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Accident while lowering at City of Rocks
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Partner robdotcalm


Sep 8, 2010, 9:41 AM
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Re: [viciado] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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Thanks to the OP for explaining how the accident happened. It took courage and a desire to help others avoid the same experience. And it has. About a week ago, I was teaching a wide-crack class with two students. At the first climb, one of the students was surprised when I asked him to tie in to belay me explaining that he and his friends never do that. I told him about accidents that have occurred because of the system not being closed. All his previous experience was with sport-type routes. He was bright and a good climber and picked up things quickly. When I saw this posting, I sent him the link for it. This is from his reply, ” You've definitely got me convinced, I'm going to start putting knots at the end of the rope whenever i climb. Those stories are terrifying and its scary to think how easy it could happen.” OP, your story with its immediacy carried more weight than my tales of grief.

Viciado wrote

« What amazes me is that the point was essentially made in the original post and pointed out by others, yet it seems that so many want to re-invent the wheel.

Tie a knot or tie in and be done»

That sums it up, and the comments I’ll be adding are of less importance. If one is not going to follow the route, then tying a knot or tying-in serve the same purpose. If one is going to follow the route, tying-in is the better choice. A friend of mine was climbing an easy route at Joshua Tree with a guy we met at the adjacent campsite. The route contained some traversing. My friend got to the top and anchored in and started pulling up rope. He suddenly realized he had pulled the rope about half way up the climb. He lowered the rope to the ground, but whoever tied in now would be facing a ground fall for the first 20 or 30 feet because the rope was no longer running through the gear in the first part of the traverse. His belayer did not want to follow. The route was easy enough that it was no big deal to “solo” those first 30 feet so we were able to take care of the problem. If the belayer had been tied-in, this would not have happened.

A more serious incident occurred at Lumpy Ridge. The leader arrived at the belay stance at the end of the first long pitch of the route. The belayer thought that the leader was off belay. He was not. The belayer did have a knot in the end of the rope but as he untied the knot (or just after he did) the leader fell, hit the ground and suffered serious injuries. In this case, if the belayer had been tied-in, he would have arrested the fall before the leader grounded as the pitch was over half a rope length.

Four years ago, Fatal Outcome
2 climbers were descending from the Rincon Wall at Eldorado and arrived at a rappel station 40 feet off the ground. They had a 200 foot rope. It was dark and cold. One partner had been lowered to the ground. Once on the ground, he started to lower the other. When the second climber was about 20 feet off the ground, the rope went through the belayer’s device resulting in fatal injuries. These were competent and careful climbers, but the belayer had not realized that his partner had tied in short (not at the end of the rope). No matter how short the distance, when lowering or belaying, the system must be closed. As John Dill, NPS Ranger at Yosemite wrote Desperate Catch :“One reason for a knot even when the rope clearly reaches the ground is to maintain good habits, so you don’t forget …when a knot really counts...” And you do not know when that will be.

Socal wrote: « I cannot stress enough how important it is to close the system when top roping. I don't care if there is 40 feet of excess rope laying on the ground…This is one of my (many) lessons I teach when guiding..close the system… even when there is a an excess of rope on the ground… »

Not all guides are so wise. Last October, I had a day of guided climbing at Yosemite. Near the end of a day that had gone fine, the guide set up a top rope. Before I started to climb, I asked him to tie a knot in the rope. He said it wasn’t necessary as he always knew where the end of the rope was. I ceremoniously tied a big knot in the rope and told him that me feel more comfortable.

Cheers,
Rob.calm


Partner robdotcalm


Sep 8, 2010, 9:55 AM
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Re: [redlude97] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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redlude97 wrote:
having a backup knot is a good idea, but if you get to the point where the backup is into the belay device you are already in for an epic.

This is an interesting point, but it's better to face an epic than to have your partner die.

OK, so the climber falls or is lowered and is some distance off the ground with two scenarios (i) a knot is now jammed into the belay device or (ii) the belayer is held tight by the rope tied into his harness.

Time for some Majid type analyses on the best way to safely resolve the problem.

Cheers,
Rob.calm


jt512


Sep 8, 2010, 10:28 AM
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Re: [tradmanclimbs] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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tradmanclimbs wrote:
The point that what you are supposed to notice or do is not relivent because when accidents happen it is because people don't notice what they were supposed to notice or do what they were supposed to do.


Since it has been proven time and time again that folks have a hard time judging distance and noticing marks on the rope then the obvious solution is to physicaly tie the other end of the rope to the belayer. It is a physical task that can become automatic ( so you don't have to remember it) and is easy to doubble check.

Now you're finally saying something logical.

Jay


markc


Sep 8, 2010, 10:32 AM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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robdotcalm wrote:
redlude97 wrote:
having a backup knot is a good idea, but if you get to the point where the backup is into the belay device you are already in for an epic.

This is an interesting point, but it's better to face an epic than to have your partner die.

OK, so the climber falls or is lowered and is some distance off the ground with two scenarios (i) a knot is now jammed into the belay device or (ii) the belayer is held tight by the rope tied into his harness.

Time for some Majid type analyses on the best way to safely resolve the problem.

Cheers,
Rob.calm

Exactly in line with my thoughts. I'd rather have a "What the hell do we do now?" moment with a knot jammed in my device rather than my partner lying in a heap.

Best wishes for a full recovery - for the climber and belayer both.


sspssp


Sep 8, 2010, 11:29 AM
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Re: [markc] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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markc wrote:
robdotcalm wrote:
redlude97 wrote:
having a backup knot is a good idea, but if you get to the point where the backup is into the belay device you are already in for an epic.

This is an interesting point, but it's better to face an epic than to have your partner die.

OK, so the climber falls or is lowered and is some distance off the ground with two scenarios (i) a knot is now jammed into the belay device or (ii) the belayer is held tight by the rope tied into his harness.

Time for some Majid type analyses on the best way to safely resolve the problem.

Cheers,
Rob.calm

Exactly in line with my thoughts. I'd rather have a "What the hell do we do now?" moment with a knot jammed in my device rather than my partner lying in a heap.

Best wishes for a full recovery - for the climber and belayer both.

What you do now is have the climber climb a couple of feet up the route so you can get the weight off the belay device.

If you tie the rope to the rope bag, you will usually see the rope bag lift off the ground before jamming the knot into the belay device.


jt512


Sep 8, 2010, 11:37 AM
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Re: [sspssp] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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sspssp wrote:
markc wrote:
robdotcalm wrote:
redlude97 wrote:
having a backup knot is a good idea, but if you get to the point where the backup is into the belay device you are already in for an epic.

This is an interesting point, but it's better to face an epic than to have your partner die.

OK, so the climber falls or is lowered and is some distance off the ground with two scenarios (i) a knot is now jammed into the belay device or (ii) the belayer is held tight by the rope tied into his harness.

Time for some Majid type analyses on the best way to safely resolve the problem.

Cheers,
Rob.calm

Exactly in line with my thoughts. I'd rather have a "What the hell do we do now?" moment with a knot jammed in my device rather than my partner lying in a heap.

Best wishes for a full recovery - for the climber and belayer both.

What you do now is have the climber climb a couple of feet up the route so you can get the weight off the belay device.

What if the climber is hanging in space?

Jay


bill413


Sep 8, 2010, 12:05 PM
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Re: [jt512] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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jt512 wrote:
sspssp wrote:
markc wrote:
robdotcalm wrote:
redlude97 wrote:
having a backup knot is a good idea, but if you get to the point where the backup is into the belay device you are already in for an epic.

This is an interesting point, but it's better to face an epic than to have your partner die.

OK, so the climber falls or is lowered and is some distance off the ground with two scenarios (i) a knot is now jammed into the belay device or (ii) the belayer is held tight by the rope tied into his harness.

Time for some Majid type analyses on the best way to safely resolve the problem.

Cheers,
Rob.calm

Exactly in line with my thoughts. I'd rather have a "What the hell do we do now?" moment with a knot jammed in my device rather than my partner lying in a heap.

Best wishes for a full recovery - for the climber and belayer both.

What you do now is have the climber climb a couple of feet up the route so you can get the weight off the belay device.

What if the climber is hanging in space?

Jay

Have them boink? Uggh.

Have the belayer climb partway up (after all, they are counterbalanced by the original climber for their belay)?

Issue baseball bats to all onlookers & shout "Pinata!"


jt512


Sep 8, 2010, 12:17 PM
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Re: [bill413] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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bill413 wrote:
jt512 wrote:
sspssp wrote:
markc wrote:
robdotcalm wrote:
redlude97 wrote:
having a backup knot is a good idea, but if you get to the point where the backup is into the belay device you are already in for an epic.

This is an interesting point, but it's better to face an epic than to have your partner die.

OK, so the climber falls or is lowered and is some distance off the ground with two scenarios (i) a knot is now jammed into the belay device or (ii) the belayer is held tight by the rope tied into his harness.

Time for some Majid type analyses on the best way to safely resolve the problem.

Cheers,
Rob.calm

Exactly in line with my thoughts. I'd rather have a "What the hell do we do now?" moment with a knot jammed in my device rather than my partner lying in a heap.

Best wishes for a full recovery - for the climber and belayer both.

What you do now is have the climber climb a couple of feet up the route so you can get the weight off the belay device.

What if the climber is hanging in space?

Jay

Have them boink?

Just seeing if anyone is paying attention.

Jay


billcoe_


Sep 8, 2010, 12:58 PM
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Re: [jt512] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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jt512 wrote:
What if the climber is hanging in space?

Jay

Tie if off and walk. Oh, you mean the climber? Classic sportclimber move, pull up on the other rope, not the one which is tied to you, but the one to the belayer. If you are too tired, do a prussic knot low with a sling and step on it. Can't find a sling, that's fine, use your shoelaces like James Bond.


jt512


Sep 8, 2010, 1:21 PM
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Re: [billcoe_] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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billcoe_ wrote:
jt512 wrote:
What if the climber is hanging in space?

Jay

Tie if off and walk. Oh, you mean the climber? Classic sportclimber move, pull up on the other rope, not the one which is tied to you, but the one to the belayer. If you are too tired, do a prussic knot low with a sling and step on it. Can't find a sling, that's fine, use your shoelaces like James Bond.

The one time I had to rescue a couple of gumbies who'd gotten into this situation, the belayer's side of the rope was not in reach of the dangling climber: he had lowered off a different side of the formation than he had climbed. The solution was for him to boing so that we could get enough rope back through the belay device to attach a second rope. Then we passed the knot and lowered the climber to the ground.

Jay


spikeddem


Sep 8, 2010, 1:23 PM
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Re: [billcoe_] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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billcoe_ wrote:
jt512 wrote:
What if the climber is hanging in space?

Jay

Tie if off and walk. Oh, you mean the climber? Classic sportclimber move, pull up on the other rope, not the one which is tied to you, but the one to the belayer. If you are too tired, do a prussic knot low with a sling and step on it. Can't find a sling, that's fine, use your shoelaces like James Bond.

Yeah, when jay said "the climber," I think what he was subtly referencing was "the climber." Wink

Depending on how high they need to get, they can do the "lean back, put your foot on the rope just above your knot, stand up on it while pulling on the rope above it to keep yourself standing up until you're all the way stood up on it" trick, too. First time I saw it I laughed my ass off.

Does anyone that actually knows what I'm talking about know of any name for this? A buddy learned the trick during his latest trip to the Red, but I didn't ask him what it's called...if he even knows.


bill413


Sep 9, 2010, 6:28 AM
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Re: [spikeddem] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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spikeddem wrote:
billcoe_ wrote:
jt512 wrote:
What if the climber is hanging in space?

Jay

Tie if off and walk. Oh, you mean the climber? Classic sportclimber move, pull up on the other rope, not the one which is tied to you, but the one to the belayer. If you are too tired, do a prussic knot low with a sling and step on it. Can't find a sling, that's fine, use your shoelaces like James Bond.

Yeah, when jay said "the climber," I think what he was subtly referencing was "the climber." Wink

Depending on how high they need to get, they can do the "lean back, put your foot on the rope just above your knot, stand up on it while pulling on the rope above it to keep yourself standing up until you're all the way stood up on it" trick, too. First time I saw it I laughed my ass off.

Does anyone that actually knows what I'm talking about know of any name for this? A buddy learned the trick during his latest trip to the Red, but I didn't ask him what it's called...if he even knows.

The hernia?


welle


Sep 9, 2010, 8:54 AM
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Re: [sspssp] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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sspssp wrote:

In my opinion, 5m is too far from the end. If it was 1 or 2 meters, then it would be much, much, more difficult to confuse it with a middle mark. Additionally, if it was a meter or two from the end, that is still plenty of tail to stop lowering/rapping, but it would definitely act as a "panic stop" don't think about anything else.

5m marks are for those of us who are visually challenged about the distance/length measurements. They are designed for traditional climbing, so the belayer can give the leader a heads up that that they should start looking for a belay ledge to build an anchor. 1-2m would be barely enough to tie in - it will mean that the leader will need to stop right there and start building an anchor or downclimb. Middle marks are also designed with traditional climbing in mind - when you are climbing in a new area or alpine environment, the belayer lets the leader know when the half point is reached, so the leader can visually scout out rappel options.

I don't understand what is so difficult about tying a knot at the end of the rope or tying in the belayer at the end of the rope? On multi-pitch, whether I'm second or a leader, I like the belayer to be tied in before leader leaves the ground anyway. It's always good to have a second pair of eyes double check your system.


spikeddem


Sep 9, 2010, 10:19 AM
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bill413 wrote:
spikeddem wrote:
billcoe_ wrote:
jt512 wrote:
What if the climber is hanging in space?

Jay

Tie if off and walk. Oh, you mean the climber? Classic sportclimber move, pull up on the other rope, not the one which is tied to you, but the one to the belayer. If you are too tired, do a prussic knot low with a sling and step on it. Can't find a sling, that's fine, use your shoelaces like James Bond.

Yeah, when jay said "the climber," I think what he was subtly referencing was "the climber." Wink

Depending on how high they need to get, they can do the "lean back, put your foot on the rope just above your knot, stand up on it while pulling on the rope above it to keep yourself standing up until you're all the way stood up on it" trick, too. First time I saw it I laughed my ass off.

Does anyone that actually knows what I'm talking about know of any name for this? A buddy learned the trick during his latest trip to the Red, but I didn't ask him what it's called...if he even knows.

The hernia?

I may not have described it entirely accurately, but the technique itself is actually extremely ballin' and WAY easier and faster than boinking.

Don't hate it until you've tried it (or at least seen it demonstrated!). Cool


bearbreeder


Sep 9, 2010, 11:44 AM
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Re: [ensonik] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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best of luck to your the OP and his partner ...

i dont see any good reason not to tie the end of the rope ... to the bag, harness or just tie a knot for single pitch

accident like these are easily preventable

thanks


sspssp


Sep 12, 2010, 12:04 PM
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Re: [welle] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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welle wrote:
sspssp wrote:

In my opinion, 5m is too far from the end. If it was 1 or 2 meters, then it would be much, much, more difficult to confuse it with a middle mark. Additionally, if it was a meter or two from the end, that is still plenty of tail to stop lowering/rapping, but it would definitely act as a "panic stop" don't think about anything else.

5m marks are for those of us who are visually challenged about the distance/length measurements. They are designed for traditional climbing, so the belayer can give the leader a heads up that that they should start looking for a belay ledge to build an anchor. 1-2m would be barely enough to tie in - it will mean that the leader will need to stop right there and start building an anchor or downclimb. Middle marks are also designed with traditional climbing in mind - when you are climbing in a new area or alpine environment, the belayer lets the leader know when the half point is reached, so the leader can visually scout out rappel options.

I don't understand what is so difficult about tying a knot at the end of the rope or tying in the belayer at the end of the rope? On multi-pitch, whether I'm second or a leader, I like the belayer to be tied in before leader leaves the ground anyway. It's always good to have a second pair of eyes double check your system.

I know that 5m is with thinking about the leader setting up the belay. But if this is the point, it is too short. By the time there is only 5m left, the belayer can usually tell that and 5m isn't always enough to find a good belay. If that is the reason, I would say 10m would be better. For the belayer, it is difficult to tell 10m of rope from 20m when it is flaked. 10m gives the leader more options for finding a good belay spot (without downclimbing).

Sure the middle mark lets you know if you can lower the climber. But I use mine just as often for multiple raps to find where to locate the rope on the anchor.

Regarding tieing a knot in the end. What is so hard about looking for traffic before changing lanes? Until somebody forgets. What is so hard about stopping at red lights? Until someone cluelessly drives through it. What is so hard about doubling the harness back? Until someone forgets. What is so hard about having the belayer tie into the rope? Until someone forgets.

Backup systems are called a backup for a reason. A mark a meter or two from the end would be one more backup that would prevent a few poor sobs from making a dreadful mistake.


(This post was edited by sspssp on Sep 12, 2010, 12:05 PM)


Partner j_ung


Sep 12, 2010, 1:40 PM
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Re: [sspssp] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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sspssp wrote:
Backup systems are called a backup for a reason. A mark a meter or two from the end would be one more backup that would prevent a few poor sobs from making a dreadful mistake.

End marks have also contributed to fatal accidents when people mistook them for middle marks.

Edit: although, a mark meter or two from the end probably wouldn't create the same situation.


(This post was edited by j_ung on Sep 12, 2010, 1:40 PM)


camhead


Sep 12, 2010, 2:09 PM
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Re: [j_ung] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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Uh, sooo... does anyone know what route this was on?


acorneau


Sep 12, 2010, 5:49 PM
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Re: Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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Someone should start making a bi-weave rope with 5m marks.

That way there is no way to mistake an end mark as the middle, and you get to have "you're getting to the end of your rope" marks.

I just made some company a million dollars. I want my royalty check!


dynosore


Sep 12, 2010, 6:29 PM
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Re: [acorneau] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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I always tie in; however I find it very disturbing how often people don't notice they are running out of rope. I don't want a belayer that doesn't notice this....


mojomonkey


Sep 13, 2010, 6:04 AM
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acorneau wrote:
Someone should start making a bi-weave rope with 5m marks.

That way there is no way to mistake an end mark as the middle, and you get to have "you're getting to the end of your rope" marks.

I just made some company a million dollars. I want my royalty check!

That won't help with someone who is unfamiliar with the rope (using a partner's), and didn't know/notice they should be looking for a weave change.


socalclimber


Sep 13, 2010, 7:58 AM
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As far as what do I do when the knot hits the device?

Escape the belay and go for beer...


markc


Sep 13, 2010, 10:33 AM
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j_ung wrote:
sspssp wrote:
Backup systems are called a backup for a reason. A mark a meter or two from the end would be one more backup that would prevent a few poor sobs from making a dreadful mistake.

End marks have also contributed to fatal accidents when people mistook them for middle marks.

Edit: although, a mark meter or two from the end probably wouldn't create the same situation.

A mark in the last meter or two would be less likely to be confused with a middlemark, but I don't know if that would be enough time to see the mark, process the meaning, and brake.

In an earlier discussion, someone suggested dying the last 15' or so solid black. Unless it's something that distinctive, I have no interest in end-marks.


socalclimber


Sep 13, 2010, 12:17 PM
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Re: [markc] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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"A mark a meter or two from the end would be one more backup that would prevent a few poor sobs from making a dreadful mistake. "

You're funny. "End" markers have already been attributed to one death as it is. I would not be surprised to learn there have been more mistakes thanks to these "comfort" markers.

I've said it before, STOP relying on markers, and start paying attention. Close the system. Otherwise, your only other choice to stay "safe" is in the gym we you mostly likely belong.


welle


Sep 13, 2010, 12:33 PM
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Registered: Aug 8, 2008
Posts: 212

Re: [sspssp] Accident while lowering at City of Rocks [In reply to]
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sspssp wrote:

I know that 5m is with thinking about the leader setting up the belay. But if this is the point, it is too short. By the time there is only 5m left, the belayer can usually tell that and 5m isn't always enough to find a good belay. If that is the reason, I would say 10m would be better. For the belayer, it is difficult to tell 10m of rope from 20m when it is flaked. 10m gives the leader more options for finding a good belay spot (without downclimbing).

are you visualizing what 10m are? It is almost 33 feet, some climbs are that tall. And having end-marks that(!!) close to the center of the rope will make it even more dangerous.

1m would be only enough to tie in to the harness.

sspssp wrote:
Backup systems are called a backup for a reason. A mark a meter or two from the end would be one more backup that would prevent a few poor sobs from making a dreadful mistake.

"Backup" systems need to be by definition redundant. I don't see any redundancy in some visual mark at end of the rope relying on presumed attention of the belayer. A true backup would be a knot tied in or a second belayer.

Regardless, relying on the rope markers gives a false sense of security. If the belayer hasn't noticed the middle-mark passing through the belay device when the leader was climbing (and thus alerting of the possible issues with lowering off), why would one assume they would notice the end marks?

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