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Accident on Cat in the Hat (Red Rocks Nv)
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By rging
From Salt Lake City, Ut
Apr 11, 2012
CoR

Friday April 06, 2012
I climbed Cat in the Hat on Friday April 06 and was waiting on a couple in front of me. I noticed a green helmet and t-shirt and wondered if someone already on the wall had forgotten their gear. I also noticed what looked like brown paint splattered on the wall just below the start of the climb. When we finished the climb the helmet and shirt were still there so I went down and looked at it. There was blood on the outside of it as if someone was bleeding from another part of there body, put their hands over the wound, then grabbed their helmet. There was also plenty of blue latex gloves laying around and two small pink pills. The brown paint was of course blood and there was a small pool of it nearby as well. I left the gear there not sure what to do with it. The next day I assisted on a rescue and the sheriff stated a man/woman team had some sort of issue with the last rappell.

Anyone know what happened and if the person is alright?


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By Chris DeWitt
From Colorado Springs, CO
Apr 11, 2012
Backpacking in the palisades

There is a thread going on the taco.

www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1794566/Cat-in-the-Hat


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By kBobby
From Spokane, WA
Apr 11, 2012

I was involved with the rescue.

The accident occurred on Thursday, April 5, just before sunset.

The short story is that a young woman (early 20's, I think) fell about 20 feet (though no one knows for sure, because there were no witnesses) while being lowered by her husband off of the first pitch. She sustained a head injury. I do not know for sure, but I think that she did not fracture her skull, or have any other serious injuries. She was conscious and lucid throughout her evacuation.

Two climbers not associated with the couple arrived at the scene right after the accident, administered first aid, and one of them went to the parking area to get a cell phone and call for help.

Shortly after that, my friends and I rappelled off the route, to the scene, and first learned of the accident. We hiked out part way to help SAR and the EMTs get to the accident victim, who was still being tended to by her husband and another climber. At this point it was dark.

The SAR crew, the EMTs, and four of us bystanding climbers then carried the victim to a location where a helicopter could get to her. The EMTs got the call around 6:30, I think; she was flown away around 9:00 or 9:30.

MORE INFO:
The winds were extremely high that afternoon, with NWS reporting gusts to 60mph in the area (realistically, I estimate the gusts on Cat in the Hat were around 40 mph). This is probably a contributing factor in their decision to lower instead of rappel on some of the descent. The winds abated around 9:00, which allowed the helicopter to come in (they had even been having difficulty landing the helicopter on the road).

My 3 friends and I crossed paths with this couple about 2 hours earlier at the top of the 3rd pitch of Cat in the Hat (where all the slings are around the block) while we were still going up and they were going down.

Ominously, as she was rappelling from the top of the 3rd pitch, the victim said to my friend, "I'm glad you are here so that if we get stuck you can rescue us." My friend told me this as we were rappelling down the first pitch, moments before we got to the bottom and found out that the girl was injured. My friend also told me that this climb was the couple's first multipitch climb and their second trad climb.

Earlier, before we had caught up to them at the third pitch belay, another party told us that one of the two (I don't know if it was the husband or the wife) had dropped their belay device, and they were both having an unhappy time. The party that told us this were bailing because they "didn't want to be involved in a rescue." I do not know if they recovered the belay device before the rest of their descent.

One of the climbers who arrived on the scene first said that he thought she was being lowered, then stopped on a ledge while slack was still being paid out, then fell. He also thought that her belay was not redirected through the anchor above her, but was directly off the harness. This may be speculation because he also told me that he did not see the accident happen.

I really hope that both the victim and her husband are doing well. They have both been in my thoughts quite a lot since then. Special kudos to Nick and his partner (Eric?) who were the first on scene, and who did a great job getting help to her and tending to her while waiting for that help to arrive.


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By rging
From Salt Lake City, Ut
Apr 11, 2012
CoR

I rolled into the campground at 10:00pm that night and had quite the time putting up my tent so I know how bad the winds were. People don't realize how much this can affect communication and how much of a problem lack of communication causes. I'm sure in retrospect they wished they had tried something shorter for their first multipitch climb or bailed sooner. And someone please teach them what a munter is. That way she could have used the one belay device and he could have rapped on a munter and backed it up with an auto block. If you are going higher than half the rope length you better have a plan B.

Thanks for the information. It makes me feel good that there are so many climbers out there ready to help a person in need.


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By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Apr 12, 2012

I would rather lower than use a munter to rappel.

I have tried rappelling with a munter and the rope ended up horribly twisted and tangled well before the bottom.

I have had someone drop a belay device several pitches up and done the lowering thing. Often if you are close to the ground you can lower right to the bottom with one full rope length.

An option that might help speed things up if you are high up is to thread the rope as normal and lower one climber off the rap rings, then counterweight rappel off the other strand. Of course communication and understanding are important so that the other person knows you are going to be using them as a counterweight.


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By Eric Coffman
Apr 12, 2012
mountainlion

Please dont use the rappel rings to lower a load. The rappel rings
are for rappelling only. Loading the rappel rings and then applying
friction wears out the rings (damages them by creating metal fatique). The weakend rings then could cause another accident.
Advise new climbers to purchase "freedom of the hills" and dont be
non-chalant about 5.6 routes. The easier the route the more stuff
there is to hit in a fall and the rappels are commonly more difficult on easier routes due to the larger holds/lower angle. The rope can
become stuck on the holds.


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By -sp
From East-Coast
Apr 12, 2012
Buenos Dias!

Eric Coffman wrote:
Please dont use the rappel rings to lower a load. The rappel rings are for rappelling only. Loading the rappel rings and then applying friction wears out the rings (damages them by creating metal fatique). The weakend rings then could cause another accident. Advise new climbers to purchase "freedom of the hills" and dont be non-chalant about 5.6 routes. The easier the route the more stuff there is to hit in a fall and the rappels are commonly more difficult on easier routes due to the larger holds/lower angle. The rope can become stuck on the holds.


Given what sounds like a sketched climber, a dropped belay device and possibly limited experience, lowering off the rings may have been a good option, certainly better than rapping. As to your comment that lowering "damages them by creating metal fatique", you are simply incorrect.

Props to everyone who helped and I hope she's OK.


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By rging
From Salt Lake City, Ut
Apr 13, 2012
CoR

Not sure how you can say lowering was better than rapping considering she ended up in the hospital. I'm a bit squeamish about lowering when you do not have clear communication. That last rap is very long plus the winds guaranteed you could not hear and unless the person lowering extended themselves out over the ledge which I bet he didn't do (since he could not explain what happened(, you can't see either. In this case the double rappel would be the best option (connecting the two people with a long sling). Not as comfortable but less prone to errors given the less competent doesn't have to do anything.


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By -sp
From East-Coast
Apr 13, 2012
Buenos Dias!

rging wrote:
Not sure how you can say lowering was better than rapping considering she ended up in the hospital. I'm a bit squeamish about lowering when you do not have clear communication. That last rap is very long plus the winds guaranteed you could not hear and unless the person lowering extended themselves out over the ledge which I bet he didn't do (since he could not explain what happened(, you can't see either. In this case the double rappel would be the best option (connecting the two people with a long sling). Not as comfortable but less prone to errors given the less competent doesn't have to do anything.

Since there are important details missing, I'm going to refrain from commenting further and simply wish her a quick and full recovery.


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By Rockwood
From West Jordan
Apr 17, 2012
Spring in Zion

I am one of kbobby's friends climbing with him the day of the accident and the one the injured climber talked to at the belay near the top when she asked about being rescued. I'm also the one almost hit by her falling ATC while sitting at the second belay. To clarify some of his details which were all correct, she did get her ATC back. It landed near me at the tree on the top of the second pitch. We found it and my partner brought it up to her as we climbed up. At the slings she was rapping herself down, not being lowered, so don't worry about the rings. It wasn't until the last pitch that the lowering happened and at that point they were on bolt anchors. It was very windy and she was very cold and extremely sketched out and panicy. I was doing my best to calm her down with chit chat as my partner climbed and that's when I discovered how inexperienced they were. I can only imagine she got worse as time went on. Her husband and her were from Miami and didn't have a lot of outside experience and were expecting warmer weather for the trip. (so was I) In the end I think it was just lack of experience and panic which led to some poor decisions and an accident. The ability to remain calm is critical in preventing accidents.
The foreshadowing of this event was unblievable, but I was glad we were there to help direct the rescue workers and hope she's doing better. I'm considering a WFR class as well after this.


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By bearbreeder
Apr 17, 2012

Rockwood wrote:
I was doing my best to calm her down with chit chat as my partner climbed and that's when I discovered how inexperienced they were. I can only imagine she got worse as time went on. Her husband and her were from Miami and didn't have a lot of outside experience and were expecting warmer weather for the trip. (so was I) In the end I think it was just lack of experience and panic which led to some poor decisions and an accident. The ability to remain calm is critical in preventing accidents. The foreshadowing of this event was unblievable, but I was glad we were there to help direct the rescue workers and hope she's doing better. I'm considering a WFR class as well after this.


i keep on telling the gym climbers i know that the only way to become "safe" is to go outside and practice the techniques you need over and over and over again before you try bigger and better things ... some think im a total azzz (i probably am), as they think they can just go out and jump on their first long multi and figure it out on the fly ...

this past month alone, ive had 2 climbers who have lead up trad before panic on an easy multi ... one forgot how to tie a clove when 4 pitches up as the sun was setting and it got cold ... the other forgot how to build a good anchor and had a hard time leading a 5.8 pitch (he lead 5.11 trad earlier that day) ...

practice and go out often ... all the forum posts in the world and book knowledge wont help that much when yr cold, tired, and hungry in the dark 10 pitches up ... and thats when yr most prone to screwing up ...


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By Leeroy
Apr 17, 2012

bearbreeder wrote:
i keep on telling the gym climbers i know that the only way to become "safe" is to go outside and practice the techniques you need over and over and over again before you try bigger and better things ... some think im a total azzz (i probably am), as they think they can just go out and jump on their first long multi and figure it out on the fly ... this past month alone, ive had 2 climbers who have lead up trad before panic on an easy multi ... one forgot how to tie a clove when 4 pitches up as the sun was setting and it got cold ... the other forgot how to build a good anchor and had a hard time leading a 5.8 pitch (he lead 5.11 trad earlier that day) ... practice and go out often ... all the forum posts in the world and book knowledge wont help that much when yr cold, tired, and hungry in the dark 10 pitches up ... and thats when yr most prone to screwing up ...



Well put. Sadly, the people that most need to hear this do not read threads like this.


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By Nick Jackson
Apr 17, 2012

I was one of the people involved in the rescue - the story has a happy ending! While it looked rather grim at the beginning, the victim ended up being released from UMC Trauma that night with, all things considered, minor injuries.


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By kBobby
From Spokane, WA
Apr 17, 2012

Thanks for the update, Nick! That is good news.

Did you get your jackets back?


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By Rockwood
From West Jordan
Apr 17, 2012
Spring in Zion

That's fantastic Nick! Thanks!


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By -sp
From East-Coast
Apr 17, 2012
Buenos Dias!

Nick Jackson wrote:
I was one of the people involved in the rescue - the story has a happy ending! While it looked rather grim at the beginning, the victim ended up being released from UMC Trauma that night with, all things considered, minor injuries.

Great news, thanks for the update.


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By Tradoholic
Apr 17, 2012

So the husband dropped the wife? Ouch. I always take motorolas on windy days in RR.


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