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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 Scott. I totally see your point and that is why I corrected my statement. I meant "lowered while at first clip" instead of pulled. I will be more careful with my word choices in the future.


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By Joseph Brown
From Greenville, SC
Dec 7, 2009

I'm sorry to hear about your epic. It sounds like you did a great job turning a tragedy into a learning experience for you both. It's ironic that the climber nearly died relying solely on bolts that the FA likely placed to protect runouts between trad gear placements.

I'm curious if either of you had a guidebook handy. It's a worthwhile item to bring along for reference when attempting new routes. Even with a guidebook, studying a new route from the ground before climbing it can mitigate (not eliminate) unwanted surprises. It's a reasonable precaution to take at least a light rack along for the ride if one isn't sure about bolt/anchor spacing and/or quality.

Finally, I don't get the impression that the dynamics between you and your partner were very solid. I would suggest that the belayer and climber are equally responsible for familiarizing themselves with a route and sending it safely; you succeed or fail as a team, not as individuals.


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By Luke W.
From Prescott
Dec 7, 2009
Avi

Kelsey Rentchler wrote:
The climber broke his L1 &L2 vertebrae.... it took 3 hours total to get him down.


Looking at the first picture, the medics already have this guy on a LP 12 and yet no C-Collar and no Spine Board. Just sayin...


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By Kelsey Rentchler
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
Solitary Confinement

No, no guide book. The climber had thought he had done it once before so it was off memory. Next time I will have a book... i forgot to mention that in my lessons "learned" post. When finding new climbing partners its always a gamble during the feeling out period. I assumed that since we meet through mutual climbing friends that we would have similar climbing personalities... just another lesson learned. As a side note I would like to mention that I take full responsibility for my ignorance on many aspects of the days events. there is a certain degree of humility by sharing my story... I just hope others don't have to go what I went through to learn the same lessons I did.


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By Buff Johnson
Dec 7, 2009
smiley face

Luke Wakefield wrote:
Looking at the first picture, the medics already have this guy on a LP 12 and yet no C-Collar and no Spine Board. Just sayin...


Someone is holding c-spine. This discussion about partner dynamics would be better served if that pic was removed all together.


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By Kelsey Rentchler
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2009
Solitary Confinement

Luke! Good eye! the back board was under the blanket and they put a collar on him for transport right after I took this... I posted pics that hid his face as much as possible otherwise I would post more to show ya.


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By Joseph Brown
From Greenville, SC
Dec 7, 2009

Humility is a rare strength & I definitely qualify as a late bloomer on that front. I applaud your willingness to share your experience.

You can mitigate the gamble of a new partnership by going out on a few known & well protected routes situated below the expected climbing ability to afford both parties with some time to develop trust and communication before wandering too far off the beaten path.

It's kinda like meeting a blind date at a coffee shop rather than spending a weekend in Cancun together.


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By k. riemondy
From Boulder, Co
Dec 7, 2009

I'm sorry that your partner got injured. But it could have been much worse. With climbing you don't get to learn everything by experience.

Your partner rested on the first bolt and then decided to run it out with ground fall potential to the next bolt?

Scary. If there were other climbers around, I would hope that they would vocally express concern.

Thank you for posting your experiences, they serve as valuable lessons for others. Good luck to your partner for the recovery.


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By Paul Hunnicutt
From Boulder, CO
Dec 7, 2009
Half Dome

I almost always bring a small rack with me wherever I go climbing now. There are so many "sport" routes where you can stick in gear, especially in a lot of the areas I climb at. I get tired of relying on someone else's judgement in where they have placed bolts.

What is funny is half the time a party next to me (that I've never met) will say "oh you don't need those cams"...gee thanks for the tip.

A few nuts can cams hardly weigh anything and it doesn't hurt to keep them in your pack. the line "oh I'm not going to fall here it is easy" has no worth for me.

Good luck with the recovery.


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By Erik W
From Bay Area, CA
Dec 7, 2009
North face of Ama Dablam - taken on approach to Kongma La.

Buff Johnson wrote:
This discussion about partner dynamics would be better served if that pic was removed all together.


+1


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By 1Eric Rhicard
Dec 7, 2009
It is a good sized roof. Photo: Jimbo

Hope your friend has a speedy recovery. Sounds like you did what you needed to and saved his life.

The reality of this situation is that the leader has to decide for themselves to go for it or not. Sport climbing makes this a bit less risky but not totally. It really isn't up to a partner to decide for them. You can talk with them and try to make your point as you did, but in the end it was his decision. This guy went for it and blew it. That is a part of climbing. You did your best and you have learned some hard lessons. Hopefully others will learn from this tragedy and make a better choice. It is the leaders responsibility to make good choices when their life is at stake. One would hope that the leader might make a choice that would not have had such a dramatic impact on your life.


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By Jonas Salk
Dec 8, 2009

thanks for sharing Kelsey. it's posts like this that let us all learn these lessons as a community, rather than having to learn all the hard lessons ourselves. i consider your post here a brave and selfless act. thank you.


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By Joseph Brown
From Greenville, SC
Dec 8, 2009

I think another possible lesson here, especially for aspiring sport climbers, is that a few bolts don't necessarily qualify a route as “sport”. Mr. Meanor appears to be a trad route with a few strategically placed bolts to protect what would otherwise be runout areas between natural placements.

Probably the most important lesson here, though, is to pick your climbing partner carefully & establish strong lines of communication and understanding at the onset. When things go wrong, your lives may very well depend on each other’s judgment.

To Eric's point, the lead climber must accept 100% of the fault for his injuries. Even if he had decked, it would have still been his fault for falling unprotected. But like I tell my teenage daughter, “If you get into a car with a driver you know is drunk, the ensuing accident may not be your fault, but every passenger in the car still shares responsibility for the outcome.”

Pushing limits with a reasonable system in place is one thing, but reckless behavior by one partner is bad for the climbing team as a whole, as Kelsey can attest. How much control, if any, is shared between the lead and his/her partner is a choice that both parties should agree upon before leaving the ground. I for one wouldn’t climb with a partner that asserts total control when on lead; whether it’s a single pitch sport route or a multi-pitch trad adventure. When I’m on belay, I accept responsibility for the safety of the lead climber, and expect the same from my belayer when the roles reverse.


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By Doug Lintz
From Kearney, NE
Dec 8, 2009
Destroyer of popcorn

First off, thanks for sharing your experience and I'm glad it didn't have a more tragic outcome.

Kelsey Rentchler wrote:
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.


Was he resting because of the difficulty or to consider the gear issue?


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By Kelsey Rentchler
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 8, 2009
Solitary Confinement

He was resting on the clip to consider the gear issue. The route was pretty simple to that point, no more then a 5.7.


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By XOG
Dec 8, 2009
Descending the precipice trail at Acadia NP.

Hope 'the climber' recovers. However, I would like to think that if I were in "the belayer's" position in this scenario, I would have respect for the person I was belaying and for their decisions. While that would mean doing what I could to protect them from injury in a fall, it would also mean being 'with' them on their lead, completely supportive; watchful, but not controlling. And, I would never post those pictures without "the climber's" consent.


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By Francisco Di Poi
From Boulder, CO
Dec 8, 2009

I have a similiar experience where I was belaying a friend who was not showing the best judgement before starting a climb. We were both fairly new to trad climbing but were both strong climbers. He at first refused to wear MY helmet, because he didn't have one and didnt like helmets. I guess they just aren't COOL. So I refused to belay him until he put it on. He frowned, gave me shit, and put it on and started the 5.7 offwidth crack. He placed two small cams, which I asked him to correct because they were placed perpendicular to the crack, he struggled a bit then went for it, fell about 15-20 feet, ripped both pieces off the wall and fell at my feet. It was an incredibly traumatic experience at first because he was unconscious for about thirty seconds, and once he regained consciousness we breathed a sigh of relief. He fell on his back then cracked his head on a small rock protruding 2 inches from the ground. After checking the back of his head and seeing my cracked helmet he had a nickel sized contusion near his spinal cord but was not bleeding severly.

We called 911 and then a 4 hour rescue took place. We were about 50 feet on a ledge when he fell. He left the hospital the next day suffering no major injuries, just a concussion

I learned a lot of valuable lessons from this experience. The main one has to be having trust in your partner, and I didn't trust him that much. Everytime i relive the experience i am thankful that I refused to belay if he didn't wear my helmet. Sometimes the belayer has to take charge if the leader is showing piss poor judgemet.

Thats the main lesson I learned


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By Adam Block
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 8, 2009

Joseph Brown wrote:
I think another possible lesson here, especially for aspiring sport climbers, is that a few bolts don't necessarily qualify a route as “sport”. Mr. Meanor appears to be a trad route with a few strategically placed bolts to protect what would otherwise be runout areas between natural placements. Probably the most important lesson here, though, is to pick your climbing partner carefully & establish strong lines of communication and understanding at the onset. When things go wrong, your lives may very well depend on each other’s judgment. To Eric's point, the lead climber must accept 100% of the fault for his injuries. Even if he had decked, it would have still been his fault for falling unprotected. But like I tell my teenage daughter, “If you get into a car with a driver you know is drunk, the ensuing accident may not be your fault, but every passenger in the car still shares responsibility for the outcome.” Pushing limits with a reasonable system in place is one thing, but reckless behavior by one partner is bad for the climbing team as a whole, as Kelsey can attest. How much control, if any, is shared between the lead and his/her partner is a choice that both parties should agree upon before leaving the ground. I for one wouldn’t climb with a partner that asserts total control when on lead; whether it’s a single pitch sport route or a multi-pitch trad adventure. When I’m on belay, I accept responsibility for the safety of the lead climber, and expect the same from my belayer when the roles reverse.



You did an excellent job of writing a diplomatic version of what I was thinking. Very well written and I couldn't agree more.

There seems to be some conflicting views here on the belayers roll and I don't think there is a correct response just a lesson to be learned and that is to have good communication with your climbing partner and make sure you're on the same page and well fitted for one another.

I respect EFR a lot for example but I don't fully agree with his view on it. I also don't totally disagree. If I were out belaying him I would default to his 100 plus years of climbing experience (even though he doesn't look a day over 32) and I would give him the belay he wants. On the flip side many of the people I climb with haven't been climbing as long as me and have too much ego, youth and so on in the way so I would be more inclined to take a much more active roll in their belay or go as far as to refuse belaying them without taking some reasonable safety precautions.

At the end of the day, thank you very much for sharing Kelsey and thank you all for responding in such a productive manner. Though admittedly I don't fully get Buff's comment about partner dynamics and removing that first picture.


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By Brigette
From Seattle, WA
Dec 8, 2009
At the anchors.

Adam Block wrote:
Though admittedly I don't fully get Buff's comment about partner dynamics and removing that first picture.



I had to stew on Buff's comment for a while, too. What I eventually came up with is the following: Maybe it would be better to have a discussion about what an (unnamed) individual may have done correctly or incorrectly without having a fairly easily-identifiable picture of them up there.

Although, the injured individual did give an interview for the news and has already posted on the internet a clear shot of himself strapped to the litter. Perhaps he's not so disinclined to share his story.


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By Adam Block
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 8, 2009

Yeah, that's what I was thinking, I wondered at first if the issue was her taking pictures of the whole thing, I knew he wanted pictures taken but Buff wouldn't have known that.

I didn't think it was an issue of her posting the picture as most people wouldn't know who that was from that picture. I saw the whole thing as them having different views on what should have been done so I wouldn't say anything negative about his choices and I didn't see Kelsey as doing that either. He went for it, it didn't work out, I'm a scared ass overly cautious climbing, some aren't, I both wish I was more like and happy I'm not like the ones who aren't.

I don't know but I'm also not the smartest guy around so that may have something to do with it.


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By Buff Johnson
Dec 8, 2009
smiley face

Some kinda get where that point was coming from.

If you describe a blog where the climber puts up their own stuff and broadcasts out their mindset; or discuss the process by which someone came to have an accident/incident; I have no problem with the discussion. I don't think anyone would, it's a learning process. Technical climbing can be a highly involved team activity.

Sometimes stupid decisions are made, sometimes shit just happens.

When you post up pics in the public eye where someone else had a bad day and is injured, that should come from the climber or the climber's family (or with a note from the family to say please discuss this).

One thing I usually enjoy with this community is that climbers usually keep things between themselves & partners and discuss only the issues at hand; whereas the paparazzi peak-baggers are posting pics left & right about how someone came to plaster themselves in epic fashion on the hillside for the world to take a gander. I think that can be just plain mean in some respects.


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By Jon Ruland
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 8, 2009
sending Hard Day at the Orifice

heh, i did the same thing on this climb, sans the decking. i also did another 5.8 or so mixed route without gear up at green slabs. both times my girlfriend was belaying me. just coincidence of course. i wasn't trying to impress her, i swears.

i wish you both a speedy physical and emotional recovery.


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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Dec 9, 2009
tanuki

Hi Kelsey.

Thanks for giving a first-hand account of the accident. I wish you and the climber the best in recovering from this accident. I am glad that the outcome was not worse.

I was wondering if you could clarify one thing for me; how did you get the burns on your hands? I do not understand what you mean by "creating tension on his line to slow him down." Were you trying to take in slack while he was falling and then were unable to lock-off?

Thanks in advance for the clarification. Again, my best wishes to all concerned for a speedy recovery.


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By Kelsey Rentchler
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 10, 2009
Solitary Confinement

What i meant by creating tension on the line was: I had my left hand on break, had take up as much slack as possible that way but at the last minute I realized there was still too much rope so with my right hand I jumped up and grabbed the climbers side of the rope to create tension while still breaking with my left.


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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Dec 10, 2009
tanuki

Thanks for the clarification.

Again, my best wishes to the climber and you for a speedy recovery.


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