Simon Carter's Onsight Photography http://www.onsight.com.au Where Climbing and Photography Meet Sun, 01 Mar 2015 07:34:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Alex Ling’s 28 meter ground fallhttp://www.onsight.com.au/2015/03/groundfall/ http://www.onsight.com.au/2015/03/groundfall/#comments Sun, 01 Mar 2015 06:55:52 +0000 http://www.onsight.com.au/?p=4315 When Alex Ling fell from the top of the cliff at Mount Piddington he thought he was going to die. He fell 28 meters — unchecked — and he slammed into the ground. This is the story of Alex’s accident and how he managed to survive it – without breaking a single bone. It comes from my conversation with Alex when I visited him at home four days after the accident.

Pffft. Make him walk.

Pffft. Make him walk.

It was Saturday 10th of January. Dr Alex Ling (he is a 36 year old university lecturer) and his partner were climbing at Mount Piddington in the Blue Mountains; clocking up some “trad mileage” for an upcoming trip. Alex is an experienced and proficient climber. For the first route of the day Alex led and his partner followed the 28 meter Psychopath (17), they abseiled back down, then they both climbed Eternity (17) and abseiled back down again. Then they had lunch. During lunch they formulated a plan. Alex was keen to head around the corner and have a go at onsighting The Janicepts (21), but first, before they left the area, they decided that Alex would lead Psychopath again, and this time set up a top-rope so that he could belay from below and watch his partner climb the route and perhaps offer her some tips on jamming technique.

So Alex lead the 28 meter Psychopath again, for the second time that day. He placed approximately ten runners. When he got to the top he realised that it would take several minutes to set up a belay and he yelled out “safe”. His patner responded by yelling out “off-belay” and she took Alex off belay. The anchors at the top were two bolts set high a few meters back from the cliff edge. Alex had to extend the bolts with several quick draws so that there would not be too much rope drag over the edge of the cliff. Alex spent several minutes on top setting up the anchor until was happy that the rope would run through the anchor OK. He then moved back towards the cliff edge whilst holding his end of the rope (end that went to anchor, not the end that went through the anchor to the ground). Now Alex’s memory of events is not entirely clear;  it’s not entirely clear if in spending a few minutes setting up the belay he had forgotten, or maybe not fully realised, or if he had even heard, that he had been taken off belay. But in any case, as moved towards the cliff edge it seems that his intention was not be lowered down immediately; it seems that initially he was just intending to communicate with his partner. But despite extending the anchor there was still some rope drag because the rope that Alex was holding was giving a fair amount of resistance. But then the tension suddenly released. So perhaps it wasn’t just rope drag, maybe the rope was caught around something and it suddenly released. This caused Alex to lose his balance — and he fell over the edge of the 28 meter high cliff. In a moment he realised that he was not going to stop, that in fact he was going to hit the ground, and, naturally, assumed that he was going to die.

The rope from Alex went up through the top belay and down through the ten runners however the friction would have done nothing (significant) to slow the fall. It may, however, have possibly have orientated Alex as he fell, because he impacted the ground back first. The fall was over in an instant. Alex smashed into the ground and he was dead. Oh wait, sorry, in fact that last bit is wrong. He wasn’t dead, he was in pain but he was very much alive. What happened is, as Alex impacted the ground he actually impacted into the exposed root protruding from a very large gum tree, growing near the base of the cliff. You can see the tree in the background in the photo below (the root is out of shot but extends to the right).

The tree that Alex impacted is in the backgound.

The tree that Alex impacted is in the background.

As Alex impacted the ground maybe an angel intervened but, what we are fairly sure of, is that Alex impacted the tree root across his shoulder blades, whilst simultaneously his hip, leg and heels hit the ground. The angle was such that it somehow span him around the tree and down onto a narrow ledge one meter below the tree. You can see where the tree root impacted Alex’s back in this photo below.

Besides the grazing and bruising do you notice anything?

Besides the grazing and bruising do you notice anything? Yes, he’s built like a brick sh$t house, and he bounces off trees and rock and things…

A nurse who was climbing nearby and other climbers provided initial first aid while a rescue was mounted. Ambulance and police rescue squads attended and Alex asked me to pass on his thanks and gratitude to the amazing job done by all involved. He was flown by helicopter to Liverpool Hospital Trauma Unit where, after numerous scans and x-rays, it was eventually determined that Alex had not broken one single bone. Not one. He did cop a gash to the back of his head that required four stiches and there was severe bruising to his hip, leg and heels. He was released from hospital after only three nights.

Six weeks have passed since the accident and some of the bruising in Alex’s legs is yet to subside, and an infection in his ankle is yet to clear, but ya’ know, he’s on the mend!

I’ve reported on accidents before and I’m very happy that this time the outcome wasn’t tragic, or particularly horrific. You may well call it a miracle. Maybe someone “up there” wanted to keep Dr Alex Ling alive; just maybe he’s destined for great(er) things.

But please, don’t try this at home!

Alex Ling, Shooting the Breeze (22), Windjammer Wall, Point Perpendicular. Back in June 2014.

Alex Ling, Shooting the Breeze (22), Windjammer Wall, Point Perpendicular. Back in June 2014.

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The Pithttp://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/pit/ http://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/pit/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 11:03:03 +0000 http://www.onsight.com.au/?p=4645 Emil Mandyczewsky, Problem Child (27), The Pit, Blue Mountains.

Emil Mandyczewsky, Problem Child (27), The Pit, Blue Mountains.

Climber Emil Mandyczewsky on Problem Child (27), one of the numerous routes that he has established at The Pit, near Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. You may have seen this photo before in my book #RockClimbingDownUnder. Similar to the nearby crag of Elphinstone, The Pit is accessed by abseil and there’s a very steep via ferrata to get out again. It’s a good little crag with 16 routes which are all kinda hard (starting from grade 24). The crag was recently developed and there are still a few closed projects (it goes without saying; please respect those). And I’m pleased to say that all the info has now just been released on-line to the public on www.thecrag.com –> here.

#climbing #rockclimbing #bluemountains #Nikon @nikon_australia @sterlingrope @julboeyewear @thinktankphoto @lasportivagram @lasportivaaustralia

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The Diving Boardhttp://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/the-diving-board/ http://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/the-diving-board/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 20:06:24 +0000 http://www.onsight.com.au/?p=4642

#throwback to one of the most fun trips I’ve ever done. Although there are 2153 “Karsts” (islands) in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay the climbing we saw wasn’t as extensive as you might expect. Nevertheless, cruising out on the boat each day to some of the deep water soloing and roped climbing spots, was about as good as it gets in my book. This deep-water solo is called The Diving Board and I think Lee Cujes @leecujes may be just procrastinating from the mantling the crazy horizontal stalictite and performing the feat from which the route gets it name. #goodtimes #tbt #halongbay #Nikon @nikon_australia @thinktankphoto @julboeyewear

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Slipstreamhttp://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/slipstream/ http://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/slipstream/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 10:17:05 +0000 http://www.onsight.com.au/?p=4634

Some climbers sure love a run-out. Ben Heason @benh1975 calmly cruising Slipstream (E6, 6b), Rainbow Slab, #Llanberis Slate Quarries, Wales, UK. Yep, the last runner is down near the bottom of the frame.
#WorldClimbing #ImagesFromTheEdge
#climbing #rockclimbing #throwback #Nikon @nikon_australia @thinktankphoto

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Superstylinghttp://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/superstyling/ http://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/superstyling/#comments Sat, 14 Feb 2015 14:47:06 +0000 http://www.onsight.com.au/?p=4621

Monique Forestier, Superstyling (25), Point Perpendicular, NSW, Australia.

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Archimedes Principlehttp://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/archimedes-principle/ http://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/archimedes-principle/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 00:22:22 +0000 http://www.onsight.com.au/?p=4612

For a pitch of grade 25 trad, this really is about as good as it gets! Adam Demmert on the ultra-sustained and very pumpy Archimedes Principle, Eureka Wall, in the Grampians. Check out Adams feed at @ademmert
#RockClimbingDownUnder #climbing #rockclimbing #Nikon #nofilter @sterlingrope @lasportivagram @julboeyewear
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Arms Racehttp://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/arms-race/ http://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/arms-race/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 23:04:41 +0000 http://www.onsight.com.au/?p=4604

Three of my favourite things; #colour #climbing #Arapiles! Trent Searcy on Arms Race, a spicey grade 23 on the Pharos, Mt Arapiles. The pic is from my new book Rock Climbing Down Under: Australia Exposed, have you got your copy yet?

#RockClimbingDownUnder #climbing #rockclimbing #climbingphotography #Nikon @sterlingrope @julboeyewear @nikon_australia @thinktankphoto
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The Siege of Thermopylaehttp://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/siege-of-thermopylae/ http://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/siege-of-thermopylae/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 00:54:49 +0000 http://www.onsight.com.au/?p=4580 745 D0672-Edit

#throwbackthursday to #goodtimes on the Greek island of #Kalymnos back in 2009. Evan Stevens is the #earlybird on The Siege of Thermopylae (6c+), sector Spartacus, with Telendos Island in the background.

#WorldClimbingRockOdyssey #climbing #rockclimbing #climbingphotography #Nikon #tbt @sterlingrope @nikon_australia @julboeyewear @thinktankphoto

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Mr Cleanhttp://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/mr-clean/ http://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/mr-clean/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 11:13:58 +0000 http://www.onsight.com.au/?p=4556 One of the most satisfying images I’ve ever made; it took some years from concept to creation. I first visited Devils Tower in Wyoming, USA, in 2003 on assignment and photographed this climb, Mr Clean (5.11a). The result didn’t look much like this and it really got me thinking…. Because, instead of been stuck in the normal abseil position, what I really wanted was to get my camera out in space, out from the cliff, to get a perspective looking in, to really show the incredible formation of the rock. So it took quite some years but this was the climb that inspired me to develop my “photo pole” apparatus. That set up is basically a pole and rigging for getting the camera 8 meters out from the cliff — and a video feed to see what you’re shooting. It also helped that over those years good digital cameras had come along. The rigging is a little tricky but having worked it out at home I returned to #DevilsTower in 2010, met up with Brittany Griffith who was just the woman for the job – an absolutely awesome “model” for this shoot — and despite a bitter wind that tried hard to blow the pole over and smash my #Nikon D3s and 14-24mm lens to smithereens, we got the cloud cover I wanted and we nailed the shot. Thanks again @brittany_griffith you legend! #boomtish #goodtimes
Image from my book World Climbing: Rock Odyssey. @sterlingrope @patagonia @patagoniaaus @blackdiamond @lasportivagram @nikon_australia #climbing #rockclimbing #climbingphotography #adventurephotography @thinktankphoto
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70 meter slack-linehttp://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/70-meter-slack-line/ http://www.onsight.com.au/2015/02/70-meter-slack-line/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 11:08:07 +0000 http://www.onsight.com.au/?p=4330 Just a real quick peek at some recent slack-line, well “high-line”, action in the Blue Mountains, on a 70 meter line! Skills are on the up; see some earlier slack-lining shots here.

Bush walking in the Blue Mountains? Gui Lopes stepping out on the 70m line...

Bush walking in the Blue Mountains? Gui Lopes stepping out on the 70m line…

Joseph Huard walking the walk and nailing the 70 meter "The Fear".

Joseph Huard walking the walk and nailing the 70 meter “The Fear”.

Gui Lopes battling the 70m line of The Fear, which was first established by Shane Yates and Luke Sarantos.

Gui Lopes battling the 70m line of The Fear, which was first established by Shane Yates and Luke Sarantos.

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