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majid_sabet


Sep 23, 2013, 5:46 PM
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Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas
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According to Grapevine Police, the woman was not properly attached to a rope device intended to slow the fall of a climber who may slip from the climbing wall and slow their descent to the ground.

http://inforney.com/...all-at-grapevine-gym


(This post was edited by majid_sabet on Sep 23, 2013, 5:47 PM)


petsfed


Sep 23, 2013, 10:46 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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Translation: she was not attached to the autobelay.

I think rob.calm had a similar story, and the takeaway is that you should always, always, ALWAYS double check your gear, be cognizant of the increased risk when you're climbing alone and triple check that you're doing it right. Don't just mindlessly charge up the wall, and work into your pre-climb ritual a check of the system that is different from how you would normally check (a good firm tug on your tie-in/autobelay connection works wonders to knock you out of the visual-check funk). Gyms that use autobelays need to include that extra check as part of their how-to session on autobelay usage and with all instructional information.


JAB


Sep 24, 2013, 3:55 AM
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Re: [majid_sabet] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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After a couple of similar (non-fatal) accidents here, the gyms now use a kind of simple gate on the autobelays. I.e. the cable is clipped to a metal barrier at the start of the route, which drops down when the cable is unclipped from the barrier and clipped to the harness. So it's not possible to by accident start climbing an autobelay route while not clipped to the cable (obviously you could climb over the barrier, but that's not a slip of the mind in forgetting to clip in).

Since then, no such accidents have occured as far as I know.


fitzontherocks


Sep 24, 2013, 9:51 AM
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Re: [petsfed] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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Another takeaway-- a 25 foot fall-- even indoors-- can kill.


amarius


Sep 24, 2013, 10:27 AM
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One of the local gyms has autobelays.
I noticed that carabiners used for clipping in are on the small size - this makes clipping in through both loops not that easy, extra attention is needed to make sure that the gate is closed and there is no material in between the gate and metal. Having material between the gate and carabiner might lead to failure.


JasonsDrivingForce


Sep 24, 2013, 12:15 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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My condolences go to not only this woman’s family but also to the climbers and staff at that gym. No matter what it must be a horrific thing to lose someone at your gym.

Are there any statistics on how many serious indoor climbing accidents there are each year for auto belays, regular belays, and for Bouldering? I am just curious about which style of climbing has more serious accidents.

I guess the insurance companies have figured this out already. Anyone have any data on this?


petsfed


Sep 24, 2013, 12:17 PM
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Re: [amarius] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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amarius wrote:
One of the local gyms has autobelays.
I noticed that carabiners used for clipping in are on the small size - this makes clipping in through both loops not that easy, extra attention is needed to make sure that the gate is closed and there is no material in between the gate and metal. Having material between the gate and carabiner might lead to failure.

Every manufacturer of autobelays insist on using the belay loop for attachment, rather than the tie-in points, so your "safety concern" is predicated on specifically bypassing actual, built-in safety features, presumably from a misunderstanding of how redundancy actually works.


majid_sabet


Sep 24, 2013, 12:35 PM
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Re: [petsfed] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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its too early to conclude that this was in fact an auto-belay failure or biner misplace etc. I use auto-belay in our gym very often and the attachment biner is an industrial grade self-locking steel biner and the mechanism is pretty solid. From time to time, they require service and tension adjustment and calibration but overall, I haven't heard much of bad thing about them however, there are possibilities where things could go wrong. one common issue is when biner is not fully attached to belay loop. I could imagine biner gate been attached in away where you think its in the loop but biner is only attached to the edge of belay loop. Another worse case is when lowering mechanism fails where you are in full drop mode. other possibilities can be climbing without any autobelay (this is where pilot thinks the landing gear is down but its not and lands) .

just to have to wait on this one.


(This post was edited by majid_sabet on Sep 24, 2013, 12:37 PM)


billl7


Sep 25, 2013, 6:30 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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Police said it appeared Mailloux failed to attach to an auto belay system installed at the gym.
Source: Woman Dies After Fall at Climbing Gym in Grapevine

Best wishes to those close to her. And a few of us here need to increase our vigilance.

Bill L


markc


Sep 26, 2013, 8:10 AM
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Re: [JAB] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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JAB wrote:
After a couple of similar (non-fatal) accidents here, the gyms now use a kind of simple gate on the autobelays. I.e. the cable is clipped to a metal barrier at the start of the route, which drops down when the cable is unclipped from the barrier and clipped to the harness. So it's not possible to by accident start climbing an autobelay route while not clipped to the cable (obviously you could climb over the barrier, but that's not a slip of the mind in forgetting to clip in).

Since then, no such accidents have occured as far as I know.

That's an intriguing idea, and it seems gyms could easily put together something effective and inexpensive. You need to clip the cable to something, so why not use this to increase safety? What's the mounting height?


JAB


Sep 26, 2013, 10:39 PM
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About 1 meter.


5.samadhi


Sep 30, 2013, 11:48 AM
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Re: [amarius] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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amarius wrote:
One of the local gyms has autobelays.
I noticed that carabiners used for clipping in are on the small size - this makes clipping in through both loops not that easy, extra attention is needed to make sure that the gate is closed and there is no material in between the gate and metal. Having material between the gate and carabiner might lead to failure.
the reason we don't tie in to the belay loop is because excess wear and tear from rope on loop friction. This is solved by reinforcing the harness tie in points. If you are clipping a carabiner into your harness that is attached to a belay device the belay loop is the perfect location to clip to.


(This post was edited by 5.samadhi on Sep 30, 2013, 11:50 AM)


majid_sabet


Oct 30, 2013, 10:10 AM
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Re: [majid_sabet] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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well, looks like the final report is out about this incident. she basically forgot to clip the biner to her harness and climbed and once she reached the top, she let go assuming she was clipped in and took a fall.

.............................................................................................................


watch the report

http://www.khou.com/...-news/229692651.html

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- When an experienced rock climber fell to her death at a Grapevine climbing gym in September, authorities called it a "bad accident."

But News 8 has learned that falls by experienced climbers are a well-known problem in the climbing wall industry.

The death investigation report, released by Grapevine police, shows 52-year-old Susan Mailloux of Irving failed to clip her harness to a safety line, called a belay system, at the Summit Climbing Gym in Grapevine.

In the report, witnesses told police that Mailloux "looked like she knew what she was doing." And even though "she thought she was clipped in" to her rope line, in fact, "the belay system was not attached to (her) harness."

When she got to the top of the wall, she, "let go and fell to the ground."

Mailloux was using an auto-belay device. The auto-belay holds the line taut while the climber — without a partner — goes up the wall. It then gently lowers a climber to the ground when they let go.

So how does an experienced climber — working at her own risk — make such a simple life-or-death mistake?

The climbing industry is trying to answer that very same question, because — it turns out — experienced climbers forgetting to clip-in is ongoing problem.

"It is a well-known problem in the industry," said Dan Hague, who is a climbing gym owner in Virginia. He helped write industry safety standards, and provides expert witness testimony for people who are injured in gym accidents.

Gague said Mailloux’s death is the only climbing fatality he’s heard about in his 20 years in the business, and it's a wake-up call for the industry.

"In my experience, the primary reason that people are injured using these devices is not that the device fails, but they fail to simply clip into it before they start climbing," he said.

On a regular belay, climbers work in pairs. After checking their own equipment, Hague says, climbers should double-check each other’s equipment.

"In the case of the auto-belay system, there is no double-check," he explained.

The problem is significant enough that a climbing gear company from Minnesota called Nicros invented a device that sets off an alarm when a climber leaves the ground without clipping in. It’s been on the market for less than two years, but so far, it’s an expense only a few gyms are willing to pay for.

Most rely on industry safety guidelines that emphasize training and education.

“My opinion is, yes, a gym has some responsibility to make sure that you’re warned and protected to some degree from yourself," Hague said.

But sometimes, for people like Susan Mailloux, that’s not enough.


jomagam


Oct 30, 2013, 12:20 PM
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She had to clip the biner somewhere though, right ? Otherwise the autobelay would quickly be at the top and probably hit you on the hand along the way.


stefanohatari


Oct 30, 2013, 12:46 PM
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The autobelay is clipped to the wall when the climber approaches it. The climber unclips it from the wall, then clips it into his/her belay loop.

jomagam wrote:
She had to clip the biner somewhere though, right ? Otherwise the autobelay would quickly be at the top and probably hit you on the hand along the way.


jomagam


Oct 30, 2013, 12:56 PM
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stefanohatari wrote:
The autobelay is clipped to the wall when the climber approaches it. The climber unclips it from the wall, then clips it into his/her belay loop.

jomagam wrote:
She had to clip the biner somewhere though, right ? Otherwise the autobelay would quickly be at the top and probably hit you on the hand along the way.

What's your point ? If she didn't even touch the autobelay, then she was free soloing. I assume what she did was similar to for example Lynn Hill (when she didn't finish her knot) in that the gym climber did clip the autobelay's biner somehow incorrectly to her harness, or the locker came undone while she was climbing.


JohnCook


Oct 30, 2013, 1:11 PM
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I have climbed at Summit. If you do not clip the biner to correctly your harness and it somehow gets loose it shoots straight up to the top of the wall making a hell of a racket. You would be very aware of it. (I have seen these autobelayer biners go up the wall when someone has unclipped at the bottom and not clipped it back into the secure place at the base of the wall. The noise is loud enough to be heard at the other side of the gym.) The only thing that could have happened is that she DIDN'T CLIP IN, and so unfortunately, the accident was totally her own fault.


jomagam


Oct 30, 2013, 1:32 PM
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JohnCook wrote:
I have climbed at Summit. If you do not clip the biner to correctly your harness and it somehow gets loose it shoots straight up to the top of the wall making a hell of a racket. You would be very aware of it. (I have seen these autobelayer biners go up the wall when someone has unclipped at the bottom and not clipped it back into the secure place at the base of the wall. The noise is loud enough to be heard at the other side of the gym.) The only thing that could have happened is that she DIDN'T CLIP IN, and so unfortunately, the accident was totally her own fault.


Right, that's what I don't get. You cannot say Mailloux was using an auto-belay device if she plain simply forgot to clip in and did not use it. She had to clip in incorrectly somehow that came undone on the way up or at the top, or clip into something that was not load bearing.


JohnCook


Oct 30, 2013, 1:48 PM
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She had not clipped into anything. She was climbing where the auto-belay was, and, I believe, told someone that she was going to use the auto-belay.
One can only assume that she got distracted, did not unclip the auto-belay from the wall, and did not clip it onto herself in any way. If she let it go it would just rattle up the wall, if she clipped it to a gear loop which failed, or the biner came unclipped it would have rattled up the wall. She would have noticed a huge heavy steel biner rattling noisily past her face if there had been a failed clip-in.


stefanohatari


Oct 30, 2013, 6:45 PM
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My point was I was answering your question. Basta.


What's your point ? If she didn't even touch the autobelay, then she was free soloing. I assume what she did was similar to for example Lynn Hill (when she didn't finish her knot) in that the gym climber did clip the autobelay's biner somehow incorrectly to her harness, or the locker came undone while she was climbing.


JohnCook


Oct 31, 2013, 4:22 AM
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Please read slowly and carefully!
If you unclip the auto-belay heavy steel biner from the anchor at the bottom of the wall, and then for some reason do not clip it to yourself, or if the clip to yourself fails, the heavy steel biner rattles up the wall. It had not done that.
So Lynn Hill was free soloing?
Both made a mistake, one leading, the other toproping on an auto belay. One forgot to finish the knot, the other forgot to make any effort to clip in to the heavy steel biner.
Neither, it seems, had intended to 'free solo' (why can't it just be called solo) but both had accidents. One was lucky, the other was not.
Both were user error.
If anyone else has a problem understanding what I am saying please let me know, as I seem to be having to explain something that is very simple, repeatedly. If you do understand, please also let me know, as I seem to be getting paranoid and suspecting that I can't write clear English anymore!


ensonik


Oct 31, 2013, 6:49 PM
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You explained it fine, many times.

I think you're being trolled pretty hard.


jomagam


Oct 31, 2013, 8:00 PM
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John, you explained it well. Not sure who you think didn't understand what you said. I kind of didn't get Stefano's first reply to me, and also find it silly to call this an auto-belay accident if she didn't even touch the thing. Hope that clears things up.

On a different note: soloing means that you're climbing alone. You can solo using a rope too with a bunch of different setups; that would be rope soloing as opposed to free soloing.


JAB


Nov 1, 2013, 3:54 AM
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jomagam wrote:
John, you explained it well. Not sure who you think didn't understand what you said. I kind of didn't get Stefano's first reply to me, and also find it silly to call this an auto-belay accident if she didn't even touch the thing. Hope that clears things up.

This definitely an auto-belay accident. Denying this is like saying Lynn Hill's accident wasn't a rappelling accident, as she never actually did get on rappell.

My opinion is that autobelays that are clipped directly to the wall (like in this case) are a big safety risk. As stated in the link posted, this is a known issue, which also is both easy and cheap to fix (like I posted earlier in the thread). Any gym that does not fix this safety issue should be liable for any accidents.


jomagam


Nov 1, 2013, 7:46 AM
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Well, I would call Lynn Hill's accident a tying in accident, as she would have hit the ground if she was going to rappell, get lowered, called take during the middle of the route or simply could not make a move and fell.

But I do get your point, though not necessarily agree. I thought that the article and video said that incorrectly tying in is an issue, which usually gets caught by a partner. The gym I go to has 6 auto belays and never heard of any issues. Almost all the routes that are toprope-able can be done on AB, which means that your proposed gate would have to be lowered by non-AB parties, so a second place is needed to clip the AB's twist lock biner into. The AB can be pulled on a rail to position it by the finishing hold of the route you're jumping onto, so not sure how it could work in a case when you have 30 feet of wall where one can start a route.


ClimbClimb


Nov 1, 2013, 12:08 PM
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This re-enforces my dislike of autobelays. In addition to triple-checking, one way to reduce risk somewhat is to just down-climb the route... Yes, you could still take a fall, but chances are you're training / doing laps, not climbing at your limit.


curt


Nov 1, 2013, 2:43 PM
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JAB wrote:
This definitely an auto-belay accident. Denying this is like saying Lynn Hill's accident wasn't a rappelling accident, as she never actually did get on rappell...

Lynn's accident wasn't a rappelling accident.

Curt


rocknice2


Nov 4, 2013, 10:15 AM
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I think this was an auto belay accident. It's not 100% clear and never will be but I think her intent was to use the auto belay, since she let go at the end. The flaw is that it's possible to forget to clip in.


billcoe_


Nov 4, 2013, 8:00 PM
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rocknice2 wrote:
I think this was an auto belay accident. It's not 100% clear and never will be but I think her intent was to use the auto belay, since she let go at the end. The flaw is that it's possible to forget to clip in.

If someone is going to drive to work, but forget to get in the car and walk out into the street and get hit by a bicycle, would you also characterize that as a car accident? Their intent was to drive teh car....


ps, Curt is right about Lynn Hills accident. She wasn't rapping, she was incorrectly tied in, just like what occurred to John Long except he was in a gym. If that's not a wake up call to the rest of us gumbys: then I got nothing else to say.

Regards to all


JAB


Nov 4, 2013, 11:17 PM
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I think it is clear beyond all reasonable doubt that

a) the lady's intent was to climb with an autobelay, which she didn't clip in to
b) these accidents happen too often

In a way these accidents have much in common with rappelling/lowering accidents, which also happen regularly and continuously, even though everybody is well aware of the risks. There is a big difference, though. One accident happens to people climbing outside, on their own accord. The other accident happens in a commercially run gym, where a high safety standard is required.

You don't see routes with big ledges half-way up, no runout bolting, and no trad in climbing gyms, so it would make perfect sense to eliminate the clear risk with autobelays as well.


JAB


Nov 4, 2013, 11:22 PM
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jomagam wrote:
The gym I go to has 6 auto belays and never heard of any issues. Almost all the routes that are toprope-able can be done on AB, which means that your proposed gate would have to be lowered by non-AB parties, so a second place is needed to clip the AB's twist lock biner into. The AB can be pulled on a rail to position it by the finishing hold of the route you're jumping onto, so not sure how it could work in a case when you have 30 feet of wall where one can start a route.

You're right, the gate solution wouldn't work with that setup. But to me it sounds like the gym takes a safety risk in order to save some money. To me the obvious answer is for the gym to stop being cheap and instead fix the autobelays in place, and maybe buy a couple more if they want to cover the whole wall.


rocknice2


Nov 5, 2013, 6:31 AM
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billcoe_ wrote:
rocknice2 wrote:
I think this was an auto belay accident. It's not 100% clear and never will be but I think her intent was to use the auto belay, since she let go at the end. The flaw is that it's possible to forget to clip in.

If someone is going to drive to work, but forget to get in the car and walk out into the street and get hit by a bicycle, would you also characterize that as a car accident? Their intent was to drive teh car....


ps, Curt is right about Lynn Hills accident. She wasn't rapping, she was incorrectly tied in, just like what occurred to John Long except he was in a gym. If that's not a wake up call to the rest of us gumbys: then I got nothing else to say.

Regards to all

You're beaning a bit ridicules. If she intended to go to the rock gym but instead ended up at the grocery store, then it wouldn't be an auto belay accident.

If she is in her car on the way to work and there is a red traffic light. She intends to apply the brakes but instead hits the gas and plows into another car. Is it an accident or the act of a reckless speed demon?

When rapping, someone fails to clip the rap device into thier belay loop and falls 100ft to the ground, that a rappelling accident not an act of suicide.


jomagam


Nov 5, 2013, 8:43 AM
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JAB wrote:
jomagam wrote:
The gym I go to has 6 auto belays and never heard of any issues. Almost all the routes that are toprope-able can be done on AB, which means that your proposed gate would have to be lowered by non-AB parties, so a second place is needed to clip the AB's twist lock biner into. The AB can be pulled on a rail to position it by the finishing hold of the route you're jumping onto, so not sure how it could work in a case when you have 30 feet of wall where one can start a route.

You're right, the gate solution wouldn't work with that setup. But to me it sounds like the gym takes a safety risk in order to save some money. To me the obvious answer is for the gym to stop being cheap and instead fix the autobelays in place, and maybe buy a couple more if they want to cover the whole wall.

That's too complicated IMO. You're asking to have a dedicated area for autobelays, and for each piece of hardware only to cover a couple of routes instead of a dozen. Those AB-s aren't cheap.


rocknice2


Nov 5, 2013, 10:55 AM
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Is it possible to put a colored sheath on the first few feet of the cable [ biner side ] so that the climber would always see that color. Once they don't a neuron may fire and maybe trigger a thought.


viciado


Nov 5, 2013, 11:53 AM
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rocknice2 wrote:
Is it possible to put a colored sheath on the first few feet of the cable [ biner side ] so that the climber would always see that color. Once they don't a neuron may fire and maybe trigger a thought.

Ultimately, this was a case of pilot error. The belay device did not fail. The user failed to employ the device properly (or at all). Bright webbing and signs will likely only serve to alert novice or occasional users. I have failed to clip in twice during training sessions while running laps, but the problem was the lack of self-check that I always do outdoors. Changing the way I think about indoor climbing has resulted in no failures to clip in since then. IMHO, the problem is more on the side of education/training for use of the auto belay systems that implies a safer environment than is actually available. It could also make sense to increase the visual supervision of the auto belay routes.


rocknice2


Nov 5, 2013, 12:27 PM
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I meant a bright color on the cable. might alert a climber who is used to climbing with it that red is always there and when it's not something is wrong.

Whatever the case we can never eliminate personal error.


markc


Nov 5, 2013, 1:26 PM
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jomagam wrote:
JAB wrote:
jomagam wrote:
The gym I go to has 6 auto belays and never heard of any issues. Almost all the routes that are toprope-able can be done on AB, which means that your proposed gate would have to be lowered by non-AB parties, so a second place is needed to clip the AB's twist lock biner into. The AB can be pulled on a rail to position it by the finishing hold of the route you're jumping onto, so not sure how it could work in a case when you have 30 feet of wall where one can start a route.

You're right, the gate solution wouldn't work with that setup. But to me it sounds like the gym takes a safety risk in order to save some money. To me the obvious answer is for the gym to stop being cheap and instead fix the autobelays in place, and maybe buy a couple more if they want to cover the whole wall.

That's too complicated IMO. You're asking to have a dedicated area for autobelays, and for each piece of hardware only to cover a couple of routes instead of a dozen. Those AB-s aren't cheap.

Obviously the culture is established at your gym, and seems to be working well. If a gym purchases auto-belays, I think it's worth considering fixing them and using the gate system JAB mentioned. If there are two or three routes per wall section and six ABs, you're conservatively covering 12 - 18 climbs of varying difficulty. Thats not a ton, but it gives an individual an alternative to exclusively bouldering or gives the odd man out in a larger group the opportunity to climb without a belayer. A gym may be willing to trade off flexibility for that extra safety precaution.

Gyms in my area don't have auto-belays. I'd be curious to know if they're usually fixed or easily relocated by members in most gyms.


(This post was edited by markc on Nov 5, 2013, 1:27 PM)


Fred20


Nov 5, 2013, 4:17 PM
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So was the auto belay not attached to where the wall is (i guess 5' from wall)...

I've seen similar setups where the autobelay is held at an anchor (about 5' from the wall). My current gym I climb at has a cool setup where it is anchored at the wall so you really can't start it w/out using the autobelay

Sad, but ultimately a foolish mistake. I haven't looked and will, but are autobelay accidents common? I would imagine the only dangerous part is ensuring the gate is closed/attached properly...i try not to think about the autobelay actually failing since I will use them when i don't have a belay (tho i know people that refuse to even use them)


dagibbs


Nov 5, 2013, 5:25 PM
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JAB wrote:
I think it is clear beyond all reasonable doubt that

a) the lady's intent was to climb with an autobelay, which she didn't clip in to
b) these accidents happen too often

In a way these accidents have much in common with rappelling/lowering accidents, which also happen regularly and continuously, even though everybody is well aware of the risks. There is a big difference, though. One accident happens to people climbing outside, on their own accord. The other accident happens in a commercially run gym, where a high safety standard is required.

You don't see routes with big ledges half-way up, no runout bolting, and no trad in climbing gyms, so it would make perfect sense to eliminate the clear risk with autobelays as well.

This sort of forgetting doesn't only happen with auto-belays. I was in a gym down in Florida a couple years back, and a woman headed up a wall -- at first I thought she was just going to boulder the first few moves of a climb, so didn't stop her -- that's pretty common. Then she kept going, so I told her she wasn't tied in. She continued, I said it again louder, she continued, and I shouted it at her... and she looked down and went "oh shit, I'm not tied in". She tried to down-climb, couldn't, grab a nearby rope, and slide down it giving herself rope-burns. She'd just been so focused on finally doing this climb that was a project that she hadn't even started, not say finished, the process of tieing in to a rope.

If it had been an auto-belay, maybe we'd have called it an auto-belay accident. But, it wasn't - same problem though.


JAB


Nov 5, 2013, 10:42 PM
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viciado wrote:
I have failed to clip in twice during training sessions while running laps, but the problem was the lack of self-check that I always do outdoors. Changing the way I think about indoor climbing has resulted in no failures to clip in since then.

I'm probably beating my head against the wall here, but this is exactly what I'm talking about. Perfectly safety conscious people make the same mistake as the lady in the accident (of course most people, like you I assume, notice their mistake before getting to the top of the climb). Learning from your own and others' mistakes is ok and vital when climbing outside, but implying that the same should be the case for gym climbing is simply irresponsible. All kinds of people with little or no knowledge of the risks in climbing climb inside, especially on autobelays (as no belayer who can screw it up is needed), so this device should be as fool proof as possible.


viciado


Nov 6, 2013, 8:31 AM
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I am not sure I understand why you think applying the same criteria for responsibility for indoors and outdoors is inappropriate, but I may be mis-reading your post.

I have suggested two areas of concern that address your own expressed concern... noobs.

1) Better initial training involving rick management protocols onnthe level of standard belay testing. (ie more than this is how the system works, have fun.)

2) Eyes-on supervision in which visual checks are performed. This implies qualified staff or volunteer is directly overseeing the use of auto belay.


petsfed


Nov 6, 2013, 8:34 AM
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One thing I emphasized (we could not afford to keep our autobelays) at the gym I work at was that the device cannot catch you if you're not connected to it, and every time I helped somebody in, I reminded them to tug on the webbing (not the carabiner) to verify that it was attached to them. Typically the advice rolled off them like water off a duck's back, but I'm used to people thinking I started climbing 3 weeks ago. It comes with working in gyms.

The latter part is a bigger problem than any equipment issues: even experienced climbers act like the gym employees are just following scripts. Yes, I get it, some gyms hire high school students who learned to belay last week. That doesn't mean that their safety advice on a device you've never used before is irrelevant.

Its not just that beginners forget that climbing is dangerous, experienced, otherwise safe, climbers forget that climbing is dangerous. The autobelays do nothing to change that state of affairs, except perhaps that there's nobody to call the bullheaded ones on their mistakes.


JAB


Nov 6, 2013, 10:41 PM
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viciado wrote:
I am not sure I understand why you think applying the same criteria for responsibility for indoors and outdoors is inappropriate, but I may be mis-reading your post.

No, this is really my point. A commercially run gym should be required higher safety standards. It's the same as with professional climbing guides. If you hire a guide, he has a totally different responsibility of your safety than a buddy you go climbing with.

And this is pretty much how it works already. If the gym had no responsibility (i.e. just providing a venue and taking a charge to cover the investment), why do they require you to make a belay test? If the gym provides a device with a KNOWN safety issue, should they not be required to eliminate this safety issue?


JasonsDrivingForce


Nov 7, 2013, 10:55 AM
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If all of the gyms were forced to or perhaps by choice removed all of the auto belays would it affect you? We only have two gyms in our region with auto belays. A lot of people(Mostly kids) use them at those facilities.

I stopped using them when I found one auto belay with a broken carabiner. The gate would close completely but it would not lock automatically like it was supposed to. I reported it to the staff and won’t use them anymore even if they say that they have been fixed.


rocknice2


Nov 7, 2013, 11:18 AM
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@ JasonsDrivingForce
Why stop just at the auto belay? If you feel the gym isn't inspecting it's gear properly then wouldn't it be prudent to stop climbing there all together. All the draws and tope rope are wear items.


@ JAB
The KNOWN safety issue is with the user. There have been numerous climbers cratering for failing to tie a knot.


ericthebat


Feb 11, 2014, 3:06 PM
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(edited from post to another thread)

Arguing semantics is a classic, silly, frivolous waste of time and too much filler on most threads.
We should be seriously and critically looking at every accident, to learn every possible lesson that may be applicable to our own climbing habits, the mistakes we see at our local crag or gyms, etc.
My local gym, the Boulder Rock Club, has several Trublue units, and perhaps because they are financially invested in the company, they are diligent about servicing them. Yet, our gym has had two, and now possibly three user error incidents, the most recent one the first fatality - Mark Hesse, a tireless Access Fund advocate with a rock and alpine resume going back to the 1970's.
Noone saw him fall, but some heard an impact. He was basically DOA, and while harnessed, was not clipped in at all to the Autobelay. The two prior accidents both also involved men over 60, at least 10 years experience, and both simply spaced out clipping in. One let go at the ceiling, and instantly realized his error, surviving with a few major breaks and internal bruising. The other fellow had lesser injuries but had fallen lower.
Calling these incidents "autobelay accidents" is a lazy simplification, but it's close enough, as long as we clarify that the devices in no way failed. The paradox is that the device is actually totally outside the accident, save for its presence in the facility.
I have worried about all possible distractions like the use of earbuds, but such things have not been factors in our recent accidents.
Without some exotic, high-tech "belay nanny" to automatically intervene in some way, instilling some sort of checklist, safeguard, self-preservation mantra is necessary. Make up one for yourself; share and compare it with friends; make it foolproof, then make it automatic. Keep your eyes peeled for everyone else on or near the walls, look for mistakes and never let embarrassment or false pride interfere with giving or taking sincere advice, especially if it may avert an accident.


shockabuku


Feb 11, 2014, 7:15 PM
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Auto-belay gate.

Two lower slings attach to the wall, upper attaches to the auto-belay biner. Hard to start without recognizing that the gate is still in the way. Once detached it lays on the floor.


lena_chita
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Feb 12, 2014, 7:03 AM
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shockabuku wrote:


Auto-belay gate.

Two lower slings attach to the wall, upper attaches to the auto-belay biner. Hard to start without recognizing that the gate is still in the way. Once detached it lays on the floor.

And who clips the thing back, after the climb is done? The climber? Then you are running into the same problem as before. A climber did not hang this banner back, maybe the gym was busy and there was someone ready to climb right away, and couple steps down, the next climber, used to the visual clue, forgot to clip into autobelay...


wivanoff


Feb 12, 2014, 8:15 AM
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lena_chita wrote:

And who clips the thing back, after the climb is done? The climber? Then you are running into the same problem as before. A climber did not hang this banner back, maybe the gym was busy and there was someone ready to climb right away, and couple steps down, the next climber, used to the visual clue, forgot to clip into autobelay...

I don't understand. If the climber did not clip the carabiner back into the top of that gate, wouldn't the autobelay retract and pull it up to the ceiling? It looked to me that the bottom two legs of the "gate" were attached to the floor (or lower wall) and the apex of the "gate" is what was used to hold down the autobelay carabiner.


(This post was edited by wivanoff on Feb 12, 2014, 8:16 AM)


lena_chita
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Feb 12, 2014, 11:01 AM
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wivanoff wrote:
lena_chita wrote:

And who clips the thing back, after the climb is done? The climber? Then you are running into the same problem as before. A climber did not hang this banner back, maybe the gym was busy and there was someone ready to climb right away, and couple steps down, the next climber, used to the visual clue, forgot to clip into autobelay...

I don't understand. If the climber did not clip the carabiner back into the top of that gate, wouldn't the autobelay retract and pull it up to the ceiling? It looked to me that the bottom two legs of the "gate" were attached to the floor (or lower wall) and the apex of the "gate" is what was used to hold down the autobelay carabiner.


What you are saying does make more sense than the way I was picturing it, if you only have these blue triangles, and no other way to anchor the device.

I was still imagining the daisy chain floor anchors in place, in addition to these blue triqangles, but it would make sense to remove them, assuming that the walls are only used for climbing with autobelay.


Fred20


Feb 12, 2014, 1:50 PM
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This is exactly what my gym has (about 6 autos). The routes mostly all have top ropes (with #'s) and if there is an auto belay there is no TR. They switch the location of the TR and Auto's as well.

If the top isn't cliped it should be laying flat on the ground to let you know there is someone climbing above...if no one is climbing it is clipped to the top of the triangle and covers the start of the route...

if you don't clip it properly obviously the biner gets taken to the top and staff has to recover it.

to me this has to be the safest way to climb since you don't even tie a knot and just clip in...of course you have to remember to do so.

I guess that's why pieces of equipment and signs are posted on walls stating "CLIMBING IS DANGEROUS"


(This post was edited by Fred20 on Feb 12, 2014, 1:52 PM)


majid_sabet


Feb 13, 2014, 1:18 PM
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I climbed in our gym without clipping the auto biner to my harness at least a few time not realizing I was climbing without it so the issue is not the biner shooting to roof and leaving you behind. its rather climbing with a sense of security thinking the biner is clipped in where actually it is not. This is where pilot thinks he has the landing gear down and lands on dirt without double checking the check list. To prevent climbing accidents, its best to double check and actually and physically look and touch and confirm things are in the right place.

Read the I&A and you see tons of fatality reports from climbers not physically double checking their list.I can think of anchor failure and falling from end of the line during rappel as the most common ones you could read regularly.


Fred20


Feb 13, 2014, 1:30 PM
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it's always possible to start free soloing if you "zone out"...since the autobelay isnt a person you definitely have to be vigilant!

Still, I believe this has to be rare because when you attach the autobelay, it immediately takes slack on your harness which is about the only annoying thing about it IMO...that and you can't have a "take" halfway up a difficult route


shockabuku


Feb 13, 2014, 8:47 PM
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majid_sabet wrote:
I climbed in our gym without clipping the auto biner to my harness at least a few time not realizing I was climbing without it so the issue is not the biner shooting to roof and leaving you behind. its rather climbing with a sense of security thinking the biner is clipped in where actually it is not. This is where pilot thinks he has the landing gear down and lands on dirt without double checking the check list. To prevent climbing accidents, its best to double check and actually and physically look and touch and confirm things are in the right place.

Read the I&A and you see tons of fatality reports from climbers not physically double checking their list.I can think of anchor failure and falling from end of the line during rappel as the most common ones you could read regularly.

I've done it prior to these gates being installed. The first time I didn't realize it till I was almost at the top of the climb, the second time about half way up. Now that these fabric "gates" have been installed it's almost impossible to forget to clip in.

The old autobelay anchors were set away from the wall; these gates are anchored at the base of the wall and basically the fabric blocks the footholds unless you unclip the autobelay and lower the fabric to the floor. They are a significant improvement in regards to preventing someone from climbing without clipping in first. Amazing that's it's such a simple thing.


majid_sabet


Feb 13, 2014, 11:37 PM
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I saw them in my gym yesterday and I wonder what the triangle fabric was for ,now makes sense.


markc


Feb 14, 2014, 7:39 AM
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Earlier in the thread JAB mentioned a gate that stuck out from the wall in gyms he's familiar with. These fabric gates accomplish the same thing but with much greater ease of installation and I'd imagine a really low cost. That's a great solution.


ericthebat


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  I have not talked to the BRC folks re: these fabric barriers; they appear to be made by/for Trublue. The BRC would have issues because the walls are not segregated for different uses, i.e. you may boulder, lead, and top-rope on the same terrain the autobelays occupy, so the fabric would interfere with every other use. Several walls also overhang slightly, so attaching to the floor would be more problematic.
It is a tricky issue trying to find a solution that isn't easily bypassed or avoided by someone, or that interferes with other users.
I don't know whether Mark's family even asked for an autopsy, or felt that nothing meaningful would be gained from it. Theories about some medical condition like heart attack fail to acknowledge the simple fact he was not clipped into the device.


patto


Feb 15, 2014, 1:14 PM
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Re: [ericthebat] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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ericthebat wrote:
I have not talked to the BRC folks re: these fabric barriers; they appear to be made by/for Trublue. The BRC would have issues because the walls are not segregated for different uses, i.e. you may boulder, lead, and top-rope on the same terrain the autobelays occupy, so the fabric would interfere with every other use. Several walls also overhang slightly, so attaching to the floor would be more problematic.
It is a tricky issue trying to find a solution that isn't easily bypassed or avoided by someone, or that interferes with other users.

The number of instances of autobelay accidents is frequent enough that these fabric barriers should used in every instance.

If they interfere with other uses then tough. Auto belay routes should be exclusively for auto belays.


JAB


Feb 17, 2014, 6:01 AM
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Re: [patto] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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patto wrote:
The number of instances of autobelay accidents is frequent enough that these fabric barriers should used in every instance.

If they interfere with other uses then tough. Auto belay routes should be exclusively for auto belays.

Totally agree.

This fabric gate seems to work exactly like the gates I described already several months ago. I still think the metal gates are better, since they also extend outwards (i.e. the triangle is horizontal, not vertical like the fabric model), so the cable is actually extending about 2 feet out from the wall, which means it would be behind your back if you tried to climb without clipping in, giving one more visual clue that something is wrong.

Great to see that the manufacturers finally seem to have reacted! It's a shame it took fatalities, but when reading many of the comments it seems many climbers still prefer to take the calculated risk of plummeting to death due to a second's oversight, than having this simple, cheap and easy solution which so far seems to have prevented 100% of these types of accidents.


Forums : Climbing Information : Accident and Incident Analysis

 


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