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Caver's at Whitesides, NC

Original Post
Ryan7crew · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 65

Just want everyone on here to be aware that a few cavers are throwing ropes off the top of Whiteside's unannounced. 700 feet of static rope missed us by about 15 feet. That seems like a lot, but when you hear the hiss of a rope flying threw the air from 700 above and the crack of it stopping, you can't tell the difference between 15 and 2 feet. Its happened in the past, but everyone was really apologetic afterwards. These guys were straight reckless. No apology and they seemed completely oblivious to the fact that they could have killed someone. Then when I said something to them along the lines of, "Hey its typically common courtesy to yell rope before you throw something, you scared the shit out of us," they just ignored me. We posted on a caving forum, the Western Carolina Climbers facebook page, and called the Nantahala Ranger's office, but everyone should keep a heads up still. They typically rappel over Warrior's Way or Volunteer Wall. If you're in the vicinity of those routes, be careful.

Tim Fry · · Charlotte NC · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 15

Sheesh. I'd be hollaring too if I almost got smacked by 700' of static line.

Just out of curiosity, these are people sport rappelling off the top? Are they practicing ascending a LOT of line or something?

TomCaldwell · · Clemson, S.C. · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 2,796

Rappelling off the top is common. I think they call it the cavers route or something. There is a set of anchors that are easily accessible for them. When you are hiking the summit loop trail, there is a worn side trail that accesses it near the middle of the cliff. At many cliffs, sport rappelling is illegal for this exact reason.

Bstriker · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 0

The "Caver's rap" is directly over Vol Wall, there are numerous sets of anchors in place for rigging. This has been a practice for a long time, infact Vol Wall was scoped out via this rappel. The line hangs free and hits the wall again at register ledge, where there is of course a register. They rap, sign in and jug out as training for the big pits. You go past this register on Vol Wall A&H etc. Typically the times I had encountered them they were VERY vocal about dropping the rope, and aware of climbers. Terrible to hear this is changing because that would be a lot of rope to eat, glad it missed you guys.

sam england · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 410

I was there with Ryan Saturday and was nearly hit with said rope. The party set up 2 ropes. The first was over Warrior's Way and was the one that nearly gave us the chop. We were all the way over on Little Miss Dangerous so really, with any wind, pretty much all of the headwall routes are potential targets. The second rope was lowered down in the more popular location over Volunteer Wall.

The big draw for this rappel is that it is fulfills some sort of requirement for the New River Gorge Bridge Day rappel. Bridge Day is October 15 so rappelling traffic should slow down after that.

Good luck.

Brian Payst · · Carrboro,NC · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 10

I'll be contacting the rangers on behalf of the CCC to see if there is any signage or other ways they can help. Given the size of the cliff, it's a challenging situation for communication but hopefully a reminder will get the few who aren't thinking about climbers thinking about it.

Mark O'Neal · · Nicholson, GA · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 1,380

You might get in touch with Chris Hall. I think he knows the people in the local caving groups.

andjoely · · Menlo Park, CA · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 870

Thanks Ryan, for helping to educate the the rapellers who also use the cliff on proper safety considerations for people who may be on the cliff below or on the ground. Indeed the hazard from dropping huge clumps of rope as is not uncommon is very high considering the potential for a dropped rope to knock a climber off on an easy runout sections on the lower pitches if the impact itself doesn't injure or kill the climber. I've almost been hit by some large rocks and clumps of rope knocked down by rappellers while climbing Volunteer wall. Really as long as the rappellers take care to rappel the top 60 feet of slabs from the caver bolts and then gradually lower the end of the rope down past the lip of the headwall rather than dropping a large clump down then there would be little issue.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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