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Fallen Climber on Bastille Crack 8/21/2010
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By Nickie Kelly
From CO
Aug 21, 2010

Does anyone know how the climber that fell off the Bastille Crack today is doing? He fell moving off the flake on P1. Looked like his pro didn't hold and he decked. Emergency response was quick. Sending prayers his way.


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By David Pyatt
Aug 21, 2010

Yes, I was on the NW Corner and saw him fall. He fell from the slippery crux on the Bastille crack and pulled out 2 pieces, the highest of which was placed in the large flake to the right of the actual crack. I couldn't tell if the pieces slowed him down as he fell or if they just popped...in any event, he hit the ground pretty hard. The rescue folks were there within 15 minutes...quite impressive, even if he was actually laying in the road. I hope he is doing OK and will allow the climbers themselves to discuss injuries if they so desire.


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By Chris Plesko
From Westminster, CO
Aug 21, 2010
OMG, I winz!!!

Best wishes to the fallen climber. That foothold is slick as hell. Tall people can reach gear into the main crack system and stem above that move but I'm not sure what the lower limit on that is. Hope everything turns out okay and glad rescue could be there so soon.


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By Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Aug 21, 2010
RMNP skiing. Photo by Nodin de Saillan

Noticed the dried blood at about noon... Looked like a lot of it. I hope he is ok!


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By bsavage
Aug 25, 2010

donald is recovering at a boulder hospital with a broken pelvis and a couple other injuries. He is expected to make a full recovery. long but full recovery. thank you all for your thoughts and concerns.


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By AJS
From Boulder, CO
Aug 26, 2010
In the sea of Cortez - Baja California, Mexico

Best to Donald - that's a scary move.


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Aug 26, 2010
Bocan

I haven't climbed the Bastille yet, but what gives with the zippering pro? Is everyone placing nuts?

Curious as this is the 3rd (?) serouis injury in the past few years on the BC due to zippering pro.


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By timt
From Wheat Ridge, CO
Aug 26, 2010
on lead, Mean Green Cody,WY

Scott McMahon wrote:
I haven't climbed the Bastille yet, but what gives with the zippering pro? Is everyone placing nuts? Curious as this is the 3rd (?) serouis injury in the past few years on the BC due to zippering pro.


WARNING: SHAMELESS BETA
i have climbed the bastille more times than i can count and have "coached" several people on it when breaking from 5.7-8 as a good start in that range. the caveat i ALWAYS emphasize is place a peice BEFORE trying the move into the crack. it isn't (very?) height dependent (i am barely 5'9" and 1 guy i climbed with did it who is maybe 5'6"-ish). the thing is the 1st peice you get is not comforting and many skip it. the 2nd peice is often behind the huge flake. under a large force (i.e.--a fall) this flake will expand and your well placed cam can fall right out. a stopper might be better, but don't trust it for the crux move. simpy reach across, plug something into the crack, THEN commit to the moves. there is no reason most people (can't speak for the really short) can't do the crux with a virtual top rope.

this is a problem in a lot of eldo rock that i think "gets" 1st time climbers there. you can make a text book gear placement, but if the rock flexes it will come right out. i also believe this is what has made the 1st 30-40' of werk-supp so notorius. there are placements, but i doubt most would hold under force.

glad to hear Donald is going to be ok! while not as severe as your injuries, i am nursing a broken foot from a climbing fall earlier this season and it is rough but persevere and you will be back at it before you know it!


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By Phillip Morris
From Flavor Country
Aug 26, 2010
1234

Best wishes to Donald on a full recovery.

Scott McMahon wrote:
I haven't climbed the Bastille yet, but what gives with the zippering pro? Is everyone placing nuts? Curious as this is the 3rd (?) serouis injury in the past few years on the BC due to zippering pro.


Where you stem across from the big hollow flake to the actual Bastille crack, the crack is not very uniform. The crack widens as it goes deeper into the formation. I place a .5 or .75 inch cam at this point, I've climbed with others that place a stopper. You need to take the time to be sure that your placement is in a spot where it won't walk deeper into the crack and becomes useless. If you look into the crack you'll see multiple nuts that have fallen into the abyss.


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By Shawn Mitchell
From Broomfield
Aug 26, 2010
Splitter Jams on the Israel/Palestine Security Wall.

PhilMo has a bit of a point; the crack can be weird there. Still, as Timt says, that's where the good placements are; not back right in the flaring flake. I used to place a large cam in the flair and it might have held. But step/leaning left to the actual crack is where solid placements can be had.

EDIT: Of course I extend best wishes to the injured climber. I think this bit of discussion about climbing the route safely is a worthy add on that may help a learner who reads the thread.


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By Rick Blair
From Denver
Aug 26, 2010
This is a novel auto blocking belay device.  I think it works quite well, depending on rope thickness and sheath quality, it belays very smooth.  Great to lower with.  You gotta love over engineering.  $3 at a gear swap!

Shawn, I have zero bravery as a climber and I find myself looking for routes which have cruxes I can place pro up above. I have always been intimidated to climb this due to the attention this route draws, glad to know that at least it fits my style.

This thread is also making me think twice about relying on flakes for protection, especially with cams. I am not sure to what extent I do already but I will be more mindful going forward.

I hope Donald comes away without lasting injury.


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By Jeff Fiedler
Aug 26, 2010

Note that the route description here on MP has some great photos, clearly showing the wingspan needed to get gear in before leaving the flexi-flake.


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By Joe Huggins
From Grand Junction
Aug 26, 2010
mmmm....tree

Bob Packwood wrote:
Best wishes to Donald. What a greasy pitch. GREASY!

Yeah. This strikes me as one of the climbs I am familiar with that has been most impacted by traffic. Thirty years ago it was already getting polished by hundreds of hands; now it is much, much smoother. I would rate it solidly in the 5.8 range now. Most folks can get a comfortable stem with left foot at the base of the crack; using the opportunity to place reliable pro. The mistake you see a lot is using gear in the hollow flake without a long enough sling. With the angle of the crack, (relative to the plane of the face), this is a recipe for disaster. This is not a beginners lead.


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By Price
From SLC, UT
Aug 26, 2010

Rick Blair wrote:
This thread is also making me think twice about relying on flakes for protection, especially with cams. I am not sure to what extent I do already but I will be more mindful going forward. I hope Donald comes away without lasting injury.



Hoping the best to the injured climber as well.

  • Note that cams and nuts work in the same way - by transferring downward force to outward force. Don't think that by placing a nut you're always going to solve the flexing-flake problem.


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By kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Aug 26, 2010
Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks

Price wrote:
*Note that cams and nuts work in the same way - by transferring downward force to outward force. Don't think that by placing a nut you're always going to solve the flexing-flake problem.


While this is partially true, it is also of note that a nut is a much better choice than a cam in an expanding flake due to the fact that the friction between the rock an the nut helps to limit the expanding action. In a cam the only limiting friction is between the cam lobes and the axel, which is virtually non existent.

edit to add: best of wishes to the injured climber.


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By Erik W
From Bay Area, CA
Aug 26, 2010
North face of Ama Dablam - taken on approach to Kongma La.

Freaky place to peel, best wishes to Donald definitely. In terms of the fall spot, my take is he fell on what I consider the crux, namely that grease-slick left foot hold to pull up into the flake on the right - not the reach/step across to get in the BC proper. Am I off on that understanding? The pro for the stop across is pretty bomber I think (.5), it's the pro protecting that move up to the flake that's dicey. I had my foot skid out on that grease hold once a couple years ago and I swear 50 hairs swan-dived off my head right then and there, while another 50 instantly went gray. Spooky spot.

Again best to wishes on the recovery.


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By thedogfather
From Las Vegas, NV
Aug 26, 2010

Showing "normal" cam low and good nut behind the flake.  I always move over pretty low.
Showing "normal" cam low and good nut behind the flake. I always move over pretty low.


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By Shawn Mitchell
From Broomfield
Aug 27, 2010
Splitter Jams on the Israel/Palestine Security Wall.

Erik W wrote:
Freaky place to peel, best wishes to Donald definitely. In terms of the fall spot, my take is he fell on what I consider the crux, namely that grease-slick left foot hold to pull up into the flake on the right - not the reach/step across to get in the BC proper. Am I off on that understanding? The pro for the stop across is pretty bomber I think (.5), it's the pro protecting that move up to the flake that's dicey. I had my foot skid out on that grease hold once a couple years ago and I swear 50 hairs swan-dived off my head right then and there, while another 50 instantly went gray. Spooky spot. Again best to wishes on the recovery.

Interesting, Erik. When David mentioned crux, I guess we all just translated it to our own view of the crux. Now that you mention it, that step up to the flake might be the most tenuous move of the climb. I usually place a #1 Metolius under the flake, but always wonder how far the rock would expand in a fall.

But reconsidering now, I think folks' first impression was probably right. You have to be over the step and up on the ledge between the flake and the crack in order to place gear where the flake is "large" as David describes.


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By Jeff Fiedler
Aug 27, 2010

Sorry if this is thread drift, but I think relevant to avoiding a fall on this climb.

What to people think about the claim above:
[While this is partially true, it is also of note that a nut is a much better choice than a cam in an expanding flake due to the fact that the friction between the rock an the nut helps to limit the expanding action. In a cam the only limiting friction is between the cam lobes and the axel, which is virtually non existent.]

Seems to me that with a cam at least you have a hope that the cam will expand with the expanding flake, and stay in. Whereas a nut might conceivably catch higher up the wedge of the nut, but you have much less room for error. My hunch is a cam would be more forgiving?

Either way, seems like flakes are sketchy pro when a groundfall is the consequence.


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By David Pyatt
Aug 27, 2010

From where I was standing, he had already committed to the crack...ie stepped left and perhaps was thinking about protecting there in the crack proper when he fell. His last piece was approximately in the same spot as the top piece shown in the photo above, and was therefore below him by a few feet and off to his right side. He would have generated some force by the time his fall came onto the stopper.


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By Craig Quincy
Aug 27, 2010

Bummer. That is indeed a tricky and greasy section. I hope he has a full recovery.


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By Greg D
From Here
Aug 27, 2010
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W. <br />

Jeff Fiedler wrote:
Sorry if this is thread drift, but I think relevant to avoiding a fall on this climb. What to people think about the claim above: [While this is partially true, it is also of note that a nut is a much better choice than a cam in an expanding flake due to the fact that the friction between the rock an the nut helps to limit the expanding action. In a cam the only limiting friction is between the cam lobes and the axel, which is virtually non existent.] Seems to me that with a cam at least you have a hope that the cam will expand with the expanding flake, and stay in. Whereas a nut might conceivably catch higher up the wedge of the nut, but you have much less room for error. My hunch is a cam would be more forgiving? Either way, seems like flakes are sketchy pro when a groundfall is the consequence.


I think the point he was trying to make was somewhat valid but not for the reasons he claims. To put it simply, a cam depends critically on friction between the lobes and the rock. Also, a cam converts downward force into outward force to create this friction. So, in general, cams exert more outward force than nuts.

One example: if you have a perfect taper for a nut you could lube it up with vaseline and it won't come out unless you brake the rock. But, if you ever lube up the lobes of a cam, you're facked. Cams critically depends on friction. Nuts benefit from friction, but don't need it when well chocked.

On the Bastille "flake" if you fall on a cam and the flake expands, the cam must expand at the same rate while maintaining friction resulting from the outward force. But, the flake is expanding because of the outward force. If the flake expansion is not restricted, the cam will not hold.

Bottom line, if a flake seems at all suspect of expanding, a nut may be a better placement because it may exert less outward force on the flake.


Btw, when I climb the BC, I always place two cams under the flake because they seem to fit better than any nut. But, I would never fall on them intentionally because of the expanding flake possibility. Then, I reach across and make sure I have at least one, if not two pieces in the crack before I step across.


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By Alex A
Aug 28, 2010
4th pitch Rewritten

I'm amazed looking at all the photos, how many people only have one  piece of gear to protect, the flake move, I use 2 to 3 pieces, traverse to crack, then some good gear, I think its safer vs going up flake, then moving left, the flake could flex on the 3rd piece with a fall, but the 2nd piece would be good,  <br /> <br />get well soon, it sucks to be injured, <br />
I'm amazed looking at all the photos, how many people only have one piece of gear to protect, the flake move, I use 2 to 3 pieces, traverse to crack, then some good gear, I think its safer vs going up flake, then moving left, the flake could flex on the 3rd piece with a fall, but the 2nd piece would be good,

get well soon, it sucks to be injured,


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By Donald Budlong
Sep 12, 2010

Hey to all of you asking about me, Donald, the guy who fell from the Bastille Crack a few weeks ago. First, thanks so much for your concern, prayers and interest, second, i feel so blessed to be alive and breathing as it could have ended up so much worse, it is hard to describe a near death experience, third to the emergency crew at El Dorado is the best. I think they were there with in 3-5 minutes,outstanding work from those three or four guys.
I have climbed the Bastille about 6 times, and had already climbed Works Up just before my fall. But this was the first time leading it. I would suggest 2 or 3 pieces of gear before the move as the hands are a little desperate and the feet aren't really there, but that is just me now. My brother was my belayer, he has been working with JHMG for over 8 years now and has given me the confidence you need for trad. I am lucky to have seen such amazing climbing by just watching him. He was there when i needed him most and because he was there i don't think i freaked out like i might of.Thanks Darren, love you bro, and thanks to all who have been asking about me, means so much.

If you would like any more info about this incident, you can e-mail me at dwb08@mail.com. Thanks again


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By Micahisaac
From Longmont, CO
Sep 13, 2010
soloing Boulder Canyon Upper Falls

Thanks for the update Donald. Hope you're going to be alright, and I hope you fully recover and get back on the rock.


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