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boymeetsrock


Mar 16, 2009, 11:32 AM
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Jumar Cuts Rope
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I found this report over on Supertopo today:

In reply to:
On October 17, 2008, James Welton fell to his death while climbing the Touchstone route in Zion National Park. The National Park Service subsequently conducted an investigation into the cause of the accident in cooperation with the Washington County Sherriff’s office. Their findings have been released. The three-person climbing party had climbed three pitches (approximately 180 feet) without significant event. When the member leading the fourth pitch had reached the pitch’s top anchor, he tied the end of a rope into it. The climbing party’s gear, weighing 104 pounds, was attached to the bottom end of this rope, which was to be used as a haul line. The climbing partner then ran the haul line, which was also Welton’s ascending line, through a Petzl Pro-traxion device, a pulley which incorporates a cam allowing for rope capture as rope is hauled in. The climbing partner pulled 15 feet of slack through the Pro-traxion prior to Welton starting his ascent. The group planned to haul the gear to the top of the fourth pitch after Welton, the second climber, had completed his ascent. The third party member planned to ascend a second rope, the leader’s lead climbing rope. Welton’s fall occurred when the Pro-traxion failed soon after he started to ascend the haul line. The Pro-traxion operates with a cam and pulley mounted to a fixed plate. A sliding plate allows a rope to be inserted into the device. When the sliding plate is properly closed, a button locks the device together. NPS investigators were able to reproduce the failure of the Pro-traxion during informal tests when the device was closed improperly. They noted that the device could appear to be properly closed (but not truly closed) if the device was weighted prior to the side plate sliding into place. When improperly closed, the device can deform when weighted, causing rope to move rapidly past the cam in the unintended direction. When the Pro-traxion failed, the 15 feet of slack ran rapidly through the device, causing Welton to fall this distance while still attached to the rope by his mechanical ascenders. The force generated by the fall transferred to Welton’s ascenders, which severed the rope, resulting in Welton’s tragic fatal fall. [Submitted by Ray O’Neil, Plateau District Ranger]

Many of us will remember this tragic accident.

Adatesman, perhaps this is something you could test in your new drop tester?


shimanilami


Mar 16, 2009, 12:18 PM
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Re: [boymeetsrock] Jumar Cuts Rope [In reply to]
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That sucks.

I've heard several horror stories about protraxions failing in this way, but this is the first fatal failure I've read about.


socalclimber


Mar 16, 2009, 12:45 PM
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Re: [shimanilami] Jumar Cuts Rope [In reply to]
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Well, while there may indeed be some design issues with the device, let's keep the focus on the real cause of the accident.

He should have not been jugging on a loaded haul line. Period. This is just a really bad idea.

So, rather than trying to learn from gear failure, we need to be learning from judgement failure.

This was bad judgement.

One last shot, IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE AWARE THAT IMPROPER USE OF GEAR IS SOMETHING TO BE AVOIDED AND SCRUTINIZED.

I've heard alot of things about the protraxion. I had no problems with when I used it on a wall. But I will say I'm looking at it with a far more cautious eye.


shimanilami


Mar 16, 2009, 1:16 PM
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Point taken.


boymeetsrock


Mar 16, 2009, 1:26 PM
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Re: [socalclimber] Jumar Cuts Rope [In reply to]
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socalclimber wrote:
*SNIP*

IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE AWARE THAT IMPROPER USE OF GEAR IS SOMETHING TO BE AVOIDED AND SCRUTINIZED.

I've heard a lot of things about the protraxion. I had no problems with when I used it on a wall. But I will say I'm looking at it with a far more cautious eye.

Agreed. Your second statement is why I feel this would be worth testing.


socalclimber


Mar 16, 2009, 1:30 PM
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Cool deal.


socalclimber


Mar 16, 2009, 1:34 PM
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I absolutely agree. I also think that the results should be sent to Petzl. FOR THEIR BENEFIT as well as ours. They are going to closesly analyze the results and ask tons of questions, but outside analysis can't hurt if it's done by someone who knows what they are doing.


GeneralZon


Mar 16, 2009, 1:39 PM
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Re: [boymeetsrock] Jumar Cuts Rope [In reply to]
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Was it the pro-traxion or the mechanical ascenders that severed the rope? From the last sentence I infer that the ascenders did the severing.


boymeetsrock


Mar 16, 2009, 1:55 PM
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Correct. The ascender did the severing. So the test would be on the ascender and not the protraxion. sorry for any confusion.


dingus


Mar 16, 2009, 2:07 PM
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Re: [boymeetsrock] Jumar Cuts Rope [In reply to]
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I can't point to any tests, but I'd offer a blind bet of 10 bucks that 'jumar can cut rope' is well studied, at least in Europe. Keep in mind we are talking about a device that has been on the market for MORE THAN 40 YEARS.

Climbers have risked using Jumars as lead and top rope protection too, over time. Their propensity and ability to cut ropes is well-established, even if somewhat forgotten.

Now of course "Jumar" is a product name that has become the device name (like the Frigidaire!)... and it may have been some other (even more aggressive) tooth ascender.

But the notion of ascenders cutting a rope?

Well.... established.

DMT


Partner xtrmecat


Mar 16, 2009, 2:31 PM
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Re: [dingus] Jumar Cuts Rope [In reply to]
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  Dingus is quite correct. Also besides the bad idea of jugging a loaded line, is the fact that the line was held by a device, and not on the main anchor. A no no in itself.
Bob


styndall


Mar 16, 2009, 2:48 PM
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Re: [dingus] Jumar Cuts Rope [In reply to]
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dingus wrote:
I can't point to any tests, but I'd offer a blind bet of 10 bucks that 'jumar can cut rope' is well studied, at least in Europe. Keep in mind we are talking about a device that has been on the market for MORE THAN 40 YEARS.

Climbers have risked using Jumars as lead and top rope protection too, over time. Their propensity and ability to cut ropes is well-established, even if somewhat forgotten.

Now of course "Jumar" is a product name that has become the device name (like the Frigidaire!)... and it may have been some other (even more aggressive) tooth ascender.

But the notion of ascenders cutting a rope?

Well.... established.

DMT

It seems like it'd take a crazy man to use a toothed ascender as lead protection. Do you know who has done this, and how?


dingus


Mar 16, 2009, 2:53 PM
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Re: [styndall] Jumar Cuts Rope [In reply to]
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Lots of folks. A name brand climber, back in the day, a very strong free climber, soloed his first El Cap climb, using two jumars for lead. He used them to slide the rope through, as you might a grigri. Can't remember the name however.

Bad idea.

But he never fell and so never had to test his setup.

I reckon I used one for top rope self belay in or around 1979, myself.

DMT
DMT


Partner xtrmecat


Mar 16, 2009, 2:54 PM
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Re: [styndall] Jumar Cuts Rope [In reply to]
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  People have been lead climbing and TR on the crolls, basics, and protaxs as long as they have been out. The cookie(Yosemite) has many fixed lines getting TRon pro traxs almost every evening all winter and into the spring.
Bob


(This post was edited by xtrmecat on Mar 16, 2009, 2:54 PM)


boymeetsrock


Mar 16, 2009, 3:10 PM
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Thanks Dingus. I'll look around to satisfy my interest.


Alpine07


Mar 16, 2009, 3:42 PM
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Re: [xtrmecat] Jumar Cuts Rope [In reply to]
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xtrmecat wrote:
People have been lead climbing and TR on the crolls, basics, and protaxs as long as they have been out. The cookie(Yosemite) has many fixed lines getting TRon pro traxs almost every evening all winter and into the spring.
Bob

Using the Mini trax and Basic for solo TR is an acceptable practice, even by Petzl's standards. Lead on the other hand...


pmyche


Mar 17, 2009, 12:21 AM
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GeneralZon


Mar 17, 2009, 5:51 AM
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This is how Petzl instructs on that exact topic. See page 2, #6 Progression on a structure without direct aid from the rope: Self-belaying.

http://en.petzl.com/...CENSBAS_B17504-H.pdf


adatesman


Mar 17, 2009, 6:13 AM
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boymeetsrock


Mar 17, 2009, 6:43 AM
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I was thinking more along the lines of just dropping a weighted Jumar onto x feet of slack. No Protrax involved. But since this has apparently been tested repeatedly...

Thanks for the reply though!


dingus


Mar 17, 2009, 6:58 AM
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boymeetsrock wrote:
I was thinking more along the lines of just dropping a weighted Jumar onto x feet of slack. No Protrax involved. But since this has apparently been tested repeatedly...

Thanks for the reply though!

I said it was well established.

Do the test if it bothers you so.

Prediction- the ascender will cut the rope at loads well below what would be considered safe for this application.

Cheers
DMT


dingus


Mar 17, 2009, 6:59 AM
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pmyche wrote:
It doesn't say the haul line was weighted. I think it was not. I think they got in a hurry to get James up there so they could let out the bag and clean.

As usual, layers of mistakes led to incident:

1 Not backing up the hauler
2 Not using the biner lock on the hauler
3 Using a static line

Take any one of those mistakes out and there probably would not have been an accident.

My condolence to JW's family and friends.

Keep in mind that one of the major aid climbing how-to books squarely recommended using a static line for hauling. Just so's ya know.

DMT


pmyche


Mar 17, 2009, 8:16 PM
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styndall


Mar 17, 2009, 8:55 PM
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Do you think that the protraxion wouldn't have failed if the rope had been dynamic, or that the ascender wouldn't have cut the rope?

It's hard to imagine this playing out differently given a dynamic rope. I sure as hell wouldn't want to take a fifteen foot fall onto a toothed ascender even on a brand new fat dynamic rope.


dingus


Mar 17, 2009, 9:46 PM
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pmyche wrote:
Yes, DM.

I've railed for years about static cordage issues because I've seen firsthand how the material acts in use. The advantages of static are overstated (not nonexistent), and it can be dangerous. We all know the Wall Hauler is too weak for any serious wall use, yet there it was the A5 Big Wall Tech Manual. I've never owned a cordolette--does the book recommend using them?

When you want a marginal piece to hold a fall, you put a screamer on it. Why not extend this preparedness to rope systems? Especially since static's advantages on a wall are dubious for most hauling.

I think jugging on a hauler can be done in a way to mitigate (not eliminate) risk. Read: technique. It's a bit disturbing to see emerging emphasis put on gadgetry versus technique on this website. (And we haven't even gotten into the ascenders yet.)

I'm pretty sure James would be alive if he had been jugging a retired lead line and not a 9mm static. Take that for what it's worth--just like the books in print.

Points well made and taken.

Cheers
DMT

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