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Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym
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patto


Oct 7, 2009, 11:09 PM
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Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym
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A climber decked while using the auto belay at Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym.
http://www.indoorclimbing.com.au/

The device was apparently a well maintained Redpoint Descender Auto Belay (manufactured by MSA).

The climber sustained injuries too his ankle/heels.

Source: http://www.chockstone.org/
In reply to:
Hi Mike from SICG here. The known facts that have come out so far are:

- lyndon was using the device normally i.e he let go about 2 m from the top and when he weighted the device he came down fast. He didn't hit the floor with full force since the strap didn't break but halted his fall about a metre from the ground (the strap is around 12m long and the device is anchored 13m up).
- he's in hospital getting scans and will need an operation - he has heel/ankle injuries.
- we've sent all the devices we have (6) including the failed one back to the manufacturer MSA. MSA Australia has said that the device will be sent to their headquarters in the US for inspection.
- we have followed the manufacturer MSA's instructions and have had them serviced and inspected by MSA every 12 mths or less. This one was serviced, inspected and had its strap replaced as standard procedure in May 09. We have generally been satisfied with their performance - we have had them here between 2 yrs and 3 yrs. This incident changes how we think about them obviously. We are dismayed about what has happened and probably won't be re-installing them although we need to know the reason it failed.
- I would hope that MSA will recall all of these installed in Australia, but if they don't I wouldn't be using them in other gyms until MSA releases more information about the cause of the failure. I would also advise other gym owners to take them down even if MSA don't advise you to.
- we will post any information that is forthcoming from MSA on chockstone as soon as we hear it.
- in the meantime we hope Lyndon has a good recovery.

Mike

Personally I've never used one and have no opinion on their safety. I'm sure these are used thousands of times daily withount incident. I would not begin to suggest these are unsafe. Those it does appear that the auto belay failed and as a result a climber was injured.

Edit: Added source of quote


(This post was edited by patto on Oct 7, 2009, 11:11 PM)


sungam


Oct 8, 2009, 3:49 AM
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Re: [patto] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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I believe that's the second instance of one failing, the other was in a popular gym in England.
I'm not gunna worry about it.


coastal_climber


Oct 8, 2009, 11:01 AM
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Re: [sungam] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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Can't take all the risks out of climbing.

Hope he gets well.


bill413


Oct 8, 2009, 1:14 PM
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Re: [coastal_climber] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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Most portable climbing walls around here have some sort of this device (although I don't know manufacturer or specifics). Should an accident happen on one of those, it could have an impact on not only the portable walls, but gyms as well.
Frown


kachoong


Oct 8, 2009, 1:23 PM
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Re: [patto] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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How much do these things cost anyway? Any more than the cost of training someone to belay? I don't understand completely why they need these devices. Some beginners are probably stupid enough to believe that these are standard at every crag. Who needs to know how to belay when a machine can do it for you. Next they'll invent a Donny Device that cutz da rope and shoots 'em in da fase!


coastal_climber


Oct 8, 2009, 1:32 PM
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Re: [kachoong] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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kachoong wrote:
How much do these things cost anyway?

The ones at the gym I used to work at ran around $1800 each.


viciado


Oct 8, 2009, 1:32 PM
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Re: [patto] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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I have used Red Point self belays for some time and have never had problems. They are pretty simple devices and this failure is a bit concerning. I will be interested to know what MSA says.

The only other failures that I know of were due to mis-use of the device (don't know about the one in England that was mentioned). The 2 cases I know of began their ascents with the webbing twisted in such a way that it did not retract properly into the belay device. They continued to climb ingnoring the loop of slack below their feet. In neither case was there serious injury. The webbing should pass through a "slot" that keeps it rolling straight/flat on the internal spool. If there are several twists, it can potentially stop retracting or retract more slowly than the ascent of the climber. The swivel carabiner normally allows for the webbing to self correct, but I have seen big bellies/ loose clothing keep that from happening. The accident described seems to indicate another mode of failure, which is troubling.

For my use, the device has been a good option for running laps and training but is not completely fool proof and should be used with care and experience. Unfortunately, many gyms use them for beginners to climb on their own.


milesenoell


Oct 8, 2009, 1:37 PM
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Re: [patto] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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In reply to:
Hi Mike from SICG here. The known facts that have come out so far are:

- lyndon was using the device normally i.e he let go about 2 m from the top and when he weighted the device he came down fast. He didn't hit the floor with full force since the strap didn't break but halted his fall about a metre from the ground (the strap is around 12m long and the device is anchored 13m up).

This description is confusing to me. It sounds like it is saying that he stopped when the device was fully extended, which was a meter off the floor. But that makes no sense for two reasons. 1) How does a climber get hooked in if they are a meter off the floor and 2) how do you deck a meter off the floor?

Oh, now I get it. The device fully extended only reaches far enough to clip a harness (which is about a meter off the floor). So he can break his ankles but the rest of his body catches before impact. A shame he didn't know so he could try to keep his legs up rather than landing on his feet.

I imagine that he's basically falling on a static line though, which can't feel good.

Sure hope he heals up quickly.


(This post was edited by milesenoell on Oct 8, 2009, 1:41 PM)


angeleyes


Oct 8, 2009, 2:50 PM
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Re: [patto] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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ouch thanks for posting about this have them at my gym though no idea who makes them.

I've been contemplating taking advantage of them to practice downlclimbing, since there's typically no one waiting either.

I think I may start doing that now hahah. It always freaks me out to get to the top of the climb and just...let go. Minds going no bad habit! haha =0


patto


Oct 8, 2009, 4:57 PM
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Re: [milesenoell] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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viciado wrote:
The accident described seems to indicate another mode of failure, which is troubling.

To quote another who was there "The mechanism at the top failed. It sounded like something broke as he weighted it and then he dropped."

milesenoell wrote:
So he can break his ankles but the rest of his body catches before impact. A shame he didn't know so he could try to keep his legs up rather than landing on his feet.

I imagine that he's basically falling on a static line though, which can't feel good.

From my understanding he definately decked. Line stretch would pretty much guarantee that, static still stretches. 'Lifting his legs up' would have been stupid and wouldn't have saved him. But his feet hitting along with the line catching would have taken alot of the impact.


milesenoell


Oct 8, 2009, 6:18 PM
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Re: [patto] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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Static line definitely stretches (roughly half as much as dynamic if I remember correctly) but we aren't talking about a "static" rope here. How much does webbing really stretch? I don't really have any idea, but I'll bet slackliners do. My assumption was that it's a hell of a lot less than a static line, but then that's just my uneducated assumption talking.

I definitely hear you that letting his spine take the first hit would not be a good plan, and not knowing how much stretch to expect, keeping his legs up isn't a great idea. I was basing my assumption on the wording of the report quoted earlier that led me to believe that the system did catch his fall, just not until his feet and legs had already bottomed out.


Bats


Oct 8, 2009, 6:50 PM
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Re: [patto] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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Where I climb has two auto belays...and the manufacturer requires to check the pressure levels in the hydraulics daily...when pressure too...have a faster return to the ground. Also the gym's autos have steel cables and counter weights they needs routine maintainence like once a year or more if the wall climbed alot.


skelterjohn


Oct 10, 2009, 8:12 AM
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Re: [Bats] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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Bats wrote:
the manufacturer requires to check the pressure levels in the hydraulics daily...when pressure too...have a faster return to the ground.

Most confusing thing I've read this week. Reminds me of some of the stuff in the undergrad exams I've graded.


ClimbClimb


Oct 10, 2009, 3:04 PM
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Re: [patto] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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I've used an autobelayer once or twice at a gym, never particularly liked it or trusted it completely -- mostly b.c. you can't see the mechanism, it's all in a pie-sized sealed box.


Bats


Oct 11, 2009, 8:46 AM
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Re: [skelterjohn] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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In reply to:
the manufacturer requires to check the pressure levels in the hydraulics daily...when pressure too...have a faster return to the ground.
Sorry I typed too fast and I was at the phone at the same time. It should say...
...the manufacturer requires to check the pressure levels in the hydraulics system daily...when pressure is too low...have a faster return to the ground.
I can the gym has never had an accident yet with the auto belay. There were times that were closed, because someone didn't check the level for long period of times.


sungam


Oct 11, 2009, 9:07 AM
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Re: [Bats] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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Bats wrote:
In reply to:
the manufacturer requires to check the pressure levels in the hydraulics daily...when pressure too...have a faster return to the ground.
Sorry I typed too fast and I was at the phone at the same time. It should say...
...the manufacturer requires to check the pressure levels in the hydraulics system daily...when pressure is too low...have a faster return to the ground.
I can the gym has never had an accident yet with the auto belay. There were times that were closed, because someone didn't check the level for long period of times.
Dude... That didn't make sense either...


Partner robdotcalm


Oct 11, 2009, 9:11 AM
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Re: [sungam] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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One safety idea for using an auto-belay is to climb up 5 feet or so and fall to see if it's working prior to starting for the top of the wall.

Cheers,
Rob.calm


ubu


Oct 11, 2009, 10:14 AM
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robdotcalm wrote:
One safety idea for using an auto-belay is to climb up 5 feet or so and fall to see if it's working prior to starting for the top of the wall.

Cheers,
Rob.calm

Good point. Hell, I do this with human belayers just to make sure they're paying attention.


Bats


Oct 11, 2009, 2:24 PM
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Oh well....No hydraulic pressure then crash and burnCrazy...


cushman


Oct 16, 2009, 11:40 AM
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In reply to:
Effective October 14, 2009

MSA the manufacturer of Redpoint Descenders has issued a STOP USE NOTICE issued for all Redpoint Descenders (Part Numbers 10024873,10027646, AND 10027798) - REGARDLESS OF THE DATE THE UNIT WAS MANUFACTURED OR LAST FACTORY SERVICED. (read the full notice from MSA the Manufacturer).

We will not be taking orders or shipping and Redpoint Descenders until the manufacturer (MSA) completes further investigation into the reasons for the Stop Use Notice and has rectified the cause for the Stop Use Notice.

Full PDF here:

http://www.climbingwallindustry.org/..._stop-use_notice.pdf


qtm


Oct 16, 2009, 12:12 PM
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Re: [ClimbClimb] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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ClimbClimb wrote:
I've used an autobelayer once or twice at a gym, never particularly liked it or trusted it completely -- mostly b.c. you can't see the mechanism, it's all in a pie-sized sealed box.

Would it really make you feel better to be able to see the mechanism? Even if you could see the flywheel and the brake shoes, you wouldn't know if they actually worked until you put enough weight on it to spin the flywheel fast enough to activate the braking mechanism. At which point it's probably too late to do anything.


ClimbClimb


Oct 17, 2009, 7:11 AM
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qtm wrote:
Would it really make you feel better to be able to see the mechanism?

Good point, it'd have to also be a mechanism of sufficiently low complexity and self-evident operation (an ATC is a good example) for that to make me feel better by any significant measure.

It may even be impossible to build an auto-belayer mechanism sufficiently simple to make this so.


i_h8_choss


Oct 17, 2009, 7:17 AM
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In reply to:
Some beginners are probably stupid enough to believe that these are standard at every crag.


HaaaaaHaaaaSly wait....probably true.
sad.Shocked


angeleyes


Dec 8, 2009, 9:15 AM
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Re: Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Dec Update - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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New Dec 4 update to this, in a nutshell they're being discontinued.

http://media.msanet.com/...enoticeupdate%29.pdf

Any good alternatives we can recommend to our gyms :-D ?

Only one I know of is nicros

http://www.nicros.com/belays.cfm


cfnubbler


Dec 8, 2009, 10:22 AM
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Re: [angeleyes] Auto Belay Mechanical Failure - Dec Update - Injury in climbing gym [In reply to]
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angeleyes wrote:
New Dec 4 update to this, in a nutshell they're being discontinued.

http://media.msanet.com/...enoticeupdate%29.pdf

Any good alternatives we can recommend to our gyms :-D ?

Only one I know of is nicros

http://www.nicros.com/belays.cfm

This may be a radical solution, but have you considered an actual, you know, belayer?


(This post was edited by cfnubbler on Dec 8, 2009, 10:40 AM)

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