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Eldorado State Park Accident - Belaying

Submitted By: John McNamee on May 15, 2007


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This morning the Daily Camera is reporting an accident in Eldorado Canyon yesterday.

According to the report the climber fell 15 feet when the rope ran through the partners belay device. Best wishes from the mp.com crew on a quick recovery and back to climbing quickly. Sometimes when these happens people aren't as lucky.

Rant: Please be careful out there and either tie at both ends of the rope or at least tie a big knot in the end. I'm really tired of seeing these sort of accidents happen time and again. It's like groundhog day!


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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 4, 2007
By mike1
May 15, 2007

It also helps to use a belay device that does not promote a soft catch (rope slips easier through it) like an ATC. Look for one with grooves that lock off or go with a figure eight. They tend to lock off on their own (the figure eight).

By Steve Levin
From: Boulder, CO
May 15, 2007

The accident was not on Redgarden, but on the West Ridge in the vicinity of The Unsaid.

By Eastvillage
From: New York, NY
May 15, 2007

I see way too many people belaying and not tied in, it boggles the mind how many climbers are ignorant of such basic rope skills.

By flynn
May 15, 2007

Best wishes to the fallen climber and his partner for quick and complete recoveries from their different injuries.
Thanks for the clarification, Steve.
And now, from Captain Obvious: Same song, 93rd verse. Mark the middle of your rope; know how to use your belay device; and pay attention. The only piece of "safety equipment" we have is the one between our ears. It only works when it's turned on and tuned by experience.

By E Johnson
From: Boulder, CO
May 15, 2007

"Rescuers determined that the victim was in the process of belaying down the rock face when the rope slid through his climbing hardware because he didn't tie a knot at the end of the belay rope."

Doesn't this mean he was rappelling? If he was being belayed down, then his partner should've been tied in (and shouldn't have let the rope go through his device).

Either way, it was a preventable accident and didn't require advanced knowledge to prevent.

By Malcolm Daly
From: Boulder, CO
May 15, 2007

Mike1, I'm sorry but I disagree. An enhanced friction device like the ATC XP, ATC XP Guide, SGB II or the Jaws would do nothing to prevent this type of accident unless it was due to loss of control of the rope by the belayer's brake hand. In a lowering scenario this is highly unlikely. No doubt the belayer was concentrating on something else--probably the climber. If he was within 15' of the ground they were undoubtedly talking to each other ("Wow, dude! That was an awesome route. Man, I crushed that mov...Oh shit!) and not paying attention to where the end of the rope was.

Eastvillage has it right. There is no excuse for not being tied into both ends of the rope or tying a stopper knot. Ever.

Climb safe,
Mal

By Michal Turczyk
From: Las Vegas, NV
May 15, 2007

Hope the injuries heal quick. Don't know all the exact details, but this is a tough way to learn a lesson.

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
May 16, 2007

One of the nice things about a bi-color rope is that not only the middle is marked, both sides are. At every anchor and every belay I know what color/pattern I am tied into and I know where the rope runs through the anchor- ergo, I know if I am more than 1/2 rope up.
Not to mention, my belayers always yell "HALF ROPE" at me when I hit it. This is a habit to get into.
Anyway, long before I ever rap or lower, it is completely clear to me what will happen. For the extra $10-15 for the rope, it is worth it. It is one of the best saftey features I think I can have.

By jack roberts
May 16, 2007

It's always the same thing. An inexperienced climber doesn't anticipate what might happen, isn't paying attention and before they know it the rope goes zipping through the belay device. It's a simple thing to just put a knot in the end of the rope, and while it's "just not cool" to do that, it's also "just not cool" to be in a bed in the hospital. I've seen the potential for the rope going through the belay device lots of times in Eldorado and mentioned it to the climbers only to be ignored.
Well, it keeps the crowds down anyway.

By Tradsplatter
From: Boulder, CO
May 16, 2007

I agree with Tony and Jack. It only takes 10 seconds to put a knot in the ends of the rope, what a no-brainer! Communication and awareness of what is going on above and below you saves the rescue squad a lot of trouble, keeps your hospital bills down to nothing, not to mention the unwelcome attention of negative media stories! Having a middle mark, or bi-color rope is just plain smart. In many people's mind, somehow it seems the emphasis on climbing safety sort of peters out when it comes to rappelling...which demands the same attention to detail and safety as climbing up does - if not slightly more. Preaching to the choir here, I'm sure. ;0) Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think rappelling is technically a form of self-belaying. It would be nice if the media would just say whether the person was belay being belayed by another climber, providing a belaying to another person, or in fact just rappelling. My experience dealing directly with the media is that accuracy with language and jargon is not their strong suit! What a shock??!

By SAL
From: broomdigiddy
May 16, 2007

Tie a knot or tie in. It is always as so frustrating to hear of such preventable accidents. So is the actual report that he was Rapping or did his belayer drop him while staring at the couple climbing the bastille crack???? Either way such an EZ precaution could save many lives and cash for hospital bills if your lucky enough to live. Like Tony said, an extra $15.00 per rope for a half and half is much cheaper the the SAR bill and that comfy reclining bed equipped with bed pan.
Be safe out there!!!
Cheers,
Sal

By Buff Johnson
May 16, 2007

To make a small point, there is no SAR bill with an accredited MRA team. Though, the CSRB allows for recovery of medical & medical transport in the COSAR Fund guidelines.

www.coloradosarboard.org/csrb-COSARFund.asp

Make sure if you climb in CO and need aid, you make it clear to the 9-11 dispatch operator & Sheriff's dispatch you will not be charged for rescue and you fully expect an MRA accredited team to respond for a technical rescue. It does get recorded & climbers have every right to expect an accredited team. You also should not be put in further duress because you lack a CORSAR Card, it's not insurance (insurance is something to get with an AAC membership) and any responder in CO indicating you will be charged because you don't have one is not correct.

(If you do get charged, you can/should get the bill tossed out, unless it's medical. The problem is that then everything can get called "medical", this is where the CSRB needs to be provided information to investigate & oversight as to what happened.)

The accredited teams don't want us to delay in calling for aid because of monetary concerns, they will help us. There are responders in CO trying to use technical rescues as a budgetary means; just be aware of this when calling for aid. Though, in Eldo, RMRG has this covered & is MRA accredited.

However, PLEASE do get a CORSAR Card (Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search & Rescue), because it does allow for teams to get reimbursed from the Fund.

Well, sorry, after re-reading all this, I guess I made a big point & went off on a diatribe. Hopefully constructive.

Just remember, the MRA teams have our backs, free of charge.

By jack roberts
May 16, 2007

Just a minor point but one worth mentioning is that the new Petzl ropes have two markers on every rope. The middle is marked and there are two blacks stripes twenty feet from each end.....just in case people need a warning for when the "end is near".

By Jim Amidon
May 16, 2007

The guy rapped off the end of his rope.

By Kevin Craig
May 17, 2007

Pretty sure most or all of the Mammut ropes have black marks about 6-7m from the end too.

By Thais707
May 17, 2007

Odd...
This happens so often to the experienced climbers who know the length of their ropes and think (and place the safety of their partners in their arrogant hands) that THIS route is this long, this anchor is THIS long, and I KNOW the length of this rope, so it can't happen. How then do the best climbers become so overconfident to tie the knots? Even my own partner hardly checks to see if the rope is to the ground before he starts rapping down. How many rookie make this mistake?

By Hank Caylor
Administrator
From: Golden, CO
May 17, 2007

I'm still the dork that ties a knot at the end of a 70 meter rope on a 60 foot sport climb. It's seeming less dorky, as a matter of habit. I'm terribly sorry for those guys shitty road trip. Gotta be cool coming all the way from North Crackalacky to do some Eldo classics, but then a nightmare to end up like this. Any updates on the kids condition?

By tenpins
May 20, 2007

Not all teams in Colorado are accredited, or even associate, Mountain Rescue Association teams. Most of the main areas have them, but also if you are hurt in a national forest, it may well be USFS personnel coming to get you.
MRA teams, even though they are all volunteer, they undergo an fairly extensive evalaution to wear the patch. They also can typically field 20 or more people for a rescue, which is vital, and is something USFS or a fire district typically cannot do.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 20, 2007

I talked with Steve Muehlhauser, the climbing ranger at Eldorado, today. He said that this was a lowering accident, not a rappelling accident. The belayer let the end of the rope slip through his belay device while lowering the climber from the bolt anchor atop Washington Irving. Steve believed that they were using a 50m rope.

Steve said that this was the second lowering accident at this anchor in the past year. In the previous accident, the climber not only fell to the ledge, but then fell off the ledge and down to the ground.

Steve wondered if there was anything that should be done to alert visiting climbers about the length of the rappel/lower from this anchor; perhaps a tag or plaque by the anchor indicating the distance to the ledge. The old eyebolt anchor on Red Ledge on Green Spur/Rewritten had such a tag, and the rappel anchors on the Third Flatiron also have tags indicating rappel length.

Steve certainly recognizes that climbers need to take personal responsibility, but also wants to deal with repeated accidents to try to prevent their recurrence. Washington Irving is a 5.6 climb and attracts less-experienced climbers who are more apt to make these kinds of mistakes. The climber who fell was 20 years old; he and his partner were visiting from North Carolina.

Any thoughts from the MP.com community? I'm sure there are some who will say "screw 'em, let them learn the hard way", "climbing ain't safe", "don't try to sanitize the climbing experience", etc. etc. but perhaps in this case something should be done to help prevent more accidents at this particular anchor.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 20, 2007

Kevin Craig wrote:
Pretty sure most or all of the Mammut ropes have black marks about 6-7m from the end too.

My new Mammut Infinity 60m Duodess rope, which I got a few days ago, has these black marks. Another excellent safety feature in addition to the bi-pattern.

By Jonas D'Andrea
May 21, 2007

Tags on the anchor/rappel station sound great. Simple, easy and unobtrusive. Of course if people aren't paying attention.... I still think it is a good idea.

By Buff Johnson
May 21, 2007

Ron, my thoughts are toward personal responsibility & self-reliance. The incidents that are recurring are preventable. They are written in the ANAM, as well as beta available on the internet, not to mention both volunteer & professional organizations that instruct basic safety skill sets.

However, you offer a good park mgt point that would be applicable to the Wind Tower & certain routes on the West Ridge. I don't see the harm in tagging descent distances, but if climbers aren't willing to perform redundancy & double checks, then there will still be incident occurrence & recurrence.

By Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
May 21, 2007

Hi Ron. You asked about what we can do to help prevent accidents like this. I'm not sure the dog tag idea will work here.

My Rossiter Eldo book (p225) clearly states 75'. So does the older Boulder Climbs South. As does the topo on this website:

www.mountainproject.com/v/colorado/boulder/eldorado_canyon_s>>>

These guys had a 50m rope, which should actually have been long enough for a 75' rappel. The belayer in this case was presumably located somewhat lower on the ramp, and thus needed more rope.

Myself, I think one of the issues here is the way new climbers are taught to lower each other, in a safe environment like a gym, and the skills of rappelling are neglected. The accident at Rincon a few months ago was very similar.

Also being the only team in the canyon using 50m ropes. They may have watched other parties lowering/rapping to the same spot they were using, without realizing that everyone else is using 60m ropes.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 21, 2007

Steve "Crusher" Bartlett wrote:
Hi Ron. You asked about what we can do to help prevent accidents like this. I'm not sure the dog tag idea will work here. My Rossiter Eldo book (p225) clearly states 75'. So does the older Boulder Climbs South. As does the topo on this website.

Crusher,

I think this 75' figure is incorrect. Rossiter initiated the error, and it was copied in the photo on this website. I believe I can get about 10' below the ledge with a 60m rope, making it a 90' rappel to the ledge, not 75'. Perhaps this error in Rossiter's guidebooks is one reason for the recurrence of accidents at this anchor, and all the more reason to correct the error with a marker.

To corroborate that the 75' figure is incorrect: The Unsaid anchor, which is a bit lower than the Washington Irving anchor, requires a 60m rope to reach the ledge, as stated in Charles Vernon's comment:

"A 60 meter rope is perfect for the rappel to the tree directly below the route, with a 50 you'll probably have to downclimb a bit."

According to the report, the climber fell 15'. If they were using a 50m (165') rope, this also corroborates that the distance from the anchor to the ledge is about 90'.

It would be great if someone could rap from the Washington Irving anchor and determine an accurate distance to the ledge.

By slim
Administrator
May 21, 2007

I agree w/ Crusher about the lowering versus rapping deal. when you rap, you have no one to blame but yourself, which is the way I prefer it. Also, it doesn't chew up the anchors as quickly.

By Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
May 21, 2007

Yikes! If the rappel/lower is 90', not 75', then that's a pretty serious mistake.

By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
May 21, 2007

Hmm, I'm pretty sure I've done that rap with a 50m rope. However, it does end at a large and long ledge. I could see if you were belaying at the far end of the ledge, you might need a 60m to lower off.

It doesn't seem many people actually read those tags, but they are better than nothing. I was on the Third Flatiron descent at the lowest anchor when a climber rapped past from the second anchor. I started yelling at him to stop and he told me there was no problem as he was using a single 70m rope. Anyway, I eventually convinced him to come back up (it is something like 200' from that anchor to the ground!).

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 21, 2007

I think you can get down with a 50m rope, but it puts you on the slab above the ledge, and you have an easy downclimb from there. So is it a 75' rappel or a 90' rappel? Both. 75' to the slab and an easy downclimb, 90' to the ledge. If someone is being lowered by a belayer on the ledge, they'd better be prepared for a 90' lower. Lowering with a 50m rope is a recipe for disaster; rappelling with a 50m rope is a far better option.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 21, 2007

Yo Paz,

Read my first comment again. Steve Muehlhauser, the Eldorado climbing ranger, wants something done to prevent future accidents at this anchor; I was reporting my conversation with him. They are not "my" dog tags.

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
May 22, 2007

How do you propose hanging such tags?

By Craig Quincy
May 22, 2007

How do you propose hanging such tags?

The method I've seen which works well is to put the tags on a nylon dog collar and then put the collar on a dog with a medium build and long taill. Beagles and Blue Healers are suitable breeds. Then tie a prussik on the dog's tail and simply clip the prussik to the anchor with a locking caribiner.

Voila. :-)

By jack roberts
May 22, 2007

So many accidents like this can be prevented by using common sense and sometimes that only occurs to people who have been climbing outdoors for awhile and have experienced a lot of different scenarios that could have gone wrong but for some reason or other didn't. Many has been the time when I've walked past a pair of climbers who were either belaying wrong or doing something that if the leader fell both would get hurt. In one case the leader fell on the first 30 feet of Tagger, decked and got carried off. All because the second was belaying like one would if one were climbing on the overhanging routes in the BRC: i.e.: with way too much slack out. When I have noticed something wrong and offered advice it usually gets ignored or I get an attitude. So now I just shrug my shoulders as I walk past potentially fatal practices. You can't make people be safe, they have to learn. Sometimes the extra weight of a rope to rappel on questionable descents is worth the margin of safety one stands to gain. It wasn't that long ago when everyone had 50m ropes that we all rapped the route instead of "being cool" and just lowering.
I think that the more user friendly we make the crags the more accidents we'll see because people will more easily be able to miss the critical steps they need to survive in this sport. The best thing that could happen would be to shut down the gyms and force people to first learn to climb in an outdoor setting and gain some experience, not the other way around. OR we could try putting the dog tags on newbie climbers that identify what their experience level is so everyone else can stay away from them. "Ah, there goes another freshie from the BRC...heading towards Calypso", "Let's go do something far, far away...." I do feel bad for climbers who get hurt but sometimes that's the only way people learn. Anyway, my two-cents worth.

By Rich Farnham
May 22, 2007

Ron, in your first post you say Steve Muehlhauser "wondered if there was anything that should be done". Your recent post says that he "wants something done to prevent future accidents at this anchor". There's a big difference here. Which is it?

I do not support labeling this anchor. Unfortunately, accidents like this will happen from time to time, and it will be sad each time. But the only people that can truly prevent them are the climbers involved in the accident. I know of a similar lowering accident that occurred at an anchor 40' feet off the ground. Labeling that anchor wouldn't have made a difference.

Climbing is dangerous. We get comfortable with the rope systems that protect us against that danger and sometimes forget how dangerous it is. One mistake can severely injure or kill you. Plaques on this rappel anchor might keep this mistake from happening on this route, but they will not keep them from happening. As long as there are people who aren't scared enough by what they are doing to double check everything, there will continue to be accidents like this.

Ultimately, I don't care if someone labels this anchor. But let's not pretend that this will keep people safer in the long run. If anything it will reinforce the lack of self-reliance that climbers moving outdoors from the gym already have.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 22, 2007

Rich Farnham wrote:
Ron, in your first post you say Steve Muehlhauser "wondered if there was anything that should be done". Your recent post says that he "wants something done to prevent future accidents at this anchor". There's a big difference here. Which is it?

I was with a group of people by the Bastille. Steve drove by in his Ranger vehicle and called me over to discuss this; he knew I had been on ACE, the Action Committee for Eldorado. He was very concerned about the two lowering accidents that had occurred at this anchor, and expressed a desire to do something to help prevent future accidents there. He wanted me to raise this issue with ACE and the FHRC (Fixed Hardware Review Committee).

The two options we discussed were lowering the anchor or marking the anchor. Since lowering the anchor any signficant distance isn't really possible, marking the anchor is the only viable choice to address Steve's concerns.

Steve did not express a desire to mark every anchor in Eldorado. His concern was due to two identical lowering accidents at this particular anchor, and his desire was to do something to help prevent a third.

Climbers expressing opposition to marking this anchor might have a different opinion if they had Steve's job. He's the one who has to deal with accidents and rescue operations in Eldorado, not you or I.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 22, 2007

Tony Bubb wrote:
How do you propose hanging such tags?

I would think that a metal tag with a hole would work. It could be placed under the hanger on the right-hand bolt at the anchor. It could say something like "90 feet to ledge".

By M.Morley
Administrator
From: Sacramento, CA
May 22, 2007

As long as it's unobtrusive (low profile and not visible from the ground), I'd have no real problem with it. My only concern (other than visual impact) would be that this would initiate a trend to do the same for every rap anchor in Eldo. I would NOT support a widespread implementation of "dog tags".

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
May 22, 2007

Ron,
If it is Steve that is of concern, and not us as your answer to Rich says, then why do you bring this to the table? Sounds like it is also us that this concerns to me...

As for dogtags- the plates on the eyebolts are easy to do. On a standard bolt it will space the hanger out more from the cliff, as would a washer. I am not sure if that is a good idea or not, but something tells me it can be a bad one, depending on the bolt type. Someone with more knowledge about bolts than me (just about anyone) should comment here.

Technical matters aside, the practical application is one thing, and I can't say it's a big deal. A hanger with a dogtag and and a hanger without one are pretty similar in appearance- but the idea smells bad to me ideologically. Still, only barely worth commenting on.
First we got to put all these anchors in, then we have to tag them, then what comes next?
I haven't been here 'forever' but there were a lot less anchors in Eldo when I got here than there are now, and I don't see any evidence that it has done anythng but draw the sort of people that have these problems. I just don't see this happening on self-built trad anchors. Anchors draw people that rely on them. People that rely on them are frequently people that have to. People that have to translates to people that are not fully competent to deal with challenging situations, one of which can be getting down with a rope shorter than your pitch.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 22, 2007

Tony Bubb wrote:
Ron if it is Steve that is of concern, not us, then why do you bring this to the table. Sounds like it is also us that this concerns.

In addition to sounding out the views of the local climbing community, I was hoping to get some ideas for implementation, but that hasn't happened. Even with all the engineers on this forum, I should have known better.

I will bring the matter to the attention of ACE and the FHRC, as Steve requested, and forget trying to get input from the climbing community.

By Buff Johnson
May 22, 2007

Oh cmon, Ron, you should already know we're a bunch of degenerates in the first place.

I think you been given some pretty good points, most of which address personal & self-reliant responsibility when using technical safety systems.

Why is this even a concern to the Parks? Technical safety is not a land use/natural resource mgt concern.

The response is through Boulder County Sheriff's dispatch & the MRA team(s) & the CSRB. Certainly more impact was brought to the park from the Marine that went AWOL.

By M.Morley
Administrator
From: Sacramento, CA
May 22, 2007

Ron, I commend you for soliciting input from the climbing community. You said yourself that you expected the usual gripes, which is to be expected on just about everything in Eldo.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 22, 2007

Mark Nelson wrote:
Why is this even a concern to the Parks? Technical safety is not a land use/natural resource mgt concern. The response is through Boulder County Sheriff's dispatch & the MRA team(s) & the CSRB.

You're probably right, Mark. I bet Steve is just sitting back at his desk sipping coffee while the Sheriff and Rocky Mountain Rescue are hauling out the victims. Just because he's a senior park manager, the only climber on the park staff, and the person who approves all fixed hardware permits, why should he get involved? He's probably got better things to do than be concerned with accidents and rescue operations in his park.

By Buff Johnson
May 22, 2007

That's just it Ron, it's not his park.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 22, 2007

Mark Nelson wrote:
That's just it Ron, it's not his park.

Excuse my poor choice of words, Mark. Make that "the park", not "his park". You don't think that Steve should be involved in dealing with accidents and rescues in "the park"? Or figuring out ways to mitigate repeated accident risk in "the park"? Well he is, whether you like it or not.

By Casey Bernal
From: Arvada, CO
May 22, 2007

It seems to me that the dominantly proposed opponent views are based on fears that this will have widspread implications. Things such as the "what is next" idea, and tagging more routes than the one in question. Am I correct? I think there is some sort of debate term which describes these compound presumptions, though I wouldn't know.

To me the question seems simple. Should there be tags installed on this anchor which indicate the distance to ground?

Please correct me if I am mistaken.

I would definitely support the tag idea. I didn't think it was an issue for the other anchors like on the 3rd or Rewritten. They can be done easily and would be no more noticeable than a hanger. I think the most ideal solution is to replace the washer (required with all bolts) with a similar-thickness plate that has the distance to ground. I am not a fan of the hanging dog tag because it can be annoying to clip, though it presents no real safety hazard.

I do not see any pressure to install these on all anchors in the park. However if any specific anchor, like this one, has several accidents related to this scenario, then I think this would be a simple measure to prevent possible accidents. True, it will not prevent all accidents, but even it it prevents some, than that is fine with me.

I would speculate that there are more accidents occuring because of the proportional increase in number of climbers, not solely based on the gym-trained incognizant neophytes.

By Casey Bernal
From: Arvada, CO
May 22, 2007

I think I spoke with Ranger Steve when we were waiting for the rescue team to get the litter down the hill last Sunday. He mentioned that that accident was "the third one in the last three weeks". It was a totally unrelated accident. However, I am sure with dealing with each one would invoke preemptive type thought processes for related incidents, such as the one in this thread.

By Buff Johnson
May 22, 2007

Okay, Ron, sorry, I guess I sound like a dick. I think the idea of tagging that anchor with a descent distance is a good one, I don't believe tagging it affects anything about the experience of climbing in Eldo. If it helps out the Park, I'm all for it. Certainly the concern for climbers by personnel is appreciated, highly.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 22, 2007

Thanks, Mark. Steve Muehlhauser will be giving a talk and slide show about accidents and climber safety in Eldorado for the Boulder CMC Group's Rock Lead School. It's at 6:45pm on Wednesday, June 6, at the Boulder CMC clubroom by Neptune's. You are welcome to join us and have an opportunity to meet Steve, see his presentation, and chat with him.

By Buff Johnson
May 22, 2007

Thanks for the invite Ron, I appreciate it. I'll pass along the program announcement.

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
May 22, 2007

Ron,
I gave you my technical opinon- I said it sounded similar to putting a washer behind a hanger. Some bolts this is bad for others not. I am not a bolt expert. I could be arrogant and pretend I am, but I'm not. So I offered the technical advice I had and left it at that.

Now, were you looking for technical advice, technical advice and opinions, or technical advice and opinions, but only those who supported yours? I have resisted the urge until now to react to your demeaning tone towards arguments that you don't favor, but here you have it. I feel that the entire subject was approached from a place intended to prempt any arguments against your proposal. Your very first post ended with a statement to such effect.

Your last one, seemingly a reaction to a majority of people who seemed not to like the idea was to essentially threaten to take the ball and go home. Why such a long face?

It is NOT data you are dealing with here, it is values and philosophy. Ergo, there are few facts, only opinons: there is no right and no wrong- just majority and minority and that represents still only the select few that are bothering to say something.

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
May 22, 2007

Bob Wrote:
"I'll leave it at that!"

Then why didn't you? I already stressed that it's no biggie.

As many bolts as you have placed Bob, I'd think you'd be able to offer some constructive opinion. In all seriousness, I figured you and Tony C might have the best advice on how to arrange this without getting something in the way of the clip or weakening the bolt.

By Greg Hand
From: Golden, CO
May 22, 2007

I would not put the tag between the hanger & the rock.
I would put it in place of the washer. You can even get a bigger surface washer and stamp the info on the washer. Or, to make it completely independent, just drill another hole and affix the tag there. :)

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 23, 2007

Greg Hand wrote:
I would not put the tag between the hanger & the rock. I would put it in place of the washer. You can even get a bigger surface washer and stamp the info on the washer. Or, to make it completely independent, just drill another hole and affix the tag there. :)

Thanks for the suggestion, Greg. Thinking about it a bit more, I think the tag should say something like "90 feet to ledge, 115 feet to ground" (insert proper distances here).

Many people belay Washington Irving from the big ledge about 25' up, but it's also possible to belay from the ground. Even with a 60m rope, a belayer on the ground would not have enough rope to lower a climber to the ledge 25' up.

Would a larger-surface washer be big enough to have two distances on it and still be easily legible? Or would a separate tag be better?

The anchor in question has Metolius rap hangers; I'm not sure what bolts are there, but I think they may be Rawl 5-piece. According to the FHRC archives, the anchor was placed in 1997.

By jack roberts
May 23, 2007

I don't know. I see this as a further "dumbing-down" of the sport. The reason people get into these situations in the first place is because they assume that the anchor is set-up for lowering on one rope, assuming their rope is long enough, etc. One tag on one anchor WILL lead to more tags on other anchors. Soon we'll need tags at the bottom telling climbers that some leads might be poorly protected etc. I'm not against getting the information out there that climbers need a 60m or 70m rope but labeling everything with little dog tags is not the way to do it. I agree with Rich and Crusher that labeling anchors is not a substitute for just being careful and taking the time to tie-in or knot the end of the rope. Maybe a bulletin board posted in an obvious place with a Accidents in Eldorado section would be a better way. I also think that keeping the park service out of it is better than involving them. The responsibility for avoiding these accidents should be on the climbers themselves and not left up to some committee or the park service.

By Casey Bernal
From: Arvada, CO
May 23, 2007

Jack-
One tag on this anchor might lead to tags on other anchors. However, I think you are extrapolating it too far when you, hopefully sarcastically, mention tags labeling poorly protected routes. That is far out of the context of the question of A TAG ON THIS ANCHOR. Any proposed tag for an anchor should go through this process of community review and this would reasonably limit tags on most anchors. There hasn't yet been a recommendation to tag all the fixed anchors in the park.

One of your solutions seem to be to educate people. Am I wrong assuming this? A bulletin board is a good suggestion and in fact there is one. Should it be updated with specific information like suggested here? Could a minimally obtrusive tag also convey this information. Can you suggest other ways to educate the masses? Should only "certified climbers" be allowed to climb in the park?

I think EVERYONE here also agrees that labeling anchors is not a substitute for a tie-in or knot in the other end of the rope. (please inform me if you don't agree)

BTW ... The park service will continue to "get involved" as long as there are accidents. It is their park. This seems like a good way for climbers to manage each other before the park service does.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 23, 2007

jack roberts wrote:
One tag on one anchor WILL lead to more tags on other anchors.

I don't think so, Jack. The impetus for doing something here came because of two recent lowering accidents at this anchor. I know of no other anchor in the park that has had two such accidents.

jack roberts wrote:
Maybe a bulletin board posted in an obvious place with a Accidents in Eldorado section would be a better way.

The bulletin board on the kiosk by the outhouse already contains accident information. It has a "top ten" list of climbs that have had the most accidents (Bastille Crack, Tagger, Calypso, ...), and a list of the top accident causes ("leader fall -- protection failed" is the most common; but I like the "benighted" and "stuck" categories, myself). Perhaps adding a section on recent accidents would be useful.

By Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
May 23, 2007

Issues with dog-tagging the bolt:

This is supported by folks here, myself included, but with strong reservations.

One is that the exact distance to the base is not clear. If rappelling, it is, apparently, about 75 feet. If lowering, it depends on where the belayer is, and this variability seems to be one of the factors that led to this accident in the first place. It's hard to get this kind of detail on a dog tag.

So here is another option:

A wooden sign on the ground right before you scramble up to the base of WI (there are a few of these trail signs around Eldo already) warning folks about the hazards of this particular location, and the spate of recent accidents.

Advantages of a wooden trail-type sign: Easy to make; easy to see; can be easily moved, removed or changed if it's deemed to be confusing or unnecessary; does not affect the rock; does not change or affect the anchor itself. It's in a location where non-climbers will seldom see it.

What do people think?

By John McNamee
Administrator
From: Littleton, CO
May 23, 2007

You can put a tag or a sign up but are people going to read it? And where do you stop? Do you put one up at the base of Redgarden Wall as well ... it's a very slippery slope.

Personally, I think people have to take personal responsibility and look after themselves. Accidents will happen.

By jack roberts
May 23, 2007

Casey,

There was a little sarcasm in my comment, but remember a few years ago when there were several accidents that occured at the crux of Calypso, when a few leaders did not have the skill to protect the crux and took bad falls into the dihedral? Not too soon after that there was a proposal to ACE to place a bolt there for the sole purpose to protect those who couldn't protect themselves. That proposal was a reaction to the accidents. Thankfully it did get voted down but not by a lot. My point here is that the nature of climbing in Eldorado is what it is: a spot where traditional climbing is preserved, in part because those who climb there enjoy developing, pushing their self-reliance. Part of being self-reliant is being prepared for unknowns like poorly described routes and information that might be inaccurate or maybe carrying two ropes just in case they are needed for rappeling. I think a tag on the belay anchor is pretty unobtrusive. What I question is that it will actually do any good and would the labeling of anchors (and yes I do not think it would just stop on this climb), help make climbing safer? The anchor at the top of the first pitch on Werks Supp experienced a few lowering accidents before people figured out that a 60m and even a 70m rope is needed. It didn't take a tag on the anchor to make it safer. People figured it out on their own and there hasn't been a lowering accident on that pitch in quite awhile.
The park already posts bird closures. Might as well have a note on each BB stating that "lowering accidents have occured on such and such a route". Or maybe not. I think some of this discussion for a need for a dogtag is more a reaction to the latest happenings than a step that really has to be taken.
What I meant by stating that the park service should not be involved I meant 100%. Of course Steve M. will get involved. He's a climber, he hates to see people get hurt, and he feels responsible for making the park safe for visitors. That's fine. The climbing community should be able to look after themselves. I agree. Let's manage ourselves before they feel the need to step in and do it for us.

By jack roberts
May 23, 2007

I think a sign per Crusher's suggestion is a good start.

By Bruce Hildenbrand
May 23, 2007

When I look at the root cause of what is happening on Washington Irving, one thing that stands out is that the anchor on top of the climb is a "rappel" anchor and not a "belay" anchor. The bolts are placed far out on the wall so that it would be very uncomfortable to set up a belay off that anchor and bring your partner up. Hence, the anchor's position almost forces climbers to lower unless they want to use their own gear to set up a more comfortable belay anchor and then bring their partner(s) up.

Clearly, on most sport routes it is almost assumed that the leader will lower, but that is not the norm in Eldorado. I would suggest that for this anchor and other future anchors in Eldorado, the goal should be to establish anchors that can be used for both belaying and rappelling and that bringing your partner up, rather than lowering be encouraged.

I may be bucking the trend, but if you have to rappel off a route you are more likely to make sure that both ends of the rope reach the ground.

Bruce

By Buff Johnson
May 23, 2007

I guess the deal with a sign is that there is already a sign indicating where the unknowing general public should take notice of technical terrain before they enter the West Ridge area. I think from that point on, people need to take account for their own actions. But, I have already said also that the distance tag couldn't hurt.

If you do put a sign in at the base of the route, I'd like to see one of those Hubbel sketches of the skull & crossbones like you see in the Platte guide. It makes me feel warm & fuzzy.

Why isn't any of this an issue in say Vedauwoo or 11-Mile Canyon, but only in places of proximity to Boulder?? Is it the water?

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
May 23, 2007

Ron Wrote:
"I don't think so, Jack. The impetus for doing something here came because of two recent lowering accidents at this anchor. I know of no other anchor in the park that has had two such accidents."

In my own personal experience, I've been in the park 3 times when it has happened on Darkness Til Dawn. And that's just when I have been there.

So there are more and in more places.

By Leo Paik
Administrator
From: Westminster, Colorado
May 23, 2007

Good thoughts, all. In particular, given the trend towards convenience anchors, excellent point, Bruce. Obviously, there is no singular right or wrong way to approach this. In my limited experience, these tags are not always read (e.g. Third Flatiron, Forbidden Planet, Little Eiger, etc.) by experienced and inexperienced climbers. Folks have not too long ago wound up hanging off one rope on the last rappel of the Third...despite the tags. Nonetheless, I do like Crusher's suggestion. In the end, sadly, these unfortunate accidents will continue despite all/any efforts...we're human, we're imperfect, & it's natural selection.

By Bruce Hildenbrand
May 23, 2007

I would support putting up a sign at the entrance to Eldorado stating:

Entering Eldorado Canyon State Park, laws of gravity strictly enforced!

Bruce

By Buff Johnson
May 23, 2007

Nah, Bob, it's the water. It sure isn't the beer nor the ice cream.

By Casey Bernal
From: Arvada, CO
May 23, 2007

Crusher - I would foresee a wooden sign to be much more obtrusive though the net effect would likely be the same. The sign would be much larger and would impact more area than just the anchor. One not climbing the route would see it. This could be viewed as an educational resource, kind of an on-site example of safety precautions, though that would bring us back to the "dumbing-down the sport idea". Tags are small and would be attached directly to the corresponding anchor. A tag for this anchor should state: "bla-bla feet to ledge, bla-bla-bla feet to ground". Obviously the distances should be unquestionable.

John - Some may well not read it. That doesn't mean that it could prevent some accidents. It could also be a slippery slope, though in my idealistic opinion, discussions and community feedback will keep it from going too far.

Bruce - I definitely agree, with the only exception obviously being designated rap routes (i.e. Vertigo/Song of the Dodo raps). Obviously, that isn't the case with this route.

Jack - I absolutely agree with the notion of being self-reliant. I have carried a second rope many times, even when climbing single pitch climbs especially in unknown areas (there are more uses for it than just getting down). On the spot, I can think of 3 eldo climbs that have had accidents from lowering: this one, Werk Supp and Darkness Till Dawn. Have WS and DTD not had any recent accidents because people learned or have uninformed people just been lucky (or even saved by other precautions)?

I do want to make it clear to you all that I am not trying to "battle" you. Just making my voice be heard. I will gladly buy you a beer should we meet. CHEERS !

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 23, 2007

Tony Bubb wrote:
In my own personal experience, I've been in the park 3 times when it has happened on Darkness Til Dawn. And that's just when I have been there. So there are more and in more places.

Tony,

Steve M. did not mention Darkness Til Dawn as a concern. Did the incidents at Darkness Til Dawn require a rescue operation, or did the climbers involved handle it themselves? Accidents in which climbers self-rescue go unnoticed by the park staff and the media.

I once saw a leader take a 40' fall on C'est La Morte when his protection pulled. He was banged up and rested on a ledge for half an hour, while his partner went up to clean the gear. They walked out under their own power. Also a guy who fell off the ledge at the start of C'est La Vie. I think he broke his hand, but he walked out on his own. Neither of these accidents came to the attention of the park staff, rescue personnel, or media.

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
May 23, 2007

Joseffa and I were asked to leave the area by RMR once (the trail below) while I was on Fee-Nix and The Unnamed 10c next to it by Ruff Roof. So that was obviously a rescue case. I don't recall the details on the others, but I seem to recall at least one other one being an evac/medical. So it should be on record.
So begins the slippery slope.

I am dead set against the wooden sign at the base. I shrug at the dogtag idea if it does not hurt the anchor, create a pain in the butt, or add holes.

For the "safety-conscious" out there who want to move or alter the station or place another one, I'll remind you that if there were no anchors fixed hangers there at all, this would not have happened.

By Kat A
From: Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
May 23, 2007

I personally wouldn't be bothered by a "dog tag" at an anchor. However, if mistakes occasionally occur in guidebooks such as printing 75' versus 90' to lower, what if a similar error occurred on a dog tag? Granted, it's less likely if dog tags were used infrequently or only where lowering or rappelling accidents have occurred - but the thought occurred to me anyway. What if someone trusted that number and biffed because of it? So even with the dog tag, I'd tie knots at the ends of the rope while rappelling and would hope other climbers would do so also.

By Steve Levin
From: Boulder, CO
May 23, 2007

Bruce H. hit the nail on the head. The placement of this particular anchor is such that it is awkward as a belay anchor, so people often use it to lower. This isn't unique in Eldo, but it is uncommon, and off the top of my head I can't think of another 5.6 (i.e. moderate) climb with a similar setup. Either a dogtag stating the correct distance to ledge and ground, or moving the anchor 5 feet to the right so it can be used from the ledge MAY help avoid future accidents here, or may not.

I am totally against a sign at the base of Washington Irving, however. More people have been hurt on Rewritten from loose/falling rock than lowering off WI. What's next, a sign at the base of Rewritten saying "Loose rock on this route"? Now that would be a slippery slope...

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 24, 2007

Steve Levin wrote:
Bruce H. hit the nail on the head. The placement of this particular anchor is such that it is awkward as a belay anchor, so people often use it to lower. This isn't unique in Eldo, but it is uncommon, and off the top of my head I can't think of another 5.6 (i.e. moderate) climb with a similar setup.

Steve,

I believe the bolt anchor atop Duh Dihedral, 5.6, is out on the right wall, where it is good for rappelling/lowering/toproping, but not for belaying.

Other anchors that encourage lowering: the anchor atop The Unsaid, the anchor at the top of the crux dihedral on C'est La Vie, and the webbing anchor atop the first pitch of Chockstone. Fortunately, each of these anchors is less than 100' from the usual belay spot.

I think ACE and the FHRC may want to review their fixed anchor guidelines, and discourage new fixed anchors atop trad pitches that are not suitable for belaying.

But regardless of whether there is a good stance at the anchor or not, some people will still lower off instead of belaying from the top. I think this is just an unfortunate trend in climbing that can lead to preventable accidents. I feel that new climbers first learning in the rock gym, then moving to sport climbing, and finally to trad climbing, is a prime cause for this behavior. Also, the rise in popularity of places like Indian Creek, with trad pro and bolt anchors, contributes to the "lowering off a trad route" mentality.

The anchors atop Darkness Til Dawn and the first pitch of Werk Supp have decent stances for belaying, but evidently people are lowering off these anchors (both more than 100' from the ground) and getting hurt.

I have even seen someone build a gear anchor at the top of a 5.7 trad route at Happy Hour Crag, then lower off. Guess he wanted to be able to toprope his girlfriend from below and coach her. Things are not the way they used to be...

By Craig Quincy
May 24, 2007

I don't like the idea of putting warning signs along the trails. There's just way too much dangerous stuff in Eldo to label. However, if people want to go that route, we'd need a sign at the base of Green Spur that says "Watch out for falling Craigs and rocks". Oh yeah, and one at the base of Wind Ridge that says the same thing. Come to think of it, maybe I'm the one that needs the sign.

The placement of the WI anchors is a little awkward, but I doubt if moving them would solve these lowering problems.

By Buff Johnson
May 24, 2007

Not for nothing, but this site's own W.I. beta pic indicates 75'. Really, probably should have a 90' indicated on the pic.

By Steve Levin
From: Boulder, CO
May 24, 2007

Ron- Yes, Duh Dihedral anchor set-up is similar; good thing it's a shorter distance to the ground.

By Chris Weber
From: Boulder, CO
May 25, 2007

Re: DTD lowering accidents: FWIW, there was one a few years ago when the individual ended up in the hospital with major (head) injuries. I do not how big the scale of the "rescue" was, but I know he didn't get out on his own. A roommate of mine was first on the scene.

By jack roberts
May 28, 2007

Just to continue adding to this topic. To clarify what I meant by posting on signs. What I am suggesting is simply to post accident information on existing signs where route closures, bird sightings etc are already posted. The sign at the West Face trail junction, The sign at the Rincon trail Junction with the West Ridge Trail, the sign at the bridge. To just post information when there have been accidents might be all that is necessary to inform people about what's happened. I believe that there have been fewer lowering accidents on Werksupp and DTD because as climbers walk by the base of these climbs they share this tidbit of information regarding the route's length. Some people are receptive to this others resent it. By and large I think just saying,
"Oh, did you know about the lowering accident that occured here? Better knot the end", is all it might take to prevent more accidents like this.

By Roger Linfield
May 31, 2007

Putting a dog tag on the Washington Irving anchor might reduce the risk of climbers being lowered off the ends of their ropes ON THAT ROUTE. However, if climbers see a warning label on one anchor and not another, they will tend to assume that the second one is safe, and the overall accident rate might increase. It's really a slippery slope, as several previous messages on this thread have pointed out.

If more belayers tied in to the ends of their ropes, it would reduce the risk on all routes. I think that we should focus on this education goal. A bold message on the billboard would help, and perhaps a notice just after you cross the main footbridge. Something like "Eight serious accidents have occured in the park from belayers lowering their partner off the end of the rope. Always tie in to one end of the rope when you belay." That doesn't read like someone trying to evade liability, so folks might actually pay attention.

Perhaps such a message could be useful on the main Eldorado page on the Mountain Project site.

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
May 31, 2007

Would people who don't bother checking their rope or tieing a knot bother checking a sign or reading it? I don't know.
Such a prominent position for such a sign and worded as such may contribute to the public's perception that we are an 'extreme' sport though, which can cost us a lot in the big parks- like McKinley, where climbers have to pay for rescue insurance, but hikers don't.

Just a thought, no conclusion from me.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
May 31, 2007

Roger Linfield wrote:
Putting a dog tag on the Washington Irving anchor might reduce the risk of climbers being lowered off the ends of their ropes ON THAT ROUTE. However, if climbers see a warning label on one anchor and not another, they will tend to assume that the second one is safe, and the overall accident rate might increase. It's really a slippery slope, as several previous messages on this thread have pointed out.

Roger,

As far as I know, there are only a few anchors in Eldorado that have had lowering accidents: Washington Irving, Darkness Til Dawn, and Werk Supp. There was also an accident by Rincon, but that was an unusual situation. I don't think the accident rate at these other anchors will increase if there is a tag on the Washington Irving anchor.

Steve Muehlhauser wanted this issue brought to the attention of ACE and the FHRC. As president of ACE, it would be great if you could put this issue on the agenda for a future meeting. This forum thread has given you plenty of input from the local climbing community for your consideration.

By Steve Levin
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 3, 2007

The rappel (i.e. RAPPEL) from the 2-bolt anchor to the ledge (at a point just left of the fallen block) is 90 feet.

To the ground is close to 135' in a plumbline from the anchor, not 120'.

By Kevin Craig
Jun 4, 2007

Hmmmm... toughie. In an ideal world, agreed, everyone would get competent instruction and experience. These guys blew it in at least 2 ways: 1) belayer didn't tie in or knot the rope end 2) belayer didn't notice the middle mark during the lead... oh, and 3) belayer wasn't paying atention during the lower.

OTOH, every year experienced climbers rap off the end of their ropes - a similarly avoidable accident.

The question is whether the penalty for such lack of instruction should be death or serious injury with we oh-so-experienced-and-wise climbers sitting as judge and jury.

Kind of like Tony, I'm mostly OK with the tag if it doesn't weaken the anchor since it a) doesn't alter the rock and b) doesn't impact those not needing the information.

However, like Jack, I'm amazed at all the horrifying stuff I see out there and the normal response when I say something is attitude or rudeness. Nonetheless, if death or serious injury is immnent, I feel compelled to say something. I guess the tag would fall into the same category. However, I too worry about a proliferation of these things, the reliance that it would create, and the lack of competence that it could foster.

I would also like to see more/better education and instruction - I just don't know how to "enforce" that.