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Lucky ice climber?

Shakes head...

Want a rope? Ya think....

I personally do not find much to laugh at on this one. 

Hopefully this is a setup shot.

If not,,  that guy is surely on a short list for a Darwin award..

I dont know if "luckiest" is the proper term for this guy.

WOW....climbing on ice over running water. I am NO expert but that seems....well. S-T-U-P-I-D! I don't think this is a set up shot. Even if it is, it is still just as stupid. Wow......the guy neds to sell his ice axes and get a recliner.

I don't know what do think of this. Is someone really that stupid? Is this set up? It's hard to tell, the people at the top on belay sound genuine, but then if you look at around the 335 mark there is another rope you can see off the back of the climber. I would like to think that no one is that stupid but the ice clearly isn't hard, it's over running water and the guy displays little technique. Wouldn't be the first time I've been wrong!

I've climbed ice a lot in my day.  You have to remember that at the bottom of the route there probably wasn't any running water, so he may not have been aware of the conditions on top.  And that is just something you encounter as spring approaches.  Still, that ice was pretty darn thin.  And it appears he was lead climbing - he was dragging a rope (which was most likely anchored to something below him) and he was carrying a lot of gear on his harness - so was being belayed from below.  A fall would still have serious consequences, though.  I would have been looking for a place to put in an anchor, but the rock there looked pretty featureless.

Glad he made it!

JimDoss, its good to hear your experienced perspective. 

A climber on another forum mentioned that on this spot on this particular route the ice is usually not very legit.  Of course he wasn't free soloing but a lead fall is never fun.  Its very likely, almost a given that, if he had known that spot was so bad he wouldn't have attempted it.  I am almost possitive that he didn't know it was so bad in that spot.   

Didn't know it was that bad... till he got up to it but then still tried to go through an obviously thin area with water running through it instead of going off to his right. I'm a total amateur, but isn't the lead climber supposed to be the most skilled one? What's the chance his anchors would've held?

He's just lucky as hell that those people were there to assist.

i think their laughter was nervous laughter resulting from a pretty darn scary situation. That was some very thin ice...undermined ice and snow is a bad problem in spring on Mt Washington. The pressure from the water underneath can blow you off a face if you puncture through in the wrong spot.

This appears to be two climbing parties; the three voices off camera are one party coming down, as indicated near the end of the video when she comments about their ascent up the same ice earlier that morning.  The guy pictured is leading up another party, as indicated by the lack of belay from above, the rope trailing off his backside, and the gear rack.  No indication who else shares the hapless leader’s rope, below him.

The ascending guy was lucky the off camera climbers just happened to be where they were, but frankly it appears to me no one should be where they all were at that time of day.  The nearby snow looks softened from the day’s sunshine and afternoon warmth.  Late afternoon climbing in those conditions, on something that steep is asking for holds to fail, and bombs to come crashing down from above.  The rescuing group’s ignorance is also indicated when they throw this guy a line without first protecting themselves by securing a belay to that rope before offering it to him.  Had he slipped a moment earlier, he could have pulled everyone off stance with him.

As for climbing ice amid running water, there are occasions where this is unavoidable.  One famous example is Eiger’s Ice Hose.  This formation is part of the route of the first ascent of the Eiger, established in 1938.  The Ice Hose often is also a water cascade, under certain conditions.  Picture climbing an ice formation while a small cascade of water pummels you.  Bridalveil Falls in Telluride is a well known ice climb that frequently include cascades of water as part of the challenge.  There are many wet ice climbs.  But don’t get me wrong, I think ice climbing, wet or not, is a gladiator sport.


I think Ed is spot on here. The ice, or rather snow is soft as he nears the other party. The latter maybe on the descent or near the end. Either way, he is very late on the route. Speaking of the Eiger, Don Whillans decided to abort a climb on it when a rock, freed from the melting ice, took off the end of his cigarette as he was belaying Chris Bonnington up to a stance. Everyone has their moments, but even Don Whillans knew when to turn around. Bad ice is not to be trifled with.

I haven't done any ice climbing, but the sound of that "ice" when struck speaks for itself.   I think here's a good chance his screws would have pulled out or shorn off more ice below, had he taken a fall. 

I think Ed is mistaken. Listening to the woman, it sounds to me that they were tied in, setting up a rappel station, so they were protected. What I think she meant when she told the guy not to move is that they didn't have him on belay yet, meaning to me, the rescue rope wasn't in the belay device they were using quite yet.

In any event, it looked like he was about a minute away from taking a real screamer. At first, I thought he was soloing, but on second look I can see his rope. However, it looks like his partner is pretty far down the slope, so it would have been a really bad fall, from the looks of things. I saw this video posted on VFTT as well.

Tom D said:

I think Ed is mistaken. Listening to the woman, it sounds to me that they were tied in, setting up a rappel station, so they were protected...


Regardless you are tied in or not, it is inadvisable to place one’s self (and the team) in jeopardy by tossing a rescue line when you are not prepared to catch the fall of someone on the other end of that line.

Actually your description fits my assumptions.  If the distressed climber fell, he would instinctively grab for that line, regardless if the top side climbers were ready to catch him or not.  An unbelayed fall can jeopardize those sharing that line or the anchors fixing that line to the wall.  While the audio indicates the line momentarily was not “on belay”, the risk this presents the top side climber depends on how the rescue line is anchored, regardless the belay method eventually selected:  

  • The rescue line is not currently attached to an anchor or climber.
    Successful arrest of the distressed climber’s fall is unlikely.  Injury to the top side person controlling an unanchored line is possible.
  • The rescue line is indirectly anchored (tied to a top side climber who is somehow tied to a belay anchor).
    If the rescue line was attached directly to a top side climber, and the line thrown was shorter than the distressed climber’s fall, the top side climber surely will be yanked off stance, risking significant injury, especially if the top side climber was not properly anchored to catch a fall or out of position to safely belay.  If that top side climber was indirectly tied to the anchor via another climber, both – possible all three top side climbers – would be yanked off stance.  If the rescue line was longer than the distressed climber’s fall, he would “bounce” unarrested.
  • The rescue line is tied directly to a belay anchor station.
    If the rescue line was attached directly to an anchor station set up to belay climbers, and the line thrown was shorter than the distressed climber’s fall, significantly more force may be transferred by an unbelayed fall to the anchor station than forces generated by a dynamically belayed, arrested fall.  This would increase the odds of anchor station failure, placing any of the top side climbers tied to the anchor station at risj as well.  If the rescue line was longer than the distressed climber’s fall, he would “bounce” unarrested.  If the line of force between the distressed climber and anchor point was occupied by one or more of the top side climbers, they could be thrown from their stances, and risk injury.
  • The rescue line was attached to a rappelling anchor.
    If the top side climbers were descending, the rescue line and anchor may be set up for rappelling and not suitable to belay a climber fall.  Many rappel anchors are not suited to absorb the forces of a free fall.  Furthermore certain rappel anchors generate too much friction heat to be safely used to belay a climber fall.  The top side climbers would also share this risk if they were using the same anchor.  Many of the risks cited in the preceding examples also apply.


These people were stoned or something.  They slept in.  Ice climbers that know what they are doing are done before anything begins to thaw.  Flowing water and ice are a disaster waiting to happen.

October 24, 2020
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