UKC

Accident near miss lessons

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 climberchristy 03 Apr 2021

Hi all. I'm sitting in A and E awaiting someone looking at a nasty gash to my finger. However it could have been a terrible accident, even fatal. So I'm posting just to raise awareness and let others learn from whats just happened to me.

So, I was sport climbing. Just a few feet off the floor below bolt 1. Pulled out a huge piece of rock about 3 feet across. It hit me on head and chest but then fell past me to floor.

The reason I'm posting is to offer several learning points:

1. if I had not stick clipped the first 2 bolts then I'd have decked onto very rocky terrain with a huge rock on my chest. The stickclipped 2nd bolt was up well above and left of me. So, as the rope came tight it pulled me sideways thus allowing the block to glance off me and away from me. So, I'd recommend you stick clip even if the start looks easy. In this case it saved my life or at least prevented a pretty horrendous accident.

2. My helmet is dented and heading for the bin. If I'd not been wearing one then my head would be dented instead! 

3. The rock I pulled out was not an  obvious block and did not look loose. So you just never can tell. So, again stick clip and wear a helmet.

Safe climbing folks. 

Post edited at 17:03
 Andy Hardy 03 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

Good, useful post, which crag and route was it (so we can avoid)?

 Jim Lancs 03 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

Thanks for that. Glad you're okay.

Just check with the BMC that they wouldn't like to see your helmet before you bin it. 

 climberchristy 03 Apr 2021
In reply to Andy Hardy:

 Revived Forty Five (6c)

Tho tbh it's probably a safer route now. 

Post edited at 17:31
 Kevster 03 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

Swift recovery with the fingers. Sounds fortunate that it could have been far worse. 

I'm guilty of not always wearing a helmet sport climbing, or when I cycle - its just the way it was when I learnt, and I'm a bit rubbish at adapting to the more modern (and sensible) ways. I have no excuse tbh.

Also as I trad climb too (always wear a lid for trad - talk about double standards...), the "deck out danger zone" low down on sport climbs doesnt feel quite so bad in my head as I am a little more used to run outs and sometimes ground fall potential when climbing, even though the consequences are obvious.

Lets face it, if you have a few grades in hand then the climbing doesnt feel hard or insecure which makes one more prone to feeling comfortable in a potentially dangerous situation. If I climb harder sport then I'm either falling into air or there isnt much to hit on the way down. So still have a sense of safety which may not always be there.

I suspect this is shared by others, especially those who are longer into their climbing careers or are just a little complacent due to familiarity. 

I have fallen the height of a crag, whilst sport climbing, I have had friends who sadly have not been so fortunate in their accidents - deaths, broken back, ruined legs, mountain rescue and the air ambulance. I have seen gear rip, break (including fixed gear- pegs & bolts) and unzip/unclip runners, I have also got away with it a few times myself and thought "F me, that was lucky, nearly messed up there".

I should say that for the most part I am safe and aim to be safe. I just have a couple of decades of being at the crag regularly and quite a few climbing friends who's combined experiences add to the list of miss-haps & accidents that I can call on.

I guess what I'm saying is that I should really reassess and examine my personal practices regularly, and without being preachy, prompt others too too - as the OP has so kindly done. Even simple things like lids at all times - not just when climbing the route, clip sticking easy routes as well as those with hard starts, good belay technique etc etc. We all know the issues.  

Having had a year off recently - along with many others, I suspect the climbing community isnt quite so up to speed as maybe we are eager to get out. 

Happy climbing, stay safe. Kev.

 climberchristy 03 Apr 2021
In reply to Kevster:

Interesting thoughts. Yeh I too have years of experience and a lot of trad mileage. I too was formerly maybe more complacent e.g did not used to stick clip at all and then, later, only stick clipped if the start looked hard or dangerous. More recently I thought I may as well stick clip first 1 or 2 bolts as a matter of course - after all sport climbing is meant to be (relatively)safe. In this case that recent change to stick clipping regardless is what saved me. The route is well within my capabilities and the start looked easy so it would have been tempting to just set off without pre-clipping. 

 Mark Eddy 03 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

I wish you a full and speedy recovery.

Thanks for sharing your experience, all very good points that are overlooked far too often. Having seen the result of a rock to the head when not wearing a helmet I'm a big advocate of always having a lid on when belaying and climbing. As has been said, there's no excuse/reason not to.

Great point too regarding the clip stick. I guess we've all sauntered up an easy yet unprotected start feeling in total control, when actually the rock and integrity of it has some control too.

All the best

 climberchristy 03 Apr 2021
In reply to Mark Eddy:

Thanks Mark

In reply to Mark Eddy:

> Great point too regarding the clip stick.

I bought a Beta Stick 2.0 last summer. I've dabbled in sport climbing for a couple of decades but never took it particularly seriously, but last summer I just did a lot more of it and was enjoying it, so figured I might as well invest in a clip stick. Since buying it, I use it on pretty much every route. They cost less than one cam these days, so just seemed to be a sensible thing to get. I think anyone who sport climbs regularly, even at lower grades like I do, should consider getting one.

Likewise helmets - I did one route yesterday evening at Stoney West and Luke pulled a decent sized hold off it after I had gone up first and kicked a smaller pebble off. Went back this morning and did another three routes and we both found the odd loose bit on all the routes we did. On Peak limestone at least, it just doesn't seem to make sense not to wear a helmet, climbing and belaying. The rock just isn't that good quality on any of the crags I've climbed which is now a good selection. Maybe on the steep natural limestone like the Cornice and Raven Tor it's OK, but for stuff that punters like me climb, you are almost certain to pull or kick a hold off sooner or later.

 climberchristy 03 Apr 2021
In reply to TobyA:

>even at lower grades like I do, should consider getting one.

Yeh exactly that's the point. The grade is irrelevant. In fact you could argue that on lower grades you have even more need of one as lower grades tend to often be on rock that is more prone to bits falling off

 mrphilipoldham 03 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

I hope you have a swift recovery, and thank you for alerting everyone. 

Is it too soon to have a little joke.. where's your DNF?

Emphasises how the belayer needs to consider their position and stay alert too . I know we would hope for them to be super alert at all times........

 climberchristy 03 Apr 2021
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

Good joke. Not too early. I need cheering up. Still in A and E after 4 and 1/2 hours!!! 

I'd normally confess to a DNF but I only got about 5 feet off the floor!!

 mrphilipoldham 03 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

Go on then, I'll give you a did not start! 

 Bilberry 03 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

> Still in A and E after 4 and 1/2 hours!!! 

So go home and let them do something more important than wash your finger, out a steristrip/glue it and bandage it.  You can do that yourself.

 deacondeacon 03 Apr 2021
In reply to Bilberry:

> So go home and let them do something more important than wash your finger, out a steristrip/glue it and bandage it.  You can do that yourself.

Pretty impressive, having the ability to diagnose the severity of his injury from a forum post! You should get a job with the NHS. 

 climberchristy 03 Apr 2021
In reply to Bilberry:

Wow! Fracture? Tendon damage? Nerve damage? All dealt with by a steristrip!  Actually I'm coming back for surgery tomorrow. What a totally moronic and insensitive thing to post. 

In reply to climberchristy:

> Wow! Fracture? Tendon damage? Nerve damage? All dealt with by a steristrip!  Actually I'm coming back for surgery tomorrow. What a totally moronic and insensitive thing to post. 

It’s Bilberry. They do this. 

 mountainbagger 04 Apr 2021
In reply to Bilberry:

> So go home and let them do something more important than wash your finger, out a steristrip/glue it and bandage it.  You can do that yourself.

I went to A&E (well, something attached to A&E) with severed tendons in my fingers (after a bike crash)...the ambulance took me there (I didn't call the ambulance myself). I said to the paramedics that I was fine and wasn't sure the ambulance and trip to hospital was necessary (there was no pain)...we have first aid at work I said. They laughed and said no way, the injury looks serious, my fingers were hanging off, blood everywhere and if down to the bone, even more dangerous from an infection perspective. Yes, in the end I was cleaned and wrapped up for the night before being told where to go the next day for a proper investigation (which resulted in surgery and months of physio, which was only partially successful), but they were in no doubt that I should be at the hospital and not self-treat/self-diagnose!

 mountainbagger 04 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

Hope you are ok by the way...let us know what happens

In reply to climberchristy:

> Yeh exactly that's the point. The grade is irrelevant. In fact you could argue that on lower grades you have even more need of one as lower grades tend to often be on rock that is more prone to bits falling off <

Thanks for posting, best wishes for a quick recovery. Its also a useful reminder that trad has the same issues with loose rock but without a likelihood of getting high protection at the start. I've been lucky on a few occasions: eg pulling off a huge block which fell between my legs as I was bridging, and a block starting to teeter off onto me which I managed to push back before it leaned too much.

Post edited at 11:11
 timjones 04 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

I'm with you on the helmet but I won't be rushing out to buy a clipstick, if I was that safety obsessed to top roping would be both safer and cheaper

 climberchristy 04 Apr 2021
In reply to mountainbagger:

Thanks for concern. Just come out of surgery. Got lucky. Gashes just missed main nerves and tendon so recovery should be quick. Just cleaned out debris, and tidied up and stitched. 

Bilberry maybe thinks I should have done the surgery myself too. 🙂

 climberchristy 04 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

I would not say I'm 'safety obsessed' at all.  I have done and will continue to do a lot of trad, some of it fairly necky. All I'm saying is that, with sport climbing which is designed to be (relatively) safe why not clip the first couple?

Each to their own of course. You may not wish to use a clipstick and that's fair enough. However, if I'd not used one yesterday I could be dead or very seriously injured now.

And btw clipping first bolt or 2 out of maybe 10 or 15 bolts on a route is hardly the same as top roping. Also, you mention top roping being cheaper. Firstly pretty hard to top rope at most sport crags unless you lead the route to get to chains. Secondly a  clipstick is 50 quid. Hardly a huge expense in the grand scheme of how much we all spend on climbing. I've just spent 70 quid replacing my helmet for example. 

Anyway, whatever your choices, be safe and have fun. 

In reply to climberchristy:

Glad to hear you're not to badly injured, how long until you're back on the rock?

 climberchristy 04 Apr 2021
In reply to Mark Kemball:

Thanks for enquiring. As the tendons etc are in tact, the surgeon reckons just 2 or 3 weeks for wounds to heal. I'm happy with that! Was expecting longer. 

In reply to climberchristy:

Good result!!

 deacondeacon 04 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

> if I was that safety obsessed to top roping would be both safer and cheaper

Err, how you going to get the top rope up there? 

 tehmarks 04 Apr 2021
In reply to Bilberry:

You're a certifiable pillock.

 tehmarks 04 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

So glad you only came away with minor injuries. That sort of accident just doesn't seem fair when one puts themselves in more obviously dangerous positions as a matter of course. A good reminder to us all, unfortunately at your expense!

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

 climberchristy 04 Apr 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

Thanks. I'll be back climbing very soon I hope.  

In reply to timjones:

> I'm with you on the helmet but I won't be rushing out to buy a clipstick, if I was that safety obsessed to top roping would be both safer and cheaper


A bit of a snide post, don't you think? Thank heavens the OP had a helmet and used the clipstick. As he says, you just never know.

But I'll do you the courtesy of taking your point about being safety obsessed at face value. My generation certainly couldn't be accused of being safety obsessed. No bouldering pads, no clipsticks and bugger wearing helmets (which were heavy, monstrous things, whereas today you can almost forget you're wearing one). Nearly everybody soloed. Lots of people soloed extremes. Nearly everybody did scary leads where you really could hurt yourself - or worse.

And now? Some of us are still quite bold. But we know that injury means that we can't go climbing and each remaining climbing year is precious. So you bite the bullet. Stop soloing. Do buddy checks. Wear a helmet on trad and sport. Stick clip the first and/or the second bolt if there's the slightest concern (and even if there isn't?)

If I just wanted to toprope, then fine, I would. There's no shame in it. But I still covet a few routes which may involve considerable (hopefully safe) air time. Taking these boring precautions (buddy checks, helmet, stick clip) keeps me safe and able to enjoy climbing. After a while, they're not even boring; you almost forget that you're doing them.

Each to their own...

Mick

 Baggy's Point 05 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

My climbing partner nearly had one at the weekend, Baggy point.  Stepped back towards the edge of the cliff ready to abseil but the bit of ground she stepped on was a loose, undercut bit of grass, not rock, which then collapsed under her feet.  She fell backward off the cliff, and ended up with her arm on the cliff top, trapped with a weighted rope across it as she dangled.  Luckily I was already at the bottom so I could pull on the rope to lock her off whilst she with difficulty freed her arm.

Lesson, aways be careful what you're standing on at a cliff edge.  Oh and back up your abseil with a prussik unless you have someone below you to hold the rope. 

 climberchristy 05 Apr 2021
In reply to Mick Ward:

Really eloquent response Mick, to what I agree, was a somewhat snide post. I'm 50 and so I too come from a generation that never wore helmets and who saw clipsticks as 'cheating' when they first appeared. Certainly not safety obsessed. But we all grow to be wiser. Time on the rock is precious. I have had a lot of climbing accidents and injuries in recent years and I certainly dont want any more. If we all share experiences, near misses, advice and information then maybe we can help others stay safe too. 

Enjoy the forthcoming season.

Cheers, Christy 

 timjones 05 Apr 2021
In reply to Mick Ward:

It's a comment on the advice offered, surely debate is one of the main  purposes of online forums?

Preclipping the first bolts on a route is an ethical conundrum, some people will be happy to do it and others won't. It's a personal choice.

 timjones 05 Apr 2021
In reply to deacondeacon:

That will depend on the route,  it may not be possible.

We all make choices and as others have commented "each to their own".

 timjones 05 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

> Really eloquent response Mick, to what I agree, was a somewhat snide post. I'm 50 and so I too come from a generation that never wore helmets and who saw clipsticks as 'cheating' when they first appeared. Certainly not safety obsessed. But we all grow to be wiser. Time on the rock is precious. I have had a lot of climbing accidents and injuries in recent years and I certainly dont want any more. If we all share experiences, near misses, advice and information then maybe we can help others stay safe too. 

> Enjoy the forthcoming season.

> Cheers, Christy 

Surely there would have to be an intention to mock for a post to be snide?

I commented on my own attitudes and motivations rather then those of anybody else.

 tehmarks 05 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

You seem to have equated stick-clipping the first 5m of a potentially 30m sport route with toproping the route, and I don't follow the logic.

Ethical dilemmas aside, they're a completely different experience.

 freeheel47 05 Apr 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

I can't see how using a clipstick presents an 'ethical dilemma'.

Which ethical principle is involved?

If it is that the use of clipsticks violates some sort of sanctity principle of climbing- then what about ropes, or chalk or sticky boots?  (All controversial at some point or other).

Using a clipstick effects absolutely nobody else at all. apart in this case from preventing the family of the poster experiencing a significant loss, the effects of body recovery on the rescuers etc etc etc.

As for being 'safety obsessed' what a fatuous comment.  The poster isn't imposing his views on anyone- just giving people a 'heads up' about the state of his head.

I'd suggest that the outcome in this case was testament to his general habits in life. Which seem to be highly respectful- helping him achieve his goals and doing nothing at all to inconvenience or upset anyone else at all. Chapeau!

Post edited at 11:25
 tehmarks 05 Apr 2021
In reply to freeheel47:

You're preaching to the wrong person. 'Ethical dilemma' was not my phrase; I was just highlighting the disparity regardless of one's ethical views on stick-clipping bolts.

My view is that style dilemmas are, to the hobbyist climber, virtually irrelevant. Climb in a style you're happy with. If you aren't trashing the rock, and you aren't trashing the crag environment, and you're not lying about your ascents (and let's face it, who actually cares at the level of most of us?), crack on. Who cares whether someone is stick-clipping the first two bolts, or practicing low E grades on toprope before the lead or solo, or just plain toproping? If you're happy in your own mind about the style in which you climb, great. It's no one else's business.

Ethical dilemmas, in my mind, are those which damage the rock or the crag environment, or impinge on others (topropes rigged all day down *** classics, climbed in muddy trainers repeatedly by a large group sort of thing). And in those instances, obviously the preservation of the rock is the most important consideration.

Post edited at 11:45
 climberchristy 05 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

It was your use of the phrase 'safety obsessed' that is snide. Definition of snide includes 'indirectly derogatory'. The term 'obsessed' in this context is pejorative and derogatory implying somehow that I am a particularly neurotic or fearful climber. I really am not. As I said earlier in this thread I actually lead far more trad than sport and lead fairly necky routes sometimes. 

You claim that "I commented on my own attitudes and motivations rather than those of anybody else"  Err no...by using the term 'safety obsessed' you are undoubtedly commenting on my attitude. That's what came across as snide. 

 timjones 05 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

I'm going to call bollocks on that one, saying "I" means that I am talking about my feelings and attitudrs. If I had intended to  comment on  your feelings and approach to safety I would have said "you".

We all define where we draw the line on safety and it's a poor show if we can't talk about our own lines without being accused of being snide.

 climberchristy 05 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

Mm think you're missing the point about what your term 'obsessed' implies. Call "bollocks" all you like, you still came across as snide.

Anyway, let's just leave it there shall we? I just wanted to post to raise awareness and share advice. Not really interested in getting into a slanging match. 

 timjones 05 Apr 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

> You seem to have equated stick-clipping the first 5m of a potentially 30m sport route with toproping the route, and I don't follow the logic.

> Ethical dilemmas aside, they're a completely different experience.

You don't have to follow the logic.

The great thing is that we all can all reach our own conclusions and they don't have to be the same.

I wouldn't use a clipstick and I wouldn't toptope either. They just don't appeal to me personally but it really is not an issue if other people enjoy them.

 tehmarks 05 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

Well, quite. So why suggest that the OP would be better toproping? I'm sure they've considered these things already and are happy with the style in which they climb.

Post edited at 12:40
 timjones 05 Apr 2021
In reply to climberchristy:

FFS obsession is a personal thing, surely we are free to judge the point at which we believe that WE cross OUR OWN line between awareness and obsession without judging others to the same standard?

I can only apologise if I have offended, that was not the intent.

How the hell did this all blow up?

I'm not even sure that obsession is universally as bad as some people are perceiving it to be, would you be offended if someone said that you were obsessed with climbing?

Post edited at 12:46
 timjones 05 Apr 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

For cryong out loud, I did not say that the OP would be better toproping.

I said that if I was concerned enough to use a clip stick then toproping would be safer and cheaper.

That's a personal choice and no-one needs to be offended by it because other people are quite free to make their own choices.

Post edited at 12:46
 tehmarks 05 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

It's just a bizarre suggestion is why I'm confused by it. They're not even remotely similar activities. There have been numerous incidents of people falling from the first bolt and doing themselves serious harm - wanting to avoid that when engaging in a type of climbing that is all about safely pushing your physical performance is more than fair, I think. Suggesting that toproping would be cheaper and safer is a bit like suggesting that hiking would be cheaper and safer than scrambling. Yes, it's unarguably true - but it somewhat misses the point.

Do I like leading sport routes? Yes. Do I fancy risking smashing my skull in for any sport route (as per another accident article on UKC)? No, not really.

Anyway, that is all I have to say. I just wanted to fully elaborate on what I was trying to get across.

Post edited at 12:51
 timjones 05 Apr 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

Would you allow me to elaborate on why I see it differently?

Maybe the fundamental difference is that when I sport climb it is  because I wish to climb on a good route on a nice crag rather than because I perceive sport climbing as a branch of the sport that is all about safety.

Depending on the nature of the rock the presence of bolts may make the route safer but I do not expect them to remove all risk.

 Andy Gamisou 05 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

> I wouldn't use a clipstick and I wouldn't toptope either. They just don't appeal to me personally but it really is not an issue if other people enjoy them.

To be fair, I'm not sure from your profile that you're really climbing hard enough for it to be an issue either way.  Nothing wrong with bimbling around on easy trad (do plenty of that myself) but it's hardly the same as pulling hard on some limestone 7c with friable rock and a low down crux.  I think it's way dumber to do that without clipping the first bolt than not wearing a helmet (for example).  Nothing brave about pointlessly breaking an ankle - I speak from personal experience.

Post edited at 13:08
 timjones 05 Apr 2021
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

You're quite right that it isn't really an issue  whoch makes the whole spat seem rather surreal. Does any climbing really matter in the grand scheme of life 

If you are climbing lower grade sport the first bolt  is often too far off the floor to even reach it with a clipstick!

It was a personal musing on climbing and it seems a real shame that anyone took offence and resorted to bandying insults.

 freeheel47 05 Apr 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

Hi- sorry if that wasn't you- and I agree with all you've said.

 freeheel47 05 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

The most 'obsessional' people I've ever done anythings outdoors with were Klaus Tcherrig and Carlos Buhler.

Klaus is a guide in Zermatt- he skis off piste about 120+ days a year and has done for over 30 years, crossing multiple avalanche prone slopes each day.  He's never been in an avalanche. He will visit almost all the avalanche sites in Zermatt involving humans.  He's also guided the 7 summits etc etc etc.

Carlos has retreated from spitting distance of the summit of K2 (he went back and did it some time later) and made endless first ascents in the Great Ranges, often in winter.  I did a couple of thinish ice routes with him. He is ultra cautious, checks everything, looks, tests, backs up belays with the utmost precision. That is why he climbed at the highest level for 30+years.

Doing anything with inherent risks needs obsessionality to manage the risks that you can.


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