well Mike and Robyn arrived 24 hours ago and Karine and I gave them the guided tour of Koh Yao Noi. A little orientation day if you will. Karine and I decided to go down to the beach which was where Mike and Robyn were going to be staying and on a whim called into the a hotel to see if they had arrived. They were standing in the foyer booking in. We headed to the beach and they met us there and we swam and drank a few margaritas and then took off to our place to show them where we were staying and then we headed to Dhao Tao Beach for the arvo….it was a great day and we were all very glad to see each other.
Today we headed out climbing and with an early start at 6:00am it was coffee, khoa mun gai and one of the most beautiful sunrises so far. A delight to be taking in. The four of us headed for the crag and when we arrived it looked like it as going to be crowded. But there was only a couple of guys there. I had met Mike and Gordon on previous occasion and they were nice guys too. Mike had forgotten his harness and had to bail, leaving Gordon stranded with no one to climb with. Karine suggested we ask Gordon to join us and he was delighted to hang out. Lovely man, fit as all get out and possibly in his sixties. Born and raised in Quebec, now living in British Columbia.
We climbed a bunch of easier grade stuff at The Mitt. Mike and Robyn were enjoying the new rock and finding the routes very enjoyable. Karine, Gordon and I did two routes to warm up and I decided to get on Black Widow Arete again and see if I could tick it. It goes 6c+ I think but its sustained, steep and unforgiving. I climbed it well and with a little sequence tweak at the second bolt after down climbing to rest and reassess my situation I sent it…..very happy about this one. First 6c+ in Thailand since having a very long break.
Mike got on Daddy Long Legs and sent it with flying colours and really enjoyed the space walk through the tufa system on the route. Gordon decided to top rope Black Widow Arete and loved it, Karine and Robyn both climbed well at the Mitt and as the sun was hitting the walls we decided to move around to the Big Tree Wall and the shade for the afternoon. Gordon was already around there and helping two young Americans set up a 6a+ on the left hand side of the warm up wall. Karine decided to lead the 6b and tied in and got on with the job. Didn’t send it clean but did a great job putting the draws on it and settling in to the route. Mike later said “That 6b was really tough for the grade and had a lot of technical movement on it, you should be really pleased with your efforts” or words to that effect.
We had a few people at the crag with us and all seemed pretty friendly. Tim and Shanna were climbing on top rope. Gordon had been super kind to put up the rope for them. They were inexperienced and I could hear it in their conversation. Tim decided he should lead the 6a to the right of where I was standing and tied in. Shana was going to belay down low and had no idea about what to make of the situation I don’t think, so I said she should stand on the ledge and tie into to the rope sling that was there.
Ready to climb and Tim was off. The first bolt went well and then the second. I was standing keeping an eye on Karine as she was trying a 6b+ with Gordon on belay and doing really well on the route too. Tim was about to clip the third bolt when he started to freak out and get the shakes. He wasn’t in a good position and I standing right there and off he came. He hit the ground hard from about 6 metres up. I ran to his side and said “don’t move mate”. He was trying to stand up after taking a hideous ground fall directly onto sharp rocks and rolled down a small ledge. His belayer was just staring not knowing what to do.
Tim’s pride seemed to be the biggest issue, he was trying to get up and wanted to get back on the wall right there and then. I continued to be very persuasive in keeping him laying down. I told him if you keep trying to get up without at least an examination for broken bones, cuts, bruising and bleeding he could jeopardise his health drastically. He went to move again ego damaged beyond reproach. This time I was not so polite and said “mate if you try and move again I will smack you in the mouth!, I need to check that you have no serious injuries.” This guy was indeed stupid and going into shock, so he needed to be checked over.
Most of the people at the crag had never had to deal with anything like this before, let alone see anything like this before…..and there were a few who were very freaked out. I finally got to check Tim over and he was not to badly busted up. It was lucky he was a bigger build and had a bit more bulk around his ribs and back. If that was me I would have broken in two. He had a little bit of bruising and a couple of scratches. A sore foot and a very very bruised ego.
Shana had second degree rope burn and was in shock. She was just trying to deal with what had happened and was starting to go into a little bit of shock too. She was strong enough to treat her on wounds. This was a terrible accident to witness and the culprit was inexperience and pride. Trying to climb above your ability and letting your pride get in the way of assessing your own ability and your partners experience level.
I did my best to check them both out and Gordon and Robyn were of great assistance to the situation just talking to the two climbers. I was happy I had First Aid experience and unfortunately had assisted a few times with this sort of thing before. One of the guides that was showing some people around the crag on their first day of climbing ever said “I have a boat, do you want a lift back to the pier to go to hospital. We all strongly advised Tim and Shanna to go and made sure they got on the boat.
That was the end of our climbing day for the day and we packed up and walked out of the crag debriefing whilst walking just to clear our heads. Its a bad day when you see someone deck out and its even worse when their ego is the biggest contributor. To much rope out and inexperience brought these two young people unstuck and it was a very hard lesson for them indeed. Fortunately they were both alright.
Look after each other out there and climb smart……………..Climbing is dangerous; You could be injured or killed. Thats what all the reference and instructional books and DVD’s say at the start……………Gee I wonder why?!?!?