Rescue from Macquarie Pass Rivulet

Sharing details when things go wrong to make canyoning safer.
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Ikey
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Joined: 20 Jan 2021, 12:27
Full name: Ikey D-S
City: Wollongong
State: New South Wales

Rescue from Macquarie Pass Rivulet

Post by Ikey » 11 Mar 2021, 12:14

Over the weekend, rescue crews were called to Macquarie pass to retrieve an injured canyoner.

From the SES:
"CANYONER RESCUED AT MACQUARIE PASS
A man was rescued from the Macquarie Pass canyon this afternoon after injuring his arm. The man had abseiled down a cliff in the canyon and was moving over a rocky area when he slipped, injuring his arm.
NSW SES volunteers set up roping systems, and after the man was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics, he was hauled up a cliff and carried out of the canyon to safety."

It happened early in the canyon, about 15 min in, and the amount of pain made him unable to scramble out. Unlike what the media reported, the injury didn't happen on an abseil, he was just standing on a rock, turned around and slipped, falling badly on his arm. He fractured his distal humorous bone.

Within 90 minutes the rescue teams had arrived. They administered First Aid, rigged a 5:1 haul and then carried/hauled him out in a SKED.

As someone who has done that canyon a LOT, there are a couple of things here that I think are worth thinking about.
1. He didn't injure himself on rope, on a rock jump, or even on a scramble. A slippery rock was enough.

2. The effect of pain from the injury on his mobility. After morphine and the green whistle he was in enough pain that walking up the scramble would be difficult and dangerous. Even moving him 1m for easier access for first aid was difficult and he needed to be lifted.

My immediate response to hearing about this was wanting to learn as much as possible in order to make it safer when I do the trip. I frequently take beginners through there and am constantly assessing ways to make it safer and more enjoyable for everyone. Other than the, in my opinion not quite good enough, response to 'be careful,' I am struggling to think of ways that this could be avoided. It is notable that this canyon is quite popular, so with the number of people going through it in inevitable that some form of injury will take place but I am reluctant to just put it down to that there are just some inherent hazards in canyoning.

Thoughts?

Bojack Horseman
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Full name: Michael Larkin
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Re: Rescue from Macquarie Pass Rivulet

Post by Bojack Horseman » 11 Mar 2021, 18:14

I too have been down that canyon a few times. Struggling like you to actually think of anything beyond be more careful in that regard. I guess the overall question here is if we were to magically head back in time before he did the canyon what advice beyond be more careful could you give.

Possibly better footwear? Hard to tell since I don't know what he wore into the canyon. Additionally I know even with Bestards some of the rocks in Mac Pass with the moss and water can be slippery as hell.

Awareness of that last fact? Thats something that probably only experience in the actual canyon can help with.


Its a damn difficult one

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T2
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Full name: Tim Vollmer
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Re: Rescue from Macquarie Pass Rivulet

Post by T2 » 12 Mar 2021, 12:21

People are notoriously bad at accurately assessing risks, not just in canyons.

I find that many people -- particularly those newer to canyoning -- think the ropework is the dangerous part. The fact is, accidents on rope are extremely rare. Most injuries occur during the 95% of the time that we're not on rope.

Slips and falls are by far the most common injuries. The risk of these usually increases as the day goes on. When people are cold, fatigued, or rushing because it's getting late / dark they are more likely to make mistakes.

Learning how to safely move through canyons is a skill that is developed over time.

Good shoes help, but they aren't magical. Knowing how to move across slippery, uneven terrain is more valuable. An experienced canyoner in crappy shoes will be more stable than a beginner in great shoes. But a beginner in good shoes will be a lot safer than one in crappy joggers.

The risk of slips and falls can't be removed from canyoning. Making sure people are briefed on those risks before going in, and keeping a close eye on less experienced people, can help mitigate that risk. Making sure people have the right gear also helps. And the big one is to keep groups small, start early, make sure you have lots of time and daylight. If you can keep people warm, and avoid fatigue, you'll reduce the risk of all forms of accidents.

Bojack Horseman
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Re: Rescue from Macquarie Pass Rivulet

Post by Bojack Horseman » 12 Mar 2021, 14:22

THumbs up to that one T2

Ganguddy Goodoo
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Full name: Steven Halpin
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Re: Rescue from Macquarie Pass Rivulet

Post by Ganguddy Goodoo » 24 Mar 2021, 10:52

Really feel for the bloke who had the accident. Canyons are a really sh!t place to break a bone. Shoutout to the SES crew and ambos.

Agree slips and falls are an occupational hazard. In canyons like Macquarie Rivulet (and Kanangra/Bungonia) you have to be super careful on slippery ground even when you are well back from some of the waterfalls/drops. I know it is not a canyon but those tragic accidents at Eurobin Falls (Mt Buffallo) are case in point

Jakub
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Re: Rescue from Macquarie Pass Rivulet

Post by Jakub » 06 Apr 2021, 09:33

Have also done that canyon a few times and it certainly has some slippery points to it.
I think new people seriously miss judge just how slipper it can get (not just this canyon) because they don't have a reference.
Everything is made very safe in our daily lives and you don't often come across hazards like this.
Just words 'be careful, it's slippery' may not be enough because that experience just isn't there.
We see 'slippery when wet signs' everywhere and can get so desensitised.

You almost have to find a very slippery rock section in a safe place and safely let people actually feel out just how slippery it can be, literally like ice.
Help build their understanding and respect for this type of terrain in a slow and safe way.

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