/ NEWS: Deep Water Soloing Gets A Ban In the USA

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Michael Ryan - on 27 Jun 2007
The USA has an incredible coastline, both on the Pacific and Atlantic seaboards, but very little sea cliff climbing. In the lower contiguous 48 states, the State of Maine has Otter Cliffs on Mount Desert Island and I'm sure there is some in the Pacific Northwest; San Franscisco has Mickey's Beach an...

One of the few areas of deep water soloing in the USA has just had a ban imposed...........

Michael Ryan - on 27 Jun 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan -

I must add,

"The rule that specifically bans deep water soloing is “Entering the lake from a height greater than one’s own is always prohibited.”
Shaw Brown - on 27 Jun 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan -
> (In reply to Mick Ryan -
> I must add,
> "The rule that specifically bans deep water soloing is “Entering the lake from a height greater than one’s own is always prohibited.”

That's not a ban, it's just telling you not to fall off. If you do, your banned!

Simon - on 27 Jun 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan -
> (In reply to Mick Ryan -
> I must add,
> "The rule that specifically bans deep water soloing is “Entering the lake from a height greater than one’s own is always prohibited.”

Its funny - the yanks being more inhibited than us!

The DWS RF guide is Genuis - they could learn a lot from the big man..

Michael Ryan - on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Simon:

Maybe it will happen in the UK?

Man in hospital after cliff jump
A man has been taken to hospital after jumping into the sea from cliffs and knocking himself unconscious.
The 29-year-old man had to be rescued by the local lifeboat off Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes.

A member of the public also leapt into the water to try to help him. Coastguards say they believe the man had been "tombstoning".

Coastguards have warned once again about the dangers of jumping into water from a height.

James Instance, Falmouth coastguard watch manager said: "This is the second incidence of people jumping off cliffs into water - sometimes known as tombstoning - which coastguards in the South West have dealt with overnight.

"In the first incident a man lost his life. This incident could just as easily have resulted in a fatality. This man lost consciousness as he hit the water and became severely hypothermic."

Coroner rules on cliff death jump

John Hodgess had graduated with a degree in management science
The death of a Leicestershire man who jumped off a cliff in Utah for fun was the result of misadventure, a coroner has ruled.
John Hodgess, 23, of Groby, suffered a head injury and drowned after jumping 70 ft (21.3m) into Lake Powell in September 2004.

The inquest at Loughborough Magistrates' Court heard Mr Hodgess failed to resurface after the leap.

Mr Hodgess was the ninth person to die cliff jumping in the Glen Canyon.

A post-mortem examination found he had died from the effects of "blunt force head trauma".

Warning over cliff jumping craze
Lifeboat volunteers in South Tyneside say teenagers who take part in a cliff jumping craze are putting their lives at risk.
The practice of 'tomb stoning' involves walking out to unsafe clifftop areas and plunging into the sea.

On Friday, an RAF helicopter was called out to rescue three teenagers stranded on rocks at Sandhaven.

Tom Fennelly, secretary of South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade condemned the cliff jumping craze.

He said: "A certain group of young people get some kind of thrill from going down to these areas of the cliffs and simply jump off into the water.

"It is an extremely foolish and dangerous practice."

Rescuers in Devon and Cornwall warn that it is only a matter of time before someone is killed while "tombstoning" along the counties' coasts.
30 Jun 2006
Karriless - on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan -
Unfortunately I wouldn't be surprised if local authorities would blindly introduce a ban that would be all inclusive to any sports involving a combination of cliffs and water, which would include DWS.

Our local paper started using the term tombstoning about 10 years ago, due to it being a local rag not having much news the smallest story needs to be given the maximum impact. It was used to describe the "new craze" of jumping off high cliffs. In fairness it was probably a reactionary story to the coastguard giving out a warning of people jumping into the sea at low tide. Its just a shame that the story has been repeated each year in an effort to stop people it has only sensationalised the acts of the foolish whilst increasing safety awareness has been forgotten.

It seems that this sensationalist term to describe what was simply cliff jumping is now being used by everybody, more notably with the people posting videos of cliff jumping on youtube. So in that part I would have to congratulate the media for their part in increasing the hype around this.

There have been several deaths around the torbay area due to people hitting rocks in shallow water after attempting a jump. Invariably these people have been either drunk or had no knowledge of the tides. So far the count is two this year. The first was a man at berry head who jumped of a disused building at low tide, hitting rocks below and tragically dying as a result of his injuries. The second was a school girl from paignton who was jumping with a group of kids unaware of the depth of the water. As a result she has spinal injuries. These are typical of the cases each year and clearly as this will only be in the media more and more the council will be pressured into being seen to doing something. Rather than being a measured reaction it will more likely take the form of a total ban with a couple of boats patrolling the cliff lines.
This in turn would be publisced/sensationalised further by our local, developing a social unacceptance of all who enjoy jumping, climbing or just generally exploring what is a wonderful coastline.

Cliff jumping in torquay itself is part of the towns heritage.. one of our very few olympians can be seen high diving from one of the cliffs in a photo on the sw coastal path. It is a safe location for others to do the same, and after seeing that photo I was also inspired to try and replicate it. Ironically just around the corner is a sign stating anyone found climbing on those cliffs faces a £200 fine.

In my experience the locals that go cliff jumping regularly have a knowledge of the tides and where you can and can't jump, which has been passed down through the generations, through school folklore. How impressed was I to hear Steve had dived of Gold or another Steve had jumped ultimate 3?! Both high jumps with an element of risk but neither as dangerous as the papers would have you believe.

These places have been established for over 20 years (as long as I knew of there existence) and as far as I know nobody has died on an well known jump in Torquay. It would seem a great shame if we loose our freedom to enjoy this coastline be it either through DWS or cliff jumping.

The only thing I can say is if you want to DWS in torbay get down there now and enjoy it before anyone has the idea of banning it.
Trangia on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan -

It's b*llocks. Just how do you enforce such a ban? It's also a total interference with civil liberties. Nannyism gone mad.
Michael Ryan - on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Trangia:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan -
> It's b*llocks. Just how do you enforce such a ban?

At Summerville Lake? Probaby a boat patrol there anyway.

Trangia on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan -

Yes I can see it being enforceable if its done in private waters, but thousands of miles of sea shore?

In the UK I suppose some sort of control would be to make victims pay for the cost of their rescue?

But I would feel uneasy at an overall ban. The next step would be to try and ban soloing?
Richard Horn - on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Trangia:

Lets face it, climbing is banned at Lulworth and that isnt wholly respected, so I can imagine a lot of climbers would simply ignore the ban anyway. I would have thought the police have got bigger fish to fry anyhow.
AndrewHuddart - on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan -
Real shame. Summerville Lake's got some great stuff on it. Spent 2 weeks around the New River Gorge a few years ago and loved the DWS on the rest days.

Doubt a similar ban wold work anywhere else.

the ban is to enter the water from >head height. Whose head height and who is measuring?! you can still traverse then...
nikinko - on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Karriless:

I agree with you, like climbing you accept the element of risk and ensure you practice it safely.

however, the young people I work with who simply fling themselves into any water they can find without knowledge of tides, currents, depth, what's under the water, are at considerable risk. I don't think a 'ban' is the answer to reduce the risk for these young people, I'd rather take them coasteering with a centre so they learn how to do what they enjoy properly and safely.
Lord of Starkness - on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan -

The local neds have been doing it at Auchinstarry for years!!
Karriless - on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Richard Horn and Nikinko:

Agreed. I don't think any ban on coastal waters would be enforcable. Similarly to ansteys cove where anyone found climbing on cliffs there is liable to a £500 fine, but nobody seems to take a blind bit of notice of it.

Enforcable or not I can still see the council trying, which would be more of an irritation than anything serious, until they decide to get a bit of publicity by prosecuting someone.

I also agree there should be something done to make a lot more youngsters aware of the dangers - writing sensationalist articles in the local paper won't help. We were always told to check the depth of the water before jumping in. A campaign in schools would be far more a responsible attitude than a ban, after all its children that such bans are brought in to protect. If an adult wants to do something that will possibly kill them its very difficult to stop them.
jkarran - on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan -

This makes even less sense in a country without a national health service!

A ban like this in the UK would be utterly unenforcable especially on seacliffs. Jumping from harbour property is banned here, it doesn't stop the constant stream of local youths from jumping off the lighthouse on sunny days. You jump, get your telling off, look sheepish... repeat half an hour later.

Trangia on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan -

Base jumping is illegal in most countries isn't it? But it doesn't make any difference.
co1ps - on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - There are always hundreds of chavs taking the plunge (annual bath) off the bridge in Bettws y Coed every summer weekend. Local plod doesn't seem to take any notice.
chris fox on 28 Jun 2007
In reply:

can you imagine Johnny Dawes saying " Think i'll stay in and watch the A-team this sat as i can't go out for a climb!!!" Yeh right
graeme alderson on 28 Jun 2007 -
In reply to Mick Ryan - The ban is for jumping or diving. Doesn't mention falling off and obviously no one intends to fall off do they
anthonyecc on 28 Jun 2007 -
In reply to Mick Ryan -

The Land of the free seems to have its priorities wrong. There are hundreds of american soldiers being blown to bits in Iraq but they don't seem to be wanting to ban war! In fact America has been in at least 1 war every decade since WW2
sutty on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to jkarran:

There has always been people jumping and swimming there, even called the bathing cove on this picture;

I can see some wasted time looking at some of those old pictures from the past.
johncoxmysteriously - on 28 Jun 2007
In reply to Karriless:

>one of our very few olympians can be seen high diving from one of the cliffs in a photo on the sw coastal path

Who's that, then?

You wonder whether whoever the guidebook says first jumped the Conger in 1976 truly was the first. Somehow seems a bit unlikely.

I remember being very impressed by seeing someone jump for the gearing-up place above the start of Rainbow Bridge. That's a fair way down, and blind too. Though it may not have been completely on-sight, I guess.

RaphaelDWS on 28 Jun 2007 -
In reply to anthonyecc: Societies protect their own interests. Of course one can die for the society in the so called glory of war. Dying for ones own freedom is prohibited in the name of safety. The real reason behind it all is that the society of people in a country has become an entity which protects its own interests and has no interest in freedom at all.

One wonders what the deaths are really related to. I would have said two main factors are the culprits, one is alcohol and the other is showing off. Neither of these elements really produce the right factors for the kind of decisions that should be associated with calculated risk taking. Climbers approach danger with care and under their own private duress, and so whilst not being safe, they are much safer.
Karriless - on 29 Jun 2007
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
Tack Collins
mike robertson on 29 Jun 2007 -
In reply to Mick Ryan -

Saddened to hear of developments at Summersville Lake in the US. With military patrol boats in the area, that ban would be easy to enforce. Can I also suggest that, as Summersville Lake seems to have been 'created' (as opposed to naturally-formed), the army might consider it as very much their own property.

As far as UK sea cliffs are concerned, a ban on climbing/falling/jumping would be almost impossible to enforce, and unbelievably expensive. Witness Dorset's Stair Hole, which was banned to climbers back in 1993. We gave the BMC a year to sort things out in the right way, and then we went ahead and climbed anyway. The Weld Estate - who own Stair Hole - used their standard disclaimer (this found itself into the climbing magazines frequently in the nineties), and we ignored it. They tell us what they want (they won't pay out in the event of any claim, essentially), and we tell them what we want (we go climbing anyway). Both sides satisfied?

As far as injuries are concerned, we need to do what we can to keep injuries away from the climbing world. So please learn the tides, always check the depth before your antics, and pass on your knowledge to any newcomers to DWS. You now have more information in one place than ever before, so use 'Deep Water' wisely!

For the future, we're going to see a lot more limitations imposed on us, especially if the government get involved in issues of this type. So get out there and chase your dreams, and ignore those scuzzy bureaucrats. Personally, I'll go to jail before I give up deep water soloing. It's what still makes Britain great...

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