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Topic "Accident on Mount Bell (1 of 28)" started by Bill Kerr on Aug-11-2008

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (1 of 28)
Author: Bill Kerr
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 11:34 AM

As some of you may have suspected the accident on Aug 4 happened to my regular climbing partner. Now that the media attention has gone by, I feel I should report it to help clear my head and to help prevent future accidents.

We were scrambling up the avalanche path on the west side of O'Brien Lake to gain the NE ridge. We went up some fourth and easy fifth class rockbands and he was to the left and ahead, looking for a way up another rockband. A foothold ledge broke away and stranded him 10 m up the band. In the process of trying to get him out of this position, he fell 10 m and hit his head and then rag doll tumbled and rolled 100 m down scree and small rock steps.

I climbed down to him, did first aid, activated an older ACR Terrafix PLB and then ran down to Taylor lake. I borrowed a cellphone from a tourist and arranged a heli evacuation.
He is still unconscious in intensive care but a full recovery is possible.

Bottom line is we made some mistakes and had some bad luck. Avoid bad rock or always leave a large margin of error below your climbing ability. Slow down, climb carefully and think about the consequences and your responsibilities. Always wear your helmet.

I have a more detailed accident report if anyone wants to email at the address below.( and a couple of pictures on website)


bill.kerr@shaw.ca
http://www.billkerr.ca

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (2 of 28)
Author: Vern Dewit
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 12:26 PM

Thanks for sharing this Bill and hopefully your friend makes it out of this OK. I'm starting to seriously consider one of those PLB's. Kind of like an avalanche transceiver but good for all year 'round and initiating rescue. Good advice to keep the helmet on all the time.

Vern Dewit
http://www.fresh-oxygen.com
http://verndewit.com/

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (3 of 28)
Author: Parry Loeffler
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 01:02 PM

Sorry to hear about this Bill.

It's been a tough year and every time I hear of an accident now I'm left cringing and thinking about friends and people I know on this forum.

Stay strong...

Parry

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (4 of 28)
Author: Bill Kerr
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 01:22 PM

Thanks guys.
I have been researching the PLB's and the best option seems to be the new ACR Microfix which is smaller, lighter and has a GPS. The GPS gives a more accurate location that is sent with the 5 watt emergency signal to the US gov't satellite system. The problem is that the rescue service still will not know what the emergency is or what to bring since it is just a signal with no other info other than coordinates. They will also call your emergency contact persons before heading out to check what is wrong since 97 % of signals are not real emergencies!

Hopefully the next version will allow text messaging or the sat phones will get smaller, cheaper and more reliable.

The SPOT system is cheaper and looks interesting but the GPS is not high sensitivity, the output signal is lower wattage and it is also a plain signal.


bill.kerr@shaw.ca
http://www.billkerr.ca

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (5 of 28)
Author: Mike Fisher
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 02:03 PM

Bill, I was worried most of last week that it might have been you since you asked about the route but when I saw a few of your posts later in the week, it was a great relief. It seems my relief was a bit premature. Hopefully everything goes well for your partner and he's able to get back on his feet soon.

I don't imagine it's much consolation at this point but based on the media reports, you did an exceptional job in helping your partner and getting the rescue started.

Mike

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (6 of 28)
Author: Ken Takabe
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 02:45 PM

Sorry to hear that Bill.

I hope your partner makes a quick and full recovery.

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (7 of 28)
Author: Bill Kerr
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 03:40 PM

Thanks guys.
Mike - I knew you would be worried but the family wanted privacy.

Good news is that the hospital just phoned and he opened his eyes so that is an important step to a full recovery.

I put a couple of pics up on the site.


bill.kerr@shaw.ca
http://www.billkerr.ca

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (8 of 28)
Author: Jp S
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 05:10 PM

Sorry to hear that as well. I hope your climbing partner has a speedy recovery. From the reports, you did a great job responding to the accident.

From the reports, it sounds like the PLB greatly accelerated the rescue?? Those PLBs are interesting. Pretty pricey though ($600? and up) I can see my wife requiring me to have one of these in a few years ....

jp


Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (9 of 28)
Author: Mountain Ninja
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 05:11 PM

I`m happy to hear your partner is on the way to a full recovery. This is great news, Bill!

Stay strong!

Rafal

http://picasaweb.google.com/peakhunter08

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (10 of 28)
Author: Bill Kerr
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 08:13 PM

Thanks guys.

JP - the PLB speeded things up by 45 min to 1 hour but if I had not got to a cellphone(could not find my partners) then the rescue guys would not have been prepared for a medical evacuation. See my thoughts on PLB's above. They would be really useful in more remote places.


bill.kerr@shaw.ca
http://www.billkerr.ca

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (11 of 28)
Author: Frank Nelson
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 09:55 PM

Sorry to hear that Bill... I almost took a shift that day out in Banff too.
Frank

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (12 of 28)
Author: Vern Dewit
Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 07:21 AM

Another incident where the PLB was used and the rescue guys seem to agree that they are useful but not as useful as they could be. This incident is more disturbing because of the lack of care from this poor guys friends: http://www.piquenewsmagazine.com/pique/index.php?cat=C_News&content=Sar+on+wedge+1532

Vern Dewit
http://www.fresh-oxygen.com
http://verndewit.com/

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (13 of 28)
Author: Bill Kerr
Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 08:18 AM

That is interesting and illustrates my concerns about a plain distress signal.

The poor guy - Pick your friends carefully!

bill.kerr@shaw.ca
http://www.billkerr.ca

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (14 of 28)
Author: Kerry Vizbar
Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 09:00 AM

Bill, sorry to hear about the accident. Here's best wishes for a speedy and full recovery for your friend.

I've also been involved in an incident requiring helicopter rescue this summer. It wasn't nearly as severe as yours, but was still terrifying. It also would have turned out far worse had we not been wearing helmets. So I definitely echo your comment in that regard.

On the article Vern posted - that's appalling. Like they said, you can't fully speculate on why things turned out the way they did, but I would "speculate" that the injured person may not go out with those people again?

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (15 of 28)
Author: Ken Takabe
Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 09:25 AM

Wow! Not to hijack this thread but that story is ridiculous!

Three of the uninjured climbers went back to the hut while leaving the injured climber by himself on the glacier? I'd love to hear the conversation that took place.

"Well, since you busted your leg, it's not like you're going anywhere. We'll be in the hut. Just hit the button on the SPOT which says 911 if your leg gets any worse."

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (16 of 28)
Author: Jp S
Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 12:56 PM

Thanks for the info on PLBs.

Interesting about the cell phone, too, when I carry my cell phone, I generally haven't made a point of telling my climbing partners where it is - I'll have to change that practice.

jp

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (17 of 28)
Author: Marta Wojnarowska
Date: Thursday, August 28, 2008 09:34 PM

Hi Bill:

We were not aware that it was your partner, who had the accident on Mt Bell few weeks ago.
Raff shared this news with us on Mt Cleveland trip.
Very sorry to hear that. Hope he is getting better, and that you are OK.


We run into an accident 4 years ago on Mt Athabasca, our first mountaineering trip by ourselves. You might remember it - 4 medical students, 1 died due to rock fall. Since then we got a sat phone. I still think that if we had a sat phone then, he might have survived.

All the best,

Marta

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (18 of 28)
Author: Bill Kerr
Date: Friday, August 29, 2008 09:19 AM

I do remember the accident on Athabasca.

Gary still is in a coma in the hospital. His body seems to be recovering well and he is moving around a lot but still unconscious. No spinal cord or paralysis problems. The doctors say there is nothing we can do but hope and pray that he wakes up and is all okay.

Tough situation � thanks Marta for your caring thoughts.

I have been reviewing satellite phones and plan to get one.




bill.kerr@shaw.ca
http://www.billkerr.ca

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (19 of 28)
Author: Rod Mcalister
Date: Friday, August 29, 2008 09:39 AM

Hi Bill,
I was on Narao last weekend (aug 24) and there was an entry from the previous weekend dedicating the trip " to Gary who suffered a fatal fall on Mt Bell". Maybe there is some miss-information out there or I could have been suffering from lifestyle induced geriatric hypoxia and misread the entry.I don't really have any friends so the rumor hasn't spread too far. Hope you are healing as well.
Rod

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (20 of 28)
Author: Bill Kerr
Date: Friday, August 29, 2008 10:43 AM

Hi Rod,
About that time things were looking bad and he was not expected to survive.
He has beat the odds and is off life support and is now breathing on his own.

The questions now are if and when will he wake up and will his mental and physical abilities and his memory and personality be affected.
We can only hope and pray.

bill.kerr@shaw.ca
http://www.billkerr.ca

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (21 of 28)
Author: Mike Fisher
Date: Friday, August 29, 2008 11:41 AM

I've been thinking of you both regularly since the accident happened. I know it's an obvious thing to say but I sincerely hope Gary continues to beat the odds and comes out of it.

My thoughts and best wishes are with you, Gary and his family.

Mike



Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (22 of 28)
Author: Marta Wojnarowska
Date: Friday, August 29, 2008 11:50 AM

Few words on Sat Phones:

Definitely avoid Globalstar - 3 years ago the phone was OK. But now their satellites are FAILING. Getting & keeping a connection is now a major challenge. Totally unreliably. Globalstar keeps this fact quiet, ugly!

We replaced Globalstar with Iridium this year. The phone is larger, and heavier, but reliable.


Will keep sending positives thoughts to Gary.

Marta

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (23 of 28)
Author: Vern Dewit
Date: Friday, August 29, 2008 01:59 PM

Thanks for that tip Marta. If you don't mind me asking publicly - how much does it cost minimum to own a satellite phone? (i.e. if you only use it for emergencies)

After reviewing and thinking about PLB's I've decided that they aren't quite enough. A sat phone seems to be the ticket - if they work reliably enough!

Vern Dewit
http://www.fresh-oxygen.com
http://verndewit.com/

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (24 of 28)
Author: Ken Takabe
Date: Saturday, August 30, 2008 11:16 AM

Satellite phones have come down quite a bit... at least in terms of airtime.

On the Globalstar network, typical costs are around $25/mth plus around $2.50/minute of airtime usage. However, I noticed that Globalstar recently came up with a $75/mth package which gives you unlimited airtime. Something like this would be great for an expedition or organized group where everyone could pitch in.

As for the phones, they've come down in size/bulk but they're still a little bigger compared to the latest cell phones - after all, they're hiding a huge antenna. They're also expensive at around $1000.

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (25 of 28)
Author: Vern Dewit
Date: Saturday, August 30, 2008 05:54 PM

Thanks for the info Ken. That is rather costly. But then again, what's the value of instant, world-wide communication right?

Vern Dewit
http://www.fresh-oxygen.com
http://verndewit.com/

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (26 of 28)
Author: Bill Kerr
Date: Sunday, August 31, 2008 09:05 AM

Satellite phones - I like the look of the Globalstar GSP 1700(~$1000) for size, weight and ability to text message and email as well as talk but Marta's comments about problems with reception make me question Globalstar. Globalstar say they are putting up new satellites late this fall but who knows.
The Iridium 9505A looks most likely for now. Marta - Is that what you and Chester have?

The Euro's are way ahead as the Thuraya phones like the Thuraya SO-2510 (130g) looks like a cell phone and the 2520 is a smart phone that will use the cell phone(GSM) network or the satellite and also GPS all in a small phone. Unfortunately they do not work here in Canada.

A good comparison site at http://www.networkinv.com/index.php?id=416



bill.kerr@shaw.ca
http://www.billkerr.ca

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (27 of 28)
Author: Jp S
Date: Monday, September 01, 2008 08:25 PM

I echo the comment on globalstar being unreliable. We had the Edmonton ACC sat phone in the Tonquin and they use globalstar. We used it a few times to get weather forecasts.

It took a long time to get a signal. Sometimes we simply gave up (after 30-60 minutes) and tried a couple hours later - definitely not what you want in an emergency.

jp

Topic: Accident on Mount Bell (28 of 28)
Author: Marta Wojnarowska
Date: Friday, September 05, 2008 08:17 PM

Yes we have Iridium 9505A. It works very well.

We also have GSP 1700 - the new smallest, lightest Globalstar.
It has a red colour, and is indeed lighter, and smaller than Iridium. Too bad it does not do what it is supposed to do.
We were quite upset with Globalstar when we learned that this is not the fault of GSP 1700. I would not count on the replacement satellites until they are in orbit, and there is proof that they function.

Sat phone services are expensive. For Iridium we are paying about $30/month on a special trade in deal + $1.50/minute.