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Lincoln Falls/French Pillar Collapse
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Dec 30, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Mountain Bandito
Rock Climbing Photo: People still flirting with death, even after the F...
People still flirting with death, even after the French Pillar fell down with a TR on it.

FYI/PSA: The Lincoln Falls pillars are always super dangerous in the winter. The French Pillar collapsed today with about half a dozen people directly below it and TRing that exact climb, along with a few other people in the vicinity of the falling ice. I’m so glad that no one was hurt. Those pillars have had horizontal cracks in them for weeks now and along with sublimation, low humidity, sub-zero temperatures and high altitude make these pillars and ice very unstable. All the pillars up there look like shit along with the death daggers.
My girlfriend and I were racking up by the rescue sled and there was another party next to use. We immediately went into rescue mode by yelling up to the pillars area, grabbing first aid kits and calling 911. Luckily no one was hurt. The worst part about this situation is that none of the people up at the pillars area seemed to give a shit and even heard some giggles from them, while we were shaking in our boots down below. I thought the group would call it quits after that super close call, instead they started TRing the other unstable formations.

Dear Irresponsible Climbers,
Sorry, but I’m not a very nice person when I keep being put in a dangerous situation. This “dick head”(me) has no problem going into a dangerous situation to help people in need, it’s what I do for a living and I’ve had plenty of patients die in front of me from injuries sustained in the mountains. Nice attempt in blaming me that I should have spoken up with my “wisdom” sooner. I’m not the Lincoln Falls Safety Officer. Don’t worry if any of you were hurt you would have seen plenty of compassion and concern from me.
From Valdez, AK
Joined Oct 20, 2009
3,101 points
Dec 31, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: KC on Fields (medium).  Photo (c) Doug Shepherd
Oh wait... you mean Lincoln Falls isn't the Ouray Ice Park North??? ;^)

In my experience, NO ONE appreciates safety advice in the moment and always try to deflect blame or justify their behavior with some lame excuse. Hopefully in the long run, they will benefit.

Edit to add: Good on ya' for being ready/willing to render aid and for your efforts up there to benefit the community.
Kevin Craig
Joined Mar 20, 2002
448 points
Dec 31, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: On the Grand.
Thanks for the info. I am glad at least you guys understood how serious that can be. Give the giggling climbers another year or two and maybe they'll be more experienced or find themselves in a situation and find it less comical.

If not, it'll sort itself out.
Tony T.
From Denver, CO
Joined Jul 29, 2009
71 points
Jan 3, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: Fun Times
Thank you for this post. I appreciate where you are coming from & the concerns you raised.
Could you please clarify for me, in the picture of those pillars, where was the French Pillar?
I climbed all of those pillars a few days before Christmas and though they were super chopped out they had not fractured and sublimated to that extent then. I will say though those pillars were close to their end then.
It just goes to show how quickly ice conditions can change and how all of us ice climbers need to pay very close attention all the time.
I am glad no one was hurt but hopefully those involved find your post and think hard about what happened and why.
I am also glad someone of your skills & experience was around to assist if someone had gotten really hurt.
Timmy Foulkes
Joined Jan 17, 2011
26 points
Jan 3, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: Rrrrr
Timmy Foulkes wrote:
Could you please clarify for me, in the picture of those pillars, where was the French Pillar?

possibly the one that's also called sickle on a stick?? kinda that left of middle, overhangy dihedral looking feature -- climber's left of where the TR guy is topping out on Flow Right/Newt's Pillar
Buff Johnson
Joined Dec 19, 2005
1,508 points
Jan 5, 2013

Appreciate your concern for the matter, that was beyond a close call for all at Lincoln falls that day. But the sequence of events that are listed are far from accurate to what happened that day. I was the leader of a party of two(right in your photo behind the rock), who were conversing with the large party of 7 prior to the pillar collapse. I spoke with the leader of their party, who was a nice young kid with a fair amount of experience. Although maybe not surpassing your level of Ice experience and knowledge, their leader and I were aware of the conditions and structural integrity of the french pillar, which is why both he and I conquered that it was not a safe lead and/or top rope. With this in mind my party of 2, and their party of 7 decided not to climb the french pillar in light of its danger. Although cracked, the center pillar looked much stronger, and their party continued to do laps on top rope teaching a group of very nice 20-23 year old girls how to climb. While at the base of the center column, we heard a cracking sound and dove for cover as the french pillar collapsed on its own, without any rope or climber on it. The other member of my party was wiped out at the legs by a microwave sized piece of ice but only bruised. All 5 girls and 2 men in the large party were horribly frightened and only "giggled," to ease the tension of a rather horrific event. A member of my party did proceed downhill to make sure nobody below was hit by the avalanche of ice, which to the fortune of the gods was the case. We appreciate your concern in the matter and pray for more fortunate events as aplinists and ice climbers. We would also appreciate it if you refrained from using directed insults of profanity towards a group of 5 young girls, which Im sure only occurred due to your rush of adrenaline from the preceding events. Im not trying to stir the pot with this comment/story only letting other climbers in the community know that the pillar gave under its own weight, and all at lincoln falls that day were fortunate enough to be outside its fall zone. Wish you the best luck on all ascents this season.

Joined Jan 5, 2013
9 points
Jan 6, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: me
Yeah!! Take that Rowdy!!! slk
From Reno, NV
Joined Jan 26, 2011
168 points
Jan 6, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: Ocecats
Taylor...thanks for the report.
Brian.... Thank you for the clear and objective explanation of the events.
It would appear Taylor needs a corroborating witness before he writes another accident report.
Benjamin Chapman
From Small Town, USA
Joined Jan 2, 2007
16,149 points
Jan 6, 2013
I don't really climb ice anymore, these days I put my tools in my pack and go for long walks. It's much warmer.

Anyway, a few years back I had weekdays free and loved solo ice. Lincoln is a natural choice for that. I'd run up low angle stuff on the left and go up the big pillar out right. I don't know the name but it's the main pillar pictured. On an extremely normal weekday, completely alone in lincoln and running laps all over, I stopped under that pillar and pissed. I contemplated soloing it again but my personality is lazy, especially alone. I zipped up my pants and went to the big main flow to dinnerplate my way up. I was barely a few feet up when I heard a god awful crash. I felt it through the tools even.

I knew it immediately but had to look on my way back down. It wasn't as bad as it sounded, the pillar remained. However a curtain the size of a vw had come down about an inch to the right. Id estimate 2 tons of ice but I don't know. Had I climbed it, I would have been on the pillar when the curtain fell. Had I pissed longer, i'd have been crushed by ice with my dick out.

Moral of the story, water seeks it's level, even when frozen.
From Colorado
Joined Oct 29, 2012
43 points
Jan 9, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: Mountain Bandito
What am I suppose to take??? Ya, I was pissed and used sailor words to express my concerns for my safety and every ones safety. The second offense of ignorance and stupidity really lit me up!!!, sorry. I would be heart broken if some one got hurt or killed on something that I farmed. I spent countless hours up there this fall farming ice and kicking down unstable formations to try and create a safe place as possible for people to enjoy such a dangerous sport. Lincoln Falls is not an ice park, you climb at your own risk. When you make bad decisions and keep making bad decisions it puts a lot of people at risk, if any one would have gotten hurt it would have taken a small army and a helicopter to rescue them. Again, sorry for being so harsh, but the mountains are a lot harsher. Every one there that day had a nice "look" at death and I'm glad that no one was hurt.

I'm donating an old sleeping bag and some other basic first aid supply to be cashed at the rescue sled. If any one is going up there soon and could take this up there please PM me.

PS. Those chains around the loose blocks in the bowling alley need to go.
From Valdez, AK
Joined Oct 20, 2009
3,101 points
Jan 9, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: Bocan
Rowdy Wrangellian wrote:
Lincoln Falls is not an ice park, you climb at your own risk.

For some reason, maybe the growth in popularity, that is exactly how LF is treated. The reality is that its an alpine environment on a 14er that is somewhat remote.

Ice climbing is dangerous in general and should be treated as such, but it's treated more casually. If an accident can happen to Jack Roberts, it can most certainly happen to anyone.
Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Joined Feb 15, 2006
1,387 points
Jan 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: Rrrrr
not for nothing, but if I jumped in to save the lives of 5 ladies in distress and didn't even get a phone least one of them had to be a hottie, just sayin: priorities Buff Johnson
Joined Dec 19, 2005
1,508 points

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