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hawaii_climbing_guy


May 1, 2010, 10:06 AM
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How could this fall have turned out better?
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This is a minor incident that happened yesterday, April 30, 2010. I got a little bruised up and my ankle is a bit sore, but I'm fine. I'd just like to discuss what happened so that I can be safer in the future.

I was climbing an off-width crack in Zion National Park called Sumo Wrestler (5.10-). I usually don't climb this sort of route so I thought it was a chance to try something a bit out of the ordinary.

I think I was about 40 feet up and had placed several pieces deep in the crack. Each piece was clipped to a short dog-bone quickdraw. No extension slings were used. My last piece was a #4 Camalot.

At this point, I made a mistake. I saw some thin flakes protruding from the face high and to the left of the crack. I jammed a leg in the crack and grabbed the flakes. I knew the flakes were weak and liable to break. However, off-width technique is not my strong suite and I gave in to the temptation to pull down hard on the flakes. Almost immediately, the flakes crumpled in my hands and I was airborn.

As I came down, the rope sheared on the left side of the crack. My belayer says that he jumped back away from the wall to shorten the fall. I slammed into the wall fairly hard, bruising my left hip and tweaking my right ankle. I won't be climbing again for at least a few days.

What is very disconcerting, though, is that the rope was sheared to the core. As a matter of fact, a few of the core strands were severed. I feel that if the edge had been sharper, you might be reading about another incident similar to the July 11, 2009 Seneca Rocks incident ( see other thread ).

By my own analysis, the cause of the fall was pulling down on holds that I knew were likely to break. The cam was about at my feet, so I was not run out. I've been wondering if it would have been wise to put a runner on that last cam; would that have prevented the rope shearing on the edge of the crack? The crack eans a little bit to the left at the point where the rope presumably sheared, so that probably contributed to the shear damage. Would it likely have prevented damage to the rope had the belayer given a dynamic belay instead of jumping away from the wall?

Off-width junkies, please chime in? :-)


majid_sabet


May 1, 2010, 10:44 AM
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Re: [hawaii_climbing_guy] How could this fall have turned out better? [In reply to]
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hawaii_climbing_guy wrote:
This is a minor incident that happened yesterday, April 30, 2010. I got a little bruised up and my ankle is a bit sore, but I'm fine. I'd just like to discuss what happened so that I can be safer in the future.

I was climbing an off-width crack in Zion National Park called Sumo Wrestler (5.10-). I usually don't climb this sort of route so I thought it was a chance to try something a bit out of the ordinary.

I think I was about 40 feet up and had placed several pieces deep in the crack. Each piece was clipped to a short dog-bone quickdraw. No extension slings were used. My last piece was a #4 Camalot.

At this point, I made a mistake. I saw some thin flakes protruding from the face high and to the left of the crack. I jammed a leg in the crack and grabbed the flakes. I knew the flakes were weak and liable to break. However, off-width technique is not my strong suite and I gave in to the temptation to pull down hard on the flakes. Almost immediately, the flakes crumpled in my hands and I was airborn.

As I came down, the rope sheared on the left side of the crack. My belayer says that he jumped back away from the wall to shorten the fall. I slammed into the wall fairly hard, bruising my left hip and tweaking my right ankle. I won't be climbing again for at least a few days.

What is very disconcerting, though, is that the rope was sheared to the core. As a matter of fact, a few of the core strands were severed. I feel that if the edge had been sharper, you might be reading about another incident similar to the July 11, 2009 Seneca Rocks incident ( see other thread ).

By my own analysis, the cause of the fall was pulling down on holds that I knew were likely to break. The cam was about at my feet, so I was not run out. I've been wondering if it would have been wise to put a runner on that last cam; would that have prevented the rope shearing on the edge of the crack? The crack eans a little bit to the left at the point where the rope presumably sheared, so that probably contributed to the shear damage. Would it likely have prevented damage to the rope had the belayer given a dynamic belay instead of jumping away from the wall?

Off-width junkies, please chime in? :-)

can you post some photos of your rope ?


caughtinside


May 1, 2010, 10:57 AM
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Not sure why your belayer would jump down to shorten the fall with a piece at your feet.

As for the rope... rocks are sharp.


styndall


May 1, 2010, 11:07 AM
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Was the rope cut in the section between you and the last piece of pro? With protection deep in a crack, if you fall, your rope is going to be dragged across the edges of the crack no matter what.


nkane


May 1, 2010, 11:27 AM
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Sounds like you got hurt because your belayer gave you a hard catch and slammed you into the wall.

But I think the rope did its job - it saved your ass when dragged across a sharp edge.

I don't know if a softer catch would have saved your rope, but it might have saved your ankle; placing gear closer to the edge of the crack might have prevented the rope from running over the edge, but that might not have been possible.


jmeizis


May 1, 2010, 11:49 AM
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Re: [hawaii_climbing_guy] How could this fall have turned out better? [In reply to]
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A couple questions:

What diameter was the rope?
Who was the rope manufacturer?
Was the rope damaged in one spot or several spots?

My first thought was that you should have put longer runners on your pieces and my second thought was that your belayer should have given you a softer catch, unless of course there was the possibility of you hitting something. After a little thought though I don't think having a longer runner would have necessarily prevented the injury or the rope damage. If you had a longer runner it might have actually cut on the rock being thinner than the rope and that might have sent you sailing even farther, possibly severing your cord when it came tight against the rock on the next piece. Now your belayer giving a softer catch might have both prevented you from hurting your ankle and might have made the force of the rope against the edge a little less damaging. It's hard to say without having a good visual. It's hard to imagine, sandstone, even a sharp edged piece, actually cutting the rope and not abrading it through. It'd help to have a picture of the rope.


hawaii_climbing_guy


May 1, 2010, 1:56 PM
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It is my partner's rope. I don't have the make and model right now; he went off exploring by himself while I try to stay off my ankle.

It appears to be between 10 and 11 mm. I don't know the manufacturer. The shear is about one meter above where the tie-in point would have been.

Sure, the rope did it's job and kept my @$$ off the ground. I just want to make sure I'm setting up my pro correctly so that I don't have an incident where my @$$ does hit the ground.

Also, it may be notable that I pulled down a sharp death-block from the route before the incident.

I will post the photo of the rope when it becomes available.


acorneau


May 1, 2010, 6:42 PM
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Just a small point:

The rope didn't "shear" against the edge, it was abraded and/or cut by the edge.

As the others have said, if your belayer had just locked off instead of shortening the slack in the rope you would have had a softer catch. Most likely no need for any "jumping up/forward" business.


Partner angry


May 1, 2010, 6:49 PM
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Just a bad catch, nothing more, nothing less.


socalclimber


May 1, 2010, 7:26 PM
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angry wrote:
Just a bad catch, nothing more, nothing less.

Well, actually there is, leading way above his abilities. A 10 anything off width is as a general rule, serious business.

Maybe next time try working on those skills on something a little easier, maybe the .7 to .8 range. Leading at your limits on a route you yourself admitted are not all that skilled at is probably not the best idea.

Glad to hear things didn't turn out worse for you. On the other hand, maybe you learned a valuable lesson here.

Don't be complacent with the numbers.


(This post was edited by socalclimber on May 1, 2010, 7:51 PM)


Partner robdotcalm


May 1, 2010, 8:22 PM
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Glad you came out of this in one piece.

I never use dogbones on trad placements. I do use them for clipping bolts. { There have been a couple of serious accidents reported from dogbones torquing trad gear out of the placement. For example, it is assumed that this was a factor in the tragic death of Goran Kropp http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/News_GoranKropp.htm }

Possibility: In your case the short, stiff draw on a piece of gear placed deep within the crack could have contributed to the rope running along the edge by pulling the rope in towards the crack as you fell. I always use a full length runner on deeply paced gear, in part, to avoid that possibility.

Cheers,

RobKelman.calm
01-May-10 20:58:00 MST (-6 UMT)


rockforlife


May 1, 2010, 10:50 PM
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acorneau wrote:
Just a small point:

The rope didn't "shear" against the edge, it was abraded and/or cut by the edge.

As the others have said, if your belayer had just locked off instead of shortening the slack in the rope you would have had a softer catch. Most likely no need for any "jumping up/forward" business.

Why do so many people look down in this? Do you not understand that most of the time if you step forward or a little hop up (depending on weight of climbers) can make the caches SOOOO much softer.

Now don't get me wrong, there are many spots while climbing you should not do this, i.e. close to the ground/ledge ect. But if you are about 40 feet up with your last cam just below your feet, why not give a soft catch and lower the forces on the gear. And in this case maybe even the save wear on the rope.


shimanilami


May 1, 2010, 11:37 PM
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If I'm picturing it correctly, you put yourself in a sketchy position and your belayer did the absolute worst thing possible. Your rope was running deep inside the crack up until your last piece, whereupon it angled out to follow you. When you fell, your belayer pulled the rope tight against the edge, and the rope ground against the edge the entire distance that you fell.

You were 40 feet up and your last piece was at your feet. Your belayer should have given you several armfuls of slack. If he had done this, the rope would not have come taut until you were well below the piece. You would have received a soft catch which would have saved your ankle. Also, the angle of the rope against the sharp edge would have been less severe, which might have saved the rope.


yokese


May 2, 2010, 3:32 AM
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shimanilami wrote:
If I'm picturing it correctly, you put yourself in a sketchy position and your belayer did the absolute worst thing possible.

Absolutely worst thing possible? I can picture something much worse.

In reply to:
Your rope was running deep inside the crack up until your last piece, whereupon it angled out to follow you. When you fell, your belayer pulled the rope tight against the edge, and the rope ground against the edge the entire distance that you fell.

This seems not to be what the OP is describing: "The shear is about one meter above where the tie-in point would have been."

In reply to:
You were 40 feet up and your last piece was at your feet. Your belayer should have given you several armfuls of slack. If he had done this, the rope would not have come taut until you were well below the piece. You would have received a soft catch which would have saved your ankle.

As already discussed in several threads, giving armfuls of slack does not soften the catch but actually increases the fall factor, except for falls with a factor already >1. Giving slack does not equal to dynamic belay.


jaablink


May 2, 2010, 6:12 AM
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Its good to have a variety of draws. We mainly use quick draws for sport routs . Most of the time we use heavier nylon runners . The nylon takes some hard abuse, and it is very inexpensive at under $2.change a runner verses the more expensive ,lighter and thinner dynema/spectra runners. We tend to use them more when speed, weight, and space are very important.

It is good to hear you survived your epic…and hopefully you’re a little wiser… take your time to heal up, the rock is not going anywhere…


That said… extending past the lip of the crack may have helped a bit. The runner would have taken the sharp edge instead of the rope. If the runner blew out, at least you would be in line with the next piece so the sharp edge would be taken out of the equation.

… you were climbing crack…. Stay in the crack….

If you see some fractured flakes you know are not good, it may be wise to stay on the climb you are on and not deviate…. Especially on soft sandstone where even good holds have been known to break. Even when we are on high quality granite , we are always wary of flakes/daggers and are always assessing them for quality and potential hazards. In most cases we try and stay clear of them if we have that option. Loose block has the potential to hit your partner.
….Your belayer has to protect you efficiently for the relative situation…. and you need to protect your belayer….


Partner angry


May 2, 2010, 6:50 AM
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Now I'm not that old (31) but I'd been through most of my hard knocks by the time I created an account online.

It never really occured to me to post an analysis of every time I busted my ass. I'm not flat out saying that you shouldn't post but it's just a fall that wasn't too pretty.

We've all had a hundred of them.

Still the best advice which has only been alluded to on this thread is that there are many times when it's not OK to fall, to be able assess when you're in that situation is more important than your runners or how much practice you've had placing pro.

That and your belayer should buy the beer for the rest of the trip.


rtwilli4


May 2, 2010, 7:07 AM
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socalclimber wrote:
angry wrote:
Just a bad catch, nothing more, nothing less.

Well, actually there is, leading way above his abilities. A 10 anything off width is as a general rule, serious business.

Maybe next time try working on those skills on something a little easier, maybe the .7 to .8 range. Leading at your limits on a route you yourself admitted are not all that skilled at is probably not the best idea.

Glad to hear things didn't turn out worse for you. On the other hand, maybe you learned a valuable lesson here.

Don't be complacent with the numbers.

Come on. There is nothing wrong with getting on a climb at your limit. How are you supposed to get better at OW by leading climbs that are easy for you?

It was the belayers fault that his ankle is messed up. There is hardly ever a need to take in rope, unless the climber is facing a ground fall, a ledge fall, or a cheese grater fall down a slab. Otherwise, the longer the fall, the softer the catch. The softer the catch, the less stress is placed on the gear.

As for the rope... ropes get core shots. That's why they are built so tough in the first place. I couldn't say for sure, but if your belayer hadn't yanked you into the wall, maybe your rope wouldn't have had such a violent encounter with the rock.


jaablink


May 2, 2010, 8:18 AM
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It is good to push yourself on harder climbs when you are acquainted a with a style, an area ,and its nuances.

When we travel to areas we are not familiar with, we always spend a day or two climbing easy routes to warm up and get a better understanding of the medium.
This is also a good idea when going from one style to another. After months of crack climbing it always takes me time to readjust back to slab, face , or Gunks overhangs. We start off low, and work our way up.

Similar ,if you are not proficient at one style you should always take it easy for a while until you learn to do that style well at lower grades.

And as the op states he saw a hazard and then went for that hazard understanding the consequences. It was a poor decision made by the leader. What would have happened if a large flake broke off cutting his rope or hitting and knocking out his partner? The leader is responsible for their and the safety and education of the belayer.


notapplicable


May 2, 2010, 8:24 AM
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angry wrote:
Now I'm not that old (31) but I'd been through most of my hard knocks by the time I created an account online.

It never really occured to me to post an analysis of every time I busted my ass. I'm not flat out saying that you shouldn't post but it's just a fall that wasn't too pretty.

We've all had a hundred of them.

Still the best advice which has only been alluded to on this thread is that there are many times when it's not OK to fall, to be able assess when you're in that situation is more important than your runners or how much practice you've had placing pro.

That and your belayer should buy the beer for the rest of the trip.

Ditto on the importance of knowing when it's just not ok to fall and the FREE BEER, but I'm gonna have to disagree with you on not posting up questions when you have them.

Now, I don't want to hear every "It got dark and I couldn't find the rap station so I had to spend the night on the mountain" "epic" that people have. It's nothing special and nobody cares. This guy OTOH had what sounds like a close call (I'd like to see pics of the rope) and is uncertain as to all of the contributing factors and what, if anything, he can do differently next time to be a safer leader.

I think thats a damn good question to ask. Not that I think it can be answered in reference to that specific route because most of us have never seen it but his team did a number of things that would be considered less than ideal on the majority of gear routes, so there is still an opportunity for a productive discussion.

Or are you just trolling again...?


shimanilami


May 2, 2010, 8:49 AM
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yokese wrote:
shimanilami wrote:
If I'm picturing it correctly, you put yourself in a sketchy position and your belayer did the absolute worst thing possible.

Absolutely worst thing possible? I can picture something much worse.

OK. But by the sounds of it, it nearly became the "worst thing possible".

yokese wrote:
shimanilami wrote:
Your rope was running deep inside the crack up until your last piece, whereupon it angled out to follow you. When you fell, your belayer pulled the rope tight against the edge, and the rope ground against the edge the entire distance that you fell.

This seems not to be what the OP is describing: "The shear is about one meter above where the tie-in point would have been."

You and I must have a different picture in our minds, because from my perspective, the fall scenario and rope damage match up perfectly.

yokese wrote:
shimanilami wrote:
You were 40 feet up and your last piece was at your feet. Your belayer should have given you several armfuls of slack. If he had done this, the rope would not have come taut until you were well below the piece. You would have received a soft catch which would have saved your ankle.

As already discussed in several threads, giving armfuls of slack does not soften the catch but actually increases the fall factor, except for falls with a factor already >1. Giving slack does not equal to dynamic belay.

"Soft catch" is a loaded term I should not have used. Still, as I picture it, the belayer pulled tight which resulted in an abrupt swing into the rock, which resulted in an ankle injury. Perhaps we are picturing things differently, but as I see it, armfuls of slack would have resolved both the ankle and rope damage.


hawaii_climbing_guy


May 2, 2010, 10:55 AM
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In reply to:
As I came down, the rope sheared on the left side of the crack. My belayer says that he jumped back away from the wall to shorten the fall. I slammed into the wall fairly hard, bruising my left hip and tweaking my right ankle. I won't be climbing again for at least a few days.

I'd like to offer up a correction. My belayer now tells me that the way I described the catch is not entirely accurate. He says that he did not "jump back" away from the wall. Rather, he simply stepped down to remove slack from the system. Still, it felt like a tough slam into the wall.
In reply to:


Partner angry


May 2, 2010, 2:20 PM
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Then he's backpedalling. USnavy taught him to slam your ass and he did.


Partner j_ung


May 2, 2010, 2:54 PM
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You may have effectively trapped the rope inside the crack while you fell to the outside it. Longer draws, a softer catch, and gear placed closer to the outside of the crack... one or even all of those might all have helped.

Edit: ...he wrote from the comfort and safety of his armchair.


(This post was edited by j_ung on May 2, 2010, 2:55 PM)


socalclimber


May 2, 2010, 6:39 PM
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"Come on. There is nothing wrong with getting on a climb at your limit. How are you supposed to get better at OW by leading climbs that are easy for you? "

Well, actually there is. This accident is not purely the belayers fault. The "leader" clearly got himself in over his head, by a large margin.

Apparently you're very new to climbing. By starting on something much tamer that was more at his level, he would have been able to learn some skills, and not find himself in a desperate situation. It's very clear to me by his description of the incident that he knowingly headed into bad territory because he was scared.

In this situation, he used poor judgement. Not only by his own admission did not have ow skills, he now how to grapple with gear to boot.

Great way to get into trouble.


jt512


May 2, 2010, 9:36 PM
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hawaii_climbing_guy wrote:
I'd like to offer up a correction. My belayer now tells me that the way I described the catch is not entirely accurate. He says that he did not "jump back" away from the wall. Rather, he simply stepped down to remove slack from the system. Still, it felt like a tough slam into the wall.

Your belayer slammed you into the wall. Unless you were in danger of decking or hitting a ledge, he fucked up. He increased the impact force on you and on the gear. That's a serious error on gear, in general. On gear in soft Zion sandstone, it is a very serious error.

Jay

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Forums : Climbing Information : Accident and Incident Analysis

 


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