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Central Gully?

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Postby lordvoldemort » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:20 pm

We was there right below him. We saw him rappelling down and then losing his rope. Our guide actually got the rope. My partner saw him glissading and lose control immediately. The next thing I know is he is sliding down at top speed.
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Postby kozman18 » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:40 pm

Regardless of how the fall began, why did this climber's partners allow him to rappel alone when he appears (from the reports) to lack the experience to do so? Maybe there's more to this story, but if the description of his ability is accurate, and he was my partner, I would have either descended with him or made him complete the climb.
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Postby JonW » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:53 pm

kozman18 wrote:Regardless of how the fall began, why did this climber's partners allow him to rappel alone when he appears (from the reports) to lack the experience to do so? Maybe there's more to this story, but if the description of his ability is accurate, and he was my partner, I would have either descended with him or made him complete the climb.


Exactly. I was wondering the same thing. With help from other parties on the route, he was able to rap down the steepest sections. But with frozen feet, hiking down the slopes at the base of the route, combined with the icy snow conditions, would not have been easy. I would question the entire party's experience level. Perhaps more information will surface in the coming days.
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Postby Alpinisto » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:58 pm

lordvoldemort wrote:We was there right below him. We saw him rappelling down and then losing his rope. Our guide actually got the rope. My partner saw him glissading and lose control immediately. The next thing I know is he is sliding down at top speed.


I'm confused (SOP for me, so nothing personal): When you say "losing his rope" do you mean he rapped off the end of it? Or did he pull and coil it after the rap and then drop it when he was carrying it whilst hiking?

Thanks.
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Postby Parenteau » Wed Mar 18, 2009 2:23 pm

My partners and I were just getting to Huntington when a guy ran past us and told us about the fall. When we saw the guy, he was being helped by a few people. My one partner stayed and helped out, while myself and my other partner ran and got the rescue sled. He was pretty banged up, bloody face, broken femur, and definitely getting hypothermic from the blood loss. It was a good group effort by everyone involved.

From talking with people who saw the fall, apparently after finishing a rappel, when the rope was dropped to him, he missed it. He attempted to glissade over to it, and then lost control. The guy is very lucky.
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Postby JonW » Wed Mar 18, 2009 2:38 pm

Parenteau wrote:From talking with people who saw the fall, apparently after finishing a rappel, when the rope was dropped to him, he missed it. He attempted to glissade over to it, and then lost control.


This would make sense. The third and final rappel probably put him right below the ice bulge. It's still pretty steep there. The rappel started over to the right of the gulley, so he had to angle back left to rap the bulge and thus was not directly under the anchor when the rope was dropped. The rope likely fell to his right. At the point I was helping him with the second rap, he was wearing very bulky down mittens reducing his ability to handle the rope.
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Postby waltereo » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:39 pm

Parenteau wrote:
From talking with people who saw the fall, apparently after finishing a rappel, when the rope was dropped to him, he missed it. He attempted to glissade over to it, and then lost control. The guy is very lucky.


So when he was trying to catch the rope he lost his balance or he missed the rope then decide to glissade to take the rope ??
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Postby Parenteau » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:50 pm

waltereo wrote:
Parenteau wrote:
From talking with people who saw the fall, apparently after finishing a rappel, when the rope was dropped to him, he missed it. He attempted to glissade over to it, and then lost control. The guy is very lucky.


So when he was trying to catch the rope he lost his balance or he missed the rope then decide to glissade to take the rope ??


I believe he missed the rope and decided to glissade to where the rope ended up.
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Postby AlexeyD » Wed Mar 18, 2009 4:11 pm

Ouch! I was also in the Presidentials this weekend and know exactly how slick the surface was. It's the type of surface where you really have to be in the "don't fall under any circumstances" mentality - watching every step, the same as when you climb solo. Certainly not the conditions for glissading! However, based on the various accounts it sounds like this guy was in over his head and pretty scared, and we all know that in such situations it's common to lose your cool and start doing irrational things. It's happened to many of us I'm sure - certainly to me. Here's to a speedy recovery, and lessons learned!
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Postby welle » Wed Mar 18, 2009 4:11 pm

JonW wrote:
welle wrote:From what I heard that day from other climbers who were climbing closer to the scene, the guy was climbing Central gully with two partners, decided to bail from the top of the first pitch (his partners pressed on), rapped down, lost his rope, tried to get it by glissading and lost control.


Sorry, but this is not completely correct. I was there on Saturday and saw some really wierd things go down. The climber who fell actually was very close to topping out on the Alpine Garden. He completed three single-stranded raps to get to the bottom of the ice buldge.

The first was from the rap station at the top of Central and his rope was tied-off to the rap anchor. He had another party untie his rope once he had established himself after the first rap. I built him an anchor using pickets for the second rap, tied his rope to the anchor and then dropped his rope down to him once he was off rappel. Apparently he didn't know how to rappel because he had the rope running through one slot of the ATC and then back out the other. A couple, about 60 meters below me, rigged another anchor for him to get past the ice buldge, but this was the last party able to help. I told him to be careful once off rappel and make sure he self-belayed himself, but he didn't know what self-belay meant. He had only a mountaineering axe.

Now, I have no idea why his party would leave him, especially at the top of the climb and with his experience level. The weather was perfect and time was not an issue. When I first approached him, he complained of frozen feet and needed to get down fast. He was wearing non-insulated boots. I didn't see or hear the fall and didn't learn about it until back at IME later in the afternoon. The snowcat going to rescue him passed me on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail a couple of hours later. I hope he's alright. He was quite nervous about his feet when I was talking to him.


thanks for clarifying. self-arrest probably was not in the climber's vocabulary either then? I'm pretty sure the guy caught on a rock with a crampon which sent him upside down - when I took some of his stuff to the snowcat I noticed one of the crampons was broken in the middle.
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Postby eliassegovia » Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:21 pm

I was there last Sunday; superb conditions!
Regarding the accident, I learnt that he decided to tourn arounf becouse "it was too cold".
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Postby welle » Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:51 pm

Rock&Ice has a complete analysis of the events of that day:
http://www.rockandice.com/inthemag.php? ... =accidents
I'm not sure if it infringes any copyright or it's withing SP guidelines, but just in case here is the text of the article (moderators, feel free to correct my post):

under arrest
A Bad Tumble in the New Hampshire Alpine
Issue 179

ACCIDENT:At the top of Central Gully (WI 2), “John” told his two partners he was too exhausted for the four-mile walkout, and that they should go ahead and get help. It was Saturday, March 14, and the three had just topped out on the snow and ice ramp that cleaves Huntington Ravine, on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. John’s partners left, not expecting that he would try to descend alone, and lose control.
After his partners departed, John descended the easy snow ramp until he reached the top of the route’s only technical bulge of alpine ice and found the leader from another party belaying a second up. The leader agreed to let John rappel off his anchor using John’s own rope. When John was safely past the ice crux, the leader would detach John’s rope and throw it down.
John reached the bottom of the bulge and yelled for his rope to be dropped, but failed to hold onto an end. When the rope was tossed, it zipped past John. Eric Eisele, a guide going up the route, was maybe 30 feet below John and he snagged the rope.
According to Eisele, John initiated a glissade to get his rope, accelerated on the icy snow and was instantly out of control. Eisele yelled, “Self-arrest!” but John was unable to check his speed.
Horrified, Eisele and his two clients watched as John raced down the glassy slope, blasted into a row of jagged rocks, cartwheeled, and slid for an additional 600 feet.
When he finally came to a rest, John did not move. Eisele remembers his clients asking him if John was dead.
“I told them I didn’t know,” Eisele said, “but if he’s alive, he’s going to need a ride down to the trailhead quick.”
Eisele initiated a rescue via cell phone. Soon dozens of climbers were on site to help.
Justin Preisendorfer, a USFS Snow Ranger, arrived by snowmobile with an E.R. physician. The doctor identified a broken radius-ulna, a dislocated shoulder, a tibia-fibula fracture and a life-threatening femur fracture. Rangers snowmobiled John to the trailhead in about 15 minutes. An ambulance then rushed him to North Conway’s Memorial Hospital where he was airlifted to Maine Medical in Portland. Climber-witnesses agree that he is lucky to be alive.



ANALYSIS:Ranger Preisendorfer had spoken directly to John and his two partners as they approached Huntington Ravine the morning of the accident. He reiterated the posted warnings of extremely slick snow conditions and encouraged John’s party to practice self-arresting on a side hill before heading up Central Gully.
According to a daily snow report posted on tuckerman.org two days before the accident, a “vicious roller coaster” of weather on Mount Washington transformed “mashed potato” snow into frozen “bulletproof surface conditions.” The report then stated—in bold font—that “uncontrolled sliding falls are probably the biggest threat today on the mountain so make sure you have that ice axe in your hand and know how to self-arrest.”



PREVENTION:John’s biggest mistake was initiating a glissade on the bullet-hard snow. Even so, the ice-axe self-arrest is the most basic and crucial skill for mountaineers to master. Had John quickly executed the maneuver, this accident might have been prevented. Climbers should practice self-arresting on low-angled slopes with safe run-outs until the skill becomes second nature. This accident could also have been prevented had John chosen to descend Lion’s Head, the standard trail down Mount Washington, rather than a climbing route. Finally, both of his partners should not have left him alone and exhausted high on the route. One should have stayed.
Check weather forecasts and websites that may provide specific condition reports before venturing onto dangerous peaks, like Mount Washington, in winter. If you are unclear about technical aspects of climbing, hire a guide.
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Postby triyoda » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:33 am

So I finally climbed Central Gully today. Kind of a letdown, it was really easy. Of course I did take a one day ice climbing course earlier this year and came back with ice tools this time. Still satisfying to have learned some basic skills and come back and do something that was too hard one year ago. Pinnacle Gully looks like where its at (looks like real climbing in there). I guess I know what I want to work up to for next year.
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