Turkey Rocks accident


Original Post
Jonathan Stickel · · Golden, CO · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 80

I was climbing Turkey Rocks this weekend, and there was a rescue Saturday, late afternoon into the evening. Anyone know what happened? Prognosis for the injured person? Hoping for the best!

Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,240

It was a toprope anchor failure from what I heard. The fall was at Turkey Perch. There was a lot of blood still there on Sunday, but the person that got injured should recover fine.

There are quite a few routes at the Perch that are rather difficult to set topropes for. Despite its reputation as a beginner area, it requires rather advanced anchor building skills.

BrittanyNLeTendre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 0

I am not sure how he's doing but he was conscious when we were carrying him down. He was handling it like a champ. But he was definitely in rough shape. He was on a top rope and the trad anchor blew out. I'm not completely sure what happened to the anchor. I didn't see how it was set up. Supposedly, multiple people had already been climbing on the anchor and been fine. I'd be very curious to see or get a detailed description of how the anchor was setup. I hope that he's ok! I'd love to hear how he's doing. Warm thoughts go towards him and his family.

Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,240

Any idea what route it was on?

Alex Zachrel · · Morgantown, West Virginia · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 25

is this the origin of the giant blood pile at the base of honky jam?

Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,240

That would be my guess. Toprope setups there generally involve that big boulder in some way.

BigFeet · · Texas · Joined May 2014 · Points: 0
Stich wrote:It was a toprope anchor failure from what I heard... Despite its reputation as a beginner area, it requires rather advanced anchor building skills.
This is sad to hear.

One reason not to disparage or make fun of those newbies who come to this forum with a "critique my anchor" post. Just having one person rethink their process, double/triple check, and/or ask someone on site to inspect... can possibly make a difference for someone's health.

You can't learn everything from this site, but we can recommend good practices to new climbers, as well as, keep trying to instill a no complacency mindset with all those already established climbers.

Yes, I would like to have a detailed analysis of the failure, if possible.
Ron Pivo · · Westcreek · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

My climbing partner witnessed the fall. The individual fell approximately fifty feet and hit the ground while lowering off of Left Handed Jew. At least three other people had climbed the route and lowered off previously on the anchor that failed. It is unclear, but likely that they had set the anchor in the flared gravelly crack at the bottom of the boulder mentioned above. What is known for certain is that the anchor in question consisted of only two pieces. It was not determined whether or not these two pieces had been equalized.

The climber sustained a fractured pelvis and several broken facial bones, but is expected to recover. Pretty damn lucky considering the landing below that route. Kudos to all of the climbers who helped with the evac, and to Mountain Communities and the Divide VFDs who coordinated the rescue. The accident occured around 4:30pm, and the climber was in the helo and on their way to the emergency room by 7:30pm.

Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,240

When setting up a toprope on those cracks, it is best to put a very long sling or second rope completely around the large boulder at the top. That's what I have always done.

sandrock · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 40

friends who were there say both legs broken, broken pelvis, face broke in multiple places. Evac'd by helicopter.

they say the anchor was a slung boulder and a .3

poor guy.

Collin Holt · · Golden, CO · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 0

How did the slung boulder fail? Knot failure?

Weekend Warrior · · Denver, CO · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 0

I hope the individual has a speedy recovery and something can be learned from the incident for all of us. I've climbed at Turkey many times, and that route specifically. It can be tricky to set an anchor.

So at the risk of inciting a riot and getting flamed (which is a low bar on MP):

Having said all that, I think Turkey (the whole area) could use a policy review for anchors in general. The current situation there is what was acceptable back in the 80s and early 90s (as are the vintage of the anchors themselves). Times have changed - why do we need crappy slinged chockstone anchors, cables, and the like instead of good modern anchors at the top of popular climbs? Why can't we use good top-rope anchors at the top of climbs at Turkey Perch (like Left Handed Jew)?? That place is almost exclusively used by beginners anyway. Why can't we, for example, set up a rap route on the West side of Turkey Rocks so you don't have to walk off every time, but there are rap anchors all over other crags in the area? The standard is totally inconsistent.

I'll chip in the hardware and help with the labor if others can get behind it.

Jared Sanders · · Florissant, CO · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 15

You do realize walking off is a lot faster, easier, and safer than a rappel, right?

Smurphyy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 0
Weekend Warrior wrote:I hope the individual has a speedy recovery and something can be learned from the incident for all of us. I've climbed at Turkey many times, and that route specifically. It can be tricky to set an anchor. So at the risk of inciting a riot and getting flamed (which is a low bar on MP): Having said all that, I think Turkey (the whole area) could use a policy review for anchors in general. The current situation there is what was acceptable back in the 80s and early 90s (as are the vintage of the anchors themselves). Times have changed - why do we need crappy slinged chockstone anchors, cables, and the like instead of good modern anchors at the top of popular climbs? Why can't we use good top-rope anchors at the top of climbs at Turkey Perch (like Left Handed Jew)?? That place is almost exclusively used by beginners anyway. Why can't we, for example, set up a rap route on the West side of Turkey Rocks so you don't have to walk off every time, but there are rap anchors all over other crags in the area? The standard is totally inconsistent. I'll chip in the hardware and help with the labor if others can get behind it.
I totally see your perspective on this... maybe Turkey Rocks is due for some bolted anchors on the popular routes. I also believe we need to consider the style of the climbing, and respect the same principles that exist through out the climbing community- leave no trace, for example, was a type of style established in Yosemite... Patagonia.. Yvon, etc... It is the reason we don't have a compressor route up everything--- because it does matter how you choose to climb something, and what methods you use to keep the integrity of the area.

The question is where will the climbing community draw the line? Should we pay someone to stand at the top of Turkey Perch, and make sure people build their anchors correctly? Should we have someone there to check every knot? To make sure people put harnesses on the right way?

I believe that this is not the rocks fault- it is inexperienced anchor building, without someone experienced to check it. As climbing expands, more people want to do these routes- but this is also part of the reason why its so important to keep integrity and not turn every crag into a sport gym. If people don't know what they are doing, its not exactly (turkey) the best place to try and figure it out, or make it up along the way. People have to assume responsibility for their actions. With respect, the person building this fucked up big time. We can't point the finger at the ethics of the crag, and say it all has to change. This is the outdoors, it is dangerous. It is not a climbing gym- I don't want turkey to turn into a climbing gym (regardless of whether someone deems it the beginner area). If you don't know what you are doing, stay in the gym until you find a mentor to teach you how to do it right.

With regards to rapping off the top: The walk off takes 2 minutes, and it is probably safer than setting up a rappel. How many climbing accidents do we hear about due to rappels? I don't think that would solve the problem, but add to it. People should just be honest about what they can and can't do, and that would solve a lot of the problems.

Climbing is dangerous and we should let this be a a tragic but true reminder... Stay safe everyone.
Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 15

So I bring a static Line with me if I am going to set a top rope and wrap it around the boulders, extending two figure 8s on a bit to the top of the routes. Its intense and people always say overkill....but I never liked lowering off gear from up there, or allowing multiple people to top on it.

Im with weekend warrior. That idea sounds pretty logical and safe. He makes a great point about the area, and safe anchors not taking away from it.

Xam · · Boulder, Co · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 8
Smurphyy wrote: It is the reason we don't have a refrigerator route up everything--- because it does matter how you choose to climb something, and what methods you use to keep the integrity of the area.
I know this is off topic but I am genuinely curious about this one...is this a reference to the compressor route?
Kevinmurray · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 0

Turkey rocks is and always should be a traditional climbing area, with few fixed anchors and no top rope anchors and no rap anchors. Learn how to climb there or stay home and watch the donkey's. Go to shelf road if you want to top rope and be safe. Don't pussify a great trad area.

R P Finney · · Lafayette, Colorado · Joined May 2007 · Points: 0

Turkey Perch is great place for beginner leaders and experienced leaders alike to enjoy some great jams. I thought that would be obvious. Anything that changes the South Platte into a top-rope friendly place for the uninitiated destroys it.

Rob Dillon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2002 · Points: 655

" Why can't we use good top-rope anchors at the top of climbs at Turkey Perch (like Left Handed Jew)?? "

Because we don't know how to set them up properly?

Look, it's hard to imagine a more beginner-friendly place than the Turkey Perch: class 2 top access, giant rocks and trees to sling, half-rope routes...WTF else do you want? I am really sorry that this accident happened, and whomever is responsible undoubtedly feels almost as bad as the poor guy who cratered, but let's not blame the canvas for the painter.

If you want to toprope at the Perch, get yourself a big hunk of static rope, some webbing and gear, and- most importantly-some quality instruction. I do not miss my years as a toprope warrior, spending an hour or more to construct an anchor so I could climb a 10-minute route, but it was indisputably valuable in my growth as a climber. Taking this step away from beginners by dumbing down the natural world will do them no favors; it will only lead to bigger trouble down the line.

Jonathan Lagoe · · Boulder · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

FWIW I spent some time trying to set up a TR on LH JEW only two weeks ago, and without a long piece of static or webbing decided to belay from the top as the only practical/safe option. Honky Jam is perhaps more awkward still.

Weekend Warrior · · Denver, CO · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 0
Kevinmurray wrote:Turkey rocks is and always should be a traditional climbing area, with few fixed anchors and no top rope anchors and no rap anchors. Learn how to climb there or stay home and watch the donkey's. Go to shelf road if you want to top rope and be safe. Don't pussify a great trad area.
I can't remember the last time someone told me I was a badass because I could properly set a top rope at Turkey Perch. This is out of sync with the times. I've climbed trad for 25 years all over the US and Canada, and last time I checked, Yosemite, Red Rocks, all over Montana, Idaho, the Bugaboos, RMNP, Indian Creek, the Tetons, and Eldorado, to name a few, are still considered trad areas despite lots of fixed anchors. For that matter, there are fixed anchors all over the Platte too. Having top rope anchors at Turkey Perch isn't going to do anything more than make it more safe for the level of climber that uses it.

It's a double standard to accept the tat stations, steel cable, and second rate bolted anchors at Turkey Rocks and Turkey Tail as OK, less impactful, etc., but argue you can't have a toprope anchor at Turkey Perch. Does everyone who climbs at those two crags simply avoid using fixed gear because they want to avoid being "pussified"? Of course they don't. Just because you are a better climber than someone who is new to setting anchors, does it make your bolts, cable, tat more acceptable?

People are going to climb at Turkey Perch whether or not they have had proper instruction in setting anchors. Not sure it's worth a life or severe injury to pretend otherwise (or so you can claim you have not been "pussified"! By the way, I LOVE that term!).
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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