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Another weekend, another heli rescue on Tahquitz!


Original Post
Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,360

Probably on White Maidens, broken leg maybe. 

Anthony B · · Santa Monica · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 0
Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,360

Follower fell with leg stuck, open fracture. Ouch!!

jt newgard · · Ventura, CA · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 100

Thanks for the update. We were over on Fingertrip hoping for the best when we saw the chopper buzzing around.

So amazing to pull someone right off the cliff. Thank you to the rescue personnel!

And sending good vibes to the fallen climber -- get well soon!!

Izzy Nawfal · · Redondo Beach, CA · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 470
Anthony B wrote:

That's my partner and I in the background! The rescue made for some very noisy climbing, though it was impressive to watch how close the helicopter was to the rock. Hoping for a speedy recovery for the climber. 

A shot from above:

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,360
Izzy Nawfal wrote:

That's my partner and I in the background! The rescue made for some very noisy climbing, though it was impressive to watch how close the helicopter was to the rock. Hoping for a speedy recovery for the climber. 

A shot from above:

I was 100% "Holy Shit!" when I saw how close they got to the rock, impressive flying or incredibly reckless, not sure.

Forever Outside · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 235

What pitch did the person fall on?  Is that p4?  Hard to tell from the photo

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,360
Forever Outside wrote: What pitch did the person fall on?  Is that p4?  Hard to tell from the photo

It was really low, I think it was one.

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 14,917

Hoping the victim a good recovery...gad, falling with your foot stuck...."willies" just thinking about it.

Good 'copter pilots can do incredible things.  I was 50 ft away when, in the dark and using night-vision goggles, a rescue copter touched down one skid on a boulder.  The rear of his blade was over a 30 ft cliff made by the boulder, the front of his blade was about 10 vertical feet above the ground and only the same # of feet away from the upslope ground.  The lift differential between the lift at the front of the blade and the rear must have been tremendous but the skid stayed stationary a few inches above the ground while 5 not-exactly-light rescue people got out.  The copter pilot did this not once, but twice going "in" and three times going "out". (Las Vegas S&R Team, FYI)

A good friend of mine was rescued off a ridge in British Columbia in 1978 by a pilot who did an even more amazing hover while my friend "very gently please" got into the 'copter. A short time later later the pilot died when he ran out of gas....forgot to do the pre-flight check list.  It's the "simple stuff" that gets you!  

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,360
Robert Hall wrote: Hoping the victim a good recovery...gad, falling with your foot stuck...."willies" just thinking about it.

Good 'copter pilots can do incredible things.  I was 50 ft away when, in the dark and using night-vision goggles, a rescue copter touched down one skid on a boulder.  The rear of his blade was over a 30 ft cliff made by the boulder, the front of his blade was about 10 vertical feet above the ground and only the same # of feet away from the upslope ground.  The lift differential between the lift at the front of the blade and the rear must have been tremendous but the skid stayed stationary a few inches above the ground while 5 not-exactly-light rescue people got out.  The copter pilot did this not once, but twice going "in" and three times going "out". (Las Vegas S&R Team, FYI)

A good friend of mine was rescued off a ridge in British Columbia in 1978 by a pilot who did an even more amazing hover while my friend "very gently please" got into the 'copter. A short time later later the pilot died when he ran out of gas....forgot to do the pre-flight check list.  It's the "simple stuff" that gets you!  

Cowboys are still around gentleman...and on a steel horse they ride.

Forever Outside · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 235
Tradiban wrote:

It was really low, I think it was one.

p1?  There are no jams on p1 to get stuck on, it's a ramp the belay station.  p2 at the earliest!

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,360
Forever Outside wrote:

p1?  There are no jams on p1 to get stuck on, it's a ramp the belay station.  p2 at the earliest!

P1 or 2, not higher, the heli was level with the ledge above One Nut Willie.

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60
bruno-cx wrote: Waiting for non-locals to chime in about slack lines and make frivolous BITD comments.

Troll much?  Is it OK for locals to chime in about slack lines?  Also, if one notes that there are more rescues nowadays than BITD, is that really frivilous?  

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,360
Fat Dad wrote:

Troll much?  Is it OK for locals to chime in about slack lines?  Also, if one notes that there are more rescues nowadays than BITD, is that really frivilous?  

But there are more people climbing nowadays. What's the percentage?

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60

Good point.  There's a research paper there somewhere.  

Dan Freeman · · Los Angeles · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 11

I was the leader of this party and it was my friend who was injured. The route was White Maiden's Walkway, which I have lead before (along with many other TQ routes). I lead the first pitch (which to me was up the ramp, then up the corner to the trees), a second climber followed successfully (trailing a rope and re-clipping gear placements), and the third climber (the one who was injured, on toprope) had reached the top of the ramp. As he reported later, a few seconds after he started up the corner (maybe 8-10 feet) he felt his foot start to slip, and decided to let go of his handholds and rest on the rope, thinking that it was relatively taught (both the climber and belayer felt the rope was adequately taught for a TR situation). He thinks that he either caught his foot in a crack as he fell or decked from rope stretch. Either way, he was on the ledge atop the ramp when I rappelled down to him (2x raps from the trees to the ledge) and had already applied a tourniquet.

Compound fracture, tibia exposed at the ankle, and (we found out later), fibula broken in six places. We had cell reception (thank god); it took about 1 hr 15 min from 911 call to airlift extraction (and yeah, they're badasses), and the guys who hiked in arrived about 20 minutes after that. He spent 4 nights in the hospital, two surgeries, and 9 screws later he went home. The doctors say he'll be walking in 3 months, followed by 3-6 months of PT, and full recovery in 2 years or less.

A few takeaways for me:
  1. Even on TR, a fall can still result in serious injury, especially when close to a ledge/the ground. This climber had mostly climbed in the gym, and this was to be his first multipitch, and I should have taken care to explain to try hard not to fall when close to the ground due to rope stretch, which is exaggerated by the length of the pitch.
  2. Knowledge of basic first aid (I have none, the injured climber had a bit) could make a huge difference. This could have been much worse, and if so, I would not have been much help. The EMT who assisted in the airlift applied a bandage wrap and an inflatable splint, and did not perform any other first aid.
  3. While on the knowledge subject, I should probably take a self-rescue course (i.e. in the case that a climber is knocked unconscious by a fall).
  4. Shit happens. The worst reaction to an emergency is panic (the other climber nearly did, but kept it together to rappel safely). I (unfortunately, perhaps) now know that I won't barf or faint in the presence of blood/bone. Stay aware of the risks, stay calm, be safe. Climb on.
FWIW the injured climber can't wait to get back out there. Yes, even with me.
Only, Locals · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 1,160

Solid breakdown Dan, thanks.

Brian Paik · · Pasadena, CA · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

Wow.   I just did this route on the 12th.  

I know that’s a brutal injury but glad to hear it wasn’t more serious. 

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,360
Dan Freeman wrote: I was the leader of this party and it was my friend who was injured. The route was White Maiden's Walkway, which I have lead before (along with many other TQ routes). I lead the first pitch (which to me was up the ramp, then up the corner to the trees), a second climber followed successfully (trailing a rope and re-clipping gear placements), and the third climber (the one who was injured, on toprope) had reached the top of the ramp. As he reported later, a few seconds after he started up the corner (maybe 8-10 feet) he felt his foot start to slip, and decided to let go of his handholds and rest on the rope, thinking that it was relatively taught (both the climber and belayer felt the rope was adequately taught for a TR situation). He thinks that he either caught his foot in a crack as he fell or decked from rope stretch. Either way, he was on the ledge atop the ramp when I rappelled down to him (2x raps from the trees to the ledge) and had already applied a tourniquet.
Compound fracture, tibia exposed at the ankle, and (we found out later), fibula broken in six places. We had cell reception (thank god); it took about 1 hr 15 min from 911 call to airlift extraction (and yeah, they're badasses), and the guys who hiked in arrived about 20 minutes after that. He spent 4 nights in the hospital, two surgeries, and 9 screws later he went home. The doctors say he'll be walking in 3 months, followed by 3-6 months of PT, and full recovery in 2 years or less.

A few takeaways for me:
  1. Even on TR, a fall can still result in serious injury, especially when close to a ledge/the ground. This climber had mostly climbed in the gym, and this was to be his first multipitch, and I should have taken care to explain to try hard not to fall when close to the ground due to rope stretch, which is exaggerated by the length of the pitch.
  2. Knowledge of basic first aid (I have none, the injured climber had a bit) could make a huge difference. This could have been much worse, and if so, I would not have been much help. The EMT who assisted in the airlift applied a bandage wrap and an inflatable splint, and did not perform any other first aid.
  3. While on the knowledge subject, I should probably take a self-rescue course (i.e. in the case that a climber is knocked unconscious by a fall).
  4. Shit happens. The worst reaction to an emergency is panic (the other climber nearly did, but kept it together to rappel safely). I (unfortunately, perhaps) now know that I won't barf or faint in the presence of blood/bone. Stay aware of the risks, stay calm, be safe. Climb on.
FWIW the injured climber can't wait to get back out there. Yes, even with me.

Damn, rope stretch claims another victim. I can see how a gym climber would think it would be perfectly ok to just rest for a moment, less stretch in gym ropes, so they have probably never experienced real rope stretch.

While leading with 3 people I usually belay both at the same time and have the least experienced person climb in the middle with the more experienced follower right behind them to help. I also crank the shit out of the rope to diminish any rope stretch in case of a fall.

Yes, not much first aid you can do on an injury like that.
Stop any bleeding and don't move it unless you have to but splint the shit out of it first.
FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Tradiban wrote:

Damn, rope stretch claims another victim. I can see how a gym climber would think it would be perfectly ok to just rest for a moment, less stretch in gym ropes, so they have probably never experienced real rope stretch.

I've seen experienced leaders bringing up their seconds on a loose rope. Routinely.

Maybe not in this case, but I think it happens frequently.
Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,360
FrankPS wrote:

I wouldn't assume the gym climber made an incorrect assumption or did something wrong. I've seen experienced leaders bringing up their seconds on a loose rope. Routinely.

Dan said that everyone agreed that the rope was tight, including the victim.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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