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Dangerous Fiasco on Alexander's Chimney Tuesday
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By Christian Mason
From Arvada, CO
Oct 27, 2012
Dragon's Tongue - Vail, Co.

We climbed Alexander’s Chimney Tuesday. We encountered a party of three at the parking lot and arrived at the base around 30-45 minutes before then. My partner stared on a variant around 20 feet to the left of the normal start was forced to belay below the p1 crux step due to rope drag. We were then passed by the same party (that was not moving faster than us) without asking, and then bombed with dinner plates.

I was faced with the choice of staying in the drop zone (directly under the crux of p1) or passing them in turn and exposing their seconds to my ice fall. I do regret dropping a big plate on one of the people in their party, but felt I was faced with a choice between continued risk to myself, or exposing the party that did not have right of way, and that chose to climb behind us to risk. I chose the former. While I climbed, their second followed on my heels (so close that I would’ve fallen on her should I have fallen) and managed to stand on my lead rope.

I ran the rope up to a screw belay below p3. As I passed, their leader (to his credit) apologized for taking the belay. I said not to worry about it, but that the way they passed us was not safe. They then leapfrogged us a second time and made a beeline for the belay at the bottom of p3. I pointed out to one of the climbers that their actions were unsafe, and that the normal etiquette was not to pass without asking. His response was that “I could’ve stayed where I was” and “it’s a national park”.

We elected to wait at a safe distance, do p3 and rap rather than attempt to finish the route and be involved in the fiasco any further.

As far as I know, alpine mixed routes are not a big wall, and passing another party without asking is still rude. Rude is one thing, but passing another party without asking, climbing directly above them and then acting dismissive when called on it is totally uncalled for, not to mention careless with other people’s safety. On a route than funnels falling objects like Alexander’s, this is not just a matter of etiquette, but a danger of exposing the party below you to real physical harm. We arrived at the route first so that we did not have to climb underneath another party. Had someone else beat us to the route, we would’ve bailed.

I’m attempting to take the high road here. While I am posting this under my real, full name, I’m not naming anyone else involved. They are of course free to respond here if they care to.


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By Jeff Kent
From Sedona, Az
Oct 27, 2012

If they weren't moving faster than you, how did they pass you twice? If you know there is another party heading to the route, that's no time to be trying variations. I have done Alexanders a couple of times and agree with you that it's no place to be behind a group. They made it dangerous for all involved. Of course, it is ice climbing.


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By Reginald McChufferton
Oct 27, 2012

I haven't been a member here very long so pardon me for asking but...whats with all the posts on this site pissing and moaning about stupid little encounters that we all have at the crags from time to time. This site seems to coddle the weak and cater to the lowest common denominator with it's over zealous editing and deleting of comments yet they let whinny little diatribes like this go on and on, page after page.

As far as I can tell from your story (please correct me if I'm wrong) you, a party of two, beat a party of three to the base of a climb by 45 minutes and were subsequently passed by them when you chose to climb a different, and perhaps even unknown to the offending party, variation of the climb they intended to do. Rather than waiting for them you then proceeded to leap frog them up the climb and they in turn passed you again.

You then decided to come on this website and cry about it in the vain attempt to garner sympathy for yourself rather than just going home and getting stronger and faster so that you don't get passed by a team of three gumbies on an easy ice climb.

Sounds to me like you don't know how to play well with others any better than the people you ran into on your climb.


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By Christian Mason
From Arvada, CO
Oct 27, 2012
Dragon's Tongue - Vail, Co.

@Jeff:
you're correct. I've done Alexander's twice before. There was less snow at the base than the previous two times, and starting on the variant was an accident. This did burn a lot of the lead we had on the other party. After this, we were moving at roughly the same pace (they passed, we passed, they passed, we bailed.).

I am not claiming that I handled everything perfectly. I'm also not naming the people involved. I waited until today to post this because I wanted to be sure I wasn't just reacting out of anger. This isn't about my being offended, it's about another party creating an extremely unsafe situation.


@Regina: To respond, this isn't 'pissing and moaning about little encounters'.
This isn't me being offended about someone being rude. This is me being offended about someone disregarding basic climbing etiquette and endangering our safety.

You're correct that we started with a variant. However, to leapfrog us the party had to climb directly over us as outlined in my write up.
I'll also be the first to admit it would have been better on my part to bail at that point, rather than passing the party again because I felt I had been wronged. That would have been safer, and I admit that I let an offended ego get in the way of my judgment there.

Passing other people on rock is fine, with communication. Passing other people in a chimney route that funnels ice, then acting entitled when called on it is not.


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By Benjamin Chapman
From Small Town, USA
Oct 27, 2012
old 1/4" bolt.

Christian.....although new to the site, Reginald ("Welcome!") seems to have hit the nail on the head. You and your partner, no doubt, had some idea that the party of three was headed to the same route and hustled to the base in an attempt to get on the route 1st. Then, your party committed a number of classic "gumby" errors by starting up a variation to the climb you intended to do, hindering your efforts by coming up short on the 1st pitch, and letting a "slower" party of three out climb you and your partner to the P1 anchor. Subsequently, as Kent noted, your party allowed the party of three to out climb you, a 2nd time on P3. As much as I hate to jump on the bandwagon and beat you up for complaining, I am in total agreement with Reginald about your gaff regarding your actions at the crag and your quest for sympathy on Mountain Project. Christian..to your credit you waited 24 hours or more to cool off and post, but if you had prior experience on Alexander's Chimney you certainly had the knowledge and experience to handle to situation without creating all this drama. Better luck next time.


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By Reginald McChufferton
Oct 27, 2012

Christian Mason wrote:
This is me being offended about someone disregarding basic climbing etiquette and endangering our safety.



Thanks for letting us all know that you're butt hurt about getting passed by three faster and stronger gumbies. On an easy ice climb. Hope you feel better.


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By Benjamin Chapman
From Small Town, USA
Oct 27, 2012
old 1/4" bolt.

Reginald....you were spot on regarding your assessment of Christian's post, but there's no need to get "snarky." You made your point..


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By Taylor-B.
From CO & AK
Oct 27, 2012
Mt. Churchill, University Range

Train harder to climb faster and do your route beta homework. There are so many routes in that cirque for every one to climb.


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By CJC
Oct 27, 2012

you weren't 'rudely passed'. you were off route.

following people up ice climbs is just plain stupid...racing them up one is even worse.

not sure what you hoped to accomplish by posting your story but I sure hope it wasn't sympathy.

Internet forums are no place to look for a shoulder to cry on...at least they shouldn't be. but usually are.


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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Oct 27, 2012
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV

another reason in the long list of "why I do not climb ice".


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By dfrancom
From Anchorage, AK
Oct 27, 2012
Santaquin

Christian, I support you! Even if you are the slower party, those behind you should respect that and back off. Why is everyone attacking you for your complaint? because they think they are bad ass climbers who are better than others. Entitled, and ego driven climbers who bring shame to a sport where being polite and making friends was always the first rule. Another reason why the new ego drive generation of climbers should stick to the gym where they can show off their superior talent to others. Alright, I'm done ranting now!


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By Reginald McChufferton
Oct 27, 2012

Benjamin Chapman wrote:
Reginald....you were spot on regarding your assessment of Christian's post, but there's no need to get "snarky." You made your point..


So now you're butt hurt about my comment about someone else being butt hurt?

Perhaps a moderator can modify my comments to please you.

My sincere apologies.


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By Jeff Kent
From Sedona, Az
Oct 27, 2012

dfrancom wrote:
Christian, I support you! Even if you are the slower party those behind you should respect that and back off. Why is everyone attacking you for your complaint? because they think they are bad ass climbers who are better than others. Entitled, and ego driven climbers who bring shame to a sport where being polite and making friends was always the first rule. Another reason why the new ego drive generation of climbers should stick to the gym where they can show off their superior talent to others. Alright, I'm done ranting now!


Since when was being polite and making friends the rule? If you are too slow or get lost then you get passed, by people who probably train in a gym.


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By Taylor-B.
From CO & AK
Oct 27, 2012
Mt. Churchill, University Range

Sounds like a rat race from the parking lot. Maybe the Climbing Rangers should put in some new climber/hiker registration forms at the trail-head to give people an idea of who's on what route. I like how the Black Canyon has a dry erase board for climbers to sign in and out on.


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By Noah8000
From Vail, CO
Oct 27, 2012
The transfer to ice...in this case a horizontal, weird roof since the curtain broke off. Photo by Cody Olsen.

I support Christian 100%.....The starting variation they took on P1 is still part of the route. He belayed on route and was proceeded to be passed by three others that obviously didn't care about the danger they were putting them in.

This isn't big wall climbing people, or rock climbing for that matter. Think and be respectful. Plenty of other routes in conditions up there right now.....routes better then Alexanders. If someone is on "your" route, go get on something else.


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Oct 27, 2012
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

Rowdy Wrangellian wrote:
Sounds like a rat race from the parking lot. Maybe the Climbing Rangers should put in some new climber/hiker registration forms at the trail-head to give people an idea of who's on what route. I like how the Black Canyon has a dry erase board for climbers to sign in and out on.


great, more regulation!


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By dfrancom
From Anchorage, AK
Oct 27, 2012
Santaquin

Bump for Noah8000. These impatient climbers are the guys who want to be on the cover of climbing magazine and they want everyone else to move out of the way. As Noah8000 said, plenty of routes, go find anther one!


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By Jeff Kent
From Sedona, Az
Oct 27, 2012

dfrancom wrote:
Bump for Noah8000. These impatient climbers are the guys who want to be on the cover of climbing magazine and they want everyone else to move out of the way. As Noah8000 said, plenty of routes, go find anther one!


Not many routes in that area at that grade.


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By Ed Rhine
Oct 27, 2012

On an alpine climb starting 20 ft to the left does not really mean you are off route and either way you belayed on the route. If you are there first... its your route. Really the way it is and should be. Those other people can wake up earlier or get in better shape for the approach if you beat them. There is no excuse for this type of crap. It would be like clipping someone elses gear on a rock route... you just dont do it. Lucky for them, you were polite.


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By Taylor-B.
From CO & AK
Oct 27, 2012
Mt. Churchill, University Range

Nick, if you don't like regulations then maybe you shouldn't be a paramedic. Providing a registration board/book is another resource for us climbers to make our journey into the mountains more enjoyable and safer, it can provide info on what routes people are on and the conditions that they encountered. I was bummed to see the Longs Peak TH registration book in shambles with pages missing and torn out.

Christian had the right of way being the first ones leading up the climb. If you want the route to your self just start kicking down chunks of ice and rock to scare them off!


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By Noah8000
From Vail, CO
Oct 27, 2012
The transfer to ice...in this case a horizontal, weird roof since the curtain broke off. Photo by Cody Olsen.

Jeff Kent wrote:
Not many routes in that area at that grade.


As far as I'm concerned, harden up and go do something else or go home. Flying Dutchman is in well. There's a moderate option. Notch is in, another option. North Chimney is climbable. That's M4 as well. Go find a new variation or go explore. Fields....etc....No excuses here except being elitist and expecting everyone to move out of your way. This isn't Yosemite.


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By Jeremy Monahan
From Fort Fun, CO
Oct 27, 2012
View of Longs Peak from Mt. Alice, RMNP

Pay no heed to McDoucherton. Anyone dumb enough to follow another party up the same alpine climb at approximately the same time they are on the route deserves whatever ice is kicked down at them.

This could have been a very dangerous situation if anybody screwed up and fell, so saying the OP is "pissing and moaning" is missing the point completely. The party of three was, in my opinion, very irresponsible to try and pass the first party for a number of reasons. It is beyond the point of rudeness to pass a party on a gully/chimney climb like Alexander's, it is downright dangerous.

And the national park excuse (from the party of 3, according to the OP) is just kinda sad. What does the fact that you are climbing in an NP excuse you from?


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By Jeff Kent
From Sedona, Az
Oct 27, 2012

Ed Rhine wrote:
On an alpine climb starting 20 ft to the left does not really mean you are off route and either way you belayed on the route. If you are there first... its your route. Really the way it is and should be. Those other people can wake up earlier or get in better shape for the approach if you beat them. There is no excuse for this type of crap. It would be like clipping someone elses gear on a rock route... you just dont do it. Lucky for them, you were polite.


Bullshit. If I run myself into the ground to get to a route before you, have no energy left to lead the route efficiently, and tell you I was there first so the route is mine, you would be alright with that?


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By Jeff Kent
From Sedona, Az
Oct 27, 2012

Noah8000 wrote:
As far as I'm concerned, harden up and go do something else or go home. Flying Dutchman is in well. There's a moderate option. Notch is in, another option. North Chimney is climbable. That's M4 as well. Go find a new variation or go explore. Fields....etc....No excuses here except being elitist and expecting everyone to move out of your way. This isn't Yosemite.


Yeah, just jog on up to the Notch!? The Notch is a LOT further, and Fields is a good deal harder. Have you been on these routes?


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Oct 27, 2012
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

Rowdy Wrangellian wrote:
Nick, if you don't like regulations then maybe you shouldn't be a paramedic. Providing a registration board/book is another resource for us climbers to make our journey into the mountains more enjoyable and safer, it can provide info on what routes people are on and the conditions that they encountered. I was bummed to see the Longs Peak TH registration book in shambles with pages missing and torn out. Christian had the right of way being the first ones leading up the climb. If you want the route to your self just start kicking down chunks of ice and rock to scare them off!


I agree with you. My job sucks too btw :) but it affords me the ability to climb so I deal.


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By Ed Rhine
Oct 27, 2012

Jeff-- thats a bit different...and it does not sound like that was the case. They could have both been sprinting to get there but someone was still there first and climbing first and another party chose to continue to climb.... on a mixed route. No kosher in my book but go right ahead.


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