Sad news

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Sad news

Postby Hikin_Jim » Wed Sep 28, 2022 8:05 pm

Apparently two bodies were recovered today. Not a lot of details available.

https://patch.com/california/temecula/search-hikers-stranded-mountain-trail-near-idyllwild-underway

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Re: Sad news

Postby Ed » Thu Sep 29, 2022 8:22 am

Strange report. With two climbers dead near Tahquitz Lookout, I would assume it was Tahquitz Rock, though there is plenty of other terrain around there that you could fall on. It is an unusual accident that results in two climbers dead. I can think of several ways it could happen, but still unusual.
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Re: Sad news

Postby OtherHand » Thu Sep 29, 2022 9:00 am

The Press Enterprise is reporting it as a climbing accident:

At 12:25 p.m., a climbing accident was reported with the two climbers suffering from injuries near Tahquitz Rock, according to the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department. Cal Fire’s mountain rescue team hiked out to the remote area and found the two climbers had died from their injuries, said Sgt. Wendy Brito-Gonzalez, spokeswoman for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
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Re: Sad news

Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu Sep 29, 2022 12:25 pm

Not too much is known although apparently a large block of rock fell at the same time the two climbers did. There is speculation that they could have been using the block as their anchor point in some fashion.

See additional at Mountain Project: https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/t ... uitz-today

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Re: Sad news

Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu Sep 29, 2022 2:36 pm

The two climbers were identified. See link. Both were residents of Huntington Beach.

https://patch.com/california/temecula/c ... al_content

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Re: Sad news

Postby guest » Sat Oct 01, 2022 9:10 am

Indeed, it's never nice to hear this. Seems that climbing area has taken as many as Skyline lately.
There's a nice write up in the OC Register on the two in todays, (10 / 1) paper.
Chelsea Walsh, a filmmaker working on the PBS show Roadtrip Nation & Gavin Excobar was a former NFL player, (Cowboys & other teams), and a recent addition to Long Beach fire dpmt. Both from the OC coast area, Gavin with quite a bit of climbing experience, including Tahquitz, Chelsea with some as well. Both, from the article, seemed to be really cool, caring genuine folks.
Thoughts to their family & friends, Scott
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Re: Sad news

Postby Hikin_Jim » Sun Oct 02, 2022 2:18 pm

I've read comments about how these guys were climbers that knew what they were doing. In a way, that makes it more tragic still.

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Re: Sad news

Postby Ed » Sun Oct 02, 2022 3:04 pm

Since there was a thundershower, it is easy to imagine that the leader slipped and fell. But with good protection and a good anchor for the belayer, the fall should not have been fatal for either one. Even with protection failing, a belayer with a good anchor should have held the fall. So my guess is that there was a failure of the belayer's anchor. If you must speculate, I know some people don't like that, but that is what you tend to do in the absence of information. With no witnesses, we may never know, though I would think an investigation would provide some evidence, such as the anchor gear still attached to one of the climbers. I hope there was someone there that knew how to interpret the evidence.

So sad. The writeups indicate two great young people, with at least the basic skills and experience.
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Re: Sad news

Postby guest » Sun Oct 02, 2022 8:34 pm

Hi Ed, if you scroll down in the comments of the link Jim posted in the beginning of this thread, there's some more possible info on this accident.
Don't understand the lingo that much on climbing, but sounds like possibly the rope was placed over a large boulder (for an anchor), which may have given way, (with the rain loosening it?).
(Gavin was 6'6", imagine his wingspan / reach?)
Here's one: (everything below is from that link, not my words),

"Regarding speculation, speculation is GOOD. It is the free exchange of ideas that allows readers to learn about the many ways you can die in the mountains."

To a technical forensics team with access to all available information a free exchange of ideas can help move towards a possible answer. But spraying out a bunch of speculation on a climbing forum at a time when little actual facts are known tends to result in widespread misconception, and no-one really benefits from that. Doing so does, however, provide a great opportunity to project oneself in social media.

Edit:

Word from two persons involved in recovery is that there is a lot that isn't clear at this time, however apparently the rope was knotted at both ends, and no anchor gear between the two partners. One person was attached to the rope via an ATC on a PAS tether, the other person had some kind of rap device with a prussik backup on their harness, but was not attached to the rope. A nearby witness said they saw the party fall with a very large (refrigerator sized) block. A coroners report is expected in a few days that may shed more light.
Last edited by guest on Mon Oct 03, 2022 9:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sad news

Postby Ed » Mon Oct 03, 2022 9:16 am

Will be interesting to see if there is additional and more conclusive information.

There is not a lot of loose rock on Tahquitz, but if people saw a refrigerator-sized boulder falling, it certainly happened. And could explain a lot. I can't see a rappel dislodging a boulder that size, but perhaps a long fall by someone the size of Gavin Escobar could.

Were they rappelling? People today use the same device, typically an ATC, for both belaying and rappelling. Rappels on Tahquitz are rare. You climb to the top and descend unroped via a non-technical route (which admittedly has a Class 3 ledge that usually scared me more than the climb). If you rappel down, you have to do multiple rappels. At the end of each rappel, you have to set up an anchor to which you trust your life, and leave anchor gear behind. I can't see a rappel unless you are backing off a climb.

The range of difficulty on Tahquitz climbs is enormous. People can undertake a climb that is beyond their level, and they can lose the route. But it should not happen very often. Even in the 1970's the climbs were well-rated and well-described in the Chuck Wilts guidebook. I went off route once at Suicide, and consider myself lucky to have survived. Nobody to blame but myself. And, as always, a good learning experience.

And perhaps they were not climbing or rappelling at the time, simply fiddling with setting up an anchor on some ledge, neither secured, and then something happens: rock fall, lightning strike, or somebody slips and takes the other person down. Or perhaps they were trying to take photos. That is something I gave up on very early in my climbing career. if the situation made for an interesting photo, it was also one where I wanted no distractions.
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