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Thread: Canyoneering death in the Subway

  1. #61

    Canyoneering death in the Subway

    Quote Originally Posted by Bo_Beck View Post
    ???? 16 going on 17 years volunteering my services with ZNP with an average of 6 SARS on the way, within and exiting The Left Fork. I have responded to one injury sustained from the descent at the old anchors within this time frame. 2 weeks of a new anchor yielded a fatality. Safer? Maybe I'm not seeing this right? Please correct me if I'm wrong Shane? I can see that sometime in the future new anchors will be needed as the log wedged in the wash will dissappear and access to the ledge containing the "old" anchors may be compromised? Thanks, Bo
    No, you're not seeing it right. There are hundreds of anchors in canyons around the park that are every bit as awkward of a start, if not more so than aforementioned anchor. People rappel on them every day without incident. It's fallacy and false premise to establish the cause and effect relationship of the anchor causing the problem. Coincidence is more accurate.
    Use your head. He was already on his way down the rope when things went wrong. Once on the rope, a good anchor cannot give you any problems, and the only thing a bad anchor can do is fail, that didn't happen. The actual placement of the anchor has absolutely nothing to do with it. It was simply what his rope was attached to, that is as involved as the anchor gets. Period.

    I'm getting sick of people trying connect my anchor to this tragedy. I don't exactly feel stoked about it, but there was no way to know at the time. Tell me honestly if any of you would have thought at the time that this could be a potential problem, any more so than ANY OTHER ANCHOR in the whole damn park. If any of you say "yes", you're padding your ego and lying to yourself and everyone here

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  4. #62
    An anchor down those falls has been in place off and on for years. Assigning blame to the party that rebuilt the anchor is as folly as assigning blame to any of the other circumstances surrounding the accident, for example the SAR not going out the night they were notified, the training not providing enough training to deal with this circumstance, the 2nd to last group passing them up, etc. Assigning blame to any of these things is ridiculous. Nobody involved had ill intent; in fact, they had only the best of intentions. These were all circumstances surrounding a horrible tragedy; don't mistake them for causes.

  5. #63
    Quote Originally Posted by Bootboy View Post
    No, you're not seeing it right. There are hundreds of anchors in canyons around the park that are every bit as awkward of a start, if not more so than aforementioned anchor. People rappel on them every day without incident. It's fallacy and false premise to establish the cause and effect relationship of the anchor causing the problem. Coincidence is more accurate.
    Use your head. He was already on his way down the rope when things went wrong. Once on the rope, a good anchor cannot give you any problems, and the only thing a bad anchor can do is fail, that didn't happen. The actual placement of the anchor has absolutely nothing to do with it. It was simply what his rope was attached to, that is as involved as the anchor gets. Period.

    I'm getting sick of people trying connect my anchor to this tragedy. I don't exactly feel stoked about it, but there was no way to know at the time. Tell me honestly if any of you would have thought at the time that this could be a potential problem, any more so than ANY OTHER ANCHOR in the whole damn park. If any of you say "yes", you're padding your ego and lying to yourself and everyone here
    No pissing match going on here. My response did not even hint of blame or fault. My response was strictly directed at a comment I misread (or failed to read in it's entirety) to begin with. What I misread and commented on was Shanes comment about how the newly placed tree actually made it safer. I failed to read that Shane was actually suggesting the newly placed tree made it safer to access the "old" anchors. I realized my mistake soon after and apologized.
    "Bump: I'm sorry...I see that you refer to the log placement making access safer and not the new anchor that was constructed for descent into the waterfall....

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  7. #64
    Quote Originally Posted by xxnitsuaxx View Post
    People still make the decision to rappel off the log. People also make the decision to be self-righteous dickheads under fake names online. That's a lot of chest-thumping from someone trying to be badass about doing the Subway "properly". Seriously dude? You're bragging about doing the Subway without rapping? You want a cookie or a sticker? Post your name and take responsibility for your comments like a man. I hope to run into you in a canyon some day and have you try and critique my techniques.
    Austin,

    Clearly I am not expressing myself properly (it is why I don't post very often).

    I am just saying we need to consider others when we make choices. If we don't then we leave it up to the goverment (ZNP) to make them for us. And none of us wants that.

    In this case we have an elderly couple struggling to finish a canyon, a canyon they are doing for the first time (completing a long time bucket list item). They are behind and most likely will not finish before dark. Suddenly, they encounter a difficult if not impossible obstacle. A quick look around reveals an anchor. They take it and the results is a tragic accident.
    Last edited by Stray; 09-22-2012 at 09:31 PM. Reason: Fixed my typo

  8. #65

    Canyoneering death in the Subway

    Quote Originally Posted by Stray View Post

    I am just saying we need to consider others when we make choices. If we don't then we leave it up to the goverment (ZAC) to make them for us. And none of us wants that...
    Once again, you are insinuating that I failed to consider others and failed to make a good decision and don't understand what you stated above. Stop. You are right, had the anchor not been there this probably would not have happened, but who is to say someone else wouldn't have built it or that the couple wouldn't have used the existing anchor in the same spot. You cannot within reason establish that cause and effect relationship. That anchor has absolutely nothing to do with policing ourselves or canyon ethics. Your deduction is false. There are way too many variables in circumstance to establish any logical connection of cause and effect to any single one.

    Ps. How is ZAC in any way correlated to the government in this scenario?

  9. #66
    Hey guys, re read Jeremy's post (Deathtointernet) on page 6. What he says covers it...no one to blame here.

    On a personal note, I've been all over the canyon country for more than 25 years. I can't tell you (actually, I can...lots of stories) how many newbies and over their head types I've encountered in "You've got to be kidding me" situations. For every bad thing that happens, there are scores of near misses.

    Don't feel bad, Bootboy. It sure as hell isn't your fault. Isn't it strange though, that his destiny was, in a way, tied to you? THAT'S THE HARD PART. You have no control over fate.

  10. #67
    As is often with backcountry incidents - the armchair/internet analysis, hypothesizing, and blame-placing takes off. I guess I won't hold back either.

    I had the misfortune of being on the route that morning, and coming across the body just a few minutes after the first SAR responder did. For context: I'm a brand-new canyoneer (I had done Keyhole the day before - same as the subject party), but a very experienced climber, have some rescue training (CMC), and have done industrial rigging (formal IRATA, and on-the-job through the IATSE union). That doesn't make my perspective any more valid than anyone else's - but it gives context for where I'm coming from.

    The anchor? Props to whomever built it. It looks like a fun rappel, and while I only saw it briefly while stepping over it (and the hanging body) - it looked to be built well, and as safe as it should be. Was it a more-difficult-than "standard" Subway rappel? You bet - it was at your feet, on a semi-wet log, and looked to be into free space. It has an obstacle (Waterfall) that could easily make someone lose control of the rap. This doesn't make it inherently unsafe, but does mean it's more challenging than other raps on the route, and certainly more challenging for newbies who have only worked on anchors that were at their face-level, and not dropping into free space. Who knows if they saw the easier bolted rap 50 feet past the logs or not. But variations are parts of routes (and SHOULD be) -and adding fun, challenging options are part and parcel of the sport. It's upon individuals to have the experience and skills to evaluate and look for such things - and know when to say when.

    The real problem here? Newbies shouldn't be leading newbies. This was my first time in Subway - and we passed dozens of people doing the route with no technical gear at all. That's personal choice - but it seemed a bit sketchy to me to have CLEARLY inexperienced hikers, in sandals, often times quite young - hand-over-handing it (or at best a hip-belay) on 7mil cord down slippery drops up to 30'. I recognize I'm new to cnayoneering culture and norms - but as someone who is fit, strong, good with footwork, and a great scrambler - I'm glad I chose to safely rappel rather than risk sprained ankles or worse - especially on a long backcountry route where a rescue might take a while, and hobbling out on a broken ankle wouldn't be fun.

    The only 2 parties we saw who were also rapping on it were both totally fresh. They had both taken a 1-day crash-course in rappelling from a local shop (I don't know which), and barely knew how to thread their device, much less how to recognize problems, troubleshoot anything, evaluate anchors, ascend, or do anything else on rope. BOTH of the other parties (my partner and I included) accidentally started off-route and came upon a ~100' rap right off the bat, before dropping into the Subway canyon.

    Both other parties said "well, the book says 30' downclimb". I had the experience to recognize that this WAS NOT the book route, not an easy downclimb, and that this was a much longer rappel with an intermediate anchor. Everyone made it down, but it took some coaching on my part for people to rig ropes properly (since their "Subway Rental Ropes" weren't sufficient), and everyone struggled a bit on the 2nd pitch rap as the anchor forces you into a slightly tricky stance. If I wasn't there there? I can totally see folks rapping with the rope they had, realizing their ropes weren't long enough halfway down, and not having the slightest clue what to do once they were at the bottom of their rope with another 40' to go. Hopefully I'm wrong, but that seemed to be the direction things were headed when I was there.

    THIS is the problem. Newbies shouldn't lead newbies. While Subway (or any other route) might IDEALLY be very simple and straightforward, tons of people (apparently including Guides) are sending people out there with the bare-bones skills needed to do the route under optimal conditions. When things go perfect - no problem. But when something goes differently, too many folks don't have the most basic of skills to even recognize that something is off, or to even know what their options are.

    Not everyone needs to carry a bolt kit. Not everyone needs to have strong self-rescue skills. Not everyone has to be able to rig a 6-point equalized anchor and do an aussie-style rappel. But someone in EVERY party (if not everyone in the party) should at least know how to ascend a rope, and have the experience to evaluate common situations and recognize a potential pitfall before it happens.

    From what we know of this accident - simply knowing how to tie a prussik (and of course, carrying cord for one) would likely have prevented this tragedy. I've seen autoblocks, clothing, hair, jewelry and more get caught in rappel devices. It's not a rare situation. And it's not a big deal - it should be a very simple issue to address. I can't imagine the thought process that left someone thinking that cutting your harness was the best/only option. Maybe more details will emerge, but this seems like a very, very avoidable accident.

    Maybe this is me coming from a more conservative climbing ethic, but I was a bit shocked at how casual, and lax the culture around rappelling seemed to be in Zion. I appreciate the climbing mentors I had they rightfully make me super cautious when learning how to place protection, analyze and build anchors every which possible way, and learn self-rescue skills before I headed off in the backcountry. I felt that the canyoneering culture I encountered on this trip didn't share this ethic. As but one example - I was surprised that renting gear is the norm - you are hard pressed to find a climbing shop that would rent a harness and rope. (I'm not opposed to this - but I think it does reflect a much more casual safety ethic)

    Either way, it's a sad tragedy, let's not forget that. Accidents happen all the time, and let's use these opportunities to LEARN from them to prevent them in the future. Pointing blame is not the goal - finding constructive solutions is.

    -Matt
    Last edited by MattLeonard; 09-22-2012 at 11:22 PM. Reason: typos

  11. #68
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    Re: Canyoneering death in the Subway

    No blame to you boot in my eyes.

    Regardless, I don't care if an anchor was set wrong, tied wrong, used old webbing, whatever. Always the responsibility of the user, period. Including trade routes.

    Sent from my ICS'd SGS2

  12. #69

    Canyoneering death in the Subway

    That anchor has been there for years. I rapped off that log and I haven't done the subway in 5 years or so. I loved that rap since it is a waterfall and a cool little 'cave' back behind it.

    I stay out of the subway for many of the reasons listed here. I simply cannot stand all the people and the dumb things they do. I've seen so many stupid things done in that canyon over the years that's it's amazing there aren't even more rescues then there are currently.
    beefcake. BEEFCAKE!

  13. #70
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    Re: Canyoneering death in the Subway

    Which in time will lead to loss of and restriction on our canyons. Hence my counter intuitive insistence on not kowtowing to the safety nazis.

    If we continually give in to the notion that we aren't fundamentally responsible for our own safety at all times out there, then restrictions will follow. I have no tolerance for people even implying that anything was wrong about that anchor or any anchor.

    Sent from my ICS'd SGS2

  14. #71
    Sad, sad way to go. Dang... 5 feet from the deck. So sorry for the family and friends of this man.
    Life is Good

  15. #72
    Canyon Wrangler canyoncaver's Avatar
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    I apologize if I missed this somewhere, but what on earth was his foot stuck in? Was it rock, log, anchor sling, his own gear, or rope leg wrap? Those are my guesses so far.

  16. #73
    Quote Originally Posted by canyoncaver View Post
    ...what on earth was his foot stuck in? Was it rock, log, anchor sling, his own gear, or rope leg wrap?
    When his autobloc became stuck, he cut off his harness and his foot stuck in the harness as he fell.

  17. #74
    Canyon Wrangler canyoncaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stray View Post
    When his autobloc became stuck, he cut off his harness and his foot stuck in the harness as he fell.
    Thank you for the clarification. I couldn't figure it out from the written reports.

  18. #75
    Quote Originally Posted by canyoncaver View Post
    Thank you for the clarification. I couldn't figure it out from the written reports.
    FYI

    http://www.statesman.com/news/nation...n-2462983.html

  19. #76
    Interesting that with all of the misguided finger pointing about the webbing on the log, which anchors have come and gone for years, that nobody focuses on the actual cause of the accident (aside from the victim being a newbie) being the autoblock (on a 15 ft rappel??), taught to him by the local business who pushes that more often problematic than not, practice.

    rick

  20. #77
    What a tragedy, condolences to the parties involved.

    Quote Originally Posted by MattLeonard;
    ...

    The only 2 parties we saw who were also rapping on it were both totally fresh. They had both taken a 1-day crash-course in rappelling from a local shop (I don't know which), and barely knew how to thread their device, much less how to recognize problems, troubleshoot anything, evaluate anchors, ascend, or do anything else on rope. BOTH of the other parties (my partner and I included) accidentally started off-route and came upon a ~100' rap right off the bat, before dropping into the Subway canyon.

    Both other parties said "well, the book says 30' downclimb". I had the experience to recognize that this WAS NOT the book route, not an easy downclimb, and that this was a much longer rappel with an intermediate anchor. Everyone made it down, but it took some coaching on my part for people to rig ropes properly (since their "Subway Rental Ropes" weren't sufficient), and everyone struggled a bit on the 2nd pitch rap as the anchor forces you into a slightly tricky stance. If I wasn't there there? I can totally see folks rapping with the rope they had, realizing their ropes weren't long enough halfway down, and not having the slightest clue what to do once they were at the bottom of their rope with another 40' to go. Hopefully I'm wrong, but that seemed to be the direction things were headed when I was there.

    THIS is the problem. Newbies shouldn't lead newbies. While Subway (or any other route) might IDEALLY be very simple and straightforward, tons of people (apparently including Guides) are sending people out there with the bare-bones skills needed to do the route under optimal conditions. When things go perfect - no problem. But when something goes differently, too many folks don't have the most basic of skills to even recognize that something is off, or to even know what their options are.

    ...

    Either way, it's a sad tragedy, let's not forget that. Accidents happen all the time, and let's use these opportunities to LEARN from them to prevent them in the future. Pointing blame is not the goal - finding constructive solutions is.

    -Matt
    I once saw a lady almost lose her life in that same spot, she sliped off that little ledge and was hanging upside down with the rope just wraped around her legs.

    Assuming responsability for this tragedy because you built the anchor is wrong and not healthy. It is not your fault.

    As far as learning from this, i like the idea of lifting yoursefl up with the brake line to get unstuck. Also, when i was first starting, i was told to use an autoblock, but it seems unnecessary unless your the first one down. Then you can do a firemans belay. What do others think about that?
    Marlowe

  21. #78
    the whole idea of the auto block/safety is covered quite well in another thread- Do you use a safety backup?

    rick

  22. #79
    I camped next to a photographer this week who was the first person onsite hiking from the bottom up early in the morning. He snapped a few pictures from a distance while not realizing what was in the water. He showed me the picture while we were gearing up for Imlay. Not one of the best things to look at before heading down a canyon. From what I could see in the picture, the prusik had to be at least 12" - 16" long. It was quite apparent that it was tangled in his rappel device. Using a prusik on a 15' rappel seems like a little overkill to me but it seems that the length of the prusik caused this accident as opposed to his choice of using one.

  23. #80
    Quote Originally Posted by Slipknot View Post
    Using a prusik on a 15' rappel seems like a little overkill


    I'm probably going to hell for it.... but that made me snicker....

    And welcome to Bogley.

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