Videos from investigations into the causes of the 2006 Western Breach accident
Western Breach, Stone Train: the right side is the wrong side
One of the operations involved in the tragedy suggested re-routing the Western Breach
assault up the right hand side of the Stone Train, so as to be sheltered from rockfall.
In this video clip the director of Team Kilimanjaro acknowledges the reduced risk
of rockfall on this side of the Stone Train, but addresses another serious safety
concern: the risk of inexperienced or tired climbers falling off this highly exposed
section. Team Kilimanjaro subsequently advised the authorities that this route should
not be recommended. Eventually this recommendation has been accepted and the route
does not incorporate this steep and exposed section.
Western Breach: the left side is the right side
Some vague finger waving from the director of Team Kilimanjaro, who - confusingly
- is discussing the proposed route in reverse. The discussion does however make reasonably
clear the strategy that Team Kilimanjaro have applied to minimising exposure to risk
from rock fall on the Western Breach; that of moving up ridge lines in tight zig
zags, and crossing re-entrants quickly and horizontally (as opposed to diagonally,
which is slow and augments exposure time to rockfall risk zones).
Western Breach: close-up view of one of the ridges incorporated into the new route.
Much clearer (and closer) insights into the relative safety of zig-zagging down the
broad ridge immediately left of the Stone Train. This footage is a very necessary
supplement to: 'Western Breach: left side is right side'.
Western Breach: risk-mitigating, re-entrant traverse strategy
A detailed discussion and demonstration of Team Kilimanjaro's proposed method of
minimising time spent exposed to the risk of rock fall. The original route on which
three climbers were killed by rock fall in January 2006, almost entirely disregarded
any risk-mitigation considerations, using broad diagonal sweeps across zones that
are demonstrably exposed to the risk of frequent rock fall. Team Kilimanjaro seeks
always to emphasise that while they are willing to lead climbs up this assault route,
the option should not be considered 'safe'. However scientifically one configures
and times an ascent of the Western Breach, one must still consent to subjecting oneself
to the risk of impact by falling rock. What Team Kilimanjaro's methods claim to do
however, is to minimise exposure to such risks to the lowest possible level. Climbers
must themselves decide whether even such an ameliorated risk level is still acceptable
when there are alternative means of reaching the summit and overnighting in the crater.
Team Kilimanjaro's aim is to endeavour to ensure that climbers have a thorough understanding
of the nature of the significantly elevated risks being undertaken when electing
to use this route, but in the end, to leave the choice with the climber.
Western Breach: explanation of causes of 2006 accident, and refutation of initial
Immediately following the tragic accident of January 2006, reports were circulated
that the source of the rock fall had been rock breaking away from the crater wall
at a site known as Pop To'olo. This video demonstrates the impossibility of this
version of events being true and identifies the real source of the rockfall and the
cause of the accident that impacted fatally clients at 5,245-5,260m, and support
staff at 5,080m.
Western Breach: exact location of second impact
Detailed look at where one of the support staff was impacted during the accident
of 2006, showing many large rocks having come to rest just a few metres below. Debris
from the staff's carried provisions is still evident. Team Kilimanjaro conducted
several investigations at different times of year and in different weather conditions.
On one occasion Frederick Achedo (pictured in this footage) was struck by rock and
injured. The x-ray showed that no fracture was suffered, however. While Team Kilimanjaro
are willing to lead assaults up the Breach, they are at pains to emphasise that the
route should be considered as being subject to significantly elevated objective risk,
with climbers being required to confirm that they understand these risks and nonetheless
wish to proceed with their plans.
Western Breach: close-up of the lower impact site.
An overview of the first rock fall risk zone as one ascends. This is taken at 5,085m
and is the point at which several support staff were impacted. Detritus still remains
Western Breach: safe resting point above lower impact site
This was the third investigation conducted by Team Kilimanjaro, to look at the affect
of wet season conditions on route selection. Accident debris still remains undisturbed
after many weeks.
Western Breach: the lower of the two impact points, continuing rockfall
The rockfall of January 2006 that killed 3 climbers impacted climbers and staff at
two locations. This footage looks downwards onto the lower of the two impact points,