Forums: Climbing Information: Accident and Incident Analysis: Re: [newrivermike] Accident Kaymoor NRG: Edit Log


Jun 14, 2010, 8:02 AM

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Registered: Feb 23, 2010
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Re: [newrivermike] Accident Kaymoor NRG
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Firstly, I wasn't there. Keep in mind that the only person at the anchor that actually knows what happened was the victim. There is always going to be a certain level of speculation with any accident analysis.

The climber was Karen Feher from Midlothian Va. She climbed to the anchor of Rico Suave and clipped in direct. Her setup: She had two thin dyneema slings girth hitched to her harness. At the end of each sling was a locking carabiner held in place with a rubber Petzl keeper, the kind they put on spirit draws. These are called 'Petzl Strings'. Google search it if you dont' know what I'm talking about.
She clipped a locker to each bolt and probably called off belay. I'm unclear if she was going to rappel or lower. It doesn't matter. She fell to the ground.

The day after the accident a local climber named Craig (last name?) climbed to the anchor and found a locker on each bolt with a Petzl String still affixed to each one. Both Petzl strings were torn on the side.

It is unclear to me if the two slings were still attached to her harness as her harness went with her and EMS but I am assuming this to be true.
OK, how could this happen? This is to me one of the safest setups for cleaning an anchor. My friend Kirk and I toyed around with slings and strings at home and found a scary scenario:

If you loop back over one side of the sling and clip it back through the carabiner it looks like it's OK, kind of. In reality the rubber string is the only thing holding weight.

At the top of Rico is a small ledge to stand on and clean. If you're not fully weighting the system these rubber strings will hold about 15 pounds before breaking. I'm guessing they were able to hold just enough weight to feign security while she untied to feed. Until just enough weight was added to break.
I know this is hard to visualize. It took us about 30 minutes to figure it out. Check out this video for a clear visual:

I don't know how to make it 'clicky'.
Again, there is some level of speculation but with the evidence at hand this seems to be the most likely scenario. Now sure it seems like this could be possible on one side but two?

This is where the tragedy truly lies. The fact that this happened on both slings simultaneously is one in a million. But think about it. We've got 1000's of people climbing in the gorge. People have been climbing here for 35 years and this is the first time someone has died climbing. We build redundency into our systems so that if something like this freak occurence happens on one sling we've got a back up. That's why we clip in to two bolts, with two slings!

If you've been climbing long enough something has happened where you've been like "whoa, that could have been bad" but you had a redundant system in place. Karen did have a redundant system. It seems to me that a freak occurence happened on both slings simultaneously.

Let's learn from this so it doesn't happen again. The lesson: Don't use rubber bands or strings on long runners. If you do, be aware of this situation. If you've got a friend that does, send them the video link.

The reason for this post is to dispell myths about what happened. Hopefully the friends and family of Karen can understand the need to educate climbers about this.

(This post was edited by edge on Jun 14, 2010, 9:17 AM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by edge () on Jun 14, 2010, 9:17 AM

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