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majid_sabet


Jan 8, 2011, 6:58 PM
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I am totally innocent in a group climbers doing my own thing and unfortunately, there are few bad apples who just hate me.


dynosore


Jan 8, 2011, 7:56 PM
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The checklist is not a bad idea. I've flown small planes a bit and it is very helpful. Climbing isn't as complicated, but judging by the number of easily preventable accidents maybe it's time for a change.


jt512


Jan 8, 2011, 8:12 PM
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majid_sabet wrote:
I am totally innocent in a group climbers doing my own thing and unfortunately, there are few bad apples who just hate me.

Be happy it's only a few. Walk a mile in my Moccasyms, kemosabe.

Jay


jt512


Jan 8, 2011, 8:38 PM
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hoyaguy wrote:
I have been following this web site for about five years and I have learned a lot from the many knowledgeable and community-minded climbers on this site, including Rgold, Dingus, Old Salt, Portreroed, robdotcalm, vegastradguy, blondgecko, moose droppings, curt, vivalargo, blueeyedclimber, cracklover, Gmburns2000, edge, and many others. I’ve even learned from Majid Sabet, who is clearly not a real person but an avatar troll created to ask important safety questions in faux naive ways. Ever notice “Majid Sabet” is an anagram for both “bad aim jest,” and “sad jib meat”?

I finally feel competent enough to offer my first post, and I want to draw attention to what I see as the most serious problem in the climbing community: climbers have failed to develop a key professional safeguard used by those in other potentially deadly endeavors, including airline pilots, doctors, and nuclear power plant operators. Unlike climbers, these professions have in common specific, simple, and memorable checklists of procedures to prevent fatal accidents in situations so common and repetitive that they can lull the mind into complacency despite their deadly urgency. Recent studies in medicine have demonstrated the value of such checklists in reducing the incidence of medical errors, despite the initial resistance of some doctors who thought themselves too smart and well-trained to need something as simple as a checklist.

Contrary to the spirit of checklists, when climbers (or those who survive them) report on this web site an accident or a close call resulting from failure to follow a basic procedure, a common response is to dismiss the climber involved as an idiot. This follows a natural temptation to reassure oneself by thinking “that climber is an idiot, I am not an idiot, therefore this could never happen to me.” But it could happen to you, and it has happened to better climbers than you.

A more realistic and productive response is to recognize that our brains are designed in ways that make simple mistakes possible when habituated behaviors meet passing distractions. Notably, we are in many ways less prone to errors in tricky or demanding situations we encounter in our work or play, as these are infrequent and call forth our full attention. Rather, it is in the mundane routine procedures that we make basic errors. In the absence of safety checklists, taken seriously each time rather than performed in a rote fashion, we are all at risk of basic and potentially fatal mistakes. Lynn Hill recounts in her biography how she was distracted as she tied in at the base of a climb, failed to either finish her knot or double-back her harness (I don’t recall which), went unchecked by her partner, and found herself hurtling 70 feet toward the earth when she leaned back for the belay from the top of her climb. Only her amazing reflexes and presence of mind allowed her to position her body so that her fall was merely injurious rather than fatal. You are unlikely to be as skilled or lucky as Lynn Hill.

Climbers do have one useful checklist embodied in a mnemonic for building anchors. Anchors should be SERENE, or Solid, Equalized, Redundant, and with No Extensions (if you don’t know what all this means, ask a competent climber or consult a good book).

There are, however, two other recurrent and potentially fatal climbing situations -- leaving the ground to climb and getting back to the ground by rappelling -- for which there are no standard safety checklists or mnemonics to my (limited) knowledge. The majority of reports on fatal accidents and close calls that I have read involve failures to follow basic procedures in these two situations, exactly the kind of failures checklists are meant to prevent (thanks, notapplicable and other contributors, for the recent thread on near misses that has prompted me to weigh in).

I hereby propose working drafts of mnemonic checklists for these two situations in the hope of saving the lives of a few fellow climbers, perhaps including you. Take them as you will, suggest any modifications, adapt them for your own tastes, put together a commission to sort out a consensus checklist, whatever. In any event I hope you will use a checklist of some sort and ask your partners to do so as well to reduce the risks of grievous injuries and fatalities.

1) When you start a climb or a pitch tell yourself “Don’t Kill Lynn Hill” (DKLH)

D is for Doubling back your harness

K is for a completed and well-dressed tie in Knot, through both leg loop and harness belt.

L is for a locked and properly loaded belay device held by your partner

H (or HHH) is for belayer with Hand on the rope, Head up, and Hunkered down as necessary (including a belayer secured against an upward pull if belaying a heavier partner who could slam them into the wall or an overhang)


The invocation of Lynn Hill, in addition to making a simple and memorable rhyme, serves as a reminder that the best climbers in the world can make basic and potentially fatal mistakes. It is meant to guard against complacent or rote use of the checklist.

This mnemonic also has the advantage of proceeding in a linear direction from the climber’s body to the belayer’s hand, making it easy to remember and think through, reinforcing the idea that this is an end-to-end system of potential single-point failures, and providing a check on each of the key potential failure points.


2) When you prepare to rappel, recite a few political leaders: King Midas, King Edward, LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson), (King) Tut” (KM, KE, LBJ, TUT)

K/M (King Midas) is for rappel ropes Knotted properly together, or a single rope with the Middle properly set in the rappel anchor (of course, I am presuming a prior check that the anchor is SERENE). Failing to verify that you have the middle of the rope in a single rope rappel, and further failing to knot the ends (see below), is one of the saddest and most pointless ways to die.

KE/King Edward: this is for Knotted Ends of the rappel rope(s). How many reports have you read of accidents from failure to knot the ends of the rope? I’ve even read of this happening to guides. It can happen to you.

LBJ/Lyndon Baines Johnson is for “lock it and back it up, jackass.” L is for a Locked and properly Loaded rappel device. B is for Backing up the rappel device with a “third hand” loop through your harness fixed to the rappel lines with an autoblock or similar friction knot. J for Jackass to remind yourself that you are not above making stupid mistakes (I also couldn’t think of a famous political leader with the initials LB; Lord Byron isn’t quite as memorable for me as LBJ).

TUT is for Testing that the setup will take your weight, and THEN UnTethering. Some who have tried the reverse order, untethering and then testing, are, very sadly, no longer with us.


This mnemonic proceeds in the usual order of the steps of setting up a rappel. It is more complex than the mnemonic for starting a climb. This is both unavoidable and appropriate: rappelling requires that you rely entirely on your system for your safety. Rappelling is also often done without the presence of your partner, so if you are the last (or the only) person rappelling, you can’t rely on your partner to go over the checklist with you.

I am well aware that this proposed checklist for rappelling will be more controversial than that for starting a climb. Many people will resist the idea of backing up every rappel, but in my view this could have saved lives if it was standard procedure and it is easy and quick to do with practice (extend your rappel device with a sling so it is within reach but away from your shirt and hair and gear, keep the third hand close at your waist where you can keep it loose with one hand and release to let it grip if needed. Again, consult a trustworthy climber or book if you need a full explanation and demonstration). In addition to many possible user errors that a backup could catch, rockfall could make even the best climber lose control of a rappel without a backup. It also has the advantage of making it easy to stop and re-start the rappel to clean gear, free stuck ropes, check out the adjacent climbs (or climbers), etc..

Of course, no checklist fits all situations, especially for the rappel. If the rappel is short, lightning is kicking up, and wind could blow the ropes sideways to cracks that would eat up knotted rope ends, you may not want to knot the ends of the rope or take two minutes to back up your rappel. The point is that the procedures in the mnemonic should be the default for most situations and you should depart from them only at your own risk and with full awareness for why you are doing so. The yellow light/proceed with caution part of your brain should kick in every time you depart from one of the steps. Checklists can be especially important when you are hurried, distressed, or distracted, and they can actually save time and prevent more frantic, piecemeal, and repetitive safety checks.

If you can identify simpler, more foolproof, more memorable, or more versatile checklists, let us all know. Of course, much more can (and has) been said on the details, like the conditions under which one should favor the Euro Death Knot with long tails over the fisherman’s knot for knotting rappel ropes together. I have tried to follow the KISS principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid), and I have presumed anyone using a checklist should first have knowledge of basic knots and climbing and belay techniques. The checklist is a supplement to rather than substitute for proper training and good judgment; it touches upon but does not teach essential skills, and of course no checklist can save climbers who lack these skills.

Critiques, suggestions and refinements are welcome.

Then you have tried and failed.

Jay


vegastradguy


Jan 8, 2011, 8:39 PM
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five stars.

love the mnemonic. going to start using it. thanks. 4 stars.

the extra star is because i got plugged. rtwilli is just pissed because you didnt mention him. i bet if you edit it, he'll change his tune! Wink

in all seriousness- i like the first mnemonic. the second is too much work and i'll never remember it. that said, i'd love to see a simple one for rappel. its something that has led to some nasty accidents, and it'd be great to see something that could help prevent them.


blondgecko
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Jan 8, 2011, 9:15 PM
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vegastradguy wrote:
five stars.

love the mnemonic. going to start using it. thanks. 4 stars.

the extra star is because i got plugged. rtwilli is just pissed because you didnt mention him. i bet if you edit it, he'll change his tune! Wink

in all seriousness- i like the first mnemonic. the second is too much work and i'll never remember it. that said, i'd love to see a simple one for rappel. its something that has led to some nasty accidents, and it'd be great to see something that could help prevent them.

How about:

Anchor. Is it solid and is the rope running properly through/around it?
Belay device. Have you threaded it properly, and is the locker done up?
Safety. Are you clipped in hard to the anchor, and do you have your brake strand backed up with a prusik?
Ends. Can you see them on the ground? If not, do they have knots in them?
If so, remove your safety, and
Lower away.


The last two could maybe use some work, but at least the word is easy to remember.


notapplicable


Jan 8, 2011, 10:16 PM
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jt512 wrote:
majid_sabet wrote:
I am totally innocent in a group climbers doing my own thing and unfortunately, there are few bad apples who just hate me.

Be happy it's only a few. Walk a mile in my Moccasyms, kemosabe.

Jay




notapplicable


Jan 8, 2011, 10:24 PM
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Re: [blondgecko] Legendary First Post Saves Lives [In reply to]
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blondgecko wrote:
vegastradguy wrote:
five stars.

love the mnemonic. going to start using it. thanks. 4 stars.

the extra star is because i got plugged. rtwilli is just pissed because you didnt mention him. i bet if you edit it, he'll change his tune! Wink

in all seriousness- i like the first mnemonic. the second is too much work and i'll never remember it. that said, i'd love to see a simple one for rappel. its something that has led to some nasty accidents, and it'd be great to see something that could help prevent them.

How about:

Anchor. Is it solid and is the rope running properly through/around it?
Belay device. Have you threaded it properly, and is the locker done up?
Safety. Are you clipped in hard to the anchor, and do you have your brake strand backed up with a prusik?
Ends. Can you see them on the ground? If not, do they have knots in them?
If so, remove your safety, and
Lower away.


The last two could maybe use some work, but at least the word is easy to remember.

Nice.

Perhaps "I" could be Inspect it all again!

At the risk of making it cumbersome, it also wouldn't hurt to fit a verification of the middle in the sequence somewhere. Not sure where though.


(This post was edited by notapplicable on Jan 8, 2011, 10:25 PM)


qwert


Jan 9, 2011, 1:41 AM
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Quite a few good ideas in the first post, but i agree with JT. It is all kinds of things, but the KISS part totally failed.

I am not very fond of the checklist or mnemonic idea, but yes, one should have some routines/ procedures to follow for basic tasks.

for sport climbing, something like hoyaguy describes could/can work, and (at least here in germany) is actually taught, just without the mnenomic part.

Its simply a "partner check". Before you start climbing, you check your belayer and vice versa.
-Is the knot correct and in the correct loops?
-are the harnesses closed correctly?
-Is the belay device oriented correctly, and the biner closed?
-is the free rope end tied in?
Those are the exact same things you check for with your lin hill thing, and yes, those 4 points will cover a huge part of accident sources.

The problem is:
If you venture away from bolted sport, or gym climbing, those checklist type things become worthless or even dangerous, except if you have a special checklist and mnemoic for every activity and possibility.
If you are hanging around at an alpine rap station for 15 minutes, and try to remember which religious leader of 14th century russia you have to use for a rappel from 3 pitons into unknown terrain, you are doing something wrong.

If you have to many checklists, you are essentially turning an independent climber into a dumb soldier, who can only do that what he got orders for, and nothing more.

qwert


blondgecko
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Jan 9, 2011, 4:04 AM
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qwert wrote:
Quite a few good ideas in the first post, but i agree with JT. It is all kinds of things, but the KISS part totally failed.

I am not very fond of the checklist or mnemonic idea, but yes, one should have some routines/ procedures to follow for basic tasks.

for sport climbing, something like hoyaguy describes could/can work, and (at least here in germany) is actually taught, just without the mnenomic part.

Its simply a "partner check". Before you start climbing, you check your belayer and vice versa.
-Is the knot correct and in the correct loops?
-are the harnesses closed correctly?
-Is the belay device oriented correctly, and the biner closed?
-is the free rope end tied in?
Those are the exact same things you check for with your lin hill thing, and yes, those 4 points will cover a huge part of accident sources.

The problem is:
If you venture away from bolted sport, or gym climbing, those checklist type things become worthless or even dangerous, except if you have a special checklist and mnemoic for every activity and possibility.
If you are hanging around at an alpine rap station for 15 minutes, and try to remember which religious leader of 14th century russia you have to use for a rappel from 3 pitons into unknown terrain, you are doing something wrong.

If you have to many checklists, you are essentially turning an independent climber into a dumb soldier, who can only do that what he got orders for, and nothing more.

qwert

You're not the only one, but I think you've missed the point. The mnemonic isn't really meant for the unusual situations, or for clueless n00bs. It's meant for the situations where arguably most accidents happen - completely routine tasks carried out by experienced but complacent climbers. Forgetting to finish tying the knot. Forgetting to clip in to an anchor, then leaning back onto the safety that wasn't there. Forgetting to knot the ends of the rope, then rapping right off. Threading the short tails of a twin rope rappel. All the simple no-brainer things that you overlook just that once for the very reason that you've done them so many times they've become routine and boring, and sunk beneath your conscious notice.

That's where the rigid system, mnemonic or otherwise, is most valuable.


Gmburns2000


Jan 9, 2011, 7:00 AM
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blondgecko wrote:
vegastradguy wrote:
five stars.

love the mnemonic. going to start using it. thanks. 4 stars.

the extra star is because i got plugged. rtwilli is just pissed because you didnt mention him. i bet if you edit it, he'll change his tune! Wink

in all seriousness- i like the first mnemonic. the second is too much work and i'll never remember it. that said, i'd love to see a simple one for rappel. its something that has led to some nasty accidents, and it'd be great to see something that could help prevent them.

How about:

Anchor. Is it solid and is the rope running properly through/around it?
Belay device. Have you threaded it properly, and is the locker done up?
Safety. Are you clipped in hard to the anchor, and do you have your brake strand backed up with a prusik?
Ends. Can you see them on the ground? If not, do they have knots in them?
If so, remove your safety, and
Lower away.


The last two could maybe use some work, but at least the word is easy to remember.

pfffttt...abseil? there's no need to make up words for rappelling now.























(I'm kidding Tongue) That's MUCH better than the OP's.


garythenuke


Jan 9, 2011, 7:41 AM
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I think this is a good idea. New climbers and old get into ruts at times.
I DO operate a nuclear power plant and we certainly do have procedures and checklists up the wazoo. One giant caution, though, is that checklists and procedures DO NOT take the place of an engaged brain.
When I am operating the power plant I have to keep a skeptical mind towards every thing I approach. I have to assume the procedure has a mistake and it's my job to find it, I have to assume the tag out has a mistake and it's my job to find it and etc. Do you know why I have to be so paranoid? It's because I'm dealing with stuff that can either kill me RIGHT DAMN NOW, kill my buddy tomorrow or next week, or affect the health and safety of the general public.

Having checklists are great. In this instance a climbing checklist seems really long, but there are so many visual cues that you rely on to do the checklist that you have to write a paragraph to make it clear.

I wish there were a standard accepted, all encompassing checklist for climbing. But there are so many varied opinions that I can't see it ever happening. One or two guys I've met give me a hard time for checking their knots or saying "on belay". I don't climb with them....


Partner oldsalt


Jan 9, 2011, 8:43 AM
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garythenuke wrote:
I think this is a good idea. New climbers and old get into ruts at times.
...
I wish there were a standard accepted, all encompassing checklist for climbing. But there are so many varied opinions that I can't see it ever happening. One or two guys I've met give me a hard time for checking their knots or saying "on belay". I don't climb with them....

I was taught the steps to take to ensure giving and receiving a safe belay. I don't use a mnemonic, because I visualize and follow a series of steps - the object-oriented version of your symbol-oriented one.

A system is truly needed when we do things. These posts should get us all to review the idea of how we remember each step in the things we do. Mnemonics are helpful to some, but not all. Hoyaguy's suggestions should be seriously considered, and then followed, ignored or modified to suit your own style.

My wake-up came when I read the accident report on the death of an experienced woman who built a rappel anchor on North Ridge (Table Rock, NC), checked it with her partner, tested it, and it failed when she took her first step for real. I had cleaned my first route for my partner's first gear lead there seven days earlier.

The naysayers keep me reminded that part of why I climb is because everyone does NOT do it as a specific set of rules. I don't want people to tell me how I have to do things, and Gary does not do this. Thanks for giving us a well considered read, and please don't wait so long for your next post.


hafilax


Jan 9, 2011, 11:30 AM
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Mnemonics don't really do much for me but ever since I learned 'your the man and I'm the hand' I say it every time I use a GriGri and chuckle to myself while I'm checking our setups. Sometimes when in the gym or cragging I've checked my setup so many times that I can't remember if I've done it this time and having a trigger phrase like that can return focus to double checking.

When I double check, I don't forget anything. It's forgetting to double check altogether that is the issue so anything that encourages that routine is a good thing IMO. I border on being paranoid about rappelling so I almost go into a heightened state of awareness when that time comes.

TL;DR Mnemonics don't do much for me but silly phrases do more for reminding me to check my setup.


bill413


Jan 9, 2011, 12:03 PM
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notapplicable wrote:
blondgecko wrote:
vegastradguy wrote:
five stars.

love the mnemonic. going to start using it. thanks. 4 stars.

the extra star is because i got plugged. rtwilli is just pissed because you didnt mention him. i bet if you edit it, he'll change his tune! Wink

in all seriousness- i like the first mnemonic. the second is too much work and i'll never remember it. that said, i'd love to see a simple one for rappel. its something that has led to some nasty accidents, and it'd be great to see something that could help prevent them.

How about:

Anchor. Is it solid and is the rope running properly through/around it?
Belay device. Have you threaded it properly, and is the locker done up?
Safety. Are you clipped in hard to the anchor, and do you have your brake strand backed up with a prusik?
Ends. Can you see them on the ground? If not, do they have knots in them?
If so, remove your safety, and
Lower away.


The last two could maybe use some work, but at least the word is easy to remember.

Nice.

Perhaps "I" could be Inspect it all again!

At the risk of making it cumbersome, it also wouldn't hurt to fit a verification of the middle in the sequence somewhere. Not sure where though.

How about:
I can see the next station or know where I want it.

then L would become Look at everything again.


Partner j_ung


Jan 9, 2011, 12:41 PM
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Okay, I've read the whole thread. There's a possibility, however small, that the OP is a troll of such subtle brilliance that I can't even make up my mind whether it's a troll or not. If it is a troll, then hoyaguy has executed it so well that all the other posts in the thread almost seem like co-conspirators. The weaving of themes both rational (check yourselves!) and irrational (just remember 3 dead Presidents and a pharaoh!) is absolutely expert.


sbaclimber


Jan 9, 2011, 12:46 PM
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j_ung wrote:
There's a possibility [..] that the OP is a troll
I still refuse to read all of the OPost, but based on replies (mine included), I think you may be onto something here....


bill413


Jan 9, 2011, 2:06 PM
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j_ung wrote:
Okay, I've read the whole thread. There's a possibility, however small, that the OP is a troll of such subtle brilliance that I can't even make up my mind whether it's a troll or not. If it is a troll, then hoyaguy has executed it so well that all the other posts in the thread almost seem like co-conspirators. The weaving of themes both rational (check yourselves!) and irrational (just remember 3 dead Presidents and a pharaoh!) is absolutely expert.

There is danger in overanalyzing a thing of beauty.


socalclimber


Jan 9, 2011, 7:27 PM
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hoyaguy wrote:
I have been following this web site for about five years and I have learned a lot from the many knowledgeable and community-minded climbers on this site, including Rgold, Dingus, Old Salt, Portreroed, robdotcalm, vegastradguy, blondgecko, moose droppings, curt, vivalargo, blueeyedclimber, cracklover, Gmburns2000, edge, and many others. I’ve even learned from Majid Sabet, who is clearly not a real person but an avatar troll created to ask important safety questions in faux naive ways. Ever notice “Majid Sabet” is an anagram for both “bad aim jest,” and “sad jib meat”?

I finally feel competent enough to offer my first post, and I want to draw attention to what I see as the most serious problem in the climbing community: climbers have failed to develop a key professional safeguard used by those in other potentially deadly endeavors, including airline pilots, doctors, and nuclear power plant operators. Unlike climbers, these professions have in common specific, simple, and memorable checklists of procedures to prevent fatal accidents in situations so common and repetitive that they can lull the mind into complacency despite their deadly urgency. Recent studies in medicine have demonstrated the value of such checklists in reducing the incidence of medical errors, despite the initial resistance of some doctors who thought themselves too smart and well-trained to need something as simple as a checklist.

Contrary to the spirit of checklists, when climbers (or those who survive them) report on this web site an accident or a close call resulting from failure to follow a basic procedure, a common response is to dismiss the climber involved as an idiot. This follows a natural temptation to reassure oneself by thinking “that climber is an idiot, I am not an idiot, therefore this could never happen to me.” But it could happen to you, and it has happened to better climbers than you.

A more realistic and productive response is to recognize that our brains are designed in ways that make simple mistakes possible when habituated behaviors meet passing distractions. Notably, we are in many ways less prone to errors in tricky or demanding situations we encounter in our work or play, as these are infrequent and call forth our full attention. Rather, it is in the mundane routine procedures that we make basic errors. In the absence of safety checklists, taken seriously each time rather than performed in a rote fashion, we are all at risk of basic and potentially fatal mistakes. Lynn Hill recounts in her biography how she was distracted as she tied in at the base of a climb, failed to either finish her knot or double-back her harness (I don’t recall which), went unchecked by her partner, and found herself hurtling 70 feet toward the earth when she leaned back for the belay from the top of her climb. Only her amazing reflexes and presence of mind allowed her to position her body so that her fall was merely injurious rather than fatal. You are unlikely to be as skilled or lucky as Lynn Hill.

Climbers do have one useful checklist embodied in a mnemonic for building anchors. Anchors should be SERENE, or Solid, Equalized, Redundant, and with No Extensions (if you don’t know what all this means, ask a competent climber or consult a good book).

There are, however, two other recurrent and potentially fatal climbing situations -- leaving the ground to climb and getting back to the ground by rappelling -- for which there are no standard safety checklists or mnemonics to my (limited) knowledge. The majority of reports on fatal accidents and close calls that I have read involve failures to follow basic procedures in these two situations, exactly the kind of failures checklists are meant to prevent (thanks, notapplicable and other contributors, for the recent thread on near misses that has prompted me to weigh in).

I hereby propose working drafts of mnemonic checklists for these two situations in the hope of saving the lives of a few fellow climbers, perhaps including you. Take them as you will, suggest any modifications, adapt them for your own tastes, put together a commission to sort out a consensus checklist, whatever. In any event I hope you will use a checklist of some sort and ask your partners to do so as well to reduce the risks of grievous injuries and fatalities.

1) When you start a climb or a pitch tell yourself “Don’t Kill Lynn Hill” (DKLH)

D is for Doubling back your harness

K is for a completed and well-dressed tie in Knot, through both leg loop and harness belt.

L is for a locked and properly loaded belay device held by your partner

H (or HHH) is for belayer with Hand on the rope, Head up, and Hunkered down as necessary (including a belayer secured against an upward pull if belaying a heavier partner who could slam them into the wall or an overhang)


The invocation of Lynn Hill, in addition to making a simple and memorable rhyme, serves as a reminder that the best climbers in the world can make basic and potentially fatal mistakes. It is meant to guard against complacent or rote use of the checklist.

This mnemonic also has the advantage of proceeding in a linear direction from the climber’s body to the belayer’s hand, making it easy to remember and think through, reinforcing the idea that this is an end-to-end system of potential single-point failures, and providing a check on each of the key potential failure points.


2) When you prepare to rappel, recite a few political leaders: King Midas, King Edward, LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson), (King) Tut” (KM, KE, LBJ, TUT)

K/M (King Midas) is for rappel ropes Knotted properly together, or a single rope with the Middle properly set in the rappel anchor (of course, I am presuming a prior check that the anchor is SERENE). Failing to verify that you have the middle of the rope in a single rope rappel, and further failing to knot the ends (see below), is one of the saddest and most pointless ways to die.

KE/King Edward: this is for Knotted Ends of the rappel rope(s). How many reports have you read of accidents from failure to knot the ends of the rope? I’ve even read of this happening to guides. It can happen to you.

LBJ/Lyndon Baines Johnson is for “lock it and back it up, jackass.” L is for a Locked and properly Loaded rappel device. B is for Backing up the rappel device with a “third hand” loop through your harness fixed to the rappel lines with an autoblock or similar friction knot. J for Jackass to remind yourself that you are not above making stupid mistakes (I also couldn’t think of a famous political leader with the initials LB; Lord Byron isn’t quite as memorable for me as LBJ).

TUT is for Testing that the setup will take your weight, and THEN UnTethering. Some who have tried the reverse order, untethering and then testing, are, very sadly, no longer with us.


This mnemonic proceeds in the usual order of the steps of setting up a rappel. It is more complex than the mnemonic for starting a climb. This is both unavoidable and appropriate: rappelling requires that you rely entirely on your system for your safety. Rappelling is also often done without the presence of your partner, so if you are the last (or the only) person rappelling, you can’t rely on your partner to go over the checklist with you.

I am well aware that this proposed checklist for rappelling will be more controversial than that for starting a climb. Many people will resist the idea of backing up every rappel, but in my view this could have saved lives if it was standard procedure and it is easy and quick to do with practice (extend your rappel device with a sling so it is within reach but away from your shirt and hair and gear, keep the third hand close at your waist where you can keep it loose with one hand and release to let it grip if needed. Again, consult a trustworthy climber or book if you need a full explanation and demonstration). In addition to many possible user errors that a backup could catch, rockfall could make even the best climber lose control of a rappel without a backup. It also has the advantage of making it easy to stop and re-start the rappel to clean gear, free stuck ropes, check out the adjacent climbs (or climbers), etc..

Of course, no checklist fits all situations, especially for the rappel. If the rappel is short, lightning is kicking up, and wind could blow the ropes sideways to cracks that would eat up knotted rope ends, you may not want to knot the ends of the rope or take two minutes to back up your rappel. The point is that the procedures in the mnemonic should be the default for most situations and you should depart from them only at your own risk and with full awareness for why you are doing so. The yellow light/proceed with caution part of your brain should kick in every time you depart from one of the steps. Checklists can be especially important when you are hurried, distressed, or distracted, and they can actually save time and prevent more frantic, piecemeal, and repetitive safety checks.

If you can identify simpler, more foolproof, more memorable, or more versatile checklists, let us all know. Of course, much more can (and has) been said on the details, like the conditions under which one should favor the Euro Death Knot with long tails over the fisherman’s knot for knotting rappel ropes together. I have tried to follow the KISS principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid), and I have presumed anyone using a checklist should first have knowledge of basic knots and climbing and belay techniques. The checklist is a supplement to rather than substitute for proper training and good judgment; it touches upon but does not teach essential skills, and of course no checklist can save climbers who lack these skills.

Critiques, suggestions and refinements are welcome.

Good stuff. Here's my take:

You've learned to use the single most important climbing tool you have.

YOUR BRAIN!

Good for you.


shimanilami


Jan 9, 2011, 10:31 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] Legendary First Post Saves Lives [In reply to]
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majid_sabet wrote:
I am totally innocent in a group climbers doing my own thing and unfortunately, there are few bad apples who just hate me.

Whatever, dude. Hoyaguy has already established that you are but an avatar created for the sole purpose of trolling (although you seem so real when we climb together!)

Here's my noob-monic:

A, B, C.

Check your Anchor. Check your Belayer. Check your Climber. In that order.

And if you fuck up ... A, B, C again. (Airway, Breathing, Circulation ...)


(This post was edited by shimanilami on Jan 9, 2011, 11:12 PM)


majid_sabet


Jan 9, 2011, 11:59 PM
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Re: [shimanilami] Legendary First Post Saves Lives [In reply to]
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O.P.E

Observation = check your entire life support system ( harness, all links, anchor, rope, even your dirty long grease monkey hair before it jams in to belay device).

Plan = Be clear on what you are going to do and discuss it with other partners.

Execute = Do it but have plan C, D and E in place in case you fuc* up.


(This post was edited by majid_sabet on Jan 10, 2011, 12:00 AM)


bill413


Jan 10, 2011, 5:12 AM
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Re: [majid_sabet] Legendary First Post Saves Lives [In reply to]
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majid_sabet wrote:
O.P.E

Observation = check your entire life support system ( harness, all links, anchor, rope, even your dirty long grease monkey hair before it jams in to belay device).

Plan = Be clear on what you are going to do and discuss it with other partners.

Execute = Do it but have plan C, D and E in place in case you fuc* up.

Trouble is, your "O" is so broad that it needs its own checklist.


blueeyedclimber


Jan 10, 2011, 6:18 AM
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Re: [hoyaguy] Legendary First Post Saves Lives [In reply to]
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Whether you are on or not, right or wrong, I think it's a good first post. If this works for you, then good. I do not see if working for the vast majority of folks, though. One, it is overly complicated and there is no way I would remember it. Two, neumonic devices are usually used to remember content. I would be very surprised if any climber didn't know or remember the basic skills they would need before climbing or rappelling. The problem arises from doing something so routine that you get comfortable. When you get comfortable, in certain people and in certain situations, it promotes complacency.

The idea is to never become so comfortable in certain climbing situations that you become complacent and overlook the basic safety measures. To ALWAYS be on your guard is tough, if not impossible, but if you can remember to be in those MOST important times and remember to ALWAYS perform those basic, key safety checks, then you will probably keep yourself and your partners safe and alive.

Josh


fresh


Jan 10, 2011, 7:18 AM
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Re: [hoyaguy] Legendary First Post Saves Lives [In reply to]
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love it hoyaguy. I'm not sure I'll adopt it, but I love the spirit behind your post. haters gonna hate, but if they disagree with this part, they're probably gunna die:

In reply to:
A more realistic and productive response is to recognize that our brains are designed in ways that make simple mistakes possible when habituated behaviors meet passing distractions. Notably, we are in many ways less prone to errors in tricky or demanding situations we encounter in our work or play, as these are infrequent and call forth our full attention. Rather, it is in the mundane routine procedures that we make basic errors. In the absence of safety checklists, taken seriously each time rather than performed in a rote fashion, we are all at risk of basic and potentially fatal mistakes.

I think pneumonics are great for learning, but I don't use them in practice. SRENE is great for understanding the basics, but I've never recited it to myself while building an anchor.

what I normally do in a safety check is to start at one end of the system, go to the other end of the system, and check every step along the way. I think it's just more intuitive.

perhaps the most important thing is to do a comprehensive safety check every time, regardless of the format.


marc801


Jan 10, 2011, 7:42 AM
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blueeyedclimber wrote:
...neumonic devices...
fresh wrote:
...pneumonics...

And a few other variations up thread.

Folks, it's a MNEMONIC.

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