Winter safety: a scary point of view

Posted by Alex Messenger on 08/03/2013
A scary point of view: still from the helmet-cam.

In late February, Mark R was soloing Parsley Fern Lefthand Gully when he was knocked off by a chunk of falling ice. The result was a terrifying slide down the gully – all captured by his helmet-cam. Watch the footage and read our interview with Mark to find out what went wrong.

People have always had accidents in the hills. But now, people are having accidents with their head-cams still running. This is giving rise to a whole new genre: point-of-view incident footage.

Mark was knocked off Parsley Fern Lefthand Gully (grade II) by a chunk of falling ice at the end of February, and subsequently rescued by Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team – in a stunning 30 minutes after the incident.

During the rescue, the team noticed he was wearing a helmet-cam, and afterwards he offered the footage to the team, and the BMC, to help others understand just how accidents can happen. Sharing such an intense and personal experience online is pretty brave, but Mark felt other climbers might learn from his experience.

Mark, 47, is a lifelong climber, and is currently keen on winter mountaineering, primarily in Snowdonia. His job, rather ironically, is a safety consultant. “You have to laugh sometimes,” he told us, “but, seriously, even with experience of risk assessment and making decisions, sometimes things just happen. When it all happens so quickly, you just try not panic and hope there’s some luck with you,” he explained.

So thanks to Mark for sharing the film, and read the interview below about the context for this extraordinary footage.

WATCH: Parsley Fern slide on BMC TV

Read our interview:

This is an incredible – and scary video – when did it happen?
This video was recorded on my headcam on Sunday 24 February 2013, not too long after we’d stopped for a bite of lunch.

What route were you on? Were you alone?
The incident occurred in Parsley Fern LH Gully. I chose not to climb alone for safety and the camaraderie of other people. There were three in our party and we ascended Sargeant’s Gully, with a further four taking an alternative route. I wasn’t climbing with my usual partner, who didn’t make it out for this weekend. Our party of three progressed up the gully and sometimes the gap between us was bigger than I’m used to. The second two of us made it to the more vertical and ice covered step, where I waited a little distance below.

Where did the falling ice come from?
The guy in our group above me was trying to get good axe placement. I’d already felt some smaller bits come down and was keeping a watch above me. Then it happened: a sizeable chunk of solid ice flew straight down towards my head. I had little time to respond.

What was going through your mind as you fell?
“Oh shit,” was probably my thought, but the speed at which events took hold meant I knew it was going to go some distance. There was no feeling of panic, more a concerted effort to protect my head and neck and be aware of what was below me, where I was heading and what I could do to slow and stop myself before I got to the more serious rocky outcrops.

Did you try and self-arrest?
Even though I’d been practising self arrest earlier in the month, the angle of this slope was much greater, and very little time was left to respond quickly enough before I was taking some bounces.

I don’t know what happened to the better axe (heavier head and sharp pick) in my right hand, as it didn’t appear in the video once the fall started. I must have had the other axe knocked out of my hand and it can be seen in the upper part of the fall.

Once both axes were gone, it was arms, hands, legs and feet in the less consolidated snow on the slope to try and slow my speed. Fortunately I slid into a rocky outcrop on my left with a bit of a thump, which took some of the momentum out of my decent, resulting in a bit of a spin, but I could still look for opportunities below for a point to stop. It finished with a drop onto a bit of a ledge or hole where my pack and crampons took enough hold to stop me.

What happened after you stopped sliding?
I was a little dazed but, critically, not unconscious. Interestingly, I had the foresight to check the cam was still attached and just hoped the vid had recorded that: it wasn’t one for repeating! Time seemed a little different. I knew I’d lost my glasses somewhere but I could see movement of someone below and gave them the thumbs up to show I was conscious and not too badly injured. I already knew there was some damage to my ankles which were fairly painful if they were moved.

How were the mountain rescue alerted?
Our other party had seen the incident and made best efforts to get to a point where they could get out a call on a mobile. I’m not sure of all the details since it soon became apparent that there were already MRT members in the area.

How long did they take to get to you?
It seemed pretty quickly to me. Everything was under control and I was more securely fixed to the ground and being kept warm. The doctor lowered in and was there checking for neck and spinal injuries, asking the relevant questions and giving me a few painkillers to take some of the sting out of my bruises and breaks.

From my perspective, I don’t think there is anything the MRT didn’t do which they could have and that just shows how good they are. The helicopter was there, creating a tremendous downdraft. I was supported by two harness loops, and then it was lift off to Bangor.

How are you doing now?
Annoyingly immobile and bruised, but mentally fine. I’m getting used to injecting myself with blood-thinning drugs to prevent clots forming, and planning how to get my fitness back once the bones have healed and the cast and support come off.

If you had the day again, would you have done anything differently?
This is a difficult question. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I think I’d have preferred to have my technical axes rather than walking axes on the steeper harder ground. The other reason for this is that the blue axe had been borrowed on the day and seemed quite light and didn’t give me as solid a placement in the ice as my sharp steel-headed heavy axe.

If I’d have been with my usual partner, we’d likely have discussed the route and options more, perhaps used a rope if we had one or opted for the easier right-hand variant. If everything had gone well on the day then it’s unlikely there would have been much I’d have done differently.

Perhaps I should have taken a moment to cut more of a step to stand on while I waited for the guy to get up the section above me. Mind you, I might not have even seen the ice coming towards me which may have caused even more of a problem. It’s all about decisions at the time.


Elfyn Jones, BMC & Conservation Officer for Wales and member of the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, commented:

“I think the key message here is that accidents do happen, but that Mark was well equipped, wearing a helmet, and that probably saved his life.

The other climbers in the area did exactly the right thing. His friend dialled 999 and asked for the police as soon as they saw the fall, and he was lucky in that two members of the mountain rescue were climbing nearby.

The team got to him within 30 minutes. Of course, we always try to be fast, but this time we were quicker than usual! The team had just finished a training exercise in Llanberis when the call came through and the helicopter was just about to head off on a training mission.

It’s just a shame his head-cam ran out of battery before he was winched into the helicopter!”

More information

For information on how to climb more safely on Snowdon, and to learn more about the work of the volunteers of the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, visit www.llanberismountainrescue.co.uk/

Winter guidance from BMC

 


 



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1) Anonymous User
08/03/2013
Ouch! Glad you're on the mend!
Recommended reading for everyone: http://willgadd.com/category/blog/
2) Anonymous User
08/03/2013
Ooo...ouch! You seemed remarkably calm and matter of fact with your comment after you had stopped sliding but I guess that was shock? What bones did you break? I think videoing people watching your video would also be a fascinating video too!
3) Anonymous User
08/03/2013
My name is Graham Davies and was with my climbing partner Tom Bancroft ,as we witnessed Mark fall, We got to Mark in about five mins ,Made him safe and carried out obb's, Mark's club mate Martin was with us within a few mins,We had no phone signal so gave six of the best on the whistle, Tom and Martin stayed with Mark to continue with obb's and moral support. While I soloed up Parsley Fern Left hand to rule out any other casualty's and find his team ,( no joy ) but did find his axe's ,Down climbed and handed them over to Martin ,By that time the Seaking arrived and the rescue got into full motion . Myself , Tom and the LMRT lad's got winched out by a second Seaking , Hope you're doing well Mark ,Would be nice to have a few beer's over this , Take care dude .
4) Anonymous User
08/03/2013
As an IFMGA Mountain Guide from the U.S., it seems obvious that one should not climb ice unroped below others in a gully full of ice as the chance of being hit and injured is always high. This was the crucial error that was somehow not identified in the interview? Brand of axe makes no difference nor does a cut-out stance when you're standing below falling ice.
Seems that none of the "hindsight" identified this obvious error.
5) Anonymous User
08/03/2013
I see a couple errors: standing directly below someone when it's avoidable, self-arrest should have been a relatively simple affair but was complicated by the fact that he wasn't holding either of his tools, and then failed to make an immediate effort to secure them. It's hard to tell from the video, but I don't see the lack of a rope as a major flaw- it just doesn't seem steep enough to be placing gear, and if you were just simul-climbing, you would probably just drag everyone down with you. Self-arrest needs to well practiced and instinctive! Glad he's doing alright.
6) Anonymous User
08/03/2013
thank you for sharing, ...
7) Anonymous User
08/03/2013
This guy is lucky be thank full for that. His poor decision making and lack of experience has showed here. He was clearly out of his depth. He'll learn from this I'm sure well I hope he does. I see this far too often in Northern Corries, please let's learn from this get training and then go have an adventure. It's a great play ground but its waiting to bite you, never forget that. Look well to each step and never take your eye off the prize.
8) Anonymous User
08/03/2013
Glad he is safe, but it would have been useful to point out the necessity of having a rope and probably choosing a better climbing time. Just after lunch is not the best condition for ice and snow climbing
9) Anonymous User
08/03/2013
Hi Mark , I found your first axe about 10 meters below the start of the fall and the blue DMM one about 20 meters below that ,Would you agree that a fine layer of powder on neve increased your slide speed. Such a shame the day went tits up,, everything was in good nick.!
10) Anonymous
09/03/2013
This comment broke the house rules and has been removed
11) Anonymous User
09/03/2013
Hi. Glad to hear you are making a good recovery. Can you tell me what type of head cam you were using please?
12) Anonymous User
09/03/2013
If you're commenting, please remember that Mark is doing the climbing community a real service by sharing this clip which illustrates just how quickly things can go wrong. Analysis is the the idea, but play nice!
13) Anonymous User
09/03/2013
I would have liked to have seen this, just begun winter climbing having moved to Scotland, sadly Vimeo seem to be blocking playback on it now!
14) Anonymous User
09/03/2013
I repeat what the guide said below: never climb a route with ice on it if others are already on it. A classic heuristic trap is to think it must be safe if people are climbing it.
15) Anonymous User
10/03/2013
I'd like to talk about the sustainability of using Vimeo to host this video because I can't see it now, I may use it in my dissertation as an example of having a record of an event that's significant but the format isn't a good way of preserving the record or at least making it accessible.
16) Anonymous User
11/03/2013
Hey great to share the video and analysis of the accident. Everyone in comment thread mentions dangers of soloing etc etc. but isn't the main reason Mark fell down the gulley because he put his hand up to fend off the ice ( which would have broken his hand/fingers had a big piece connected) and as a result slipped and fell down the gulley. Is it not a fair point had he hunkered in fully gripping both axes he could have taken the hit and not fell done the gulley? Accepted practice would be to pull your rucksack up to cover your neck a bit and get in close to the face and take a hit on the lid if needed rather than narrowly avoiding death as he did? But maybe I am missing something here
17) Anonymous User
11/03/2013
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but accidents happen i for one am glad that Mark was ok & if it wasn't for his camera no one would see this clip, i believe the reason it's here is to warn others not so he can be critisised. Well done done Mark!
18) Anonymous User
11/03/2013
Llanberis and the RAF did a good job of getting you off safely.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuOWvEhLfFU
19) Anonymous User
11/03/2013
Fair play for putting the film up but it seems obvious that the accident was largely as a result of poor technique and bad decision making. Spending a day learning some winter climbing skills with a qualified guide or instructor would be a very good idea; it'll probably save your life!
20) Anonymous User
11/03/2013
My main worry is why were the climbers not roped up? No calls of below can be heard either in the footage. Soloing is soloing but as a safety consultant you should know about risk assessment clearly, this needs to be looked at.

Glad to know all okay, but the outcome could of been so much different then you would be calling 22 Squadron; from the valley, and some poor officer would be informing your family. After the unfortunate deaths earlier in the year around Glencoe, lessons need to be learned if not implemented on safety.

When I undertook my mountain leader award; then again my winter training, the emphasis was on safety and am so glad the person concerned knew self arrest.
21) Anonymous User
11/03/2013
Glad your ok.
22) Anonymous User
12/03/2013
A lot of people posting in here saying that the fellow in the video should not be criticised because he is a great fellow for making the video available .I am glad he is luckily okay and I'm sure he is a great guy but sorry but isn't critiquing a learning tool? Potentially off the mark but did he not fall due to 1) standing in a narrow gulley with high potential of falling ice from climbers above 2) due to very poor technique 3) for some reason trying trying to catch?? falling ice and 4) potentially panic? Also a lot of poster saying that soling ice is inherently more dangerous. Yes in a confined space with a lot of parties above you but what do they think of a scenario of soloing an ice fall under seracs in two hours versus climbing it roped in 6 hours? Who is safer the soloist or roped climber, depends on your definition of risk. A more experienced winter climber may not have taken the fall.

Mark
23) Anonymous User
12/03/2013
I do not claim to be an expert mountaineer or climber but apparently most of those who commented on this thread are. Many people have pointed out "errors" and are passing judgement on a climber they do not know. The article says the subject is a lifelong climber and is keen on winter mountaineering. Since I do not know the climber I will have to take the articles word that he is experienced and the fact that the ranger stated the climber was well equipped and wearing a helmet supports that experience. As for the climbers stance in the gully, I do not know how wide the gully was but it did not look wide. Ice climbing gullies in general are not that wide, I doubt the climber had other stance options. It is sad that others have to judge people when an accident like this happens. A piece of ice dislodged and caused the climber to fall. Accidents happen in this sport, it doesnt make the victim a bad climber or inexperienced. You accept the risk, do everything you can at the time to avoid danger and hope it does not happen to you. I think reflecting on situations like this are good for the climbing community and sometimes there is one thing a victim does that causes their accident. In this case, from the information provided, it is hard to pin point the cause. Perhaps a belay but the party chose to climb the route solo, their choice to make and their consequences to accept. Hope the climber makes a speedy recovery and can get out again soon.
24) Anonymous User
12/03/2013
This happened to me a few years ago. Not during mountain climbing, but during a cliff descent to count seal pups for a research project. I lost my footing on the wet grass and started sliding like Mark; unfortunately, then I went over a ledge and started free-falling head first. I had no equipment, no helmet - but thankfully had the instinct to curl in a ball, so when I landed it was my shoulders which took the impact rather than my head! Like Mark says, it happens so fast that "oh shit" is about the only thing going through your mind, the rest is pure instinct to try and survive the situation. The worst thing about it for me was having to climb back up the cliff afterwards! Hope you get well soon Mark, and it doesn't put you off further adventures in the future! @sarahmarley86
25) Anonymous User
12/03/2013
Great account and I am so happy you are on the mend! Thank you for sharing this.
26) Anonymous User
12/03/2013
Glad that you are alive.How many times have we all thought,in hindsight, that we were lucky to get away with a compromising situation?I have been up the left branch a few times and there is always ice flying down from the climbers above.I always shout "below" or "ice".That would be helpful.Advice?Dig your axes in and get your head down.Most of the time it'll bounce over your head.Saying that I got a good crack on the jaw this January.Climbing isn't a science-too many variables.I think that you were brave to release your video and I wish you a speedy recovery.
27) Anonymous User
12/03/2013
Thank you for sharing, my father was an experienced climber too and knew Snowdon inside out - he was coming back down at the same time of year 4 years ago - unfortunately his outcome was not the same - seeing the video and reading what Mark's interview gives people like me (although upsetting) a better understanding too. Get well soon Mark :)
28) Anonymous User
12/03/2013
Don't do an ice route if others are on it?Sargeant's Gully and Parsley Fern are trade routes.You'll never be alone if ice has formed.I was in the Alps this winter and there were three sharing a belay!There's no health and safety-just experience and judgement.I suspect that there will never be enough manuels to cope with the variables.Looks like this chap had good mates.That's gratifying.I'm sure that they will learn together.Heal up,review and venture forth.It's a great life.
29) Anonymous User
12/03/2013
I was surprised to see that Mark wasn't roped up in such steep conditions and with such a potentially long fall below. I see he mentioned this in the report above. -Old but Not Bold Former Climber
30) Anonymous User
12/03/2013
I see this all the time these days folk climbing below other parties on ice routes. It's asking for trouble and no use blaming the folk above as the ice could be rotten they could be inexperienced and you should always expect falling ice in these situations. Glad you are ok and hope that others can learn front this. Get up a few hours earlier or just climb another route with no one on it, then you can say its an accident.
31) Anonymous User
12/03/2013
Glad you survived that as it looks real scary on the video. It happens reall quick and as you said you need a degree of luck on your side once you go. I had a slide of about the same length years ago on an icy slope just after taking the crampons off as I had just reached easier ground and sat down on some rocks for lunch. A gust of wind blew my lunch box over and just out of reach. I stood up, took one step and I was away down the slope like a rocket. All I could do was adopt a star shape to spread the contact area and thankfully I slowed down and stopped just before a bunch of rocks. A lucky escape on my part as I was off the normal walking route and nobody would have seen me slide.

Hope your on the mend and get back out on the hill soon.
32) Anonymous User
13/03/2013
Nobody seems to have asked the more serious question here... was it Flt Lt Wales who came to your rescue? ;-)
Seriously, good post and good advice from the comments, and thanks for sharing. It would seem that a climbers instinct should be to grip both axes tight immediately and tuck into the face. i've learnt that from your experience, and sure many others reading these comments will to.
you're one lucky boy.
33) Anonymous User
13/03/2013
I n the video, I don't think that the slings for the ice axes were around his wrists? Were they?
34) Anonymous User
13/03/2013
Glad Mark is on the mend. It must have been a stong headcam to be stiill working after such a bad fall!!
35) Anonymous User
13/03/2013
Glad your ok.. and thank you for sharing this. Do wish there was a better assessment of actual events. Based on the video, the fall seems to not have been caused by the ice, but by the reaction to the falling ice.
When climber sees the falling ice (looks about the size of his hand) the climber fixates on the ice in attempt to block the ice with his hand. This attempt to block the ice causes:
1. all weight from left hand and axe removed (first point of contact lost).
2. pushes body out off ice and turns thereby quickly shifting weight to the right foot and right hand/axe (which probably causes left crampon point to shift).
3. Sudden outward bodily push combined with a turn and the downward push from impact of the ice/reaction to impact causes the right points of contact to turn outward thereby failing.
--------
36) Anonymous User
13/03/2013
I had exactly the same thing happen to me on Craig yr Ysfa went down the same distance and missed all the boulders at the bottom. Only injury on my head was caused by my own ice axe and an enormous bruise on my backside cause unknown.
Again on Great Gully I had just vacated the belay at the Door Jamb when a large block of ice fell from high on the right wall and splattered exactly where I had been standing.
The biggest ice block truly about the size a car was on Carnedd y Filiast, on the left of Atlantic Slab there is a runnel about 800ft high and it had snow and ice in a large part of it. We went to climb it with ice gear etc but when we got there the sun was lovely so we did the ridge on the right side of the slab. Halfway up a noise like a train made us look up and this block of ice was sliding down the runnel. Had we done that route we would have been smeared over 200ft,
My conclusion would be that ice in Wales is never as cold as in Scotland or the alps and big bits can come down without warning
13/03/2013
Thanks Mark, this footage made me think about my own practice which is what every climber needs to do, all the time.

I soloed that same route this winter so I guess my opinion is as informed as anyone's. That morning there was a party descending the right-hand variation and knocking big lumps of ice down the combined lower half of the route - that's what happens in the UK: too few climbs in condition for too little time. I just kept my eyes open and moved out of the firing line. Even if a body had come down, there was plenty of room in this huge gully to get well out of the way as long as you kept a reasonable level of situational awareness and moved fast through the tight spots. This is a (deservedly) popular route, and falling debris is the price you pay for it.

Where I think you went wrong was in moving into the firing line too soon and staying there too long. All the advice is - and it always worked for me even in fusilades of stonefall in the Alps and New Zealand - when you realise impact is likely: don't look up; suck yourself into the mountain; present the smallest possible target and hold on tight. You broke all three commandments but you survived, and had the guts to share it with the world so we can all learn.

Accidents always begin years before they happen, and you could try to trace the origins of this one, perhaps starting with training, then route choice, starting time, climbing style, team tactics, etc. If you hadn't put up this video, I wonder how many of us would have carried right on forgetting our own near-misses and failed to trace our deficiencies to the root cause?

Climbing is a risky sport, winter climbing more so, and soloing winter routes even more so. I love the experience of long days, fluid movement over semi-technical terrain and the sheer beauty of it all. Is it worth the risk? That's a personal decision, but learning from events like this can help reduce the risk and that has to be a good thing - Thanks Mark.
38) Anonymous User
13/03/2013
love the fact that first thing he checked for after he stopped was that he still had his helmet cam! Hero!
39) Anonymous User
13/03/2013
mmmm. Good on you Mark for putting your film up. A number of thoughts occur. You describe your tools as walking axes. That's not what they look like to me! I can't properly see the one in your right hand but the axe in your left looks a lot like a bent shaft Mountain Technology. You say you should have chopped a ledge. I think that's a bit laborious. Why not just move out of the line of fire? R hand is not through the loop and on seeing the ice block you let go of the L axe while still keeping loop round your hand. Confronted with falling ice I have tried to hide under my helmet and hung onto my tools while pressing myself as close to ice as possible. Rob P.S. Sorry this is anonymous, there does't seem a way to sign without allowing impersonators!
40) Anonymous User
15/03/2013
Wow! I had a similar fall some years back traversing the top of a steep snow/neve slope just at the foot of a vertical section. My foot glanced off some surprise hard ice (surprise because it looked the same as the 200ft or so of neve we'd just come up). A small slip and I was off. The speed with which it happened, and the speed of decent that was very quickly attained ripped the axes from my hands and this vid brings the whole scary helpless decent flooding back. Things happen fast on the cold stuff and it's not always as you practiced on those distant winter skills courses. During my decent I was very conscious and fearful of my crampons embedding themselves in the slope causing me to pivot around them and be catapulted into the air.
I love your very british (understated) landing with ... "that hurt" - considering you got some proper injuries there. I "only" tore my AC Joint (a little) and turned the air a bit blue upon landing.
Good luck with the recovery.
41) Tina Gardner (staff comment)
18/03/2013
If Graham Davies or Tom Bancroft see this mesage please can you contact Tina in the BMC Office tina@thebmc.co.uk. Thank you
42) Anonymous User
18/03/2013
The first time I saw the video on facebook, (not even knowing what its about and before ice was falling) I was thinking to myself: "Why is he waiting direclty underneath the climber above????" That is, I was thinking that is the number 1 mistake. Since their was room to more over to the right or left, this is ice climbing 101.. so I wouldnt blame the falling ice, instead he should have not been direclty underneath since the route allowed it, whether you are belaying or waiting......
43) Anonymous User
19/03/2013
Hi Mark, glad you survived! Its always brave putting up videos like this becuse you know that everybody else knows better than you.

Some posters have suggested soloing winter routes is never wise. Pitching winter routes has its own dangers. Firstly it takes forever. One climber climbs, the other climber climbs, plus there's all that time spent gearing up and trying to place gear on the route - never as quick to get bomb proof gear on winter routes as summer. If you are efficient it will take 3 times as long as soloing for a rope of two, 4 times as long as you were climbing in a three. In the UK this means that the weather might change, you may run out of daylight hours, there's more chance of rocks melting loose, and any rise in temperature can increase avalanche danger on both the route and on the descent. Also you may work up a sweat climbing intensively for 100 metres, then spend hours standing around getting cold. So roping up is not safer...its just the dangers are different, and its a matter of judgement in each individual case as to what is safer. You could of course try moving together, but that takes practice to be done safely, and all members of the party need to be able to climb at the same safe consistent speed, and you still take some time placing runners.

As others have said as soon as it was clear something was falling towards you I would have expected to see the snow slope getting rapidly bigger in the frame as you buried your face and reduced your profile to the minimum possible. Generally falling ice and rocks bounce quite a lot, and will spend very little time in contact with, or close to the ground, so getting in tight to the slope is the best plan. Never look up if you hear somebody shout a warning - its a guaranteed way of getting smashed in the face!

As a tip use some 5mm cord to tie the ice axe wrist loops into your harness. This will need to be long enough to use the axes at full stretch. To avoid the cords getting in the way feed them behind your rucsac chest strap.This means that you can instantly be safe when you stop for a momentary rest. Place your axes firmly a bit more than shoulder width apart, slip out of the wrist loops, unclip the chest strap and step down and the cords will pull tight...instant hassle free belay strong enough to support one person's weight. When you have had a breather step back up, put on wrist loops, clip the cords out of the way and go. An added advantage is that if the axes do get ripped out of your hands they are still attached to you so you can retrieve them to help make yourself safe while awaiting rescue.

Hope you are fit for next winter.
44) Anonymous User
19/03/2013
Whilst hindsight is a wonderful thing, do you think it would have been better to put all your weight on to your axes and get in as close as possible rather than losing a point of contact to deflect the falling ice with your hand? It may have made a deflection off your helmet or body but you would probably have held position? Not a criticism just a discussing point, well done for coming through it and get fit soon!
45) Anonymous User
19/03/2013
Mark, thank you for sharing this video!

As for all the "wouldn't have happened to me" brigade, its very easy to say Mark should've done this, or done that, but you can only work on your split second reactions so much, its called instinct for a reason! I would like to see how any of you would've reacted in the exact same situation.

Even the best, most experienced, people make mistakes, this is a risky sport we all partake in! There is no need to be high and mighty about someone who had an accident and you've been lucky enough never to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
46) Anonymous User
20/03/2013
Classy dude and in fine style. Glad your ok x
47) Anonymous User
20/03/2013
You didn't mention what injuries you had, except to say broken bones and bruises!.
48) Alex Messenger (author comment)
22/03/2013
We have now stopped anonymous comments on the site. If you'd like to comment, please login.
49) Myian
27/03/2013
It is not right to judge, we can only learn from events. Accidents can occur to anyone from beginner to the good and great on easy or difficult ground.
My observations are:
You cannot expect to execute a successful ice axe break on steep ground with two axes one in each hand both attached by their leashes - beware. If anyone knows how to do deal with this situation I would be interested to know. Seems to me that it was a climbing situation where ice axe breaking is not the likely to be useful.
Keeping crampons out of the snow and ice is good in these situations one could easily be catapulted out of the gully with much worse consequences. Hope Mark's recovery is going well.
50) Jim Bacon
05/04/2013
The video appears to be no longer available through this web page but I did find it on youtube. It has annotations which might be offensive to some.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=obmnID6I_ec

51) Anonymous
31/10/2013
This comment broke the house rules and has been removed

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