Whitesides Rappelling

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Whitesides Rappelling

Postby Sam » Aug 21, 2016 6:25 pm

Hey everyone,

I'm reaching out to you all as a rock climber. Yesterday, I was climbing on Whitesides Mountain in North Carolina. I know this is a popular destination for cavers to rappel and I have seen many groups over the last several years. In the past, cavers have lowered their ropes down from the top. Unfortunately yesterday, as I was climbing, a 600' static rope was thrown over the edge with no announcement which only missed me by 10 feet. If this would have hit me, it could have caused a lethal accident. I will be the first to admit that I'm not very familiar with caving but the standard in the rock climbing community is to announce "rope" before lobbing one over a cliff face. Is this standard operation for cavers? I guess I just want to make people aware that there may be climbers below and it will not be obvious from the top. As we move into fall and especially winter, more climbers will be visiting the cliff face and I would hate for an avoidable accident to happen.

Thanks,
Sam
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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby ohiocaver » Aug 22, 2016 7:24 am

Looking, yelling "rope" and generally making sure you know what's going on below you before hurling a rope off the side is SOP for cavers...as it is for climbers. I hope you said something to the other party - just so the next time they don't toss a rope down on me. :yikes:
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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby Sam » Aug 22, 2016 7:44 am

We did say something but it wasn't well received. I told them "That was pretty scary when that rope came flying down..." They said "yea." My partner chimed in "You should yell rope or something at least when you do that" to which we got no response. No apology or anything. Made me want to reach out and cut the bottom 70' of their rope off.
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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby Scott McCrea » Aug 22, 2016 8:16 am

Thanks for letting us know, Sam. Sorry for the mishap. Glad no one was hurt.

As the chairman of the Safety and Techniques Committee of the NSS, I will spread the word of caution and remind everyone that they need to follow standard procedure.

I think I know who was there this weekend. I will contact them.
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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby Sam » Aug 22, 2016 8:45 am

Thanks Scott. I hold no ill will toward anyone I just hope to avoid similar situations in the future.
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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby Sam » Aug 22, 2016 9:29 am

dutchcontractor wrote:Woohoaahh! Are you kidding me?

I lowered that rope with my own 2 hands slowly and controlled from the top, I used to be a rock climber myself and know of the dangers and even been hit by a few ropes!

I will never "lob" a 600 foot rope of a cliff or pit edge thats just dangerous and you can wreck a perfectly good rope that way.

So yeah, sorry you didn't hear us, its pretty much impossible to communicate until you're over the edge (thats why we lower rope and not throw it) but you're greatly exaggerating the situation and please do not ever threaten to cut anybodies rope for Pete's sake.

Scott, this wasn't an incident, just a couple of skittish guys that were climbing above their grade.


Come on man. That is super dismissive of us. Why would I make this up? I've been out there many times when groups have lowered down their ropes without incident. I will say that your second rope (climbers right) was lowered down. That first rope came flying past me while I was lead rope soloing run out ground.

Also, how could you possibly know what our climbing ability was and that we were over our heads? I've done nearly every route, a first ascent, and replaced antiquated hardware all over Whitesides for nearly a decade. We've done major climbs all over North America including El Capitan, big walls in Zion, alpine peaks in the Canadian Rockies, Tetons, Cascades, etc. and recently returned from a climbing expedition to Alaska. This weekend, we were working on free climbing a route that has never seen an ascent. We had a kit for 3 days so we could put in some time working the climb. Sorry if we aren't up to your standard.

Given your response to my concern, I'm out. Nothing to be gained from arguing on the internet.
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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby dutchcontractor » Aug 22, 2016 12:12 pm

As you can see, I took my original response down because I wrote it when I was pissed, not understanding why you would be exaggerating the situation, but now I see that you reposted it and want to continue to argue. I'm not going to continue this discussion since I had a completely different experience than you that day and we will never agree on what happened.

All I can say is that I apologize for the mishap and next time I will try extra hard to not make anybody uncomfortable again.
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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby dutchcontractor » Aug 22, 2016 3:11 pm

This whole thing really is bothering me and I have been racking my brain all day about it and I may have an idea what really happened.

I really did lower the rope by hand in a very controlled decent, my gloves were warm but never hot, I'm guessing it took about 2-3 minutes to lower, which is slower than a lot of rappels there. I always lower long ropes. Our edge line was tossed over the edge, but that doesn't reach very far. There was no wind to speak of in the morning so that wasn't a concern either.

Now here is what I think happened; There is a bulge about 100 or 150 feet up from the bottom, its a steep ledge that I think has the ability to hold your rope under the right circumstances, my rope probably piled up on the ledge and then slid off a little later, making the last 150 feet of rope free fall. By the time I got on rope and looked down the rope was perfectly straight and all the way to the bottom. I don't understand how it came within 10 feet of you guys since you guys were 75 to 100 feet to the left of us. I'm glad it missed you though.

As far as being rude and ignoring you, you mentioned something to one of the rappellers while he was a 100 feet away from you, rappelling past you, he didn't really understand the situation, wasn't part of the rigging and was more worried about his first rappel ever at Whiteside than talking to you. You didn't say one word to me or anyone else.

Sorry I scared you guys, we really try to be careful.

I'm also sorry for the harsh response this morning, but when people are talking about how rude I was and talking about cutting my rope on a public forum, I get my back up, especially when my experience was different than yours. I was pretty pissed.
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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby Sam » Aug 22, 2016 5:44 pm

Thanks Dutch. My comment on cutting was over the line. It's not something that anyone would ever do so I just figured it would be taken rhetorically. My apologies.

I'm relieved to hear that you lowered it down and I believe that you did. That logic regarding the rope drop makes sense in that it ledged out and fell. Where that happened on the wall, I don't know. I didn't see it getting lowered but that's not something I was really looking for. I was more focused on what was going on right near me. I only heard it maybe a couple second before it came by. I understand that weird things happen; sorry if I jumped to conclusions about how it went down. We didn't know your group dynamic but the guy I talked to looked way solid so I figured he was one of the more experienced guys. Hope you all had a fun day and made it out before the downpour.

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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby Scott McCrea » Aug 22, 2016 6:04 pm

It's so wonderful to see new friendships blossom here on Cavechat. :woohoo:
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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby Chads93GT » Oct 3, 2016 11:31 am

Is it too late to say "Whiteside", not "Whitesides"?
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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby Patrick Wilson » Oct 4, 2016 10:18 am

Chads93GT wrote:Is it too late to say "Whiteside", not "Whitesides"?


It's NEVER too late to correct grammar on the internet.
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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby Chads93GT » Oct 4, 2016 1:22 pm

Patrick Wilson wrote:
Chads93GT wrote:Is it too late to say "Whiteside", not "Whitesides"?


It's NEVER too late to correct grammar on the internet.


I mean,unless there are two mountains side by side and both are referred to as Whitesides. :rofl:
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Re: Whitesides Rappelling

Postby BrianFrank » Oct 29, 2016 12:04 am

Sam, Quite a list of challenging climbs you have done.

Not in this situation.....but, just so you know why a caver may make a mistake here or there and forget to yell "ROPE", is because they just aren't use to yelling down a pit when they know they are the only human on the inside of a mountain :grin:
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