It's Too Popular an Area for Trundling to Ever Be an Option

The Tooth: Football-sized rock falls from rappel anchor site
David Shema David Shema
January 12, 2015
It's Too Popular an Area for Trundling to Ever Be an Option

June 16, The Tooth (Snoqualmie Pass)

After a fun climb of The Tooth, a football-sized rock was knocked loose when a rappeller weighed the tree-root anchor that was touching the rock.

The rock fell 60 feet, and struck the upper back of a rope-leader who had already rappelled and was setting up the final rappel.

The climb leader heard the scream and commotion, but did not directly observe the situation.

The injured climber received a quick scan (no bleeding except slight oozing from scrapes, no broken bones), followed by checks to make sure there were no spinal or organ injuries. She was able to get up and continue rappel after about twenty minutes of rest, followed by carrying standard pack down the trail.

She ended up with some scratches and a stretchy kind of soreness, but that was the extent of the injuries. 

There were no clue as to loose rock in the area. It did not come from underfoot, but may have been knocked loose from above and resting on tree root. Broader check of the area should be called for before the rappels commenced, if weighting a tree or rock anchor could cause shift in unstable rock.

[Struck Rope Leader]
I was facing down the route, setting up the 4th and last, single rope rappel. I was anchored with my personal anchor, wearing a helmet, and not wearing a backpack. We had consolidated our gear to one backpack per rope team, which the followers wore on the way up and down.

I believe I was hit by a loose rock I had noticed at the top of the rappel station above me (top of 3rd rappel, perhaps 60’ feet above). The rock was large enough that I pointed it out to the person next to me, warning him it was there. 

The rock was football-sized, flattish, and smooth. This may explain why the skin did not break. I was also fortunate it did not hit my spine, head, or neck.

In hindsight, the rock was also large enough I maybe should have picked it up and placed is somewhere better,  or maybe had someone carry it down.

I couldn't clearly see the base of the route, so trundling was not an option. Too popular an area for trundling to ever really be an option…

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