Fatality on the Obelisk

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Golden State. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the California Climbing Partners forum.
no avatar
The Chief

Thanked: time in post

by The Chief » Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:18 pm

The only "traverse" that I know of on the SF "OB" is up high on P4 of the SW Face. Pretty straight forward yet delicate. As I remember, protects rather well w/slung CH's. It's a solid Salathe/Wilson "Old Skool" '48 .6ish. I recall Lenny Reeves sharing with me how that traverse was a mind ringer and to not be taken lightly. She was absolutely right!

Another example that what we are doing as climbers can indeed have som very sad consequences. Appears that this was her first real BC climb as well.

Be careful out there folks. Climb within or below your abilities when in the backcountry. Remember that "Old Skool" BC ratings are far more committing and in most cases, more difficult than modern day ratings at the same level.

User Avatar

Posts: 4
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 1:42 am
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

by Sean_SF » Wed Nov 11, 2009 5:18 pm

I am the husband of the climber who were involved in the accident. I want to thank you for your kind words and prayers. Although Ishun and I have not posted any messages on this forum, we had been utilizing this website and reading most of threads on this forum for the past five years.

To clarify, this was not the first backcountry alpine rock route for Ishun, and it is within her ability. As rock climbers, I think we all understand that lead fall happens to all climbing abilities. Ishun was well protected with pros at the time of fall, and this is indeed of a freak accident. The only factor I can really think of contributing to this accident is that Ishun's party might have been off route, as one of her climbing partners on this trip has commented.

rhyang, thanks for taking the picture of Ishun climbing the alimony crack. I was belaying Ishun at the time and we might have exchanged a few words. Would you be able to send me the original images of these pictures to me?

Chief, I appreciate your cautions about climbing within one's ability. We all need an experienced climber like you to post better route reports to reduce the risk of doing such routes.

User Avatar

Posts: 2567
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2003 12:11 am
Thanked: 24 times in 13 posts

by Guyzo » Wed Nov 11, 2009 5:20 pm

What Rick said.....

I recall doing a unprotected run out, ground fall, 5.8 when we climbed it (west face). It's a big chunk of stone with lots of different ways to climb.

This is so sad.

The shooting star is always the brightest star in the sky.

User Avatar

Posts: 8960
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2004 8:55 pm
Thanked: 59 times in 38 posts

by rhyang » Wed Nov 11, 2009 5:37 pm

Sean_SF wrote:rhyang, thanks for taking the picture of Ishun climbing the alimony crack. I was belaying Ishun at the time and we might have exchanged a few words. Would you be able to send me the original images of these pictures to me?

I remember you both .. what a wonderful day in the Meadows that was :)

An email and PM should be on their way with the URL of the pictures.

User Avatar

Posts: 5724
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 4:25 pm
Thanked: 17 times in 13 posts

by ksolem » Wed Nov 11, 2009 7:44 pm

Sean, I really admire you for finding the strength to share with us your knowledge of this terrible accident. Thanks for this, it is very good of you.

I have yet to lose someone so close so I can only imagine how difficult this has been for you. You are obviously an extraordinary person, I sincerely hope you find peace and live the great life you deserve.

User Avatar
Peak Freak

Posts: 798
Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2002 9:14 pm
Thanked: 12 times in 5 posts

by Peak Freak » Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:56 pm

Deepest condolences to Sean and all of Ishun's friends and family. A very sad time :cry: .

User Avatar

Posts: 2310
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2003 1:49 pm
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post

by Dragger » Fri Nov 13, 2009 1:53 am

Very sorry to hear of your loss, Sean. Sending lots of positive thoughts your direction. Please take care of yourself.

no avatar
The Chief

Thanked: time in post

by The Chief » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:44 am

My deepest thoughts Sean.

And for all out there...

Please remember that any Old Skool Backcountry route is not to be taken lightly. Many if not all of them are rated in a general manner of the day. Most are sandbagged to say the least. All are very committing and should always be approached with the utmost of respect, ability and experience.

Just cuz it's a 5.6, don't mean it won't kill ya.

This sad incident reminds me of the fatality oh ten years or so ago on the Cat in the Hat in the RR's....

User Avatar

Posts: 3914
Joined: Wed Oct 02, 2002 9:13 pm
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

by Misha » Fri Nov 13, 2009 7:37 am

Sean, please accept my deepest condolences. Rest in peace, Ishun. You are loved by your family and friends and will be sorely missed. We've never met but I so wish we have...

This terrible year for climbers needs to come to its end at last. Stay safe, all.

User Avatar

Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:40 pm
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post

by seanh » Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:56 am

I had just met Ishun a couple months ago through doing a few meetup.com events with the mountaineering group. I can't say I knew her super well, but I did talk with her a bit while hiking, and around the camp fire - she was a very friendly, nice woman. I'm very sorry to those her knew her better. It's a weird feeling having met someone so recently that was full of life, and knowing they're no longer there. I guess it's just a reminder that we should enjoy every day we have.

User Avatar

Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 9:25 pm
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post

by haishan » Sat Nov 21, 2009 7:09 am

A first-hand account of the recent fatal accident on the Obelisk as been posted here:


Our dear friend, Ishun Chan, lost her life in this accident. Her many friends and loved ones have created a memorial website here:


For those seeking more detailed information beyond what is provided in this report, please feel free to contact me off-line via PM.

Thank you,
Patrick Callery

User Avatar

Posts: 719
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2001 4:15 pm
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

by brandon » Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:09 pm

Geez Pete, give the PLB thing a rest. The self-rescue and subsequent rescue and recovery were executed brilliantly.

User Avatar

Posts: 2796
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 1:03 pm
Thanked: 11 times in 10 posts

by Diggler » Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:22 pm

Sean, Patrick, David, & all of Ishun's other friends, family, & loved ones, you have my deepest condolences. What a terrible accident. :cry:

I didn't find the route-finding to be trivial when I was on the S face years ago, & I found the crux (before we bailed at maybe 3/4 height) felt more like .8/.9ish... Regardless, I always worry about if shit were to really hit the fan, what I would or would be able to do, in a backcountry setting. It seems like that nothing you could have done would have changed the outcome of this tragedy. Your efforts were admirable. The Obelisk is WAY out there, for those unfamiliar (even Shaver Lake is WTF out there, & that's a long way from the trailhead itself...), & what happened just seems like a worst-case scenario...

Rest in peace, Ishun. May those left behind find peace & healing.


Return to California


  • Related topics
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests