Sunday, October 7, 2012

Try Not To Flip Upside Down In A Waterfall While Rappelling

A photo of the spot where a man rapped down a fairly benign-looking and short drop. And then he had a boatload of trouble: his prussik/autoboc knot caught in his belay tool, his heavy pack flipped him upside down, and when he cut his waist strap on his harness to escape, the leg loops caught on his boots so he couldn't get out of the harness. And he hung upside down and didn't make it.

When I look at that photo, it appears to be such an easy, short (15') drop to a sandy bottom. (Granted, the water would be cold.) Lots of discussion here.

The accident report from the ranger is below:


Zion National Park (UT)
Man Dies In Canyoneering Accident

On Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 park rangers determined that Yoshio Hosobuchi, age 74, had died while descending the Left Fork of the North Creek, a popular canyoneering route known as The Subway. Rangers began to look for Hosobuchi and his wife, based on a report from another hiker who was concerned the couple might be caught by darkness. Rangers made contact with Hosobuchi’s wife on the trail who reported Hosobuchi had flipped upside down while rappelling the previous evening and she had been unable to free him. The couple was at the last obstacle of the technical portion of the canyon, a 15-foot rappel, and chose to use an anchor different from the one listed in the route description. The anchor they chose increased the difficulty of the rappel as the location is overhung, free-hanging and in an active waterfall. Hosobuchi’s wife completed the rappel first. Hosobuchi was using a Blue Water VT below his rappel device and attached to his leg loop as a backup. Hosobuchi began his rappel when he flipped upside down, possibly due to the weight of his pack. It appears that when Hosobuchi inverted, the VT slid into the rappel device and jammed it. Due to the overhung and free-hanging nature of the location, Hosobuchi had no leverage to assist in righting himself even after he dropped his pack and his wife pulled on the rope to attempt to move him sideways, towards a wall. Hosobuchi then attempted to free himself by cutting the waist belt of his harness. When he cut through the waist belt, the leg loops of his harness slid down and caught around his ankles and canyoneering boots. Hosobuchi was now hanging upside down from his ankles in an active waterfall approximately 6 feet off the ground. Hosobuchi’s wife repeatedly attempted to pull him free from his harness by pulling on his hands, but was unable to free him from the harness before leaving him to seek help. Rangers reached Hosobuchi in the late afternoon of September 19 and confirmed that he had not survived. A helicopter from the Grand Canyon recovered his body the following morning. Rangers worked closely with Washington County Sheriff’s office and the local medical examiner on the investigation.
[Submitted by Therese Picard, Canyon District Ranger]"

No comments: