Record-Breaking Free Climber Dies Falling 600 Feet In Mexico
A record-breaking free climber has died after falling more than 600 feet during a climb in Mexico.
Brad Gobright, 31, had been abseiling down a cliff face in El Portero Chico alongside fellow climber Aidan Jacobson, 26, when they lost their grip.
Jacobson fortunately survived after his fall was broken by a bush, escaping with just an ankle injury. However, Gobright tragically lost his life.
Gobright and Jacobson had been attempting to scale a route called El Sendero Luminoso, a 2,500-foot rock climb known to be among the toughest routes in the region.
They had been using a technique known as simul-abseiling, where two climbers descend using opposite strands of a rope while acting as each other’s counterweights.
As reported by Outside magazine, the two men hadn’t tied ‘stopper knots’ at the ends of their ropes, a measure that may have proven life-saving.
Nearly all rappelling deaths are due to climbers failing to tie stopper knots, with many reportedly abstaining from tying stopper knots as they can lead to ropes getting stuck.
Jacobson explained they hadn’t pulled their rope to its midpoint, saying: ‘Since it was such a short rap, we figured we’d be fine with an 80-meter rope.’
His side had been touching down on the ledge while Gobright’s side became tangled up in a bush towards to the side.
Jacobson told Outside:
I asked if we were good, and he said, ‘Yes, we can untangle the rope on the way down.’
We didn’t tie knots in the rope, either. We started rapping. I was a bit above him. I was on the left. He was on the right. Then all of a sudden, I felt a pop, and we started dropping.
It was basically a blur.
He screamed. I screamed. I went through some vegetation, and then all I remember is seeing his blue Gramicci shirt bounce over the edge…
Tributes have poured in for Gobright, who is said to have been one of the most accomplished climbers in America.
Fellow professional climber Alex Honnold wrote:
I’m so sorry to hear that @bradgobright just died in a climbing accident. He was such a warm, kind soul – one of a handful of partners that I always loved spending a day with.
I suppose there’s something to be said about being safe out there and the inherent risks in climbing but I don’t really care about that right now.
I’m just sad for Brad and his family. And for all of us who were so positively affected by his life. So crushing. Brad was a real gem of a man. For all his strengths and weaknesses (like his insanely strong fingers, or living out of a Honda Civic…) at the core he was just a good guy.
I guess there’s nothing really to say. I’m sad. The climbing world lost a true light. Rest in peace…
Our thoughts are with the family of Brad Gobright at this difficult time.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.