A Few Little Bingles….

Home Forum Accidents, near-misses and mishaps A Few Little Bingles….

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    Brett Dennis

    Planning a trip to West Cape Howe got me thinking about some near misses I’ve had while climbing over the past couple of years. Thought I would relate a few tales here, providing some new reading material and maybe a couple of lessons.

    BINGLE # 1:

    T’was a glorious Spring afternoon in the hills of Perth. However weather was the last thing on my mind a I teetered periously on the crystals on that Kalamunda boulder.

    The climb was typical of many near Perth, short, sharp and granite. The routes only (carrot) bolt was close to the top and as I conveniently discovered, could only be precariously clipped whilst one was in the midst of the crux. So a few body lengths above the ground and with only a psychological 00 brass nut below me I attempted to place the hanger on the bolt.

    Alas in my desperation I over balanced and as me and the rock parted company, I launched out to avoid the sharp rocks at the base of the climb. Due to the steep hillside, this served to lenghten my fall but gave me a smoother runway to land on.

    I landed good ankle first on a wet slab covered by a thin layer of composting leaves. My feet went out and I crashed heavily, left buttock first onto a #3.5 cam. This caused me to leap straight back up and do a pain lap before the pain in my ankle felled me again.

    I was lucky and hobbled away with a few scrapes, a sprained ankle and a bloody sore buttock.

    Afterwards I wondered what went wrong. Many Perth climbs are short and judicously bolted. Due to the close proximity to the ground on these climbs, your more likely to deck out if you come off. I’d taken this into account as I sussed out the climb and looked at the best area to land but in hindsight should have looked more closely at the crux and bolt clipping sequence in order to avoid falling.

    BINGLE # 2:

    T’was also another fine day, made all the finer by a day of multi-pitch climbing at Mt Frankland and the company of my female companion.

    In preparation for the following day at Peak Head, we were warming down with a spot of bouldering not far from Albany town, with a couple of local climbers. One of these fellows is well known, a bit of a crack ‘master’ and is bolder than a honey badger after a snake.

    So our bouldering soon became soloing on some moderate cracks. Of course wanting to impress the blond lassie, I nervously chugged up after Mr Crack Master, displaying my marvellous thrash, grunt and lose skin crack technique. And so all was fun and games.

    Then I spied a nice line of holds leading up the nearby wall. In the middle was a large pyramid shaped wedge of rock, which made a convenient jug. As it is with granite, big holds are often liable to leap off unexpectedly, so I gingerly tested it the first time. It seemed unexpectedly solid so I repeated the line. The others also followed.

    Now geeting dark I decided to have one more run up, this time decided to merrily dyno up to the big hold for fun. And so with legs trailing behind I firmly grasped the jug, however as my full weight came on the block it ripped off. Plunging 5m backwards, still holding the block above my head I attempted to distance my self from the wretched bloody thing. Landing flat on my back on the shelf below the block smashed onto lower good leg.

    My companions were momentarily speechless. Realizing that the rest of me felt OK, I then vigorously encouraged someone help me get this *#x/;# chunk of granite off my leg. Upon inspection I was relieved to find my leg mostly intact. No broken bones just a fair chunk of flesh gouged out and an enormous heamatoma. Of course the bruised pride in front of the company was worse. Fortunately we still got out to Peak Head, although my newly aquired wound did complain as I labored up back up the hill with all the gear.

    In retrospect it was the extra force and outward pull of the dyno moved pulled the chunk of granite. It was a previously unclimbed area and I guess as such should have climbed more cautiously. I was very fortunate that the block landed on my leg rather than my head, although others disagreed.

    BINGLE # 3:

    Again the weather was great, this time the setting was Cataract Gorge right in the heart of Launceston, Tasmania.

    Having just arrived back on the island and with the weather so perfect I was very keen to climb however had no climbing partner to complete the equation. As I wandered through the gorge, admiring the steep dolerite routes, many of which start right from the paved path, I chanced upon a couple of other climbers.

    Seizing my chance, I befriended them and was soon climbing. The two lads were from Victoria and in Tassie for a six week climbing trip. For the purposes of this story I’ll call them Captain Plummet and Jackie Chan.

    I noted that they were both strong climbers but by their roping and rigging skills, it seemed they’d done most of their training for the trip on plastic.

    Captain Plummet, in particular, scared me and the tourists on the path below, by frequently plummeting off run-out climbs and just missing the ground.

    It was my turn to lead and I selected a nice hand/fist crack. The climb started on a little dirt ledge about 10m vertically above the tourist path. Looking at the safer option, I requested Jackie Chan belay me and suggested he put in a belay anchor due to our position on the small ledge.

    Jackie set a number three cam in the base of the slightly flaring crack and I reached up and set my first piece, a bomber number 9 hex. Now both Captain Plummet and Jackie thought the hex was a wildly amusing piece of medieval weaponary and proceded to ruthlessly take the bollocks out of me. I firmly rebuked that there was nothing more bomber than a good hex and asked Jackie if he’d like to tie into it so he had two pieces in for the belay. He said he was happy with the cam and as I thought he would’nt really be weighting the peice, did’nt push the point.

    So after checking our set up, I started climbing. The crack was typical dolerite, steep and strenuous and I was glad of the solid hex for my first piece. Due to the tough jamming it was hard to stop and place gear. About four metres above the hex I whacked in a solid cam and was pulling rope up to clip when suddenly the rope went tight and a heavy weight started pulling me down. Not knowing what was happening I desparately jammed my forearm in the crack in an effort to stay on the rock. The weight increased and I ripped out, shredding my forearm and hand. I plummeted backwards nearly carstrating myself on the hex runner as I went past before smashing into the ledge sideways.

    Fortunately I hung there and only then realized what had happened. Jackie had been leaning back on the belay and the cam had popped, sending him hurtling backwards over the ledge. Instinctively he’d hung onto the rope for grim death, which pulled me off the climb as he fell. Thus we’d both ended up penduluming from the hex. That glorious six sided piece of steel had stopped both of us from crashing onto the path below in a broken heap.

    Again I was lucky and escaped with a fairly carved up arm and sore groin. Fortunately the ledge I’d hit was covered in soil and so cushioned my fall. Lessons were many, be careful with new climbing partners, treat climbs like this as though they were multi pitch, with bombproof two/three piece belays and the leader getting good gear in early so he/she can’t fall onto the belay. Above all I came away holding the almighty hex in even higher esteem. Long live the big hex!!

    So that’s a couple of my near misses, I am sure many of you have stories ahoy, it would be good to hear some.

    #2263 Reply

    John Knight

    I’ve only really had one that sticks in my mind. When I first started climbing, I trained on a particular kind of tree bark, where the tree grew strong lumpy bits and it was rather like climbing gym holds. I practised on it everyday.

    One day when it was wet, I was climbing on it and showing a mate, at one point a hold was frictionless and and it was just like a really fast slide. I started flying down the the thing (it was a free solo tree doing about 7 metres of climbing, I was about 3 metres up at the time) and there were spikey bits of tree below! Well what happened it my jumper snageed on a branch and actually saved me! True, the bit of branch was a snapped, grindy bit of vertical wood that left a semi-permanent gash on my inner arm, but my jumper actually held me there!

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