Wednesday, February 20, 2013


The Most Portentous Moments in "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2012"

1. "[Redacted] was wearing gloves and a lightly insulated jacket and reported having had cold fingers and toes all morning."

2. "It moved a little bit, but it seemed like it would hold body weight."

3. "...but [redacted] felt the terrain was moderate enough to not tie into the rope."

4. "...but [redacted] stated that he felt fine and would prefer to take a nap."

5. "Her partner did not check her knot."

6. "I'd only climbed a few other pitches in Yosemite thus far and I thought, 'Maybe this is a typical rating and it just feels harder.'"

7. "This grade and type of climbing had become comfortable for me after four months of climbing in Yosemite and to my stubborn mind it did not warrant throwing in much protection."

8. "As I got higher, I knew that I should add a piece but the pitch was so good that I just kept thinking, 'Another move or two.'"

9. "[Redacted] was determined to reach the summit, and continued on without them."

10. "Then I saw blood on my face and my pants and I didn't understand why."

11. "'Almost there,' I thought."

12. "[Redacted] again thought she heard, 'Off Belay,' so she removed the rope from her belay device..."

13. "This was going to be our last climb of the day."

14. "I let go, trusting that my belayer had pulled in enough slack..."

15. "I remember looking down and checking that the left side reached the ground, but I did not check the right side. I don't know why."

16. "...he assumed he was back on belay."

17. "Reportedly, he screamed once."

18. "In the message, [redacted] included a photo of a Red Bull can resting on an area of black rock."

19. "Prior to this trip, he had climbed once or twice at an indoor climbing gym on a route that he felt was equivalent to the difficulty he would encounter on the Grand Teton."

17. "It started well enough."

(Thanks for a chilling and instructive afternoon, American Alpine Club.)

44 Comments / Post A Comment


/runs, trembling, back to the Texts from P&P post


I don't climb, but in my experience "this'll be the last run of the day" is a similarly ominous skiing trope.

Nicole Cliffe

"I'm just going to duck the rope, get some pow, and meet you at the bottom."


Yes. #17 = chills.


Very creative!!@y

Quinn A@twitter

Is it bad that I got distracted by the fact that I was sure "teton" was French for nipple?

(It is not, by the way)


@Quinn A@twitter There's a Tetilla Peak in my neighborhood. It is absolutely named for a little bewb.

Nicole Cliffe

Alta has a place called "Glory Hole" and one called "Catherine's Area."


@Quinn A@twitter There's a mountain near my dad's home in Mexico called Tetakawi, which means "Goat Tits."


@Quinn A@twitter It's French for "boob," rather than "nipple." (That would be "mamelon" instead.)

Quinn A@twitter

@rosaline You have actually improved my day by telling me that. :)


@Quinn A@twitter Happy to be your source of dirty French. :)


Yesterday I read your norovirus post and thought, "My God, that sounds terrible. Poor Nicole." Today I'm reading this in my pajamas, in the fetal position, home from work after spending half of last night in the bathroom. If I'm found at the bottom of a mountain tomorrow, expect a strongly worded note.

Nicole Cliffe

It is the sickest I have ever been in my whole life, but then it really did pass, and now I eat and talk and stand upright. And so shall you.


One year, someone plotted the number of years of experience the casualties on this list had. Turns out it's mostly the clueless very inexperienced and and the blase very experienced who die climbing.


@laurel There's actually an incident in there about somebody on the AAI board who fell an entire pitch to the ground in Clear Creek Canyon. Keep yer head in the game. I think this is why the internet is full of holier-than-thou climbers.


@DangerDangerDanger Always run the little pre-climb check list! Every time! I don't care if it makes you look like a noob! Do it anyway!

Nicole Cliffe

The woman whose partner didn't check her knot hadn't finished her figure of eight, and she fell the minute she reached the anchors and sat back into her harness. CHECK THE KNOTS.


@Nicole Cliffe Oh god. I will always check knots.


@laurel I'm with you. Having overly safe climbing partners is a good idea too. We're still arguing about the safety of the EDK. (For the record, it's totally fine. Duh.)


I will just add "Never go mountaineering" to my "Never Do" list, which also includes "Never climb Mount Everest."


@meetapossum Complete agreement. It's top of my anti-bucket list.
I had an ice-climbing roommate who was always trying to convince me to come climbing with her. Then she fell down a crevasse, untethered, and no one knew for half an hour (she lived to tell the tale). And she DIDN'T STOP CLIMBING.
I ask you, how many second chances does the world need to give you before you go "I think I'll maybe stay down here."


@BoatGirl Ugh. I feel like it's a delicate combination of bravery and stupidity.

I mean, I'll go hiking during normal summer/spring/fall times, but once ice or cold or sheer rock face is involved, I'm out of there.

It doesn't help that I'm terrified of heights. I start to get really anxious whenever that Citi rock climbing commercial comes on.

Amasa Amos@facebook

@meetapossum Your friend is a badass.


@meetapossum Your Citi-caused anxiousness is just one of many thousands of reasons why it's better to ignore the commercials.


@BoatGirl ice-climbing is super fun. But it's definitely a sport for crazy people.

fondue with cheddar

@fondue with cheddar I watched about 10 seconds of that clip... no no no no no. I've avoided that movie for like 20 years and I'll keep right, snuggled in my fear of heights.


@fondue with cheddar The only thing better than the title of this clip is the subtitle: "Will Gabe let her fall?"

fondue with cheddar

@Aeroplane Haha, right? I saw that movie in the theater so I had no idea what was going to happen, and it was the first time I was literally on the edge of my seat.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie was downhill from there.

fondue with cheddar

@DangerDangerDanger Oh, this looks fantastic but I'm going to have to wait until after work to watch it. :(

I love the appropriateness of your username.


@fondue with cheddar When you settle in, I would recommend adding this to the playlist. It's all about safety.

fondue with cheddar

@DangerDangerDanger Haha, great. I haven't seen that one but I can only imagine how many "what not to do" moments are in there.


Ugh, #19 is just so frustratingly horrifying.

Also, my dad always gets a copy of this (he's a longtime climber), and we all have a slightly sick fascination with reading it.


When this showed up in google reader I assumed I was in a different folder. Nicole, you're making my world seem really small right now. I like it.

Stacy H@twitter

When I did NOLS rock climbing in Wyoming, we read sections of this every night to "know the dangers". AKA to scare the crap out of us.


"[Redacted] was determined to reach the summit, and continued on without them."

This is part of the reason why my manager's brother-in-law died on Everest in the 1996 disaster - too many people being determined to summit, even though it was too late. Seriously, if continuing means it's going to get dark while you're still climbing down, don't attempt it!


My brother climbs and reading this made me feel distinctly ill. (A friend of his recently had a bad accident while climbing and was in a full body brace for about six months. No idea why he's not dead. Brother and I had a Serious Safety Talk after that and then I bought him nothing but safety gear for Christmas.) AUGH.

ms. alex

This is why my mom was worried when she found out what my husband's family does for fun.


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