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Another Accident on Baldy - 12/27
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gregp909



Joined: 18 Feb 2008
Posts: 80


Location: Drums & Space

PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:56 pm    Post subject: Another Accident on Baldy - 12/27 Reply with quote

On Sunday I took my brother-in-law up Baldy for his first winter mountaineering experience and we saw first hand how dangerous the mountains can be - especially if you are unprepared and make poor choices.

After climbing the west side of the bowl face (out of the trees but not up any of the chutes) and summiting around 9:30am, we hiked back to the hut using the normal trail down through the trees and the boulder field.  About 300 yards west of the spring we came upon two men, one sitting down in obvious pain and another providing basic medical attention to the man sitting down.  The injured young man, a 22 year old solo climber, had attempted to climb directly up the center of the bowl without an ice axe.  As he neared the top of the bowl his legs gave out from fatigue and he fell about 400-500 feet before he luckily slid into some exposed scree and came to a stop.  Below is a picture of his fall path (from the victim's description - I also circled another climber just for perspective)



After assisiting with basic first aid we helped the climber (who was able to walk unassisted) to the ski hut for further evaluation.  

The climber suffered severe scrapes to his face, hands, forearms, stomach, side torso, and knees.  He lost all four finger nails on each hand from trying to dig his hands into the snow during his fall.  And he had two severe puncture/lacerations on his right calf from his crampons.

After some further first aid at the hut the climber refused our request to call SAR (he was determined to hike out solo) so we helped him hike back to his car at Manker Flats.  We drove behind him until we all reached the fire station at the top of Mountain Ave, where he stopped to call his parents.

It is lucky he survived his fall.  

What makes me REALLY mad though is that he fell past two other climbers -- one of them even retrieved and hiked his trekking pole down about 75 feet to him -- but neither of them offered to help assist him after the fall they just continued on their own climbs up the bowl.  Leaving him to descend 500 feet injured and alone.

There are probably many opinions on one's obligation to be a good samaratin, but it seems to me that those of us that climb all share the same passion and we all take a certain amount of risk while we enjoy our sport so we ought to be willing to help when someone is in need -- I know I would want help if I fell and I would guess those of you reading this would also welcome the help if injured.

My last thought. . .never climb without an ice axe.  It may not save you but it will sure give you a better chance at self-arrest than your finger nails.

Climb safe.
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Taco
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Joined: 27 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll never understand why someone would climb the bowl in these conditions without an axe. I'll keep my other 'opinions' to myself, since I was not there, but still...

Glad to hear he's OK.
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Kevedge



Joined: 26 Nov 2008
Posts: 3


Location: Orange County, CA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 1:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Another Accident on Baldy - 12/27 Reply with quote

gregp909 wrote:
What makes me REALLY mad though is that he fell past two other climbers -- one of them even retrieved and hiked his trekking pole down about 75 feet to him -- but neither of them offered to help assist him after the fall they just continued on their own climbs up the bowl.  Leaving him to descend 500 feet injured and alone.


Your story is a little inaccurate.  The two climbers you talk about, was me, and my hiking partner who witnessed the whole thing.  He did not "fall past two other climbers".  We had just started our climb up the bowl, and when we had first arrived at the ski hut, we saw him about midway up the bowl, so by the time we had started, he was up in one of the chutes.  I stopped for a second to talk with my friend, when we heard some yelling at the top of the bowl, look up, and we see him sliding down.  Luckily coming to a stop.  I notice a trekking pole sliding the rest of the way down the bowl, originally assuming it was his ice ax.  I retrieve the trekking pole, and push a couple hundred feet to where he was sitting.

I was the first to get to him, he had already started bandaging up his hands with gauze, wrap, and duct tape.  I talked to him for a little bit and told him to sit for a little while longer while, concentrating on getting his heart rate down and the adrenaline to subside.  He was pretty shaken up.  I offered first aid, food, water, but he was persistent on that he was fine.  My hiking partner made it up to where we were sitting and we talked a little longer.  We offered to hike down with him, but he continually refused the offer.  He made it over to some of the exposed talus, and slowly worked his way down the bowl.  I kept and eye on him the entire time.

We asked him numerous times if he wanted us to hike down with him, but every time he assured us that he was fine, and just needed to get down to the ski hut.  Honestly, I didnt know what to do.  Your left in an awkward position.  When we first started up the bowl and watched him fall, we didnt think he was going to stop, and another recap of what happened on the 23rd was about to happen again.  The chute he was climbing was just a little to the left from your picture.

You can be "mad" all you want, but honestly, in that situation, I didnt know what to do.  When you have someone continually telling you that they are okay, what do you do?  I offered him everything I could, and was willing to do whatever it takes.  You just find yourself stuck.
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gregp909



Joined: 18 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I appreciate your response and correction to my report.  I did not see the fall so I relied on the climber's own words and in his own estimation he felt abandoned on the mountain with some serious down climbing still to do.  I apologize if I mischaracterized your effort - I am glad you tried to help!

You are correct he was very stubborn and tired to refuse help eventhough he clearly needed it.  When we arrived he had considerable bleeding from his calf that took some good effort to control.  He was definately in a state of shock when we arrived, he was disoriented, shaking uncontrolably and had trouble with his speech (and obviously had trouble with his understanding and recollection of you and your partner's assistance). He was also very concerned about the cost of SAR that he or his family might have to pay so he wanted to try and make it out on his own.  In a resuce situation you are taught that the victim will not think clearly and that as a first responder you need to make your own judgements on how to handle a situation.  Based on our own assessment he needed the level of help we provided.

Sadly, we learned during our hike out that he had recently been diagnosed with cancer and his climb this day was mostly about his emotional need to not let his diagnosis and treatment define his life.  He admitted that a recent chemo treatment left him feeling weak and that he bit off more than he could handle in the bowl.  It is troubling too that this was his second fall in the bowl (once last year) -- both times without an axe.  

The good news is that he will recover from his injuries.
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Kevedge



Joined: 26 Nov 2008
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Location: Orange County, CA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had no idea about the cancer issue.  He did ask me if his hand would need stitches, but wasnt a deep cut, just ice rash.  I asked him about his legs and he said it was nothing serious.

This was an eye opening experience.  You read about these accidents that happen, but actually being there, and trying to understand what to do is another story.  The conditions that day were indeed icy.  Why someone would attempt to try and climb the bowl without the proper equipment is beyond me.  But it happens.  He is very lucky he didnt continue his slide the rest of the way down the bowl, or hit any of the exposed rocks at a high rate of speed.

I appreciate knowing that he was able to get help once at the bottom of the bowl and make it out safely.
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luciano136



Joined: 01 Oct 2007
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Location: Huntington Beach, CA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, another one!  Yeah, conditions are dangerous right now.  We went up last Thursday and climbed two chutes, both of them being pretty icy and firm.  I was wearing regular backpacking boots and it was definitely very tiring on my legs and feet.  I pretty much powered through the last steeper stretch because my feet got too tired.

On a side note, we came across three guys at the hut that were planning on going to the summit and they were wearing footwear similar to the 'toe shoes' you can buy at REI.  Luckily they only made it a few feet past the hut before they couldn't go any further.


Last edited by luciano136 on Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Zach
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, this story is quite bizarre. If you can carry trekking poles and crampons why can't you carry an ice ax? Twice in two years... sounds like the best thing you could have done is given him a copy of Freedom of the Hills. Also, who lets their immuno-compromised and weakened son/friend/brother go climbing anywhere solo? Aghh, this is ridiculous.  Rolling Eyes
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luciano136



Joined: 01 Oct 2007
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Location: Huntington Beach, CA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zach wrote:
Also, who lets their immuno-compromised and weakened son/friend/brother go climbing anywhere solo? Aghh, this is ridiculous.  Rolling Eyes


Well, it sounds like he's a stubborn fella, so who knows, he might've just gone anyway even though people told him not to.
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bkk030580



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
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Location: Pasadena, CA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
He was also very concerned about the cost of SAR that he or his family might have to pay so he wanted to try and make it out on his own.  


I'll take this opportunity to chime in.  Rescue is free!

Please spread the word.  This guy could have sustained greater injury during his determined effort to get down.
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Taco
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kevedge, thanks for helping out. I know what you mean about the awkward situation. In this situation, it's up to you, and nobody should judge your actions. You did the right thing.


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