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Climber Gets injured on Mr. Meanor 5-8+ Trad mixed route JailHouse Mt. Lemmon
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By Kelsey Rentchler
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
Solitary Confinement
Hey fellow climbers. I wanted to make a note on this climb after an accident a climber I was belaying had on this route on friday December 4th 2009. As we know a lot of routes on Mt. Lemmon have a pretty good run-out to the first bolt. With this climb there is a long run out to the first safety bolt. The climber did not know this was a mixed route and started the climb. After making the first 15ft to the fist bolt he realized it was a trad route and despite my plea to come down he decided to attempt the 15 ft run out to the second safety bolt with no gear. (climber ego got in the way). While clipping the second bolt the climber fell 30 ft to the rock below. I was the belayer on the fall and was able to slow him down enough that he didn't die. The climber broke his L1 &L2 vertebrae and his right arm. If the climber was prepared and had studied up (like he said he did) this fall could have been avoided.This is a great, easy, fun climb with the appropriate gear. Bolts and small cams (1-2's will work great) I now have 2nd degree rope burns on my right hand from creating tension on his line to slow him down. I couldn't run backwards because of a large tree located in the belay spot. I now know to take a different spot while belaying but even still i am not confident a run backwards would have slowed him down adequately to achieve the same result. The climber had to be heli-vac'd off the mountain, it took 3 hours total to get him down. It took 45 minutes for the first rescue personnel to arrive on scene. I learned a lot from this accident and I hope the climber did too.
--- Invalid image id: 106622604 ---

Loading climber into Rescue Bird
Loading climber into Rescue Bird


Rescue Helicopter landing in Prison Camp (Jailhouse Rock) parking lot.
Rescue Helicopter landing in Prison Camp (Jailhouse Rock) parking lot.

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By Christian
From Casa do Cacete
Dec 7, 2009
Ooops...
Thanks for posting, had heard about it but didn't know the details. Good job not letting him completely crater.

Best wishes to the injured climber for a speedy recovery.

P.S. The Neosporin with pain relief worked great on my rope burn from catching a factor 2 a few weeks ago. Bandaged it up during the day and let it breathe at night.

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By Kelsey Rentchler
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
Solitary Confinement
Thanks Christian. Its healing rather nicely. It was hard and sensation less for the most part by day two :)

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By Buff Johnson
Dec 7, 2009
smiley face
Mentioned you learned a lot from this.

Anything already not provided in your first post that you came away from this as a "lesson(s) learned"?

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By Joe Kreidel
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
I think these are good reminders to us all about the inherent danger in the games we play. If we choose to accept the risk involved in climbing, accidents can happen, even on climbs well below our limit. Rock fall, holds breaking, momentary lapse of concentrations, etc can happen to any of us, unexpectedly, at any time.

I did the exact same thing on this route - got to the first bolt, looked for the next bolt, and THEN my belayer remembered that this was a mixed route. Since we were hoping to run laps on this to warm up, I went ahead and ran it out to the second bolt, pretty far up there. No falls, but not something I would not do again. It was definitely my ego that goaded my to finish it -"Dude, it's ONLY 5.8....". But you fall just as hard on a 5.8 as you do a 5.12.

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By Kelsey Rentchler
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
Solitary Confinement
I learned a few lessons:
1. A climber cant climb without a belay. I was never really aware that I could refuse a belay on a more experienced climber even if the climber is insistent.
2. As a belayer I also have the authority to lower a climber down if he/she does not listen to me mid route. In this case I told him to come down at the first clip... knowing what i know now i should have lowered him down when he was sitting at that clip.
3. It the responsibility of all parties on the mountain to research routes before climbing them.
4. Although I was wearing belay gloves they were too big and did not fully protect my fingers, so having the right size gloves is very important.
5. Check your belay spot, make sure there is enough room to make evasive maneuvers in case of a fall like running backwards or jumping off a ledge. (in my case would not of helped my climber because of the rate of fall and the weight difference between us)
6. Flip flops make great splinting tools
7. Carry extra webbing to make gear if need be.
8. Leave your ego at base camp
9. Climbers and belayers have a symbiotic relationship. The climber needs to make sure the route they are choosing to climb will also be a safe route to belay.
10. I know you are not supposed to pull on the rope for risk of injury, and i know that having 2 injuries on the mt is way worse then one. In this case pulling on the rope was the only way to save his life... I would want a belayer to do the same thing for me. Many climbers out there say I was wrong and that they would just take slack, break, and pray... Me? I would much rather have 2 concussions then one casket. If i was in the same situation again: I would pull the rope and this is after days of reflection. This experience has made me very aware of the people I climb with, and they qualities I expect from a partner.

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By J mac
Dec 7, 2009
Zermatt
Kelsey Rentchler wrote:
2. As a belayer I also have the authority to pull a climber down if he/she does not listen to me mid route. In this case I told him to come down at the first clip... knowing what i know now i should have pulled him down.

Do you mean physically? I disagree with this. I would never climb with someone again if they pulled me off a route!

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By Adam Block
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
Awesome post Kelsey, good lessons learned that hopefully some of us can draw on without having to learn first hand so thank you for sharing. You did forget to mention 11) Have a third there that happens to be a runner. Running to the parking lot and back 5 times is an impressive feat!

I'm happy everybody is okay in the end and after the fall I don't think anything could have been done differently than it was, you guys should all be proud of how you dealt with it. I know you're a great belayer and one of the few I would trust on the other end of my rope. Now for real, can you heal already, I wanna climb!

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By Adam Block
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
jmac wrote:
Do you mean physically? I disagree with this. I would never climb with someone again if they pulled me off a route!


That's funny, I picture the belayer yanking a climber off the rock. I'm not going to speak for her but I'm pretty sure she was saying she has the power to say "this isn't safe, I'm not comfortable belaying you and I'll buy you a new biner on the way home". If a climber isn't okay with that I wouldn't climb again.

I personally agree with this one, I had a climber skip the last bolt on an easy section of a route and it irked. If he wouldn't have tripped up before the anchors he would have decked, I don't like being put in that spot for no reason. He was a solid 5.11 climber on a 5.6 section so I didn't get too worried but all the same, I once had a bobcat shout out of a hole and down a route I was on, if it didn't happen so fast I didn't know what happened it would have scared me off the route.

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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Dec 7, 2009
Bocan
Kelsey Rentchler wrote:
2. As a belayer I also have the authority to pull a climber down if he/she does not listen to me mid route. In this case I told him to come down at the first clip... knowing what i know now i should have pulled him down.



I don't know who told you that is acceptable and any safer to pull your partner off a route, but that's wrong. It was equally as wrong as your partner to not listen and put you in a volatile situation, but when you tied in with him you signed on to see it through. It's not like you were doing some big alpine route and he was putting your life in horrible danger, he skipped a bolt. What if you pulled him off, he flipped and hit his head?? Then what? If you don't like how the climb went you have the right not to climb with them again, not to intentionally injure them.

Pulling your partner off a route will most likely be more dangerous for you than the climber. Sooner or later you'll climb with someone that won't take that lightly and quite possibly end the relationship, sue or get quite physical with you. If I did that to someone I would expect them to punch me in the mouth.

In a game of runouts, sketchy gear and bad situations, pulling partners off a rock will make you end up a partnerless boulderer very quickly. He was on the sharp end, he made that decision whether it was wrong or right. It's not up to you to make decisions on the ground whether or not to yank a person off a climb.

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By Red
From Arizona
Dec 7, 2009
Cobra Kai
Kelsey Rentchler wrote:
I learned a few lessons: 2. As a belayer I also have the authority to pull a climber down if he/she does not listen to me mid route. In this case I told him to come down at the first clip... knowing what i know now i should have pulled him down. 10. I know you are not supposed to pull on the rope for risk of injury, and i know that having 2 injuries on the mt is way worse then one. In this case pulling on the rope was the only way to save his life... I would want a belayer to do the same thing for me. Many climbers out there say I was wrong and that they would just take slack, break, and pray... Me? I would much rather have 2 concussions then one casket. If i was in the same situation again: I would pull the rope and this is after days of reflection. This experience has made me very aware of the people I climb with, and they qualities I expect from a partner.


A.) Can you explain what you mean by "pull"? Do you mean physically pull the climber or verbally tell the climber to get off?

B.) I cannot disagree with #2 more. When a person is in the act of belaying, he/she must do as the climber requests. If the climber wants slack you give it to them. If they ask for tension, you give it to them. The person on the sharp end is always calling the shots until they are no longer on the sharp end. Assessing possible dangers for the belayer should be done before the climber starts climbing. If you cannot commit to belay the person through he/she's route then you should not even start to belay that person.

Don't get me wrong here; you did a great job as an attentive belayer in seeing the possible dangers ahead and by trying to convince your climber to back off at a safe point. (first bolt in this case) Just please understand that you should never pull on a rope when someone is climbing on the other end as you stated that you wish you had. To unwillingly lower your climber when he was hanging on the first bolt would be much better than to yank him when he is climbing.

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By JSH
Administrator
Dec 7, 2009
JSH @ home <br /> <br />photo courtesy of Gabe Ostriker
Congrats on a life-saving catch. That's quite a thing. And I agree that belaying is far more than just the few motions of feeding a rope through a device.

While it may have been the right thing in your situation, I would very much hesitate to extrapolate it so far as to say that belayers have the right to pull climbers off the rock.

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By Kelsey Rentchler
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
Solitary Confinement
What i meant by pulling a climber off a route is: My climber could not have finished the route if I provided slack after the first clip. I Should have stuck to my guns and lowered him while we were discussing him moving to the second clip. I dont me literally tugging on the rope to pull him off mid climb. Does this make sense?

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By Russ Walling
From www.FishProducts.com
Dec 7, 2009
Russ
Glad the injured climber is ok....

Before I go on a rant, tell me, is English your first language?

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By Kelsey Rentchler
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
Solitary Confinement
Yes English is my first language. I typed this one handed and with a lot of emotion so I am sure there are mistakes that make me seem like a moron. Watching a fellow climber and friend fall to his potential death is a brain rattling experience, and writing was rougher then I thought so have fun correcting my written inadequacies.

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By Mike Larson
From Los Angeles, CA
Dec 7, 2009
Weeping Wall Central Pillar
Scott McMahon wrote:
I don't know who told you that is acceptable and any safer to pull your partner off a route, but that's wrong. It was equally as wrong as your partner to not listen and put you in a volatile situation, but when you tied in with him you signed on to see it through. It's not like you were doing some big alpine route and he was putting your life in horrible danger, he skipped a bolt. What if you pulled him off, he flipped and hit his head?? Then what? If you don't like how the climb went you have the right not to climb with them again, not to intentionally injure them. Pulling your partner off a route will most likely be more dangerous for you than the climber. Sooner or later you'll climb with someone that won't take that lightly and quite possibly end the relationship, sue or get quite physical with you. If I did that to someone I would expect them to punch me in the mouth.


+1

Well done on the catch but in such a case where the belayer is not at risk, it is the climber who has the choice on whether to continue (many exceptions here, most being in the alpine). You do have to the option however to tell him you won't belay him in such a situation and that he needs to find a different belayer, provided he can be lowered safely and is not above gear and already committed.

EDITED to reflect clarifications.

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By Kelsey Rentchler
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
Solitary Confinement
Kelsey Rentchler wrote:
What i meant by pulling a climber off a route is: My climber could not have finished the route if I provided slack after the first clip. I Should have stuck to my guns and lowered him while we were discussing him moving to the second clip. I dont me literally tugging on the rope to pull him off mid climb. Does this make sense?



I am assuming I should edit my post. I didn't mean physically pulling him off. He rested at the first clip and I should have lowed him then when he was sitting on my rope. I KNOW physically tugging a line is dangerous mid climb and that is why i didn't.

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By Russ Walling
From www.FishProducts.com
Dec 7, 2009
Russ
I was really hoping something was lost in the translation.

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By Kelsey Rentchler
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
Solitary Confinement
Russ I will clear all further forum posts through you from now on.

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By Red
From Arizona
Dec 7, 2009
Cobra Kai
Kelsey Rentchler wrote:
What i meant by pulling a climber off a route is: My climber could not have finished the route if I provided slack after the first clip. I Should have stuck to my guns and lowered him while we were discussing him moving to the second clip. I dont me literally tugging on the rope to pull him off mid climb. Does this make sense?

yes, thanks for clarifying for everyone!

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By Russ Walling
From www.FishProducts.com
Dec 7, 2009
Russ
Relax Kelsey.... I read your thing and it struck me as being very odd.

Terms like "my climber" and "orders to come down" and pulling guys off routes is not something I'm used to.

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By Kelsey Rentchler
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
Solitary Confinement
this is my first time posting here... my post was more of a ramble i suppose... sorry for my odd terms.

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By Buff Johnson
Dec 7, 2009
smiley face
I typically pack a belay knife for those climbers that really piss me off.

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By Adam Block
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
This interpretation issue is very funny and makes me question some of the people you guys climb with that you took "pull" as actually tugging the rope. If I hear somebody got there permit "pulled" I don't picture some crazy inspector walking in and actually "pulling" the permit. I agree that a word other than "yank", "pull" and so on should have been used but both would mean the same as "request" assuming you were giving the belayer even the slightest credit for having common sense..

I take belaying very serious, I'm an active belayer (I know Kelsey is too) but I know what the people on the other end of my rope need as I've done a lot of climbing with them. For some I know they need pushing, for others I know they need somebody to tell them they're in over their head. I will stand there and catch as many leads falls as somebody wants to take (on their rope) but if they're coming close to decking, landing on my head, on "wow it really did hold" trad gear or there are otherwise unsafe conditions I wouldn't think twice about "pulling" a climber down and if they didn't respect it I would see it out and never belay them again.

I see far more lazy inattentive belayers than I care to talk about. Guys that are great 5.12 climbers but I wouldn't trust to belay anybody. There are many times I've thought to myself the climber should leave the belayer home and just free solo. Maybe there are many trains of thought, I will give my climber a ton of slack (please don't take that wrong too) to do as they see fit but at the end of the day you're a team,either person should be able to make the call.

Moral of this is, I'm happy everybody got out alive and it sounds like all parties involved did a great job from the moment he came off the rock to the moment he got home.

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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Dec 7, 2009
Bocan
Context is everything, but if you hear someone got pulled down the mountain, they got pulled down the mountain. Permits get pulled away from you, ropes get pulled up. Saying you'll pull someone off something is tough to translate into refusing to pay out slack and forcing them to lower, which is still dangerous unless they are right at the bolt. Saying you are going to pull a climber off a route is going to catch heat, no matter how it was intended.

It's great to see that you guys do care and are attentive, but I'm still not too cool with "if you don't like my opinion from the ground, I'll pull you off" outlook that is being taken. If you are climbing with people that are so unsafe you feel the need to "yank" them off a route, it seems like you should spend more time making better choices in partners than in dictating their climbing style.

Man, "pulled" starts to sound weired when you say it alot...

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By John Farrell
From Phoenix, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
Having fun at the Enchanted Tower.
Buff Johnson wrote:
I typically pack a belay knife for those climbers that really piss me off.


Tasers and paintball guns are fun too.

I hope your climbing partner makes a speedy and full recovery, Kelsey.

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