Man dies after 1st Flatiron fall


Original Post
Brian Bauer · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 5
Eben Myrddin Muse · · Fraser, Colorado · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0

Oh man, poor guy.

Alton R. · · Boulder, Co · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 80

Awful news. Condolences to his family and friends. 

pfwein · · Boulder, CO · Joined May 2006 · Points: 30

Saw the ambulance /fire truck / RMRG responders heading to Bluebell Shelter parking area (which is far as vehicles can drive) yesterday around 6:30 pm or so.  As a frequent Flatiron scrambler (and one-time recipient of RMRG rescue from the Flatirons--not a scrambling accident), this hits close to home and very sorry to learn of the outcome.



Peter Beal · · Boulder Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,690
pfwein wrote:

Saw the ambulance /fire truck / RMRG responders heading to Bluebell Shelter parking area (which is far as vehicles can drive) yesterday around 6:30 pm or so.  As a frequent Flatiron scrambler (and one-time recipient of RMRG rescue from the Flatirons--not a scrambling accident), this hits close to home and very sorry to learn of the outcome.



I was on the Second as the rescue vehicles were coming up and encountered the hiker who called in the rescue on the way down as I was running. He was visibily traumatized by what he had encountered. If I had started fifteen or twenty minutes earlier I might have seen the whole thing happen. Ugh.

This accident is a vital reminder that the Flatirons can be a very serious place for even experienced climbers, let alone inexperienced ones. I don't want to blame social media and local  events like the Satan's Minions "races" but there has been a surge in media (Honnold on El Cap being the most spectacular) promoting a light and fast solo approach to climbing recently that is at odds with most people's capacities.  I wish that newer climbers were much more strongly encouraged to truly understand their skills and limitations in climbing environments, especially if they are not particularly well protected. It's not cool to get hurt or killed climbing.

Gilroy · · Boulderado · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 20

Further news report:

Daily Camera

ErikaNW · · Golden, CO · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 40

It's tragic that this happened. From my perspective, to echo Peter Beal, it is easy for people to underestimate the level of risk/consequence of soloing the Flatirons because it is so commonplace. The number of times I've seen recommendations for people who've never been up there to 'just solo it' when they are partner seeking for a Flatiron climb astounds me. Of course everyone has their own level of risk tolerance, but there does seem to be somewhat of a cavalier attitude towards the Flatirons in particular. 

I am a bit dismayed that the DC headline and story state the young man was 'free-climbing' instead of 'free-soloing' - I did send a suggestion to the reporter to correct the terminology. It probably doesn't seem like a big deal to the newspaper, but obviously those are entirely different things with different risk profiles. Regardless, really sad outcome.

Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 21,755
Peter Beal wrote:

 I don't want to blame social media and local  events like the Satan's Minions "races" but there has been a surge in media (Honnold on El Cap being the most spectacular) promoting a light and fast solo approach to climbing recently that is at odds with most people's capacities.

Then don't.  That's easy.  
L&F is not a new thing in climbing culture, and Honnold's ascent was not, in my perception, bantered about as 'light and fast' it was news as a mental & physical test-piece solo, not as a speed record. I think that the media was perfectly clear that the climb was death-defying, and I don't recall them at any time stressing his time Vs any records.

I for one will reserve any judgement about the motivation of a person I don't even know the identity of at least until there is more information than speculation.
And If I do get to a point where I believe I have figured it out, I won't post that in the same paragraph as saying that I don't want to say that it is that I am leading to the conclusion that it is.

Peter Beal also wrote:

" I wish that newer climbers were much more strongly encouraged to truly understand their skills and limitations in climbing environments, especially if they are not particularly well protected. It's not cool to get hurt or killed climbing."

On those points, we fully agree.  But was this guy even a climber by our definition?  Was he even exposed to that media?



Steve G · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 15
ErikaNW wrote:

I am a bit dismayed that the DC headline and story state the young man was 'free-climbing' instead of 'free-soloing' - I did send a suggestion to the reporter to correct the terminology. It probably doesn't seem like a big deal to the newspaper, but obviously those are entirely different things with different risk profiles.

I also emailed. The reporter used the term free-climbing and then proceeded to define it as climbing solo without ropes and gear. The article also mentions he was carrying camping gear with him which sounds like a strange thing to do while free soloing in the Flatirons.

Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 21,755
Steve Golebiewski wrote:

I also emailed. The reporter used the term free-climbing and then proceeded to define it as climbing solo without ropes and gear. The article also mentions he was carrying camping gear with him which sounds like a strange thing to do while free soloing in the Flatirons.

The DC has a long history of calling anything off of flat ground 'climbing' and anyone doing it a 'climber' which I suppose is semantically correct, but... yeah.

Peter Beal · · Boulder Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,690

Tony,

My sources tell me that this was most likely not a "real" climber as defined by most MP members. And speculations about his motives and even the cause of the fall are just that. However you don't have to look too closely to note that the trails are more crowded than ever and a fair number of visitors are winding up in some kind of trouble "scrambling" on the Flatirons. I see this type regularly on the Second which fortunately is easy enough to minimize the likelihood of catastrophe. Should something more aggressive be done to keep these individuals on the trail (another pet peeve) and off the rocks? I think it's a fair question even if it's been 9 years since the last fatal accident.

Slartibartfast · · Magrathea · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 0

The article says "free-soloing" now. I guess they listened.

Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 21,755
Peter Beal wrote:

Tony,

My sources tell me that this was most likely not a "real" climber as defined by most MP members. And speculations about his motives and even the cause of the fall are just that. However you don't have to look too closely to note that the trails are more crowded than ever and a fair number of visitors are winding up in some kind of trouble "scrambling" on the Flatirons. I see this type regularly on the Second which fortunately is easy enough to minimize the likelihood of catastrophe. Should something more aggressive be done to keep these individuals on the trail (another pet peeve) and off the rocks? I think it's a fair question even if it's been 9 years since the last fatal accident.

Well, that's a more valuable conversation and a thought I'm certainly willing to entertain, since it is going to be entertained by officials whether or not climbers do so.
So here's the question: since the officials can't efficiently/effectively detect who needs "aggressive" means to policing their activity, and so it will apply to everyone.  Nothing ever just applies to "them" (everyone else).  

So what kind of thing do you have in mind?   Maybe they could ban all climbing and we'd all be safe?  I know that's not what you have in mind, but...  maybe ban all un-roped climbing?  
"Someone should do something!" is a pretty blank check.  What sort of thing can they do?

"Be mindful of the prayers you send
Pray hard but pray with care
For the tears that you are crying now
Are just your answered prayers"
-Nick Cave

Peter Beal · · Boulder Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,690
Tony B wrote:

Well, that's a more valuable conversation and a thought I'm certainly willing to entertain, since it is going to be entertained by officials whether or not climbers do so.
So here's the question: since the officials can't efficiently/effectively detect who needs "aggressive" means to policing their activity, and so it will apply to everyone.  Nothing ever just applies to "them" (everyone else).  

So what kind of thing do you have in mind?   Maybe they could ban all climbing and we'd all be safe?  I know that's not what you have in mind, but...  maybe ban all un-roped climbing?  
"Someone should do something!" is a pretty blank check.  What sort of thing can they do?

"Be mindful of the prayers you send
Pray hard but pray with care
For the tears that you are crying now
Are just your answered prayers"
-Nick Cave

Good questions Tony. I don't mean policing since that's inappropriate and would be ineffective. Maybe more directed modes of education about why soloing Flatirons is probably not a good idea? For you and me, such messages are redundant since we are very aware of the possible things that can go wrong and can make informed decisions. I see a lot of irresponsible and ignorant activity by visitors that indicates some form of education would be helpful. I'm sure the rangers at OSMP see much worse.

Matt Desenberg · · North Berwick, ME · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 145

Ugh, that's horrible. Condolences to the family.

faye marshall · · denver, co · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 5

oh wow.  this boy was a teen...practically a child, but with a greater risk appetite.  he was probably out for a grand adventure...completely unaware of the dangers....just like me and and probably most of you have done (many years ago).  so sorry for his parents and family.  sincere condolences.  

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 511

This accident is very unfortunate.  My heart goes out to the family.

One accident relative to tens of thousands of ascents, many unroped, does not mean time to regulate.  Soloing the Flatirons should not be taken lightly and should only be considered by experienced climbers.  But, everyday, dozens of people solo them without incident, including me and Tony.  

D B · · Denver · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 205

I've seen a certain university climbing club post pictures on social media of 10-15 people climbing the first flatiron in a line. That's the kind of recklessness that shouldn't be encouraged.

If we don't self-regulate, we may end up regulated by outside parties.

Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 21,755
faye marshall wrote:

 he was probably out for a grand adventure...completely unaware of the dangers....just like me and and probably most of you have done (many years ago). 

"completely unaware of the dangers"  ???

Hmmm... the courts have agreed with the psychologists on the matter and state that the dangers of being 100' off of the ground are 'patently obvious.'
I've got to think that people ARE aware of the dangers if they are smart enough to tie their shoes.  
Heck, my 4 year old starts getting cautious at about 5' off of the ground.  I have to try to convince her it's safe to go higher.

I think that everyone is aware of the danger.  Stating that you could fall, and if you do, get maimed or killed is superfluous.  
It's the realization that it's "you" who it will happen to that is the point that needs to be driven home.  But how?
The people doing this are not completely unaware of the risk, they've either accepted it or believe themselves unlikely to suffer it.
Stating it is there does nothing for such a person.

So we're back to how to convince inexperienced people not to do this sort of thing.

Yeah, I do it.  I've done most of the flatirons car-to-car in under an hour.  But I'm not inexperienced and I wear sticky rubber shoes.
See, there you have it.  I don't believe I'm the likely person to fall, and therefore, I've accepted the risk.  What more can 'education' do for me?

BTW- I'm more likely to die in a car accident than climbing, as we all know.

S2k4life · · beaver creek, CO · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 0

Not more likely to die in a car than free soloing,,, why is free soloing such a frequent occurence,is it really worth it, ? Feel real bad for this young kid and his family but that's the risk you take wen you climb up a rock with no rope or gear,  atleast he died doing what he absolutely loved.. not all of us will have that pleasure  

I wonder why so4 many people like to free solo at eldo ? To show off in front of people?

I like climbing WAY to much to put it in jeopardy to not be able to ever do it again except in my dreams , screw that I Iike placing pro, playing with my toys that save my life and enable me to do what I love thousands of feet off the ground with little consequence 

Ryan Marsters · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 798
Peter Beal wrote:

...Maybe more directed modes of education about why soloing Flatirons is probably not a good idea...

I think these sorts of warnings have the opposite effect on the types of young adult males interested in soloing flatirons.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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