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Accident and Rescue from Whitesides, NC 05/06/2012
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Jun 6, 2012
I am writing this to fill in any rumors that might be floating about regarding the accident that occurred on Whitesides Mountain on May 26, 2012. My climbing partner was the one who was injured and I actively participated in the rescue. We had started the day with the idea to climb Catholic Girls Direct, but after doing the first pitch, decided to switch to the Original Route (they have the same first pitch). This was because I have been up the OR before and felt more comfortable with it. After I had led the first and second pitch, I decided to let my partner lead the third.
Around 11, after having completed the short traverse and started climbing off the ledge using the flake that cuts up and left, her foot slipped. There wasn’t any gear below her (or any possibilities for gear) and she landed on the ledge located about 8 feet below her, which was about 3 or 4 feet wide and sloping downward. Upon impact with the ledge she heard both her ankles snap. At this point she was about 80 feet above me and roughly 300 feet off the ground. She was also out of eye site.
After figuring out what happened I instructed her to pull herself to a position on the ledge where I could take her off belay. Once she did this I essential soloed the pitch to get to her (not the best decision but was low on options at the moment). Once I got to her I removed her pack and excess gear and left it on the ledge. I found some sticks and tape and splinted both her ankles. I then managed to build an anchor off to the right and rig the rope for a double rope rappel (we only had one rope). I then clipped our belay loops together with a sling and had her hold onto my neck while I supported her feet with one hand and managed the rappel with the other. I held her across my chest while I rappelled with a reverso and an autoblock. Once reaching the tree ledge on top of the second pitch, I pulled the rope and carried her to the opposite side of the ledge. A rap tree was located over there that I knew would reach the ground, if we had two ropes. So instead I tied our only rope to the tree with a figure 8 follow-through and repeated the same procedure as before to make a roughly 200 foot single rope rappel. Once on the ground I gave her Ibuprofen and got her as comfortable as possible. I elevated her feet, positioned my pack under her head, and placed her in the shade.
Since there was no cell phone reception and I couldn’t hike her out on my own (it’s about 2 miles of treacherous hiking and scrambling), I started running back to the trail head for help around 12:30. I kept checking my phone for reception and around 12:40 was able to call 911 for a rescue team. I made it to the parking lot by 12:45 and waited a few more minutes for the paramedics to arrive. One of the paramedics and I then hiked back in. We made it back to her around 1:30. A few minutes later more rescuers and fire fighters showed up with a “stokes” basket and we started hiking back out carrying her. It then took roughly 30 people 4 hours to carry her out. She finally arrived at the hospital around 6:30.
Once at the hospital she underwent surgery for her right ankle which had a tibia and fibula fracture and had her left ankle placed in a boot with a fibula fracture. She is expected to make a full recovery. We also had some good friends in the area that came and retrieved our gear that night.
Ryan7crew
Joined Feb 6, 2012
44 points
Jun 7, 2012
Pano of Choas in the P2 crux. Undercling-high-step...
Glad everyone is ok. Great work on the self-rescue. I was just up that rig a few days before you guys. I let a friend lead that 3rd pitch as well. The entire opening section I was worried because it is very dangerous, and it is one of the safer pitches on that route. It is impossible to protect that traverse right to the bigger ledge. TomCaldwell
From Clemson, S.C.
Joined Jun 2, 2009
2,681 points
Jun 7, 2012
One of my first trad climbs, Ooga Chocka at Crowde...
Whitesides man... what else can you say?

Good work on the rescue. Sounds like it required some ingenuity and worked out well in the end. Are you cool with some discussion about the rescue tactics or should we just leave it alone?
sanz
From Raleigh, NC
Joined Nov 7, 2011
279 points
Jun 7, 2012
Myself placing a a blue/yellow offset MC to protec...
thanks for posting and glad you managed to get your partner down. Quick healing to her! rock_fencer
From Columbia, SC
Joined Dec 20, 2009
253 points
Administrator
Jun 7, 2012
A Very Not Snowy Christmas...
wow ryan... great work man really glad you guys are both safe. Was your first rap with your friend on a single rope threaded through a gear anchor (so double ropes through the reverso) and the second rap on a single line fixed to the tree? Morgan Patterson
Joined Oct 13, 2009
8,419 points
Jun 7, 2012
Now, I've never been to Whiteside's so I don't know the terrain, but am I reading correctly that you took her off belay, while she was injured on a sloping ledge 300 feet off the ground and then continued to "free-solo" to get to her? Sounds like the situation was ripe for more SNAFU's. Glad to hear all ended up okay. Brian Threlkeld
From Portland, Maine
Joined Dec 3, 2010
1 points
Jun 7, 2012
Brian Threlkeld wrote:
Now, I've never been to Whiteside's so I don't know the terrain, but am I reading correctly that you took her off belay, while she was injured on a sloping ledge 300 feet off the ground and then continued to "free-solo" to get to her? Sounds like the situation was ripe for more SNAFU's. Glad to hear all ended up okay.


+1 Glad every thing worked out OK.
climbamt
Joined Nov 1, 2006
32 points
Jun 7, 2012
Morgan, yes the first rappel was a single line fed through a gear anchor (creating the double rope rappel) and for the second one I fixed my rope to a tree and did a single rope rappel.
Also Brian, the terrain at Whitesides has plenty of ledges where you can come off belay and feel completely safe. Plus, if you aren't comfortable with a litte free soloing, Whitesides is definetly not the place for you to be climbing.
And ya sanz, PM me if you want to discuss it in more detail.
Ryan7crew
Joined Feb 6, 2012
44 points
Administrator
Jun 7, 2012
A Very Not Snowy Christmas...
thanks Ryan... best wishes to your partner for a speedy recovery and hope she sticks with it! Morgan Patterson
Joined Oct 13, 2009
8,419 points
Jun 10, 2012
Ryan, I'm really glad your partner is healing. That pitch seems so benign, but I certainly considered the potential as I tiptoed across it. boo
Joined Jun 9, 2008
7 points


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