Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kor Beck Wreck - October 2, 2010 - PART 2

We were both on the ground, but the adventure was only half over.  By this time both the climb and the rappel route had turned into a vertical river/waterfall with several inches of water running down them.  Ken got the tag line back but the lead rope was stuck. Wanting to get away from the base of the cliff, we left the rope and headed to the trees.

Realizing the team from above should be rappelling down, Ken wanted to stay and see if they could free our line so we wouldn't have to come back tomorrow (and risk it getting swiped).  Anja hunkered down under a large tree while Ken waited for the team to come down.  Things soon got more intense with first gravel coming down, then a fist-sized rock (which sent Ken hiding behind the big tree with Anja) followed by a refrigerator sized rock which came down just to the left of the rappel route.  Ken stopped worrying about the rope and started worrying about the level of rescue that might be needed for the climbers. We were cold and could only imagine what the climbers above were going through.  Were they having trouble pulling their ropes?  Were they in the fall zone of the vertical river and rock debris?  We were definitely glad to be on the ground!
Luckily at 3:50 pm the storm started to ease and the rock fall mostly subsided, so Ken took a picture.  The climbers are just below the tree on the skyline just to the right of the left facing dihedral.  They were moving very slow.  Ken was worried that they might have fixed a rappel rope and called up that our line was stuck on the first rappel and that they could use it if they needed it.  Another hour or so and they were at the top of the first rappel.  Unfortunately, due to communication error or hypothermia they thought we had left our rope set up for them to rappel.  Without checking the length of our rope first, and because it was difficult to communicate over the storm (and for us to see what they were doing), they started rappelling our rope.  Fortunately, they had backed the rappel with a prusik, so they were able to stop when they realized their error.  Seeing them hanging there 100 ft from the ground still raining from the safety of the trees 200 ft below it was hard to tell what was going on.  Ken called up "are you alright?"  The climber gave the "so-so" signal with his hand and lifted the short end of the rope.  Ken understood what to do right away and ran back to Anja to get the second rope.  Fortunately, one end of the rope was on the belay ledge at the base of the climb, so Ken scrambled back up to the climb and tied on our second rope.  The ropes could now get them to the ground,  and Ken put them on belay.
Now the climbers just needed to transfer their weight to the opposite side of the rope and Ken could easily lower them to the ground.  Again it was unclear what they were doing, and Ken was putting himself in danger by waiting in the rock fall zone for them to lower.  Anja got impatient and started yelling at them which helped a lot as they were unsure what to do.  They got on the single side of the rope which was a BOLD move as they put their lives completely in Ken's hands, a complete stranger, at that moment.  In one minute they were on the ground.  Ken pulled the ropes and headed back to the trees.  All on the ground in the safety of the trees, we found out one of the climbers had an injured hand (not sure how) and that they only had one rappel device (not sure why) and only one prusik.  So they had been rappelling together on the one device, again not sure why (muterhitch would have been good, carabiner brake, or lowering one person would have all worked).  Also, it turns out they had just abandoned their rope(s) when they saw ours (again not sure why).  They did not seem to be hypothermic and seemed to move ok hiking out, but we walked back out to the cars with them just to be sure.
On the way back we passed a trail marker that had stood about 3 feet above ground on the way in but was now buried by several feet of sediment.  We were back at the cars by 5:15 pm.   Soaked but happy to be climbing into the van to change clothes.
We then headed to meet up with Alex, Adam and Yumi.  Alex was joined on the weekend by his lady Cathrine and a couple other people from SF area.  In a small world moment it turned out that Cathrine knows Bill and Leslie as she normally rents a place just up the road from them during ski season.  Since it had rained so much and probably wouldn't be dry on Sunday, Alex headed back to SF and we camped with Adam and Yumi.

1 comment:

Keith said...

Wowzer. I think maybe they were just plain tired! Rain and wind are fatiguing.