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Ice Season Progression--how to plan a trip to the Rockies.
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Mountain Conditions Reports, good resource from guides in the area.

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Local org that replaces sketchy old anchors and crappy bolts. Give them money.

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#7483 - 11/22/10 07:48 AM [Accident Analysis] - Weathering Heights
Simon Offline

Registered: 11/17/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Canmore, AB
Very cold in Planter's valley yesterday, the ice was extremely brittle and hard, it was difficult to get the picks to penetrate. The bottom is very thin, and is a body length wide for about 3 meters or so with questionable quality ice. The second pitch things went south for us with a leader fall and screws blowing out of the ice because it was so brittle. In our retreat we left a lot of gear of up on the climb, (2 sets of tools, 4 screws and assorted slings/biners) so lots of beer and good karma to anyone who retrieves it.

#7486 - 11/22/10 08:40 AM Re: [Accident Analysis] - Weathering Heights [Re: Simon]
Bram Linssen Offline

Registered: 10/24/08
Posts: 16
Loc: Canmore
I hope nobody got injured in your team. A bad day in the ghost yesterday. See my post on THOS.

#7490 - 11/22/10 10:20 AM Re: [Accident Analysis] - Weathering Heights [Re: Bram Linssen]
Simon Offline

Registered: 11/17/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Canmore, AB
I managed to escape with stitches in my elbow, could have been a lot worse. Best of luck with your recovery, I'm glad that you were able to make it out of the Ghost.

#7491 - 11/22/10 01:01 PM Re: [Accident Analysis] - Weathering Heights [Re: Simon]
MANGO Offline

Registered: 11/12/07
Posts: 113
Loc: Calgary

For educational purposes, I would really appreceate a more detailed account of the incident.

Specifically I would like to know:
- were there load limiters/screamers on the screws?
- did all screws rip out, right to the anchor - what was your anchor?
- describe the placements that blew/the ice/ screw length/angled up or down or straight in, etc
-what rope/ropes were you using
- fall distance and perhaps one of us can calculate fall factor

Thanks for sharing your experience with the online community. I hope that you get your stuff shouldn't be a problem, hopefully someone "nice" has a few days off this week.

#7492 - 11/22/10 01:45 PM Re: [Accident Analysis] - Weathering Heights [Re: MANGO]
KenC Offline


Registered: 11/26/08
Posts: 50
Loc: Prince George, BC
Wow! I'm glad both of you made it out OK and hope the recoveries go well.

I would also be interested in seeing the responses to the questions posed by Mango.

#7506 - 11/23/10 07:58 AM Re: [Accident Analysis] - Weathering Heights [Re: KenC]
Simon Offline

Registered: 11/17/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Canmore, AB
It actually wasn't a leader fall. We climbed about 30m or on the first pitch, I found it difficult to protect due to poor quality ice and was placing a lot of screws. Consequently our belay didn't end up in an ideal spot, the ice was really brittle and hard, so it was difficult to get any bomber feeling sticks. The anchor I constructed was 1 20cm screw and 1 16 cm screw in the best ice I could find with a self equalizing sling in anticipation of that the belayer was in the firing line of the next pitch for at least the first 10m due to the belay spot, and I wanted to give the belayer some flexibility in movement. As I was leading the second pitch, I placed a 16 cm screw 2 m above the belay with a load limiter, and 2 m higher, another 16cm screw with a regular draw, both appeared to be in good ice, nice core came out of both screws, and both appeared to be very solid as the ice had improved above the belay.

#7507 - 11/23/10 08:08 AM Re: [Accident Analysis] - Weathering Heights [Re: Simon]
Simon Offline

Registered: 11/17/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Canmore, AB
Part 2
After placing the second screw, I was hit with an overwhelming nauseating case of the barfies and took on the screw. I sat there for at least 3-4 minutes, warming my hands up, and chatting with my belayer. I was also assessing the ice for a possible Abalakov because the conditions were so cold that it was time to retreat. Next thing I knew, I was falling backwards through the air, and came to a stop about 10m below the belay. Both screws had blown, and then the 16cm belay screw also blew. We were on Petzl Dragonfly 8 mm ropes, and one rope was shredded down to the core, 3 core strands of 6 cut, the other rope, no apparent damage. Consequently, in our efforts to get down, we had to leave gear behind, and our tools are still in the ice up there was well. We were very lucky, going to sacrifice a goat to the climbing gods soon.

#7508 - 11/23/10 08:13 AM Re: [Accident Analysis] - Weathering Heights [Re: Simon]
Bwarne Offline

Registered: 11/13/07
Posts: 48
Wow! What shredded your ropes?

#7510 - 11/23/10 09:45 AM Re: [Accident Analysis] - Weathering Heights [Re: Simon]
iceadmin/Will Gadd Offline

Registered: 11/01/07
Posts: 380
Hi Simon, good report, glad you both lived! A few direct questions so I can understand this better if you have the time:

Were you clipping both strands of the rope into each screw? Or clipping one strand into alternating screws?

Was one strand clipped into the first or second piece and both into the other screw?

Were the screws placed at 90 degrees to the surface of the ice or with the hanger higher or lower than the tip as measured against the ice surface?

Was the belayer clipped into the equalizing belay sling 'biner with the rope or another piece of webbing direct to his harness?

If I had time I'd go out there and have a look, this is a really wild event--it sounds like you both ended up on one 16cm belay screw? It would be great to have some pictures of the ice, see how the screws ripped (both the screws themselves and the holes/pockets they left) etc.

I'll pay the gas or supply a 24 of beer or provide a couple of BD screws to anyone who goes out there, collects the gear, takes a few photos and has a think about what might have gone on. It would be nice to get Simon and his partner all his gear back, plus I'd sure like to look at the broken bits. Today is a bit chilly, maybe tomorrow? I'm out of here to England or I would go do this.

I once had a screw on the Sliver bust out under a body weight clean. Extremely dry ice, but I got a solid core out of it as it went in. For grins I bounce-tested a few of the screws with a sling on the way down, broke one out.

Simon, look forward to your response if you have the time, thanks and again glad all this worked out reasonably well compared to the alternatives!

#7511 - 11/23/10 10:38 AM Re: [Accident Analysis] - Weathering Heights [Re: Simon]
Scott McKay Offline

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 101
Hey Simon,

Thank you very much for sharing your story. I too am very interested in the details of the system that was in place.

By the sounds of things you tried to protect the belay as best you could. Likely made a big difference.

I remember de-sheathing a rope during a relatively high fall factor fall once, although the cutting of half the core strands does seem unusual?

Looking forward to learning more through the details but most of all I'm glad to hear your party is more or less ok.

Scott McKay

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