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Condition & accident report: Fixed lines on death Slabs (Half Dome)
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By tallmark515
From San Francisco
Jun 19, 2013
Red Zinger - Red Rocks

FYI...

On 6/15 my partner and I were approaching HD for our first time via death slabs. At the third set of fixed lines, we followed the party ahead of us and attempted to use the fixed lines on the climbers right (at the rappel). Just to the left of the rappel lines, there is a shorter white (not climbing rope) line tied to a tree in a gully. Moments after complaining about the sketchiness of the line, it snapped on me and sent me sliding about 100 feet down the 5th class slabs. Fortunately, after being slowed down by a bush and after a collision with my partner, I stopped at a dirt ledge just before the small drop off.

I want to make it clear that the line the broke WAS NOT climbing rope (or static line), it looked like hardware store rope. After the accident, we opted to use the fixed lines on the climbers left of the gully (which seemed to be the "correct" approach lines). All other fixed lines on the approach (and descent) are climbing rope and/or static lines and in most cases are either doubled or tripled up and seem to be in decent condition.

The other half of the line is still up there attached to the tree... don't use it (obviously) and be careful out there!

I included a modified topo for reference:

death slabs topo
death slabs topo


...And this photo
death slabs photo
death slabs photo


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By The Phoenix
Jun 19, 2013
The Phoenix

Um.. this might be a dumb question but, why didn't you use the rappel lines? You almost earned yourself a Darwin Award.


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By rock_fencer
From Columbia, SC
Jun 19, 2013
Myself placing a a blue/yellow offset MC to protect between Bolt 2/3 just post crux . <br /> <br />Picture credit goes to eric Singleton, and many thanks to Josh Bagget for the great belay.

glad your okay! is the spring up there still running with water?


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By tallmark515
From San Francisco
Jun 19, 2013
Red Zinger - Red Rocks

The Phoenix wrote:
Um.. this might be a dumb question but, why didn't you use the rappel lines? You almost earned yourself a Darwin Award.


We had never been up there before, we followed the party in front of us and took, what appeared to be, the path of least resistance. Besides, the rappel route is also not the way to go up.

Yes, the spring is still running.


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By The Phoenix
Jun 19, 2013
The Phoenix

Good point... guess u just got stuck in the herd mentality and learned your lesson without much pain. Sorry u decked.


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By Muff
Jun 19, 2013
.

Glad you're ok and thanks for posting about this. Despite what Phoenix says, I think you made an honest mistake. A lot of climbing areas, specifically the Valley tend to be filled with tat and old fixed lines that should be removed. It makes me shudder the amount of core shots I've seen on fixed lines in the Valley. The rope you hung onto sounded pretty janky too. It begs the question of why it was there in the first place but it might have been legit when first placed? Either way, I like to assume that I might be the last person on a fixed line and test them accordingly prior to hopping onto them.

Cheers,
Muff


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By The Phoenix
Jun 19, 2013
The Phoenix

Muff wrote:
Glad you're ok and thanks for posting about this. Despite what Phoenix says, I think you made an honest mistake. A lot of climbing areas, specifically the Valley tend to be filled with tat and old fixed lines that should be removed. It makes me shudder the amount of core shots I've seen on fixed lines in the Valley. The rope you hung onto sounded pretty janky too. It begs the question of why it was there in the first place but it might have been legit when first placed? Either way, I like to assume that I might be the last person on a fixed line and test them accordingly prior to hopping onto them. Cheers, Muff


I didn't say it was a dishonest mistake. . . said he followed the herd and paid the price. Map above pretty clearly shows fixed lines for ascending on the left, no?

tallmark515 wrote:
"After the accident, we opted to use the fixed lines on the climbers left of the gully (which seemed to be the "correct" approach lines)."


Why didn't you use these ropes to begin with rather then sketch out and fall on something that was obviously inadeqate? Maybe you didn't have the topo or something but that's the question I would be asking in trying to analyze an accident.


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