11/14/2013

A Climbing Accident That Hurt One and Touched Many

Every climbing area has their cast of characters. The hardman, the activist, the cheerleader, the coach, the socialite, the new-routers', etc. While there can be some overlap, rarely are all combined into one person. Luckily for the Wasatch, we have one such amazing person. Shingo Ohkawa.



The man, the myth, the legend…an overused and jokingly applied phrase but aptly appropriate with Shingo. Many have met him, more know of him, and others just heard rumors about the guy who just passed all the parties heading up to the crags as he runs down the trail on his way to work having just put up another new line before most have left their beds in the morning.

One of the founders of the No Star Tuesdays--a loosely organized outing into the canyons to re-discover those overlooked gems--Shingo has been the center in revitalizing exploration in Little Cottonwood Canyon and the surrounding areas and the first to fire up the grill to serve dogs and brats to weary climbers in the parking lot at the end of the night.

Photo by Zac Robinson
A staple at climbing fests across the US, Shingo has inspired many to take their climbing further and always has time to congratulate someone for their climbing accomplishment no matter how big or small.

Author of countless new routes in the Wasatch, Ohkawa has created a tick list of classics for many generations to come.

Earlier this week, in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Shingo was involved in an accident while climbing.  Battered, bruised, and broken, Shingo will live to climb another day.  That day may be 6-8 weeks away, but we cannot wait to share a rope with him again in Little Cottonwood.

Our good friend Andrew Burr summed up the accident quite objectively, “Unfortunately there is nothing new to learn from this accident. There is no blame to give. It's something that we all have learned on numerous near death experiences - time and time again - check your knot, your partners knot, and put a knot in the end of your rope.”  There is absolutely no doubt that Shingo’s helmet saved his life this week.

Photo by Zac Robinson
The climbing community rallied together to help cover the inevitable costs of his insurance deductible and they are not currently accepting more donations.  If you have a real bleeding heart and want to contribute, here's how:

Get a helmet.  If you already own one, buy one for your stubborn friend who claims they are too expensive.  Get one and carry the extra to the crag to give to that young kid who just started climbing and is flashing all your projects.

Wear a helmet.  We are excited to again be in the mountains and to see Shingo’s smile from underneath a brand new helmet soon.


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