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Go Back   KOTR Forums > Climbing > Accidents & Injuries

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  #1  
Unread 10-06-2008, 10:44 AM
Buttman Buttman is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
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Near disaster at Ganhyeong

Hi all,
I thought I would write an accident report following a frightening near miss on the weekend. Hopefully it will serve as a reminder for everyone who reads it and will prevent something like this happening again in future.

What happened?

On a beautiful Saturday morning a group of three of us started doing warm up routes at Ganhyeon. Climbing beside us was a group from Colorado. In passing we noticed that we were using the same brand of rope; a 65 meter Matrix. Both ropes were new and prompted discussion about prices and age etc. After two of us had gone up the route we were on, the third member of our group was preparing to tie in. The Coloradans wished to have some of their members toprope the climb after us and requested that the third person use their rope. Of course, that was no problem. So climber 3 tied in, ascended and was being lowered. Between about 6-8 feet from the deck, the end of the rope shot through the gri gri and the climber fell the remaining distance backwards onto some dangerous rocks. He took the brunt of the impact on the lower back and some on the ***, but basically it was a fall in the horizontal position onto the ground with no hands or feet, resulting in a sickening impact.

Why?
There are several reasons why this happened, and why it was totally avoidable.

1) We didn't ask the other climbers how long their rope was. We had been talking about the ropes' similarities so much, that we assumed that they were the same length. Of course now that seems ridiculous, but the situation lulled us into a false sense of confidence (or relaxation). For the record, our rope was 65 meters, theirs was 60.

2) No one tied a knot in the end of the rope

3) No one tied the rope to the rope bag

4) Excitement about the long weekend of climbing leading to inattention/laxness

Result

A fractured vertebra, general muscle soreness, a hospital bill and an indefinite period of recovery


The blame game.

All three people in our group are responsible for this accident. The climber, the belayer, and the observer. Safety is everyone's responsibility.


The wash up

I consider what happened on the weekend to be extremely fortunate. Our friend is in hospital with an injury that he can recover from. He could easily have hit his head on rocks and been killed, I've no doubts about that. I hope everyone who reads this will focus not on how careless we were, but on how they can avoid doing the same thing. Of course safety is paramount, but it's easier to say that than to meticulously check every detail when you are climbing, especially seemingly innocuous things, and especially when you have been climbing for a while. I'm not referring to just rope lengths, but everything.
Complaisancy is our enemy. Don't let your enthusiasm for getting on a climb or a sense of familiarity cloud your judgment. Be aware of situations where your attention to detail might wane by keeping strictly to a routine of safety checks.

The feeling of following the ambulance to the hospital on the weekend was truly awful, especially when I knew that it was completely avoidable. I hope by posting this, that others won't have similar experiences in future.

Good luck and happy/safe climbing.

Shaun
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  #2  
Unread 10-06-2008, 01:11 PM
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skinsk skinsk is offline
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I hope your friend's recovery is swift and complete. . . and thanks for a good reminder. . . accidents can and do happen to even the best of climbers. I appreciate everytime someone checks my knot, etc.

Was there no one on the ground to ask? Do you remember what route? clearly it's worth mentioning in the guidebook that 60 meters won't get you down! I didn't realize any climbs there were so long!
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Last edited by skinsk : 10-06-2008 at 06:40 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 10-06-2008, 02:11 PM
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shanja shanja is offline
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Mate! That's a shocker! I feel really bad for your friend and like everyone here I'm sure wishes him/ her a speedy and total recovery. Could have been much worse, but still it's more than bad enough.
Thanks for being so open and all that you posted this story. It's what we hoped would come of this forum. Warning noted, and you're right of course, we all get lulled into that false sense of security at times and miss small things. Never too often to have a heads-up. Fingers crossed everything works out OK.
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  #4  
Unread 10-06-2008, 03:12 PM
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Chickenlegs Chickenlegs is offline
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It was the first couple pitches of a multi pitch. Not just one single pitch.
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Last edited by Chickenlegs : 10-06-2008 at 09:30 PM.
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  #5  
Unread 10-06-2008, 05:34 PM
Puma Puma is offline
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Thanks for the warning Shaun. Greg: I wish you a speedy recovery and am very relieved that you are still with us.

That was a very frightening story but it definitely serves its purpose in making us more cautious and in helping us to avoid making this same mistake.

Let's be more careful from here on.
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  #6  
Unread 10-07-2008, 12:01 AM
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dangerflower dangerflower is offline
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just super thankful that everyone is okay...definitely this is an easy mistake for any climbers of any level to make...i know that often i and my climber/belayer can get focused on the climb or a conversation really easily and not pay as close attention as we maybe should to little things that can easily become bigger things. hopefully this reminder helps all of us to stay aware and alert and keep the remainder of our autumn happy and safe...

get well soon, my friend!
xoxo
dee
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  #7  
Unread 10-09-2008, 02:07 PM
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punchy punchy is offline
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shaun, thanks for writing such a succinct summary of what went down at ganhyun. after the fall and realizing i could still move toes and fingers i quickly got to thinking of what had happened and why it did. of course you're right in saying that complacency is our biggest enemy in climbing. a sport where oversights or errors in judgment can be extremely costly.

my belayer was quick to blanket in a layer of guilt, and i was just as quick to assure that the brunt of responsibility was my own. i had tied into another climber's rope without enquiring about its length. i had not personally made sure a knot was tied into the other end. and these seemingly minor oversights cost me the rest of the climbing season and very nearly my mobility or life. i know of a similar instance that happened at a popular crag in new zealand where an experienced climber was being lowered on a rope that happened to be too short for the pitch. he fell 5 meters, hit his head and died.

i will not begrudge my experience or become depressed when thinking about how easily it could have been avoided. if, by example, i can make one climber become a little less complacent and a little more attentive, my injury will not be for naught. in my own case, and i'm sure for my friends who were present, this experience will make us all safer climbers.

nor will i be scared off the rock. i am choked that i can't climb for the rest of the season, but i'm content in the knowledge that i will one day climb again. and the fact that i could walk around emart today to pick up a few groceries is not something i take for granted either.

thanks for all the well wishes. i hope you'll all take something away from this experience and strive to be the attentive stone samurai you're meant to be.

greg
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  #8  
Unread 10-09-2008, 08:17 PM
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I won't say "thanks for the lesson", but you're the man Greg. I'm sad you got hurt and sad that I won't have the benefit of your presence at the crag until later. Hang in there and know that the support for you goes way deeper than the few notes posted here. If you are still in hospital etc, let us know where and we'll visit.
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  #9  
Unread 10-11-2008, 10:12 PM
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Dong-il Dong-il is offline
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I've phoned people coupla times to find out which hospital you are in but you moved in Daegu from Wonju, and tried to contact you but reached wrong person. I really wish you the best recovery. And like Shanja asked if you are still in hospital, please let me know.
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  #10  
Unread 10-12-2008, 10:16 AM
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i got released from the hospital in wonju on wednesday and am currently mending back in daegu. thanks again for the well wishes. i really appreciate the support.
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