causes man to fall in Zion Park > By PATRICE ST. GERMAIN > patrices@t...
    > -- ------------ > ZION NATIONAL PARK -- A four-week vacation in the United States ended tragically for a 35-year old man from Bournemouth, England, Tuesday morning after he fell 180 feet to his death while rappelling in Zion National Park.
    Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith said the victim, Roeslan Tamin, was on vacation with a life-long friend when the accident occurred Tuesday morning.
    Smith said the two were rappelling at the "Spaceshot," an area popular for rappelling in the park, when they noticed storm clouds forming and decided to get off the face of the mountain.
    "The two were on the face of the mountain when apparently the ropes of the victim's line failed," Smith said. "There was a boulder in between the two and the friend heard the victim scream and by the time he got past the boulder, he saw his partner was gone
    David Eaker, park spokesperson said the "Spaceshot" is a route on what is called the leaning wall on the east side of Zion Canyon between Big Bend and Temple of Sinawava. Eaker said the spot is not far from the road and a visitor on the road heard the partner yelling. The visitor informed a shuttle bus driver that help was needed. Dispatch received the call for help at approximately 10 a.m. Park rangers were dispatched to the scene and found Tamin with no detectable signs of life. Tamin's climbing partner rappelled down from his position on the wall once park rangers arrived on scene.
    Tamin's partner, also from England, was not injured and rangers conducted a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing with him. Eaker said it is the park's policy to have the debriefing for people close to victims of accidents to help with logistical problems such as airline tickets, lodging and transportation.
    "We do the debriefing to help make things a little easier with the individuals close to the victims," Eaker said. "We stay with them as long as possible and as needed."
    Smith said Tamin and his friend were scheduled to return to London this Friday. Smith said it appears that the fall is the result of a rope failure or that the knots in the rope failed. There is no indication of foul play, but the park said the cause of the fall is still under investigation.
    "This looks like a tragic accident," Smith said.
    This is the first fatality in Zion National Park this year although there have been several rescues. This is only the second fatality in several years involving a foreign tourist.
    In August 2000, a German tourist hiked to the top of Angels Landing and fell on the way down. The tourist, 63-year old Georg Sender, fell only 15 feet but landed on his head.
    Since 1983, accidents at Zion National Park have been well cataloged. The only other death involving an international tourist was in 1995 when a man from Switzerland suffered a heart attack while driving a car.
    The park receives more than 2 million visitors per year and approximately 21 percent of those visitors are international tourists.
    A press release issued by the park states that technical climbing in Zion can be a challenging and rewarding activity but not one that should be entered into lightly. Only experienced and knowledgeable persons should attempt any technical climbing in the park and should talk to qualified park staff before the climb.
    Originally published Wednesday, May 22, 2002
  3. Dean Kurtz

    Dean Kurtz Guest

    They were climbing the route, when what they viewed as a threat of storm began to form, they decided to rap off the route. I've heard a rumor that the likely cause of the accident was a failure to tie the knot correctly, but that's currently speculation.

    Dean ----- Original Message ----- From: "beadysee" beadysee@yahoo.com> To: <Yahoo Canyons Group> Sent: Thursday, May 23, 2002 8:26 AM Subject: [from Canyons Group] Re: Zion Fatality

    > Any additional info on the cause of the "rope failure"???
    Spaceshot, popular rappelling spot? Huh? Wierd. Popular climb that > is commonly rappelled perhaps...
    Is very close to the road...
    -Brian in SLC
    > --- In canyons@y..., "Dean Kurtz" <dkurtz@x> wrote:
    Man dies in rappelling accident
    Apparent rope failure causes man to fall in Zion Park
    By PATRICE ST. GERMAIN
    patrices@t...


    -- > ------------
    ZION NATIONAL PARK -- A four-week vacation in the United > States ended tragically for a 35-year old man from Bournemouth, > England, Tuesday morning after he fell 180 feet to his death while > rappelling in Zion National Park.

    Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith said the victim, Roeslan > Tamin, was on vacation with a life-long friend when the accident > occurred Tuesday morning.

    Smith said the two were rappelling at the "Spaceshot," an > area popular for rappelling in the park, when they noticed storm > clouds forming and decided to get off the face of the mountain.

    "The two were on the face of the mountain when apparently the > ropes of the victim's line failed," Smith said. "There was a boulder > in between the two and the friend heard the victim scream and by the > time he got past the boulder, he saw his partner was gone

    David Eaker, park spokesperson said the "Spaceshot" is a > route on what is called the leaning wall on the east side of Zion > Canyon between Big Bend and Temple of Sinawava. Eaker said the spot > is not far from the road and a visitor on the road heard the partner > yelling. The visitor informed a shuttle bus driver that help was > needed. Dispatch received the call for help at approximately 10 a.m. > Park rangers were dispatched to the scene and found Tamin with no > detectable signs of life. Tamin's climbing partner rappelled down > from his position on the wall once park rangers arrived on scene.

    Tamin's partner, also from England, was not injured and > rangers conducted a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing with him. > Eaker said it is the park's policy to have the debriefing for people > close to victims of accidents to help with logistical problems such > as airline tickets, lodging and transportation.

    "We do the debriefing to help make things a little easier > with the individuals close to the victims," Eaker said. "We stay with > them as long as possible and as needed."

    Smith said Tamin and his friend were scheduled to return to > London this Friday. Smith said it appears that the fall is the result > of a rope failure or that the knots in the rope failed. There is no > indication of foul play, but the park said the cause of the fall is > still under investigation.

    "This looks like a tragic accident," Smith said.

    This is the first fatality in Zion National Park this year > although there have been several rescues. This is only the second > fatality in several years involving a foreign tourist.

    In August 2000, a German tourist hiked to the top of Angels > Landing and fell on the way down. The tourist, 63-year old Georg > Sender, fell only 15 feet but landed on his head.

    Since 1983, accidents at Zion National Park have been well > cataloged. The only other death involving an international tourist > was in 1995 when a man from Switzerland suffered a heart attack while > driving a car.

    The park receives more than 2 million visitors per year and > approximately 21 percent of those visitors are international > tourists.

    A press release issued by the park states that technical > climbing in Zion can be a challenging and rewarding activity but not > one that should be entered into lightly. Only experienced and > knowledgeable persons should attempt any technical climbing in the > park and should talk to qualified park staff before the climb.

    Originally published Wednesday, May 22, 2002

    > When you post, please change the Subject appropriately, to make reading and searching easier. You can use the following abbreviations: TRIP = Trip Report; BETA = Canyon Beta; PARTNER = Partner and/or Rides; ETHICS = Ethics; TECH = Technical Questions and Tips; BIZ = E Group Business; SALE = Stuff for Sale. Please use a Tilde ~ after the abbreviation, so we know you are coding for us, such as:
    Subject: BIZ~ New Abbreviation List - working?
    Bombastic Bolt Debates are allowed to only a limited extent. Folks should go to the Canyoneer Group for a truly un-moderated forum. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/canyoneer
    > To change your delivery options, go to the Canyons Egroup page on yahoo: > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/canyons/
    > This will require logging into Yahoo. Click on the &amp;amp;quot;Edit My > Membership&amp;amp;quot; link, and change your delivery option. Press &amp;amp;quot;Save > Changes&amp;amp;quot;.
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  4. beadysee

    beadysee Guest

    FYI...

    Posted on wreck.climbing:

    Brian in SLC

    From: richard connors (rconnors@mathworks.co.uk) Subject: Death in Zion [and stuff about abseil knots] Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing, rec.climbing View: Complete Thread (4 articles) | Original Format Date: 2002-06-14 06:44:22 PST

    On May 21st I was descending with my friend Ross from Spaceshot on the Leaning Wall. During the last abseil Ross fell to his death. Ross and I are from the UK and were on a trip visiting various crags in the US.

    There is a lot of stuff spinning around in my head as I write this, but my main thought is to let people know what (it seems) was the cause of this accident. The main factor in this has surprised a good number of the climbers I have talked to. I know there has been some discussion of this on the web already. Hopefully by telling the whole story - however irrelevant some of it might be - all of the various questions might be answered. I will try to reply to any questions where I can tell you something vaguely useful.

    %==== The long story [skip ahead for the facts] ====%% On Monday we climbed the first four pitches and returned to the ground, leaving ropes in place to jug the next day. All the anchors we used were fixed, except maybe for the one at the top of the first pitch. Pitch 1 is slightly grotty 5.6 climbing. Pitch 2 is a pretty nice 5.7 flake and ends at the left end of a large sandy ledge. We fixed a 60m rope ("the blue" 60mx10.5mm) to this anchor, having got beta saying this would just reach the ground. Pitch 3 is a mixed bag of sandy 5.5 and ends at the base of a huge smooth clean red wall, the stuff we came to do. We fixed "the green" (55mx10.5mm) to this anchor and chucked it back down to the sandy ledge (top of pitch 2). Pitch 4 is where it gets fun. I lead the pitch (C2 aid) and Ross followed, cleaning the gear. We fixed our 60m lead rope ("the yellow" 60mx10.5mm) to this anchor and abseiled down. Then down the green to the sandy ledge. Then down the blue (carefully checking it reached) back to the ground. It didn't quite reach the dirt, but left us with maybe 20ft of trivial down-shuffling to get back to our bags. We left the 3 ropes in place and headed off for a beer.

    Tuesday morning we jugged the ropes. Amongst all the other crap you take aid climbing, we had a 9mm rope. We planned to lead on the yellow (the top fixed rope) and take the 9mm to deal with the double-rope abseils on the descent. We would chuck the green down to the big sandy ledge as we went past it, and then could retrieve the green and the blue by jugging just the blue on Wednesday and abseiling down.

    I set off first, Ross followed. I got to the top of pitch 4 as Ross arrived at the top of pitch 3. Ross had got some two-way radios earlier on the trip and we chatted on the radio: the weather forecast had been slowly deteriorating for the last 3 days, today was 50% chance of afternoon rain, there were a lot of gloomy clouds brewing above us, the sandstone is all bad in the wet, we were not super fast aid climbers...there were a lot of reasons for continuing, mostly that I didn't want to have to lead that C2 pitch again!! A brief spot of rain actually hit us and we decided to bail. I pulled up the 9mm rope, tied it to the yellow, stripped the anchor and descended to the top of pitch 3. Meantime Ross had been untying the green from this anchor and getting ready to set up a double-rope abseil. I got down to him, chucked him the end of the yellow to tie to the green and started pulling the ropes down from above.

    Ross headed off down to the big sandy ledge as I coiled the 9mm and put it on my back. He radioed me to say "rope free" and I headed down. I arrived on the big sandy ledge about 10-15ft away from the anchor - Ross was off to my left, already clipped into the anchor and sorting out the blue rope, ready to set up the last abseil. I chucked the loose end of the yellow to Ross and started pulling the ropes from above. I was unclipped at this point - being a very bad boy, even though it was a huge ledge. This was actually the only thing that struck me as unsafe about our whole day. As the knot came down, I stopped and untied it to free the yellow, which was now all tangled up in plants and rocks on the ledge. Ross fed it over the edge as I untangled it from everything on the ledge. I started pulling the green down as Ross sorted himself out over at the anchor. I was coiling the green rope as Ross called over to say "see you at the bottom in a few minutes", he saw me coiling the green and offered to carry it, since I had the 9mm already on my back, but he already had our daysack on so I said I was fine taking it down. I turned to just finish up coiling the green and at that moment he fell.

    I rushed over and there was nothing there - our ropes had gone, Ross had gone, the anchor was fine, untouched. Everything floated for a moment, slipped sideways and turned unreal - then I started shouting...I knew I had to get down in case by some impossible chance there was something I could do to help him. I was yelling down to the road and got someone's attention, they flagged down one of the shuttle buses and shouted that help was coming. I had the 55m green and the 50mx9mm ropes with me. I couldn't get to the ground in one go but I knew there was another anchor (top of the Alpine Start for those that know it) that I would be able to reach. I set up the double rope abseil and set off down. The ropes tangled around everything - it was a complete shambles. I saw the rangers and the ambulance arrive; the rangers were racing up the hill to Ross. I set up the second abseil, it was all taking so long...as I reached the ground one of the rangers came over to tell me what I already knew.

    %%==== Some stuff that I do know ====%% Ross was found with the two ropes correctly through his belay device. The ropes extended about 10feet "above" him (the other 190feet being "below" his belay device) and the ends were not tied together. Throughout this trip we had always been tying ropes together using a fig-eight knot (more below). The only other abseil Ross set up that same day (from top of pitch 3 down to the big ledge) he had used the fig-eight knot with no back up knot on the tails. The knot was neat, I don't remember exactly how long the tails were but they didn't cause me a second glance. I could not see exactly what Ross was setting up on that last abseil - he was 10ft or so to my left and was sitting (while clipped in) so that he obscured my view of the anchor.

    The fig-eight I refer to is tied as follows: The two ends you want to join are held parallel with the ends "pointing" in the same direction. You grab both ropes together and then tie a regular single fig-eight knot in both ropes at once. What we did NOT use: The only other way that might be confused is when you have the ends pointing in opposite directions. Tie a single fig-eight in one rope then follow this through with the other rope - we did NOT do this.

    %%==== The important bit ====%% Some guys that were helping me out played around in their yard with this fig-eight method, tying it and trying to pull the knot apart. They found some worrying things. -The way the ropes pull on this knot on a double-rope abseil deforms the knot badly. -If the knot is not perfectly "dressed", in particular if there is a single slack loop anywhere on the fig-eight, they could pull the knot through even with 6 INCHES of tails, just pulling the ropes apart as happens naturally on an abseil. 6 inches of tails is NOT ENOUGH. If you use this knot, tie a back up knot and leave LONG tails. It scares me to think that I could have innocently/ignorantly made this same catastrophic mistake.

    %%==== My thoughts (not facts) ====%% The only plausible explanation of this accident I have come up with is that the knot slipped off the ends. I won't go through all the alternate scenarios and my objections to them here. I hope it doesn't sound contradictory to say that Ross was a safe climber. I never saw him rig a belay that I thought was unsafe, never saw him do anything that made me think "does he realise that's pretty dodgy". We were not in a big rush getting down. We were moving quickly and efficiently but with no sense of panic or anything like that. Ross knew that the last abseil was a long one and we would be a bit tight on rope. I can imagine that would make him want to keep the knot pretty near the ends, but I do not believe he would only leave something ridiculous like one inch of tails. I think he must have tied the knot with something like 6inches of tails, thinking this was plenty (go tie the knot - it looks good with this much rope sticking out of it) and maybe he didn't make it all neat and snug. I think when he set off he was happy with his set-up, not thinking at all that the tails were dangerously short. The first 30feet of this abseil are a little slabby - and with two 60m ropes you do have to feed armfuls through your belay device at the top - the first few feet of such an abseil are always a bit jerky. I guess he fed through a couple of armfuls of rope and hence bounced the knot just a couple of times, which caused it to fail.

    While I will never know for sure what happened, I do know what any of you can prove to yourselves - that you can get this knot to fail even with 6 inches of tails. I did not know that the necessary margin for safety was so wide for this knot, I am sure Ross did not realise this either.

    The ropes involved (the blue and yellow) have been sent to one of the testing guys at Black Diamond who is going to run some relevant tests involving this fig-eight knot. I will post anything they find that might be of interest.

    %%==== Last words ====%% Thoughts of Ross are vividly etched in the minds of almost everyone he met. We miss him terribly. The only other thing I want to say here is that the Rangers at Zion were incredible; the way they dealt with the incident, the diligence of their investigation and the compassion that they showed me...I have only praise for everything they did. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of so many other people in Springdale - it's a small town of wonderful people. Despite everything, I have some very fond memories of Zion and the people I met. It is a beautiful place - you should go there and climb those amazing walls.
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia Guest

    The ropes in question are big, fat, well used 11mm climbing ropes (FYI).

    Tom

    --- In canyons@y..., "beadysee" <beadysee@y...> wrote: > FYI...
    Posted on wreck.climbing:
    Brian in SLC
    From: richard connors (rconnors@m...) > Subject: Death in Zion [and stuff about abseil knots] > Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing, rec.climbing > View: Complete Thread (4 articles) | Original Format > Date: 2002-06-14 06:44:22 PST
  6. beadysee

    beadysee Guest

    --- In canyons@y..., "ratagonia" <tom@j...> wrote: > The ropes in question are big, fat, well used 11mm climbing ropes > (FYI).

    I hate to speculate, especially given the sensitive nature of the situation, but, I suspect that the knot wasn't tied properly. Bummer. Heat of the battle, sometimes easy to blow it. Reinforces the need to "double check, triple check" everything. Partner's harness and rap set up included.

    Give me the overhand (EDK) with 16" tails as a rappel knot. Easy to see that its done right. KISS kiss kiss.

    Lets be safe out there!

    Brian in SLC
  7. The problem is that it doesn't help to double-check if you are double-checking the wrong knot. Yeah, looks like they would have been much better off using the EDK. According to the surviving member, they had been using the figure 8 all day as their rap knot. To quote from the write-up: ====BEGIN QUOTE The fig-eight I refer to is tied as follows: The two ends you want to join are held parallel with the ends "pointing" in the same direction. You grab both ropes together and then tie a regular single fig-eight knot in both ropes at once. What we did NOT use: The only other way that might be confused is when you have the ends pointing in opposite directions. Tie a single fig-eight in one rope then follow this through with the other rope - we did NOT do this.

    %%==== The important bit ====%% Some guys that were helping me out played around in their yard with this fig-eight method, tying it and trying to pull the knot apart. They found some worrying things. -The way the ropes pull on this knot on a double-rope abseil deforms the knot badly. -If the knot is not perfectly "dressed", in particular if there is a single slack loop anywhere on the fig-eight, they could pull the knot through even with 6 INCHES of tails, just pulling the ropes apart as happens naturally on an abseil. 6 inches of tails is NOT ENOUGH. If you use this knot, tie a back up knot and leave LONG tails. It scares me to think that I could have innocently/ignorantly made this same catastrophic mistake.

    ======END QUOTE beadysee beadysee@yahoo.com> wrote: --- In canyons@y..., "ratagonia" wrote: > The ropes in question are big, fat, well used 11mm climbing ropes > (FYI).

    I hate to speculate, especially given the sensitive nature of the situation, but, I suspect that the knot wasn't tied properly. Bummer. Heat of the battle, sometimes easy to blow it. Reinforces the need to "double check, triple check" everything. Partner's harness and rap set up included.

    Give me the overhand (EDK) with 16" tails as a rappel knot. Easy to see that its done right. KISS kiss kiss.

    Lets be safe out there!

    Brian in SLC



    When you post, please change the Subject appropriately, to make reading and searching easier. You can use the following abbreviations: TRIP = Trip Report; BETA = Canyon Beta; PARTNER = Partner and/or Rides; ETHICS = Ethics; TECH = Technical Questions and Tips; BIZ = E Group Business; SALE = Stuff for Sale. Please use a Tilde ~ after the abbreviation, so we know you are coding for us, such as:

    Subject: BIZ~ New Abbreviation List - working?

    Bombastic Bolt Debates are allowed to only a limited extent. Folks should go to the Canyoneer Group for a truly un-moderated forum. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/canyoneer

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