/ Wreckless incompentents on the Runnel 5th March 2017

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Smiffy - on 10 Mar 2017
My buddy Dunc and I were climbing the Runnel in Coire an t'Sneachda, Cairngroms on Sunday 5th March. The conditions were quite bad with knee deep loose snow, maing it nearer to grade III than II. Dunc (leading) had just got to the start of the chinmey, and was setting up a belay. I was about 30m furher down the climb waiting to be put on belay. Whilst Dunc was setting up the belay, I saw 2 climbers approaching from below. There was a guy and woman, who I assumed was his partner. The chap, who was leading, asked us if they could climb passed us. Now not wishing to be a climbing snob, they didn't seem to really know what they were doing. I reluctantly agreed to let them pass with the proviso that they didn't stand on our rope. I got the feeling he was going to pass whether I liked it or not. They had a half rope and one ice axe each, and quite minimal protection. They had no helmets and their climbing gear suggested that they were not very experienced / prepared. This was furher substanciated when the girl, who was level with me at the time, started to climb and shouted up to the lead "Do you want this wedge thing taking out the rock?". She was of course referring to a nut. He was out of earshot. So I told her that yes it would need removing and that she should take it with her. So he brought her up to the bottom of the chimney next to Dunc. He told her to get a good stance, after which he set off up the chimney. She was not anchored at all and he was effectively soloing as she did not have him on belay. Dunc now intervened as he was worried about their safety, and anchored the girl into our anchor. I then climed to the belay stance at the bottom of the chimney to join Dunc and the girl. The chap was struggling at lot in the chimney and Dunc and myself both thought that he would fall on several occaisions. Anyway he eventually topped out. The girl then really struggled up the chimney, and it was obvious that she was well outside of her comfort zone. Dunc started to climb the chimney as she was attempting to break through the cornice. This resulted in large amounts of snowfall coming down the chimney from above. So Dunc decided that it was best to wait until she had topped out. This really spoiled our day as we had to wait for 45 mins or so until they had climbed past us and topped out. It was also more than a little fraught and disconcerting to be on a climb in such proximity to "wreckless incompetents" as Dund described them. Should we have stood our ground? Should we have intervened more and made them turn back? If there had been an accident, I think we both would have felt some guilt for simply letting it happen.
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Simon Caldwell - on 10 Mar 2017
In reply to Smiffy:

Your first mistake was letting them climb past you.

Your second was the spelling of "reckless"

;-)
2
jon on 10 Mar 2017
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

> Your second was the spelling of "reckless";-)

Thought it looked wrong. Thank heavens you were there!

martinturner - on 10 Mar 2017
In reply to Smiffy:

I think you did enough to save your own conscience...
Anchoring her in is probably the most I would of done aswell to be honest, so I'm not going to knock or judge you for it.

I know some people would have kicked up a big fuss etc. But if he's being that reckless infront of you doing his 'normal thing', imagine what he would of been like if you annoyed him! His head wouldn't have been in it, and probably would have fell at the bits he struggled on.

Sad to see though, when someone has put their trust in another person they 'think' knows their stuff. Then they put their lives in danger.
Smiffy - on 10 Mar 2017
Spelling errors aside, it was not a good situation to be in.
Last year we were unfortunate to be on a climb (Red Gully) when someone fell from the top of Aladdin's seat to his death (fortunately for us out of our direct sight). I really thought that we were going to witness another accident. It is tricky situation to be in. How do you intervene without interferring?
planetmarshall on 10 Mar 2017
In reply to Smiffy:

> Last year we were unfortunate to be on a climb (Red Gully) when someone fell from the top of Aladdin's seat to his death (fortunately for us out of our direct sight).

Yes, now that really would have been inconsiderate of him.

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Smiffy - on 10 Mar 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
You misunderstand me. I didn't mean it like that. I was referring to it being a very sobering event to know that some poor soul had lost their life only a few hundred yards away and being thankful that we didn't see it happen.
Post edited at 15:42
Rich W Parker - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
It was very definitely inconsiderate of him. I was watching and then saw it happen, he nearly took out several roped parties already well established below. A good friend and colleague of mine was nearly killed by a 'human boulder' in the same area the previous year. The frequency of inconsiderate behaviour in Sneachda is staggering, often driven by target fixation and scarcity. Best avoided during busy times, walk a little further and get some space.
Post edited at 10:42
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martinturner - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to Rich W Parker:

Maybe a little insensitive considering Present company? The likelihood of someone on here maybe being a friend etc.
I appreciate your point, but come on
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timjones - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to Rich W Parker:

> It was very definitely inconsiderate of him. I was watching and then saw it happen, he nearly took out several roped parties already well established below. A good friend and colleague of mine was nearly killed by a 'human boulder' in the same area the previous year. The frequency of inconsiderate behaviour in Sneachda is staggering, often driven by target fixation and scarcity. Best avoided during busy times, walk a little further and get some space.

What do you suggest should have been done to have been less inconsiderate, apart from not falling to his death!
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planetmarshall on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to Rich W Parker:

> It was very definitely inconsiderate of him. I was watching and then saw it happen, he nearly took out several roped parties already well established below. A good friend and colleague of mine was nearly killed by a 'human boulder' in the same area the previous year.

No climber, soloist or otherwise, can be held responsible for climbers below them. If they decide to climb up a route already occupied, then they implicitly accept the risks involved.
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summo on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> No climber, soloist or otherwise, can be held responsible for climbers below them. If they decide to climb up a route already occupied, then they implicitly accept the risks involved.

Although the above case isn't as you state, I think if you knowingly do roped up soloing with parties below you; then you have to accept some responsibility if you cheese wire people off the route when you fall. I'd put it in the same box as a skier on a known avalanche prone slope trigger ing one on a unsuspecting group below.
Robert Durran - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
> No climber, soloist or otherwise, can be held responsible for climbers below them. If they decide to climb up a route already occupied, then they implicitly accept the risks involved.

I think that is true (assuming the party above do not deliberately hurl eithet themselves or stuff down the route).
Post edited at 15:46
Robert Durran - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to summo:
> Although the above case isn't as you state, I think if you knowingly do roped up soloing with parties below you; then you have to accept some responsibility if you cheese wire people off the route when you fall.

Do you mean two climbers moving together roped up? I wouldn't consider roped (presumably belayed) soloing any different from a belaying pair. In either case, I disagree. If you start up a route with people above you, you are knowingly accepting the risks. Accidents happen. If you don't accept the risks, don't do it.
Post edited at 15:47
summo on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:
I agree in not following people up a route, I avoid it. But if you are soloing with another person fastened to you at a grade or on terrain beyond your competency then if you injury or kill someone below, then a 'share' of that responsibility rest with both parties.

And no, roped soloing is when two people are climbing without anchors to the mtn but joined by a length of rope, if they are pretend belaying is kind of irrelevant.
Post edited at 15:56
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Robert Durran - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to summo:
> I agree in not following people up a route, I avoid it. But if you are soloing with another person fastened to you at a grade or on terrain beyond your competency then if you injury or kill someone below, then a 'share' of that responsibility rest with both parties.

I don't see why ropes, spiky stuff or any other equipment should make any difference to the argument. Moving together roped (which is NOT soloing) is a perfectly normal way of climbing and anyone choosing to climb behind another party should consider that possibility when assessing the risk.

> And no, roped soloing is when two people are climbing without anchors to the mtn but joined by a length of rope, if they are pretend belaying is kind of irrelevant.

No, roped soloing is when a person is climbing alone (ie soloing) and is using a rope to self belay. No idea what you mean by "pretend belaying"!
Post edited at 16:31
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summo on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:
Think we might be imagining or describing different things. Moving together is one thing. But going up the runnel bottom to top joined by 50m of rope, no runners, not flicking the rope over a spike etc... perhaps one stops and belays the other, only without a proper anchored stance is not what most consider safe practice.

I've been heading off back to the bottom of sneachda when two folk tumbled out the bottom of the runnel. Almost identical to the op. Only the leader fell 40m up from the second, close to topping out. The second had the joy of watching the leader go 90m before taking the full impact on their hips, then they both tumbled and slid down. The second was injured far worse than the leader for obvious reasons. That to me is incompetent, dangerous or high risk practice. Yes if someone was in their path it was their choice to be there; but that doesn't in my eyes excuse the less than ideal practice that turned a fall into a preventable accident, stopping many others climbing day, mrt call out etc..
Post edited at 16:40
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Robert Durran - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to summo:

Another part of your risk assessment should be that the Northern Corries are usually liberally sprinkled with numpties. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, best assume anyone already on the route is one.
summo on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Another part of your risk assessment should be that the Northern Corries are usually liberally sprinkled with numpties. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, best assume anyone already on the route is one.

Again i would agree. Presuming that everyone on the mountain is out to kill you, is a reasonable way to cover the risks!
Andy Say - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> No climber, soloist or otherwise, can be held responsible for climbers below them. If they decide to climb up a route already occupied, then they implicitly accept the risks involved.

> I think that is true (assuming the party above do not deliberately hurl eithet themselves or stuff down the route).

I'd disagree there, Robert. If I solo up past a party on a route (as is sort of the scenario in the OP) and then fell off on to them I would feel I was responsible for any injuries they then suffered.
Andy Say - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to summo:

> roped soloing is when two people are climbing without anchors to the mtn but joined by a length of rope, if they are pretend belaying is kind of irrelevant.

Wrong. That is what is called 'moving together' or if you want to be trendy and with it 'simul-climbing'. Its not soloing.

'Roped soloing' is where you are alone on a route but are using belays and runners to try to ensure that if you fall off you don't hit the ground!
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Andy Say - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to summo:
Bear in mind Tom Patey's definitions.

'Solo climber' - one person falling.
'Roped party' - several people falling simultaneously.
Post edited at 18:33
Rich W Parker - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to martinturner:

Not the most sensitive, no. I fully accept that. A year has passed and I'm just hoping no-one with a personal connection has been upset, but this should be discussed..

In reply to timjones:

What should have happened is that the team of soloists considered what and who was around them in the event of the worst.

In reply to planetmarshall:

There were roped parties already established when the soloists embarked.

Let me make myself absolutely clear on this: my comment is not intended to intentionally agitate or upset, nor disposed to any sentiment of disrespect. But it is very important than when teams of roped climbers, or soloists set out to go above others they consider their actions and what they might mean. So I absolutely stand by what I have said.
timjones - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to Rich W Parker:

> What should have happened is that the team of soloists considered what and who was around them in the event of the worst.

Did they pass the other parties on the route or were they first on?

If you pass other parties then you have some responsibility for them, but what would you suggest a soloist should do if other parties start climbing when they are already on a route?
Rich W Parker - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to timjones:

They were not first on. No one can be all that responsible for someone who decides to come in underneath, other than themselves. It's all quite common sense, is it not?
Robert Durran - on 11 Mar 2017
In reply to Andy Say:

> I'd disagree there, Robert. If I solo up past a party on a route (as is sort of the scenario in the OP) and then fell off on to them I would feel I was responsible for any injuries they then suffered.

I agree. But that is not the scenario I was discussing, which is when you start up a route with people already on it; then it is your responsibilty and your own risk, not theirs.


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