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Accident/Fatality Cathedral Ledge North Conway NH
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By DavidLG
Jul 12, 2014
From: Al Admin of neclimbs.com

"Apparently the victim was long time area climber Brian Delaney. At first look it was an accident that took place as he was solo climbing on the Barber Wall. It is not yet known the exact reason for the fall, but he apparently fell all the way down from the top of the cliff, ~50'. He was conscious when he was found, but succumbed to his injuries on the carry-out. Thanks to Conway Rescue, Fish & Game and members of the local Mountain rescue for their efforts in the rescue."

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By Lanky
From Portland, ME
Jul 13, 2014
Nice remembrance of Brian from his friend, climbing partner, and North Conway reporter Erik Eisele: conwaydailysun.com/newsx/local...

Brian was a great guy. Nothing could knock the smile off his face. And he could crush, but never made a big deal about it. Huge loss for the Maine and New England climbing communities.

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By bearbreeder
Jul 14, 2014
from the article it seems it was a TR solo accident ... hopefully theyll do an investigation into the cause

condolences to the friends and family

Delaney had been climbing by himself, using a fixed line for a belay, according to White, climbing near a route called Double Vee, a classic route rated 5.9 on the Yosemite Decimal Scale. He was near the top of the wall he fell, White said, and something in his belay system failed. "He obviously just leaned back and went the whole way," White said, but no one is sure exactly what in his belay system failed. Another group was nearby, but they didn't see anything until they heard Delaney's body hit the rocks at the base of the climb. ... The practice of climbing alone with a fixed line and a self-belay system is a common one, White said, not something particularly dangerous. "Lot's of people do it," he said, and it's generally safe. "I do it a lot."

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By Lanky
From Portland, ME
Jul 14, 2014
We'll probably never know with any certainty what went wrong. The rescue crew obviously had to remove the system from his line, and their first priority wasn't figuring out what happened.

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By Chuck Weber
From my van
Jul 14, 2014
link to a new article below that helps explain the possible cause of the accident
centralmaine.com/2014/07/14/sc...

I'll add on behalf of the first responders that Brian was initially found unconscious, but after a short time he was conscious, coherent and able to talk to us for an extended period of time and answer all basic questions correctly - name, date, place, his age, family questions, etc, but he was not able to recall exactly "what went wrong" when we asked him. In short, I believe it was a tragic descent/rappel related accident and he was not actually "climbing" and there was no "gear failure" to the best of our knowledge.

Reasonable speculation would include that something unexpectedly caused Brian to lose his balance near the edge, I.e. snake, bees, loose rock, dizzy spell, etc. Or that he possibly connected himself to the wrong section of rope as the rope length greatly exceeded what was necessary for this relatively short section of cliff and given the proximity of climbing routes in the area he may have been repositioning the rope for another route. The detail of what exactly went wrong remains unknown.

Also, for those that wish to know the technical facts:
1) The static line was found perfectly intact and anchored to trees atop the cliff. Shortly after the accident the rope was derigged from the top by rescue team personnel and quickly rerigged at the base of the cliff along the hazardous planned exit trail as a safety line for all involved in an attempt to get the patient out as quickly as possible.
2) The rappel device was threaded correctly onto the rope and correctly connected to the harness, but there was appreciable "slack" noticed in the rope when he was first approached.
3) The seat harness was worn correctly.
4) Climbing shoes were on his feet and his backpack was retreived from the top of the cliff.
End

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By Dan Felix
Jul 14, 2014
Al posted this on the NEClimbs Facebook page today:

"From NH Fish & Game:

FATAL WEEKEND CLIMBING ACCIDENT AT CATHEDRAL LEDGE IN NORTH CONWAY, NEW HAMPSHIRE

NORTH CONWAY, N.H. – A weekend climbing accident claimed the life of Brian Delaney, age 56, of Scarborough, Maine. On Saturday, July 12, Delaney fell while climbing alone in North Conway, N.H., on a portion of Cathedral Ledge known as the Barber Wall, situated on the upper left hand of the cliff band and accessible via a footpath from the top of the cliff across ledges to the base of the wall.

Delaney was using a technique known as “rope soloing” to protect himself from a fall as he ascended the cliff. At approximately 12:00 noon, a nearby climber witnessed Brian complete his climb and shortly thereafter saw him fall approximately 65 feet from the top back down to the ledge where the climb begins. Nearby climbers came to his aid and called 911 for assistance.

Members of the Mountain Rescue Service and North Conway Fire and Rescue responded. Mountain Rescue Service Members rigged safety lines along the ledges and guided Fire and Rescue members to the scene. Delaney was treated and packaged into a litter, but unfortunately succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the fall.

A preliminary investigation of the incident suggests that the fall occurred as he was preparing or attempting to descend the route. Delaney was an accomplished climber with decades of experience and was well known within the climbing community."

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By OAW
Jul 15, 2014
Chuck it sounds like what Im reading from your last post was that he was using a non-auto locking belay/rappel device. Is this correct? If so I take it he wasn't incorporating a conditional backup while on rappel i.e. a prusik below the device? Again sorry for your communities loss. Sounds like he was well respected and a class act.

Matt

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By OAW
Jul 18, 2014
I mean a plaquette device if that helps ..

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By Chuck Weber
From my van
Jul 19, 2014
I personally can't comment on whether his rig was "backed up" in any way as it had been removed by someone else when I got there in order to stabilize the patient and we didn't think to trade names/numbers as it was very sad ending to that day.

Regardless, unless someone who removed the gear could add to this conversation, the facts as known have been presented. Even if there was a backup or he was wearing a helmet, it would likely not have changed the outcome. As I noted above, the very first responders told me there was an unusual amount of slack rope above his device when he was first approached, suggesting he may have connected to the wrong section of rope - which is also as reported by the NH F&G official.

You know what's right, so teach it, preach it, practice it as you wish, but autoblocks have been known to fail too - they bring "peace of mind" and are relatively safe, but have possible failure modes too, just like any piece of climbing equipment we use.

Here's one on wet rope - m.youtube.com/watch?v=3T4FT2SH...

Moral of the story to me is be safe and check your partners. Brian just didn't have anyone to check him that day climbing alone and everyone reading this has made a mistake at one time or another.

FYI: There's also a thread under the memorials board if you've only read this one.

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By OAW
Jul 20, 2014
Okay thanks... There's a reason they call it a conditional belay when repelling. I use a prussik below my rappel device which is extended from my harness. It's supple 6 mill cord with two wraps on two ropes or three wraps on one rope. If dressed properly should not slip on wet ropes if any. I can see an auto block doing this though on wet ropes. Just some food for thought... Thanks for getting back with me.

Matt

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By Schaps
From Bishop, Ca
Jul 21, 2014
Sierra East side ( South Lake )
1. Close examination of the video shows the person attempting to arrest the fall with a hand above the abseil device on the rope. Any attempt to hold the rope immediately above the autoblock knot on a wet slippery rope would neutralise the binding of the knot to the rope thereby negating the function of the autoblock knot which MAY have been situated in the traditional location above the abseil device.
2. An autoblock knot is intended to automatically substitute for a brake hand when the climber is unable to apply a brake action ( as is normally done below the abseil device ). A climber would not be able to apply normal brake action if he/she has been incapacitated e.g., due to rock fall and head injury .
3. The autoblock will not slip on wet rope when used correctly ( 3 wraps in all cases) and the hand must be RELEASED in the event of a fall so that the knot can do its job and automatically bind to the rope.
4. I locate the autoblock knot in the traditional location above the abseil device ( not below ) but well within reach of the harness. That way it will arrest a fall in the event of incapacitation or failure of a brake hand or wet gloves on wet rope, but the neutralising hand must be released from the rope regardless of the location of the knot!
I see now that the link to the demo video that I posted shows the autoblock knot situated below the abseil device. Since I disagree with that positioning I have destroyed the link forever....

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By Bill Balz
Jul 21, 2014
Tragic loss. I'm a new climber with young boys who love the sport. My most sincere condolences to the family. For the benefit of all of us who love this dangerous sport, please update on what happened. If TR was anchored, wouldn't it mean that he was climbing on a fixed line with an ascender/micro traxion etc? If so, how could he have rappeled on the wrong line? Couldn't only issue been that the figure eight wasn't backed up and he somehow lost his grip on brake hand?

Again, awful awful loss.

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