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What was your biggest, scariest, or most destructive fall?
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Apr 28, 2012
CalmAdrenaline wrote:
Biggest: I was climbing Blue Gramma in Indian Creek with my Ex-girlfriend,

Climbing with your ex-girlfriend? Good God man. That's horrifying. I didn't even read past that.
Tommy Ormond
From Eldorado Springs, CO
Joined May 3, 2008
145 points
Apr 28, 2012
Biggest: 30-40 feet on the traverse right of the Ahwahnee ledge on WFLT. We left too much of the rack in the car after feeling overconfident about the route, so I ended up backcleaning the entire section just to make progress - my only pro was the bolt off the belay. I was almost through the thin crack and standing on a yellow mastercam that looked good, still daisied into the last piece (offset mastercam). All of a sudden, the yellow piece pulled, and my daisy must have ripped the previous piece. I took a 30-40 foot header onto the sloping stuff below, then pendulumed into a column. Aside from a broken helmet, a gash on my head, and a few scrapes and bruises, I was ok. I jugged back up to the ledge, and we went down the next day.

Scariest: See above, although I didn't know what was happening until it was over. I was plenty scared about a closed head injury afterwards, though.

Destructive: See above.
Scott O
From California
Joined Mar 30, 2010
50 points
Apr 29, 2012
Scary - my belayer dropped me on lead at r and j ...fell around 25 or 30 feet. My left ass cheek landed on her head. I was fine but she got a tibial plateau fracture in her knee. wankel7
From Indiana
Joined Oct 4, 2010
0 points
Apr 29, 2012
40 foot cheese grater on run out slab 2 days ago.
Rock Climbing Photo: war wounds
war wounds
Joined Mar 7, 2009
1,360 points
Apr 29, 2012
Biggest: 40 footer on Lizard Marmalade Direct. All air.

Scariest: 25 footer on pitch 8 of Astro Dog. Scary because although it was all air, came close to hitting the slab beneath the overhanging flare. And because that would have been a terrible, terrible spot to be seriously injured.

Most destructive: fortunately none have been very destructive. During a 25 footer on the last pitch of the Doub-Griffith, my left wrist slid down the arete for most of the fall leaving it dripping blood from the slash as though I'd tried to off myself. Looked a lot worse than it was.

Although I went back up and finished the latter two, I unfortunately have yet to fully avenge myself for any of these indignities. 3 amazing routes that all still scare me very much.
Charles Vernon
From Tucson, AZ
Joined Jan 1, 2001
2,556 points
Apr 29, 2012
Biggest: 40 feet, working my project. Last bolt is about 15 feet shy of the anchor, with the crux above it. I had worked the move numerous times, fallen on the bolt earlier that day. Somehow, on my at least 5th burn, I managed to spin the hanger off the bolt. I fell from about 12 feet above, ripped the hanger, and went from staring at the anchors to staring at my belayer.

Scariest: Karma Roof, Ten Sleep, WY. After a period of full-on bouldering, I was feeling strong but not so used to clipping. The Karma Roof climbs out a steep roof, with a bolt at the lip and then about a 20 foot run to the anchors. For whatever reason, I decided not to clip the bolt at the lip (in-full bouldering mode), thinking I'd clear the lip and have easier terrain to the top instead of wasting time on a difficult clip. Turns out I pumped myself stupid and got slightly off route. Long story short, I sat there, unable to move for at least 30 seconds, before letting go and taking a ride into nothing but air.

Destructive: Ultimate gumby moment. While trying a route at my limit very early on, I grabbed a draw out of desperation. This route climbed vertically for about 15 feet, and then had a horizontal traverse for about another 15 feet. When I grabbed the draw and went to clip, I somehow not only managed to miss the clip, but to wrap about 3 feet of rope around my arm. Since I didn't have much elevation gain from the start, the 8-10 feet of slack that had to remained out because of my own stupidity made it pretty certain to be a ground fall. Being a popular crag, about 5 people ran over and were going to try and cushion a fall onto the talus below. Once I ended up finally letting go, my belayer made an expert catch, taking in a bunch of slack while giving a soft catch, and kept me off the ground. Only problem was I swung pretty hard and kicked one of the guys who had tried to catch me right the face. He ended up with a black eye and I walked away unscathed. Doesn't seem fair does it?
From Eldorado Springs, Colorado
Joined Jan 4, 2010
0 points
Apr 30, 2012
80' off of the Southern Belle on Half Dome, almost 2 broken ankles and extreme roadrash. If the Lowe Ball Nut and #2 TCU had blown, another 150' of tumbling and skidding would have ensued. Hank Caylor
From Glenwood Springs, CO
Joined Dec 9, 2003
180 points
Apr 30, 2012
It was not my fall, but my partner took a 40 foot factor 1.75 fall on the West Face of the Leaning Tower in Yosemite and I got to catch it. That was fun... 20 kN
From Hawaii
Joined Feb 2, 2009
1,123 points
Apr 30, 2012
This thread needed a third-class mishap.

Unknown distance (50-200 feet?) broken ribs, bimaleolar tib-fib fracture, crushed clavicle, subdural hematoma, day/night in and out of consciousness on the mountain, helicopter ride, 2 plates, 21 screws, three months in a wheelchair.

Discussed here, complete with other's broken ankle epics/photos.

Good times.
Chris D
From the couch
Joined Apr 14, 2009
2,055 points
Apr 30, 2012
Scariest: Factor two while solo aiding up Tiger Wall (to establish Year of the Tiger) on a retired rope. Three hundred feet off the deck... gri gri over cammed and melted the sheath, but all held. I will forever be on Maxim Ropes because of it.

Biggest: Dropped 80 feet and stopped at head height in Owens.

Most Destructive: Pulled 4 microcams, that I had already yanked on to test, from above the crux on The Witch. Broken talus, damaged calcaneus, at least two surgeries (still working on it).

But probably the real scariest was the first fall... 4 feet onto a bolt on a 5.9 in 1985. I practically cried before I let go. Not much time to think about the one I took above.
Sam Lightner, Jr.
From Lander, WY
Joined Apr 9, 2006
1,915 points
Apr 30, 2012
Biggest: 60+ foot whipper off the top of Lone Eagle Peak, 7/29/2001. Leading off-route, I surmounted and started to pull off a refrigerator-sized flake, brain told hands to let go and I fell 20 feet past my partner onto a single 20 year old, Chouinard Camalot #1 which held.

Scariest: 15-20 footer off the crux of Left Wing 10c on the 3rd Elephant Buttress. Pulled an under-sized cam, flipping me upside down, welded a #5 HB offset brassy below it. Partner caught me upside down, five feet from my helmet-less head going "splat," right above belayer.

Most destructive: the fall on LEP was preceded by a bad skydiving landing outside Vegas onto my tailbone five months earlier and a 30" pendulum whipper, again hitting tailbone, on the 4th pitch of Yellow Spur, two weeks after the skydive. So you could say my ass had already taken a beating when I landed on it (on rope stretch thank goodness) near the top of LEP. That fall smashed my L5 into two pieces for which I've had spinal fusion surgery of L5-S1. I had deep cuts on my shins, badly sprained ankles, bruised and cracked ribs and a badly bruised elbow. Regardless of the spinal surgery, the luckiest fall ever.
From inside the Bubble, Colorado
Joined Sep 25, 2003
15 points
Apr 30, 2012
Love reading through this thread. I think for weekend warriors like me the longest/scariest/stupidest falls happen during my "Darwin" period - ie the first 2 years of climbing.

Longest and Scariest - so just a little over a year into lead climbing (of any type) and trying to break into 10s at Rumney on a hot and humid July day in 2008 I fell while pulling rope to clip the anchors on this climb - - the anchors are 15 feet from the last bolt, and I was pulling rope, and the hand holding me in place just popped because my hand got too sweaty! With all my weight on my left foot I pushed off and sailed right looking like "superman" from below - I fell so far right (15 ft?) that my belayer thought it was someone falling on the next route over. He had enough time to thinking that before the rope caught and took him up pretty close to the first bolt. Total fall - at least 40 feet (I was maybe 20 feet off deck falling from the anchors...) A friend of mine who was climbing on saw the whole thing and said it looked like something out of a movie.

I very-lightly dinged my head (THANK GOD for my helmet) as I swung and scratched up my left shoulder - but other than that I was all good. I took a moment to collect myself and went up w/a #2 Camalot for the run-out section. It was my first trad placement on lead! :) I climbed up all the way past the last bolt, threw the #2 in the crack before the anchors, rested on it and then finished the climb. I have not been back on it since. Perhaps this year - it should feel easy now :)

Most Destructive - - I pulled off a clipping hold (it's a flake about 6x9 ish on the 5th or 6th bolt - the clipping is def. harder now! I think the route was rated 5.10b in the old Rumney guide. Again this happened during my "Darwin" period back in 2008. Sorry guys!
Joined Nov 11, 2010
295 points
May 29, 2012
60 feet on spaceshot in Zion. Supposed to be a C2 pitch, but seemed pretty hard to me, the crack was completely blown out and flared. I pulled 5 offset brassies on my way down and was finally caught by a BD nut.

Walked away without a scratch.

I'm sure someone else here has climbed it recently, would you agree that it was hard for C2 or am I just a big sissy?
pete cutler
From Des Moines, IA
Joined Apr 30, 2012
0 points
May 31, 2012
Biggest I think it ended up being around 12,600' -- peanuts for some, but kick ass for me Buff Johnson
Joined Dec 19, 2005
545 points
May 31, 2012
My biggest, baddest and most destructive fall was 2.5 years ago on a bus in Vail. Blew out my knee, completely tore rotator cuff, bicep tendon and had a slap lesion. Major surgery and one year of rehab.

And the bus wasn't moving and I wasn't drunk......
Princess Mia
From Vail
Joined May 22, 2006
30 points
Jan 19, 2015
Nearly died, or wanted to die a couple of times in one day from this one:
David Coley
From UK
Joined Oct 26, 2013
0 points
Jan 19, 2015
It seems that we’re not hearing from the worst of the “most destructive” class…. Kent Pease
From Littleton, Colorado
Joined Feb 13, 2006
600 points
Jan 19, 2015
Biggest, Scariest and Most Destructive Fall: 300 Feet

I was hit by an avalanche in Silverton with just one sling clipped on a small tree full of tat above a 10 meter high step. Topping out on the step, I almost dismissed this tree of cord and sling loops given the low angle slope in front of me, but at the last moment I clipped it with a draw thinking it was a free piece of pro.

The team in front of us was rapping down the head wall into the gully so I gave them room and just sat in the gully to belay my second. They walked past me and into an alcove where my last and only clip was when I heard the thump high on the mountain, and then the running train sound of an avi on its way. With one hand I held my second on belay while turning to my stomach and digging in my crampon points. With my other hand I grabbed at my tool, swinging it into the slope with hopes that the avi would blow over top of me.

Like the sands of time, I can still hear the ice crystals hissing as they began to fall from the head wall and on to my slope. Suddenly, it felt like the earth was shaking while being engulfed in noise and whiteness. I felt no pressure, just vibration all around me until I was lifted from the slope and was on my way.

I quickly rationalized I had to turn to my back and keep my feet down the fall line while being careful not to catch a heal and begin to cartwheel. I instantly went over the 10 meter step below me where my second was still climbing, without the slightest hint I was airborne, and without impact below. I kept running down the gulley engulfed in a white cloud, still holding my second on belay, while trying to press my palm heals into the slope in hopes of arresting my fall. Up until then, the sensation of speed had been non existent, but all of a sudden I could feel my momentum slowing and for a split second I rejoiced in my mind that was was going to escape from disaster. Then, all of a sudden I felt my body loose contact with the slope and realized I was airborne. With a sudden jolt and tug I slammed into the slope. Like smoke clearing, the white cloud I was engulfed in kept going and left me in a heap on the slope, entangled in the dual cords of my double rope and the onset of pain.

In the mean time, the party who rapped the head wall and had walked past me, had stood silently in the alcove unanchored as I and the white train went by them. My second, who I diligently kept on belay had been pulled up a 10 meter wall through the fury of the avi, and delivered to their feet, her harness pulled tight against the small tree of tat by my rope.

Now beginning to make sense of it all, I could hear the party above me calling my name. I responded as in a quiet voice as I assessed that I could wiggle my fingers and toes despite the pain in my back. With my worst fear now practically dismissed with a wiggle of a digit, our voices began to connect and the process of lowering me down the climb began.

I won't bore you with the details of the extraction, but it took a number of painful lowers, the help of mountain recuse to carry a litter down the waist deep snow of the slope below the climb, a snow mobile ride to the parking lot, and then a long ride by ambulance to the hospital in Durango.

I suffered a fractured L3 and L4, 2 broken ribs, and some very battered lungs, but count myself as lucky. If not for that small tree of tat, I and my second would have likely been killed on that day. In the end all is well and I went ice climbing one year to the day of that faithful event. I have returned several times to repeat that climb, not as a show defiance, but out of thankfulness that I was spared that day.
Michael S. Catlett
From Middleburg, VA
Joined Oct 7, 2014
70 points
Jan 19, 2015
A noob sport belayer gave hard catch, I lost a toenail

She was using Gri, so according to the death by Gri thread, I am lucky I'm not dead.
Tim Lutz
Joined Aug 9, 2012
0 points
Jan 19, 2015
I once took a fall THIIIIIIIIIS BIG sanz
From Raleigh, NC
Joined Nov 7, 2011
185 points
Jan 19, 2015
~30ft fall, was clipping the chains and right hand popped off, fell past the overhang part back to the slab beginning. Broke right leg and injured left leg. Long hike out..... Thanks for friends who helped. Brent Butcher
Joined Nov 18, 2010
195 points
Jan 19, 2015
25 foot ground fall on a FA attempt after a #4 BD wire pulled, about 3 miles into the backcountry via bushwack Max Forbes
From Burlington, VT
Joined Jan 6, 2014
24 points
Jan 19, 2015
Longest: the pitch started with maybe 40 ft. of easy ground. I had a .5 placed about halfway through. Then I placed a #2 right before the business started. It was a pretty blind placement but the size of the crack was right and big cams have a better margin of error than small ones...
Blew the first move from there, the cam pulled, and next thing I'm aware of is hanging disturbingly close to the ground. My partner had yarded in slack to keep me off the ground and my only injury was damaged tendons in my right hand from falling on a hand jam and being yanked out of the crack in a bad position.

Scariest: pulling a roof in the Gunks on the rarely climbed third pitch of something. I had a solid placement about halfway out between the corner and the lip of the roof. I knew I should get something closer to the lip but decided my energy was better spent moving through. As I reached above the roof I found only a big sloping pile of moss. I knew I would fall and couldn't down climb and had a few seconds to realize this. Then I fell and without consciously deciding to, got into pencil-dive position. Came to rest at the end of the rope with my face inches from the ledge my partner was standing on. Took a few moments to collect myself and went back up to finish the pitch. It dawned on me gradually over the next few hours and days how bad that fall could've really been - now looking back I am horrified to think of what would've happened to my face or knee on that ledge if I had fallen in a slightly different position.

Damage-iest: wasn't even my fall. I was on a semi-hanging belay in a dihedral and my partner fell on my head. I kept hold of the brake strand and he was fine, I broke 5 vertebrae and a rib, had a pretty bloody laceration by cam lobe near my eye, and a moderately serious TBI.

Lessons: Take the time to make sure your gear is solid. Take the time to make sure you have gear where you need it most. And...uh.... shit happens.
Em Cos
From Boulder, CO
Joined Apr 21, 2010
0 points
Jan 19, 2015
Trad climbing at 14. I had been trad climbing since 12 but didn't understand that there was a fitness factor to climbing. I had red-pointed a certain 5.10 several times. After taking a year off I assumed that the same 5.10 would be an easy warm up, even though the first two pieces were more mental than physical. At about 20 feet I realized that I was shaking, the shaking had removed the two mental pieces below me, and then I fell and literally bounced off the ground. Lucky I was a young teen and nothing broke, but I still fear the combination of basalt cracks and cams. J Q
Joined Mar 11, 2012
0 points
Jan 19, 2015
I know this is a zombie thread, but I enjoyed reading the stories, and haven't written about this one before, so here we go...

Biggest, scariest, and most destructive (and bonus most-educational): The short version is that I blew the mantle on T-Crack in the hills over Santa Barbara a few years ago. This one’s locally known for its spicey mantle, a bit above the gear. I was naïve enough not to realize that it was over my head, and a noob error made the fall far scarier than it needed to be (though luckily not too much more destructive).

The climb starts at a semi-hanging belay, and features about 20’ of relatively secure jams to a bomber horizontal crack that absolutely eats big cams. After that, things change – you climb up to stand in the horizontal crack, reach up over your head to a reasonably-positive-but-less-good-than-you’d hoped-for sloping rail, work your feet up, throw your left foot on the rail, and mantle that bad boy. You can grab a thin crimp with your left hand to stabilize and make room for your right foot rail. Once both feet are on the rail, standing up brings you to a good hand and a thank-God placement.

(MtProj route description and photos)

At the time I had plenty of .7 and .8 gear leads under my belt, a few pitches of solid .9, and was bouldering all the damn time, so the mantle shouldn't be too big of a deal, right? My partner had led up to the horizontal crack, including a #2 and #3 Camalot nest in the crack, and then bailed. I climbed the TR to the crack, and double-checked those cams – they were rock solid, each with an alpine draw to reduce rope drag...

As I pulled through the mantle, slowly scraping my right foot up to get it on the sloping rail, I thought I had it nailed. I’d been looking down at my right foot, and I turned my head to look at my left hand on the mediocre stabilizing crimp. Eyeing the thank-God crack above, I started to press through my feet and took my right hand off the rail to reach up for the crack. The instant I moved that right hand, my weight shifted left and back, almost imperceptibly, away from the wall. I knew immediately that the shift was irrecoverable, but the actual barn door felt almost leisurely, giving me what felt like several seconds to contemplate the ride I was about to go on, including the fact that I had never properly fallen on gear before. The spin from the barn door faced me to the right, while the fall itself took my body left, along a ramp on that side of the climb. Another couple inches of rope would have meant a broken tailbone for sure (at best), but I got away with no more than a cheese grater to the backside and a ripped shirt. The distance between me and the cams in the horizontal crack, plus the alpine draws (again, I KNOW), plus the rope stretch left me hanging ass-to-eyes with my partner back at the belay, somewhere between 25 and 30 feet below my high point.

This one doesn't end with a triumphant return to the lead, either. I think my first words after several seconds of shared silence were, “so we’re done for the day, right?” I’m also pretty sure that I was in mild shock. We bailed, collected the gear (although he actually TRed the route to get back to the walk-off from the top of the cliff), and got some recovery beers at one of SB’s local taquerias.

The big lesson that day was that the habits we had picked up from a bunch of easy multipitch – extending all of our pieces on long, meandering pitches – needed to be honed by some serious critical thinking. Nothing is gonna make that fall a short one if you blow the mantle, but extending those pieces could easily have been the difference between catching some fun-but-safe air, and an a pricey chopper ride to the ER.
Chris Bersbach
From Arroyo Grande, CA
Joined Sep 27, 2007
191 points

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