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Todd Skinner Killed
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deltav


Oct 25, 2006, 9:37 AM
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Very sad indeed, my condolences to his family. Unfortunately, I witnessed most of the recovery on Monday afternoon.


hopkinsed


Oct 25, 2006, 10:38 AM
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Yea they said they could still see his belay device and the biner on the fixed rope. That REALLY sucks, a failed harness? Never hear of that these days, I wonder if it was an old model? Nylon loop? Not threaded through the actual waistbelt? I'm an engineer so I hate to hear failure scenarios.


In reply to:
In reply to:
I just had an arguement with a climbing partner about tying off the ends of your rope when rapelling I said you *always* should and she disagreed ... I hear he was descending, I hope he didn't space on the rappell that would really be a downer.

Tim added some new details I was unaware of. All reports I've seen indicated Todd's device and locking biner were still attached to the rope.


jcrew


Oct 25, 2006, 10:57 AM
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when i was in high school, i got a cheap ticket to a slideshow called "salathe wall" or something bya guy i never heard of, Paul somebody.

it was, of course, Paul Pianna's presentation of he and Todd's free effort on El Cap. I came into the show a civilian, and left a climber.

God Bless his soul.

http://www.toddskinner.com/...ry/images/NWT_25.jpg


rocknroll


Oct 25, 2006, 11:08 AM
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I have spent a lot of time with Todd and probably have more video footage of the man than anyone else in the world. Throughout the late eighties and early nineties Todd appeared in many of my films. Moving Over Stone !, Climb, Moving Over Stone 2, Know Limits and Climb International. Todd had a great way of telling a story and that was the element that he brought to those video efforts. For instance (and I know this from memory). "So we hole ourselves up in the wind river mountains of Wyoming and do climbs that are the hardest in the world. And when the going gets tough, we put our hats a little lower, and put our collars up and tough it out. It always isn't going to be easy, but who said climbing was easy."

I remember the hospitality of Amy and Paul and Heidi and how they made it absolutely clear that their house was a no slander zone. Which didn't stop the slander, but made us acutely aware that we ourselves could be the ones that slander is being directed at. For Todd was a controversial figure; all self-promoters are. Although Todd like to say he was one of the best climber's in the world, he wasn't. Even though the magic of television editing makes it look like Todd is doing a red point of those 5.13 routes I filmed him on, he's not. He was a ruthless hang dogger whose on-sight ability in Thailand was about 12 minus (But do realize that is after a month in China where dysentery and low grade sickness is de riguer). I seriously doubted the Salathe Free claim. But then Todd wasn't opposed to setting up a hanging belay anchor right in the middle of a crux move. He's a promoter, the rain man, whatever it takes to get it done. They won't remember each individual move, they'll remember that I completed it.There were far better climbers at the time like Wolfgang Gulich. Todd knew it, he'd even admitted it, but he wouldn't promote it.

Even though he wore zebra-striped Lycra tights with his cowboy hat, he was a true cowboy. We wrote a scene together where a cowboy is riding the range and sees a skirmish in the brush. It doesn't look good. So he dismounts from his horse, draws his Winchester from his saddle and stalks into the woods. BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! A "No Rock Climbing "sign is his victim. This was about the time the Forest Service put their ban on bolts and artificial holds started appearing on climbs at Smith Rock, so Todd's scene ended up on the cutting room floor.

We had our rough spots. I went to Hueco Tanks to film my old college friend John Sherman and Todd and Paul. Vermin felt that Todd was jeopardizing access with some of his shenanigans that he was using to get around Hueco's ban on bolts. John refused to be in the film if Todd was in it. I was hurt, but I understood John's principle. Todd had a way of (and I quote him again) "pushing it just a little further each time where you are riding that fine line between being in control...or death" That quote was in reference to his free-solo of Flake Roof in Hueco. Which caused another controversy. Todd said he couldn't use a critical hold because it was loose. making the climb 5.12 instead of the rating in the guidebook of 11.+. Unfortunately, as the filmmaker, I had to take the shit for that one.

Then there was the time we almost came to blows in China. He had used all my gear on his sport climbing projects on Moonhill. But I wanted to shoot a first ascent of the many spires in the region. Todd thought that it had no place in the film, this was about his sport climbing achievements, not 'mountaineering' up some crumbing cobra infested spire... On the day of the shoot, he masterminded a schedule that left me without gear and a climber to shoot. I stormed up to Moonhill and called Todd out on his sabotage. He had no choice but to pull my ropes off his rehearsal routes. I found an American student in Yangshoo with a minor amount of climbing experience and we set off. But Todd's delays had worked to our disadvantage and we never summitted the formation. That night I accused Todd of deliberate sabotage. His honor was being called into question and he puffed out his chest. "Where I come from, when men have differences they cannot resolve by negotiation, they resolve it by force." I sat in my chair, "Go ahead Todd, hit me." I said calmly. Todd didn't move. I jumped up, tipping over my chair and yelled at him, "C'mon Todd, hit me!" The rabble of hundreds of Chinese voices suddenly stopped as all eyes were now on us. "time to go to Thailand." replied Todd.

I still use his quotes today, "These are the biggest holds you'll ever fall off." or ' Strength will always get you though instead of finesse and grace." his drive and inspiration far exceeded his climbing ability, and that is what made him a great climber. From the Great Canadian Knife to freeing the Salathe and Half-dome, he got at it, and got it done. There are few with the drive and determination to climb as he did and to be sure everyone knew about it.

Todd you died with your boots on. Just as the wind will suddenly stop over the Wyoming prairie, we will feel a sudden stillness in our hearts with your passing.

I'm sure they got some big walls up there heaven. And I bet you could get Galen to photograph it too. It'll be in the next issue of Heaven and Ice.

Mike Strassman


adnix


Oct 25, 2006, 2:36 PM
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In reply to:
Yea they said they could still see his belay device and the biner on the fixed rope. That REALLY sucks, a failed harness? Never hear of that these days, I wonder if it was an old model? Nylon loop? Not threaded through the actual waistbelt? I'm an engineer so I hate to hear failure scenarios.
Or it could be unclipping of a biner, a pilot error, which is quite common. I guess we'll have to wait for a better report.


bobd1953


Oct 25, 2006, 4:15 PM
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Todd...was by far one of the friendly climbers I have ever been around. His big smile is forever in my mind-eye.


reno


Oct 25, 2006, 4:29 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
Yea they said they could still see his belay device and the biner on the fixed rope. That REALLY sucks, a failed harness? Never hear of that these days, I wonder if it was an old model? Nylon loop? Not threaded through the actual waistbelt? I'm an engineer so I hate to hear failure scenarios.
Or it could be unclipping of a biner, a pilot error, which is quite common. I guess we'll have to wait for a better report.

Folks, I'd like to echo adnix's last statement: Let's wait for a full report before we start speculating on the cause of this tragedy. I understand it's in our nature to analyze everything, but for the moment, we might want to just be mournful of the loss of one of us.


therat


Oct 25, 2006, 5:54 PM
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As evidenced by all the posts here... Todd was an inspiration to all. Not surprising. Todd Skinner was a great man.

I remember one night after one of his slide shows, I was fortunate enough to spend time with Todd at a mutual friend's home. He was interested in a unique, lightweight cook stove our friend had designed. Todd ultimately used this design on his often covered ascent of Nameless Tower.

I was fascinated with virtually every word he spoke. This guy was my HERO. But after a while... you could tell... he didn't perceive himself to be any better than anyone else. And it was obvious from the start that he was a man with great character. Kinda like... Superman.

The one thing that I will always remember... how humble he was.

I, too, will crack a cold one for Todd.

And to Amy and all his family... my most heartfealt sympathy.

John Gunnels
Gillette, WY


pyrosis


Oct 25, 2006, 6:40 PM
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Sadly ironic that Rock and Ice writes

In reply to:
...helped put Hueco Tanks on the map, with his numerous hard free ascents including When Legends Die (5.13b), at the time one of America's hardest sport routes.

Although I've never met the man, he's been an inspiration to me since I first saw his pictures in the "How to Rock Climb" book my parents got me for christmas when I was fourteen. His contributions to the sport of climbing and to the lives of those that he has inspired have been enormous, and his passing is a sad moment indeed. My deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.

Tavis


rokklym


Oct 25, 2006, 8:18 PM
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I only got to meet Todd and Amy once, but they sure seemed like some nice people. When we summited Devils Tower, we read what was left of what he wrote in the summit register and I remember it was quite moving. His slideshow of his trip to the Himilaya was awesome and I remember his enthusiasm for the sport.
I got on the net last night and read the headlines. I was in total shock!

My heart goes out to Todds family and friends. Climb on bro.


d_wyoming


Oct 25, 2006, 9:37 PM
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I was fortunate enough to meet Todd just prior to making my first climb at Devils Tower. He was gracious enough to spend a little time with a novice that morning. I had taken some climbing training in order to face my fear of heights. I'll never forget how the confidence he exuded gave me a little extra courage.

All of Wyoming mourns a native son. May the joy he took out of this life comfort his family in the long days to come.


d_wyoming


Oct 25, 2006, 9:39 PM
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addendum...local news story

http://www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2006/10/25/news/wyoming/b96dc6d2fae74a5a87257212000327ef.txt


wallwombat


Oct 25, 2006, 10:14 PM
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This is very sad news indeed. He was an inspirational climber. :(


fuzzbait


Oct 25, 2006, 11:24 PM
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In reply to:
Then there was the time we almost came to blows in China. He had used all my gear on his sport climbing projects on Moonhill. But I wanted to shoot a first ascent of the many spires in the region. Todd thought that it had no place in the film, this was about his sport climbing achievements, not 'mountaineering' up some crumbing cobra infested spire... On the day of the shoot, he masterminded a schedule that left me without gear and a climber to shoot. I stormed up to Moonhill and called Todd out on his sabotage. He had no choice but to pull my ropes off his rehearsal routes. I found an American student in Yangshuo with a minor amount of climbing experience and we set off. But Todd's delays had worked to our disadvantage and we never summitted the formation. That night I accused Todd of deliberate sabotage. His honor was being called into question and he puffed out his chest. "Where I come from, when men have differences they cannot resolve by negotiation, they resolve it by force." I sat in my chair, "Go ahead Todd, hit me." I said calmly. Todd didn't move. I jumped up, tipping over my chair and yelled at him, "C'mon Todd, hit me!" The rabble of hundreds of Chinese voices suddenly stopped as all eyes were now on us. "time to go to Thailand." replied Todd.

Mike Strassman

This is a great story!
If it wasn't for Todd Yangshuo wouldn't have developed into the climbing hot spot it has today and I wouldn't have a home here which allows me to climb full time. (Even met my girlfriend and conceived a daughter here cause of climbing :shock: )

I can totally envision the 2 of you sitting at one of the cafes drinking Tsingdao and the hundreds of Chinese looking on taking pictures of the crazy laoweis.

The climbs on Moonhill are classic and the plaque in place at the base will always remember the pioneer who started the sport climbing scene in Yangshuo.

Joe


jcrew


Oct 25, 2006, 11:41 PM
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I still use his quotes today,

same with my partner and i. whatever the route, after we're done we always say " that has got my vote for the best 5.12 in America, quite poossibily the world"


jimthespider


Oct 26, 2006, 6:23 AM
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So it was the loop on his harness that broke.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/26/CLIMBER.TMP

I always wondered why everyone always said to clip into this when belaying and descending. I have been stopped climbing at the gym by guys who work there and told not to clip into both loops but to clip into the single loop in the front. Why would you ever depend on a single point of failure? I heard people say that that is what the loop is for and clipping or tying into the loop on the waistband and the loop between your legs was bad juju. I feel vindicated now for not listening to all these "experts".

I saw Piana give his slideshow and always looked up to Todd. I have video of him doing one finger pullups! I feel like I have been punched in the stomach. He will be missed.


saxfiend


Oct 26, 2006, 7:00 AM
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This is a very sad loss of a great climber.

In reply to:
I always wondered why everyone always said to clip into this when belaying and descending. I have been stopped climbing at the gym by guys who work there and told not to clip into both loops but to clip into the single loop in the front. Why would you ever depend on a single point of failure? I heard people say that that is what the loop is for and clipping or tying into the loop on the waistband and the loop between your legs was bad juju. I feel vindicated now for not listening to all these "experts".
You've missed the lesson here. This tragedy occurred not because clipping into the belay loop is inherently dangerous, but because Skinner was using a piece of equipment that should have been retired. As many others have pointed out in other threads, a climbing rope is also a "single point of failure." So the real lesson to be learned is to be aware of the condition of your gear and stop using it if it's worn or damaged.

JL


anykineclimb


Oct 26, 2006, 9:24 AM
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I heard people say that that is what the loop is for and clipping or tying into the loop on the waistband and the loop between your legs was bad juju. I feel vindicated now for not listening to all these "experts".

Uh, you're SUPPOSED to tie into both loops!! as for one point of failure, saxfiend is right, we do it all the time on single ropes.

INSPECT YOUR GEAR PEOPLE!!! retire it when it needs to be


overlord


Oct 26, 2006, 9:31 AM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
I heard people say that that is what the loop is for and clipping or tying into the loop on the waistband and the loop between your legs was bad juju. I feel vindicated now for not listening to all these "experts".

Uh, you're SUPPOSED to tie into both loops!! as for one point of failure, saxfiend is right, we do it all the time on single ropes.

INSPECT YOUR GEAR PEOPLE!!! retire it when it needs to be

tie-in points (waist harness and leg loop loop thingys) are for tiing in.

belay loops are for belaying and rappeling. if you use tie-in points, you cuold cross load something. plus, its not very comfy.

an intact belay loop is strong enough not to need redundance. just like a single rope. but if its damaged...


granite_grrl


Oct 26, 2006, 9:45 AM
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I've been thinking about this tragedy for the past few days, and still not sure what to say. It boggles my mind that someone had to die while out doing normal climbing activities. This loss is heatbreaking.

Rest in Peace, Todd.


jonescd


Oct 26, 2006, 10:12 AM
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As a family climber with three generations, my heart goes out to the Skinner family and they should know that Todd was doing nothing less safe than all of the other fathers out there who climb/rappel today.

anykineclimb,

Your argument of rappelling off of the belay loop is valid as the industry standard most recognized today. For that reason I had to teach rappelling for 8 years at a college in a way that I have disagreed with. I have always since the beginning of my climbing been suspect of this standard and have rappelled using a locker through my tie-in points for 20 yrs of climbing for fear of an accident such as Todd's. You do have to me more careful about cross-loading when taking the first step off. Pear biners with the narrow end toward the harness are much less likely to crossload -- if you watch them before weighting the rope - if you are really concerned about crossloading you can use a steel locker that is still strong when crossloaded - although the extra weight in this situation would not have been practical. I wish this industry standard would change as when I was old schooled the standard was to never trust one piece of equipment in any given situation when a choice is presented (I used to even use double lockers with opposing gates for rappelling). A belay loop is a single piece of equipment and I have often seen the stitching come loose on my belay loop after abrasions from chimney climbing and from general wear from the rope (even on a newer harness - especially Petzl harnesses rather than my older Misty Mtn harnesses which used to have bullet threading ). I think we should all rethink this industry standard as a token to Todd and his family - maybe separate double belay loops could be considered. I climbed a couple of times with Paul Piana in Knoxville in my beginning years of climbing and was greatly inspired by their free climb of El Cap and slide show. If Todd was anything as safe as Paul which I imagine he was, I would bet he was one of the most safety conscious climbers in existence and my first thought upon hearing this story was that there was loop failure and no oversight. I somehow feel that someone as safety experienced as Todd Skinner would want us all to learn from this accident rather than think of it as his fate or just the risk that we run in climbing.


Partner brent_e


Oct 26, 2006, 11:04 AM
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my thoughts go out to his family and friends.

it's sad to lose any member of the community.



Brent


knudenoggin


Oct 26, 2006, 11:20 AM
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In reply to:
belay loops are for belaying and rappeling. ...
an intact belay loop is strong enough not to need redundance.
just like a single rope. but if its damaged...

But, my, quite some damage!!? With that broken rope in the fall test in the gym,
at least the material was loaded rather severely--at the point of the 'biner,
and with a fall--and weakened by acid damage; but here we have material parting
at roughly body weight!
Here's an article excerpt:
In reply to:
"It's really affecting the climbing community because harness failure is pretty unusual -- it is not supposed to happen," said Ken Yager, president and founder of Yosemite Climbing Association. "It's gotten people thinking about their old harnesses now. I know I'm going to go out and buy a new one."

The part that broke, called the belay loop, is designed to be the strongest part of the climbing harness, but Hewett, 34, said Skinner's harness was old.

"It was actually very worn," Hewett said. "I'd noted it a few days before, and he was aware it was something to be concerned about." Friends of Skinner said he had ordered several new harnesses but they hadn't yet arrived in the mail.

On Monday's climb, Hewitt said the belay loop snapped while Skinner was hanging in midair underneath an overhanging ledge.

"I knew exactly what had happened right when it happened," he said. "It was just disbelief. It was too surreal." Stunned and in shock after watching his friend fall, he checked his equipment. "I wanted to make sure that what had caused the accident wasn't going to happen to me," he said. "I then went down as quick as I could."

Hewett said he knew there was no hope. A search-and-rescue team found Skinner's body, wearing the harness with the broken belay loop, about 4 p.m. Monday on the rocks near Bridalveil Falls.

I hope that some close analysis of this broken loop is made: was perhaps heat
from the metal or rope abrasion the cause (perhaps even from a prior use),
or any chemical damage? Recall that even old climbing ropes are claimed by the
UIAA to withstand at least one severe (UIAA test) fall. And ratty old rap slings culled
and tested by various folks (Moyer, SterlingJim) at their worst have not been
so bad as this belay loop seems to have been. It just seems a bit beyond the
pale for there to have been *normal* wear&tear damage to such a degree
of weakening that would pass any muster for use.

Very sad news, indeed--tragic.

*knudeNoggin*


tradmanclimbs


Oct 26, 2006, 12:35 PM
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You guys seem to be forgetting that the belay loop catches all the leader falls. that harnes may have caught hundreds of leader falls.It also could have been severly abraded and being old exposed to lots of sunlight?


andrewd


Oct 26, 2006, 1:31 PM
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:( this is very sad and scary at the same time.

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