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NEAR MISS REPORT: The stupid mistakes edition
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notapplicable


Jan 2, 2011, 10:50 AM
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NEAR MISS REPORT: The stupid mistakes edition
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I fucked up a few weeks back and although it didn’t end badly, it certainly could have.

I was at the gym climbing with two of my regular partners and had been leading most of the day. The route I was on was at my onsight limit but nothing special beyond that. What was exceptional was what I saw as I cruxed above the last bolt and glanced down to check the rope run and fall line. I noticed an extra figure-8 tied in the rope below my harness and I kinda did a double take. When I looked closer, I realized that it wasn’t an extra figure-8, it was the ONLY figure-8 and the tale end of the rope just ran through my tie-in points and draped down the front. WTF!!

Now, me being the idiot that I am, my first thought was (not joking here) “can I tie that one handed and preserve the onsight?”. Of course my second thought was “don’t be a jackass, down climb”, so I did. I got to the bolt below me and clipped in and tied the knot and shakily finished the route. Needless to say, there were some raised eyebrows waiting for me back on the ground.

I honestly can't remember what distracted me from finishing my knot but I have my suspicions. I remember wondering where I had put my shoes and I remember spotting them behind where John was sitting and I grabbed them right then and put them on, so I’m pretty sure that’s when it happened. And as usual, it was more than one event or mistake that lined up just right to allow for this kind of thing to happen. While we don’t have a perfect batting average, the group I was with that day are pretty consistent about double checking each other and overtly do so 80% of the time with another 15% done with eye contact but no verbal communication. Not sure if we were too busy talking shit or just plain forgot but this climb fell within the remaining 5%.

Certainly I'm not the most safety conscious climber in the world and I freely admit that but I try to keep and eye on the simple stupid stuff, especially after earning my avatar. Shit slips thru the cracks though and it's that shit that will kill you. I just got lucky is all. So no big lessons here, just a reminder to doublecheck yourself, and each other.

One final note. I've personally developed the habit of quickly glancing down at my harness and fall line before entering a crux or if I think I might fall and it's helped to avoid awkward or dangerous falls in the past, this time it probably kept me from getting seriously injured or killed. For those who aren't in the habit, it might be something to think about.

Mods, if you think this belongs in general, feel free to move it.


notapplicable


Jan 2, 2011, 11:01 AM
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Re: [notapplicable] NEAR MISS REPORT: The stupid mistakes edition [In reply to]
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This post was inspired by reading the discussion in the 30 ft fall to the ground thread about people not posting personal accounts because of the acidic nature of the responses. I figured, as a regular poster, I should go ahead and throw myself under the bus instead of just paying lip service.

You are encouraged to do the same...Cool


(This post was edited by notapplicable on Jan 2, 2011, 11:04 AM)


Partner oldsalt


Jan 2, 2011, 11:25 AM
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Gutsy post! If your belayer isn't equally abashed, you need to find another. My guess is that it won't happen again for either of you.


dan2see


Jan 2, 2011, 11:35 AM
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One day at the crag, this sweet young thing was about to climb this route, and I was her belayer. Well I thought she was cute, and she thought I was funny.

"Climbing" she said.
"On belay" I said.

Then I looked at the rope. It was lying on the ground. All of it. I looked at my hands. They were empty. I looked at the girl's harness. No rope. She was already a few steps off the ground. No rope.

"Uhh... look at your knot", I yelled.
She looked back at me and asked, "Why?"
"Just look at your knot", I repeated.

She looked at her belay loop. No knot. Then she looked at me. No belay.

She climbed back down. We both felt pretty stupid.

"Now we'll both double-check each other!" I commanded.
"Yes sir", she replied.

So our lesson is:
When your brain is elsewhere, that's when you'll make a mistake.
If you catch it in time, you can feel stupid, but you'll live.
But it's too close, and you deserve to feel stupid.


dan2see


Jan 2, 2011, 11:37 AM
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There's a route at our gym, the route-setter put a little sign about 1/2 way up:

"Check your knot"

Sure! Laugh


lena_chita
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Jan 2, 2011, 11:39 AM
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Well, since this is the same mistake Lynn Hill has once made, you are in good company.

Two things that I've done that fall into stupid mistake category:

One time when cleaning the anchors at the end of the day I had to untie b/c the anchor rings were not big enough to put a bight or rope through, and I have re-tied the figure 8 through my leg loop, instead of the tie-in points. I caught it when I was double-checking my knot before going off direct, and re-tied the knot properly.


The other time, I was cleaning a route after leading it, and it was overhanigng enough to require a trolley. I somehow clipped the quickdraw to the rope on both sides, positioning it above the figure 8 and below the double fisherman's instead of clipping the trolley QD to my belay loop. After cleaning a few draws, the double-fisherman's got untied by the upward pressure of the quickdraw, because it was not dressed well and the tail was pretty short... and the draw shot up to the anchors, leaving me, after a big unexpected wild swing, hanging in space with no way to get back to the rock. I had to lower off, and my partner re-lead the route to get the gear.

To this day, when I think about it, in both cases, all I can think of is, "WTF?" I have no idea at all what was going though my head. Both cases happened at the end of the day, and in both cases I was more than "normally" tired.

The take-home lesson is the one we all know, but sometimes still miss: always double-check knots, gear, partner. Especially, double-check if you are tired. And don't get distracted.


sungam


Jan 2, 2011, 12:05 PM
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Re: [oldsalt] NEAR MISS REPORT: The stupid mistakes edition [In reply to]
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oldsalt wrote:
Gutsy post! If your belayer isn't equally abashed, you need to find another. My guess is that it won't happen again for either of you.
You would think that after the first time...


Good post, though, NA.




p.s. YOU WUZ IN A GYM????


jt512


Jan 2, 2011, 12:13 PM
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notapplicable wrote:
One final note. I've personally developed the habit of quickly glancing down at my harness and fall line before entering a crux or if I think I might fall and it's helped to avoid awkward or dangerous falls in the past, this time it probably kept me from getting seriously injured or killed. For those who aren't in the habit, it might be something to think about.

The middle of the pitch is no place to be checking your knot. You need to strengthen your habit of not leaving the ground until you are sure you're tied in properly.

Jay


notapplicable


Jan 2, 2011, 12:16 PM
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sungam wrote:
oldsalt wrote:
Gutsy post! If your belayer isn't equally abashed, you need to find another. My guess is that it won't happen again for either of you.
You would think that after the first time...

The first time I was consciously aware of the fact that I hadn't tied the knot correctly. Both stooooooopid mistakes, but different circumstances. I do find the similarities between the two events rather unnerving though.Unimpressed


In reply to:
p.s. YOU WUZ IN A GYM????

I consider this event further proof that gyms serve little purpose other than to cultivate and nurture gumbyism.


sungam


Jan 2, 2011, 12:33 PM
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notapplicable wrote:
sungam wrote:
oldsalt wrote:
Gutsy post! If your belayer isn't equally abashed, you need to find another. My guess is that it won't happen again for either of you.
You would think that after the first time...

The first time I was consciously aware of the fact that I hadn't tied the knot correctly. Both stooooooopid mistakes, but different circumstances. I do find the similarities between the two events rather unnerving though.Unimpressed


In reply to:
p.s. YOU WUZ IN A GYM????

I consider this event further proof that gyms serve little purpose other than to cultivate and nurture gumbyism.
Monkey see fail, monkey do fail.


notapplicable


Jan 2, 2011, 12:35 PM
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jt512 wrote:
notapplicable wrote:
One final note. I've personally developed the habit of quickly glancing down at my harness and fall line before entering a crux or if I think I might fall and it's helped to avoid awkward or dangerous falls in the past, this time it probably kept me from getting seriously injured or killed. For those who aren't in the habit, it might be something to think about.

The middle of the pitch is no place to be checking your knot. You need to strengthen your habit of not leaving the ground until you are sure you're tied in properly.

Jay

Couldn't agree more and I've never consciously used that quick check to inspect my knot. More to make sure gear on my harness hasn't gotten twisted in the rope, the last draw isn't backclipped, no features to hit, that kind of thing.

Like I said, I got lucky. That quick check allowed me the opportunity to catch it but I could have just as easily missed it like I did every other time I looked down during the climb. Hell, I clipped 5-6 draws and didn't see it.


iknowfear


Jan 2, 2011, 12:58 PM
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Here is my story: Couple of years ago, in the calanques. Due to some fuckups (stuck rope) we had to start rapelling in the dark.
I prepared my rapel:

1: Fix Prussik to leg loop, and pull up some rope
2: Feed Rope through ATC and clip ATC in Rappel Sling (this was the old rappel Sling by Mammut, not the new one with the fancy big loop)
3: Pull up rope until ATC is tight and unclip from anchor

Now, I have to say, I HATE rapelling. The multiple single points of failure, every error could be your last one etc. I hate it. Especially the moment after unclipping from the anchor untill the ATC is really loaded...

And that hate might have saved my bacon. When starting the rappel, I Noticed that my ATC was clipped AROUND the sling, and not in. So I clipped back into the anchor and clipped in my ATC. Had to wait for a few secs for the adrenaline levels and pulse to come down a bit before starting the rappel.

To this day, I triple check my setups before rappels. And I still dont like it.

Was it "really" dangerous? Maybe not. (A 30 cm shock load onto a prussik). Was it a stupid mistake: Yep


ubu


Jan 2, 2011, 1:31 PM
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Wow. Glad you're ok. That could have ended very badly.

My version of this fuck-up goes as follows. About a year ago, I was belaying my wife on top rope for a route well above her onsight limit, i.e. she would absolutely have taken a fall at the crux about 2/3 up the wall. We checked each other at the base. Belay on, climb on. As she began to ascend it suddenly hit me that when I checked her tie-in, it was perfect...for a belay! Yes, she had the rope running through the ATC clipped to her loop. It was a major wake-up moment for us both.


bill413


Jan 2, 2011, 3:07 PM
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After hearing the details of Lynn Hill's accident, I try and always practice "Once you start tying in, don't stop until you're finished tying in." If you forget your shoes, your chalk, whatever - get it after you finish your knot.

NA's experience certainly reinforces the importance of this. Thanks for sharing - everyone.


blondgecko
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Jan 2, 2011, 3:17 PM
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OK, I'll play. Two occasions come to mind:

The first was more silly than seriously dangerous. Led off up a trad line near my limit, with a crux start (overhanging, difficult to downclimb). Pulled through that, found a reasonable stance, and reached down for my nuts... which weren't there. In fact, apart from the quickdraws my entire rack was still on the ground. Since we had a few "spare" people around, it worked out easily enough - they found a stick long enough to send the rack up, and that was that (I even kept the onsight).

The other case was more serious, because we were already well off the ground (second pitch of The Bard at Mt Arapiles). Easy territory on bombproof rock, which is probably what led to me getting complacent. Anyway, I'd just led off from the belay and placed my first piece when my partner told me to stop. He'd just realized that he threaded the wrong end of the rope through his belay device, effectively giving me an entire rope length of slack. Clipped in directly to the piece I'd just placed, and waited while he fixed the problem. We finished the remaining pitches uneventfully.
Blush


airforceclmr


Jan 2, 2011, 3:23 PM
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Here is mine that has lingered in my mind for years.

About 11 years ago my wife and i met up with her family in Jasper AB for some camping and rock climbing. We headed off to Morrow Slabs to show her dad how safe rock climbing was. We were climbing on a new route to us (don't remember the name) and she set up for lead. She flashed up the climb, built an anchor and called out that she was ready to lower. The plan was to have her family top rope the climb after. I must have been too busy day dreaming, spraying to her father or enjoying the scenery because i didn't notice the lack of the half rope mark. I lowered her almost all the way down but when she was 3 feet off the ground i felt the terrible feeling of the UN-KNOTTED rope rip thru my hands and belay device. She landed on her feet beside me and gave me a "what the hell" look. None of her family seemed to pick up that this was a bad thing.

Analysis: Even thought this was a crag and my wife was not hurt, the implications were huge to me. We began to tie in both climber and belayer or knot the end after that. I like to think i now have a little more focus on middle rope management and route description. It has never happened to me again.

Andrew


Gmburns2000


Jan 2, 2011, 4:29 PM
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damn dude. glad you're OK and thanks for sharing. that was a close call indeed.


potreroed


Jan 2, 2011, 5:55 PM
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I once jumared a fixed rope most of the way up the 10th pitch of a new route I was bolting (we were living on a ledge on the ninth pitch) and was about to take a rest when I noticed that I hadn't clipped my daisies in!!!

On another occasion, after a couple of falls, I learned that the last pass through on a figure 8 knot is redundant.

I've never made either of those mistakes again.


kobaz


Jan 2, 2011, 8:39 PM
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I'm trying to think through my travels of any near misses. The closest I've come up with is the following...

The previous day I had been out sport climbing at Table Mountain in Colorado. The current day I had just finished following a warmup at Eldo on the right side of the Wind Tower. I don't remember the name, but I could probably find it online. It was the first pitch of this 50 foot 5.4 that ended in a huge ledge. I got to the ledge and immediately started untieing. My partner looked at me with her wtf? look. And I realized my error and quickly tied back in.

I wasn't in any danger at the time, the ledge was almost kitchen room sized, but still... one of my rules is 'you never untie while on multipitch' (unless for some reason you really need to). I was totally going on autopilot, continuing from the previous day of single pitch sport climbing. Up, down, untie, belay... up, down, untie, belay...

Here's another one.

One day I quickly tied in at the gym for one last lead before closing. I clip the second to last bolt right before the crux, look down at my harness and realize only my leg loop side of the tiein has my 8 going through it. I quickly put a biner through, connecting my waist loop to the rest of the system.

And one last one.

Also at the Wind Tower in Eldo, I was belaying my partner on the second pitch of a climb. I was hanging on the anchor comfortably and for some reason, zoned out and started taking in slack like I was belaying a toproper. My partner screams down, HEY, DONT PULL. Oh shit I almost pulled her off.


moose_droppings


Jan 2, 2011, 9:45 PM
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Years back I was running laps up a top rope solo using my rescucender. I'd get to the top and remove the recucender and leave it hanging off the belay loop on a locker, then switch over to my belay device and rap the route and switch back at the bottom. After several laps I got up above the crux to take a rest and happened to look down to see I hadn't reattached the rescucender. I was free soloing without knowing it. Luckily I was able to pull up some slack and throw an 8 on a bight and clip in at this rest spot and attach the rescucender. I was a half mile from the road in an area you won't see people very often. I've always tried to do double and triple checks, but this time I missed it and got lucky.


socalclimber


Jan 2, 2011, 9:50 PM
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I'll play. I just have to figure out which one to choose from. There have been plenty...


boymeetsrock


Jan 3, 2011, 6:53 AM
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I have two that stand out.

1) Lead the first of a two pitch climb and finished at a hanging belay. While hanging there @ 160' off the ground I noticed my harness felt loose. I thought to myself, 'I really though I snugged this up before leaving the ground.' Looked down and realized I hadn't doubled-back my buckles. The whole thing was sliding loose while I was hanging in it! I think I had my second on an auto-block, which made it easier to double-back the buckles while maintaining the belay.

2) In the gym and still new to lead belay with a gri-gri. I noticed I threaded the gri-gri backwards when my partner was already two or three clips up the wall. I immediately asked a third member of our group to give me a back up belay. Once the climber could clip in I re-threaded the belay. I also chastised both of us for not catching that pre-climb.


Perhaps it is the simple tasks that are most easy to overlook and that are often deadly if missed.


socalclimber


Jan 3, 2011, 6:59 AM
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boymeetsrock wrote:
I have two that stand out.

1) Lead the first of a two pitch climb and finished at a hanging belay. While hanging there @ 160' off the ground I noticed my harness felt loose. I thought to myself, 'I really though I snugged this up before leaving the ground.' Looked down and realized I hadn't doubled-back my buckles. The whole thing was sliding loose while I was hanging in it! I think I had my second on an auto-block, which made it easier to double-back the buckles while maintaining the belay.

2) In the gym and still new to lead belay with a gri-gri. I noticed I threaded the gri-gri backwards when my partner was already two or three clips up the wall. I immediately asked a third member of our group to give me a back up belay. Once the climber could clip in I re-threaded the belay. I also chastised both of us for not catching that pre-climb.


Perhaps it is the simple tasks that are most easy to overlook and that are often deadly if missed.

I've seen that gri gri screw a number of times over the years. I am very paranoid and triple check them every time. Great devices, but people seem to do this a lot.


sungam


Jan 3, 2011, 7:34 AM
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You're the man, I'm the hand! Pre climb chant every time.


gblauer
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Jan 3, 2011, 7:40 AM
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I am Glad you are ok!

A guy at our gym did the same thing, only he finished the climb and sat back. He hit the deck and broke his ankle very badly.

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