Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Accident, Videos and Others Internet Finds

My quest to troll the Internet for memorable stories about Camelback continues:

Clint McHale

I found an accident in May to be particularly troubling. It was hard to tell why the guy decided to climb, why he got himself into his predicament and why he fell. The rest was history -- I shouldn't have, but I did listen to the 911 call on one of the TV news sites. Horrible. The victim's distraught sister turned to activism: she wants the public to better understand that hiking and/or climbing can be dangerous.

I agree with her completely, and that's one of the reasons I enjoy those activities. Hiking and exploring Camelback sure beats stomping a treadmill at the gym in front of a TV screen. While it's riskier to venture out of one's home or other "controlled environments," the rewards are well worth the gamble. Not that it's much of a gamble, as long as you keep your head.

Having already injured a heel, elbow and knee, I don't need any more broken bones or severed ligaments. Making a fatal mistake -- yikes, that's gotta be out of the question. But I do take some risks at Camelback, and feel the better for it.

Why do people exceed their limits on Camelback in such an extreme way? Perhaps it's the ultra-urban location, right in the middle of the metro area, as accessible as a major museum would be in Boston or D.C. Still, climbing into the unknown at Camelback with no equipment, not even rock shoes? Camelback climbing requires the utmost caution, with extra attention paid to the rock conditions and route-finding. Only the victim and the survivor know for sure what went wrong.

I asked Adele, the NT fellow I took rock-climbing last month, if she wanted to write up something for Valley Fever based on the police report that had just been released. Here's what she wrote. The report, which I got back from her, has the GPS coordinates of the accident site, so I've been thinking about going there to scope the place out and see if it's a recognized climbing area.

360 View of Trailhead Area

I played with this for more than a few minutes. The picture quality is outstanding and I like how you can sweep up or down.

Iron Legs

The following video has some fairly ballsey stunts, including running down the slickrock section about halfway up the Echo Canyon side.

Cough, Cough

In this next video, a couple of dudes toke up on the Bobby's Rock trail, just east of Bobby's Rock over a saddle. Nice few of Phoenix from that spot. Judging by the insane amount of hacking these guys do, this is either the best or the worst dope they could be smoking. "If we fall here, we could die," one of them says.

Leaps of Faith

This was one of two videos I found featuring BASE jumping off a wall in Camelback. Seems almost suicidal to me. Too much could go wrong.

FYI, these jumps are from the big wall just south of Bobby's Rock, and they land in front of Bobby's Rock. Karabin's fold-out guide describes the BASE-jumpers launch zone as a "Huge 300' foot wall." I think it's much bigger, possibly in excess of 500 feet, which is considered a minimum safe height by most BASE jumpers.

Karabin's guide also notes a Karabin first ascent on the wall called Three-Star Nightmare, (also seen on, which he only gives two stars.

Subject: Camelback

The level of detail in the next video gets a bit mind-numbing, but I liked Mr. Bennett's amateur videography and his glowing review of the hike. He thought it was at least twice, if not three or four times as challenging as Piestewa Peak. I don't agree with that and would say it's more like 15-25 percent tougher, having many times hiked both in the same week. Echo Canyon has a few sections that are steeper than anything on Piestewa, while Cholla presents scrambling opportunities near the top that Piestewa doesn't offer until it's final thirty feet. Bennett's Thailand interlude is mildly entertaining.

1.27 Miles - My Hike Up Camelback Mountain from David Michael Bennett on Vimeo.

Tough Hike

This one is so-so, with a guy who claims to be afraid of heights hiking Cholla Trail. One thing I found amusing -- at the end the main guy shows off his Vibram Five-Finger shoes and confesses that wearing them wasn't a good idea.

The video appears to be a promotion for a T-shirt company. I'm leaving this one on here for one reason only: To let you know these guys suck. I gave them money for a T-shirt but they didn't send it or respond to e-mails.

1 comment:

Chelsey said...

Hi, I came across your blog while researching blogs in relation to hiking and Camelback. My brother, Clint McHale died in a fall as you know. And I am working with Camelback in helping to prevent deaths like my brother's as you know as well. This is still ongoing and a sign to help raise awareness about the dangers of going off trail will be up in the next several months. I'm trying to get as much knowledge as I can about hiking and people who have had an accident on Camelback. So I'm not really sure how you can help me but you seem to know a lot about hiking areas and different trails and maybe you can give me some information about being an avid hiker, the challenges you want to do, and the "dangerous" spots where curosity arises. If interested, you can e-mail me at

Thank you