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WTF Happened on Rewritten today?

Original Post
J. Fox · · Black Hawk, CO · Joined Mar 2007 · Points: 1,420

Mark Cushman and I just topped out on the top of the Great Zot pitch heading for Icarus when a massive rock fell from atop Rewritten and exploded ~400 above us raining death and destruction. Luckily Mark and I are obviously alive with only minor cuts/scrapes/bruises, but we'd love to know the whole picture.

Micah, I think that was you I saw mid flight taking the whip trying to get away from the block...hope you're o.k.!

jcntrl · · Smoulder, CO · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 0

My partner and I were on the third pitch of Chockstone when we heard a massive...well it sounded like an explosion. We had no idea what it was but that was probably it. It echoed throughout the canyon like a bomb went off.

I hope everyone made it out of the DMZ ok. Wow.

Did the refrigerator block after the traverse pitch decide to let loose?

Shawn Mitchell · · Broomfield · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 250

Micah Isaac?

Jeff Welch · · Denver, CO · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 282

Further reinforcing my decision to never climb in Eldo on weekends...
Hope everyone was alright.

Mark Cushman · · Cumming, GA · Joined Sep 2006 · Points: 995
Justin Cantrall wrote:Did the refrigerator block after the traverse pitch decide to let loose?
That block is probably what came off. Skeeter and I were at the top of the first Great Zot pitch heading for the Red Ledge when it let loose. We ducked and covered and it sounded to me like the entire face was coming down. I could hear impacts all around us and I FELT huge blocks whizz by my head. I thought I was going to die. I don't know how that much rock could have come down directly above us and no big pieces hit us. We yelled up to Micah (Isaac) and made sure everyone was OK before continuing up our route.

There are scars above the Red Ledge belay where a huge part of it hit and exploded, and at the base of Rewritten there are a ton of basketball sized blocks strewn around the area where people usually lounge (there was a group + dog directly in the impact zone 10 minutes prior). We descended with a party from the Yellow Spur that had a front row seat from that route.
Micahisaac · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 80

So here's the skinny...

I was on pitch 4 and the party above me yelled down that the block was loose, I have climbed "Rewritten" before and I knew the infamous refrigerator block balanced on the ledge. I didn't think too much of the warning, and I kept moving up. When I got to the block, I carefully traverse around it, but when I came on the right side I stepped on a rock and my foot sank. The "refrigerator" block was nudged just enough that it shifted off. I thought it might miss me, but then it hit my rope and yarded me off the ledge head first. I ended up falling the entire pitch and was about even with my belayer when the rope stopped me. I yelled "rock" as loud as I could, but "rock" sounded like the understatement of the century. I knew Mark and Jeff were directly below me, and was VERY relieved that they were ok. The route was completely covered in dust, pebbles and even some good size chucks of rock. After walking down there, I found tree limbs and exploded rock everywhere. My partners pack was destroyed along with some of the contents of the pack.
Thanks for everyones concern. I am super thankful that nobody got seriously hurt and that I was wearing my helmet.
Please be careful on this route as it is still littered with rubble that is just waiting to come down.

Mark Hammond · · Eldorado Springs, CO · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 356

Sounds like everyone is alright. Very glad to hear that!
Also sounds like a wild ride for all, especially Micah!

Jack Needy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 0

I was Micah's partner yesterday. I'm very thankful we're all posting and everyone is could've been a totally different story. The whole thing went down quickly, violently and unexpectedly. Micah's flight was probably close to 50 feet, upside down and backwards. Through his fall his head bounced at least once.

This was the cruiser climb for the day. When I built the anchor, I never dreamed it would be holding a 50' whip with literally tons of rock raining down on us. The anchor held. When Micah and I strapped on our helmets at the was done out of habit.

I am still processing yesterday's events. A couple of things I walked away with that I believe are worth sharing. This game we play is SERIOUS business and it demands our respect. When I saw the block coming down I thought it was over. It is so easy to become our safety checks, gear placements, anchor building and attention to detail...always thinking the big thing is what happens to other people. Be witnessed yesterday it can happen to any of us at anytime.

I can't express how thankful I am that nobody was at the base or below us on the route. Let's not waste the opportunity to learn from this situation in which all walked away to climb another day. Always be safe.

J. Fox · · Black Hawk, CO · Joined Mar 2007 · Points: 1,420

Holy crap dude! Glad you're o.k.! Mark had just made it to my belay atop the 1st pitch when I heard "ROCK!". When I looked up I saw a body in mid flight and a massive rock in mid flight. I saw Micah tumbling/spinning and then the rock hit something and exploded. That's when I dove into the wall.

I thought I was dead since there is no cover to hide beneath atop that pitch. The block exploded directly over top Mark and I. I then thought for sure a body was going to come tumbling down atop us as well, with the violence of the rock fall.

Super glad you guys are o.k. and unbelievable that Mark and I got out relatively unscathed. My knees were the only parts that took direct impacts from small rocks thankfully.

I felt the same way in that, you never think this would happen in a place like Eldo...something you'd only think might happen up in the high peaks. Another amazing thing is that only a few minutes before it happened, there were 4+ people and a dog lying at the base of the climb!

Craig Quincy · · Louisville, CO · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 305

Wow!!! I'm glad luck was with you and you all avoided serious injury. Be careful out there. My wife and I were just talking about how Eldo is probably still sketchy to climb at this year because of all the rain we've had that loosened things up this year.

clemay · · Fort Collins · Joined Sep 2007 · Points: 0

I'm very happy to hear that everyone is OK.

jcntrl · · Smoulder, CO · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 0

I've always hated the looks of that block. Super scary.

Jack raises a great point: it's obvious, but not always so obvious that climbing is a dangerous activity we engage in. I've engaged myself in the mode of thought lately that "I am at a point in my climbing career where I've developed a certain level of confidence in my practices." I try for harder climbs and push myself to a challenge; I'm not as afraid to fall on gear these days as I used to be, however this attitude, I realize, also dangerously lends itself to negligence of apparently minor details if one is not aware of it. I am glad to hear that this did not happen yesterday: that the anchor was good and held, and that helmets were worn.

Glad to hear that this did not end in tragedy.

J. Fox · · Black Hawk, CO · Joined Mar 2007 · Points: 1,420

I posted some pictures of the aftermath at the base in my profile.…

Chris Beh · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 390

Unreal story, glad everyone is OK. Eldo is one of the most dangerous climbing areas in the country because of the loose rock and very heavy use. And the moderate climbs are the worst of all. All the rain this year probably set up that block and may be setting up other time bombs.

George Bell · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 5,030
Micah Isaac wrote:The "refrigerator" block was nudged just enough that it shifted off. I thought it might miss me, but then it hit my rope and yarded me off the ledge head first. I ended up falling the entire pitch and was about even with my belayer when the rope stopped me.
Wow!! That must have been one terrifying fall, I'm amazed the rope wasn't cut! I am really glad that nobody was hurt in this event.

I wonder if there is now a good belay ledge where that block used to rest?
Stuart Paul · · Denver, CO · Joined May 2007 · Points: 230

Glad everybody is OK

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,476

We had all talked about trundling that stupid rock for years now. Glad it is finally gone! Pretty intense story there, Micah. Really glad you didn't hit a ledge on your fall, but it's pretty vertical there so not a bad spot to take a dive.

George, that ledge is like all of the other rotten ledge systems with few real cracks to build a belay at. Years ago when I first did the route we belayed there at the big block and noted it's tenuous life there. Then I saw some guy belay to our left at the start of the gulley to the left of Rebuffat's Arete and have made belays there ever since. You can easily regain the arete from there to climb it.

Eckhard · · Denver, CO · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 375

WoW, I heard all this while bouldering in Eldo, and thought that sounds like a huge rock fall, but that's probably my imagination. Thank the climbing gods everybody came out of such a catastrophe unscathed!

Shawn Mitchell · · Broomfield · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 250
George Bell wrote: Wow!! I'm amazed the rope wasn't cut!

Wonderful to hear everyone's OK. I must be dim and unobservant...never even noticed--or remembered at any rate--the block y'all are talking about.
Paul Hunnicutt · · Boulder, CO · Joined Sep 2006 · Points: 325

Glad everyone is alright. This is why I long ago stopped feeling like a nerd wearing my helmet while at the base of a climb. It amazes me how many people don't wear them even while climbing in choss infested places like Eldo, Rifle, and Clear Creek to name a few that I've almost been destroyed by rockfall at...while just sitting at the base belaying or hanging out. I've heard more stories of belayers getting hit by rockfall then climbers.

It is a popular climb, probably pretty lucky someone wasn't down there.

Another reminder, as has been stated, to ALWAYS build a full strength anchor.

Gregger Man · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Aug 2004 · Points: 1,320

I climbed it 3 weeks ago with a partner that had never climbed Rewritten and I wondered aloud what damage might be wrought by that colossal domino if it should fall.
Well, now we all know.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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