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Climber dies at Lovers Leap
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By Tim Kline
From Littleton, co
Sep 20, 2009
Classic climb called Gossamer in the monster area of Rushmore

To our climbing community and the family of the man found today at Lovers Leap.

My partner and I were up climbing at Lovers Leap today and found the body of a man who was apparently free soloing. I was leading the 2nd pitch of lovers leap when I happened to catch a glance of the mans body at the base of the cliffs. After downclimbing we rapped down to the base and went over to the mans's body. Unfortunately the man was already dead, and probably had been for sometime (my guess is a day or two). We contacted 911. We met up with the Sheriffs department, Park Rangers, and Paramedics. We brought them up to the body and they pronounced him.

We were never told of the man's identity. I am really hoping that over the next few days or weeks that his identity will be known to me. I would like to reach out and send my heart felt condolences to his family. I really wish that we would have found him alive and been able to get Search and Rescue up there in time to save his life, unfortunately that wasn't possible.

Also want to reach out to our climbing community and just make one statement, free soloing is dangerous. Our sport is inherently dangerous, but the free soloing form is much more. Think of your family and friends when you decide to do this. Please people, if you need a partner, find on here, or at a climbing gym or something.

Once again my heart felt condolences go out to this man's family and friends.

Thanks

Tim


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By Evan1984
Sep 21, 2009

Hey Tim,

Sorry you had to find this. Thank you for helping his family find him.

Evan


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By matthewWallace
From plymouth, nh
Sep 21, 2009
Cool movement on this line

My best wishes go out to his family and you Tim, sorry you had to be the one to find the climber, may the climber rest in peace.


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By slim
Administrator
Sep 21, 2009
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

Tim, sorry to hear about your recent experience. It seems like this has happened at Lover's Leap before (?).


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By tbol
Sep 21, 2009
Climbing Left Tuning Fork on Torrey's before a classic spring descent

Sorry Tim. I know what it is like to see the consequences of free soloing. That is a hard thing to deal with. What a rough year for climbers in Colorado. My condolences to the man and his family.


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By Tim Kline
From Littleton, co
Sep 21, 2009
Classic climb called Gossamer in the monster area of Rushmore

I appreciate all of the concern you all have about our experience. I am absolutely fine. I am really more concerned at this point about the continuing growth of seeing free soloists on the rocks. I know that these guys know what they are doing, but after seeing first hand the consequences of one failed slip, I feel it's my duty to send out a stern warning to these people. I can relate that doing something like climbing by yourself is not the same as climbing with a partner, but the risk of doing this has recently been made very public in the last year by the multiple people who have paid the ultimate price for this sport. Not only am I concerned with the lives of our fellow climbers, but also the possible closures of places we climb. I have no idea if that is something that has ever been brought up, but I can imagine that if we continue to have climbers die that eventually they are going to start closing down our areas in an effort to prevent such accidents from happening.

I guess this accident has really opened my eyes and I have definitely been reviewing my own safety procedures in my own mind, but I again feel a sense of duty to be public about this as I am part of a great climbing community and I really wish that one day we could close the accidents and injuries section of this community.

Thanks to everybody for your support, I'm sure I'll get flamed for my opinions and I'm prepared for that.

Once again my condolences to the family.

Tim


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By mkeown
From Denver, CO
Sep 21, 2009
Profile

I like to think I have the freedom to climb however I like. Regardless of the stern warnings by some people that do not like free soloing. Next we could tell people you cant climb barefoot, in roller skates, or start telling people that they need to place pro every 4'.


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By caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Sep 21, 2009

Sorry, what section of the leap were you climbing on? East wall?


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By Jay Eggleston
From Littleton
Sep 21, 2009
Berlin

caughtinside wrote:
Sorry, what section of the leap were you climbing on? East wall?

Lover's Leap in Colorado, not the more famous Lover's Leap in California.


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By Tim Kline
From Littleton, co
Sep 21, 2009
Classic climb called Gossamer in the monster area of Rushmore

Jay Eggleston wrote:
Lover's Leap in Colorado, not the more famous Lover's Leap in California.


We were climbing the actual lovers leap 4 pitch climb.

www.mountainproject.com/v/colorado/morrisonevergreen/lovers_>>>


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By Tim Kline
From Littleton, co
Sep 21, 2009
Classic climb called Gossamer in the monster area of Rushmore

mkeown wrote:
I like to think I have the freedom to climb however I like. Regardless of the stern warnings by some people that do not like free soloing. Next we could tell people you cant climb barefoot, in roller skates, or start telling people that they need to place pro every 4'.


I agree with you, you do have the freedom to climb however you want. Not going to disagree with that statement, if you want to climb with roller skates or you want to free solo, that is your business. I myself don't think that these are smart choices. I really just want to help people see what the consequences of their actions are. I don't mean to offend you and I don't want to cause any hard feelings, just put the information out there and let you make your own choice and I hope to somehow influence that choice a little bit to hope that your friends and family have you around for a long time.


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By Lanky
From Portland, ME
Sep 21, 2009

mkeown wrote:
I like to think I have the freedom to climb however I like. Regardless of the stern warnings by some people that do not like free soloing. Next we could tell people you cant climb barefoot, in roller skates, or start telling people that they need to place pro every 4'.


This is basically a straw man argument. The OP's point seems to boil down to: be careful and think about how your actions impact others. If you disagree, at least do so by arguing against the point he was actually making.


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By pfwein
Sep 21, 2009

Tim Kline wrote:
I agree with you, you do have the freedom to climb however you want. Not going to disagree with that statement, if you want to climb with roller skates or you want to free solo, that is your business. I myself don't think that these are smart choices. I really just want to help people see what the consequences of their actions are. I don't mean to offend you and I don't want to cause any hard feelings, just put the information out there and let you make your own choice and I hope to somehow influence that choice a little bit to hope that your friends and family have you around for a long time.


If you don't think free soloers understand the risks they are taking, you must think they are stupid in the extreme and so I'm not sure why you think posting would affect their behavior.

The concern that falling free soloers will lead to access problems also seems a bit misguided seeing as how that has never happened (to my knowledge). I don't think the public at large is particularly concerned about the fate of people who choose to engage in ultra-hazardous activities that don't cause any (significant) risk to others, nor should they be.

Free soloing isn't my thing (with the exception of Flatiron "scrambles" and occasionally other very easy climbs), but to each his own . . .


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Sep 21, 2009
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.

pfwein wrote:
If you don't think free soloers understand the risks they are taking, you must think they are stupid in the extreme


Standard risk analysis involves two factors: consequence & likelihood. We all understand the consequence but many young male climbers are WAAAY off on their understanding of the likelihood element (including myself 5-10 years ago). Criticisizing someone for suggesting that naive kids reflect on this is a little strange. There's a reason we keep hearing stories of falling free-soloists. Its because "we" (climbers) don't understand risk analysis. No moss-covered 5.7 off 285 is worth dying for.


pfwein wrote:
The concern that falling free soloers will lead to access problems also seems a bit misguided seeing as how that has never happened


Concerns about liability are often raised as justification for restricing access. Greater incidents of climbing accidents (of any kind, including free-soloing fatalities) increase the sentiment of the general public that climbing = accidents. The more sensational the accident, the more likely the public will hear about it. Where there are accidents, there are lawyers.


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By Daryl Allan
From Sierra Vista, AZ
Sep 21, 2009
Me and my Fetish I guess.. ;)

Thanks for posting your sobering account, Tim.

I recently spoke with our local FS rangers regarding the closure of this area and they mentioned that it was, in fact, closed due to un-roped climbing/scrambling (more details in Kerry's area description).

Would FS or park officials have considered the deaths of un-roped, experienced climbers differently?


Edit:: To put it another way; since routes existed at this area when the closure was enforced, we can say this was the closure of an established climbing area. That being said, had all of the many deaths that had taken place at this area been experienced, yet unroped, climbers, does anyone think the closure would not have been enforced?


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By Tim Kline
From Littleton, co
Sep 21, 2009
Classic climb called Gossamer in the monster area of Rushmore

Just to clear the air here, I am not trying to judge anybody that free solo's, it's not my life you're playing with. And sure you can get pissed by me simply cautioning you from this activity, just like a smoker would if I told him he's going to get cancer by smoking. But I don't think I'm going to defend myself any longer on trying to simply put a word of caution to the climbing community regarding this. I could argue with people about this all day, but the point is that if you are bound and determined to do this I won't change your mind, but I'm hoping there is that one person out there that says to themselves, maybe this guy is right. If I can reach one person out there, then that's one less person Search and Rescue will have to reach. Once again I apologize if I offend anybody in this post, it's not my intentions... I'm going to end this by saying, just stay safe out there and whether you're soloing of climbing with a partner, be safe!

By the way, thanks to everybody else who does see that I'm just trying to put a word of caution out. I appreciate your support. I appreciate the arguments as well, it's great to be able to have a healthy debate on these topics!!


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By slim
Administrator
Sep 21, 2009
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

ditto what mono said, pretty much verbatim.


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By pfwein
Sep 21, 2009

Monomaniac wrote:
Concerns about liability are often raised as justification for restricing access. Greater incidents of climbing accidents (of any kind, including free-soloing fatalities) increase the sentiment of the general public that climbing = accidents. The more sensational the accident, the more likely the public will hear about it. Where there are accidents, there are lawyers.


That we live in overly litigious society seems to be the accepted wisdom, but people take that view to unwarranted extremes.
Does anyone know of even a single instance where a free soloer (including his estate) has sued a landowner or anyone else as a result of the soloist's activities (much less prevailed in the suit)?

It can be comforting to blame all manner of problems in society on lawyers, but problems relating to free soloers and climbing access?

(There have been a few lawsuits relating to roped climbers that I'm familiar with, but regardless of their merits, they have nothing to do with free soloing and climbing access.)

Just to be clear, I don't mean to overly criticize Tim Kline or anyone else for suggesting that would-be soloers think twice. But that's kind of like the ridiculous warnings (that you CAN rightly blame on lawyers) for things like "coffee is hot."


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By pfwein
Sep 21, 2009

Daryl Allan wrote:
Thanks for posting your sobering account, Tim. I recently spoke with our local FS rangers regarding the closure of this area and they mentioned that it was, in fact, closed due to un-roped climbing/scrambling (more details in Kerry's area description). Would FS or park officials have considered the deaths of un-roped skilled climbers differently? Edit:: To put it another way; since routes existed at this area when the closure was enforced, we can say this was the closure of an established climbing area. That being said, had all of the many deaths that had taken place at this area been experienced, yet unroped, climbers, does anyone think the closure would not have been enforced?

I had a hard time following the above. As near as I can tell, a private land owner no longer allows public access on his land, apparently because (non-climbers) kept slipping off the top of a water fall?
What's the point again?


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By Daryl Allan
From Sierra Vista, AZ
Sep 21, 2009
Me and my Fetish I guess.. ;)

pfwein wrote:
I had a hard time following the above. As near as I can tell, a private land owner no longer allows public access on his land, apparently because (non-climbers) kept slipping off the top of a water fall? What's the point again?

As far as i know, FS agents would have little involvement in a private land closure. The Carr Canyon falls area of the Huachuca Mountain range is under the jurisdiction of the Coronado National Forest, which falls under USDA/FS. More here...
...and even more here.

And the point is to think more broadly about how your actions might affect others. Addressing your comment ...
pfwein wrote:
The concern that falling free soloers will lead to access problems also seems a bit misguided seeing as how that has never happened (to my knowledge).

my post simply suggests that perhaps there have been closures related to un-roped climbing depending on how you might answer my question(s) above.


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Sep 21, 2009
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.

pfwein wrote:
Does anyone know of even a single instance where a free soloer (including his estate) has sued a landowner or anyone else as a result of the soloist's activities (much less prevailed in the suit)?


This is unfortunately irrelevant. You are assuming a logical progression from Soloist dies-->family sues-->land closed. Many access issues are the result of totally unfounded paranoia by the landowner. If a landowner is afraid of some negative outcome that results from climbing, the land is closed, and it doesn;t seem to matter if the landowner is public or private. Whether the excuse is legal liability or a reduction of spawning peregrines, climbers get the short end of the stick regardless of what any statistics (or lack thereof) say.


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By timt
From Wheat Ridge, CO
Sep 21, 2009
on lead, Mean Green Cody,WY

Catslab in ccc was closed when a person got lowered off the end of the rope and sued the landowner. She did not die(fortunately), but accidents can cause closures is my point.


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By pfwein
Sep 21, 2009

timt wrote:
Catslab in ccc was closed when a person got lowered off the end of the rope and sued the landowner. She did not die(fortunately), but accidents can cause closures is my point.

OK, I agree with you (and the above points) that climbing accidents can cause access problems, and I agree with Monomaniac that fears of legal liability can play a role in the decision making process, even when those fears may be unfounded.

I've probably taken it as far as I can, but to summarize my point, it's that skilled technical climbers (not hikers/scramblers) falling while free soling does not seem to have played a role in climbing access problems that I've ever heard about (and that includes considering D. Allan's post above).
And it's interesting that the reaction to a soloist falling is "that may cause access problems" when I haven't heard that sentiment expressed regarding the legions of accidents involving roped climbers.

I have the feeling that the existence of free soloers gives some roped climbers a perverse sense of safety/responsibility by being able to say "see, what I'm doing is safe, I'm using a rope, not like those damn fool soloists."


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By Tony A. Davis
From Drake, Colorado
Sep 21, 2009
Pic

Very sad news whenever a climber falls and my condolences go out to his family and friends as well.

I watched a kid (non-climber) fall 60' while watching us climb quite a long time ago and it took a while for me to get that out of my mind. Tim, hope your ok with things, it can weigh on you.

I spent a few years as a volunteer ranger and I have to say that climbers are the ones that you want around if something goes bad, they are always willing to participate and help in any way that they can.


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By Steve Kochevar
From Morrison Co
Sep 21, 2009

I'd like to give my take on this subject. I was Tim's climbing partner yesterday when we spotted the body. I've been climbing for 15 years and thankfully have never had to witness first hand any kind of rescue operation in progress... until yesterday. We have not been told the manís identity yet but I give my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.
Thank you to all of the Alpine rescue folks as well as the Jeffco open space rangers and Jeffco police who were on the scene yesterday. It's great to know there are men and women out there willing to help after a climbing accident. I was amazed at how many people were involved in the recovery effort. If any of you have been to Lover's Leap you know the approach is short but steep. It may only take 20 minutes to hike in but recovering the body from there took many hours and lots of logistical coordination between rescue groups. A task which they executed very well.

I really donít know what to say about what Iím feeling about the accident and free soloist specifically. I personally will never free solo. I know those that do free solo donít care what is said on this posting. Itís a free country and for that Iím very grateful and thankful. Iím sure the last thing free soloist care about is the safety of the 20-30 people needed to extract their body after a fall. Loverís leap is close to a major road so response time was quick however if this man had been free soloing in a more remote location the rescue operation would undoubtedly consist of more people and possibly days and definitely more risk to those involved in the rescue operation.

Thatís the part that bothers me the most. All I can say is be smart when you climb. Climbing effects more than just you and your selfish interests. Accidents happen. Nobody is perfect. But they can also be avoided or minimized by being prepared, educated, and smart about what you are getting yourself into.


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By Paul Davidson
Sep 21, 2009

pfwein wrote:
...But that's kind of like the ridiculous warnings (that you CAN rightly blame on lawyers) for things like "coffee is hot."


Ahh... using the old "coffee is hot" argument to attack lawyers, law suits, ridiculous warnings and such..

pf, given that you seem to want others to provide actual, cited references for their claims of losing access to climbing, you're going to need to find a new reference to validate your bushish claim of personal injury ruining our freedoms.

Living in the city that handed out the millions of bucks settlement against McDonalds in the hot coffee case, I too once thought, What a bunch of crap, get a life, take responsibility for your actions, get a brain, yada yada yada.

Then, one day, I actually got to hear the "other side of the story" from the lawyer who represented the victim. Suddenly, the jury's decision made a lot more sense.

The very unfortunate older woman at the heart of the case suffered serious, wide spread 3rd degree burns that required multiple skin grafts. Her daughter originally approached McDonalds (without a lawyer) to let them know what happened. As I recall, she wasn't asking them for anything. Just wanted to let them know what had happened and suggest they might want to turn down the heat. The local manager totally blew her off. So, she took it up the ladder. The corporate attitude ? Get a lawyer bitxx, not even a simple apology, which in this case would have been worth millions of bucks.

She gets pissed and talks to a laywer, the rest is history. And for the record, the family has said that the money is worth nothing relative to the horror of the burns that this woman had to endure in her final years.

It turns out there was a well documented history of Ronald ignoring previous burns and complaints about the temp of their java.
This burn was not an isolated incident nor was the attitude.

Hmmm, prior knowledge, horrible injuries, deep pocketed company saying fo ? A PI Lawyer's wet dream.

Don't know about you, but I do have the expectation of buying coffee that is not so hot it will cause 3rd degree burns.

Funny how sometimes the truth of matters can change one's perspective.


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