www.TraditionalMountaineering.org ™ and also www.AlpineMountaineering.org ™
FREE BASIC TO ADVANCED
ALPINE MOUNTAIN CLIMBING INSTRUCTION™
Home | Information | Photos | Calendar | News | Seminars | Experiences | Questions | Updates | Books | Conditions | Links | Search
Search this site!
ACCIDENT REPORT FOR THE AMERICAN ALPINE CLUB
Injured Climber Rescued From Ledge at Smith Rock
Purpose and Description: The primary purpose of this report and the 66 Annual Reports of Accidents in North American Mountaineering is to aid in the prevention of accidents.
FALL ON ROCK, INEXPERIENCE IN RAPPELLING
Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
According to the official County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Report, on May 11, 2013, at about 5:15 p.m., Deschutes County 911 received a call from Ryan Orr (29) reporting that his climbing partner Kathy Pawelski (34) sustained injuries after falling in the “Wherever I May Roam” climbing area. Ryan Orr advised that Kathy Pawelski had fallen about 30 feet while rappelling and the two of them were stuck on a narrow ledge about 300 feet from the ground and about 200 feet from the top of the rock face. He advised she was not able to continue her descent and requested assistance.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office was notified and three Sheriff’s Deputies and fifteen volunteers from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (SAR) responded to Smith Rock State Park to assist the Redmond Fire Dept. with the rescue of Kathy Pawelski. Shortly after 6 p.m., the first SAR volunteers arrived on scene and began the rescue. Two SAR members climbed to the top of the rock face above the two climbers and rappelled down to their location, while 13 additional SAR members, along with several members from the Redmond Fire Dept., hiked in to the base of the rock face with additional equipment.
SAR members hoisted equipment and supplies to the SAR members who were with the climbers. Kathy Pawelski was secured to one of the SAR members who did a vertical rappel about 300 feet to the rock base where the rest of the SAR members were waiting. She was then lowered via wheeled litter about 200 feet down an approximate 50 degree slope to the trail. At about 9:15 p.m., Kathy Pawelski was transported across the Crooked River on a rubber raft and transported via Redmond Fire Dept. ambulance to St. Charles in Redmond for treatment of non-life threatening injuries."
According to an interview that she granted to local newspaper "The Bulletin", Pawelski suffered fractures to her skull and right elbow, a concussion and a spinal fluid leak resulting in a three week hospital stay. At the time of the interview in July, she was still unable to climb.
Personal Experience, textbooks and a published climbing guide book for Smith Rock tell us that "Wherever I May Roam" (5.9) is an intimidating, exposed 500 foot near-vertical, front country face, fully bolted but requiring an exposed series of rappels with a 60 meter rope to reach the ground. The climb is described in the recent guidebook as a "five pitch odyssey . . .With closely spaced bolts, excellent rock and a sublime position, you can't go wrong."
Pawelski's Experience Level as described, can be classified as “low intermediate”.
Pawelski is adamantly unwilling to reveal the exact mechanism of her fall. She
has asked her rescuers specifically, not to reveal how she came to fall 30 feet
to a narrow shelf, 300 feet above the ground. Only speculation remains: did she
miss a bolt and rappel off the end of a too-short rappel rope (without a stopper
knot), did she rappel past a set anchor bolt/rappel point and try to climb back
up to it, falling and loosing her grip on her rappel, did she have a rappel
personal self belay, etc. The reader can learn a great deal from a study of "Know the Ropes: Rappelling," in Accidents, Issue 65, 2012.
(Source: Robert Speik, following interviews with rescuers and study of the route.
Report filed by Robert Speik for the 67th
edition of ANAM to be published in 2014
Copyright© 2013-2014 by Robert Speik. All Rights Reserved.
What can be learned from this interesting accident?
The primary purpose of our TraditionalMountaineering experience reports (and the purpose of the American Alpine Club's sixty-six published Annual Reports of Accidents in North American Mountaineering) is to "aid in the prevention of accidents".
Pawelski's Experience Level as described in news media, is “low intermediate”. She is unwilling to reveal the exact mechanism of her fall. She has asked her rescuers specifically not to reveal how she came to fall 30 feet to a narrow shelf, 300 feet above the ground. Recue volunteers in Deschutes County Sheriffs Search and Rescue are enjoined by DCSAR from giving any information to the media. Only speculation remains: did Pawelski rappel of the end of a too-short rope (without a stopper knot)? Did she rappel past the set anchor bolt and try to climb back up to it, falling and loosing her grip on her rappel? Did she tie in with a rappel self belay?
The reader can learn
a great deal from a study of "Know the Ropes: Rappelling," in Accidents, Issue 65, 2012.
(Source: Robert Speik, in 2014, following interviews with rescuers and study of the route.
A QUOTE FROM EDWARD WYMPER IN 1871
See yonder height! 'Tis far away -- unbidden comes the word "Impossible!"
"Not so," says the mountaineer. "The way is long, I know; its difficult -- it may be dangerous."
"It's possible, I'm sure; I'll seek the way, take counsel of my brother mountaineers,
and find out how they have reached similar heights and learned to avoid the dangers."
He starts (all slumbering down below); the path is slippery and may be dangerous too.
Caution and perseverance gain the day -- the height is reached! and those beneath cry, "Incredible! 'Tis superhuman!"
This is a passage we found on page 161 of "Scrambles Amongst the Alps" by Edward Wymper,
first published in 1871 and reprinted 1981 by Ten Speed Press, Berkley, CA.
THE MISSION of TraditionalMountaineering.org
"To provide information and instruction about world-wide basic to advanced alpine mountain climbing safety skills and gear, on and off trail hiking, scrambling and light and fast Leave No Trace backpacking techniques based on the foundation of an appreciation for the Stewardship of the Land, all illustrated through photographs and accounts of actual shared mountaineering adventures."
TraditionalMountaineering is founded on the premise that "He who knows naught, knows not that he knows naught", that exploring the hills and summitting peaks have dangers that are hidden to the un-informed and that these inherent risks can be in part, identified and mitigated by mentoring: information, training, wonderful gear, and knowledge gained through the experiences of others.
The value of TraditionalMountaineering to our Friends and Subscribers is the selectivity of the information we provide, and its relevance to introducing folks to informed hiking on the trail, exploring off the trail, mountain travel and Leave-no-Trace light-weight bivy and backpacking, technical travel over steep snow, rock and ice, technical glacier travel and a little technical rock climbing on the way to the summit. Whatever your capabilities and interests, there is a place for everyone in traditional alpine mountaineering.
WARNING - *DISCLAIMER!*
Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can, only in part, be mitigated
Read more . . .
American Alpine Club
Oregon Section of the AAC
Accidents in North American Mountaineering
Injured Climber Rescued from Smith Rock “Wherever I May Roam” climbing area
Two climbers die in fall from Horsethief Butte Crags, WA
Smith Rock veteran slips from climber's trace and dies
AAC Report: Smith Rock Leader fall turns climber upside down
Three climbers, their MLU and a dog rescued on Mt. Hood
Three North Face climbers lost on Mt. Hood
Family of five and exhausted Great Dane dog rescued from South Sister Climber's Trail
Climbing the Snow Creek Route on Mt. San Jacinto, California
Cheating death on the Snow Creek Route on Mt San Jacinto, California
A climb of Three Fingered Jack in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness
Ten high altitude deaths on Everest confirmed for 2006 climbing season
On Being and Becoming a Mountaineer: an Essay
Climbing Mount Hood in April with Arlene Blum and friends
AAC Report - Accident on Mount Washington ends with helicopter rescue
AAC Report - Fatal fall from Three Finger Jack in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness
Three Finger Jack - OSU student falls on steep scree slope
Mount Huntington's West Face by Coley Gentzel ©2005 by AAI. All Rights Reserved
Solo climber falls from Cooper Spur on Mount Hood
Climber dies on the steep snow slopes of Mount McLaughlin
Warning!! **Climbers swept by avalanche while descending North Sister's Thayer Glacier Snowfield
Mt. Whitney's East Face Route is quicker!
Mt. Whitney's Mountaineer's Route requires skill and experience
Report: R.J. Secor seriously injured during a runaway glissade
Mount Rainer . . . eventually, with R.J. Secor by Tracy Sutkin
Warning!! ** Belayer drops climber off the end of the top rope
Runaway glissade fatal for Mazama climber on Mt. Whitney
Sierra Club climb on Middle Palisade fatal for Brian Reynolds
Smith Rock - Fall on rock, protection pulled out
Mount Washington - Report to the American Alpine Club on a second accident in 2004
Mount Hood - Solo hiker drowns while crossing Mt. Hood's Sandy River
Mount Hood - Solo climber slides into the Bergschrund and is found the following day
Notable mountain climbing accidents analyzed
Mount Washington - Report to the American Alpine Club on the recent fatal accident
Mount Washington - "Oregon tragedy claims two lives"
Mount Jefferson - two climbers rescued by military helicopter
North Sister - climbing with Allan Throop
SMITH ROCK EXPERIENCES
Smith Rock - Injured Climber Rescued from Smith Rock “Wherever I May Roam” climbing area
Smith Rock - Veteran slips from climber's trace and dies
Smith Rock - Leader fall turns climber upside down
Smith Rock - Fall on rock, protection pulled out
Smith Rock - WARNING - top rope belay error
Smith Rock - Inadequate top rope belay
Smith Rock - Climber injured on the approach
Smith Rock - WARNING - belayer drops climber off the end of the top rope
Smith Rock - Novice sport climber injured
Smith Rock - Fall on rock, protection pulled out
Smith Rock - Fall on rock - poor position, inadequate protection
Smith Rock - Pulled rock off - fall on rock, failure to test holds, exceeding abilities
Smith Rock - Belay failure, fatal fall on rock
SMITH ROCK PHOTOS
American Alpine Club's 2007 Annual Meeting in Bend Oregon
Smith Rock Detour Bouldering Contest and Reel Rock Tour
Redmond Fire Department rescues a senior hiker at Smith Rock
Smith Rock Spring Thing in 2006
Smith Rock Spring Thing 2006 volunteer's party at the Barn
HERA climb for life fundraiser at Smith Rock
HERA climb4life party at the Smith Rock Barn
American Alpine Club and Traditional Mountaineering build another rescue cache at Smith Rock
Smith Rock Spring Thing Improvements
Smith Rock Spring Thing 2004 Party!
Smith Rock hiking in the spring
Smith Rock from above the Burma Road
Smith Rock rescue cache by AAC/ORS and TraditionalMountaineering
Smith Rock weekend
Smith Rock Monkey Face practice