Climber in Arizona killed by bees

6:46 p.m. on May 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Sounds like an Epipen needs to be in your climbing kit. A climber (and his dog) was killed by bee stings in Arizona. Apparently, he was rappelling right past a bees's nest.

I have encountered ants several times when climbing. It ain't pleasant! OTOH, the big black ants encountered in Yosemite Valley are actually fairly good eating - kind of a vinegary taste, probably due to the acid in their venom. You can get chocolate-covered ants in some confectionery shops that sell exotic variations of chocolate goods.

7:01 p.m. on May 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Wowsers...

This would definitely be one painful way to go. I have been attacked by ground bees on more than one occasion. Even though I got stung a few times(I will save the details other than a few flew up my shorts) I had the ability to run away at a very fast pace.

Being stuck on a rock face would definitely hinder things. 

9:19 p.m. on May 9, 2013 (EDT)
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It probably didn't matter in his case, but the incident is an example of someone going into the outdoors woefully unprepared.  

The failure to leave your plans and expected return time with a person you can trust to call the appropriate authorities if you don't return as expected is a failure to prepare with the Zero Essential.

 Every time I read "friends became concerned when he didn't show up for work on Monday" I shake my head in disbelief at the how unprepared some people are when they venture into the outdoors..

Although it probably wouldn't have helped this climber survive the tragedy, it would have allowed tho poor souls who had to retrieve his remains to do so before another day or two of rot had taken effect.

9:42 p.m. on May 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Bees scare me more than snakes or bears.

3:09 p.m. on May 10, 2013 (EDT)
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His family must be very sad.

Jim, you are wise to fear bees.  they kill WAY more people annually than the big scary mammals we usually discuss here. 

It looks like he backed up his rappel though, that's something he can be praised for:

who was found suspended from anchors

I don't think that dying proves that he was unprepared though, how do you prepare for a bee swarm attack?  His dog couldn't even escape. When I rappel I don't often catch myself wondering if I'm about to be stung to death by bees.   Do I rappel alone?  No, but I don't think its irresponsible to do so if one is reasonably skilled. 

How did he plan on getting his dog down I wonder?

4:24 p.m. on May 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Anaphylaxis in reaction to bees can arise unexpectedly in people with no prior history of such a reaction - especailly in cases where there there are a lot of stings in short period of time.

I do keep an Epi pen in my first aid kit for this reason.

This is a sad story.

9:45 p.m. on May 10, 2013 (EDT)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

I don't think that dying proves that he was unprepared though, how do you prepare for a bee swarm attack? 

 

He was "unprepared" because he didn't leave his planed return time with a person he could trust to call the proper authorities if he did not return as expected.  The zero essential.  The proof is in the fact that SAR didn't occur until friends became concerned that he didn't show up for worn the following Monday.

The fact that he died from something unrelated to his unpreparedness doesn't change the fact that he was unprepared.  Someone who gets eaten by bear but went into the woods without a compass, map, headlamp, sufficient water, sufficient clothing for the conditions, etc is still nevertheless unprepared even though the cause of death has nothing to do with his demise.

9:47 p.m. on May 10, 2013 (EDT)
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So horrible. My sympathies and condolences to his loved ones. 

I really wonder what type of "bees" they were. 

10:40 a.m. on May 11, 2013 (EDT)
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This actually happened to me too, except I managed not to rile the bees to the point of attack.  In my case I was climbing up, and didn’t notice them until I was practically sticking my face into the entrance.  At that point I could see the comb behind the rocks and hear the buzzing.  When I realized my situation I ducked down so I was not obstructing the flyway.  At first it was VERY frightful, but when nothing happened we just rerouted.  In part form my own experience, I am inclined to believe the Arizona climber got tangled up with more the agressive Africanized bees. 

On a different trip I almost grabbed a rattlesnake while feeling for a hand hold.  I somehow missed doing that and instead climbed right up until I was face to face with the snake six inches from my nose.  I knew immediately it was a rattler.  It freaked me so much I just pushed off out into mid air, preferring to take my chances with my protection and the skills of my belay, below. 

I think these kinds of encounters happen more than one would think.  I know two other guys who also had brushes with snakes while climbing, and a third who encountered bees.  I am glad I have not come upon hornets or yellow jackets; that would be most unfortunate.

Ed

10:53 a.m. on May 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Snakes... Uggghhhh. 

I really do not mind them but I would most certainly rather run into a rattler than a Copperhead being the Rattler will let you know it is there. 

I once caught a baby Rattler as a kid in a shoebox(after a short spell/and some advise I let it go even though I wanted to keep it as a pet.)

That lil guy tried to light my boot up like no other. 

12:33 p.m. on May 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Very sad. If you are not one to carry any epipen then at a minimum i strongly advise carrying several doses of benadryl. Not as effective as an epipen, but it can save your life nonetheless.

Whomeworry, that sounds crazy! I would have done the same thing, and when i got to the bottom had to have probably changed my drawers.

7:06 a.m. on May 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

..I really do not mind them but I would most certainly rather run into a rattler than a Copperhead being the Rattler will let you know it is there...

Actually rattlers often do not warn you of their presence.  The one on the cliff I mentioned made no noise, the shape of its head is what clued me in.  I have also walked right up to rattlers several times on trail encounters.  And once when I was eleven years old I stepped right over the biggest rattle snake I’ve personally seen, while trekking through tall grass.  (I parted the grass as I went, and that allowed the person following me to spot the snake.)  All that said, I too would prefer encountering a rattler to a copperhead; my understanding is copperheads have lousy and aggressive dispositions, whereas most rattlers I have encountered usually will retreat if given the opportunity.

Ed

10:39 a.m. on May 13, 2013 (EDT)
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Seth said:

Anaphylaxis in reaction to bees can arise unexpectedly in people with no prior history of such a reaction - especailly in cases where there there are a lot of stings in short period of time.

I do keep an Epi pen in my first aid kit for this reason.

This is a sad story.

 I have had two reactions in the past 10 years or so. I always carry an Epipen & Benedryl.

Recently I had to renew my Epipen prescription and after asking the pharmacist why the price had doubled I was told they were only available in twin packs now - "so you have a spare at home" - I was told.

Why would I want a spare at home?

Mike G.

 

 

2:30 p.m. on May 13, 2013 (EDT)
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Mike - I nearly had an allergic reaction to the price increase of epinephrine too!

Better safe than sorry, so I sucked it up and bought the double. One stays at home, the other stays in my "10 essentials" bag.

The Rambler is correct - a few chewed benadryl could be a lifesaver, though it's not nearly as effective as epi. In fact, the combination of the two is more effective than either one alone.

7:37 p.m. on May 13, 2013 (EDT)
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Since the instructors in my Wilderness First Aid course recommended we include an epipen in our kits, as did the expedition doctor for the American Alpine Club Climber Science Program for those of us who are team leaders, I had my doctor write a prescription. At the drug store, I discovered the "2-pen" package thing. Since I really do not expect to need one, and they have the same expiration date, this looks to be pretty costly. Then again, when we are up in the Andes at 6000+ meters and someone needs one, the cost of a person's life is worth a lot more.

Bees aren't the only thing calling for an epipen

1:17 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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JimDoss said:

Bees scare me more than snakes or bears.

 Me too, take a Epi Pen

6:29 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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The article I read about this at the time it occurred said somethng like the climber was 100' up and the dog was some distance away on the ground.  What sort of bees massively attack a climber and then go looking for his dog on the ground and massibely attack him too?

 

Anyway, I have a question for you climbers.  I read about the above while I was in Yosmite a few weeks ago.  Seperately, while I was there, I saw a lot of climbers but didn't see anyone climbing El Capitan.  Later, when I hiked past the base, there were signs stating that El Capitan was closed to climbing due to nesting falcons.  The day after I left, though, I saw in the local paper that a climber had just been killed on El Capitan.   Did I misunderstand the signs or did the closure only apply to certain routes?  Anyway, I am just curious and wonder if anyone knows the answer.

1:44 p.m. on June 2, 2013 (EDT)
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El Cap has several dozen routes. The raptor closure (common in most climbing areas these days) applies to certain specific routes and sections of El Cap. The accident happened in a section of El Cap not included in the closure.

10:32 p.m. on June 13, 2013 (EDT)
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While on a hike last spring near Tucson in the Catalina Mountains in/above Bear Canyon near Sabino Canyon, I was attacked/swarmed by bee's. I was hiking off trail to a hanging canyon between Blacketts Ridge and Bear Canyon when I stopped in the first shade I came to beneath a overhanging ledge, A bee landed on me but I took little notice thinking it was a sweat bee looking for moisture, then another and another and soon I was swarmed by many bee's. I tried to leave as quickly as possible hiking back down the side drainage I was in, but they followed me all the way  for a couple miles down to the main Bear Canyon Road before they left me alone.

That was my first worst experience with bee's in my entire hiking life over the last 45 years.

10:17 a.m. on June 17, 2013 (EDT)
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OMG i am sooo scared of bees. Was stung several times as a kid and that was bad enough.As an adult I ahd a mild reaction when stung and fear as time has gone on that may be a more sever reaction if stung again! I feel for the climber!

12:48 p.m. on June 17, 2013 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

Rick-Pittsburgh said:

..I really do not mind them but I would most certainly rather run into a rattler than a Copperhead being the Rattler will let you know it is there...

Actually rattlers often do not warn you of their presence.  

Ed

The ones out this way do unless of course they are sprawled out on a rock smothered in Coppertone and sucking up the uv rays. 

September 30, 2014
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