Monday, October 31, 2011

Do You Have A Knot? (Near Miss on The Gaisberg)

"Es geht locher aus!" ("There's easily enough!"), he said nine meters above the ground as he was cleaning the quickdraws from the route.  A few seconds later there was a scream from the young women belaying and the thumping sound of his body hitting the ground and tumbling down the steeply sloping landing.

The young couple climbing had a 60 meter rope. They were on a route that is 38 meters long and designed as a two-pitch practice climb to learn and perfect multi-pitch rope technique. There is a two-bolt belay anchor at 18 meters into the route. A climber could also naturally climb the full length and belay the second from above, making two rappels to get down.(there are independent rappel anchors)

The young guy that fell was luckily not seriously injured.  There are a number of wooden and iron spikes in the ground that support retaining logs that form flat terraces for the path and belay platforms.  He could have very easily landed on on one of the spikes.

A knot at the end of the rope would have prevented the accident.


ARC'TERYX: The Adamants "What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong" from ARC'TERYX on Vimeo.

Toni and Brunno in the video above had a similar accident. Toni Lamprecht is a professionally sponsored climber and very experienced.  I assume Brunno is just as experienced.  If something like this could happen to them, it certainly could happen to you.  It's my firm belief that accidents like this are total surprises to the victims involved.  We rationalize that it is only others, those less experienced, less careful, in more demanding situations, that make mistakes.  This is why one must be vigilant, even in seemingly mundane situations.

It is standard practice to always have a stopper knot at the end of the rope while sport climbing, rappelling, climbing with a self-belaying system, etc.  Falling due to an un-knotted rope passing through a belay device is perhaps the most common technical mistake that leads to climbing accidents.  So if your partner is not tied into the end of the rope, then there should always be a stopper knot on the end.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

KletterTreff Kletterhalle Salzburg

Rest & Reflection

I can't remember how many times I have said to myself that I will keep my blog entries more regular.  However, no matter how good the intentions are, it is a lot of work and time intensive to regularly write. Since I started this blog, I have developed a lot of respect for people who are disciplined enough to regularly publish interesting information on the web, even more for those who inspire and motivate me.

Usually when I have long lapses between posting, it is due to being really busy with work and private climbing - courses, guiding, personal training, etc., and of course my own training.  Off the top of my head the list of what I've been up to is as follows:

Wilder Kaiser - alpine rock routes
Hohes Brett southwest face - multi-pitch bolted routes courses & guiding
Untersberg Berchtesgadener Hochthorn (south face, "Gelbe Mauer", "Schimkepfeiler") - guiding & private climbing
WeiƟseespitze - north face, alpine snow/ice
Wildspitze - north face, alpine snow/ice
Untersberg Salzburger Hochthron (south face, "Blausandpheiler", east face) - guiding & private climbing

Due to excellent fall weather and conditions, there have been extended time periods for climbing.  Alpine rock climbing is always best at this time of year in the Northeastern Alps around Salzburg.  Approaches are usually cold and the descents are also usually cold and in the dark, but during the day the temps are perfect with conditions that guarantee great friction for the feet and hands.

Additionally, we seem to get a couple of good snow storms up high every September and October.  The precipitation combined with a bit of sun and warmer fall temperatures work together to often create good conditions on classic north face snow & ice climbs in the Hohe Tauern range.

Yesterday (a Saturday), my wife and I were at the southwest face of the Hohe Brett for a fun, low-stress day of bolted multi-pitch climbing.  This face is one of my favorite climbing areas in the fall.  Highly-structured alpine limestone at an elevation between 1800 and 2300 meters.  In many years I have been rock climbing in the sun on one weekend here and then the following weekend skiing powder on the first ski tour of the season.  Anyways, we were alone on the face yesterday.  A few hikers passed by underneath us during the day.

In Tyrol, on the WeiƟseespitze and Wildspitze, I was also alone.  The glacier ski areas on the Kaunerferner and in Pitztal are running, so there were skiers around.  On the north faces, there was some hard wind-pressed snow and blank ice.  I found the conditions really good and perfect for training at a higher elevation and getting some early season mileage on steep snow and ice.  You can not artificially duplicate the training effect of climbing moderate 55 degree snow and ice over 400 or 500 meters of elevation.  It is also a chance to test the affects of summer fitness training, plus new ideas with equipment and clothing systems before winter sets in.

So today is more or less a rest day, though I'll probably do a little sport climbing or bouldering later on.  Upon reflecting back on the last few weeks, I've really done a lot, especially when I factor in the normal "mundane" training sessions.  When my wife and I got home last night, we were both tired and hungry - that deep satisfied feeling of tiredness and real hunger that only comes after a long day out. It's a great feeling.