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Partner robdotcalm


May 18, 2011, 8:29 PM
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Lowering accident. Serious Injuries
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http://rockandice.com/...or-seriously-injured

This is yet another lowering accident. On 17 May, Phil Powers was being lowered from a climb in Clear Creek Canyon, Colorado, when an error occurred. He fell 50 feet to the ground and incurred serious injuries. He was helicoptered from the scene of the accident. No further information is available at this time. Phil is Executive Director of the American Alpine Club and has a distinguished record as a climber.

Heartfelt wishes to Phil for a good recovery.

Rob.calm


(This post was edited by robdotcalm on May 19, 2011, 4:44 PM)


Partner robdotcalm


May 19, 2011, 10:00 AM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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Here is some updated information. The quote is from the link below.

ęWhen the accident occurred, Powers was climbing with a group near AAC headquarters in Clear Creek Canyonís Highwire area outside of Golden, CO. Clear Creek Canyon is a popular and accessible sport climbing crag on public land.
The area where the group was climbing is directly above the highway and river. The rock formation at the site of the accident is overhanging making direct sight contact difficult. Due to communication difficulties, there was confusion amongst the party over Powersí method of descent which resulted in Powers falling approximately 50 feet to the ground.Ľ

http://www.americanalpineclub.org/p/status

Rob.calm


gblauer
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May 19, 2011, 10:53 AM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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What a terrible tragedy. I hope that he recovers quickly. At our age, recovery is not easy.


Accidents can happen to all of us, but, this one seemed preventable by having a well articulated and understood descent plan prior to leaving the ground. Further, testing, feeling the belayer tension the rope prior to unclipping may have prevented this horrible incident.

None of us are immune. Be careful out there!


redlude97


May 19, 2011, 11:01 AM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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Obviously I wasn't there, but if the route was overhanging to such an extent that the climber was out of sight, wouldn't lowering have been the obvious route of descent? I'm not familiar with that crag and the consensus on lowering from the anchors there so any insight would be appreciated.


darkgift06


May 19, 2011, 2:11 PM
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Re: [redlude97] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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May18th afternoon at around 6:30-7ish... a girl fell off the end of her rope while being lowered off a 30 meter pitch on the Fortress, Skaha Bluffs, Penticton Canada. I guess she had cleaned the anchor & clipped a fig 8 on a bit into her harness to lower, not realizing that it was a full 30 meter pitch & that the 2 meters of rope would have made a difference. She fell approximately 15 feet/5 meters according to eye witness.

Helicopter & Search & rescue came in & flew her out, but took about an hour to an hour & a half.. she was aware, & could feel her toes but she & everyone around were very worried about her & her lower back.

24 yr old girl from Invermere, who had found & met her partners in the parking lot.

No word on injuries.


cnicoll


May 19, 2011, 2:54 PM
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Re: [darkgift06] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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A friend of mine was on scene at the Fortress incident. The problem with this spot is that it's a 30m climb from the ground however theres a small ledge you can belay from making it a 25m climb.

If a simple knot was tied at the end of the rope none of this would have happened.


healyje


May 19, 2011, 3:19 PM
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Re: [redlude97] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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Yes, from the sound of it this was the classic rap-or-lower variety of miscommunication at the top of a one-pitch climb. And as stated, you need to have it explicitly understood before you leave the ground - particularly when climbing in groups where you may end up belayed by someone you don't know. This is one that can bite the experienced and inexperienced alike if you aren't clear upfront.


Partner robdotcalm


May 19, 2011, 8:50 PM
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Re: [darkgift06] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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darkgift06 wrote:
May18th afternoon at around 6:30-7ish... a girl fell off the end of her rope while being lowered off a 30 meter pitch on the Fortress, Skaha Bluffs, Penticton Canada. I guess she had cleaned the anchor & clipped a fig 8 on a bit into her harness to lower, not realizing that it was a full 30 meter pitch & that the 2 meters of rope would have made a difference. She fell approximately 15 feet/5 meters according to eye witness.

This easily avoidable type of accident has been discussed frequently on this site, e.g., http://www.rockclimbing.com/...t_reply;so=ASC;mh=25

A few weeks ago, a climber gave me a new reason why he didn't need to tie a knot in the rope while belaying me: "The rope is 70 meters ". Oh well, another excuse for developing bad habits.

Cheers,
Rob.calm


moose_droppings


May 19, 2011, 9:17 PM
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Re: [darkgift06] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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darkgift06 wrote:
May18th afternoon at around 6:30-7ish... a girl fell off the end of her rope while being lowered off a 30 meter pitch on the Fortress, Skaha Bluffs, Penticton Canada. I guess she had cleaned the anchor & clipped a fig 8 on a bit into her harness to lower, not realizing that it was a full 30 meter pitch & that the 2 meters of rope would have made a difference. She fell approximately 15 feet/5 meters according to eye witness.

Helicopter & Search & rescue came in & flew her out, but took about an hour to an hour & a half.. she was aware, & could feel her toes but she & everyone around were very worried about her & her lower back.

24 yr old girl from Invermere, who had found & met her partners in the parking lot.

No word on injuries.

Belayer wasn't tied in.

Closing the system would of prevented this one.


wwalt822


May 20, 2011, 8:50 AM
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Re: [moose_droppings] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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moose_droppings wrote:
darkgift06 wrote:
May18th afternoon at around 6:30-7ish... a girl fell off the end of her rope while being lowered off a 30 meter pitch on the Fortress, Skaha Bluffs, Penticton Canada. I guess she had cleaned the anchor & clipped a fig 8 on a bit into her harness to lower, not realizing that it was a full 30 meter pitch & that the 2 meters of rope would have made a difference. She fell approximately 15 feet/5 meters according to eye witness.

Helicopter & Search & rescue came in & flew her out, but took about an hour to an hour & a half.. she was aware, & could feel her toes but she & everyone around were very worried about her & her lower back.

24 yr old girl from Invermere, who had found & met her partners in the parking lot.

No word on injuries.

Belayer wasn't tied in.

Closing the system would of prevented this one.

Yeah but very few people tie in on single pitch (i'm sure you are the shining exception). If you are concerned about rope length on single pitch, a knot in the end of the rope is best in a majority of situations. Tying in would use more rope.

The problem is people not being careful or skilled enough to judge when a single pitch climb will even come close to using all of the rope. Halfway markings could help too but thats another flame filled thread.


(This post was edited by wwalt822 on May 20, 2011, 8:55 AM)


lena_chita
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May 20, 2011, 9:03 AM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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I am very sorry to hear about the accident, and I hope Phil Powers makes a good recovery.

This is another reminder that ever experienced people make mistakes.


madrasrock


May 24, 2011, 12:38 PM
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Re: [gblauer] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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Why do we do what we do?

I cannot believe all the communication accidents between the lead climber and the belayer, this year. But it did get me to thinking. Why do we do what we do?

Basic sport lead climbing steps:
Climber climbs up
Placing pro or clipping bolts on the way up
Getís to the top, clips some draws in to the bolt anchors
Getís lowered by the belayer.

Heavily relying on good communication with the bealyer during the decent.

Why do most climbers do it that way?

Letís eliminate the communication problem.

Climber climbs up
Placing pro or clipping bolts on the way up
Getís to the top, clips some draws in to the bolt anchors
Puts ATC or GRiGri on rope, with Auto block back up lowers down.

This would totally eliminate the communication problem that seems to be happening.
Also it would not put the tension on the pro gear at very odd angles.

Rick


bearbreeder


May 24, 2011, 12:51 PM
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Re: [robdotcalm] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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complacency ....

i was climbing this weekend where my belayer took his hand off the brake side of the rope once i was PASed to the bolt ... without me asking to be off belay

i usually pull a bight through and then untie/tie ... always still being on belay ... but when i looked down my belayer was chatting with people with his hand off the brake

the belayer is usually a very safe climber and experienced ...

all it takes is one moment of complacency ... and SPLAT !!!


potreroed


May 24, 2011, 1:09 PM
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Re: [darkgift06] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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darkgift06 wrote:
May18th afternoon at around 6:30-7ish... a girl fell off the end of her rope while being lowered off a 30 meter pitch on the Fortress, Skaha Bluffs, Penticton Canada. I guess she had cleaned the anchor & clipped a fig 8 on a bit into her harness to lower, not realizing that it was a full 30 meter pitch & that the 2 meters of rope would have made a difference. She fell approximately 15 feet/5 meters according to eye witness.

Helicopter & Search & rescue came in & flew her out, but took about an hour to an hour & a half.. she was aware, & could feel her toes but she & everyone around were very worried about her & her lower back.

24 yr old girl from Invermere, who had found & met her partners in the parking lot.

No word on injuries.

This makes it sound like it was the climber's error but it was clearly a belayer's mistake. The climber is only partly at fault for not being aware of the length of the pitch and not checking to be sure there was a knot at the end of the rope. But ultimately, it is the belayer's responsibility to see that the end of the rope does not go through his/her belay device.


jt512


May 24, 2011, 1:32 PM
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Re: [madrasrock] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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madrasrock wrote:
Why do we do what we do?

I cannot believe all the communication accidents between the lead climber and the belayer, this year. But it did get me to thinking. Why do we do what we do?

Basic sport lead climbing steps:
Climber climbs up
Placing pro or clipping bolts on the way up
Getís to the top, clips some draws in to the bolt anchors
Getís lowered by the belayer.

Heavily relying on good communication with the bealyer during the decent.

Why do most climbers do it that way?

Letís eliminate the communication problem.

Climber climbs up
Placing pro or clipping bolts on the way up
Getís to the top, clips some draws in to the bolt anchors
Puts ATC or GRiGri on rope, with Auto block back up lowers down.

Your post is an example of how communication errors occur in climbing. What you describe in your last paragraph (or is it a stanza?) is not lowering; it's rappelling.

Jay


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Re: [healyje] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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Regarding the Clear Creek accident:

redlude97 wrote:
Obviously I wasn't there, but if the route was overhanging to such an extent that the climber was out of sight, wouldn't lowering have been the obvious route of descent? I'm not familiar with that crag and the consensus on lowering from the anchors there so any insight would be appreciated.

The first 15 feet of the climb overhangs, and it's then very slabby all the way to the top. Communication could certainly be difficult. Also, my understanding is that it was raining pretty good, which could have made communication more difficult, and possibly might have made people more likely to hurry.

healyje wrote:
Yes, from the sound of it this was the classic rap-or-lower variety of miscommunication at the top of a one-pitch climb. And as stated, you need to have it explicitly understood before you leave the ground - particularly when climbing in groups where you may end up belayed by someone you don't know. This is one that can bite the experienced and inexperienced alike if you aren't clear upfront.

This is definitely my take-away from the accident. For sure it's a wake-up call to stay vigilant about communication issues, every single day, always.

But later we'll know more about the specifics of the accident.

GO


moose_droppings


May 24, 2011, 1:42 PM
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Re: [wwalt822] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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wwalt822 wrote:
Yeah but very few people tie in on single pitch (i'm sure you are the shining exception). If you are concerned about rope length on single pitch, a knot in the end of the rope is best in a majority of situations.

Tie a knot, tie it to a tree, tie it to a belayer, just close the system.


Partner robdotcalm


May 24, 2011, 5:05 PM
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Re: [lena_chita] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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lena_chita wrote:
I am very sorry to hear about the accident, and I hope Phil Powers makes a good recovery.

This is another reminder that ever experienced people make mistakes.

Gravity does not respect experience.

Rob.calm


redlude97


May 24, 2011, 5:08 PM
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cracklover wrote:
Regarding the Clear Creek accident:

redlude97 wrote:
Obviously I wasn't there, but if the route was overhanging to such an extent that the climber was out of sight, wouldn't lowering have been the obvious route of descent? I'm not familiar with that crag and the consensus on lowering from the anchors there so any insight would be appreciated.

The first 15 feet of the climb overhangs, and it's then very slabby all the way to the top. Communication could certainly be difficult. Also, my understanding is that it was raining pretty good, which could have made communication more difficult, and possibly might have made people more likely to hurry.

healyje wrote:
Yes, from the sound of it this was the classic rap-or-lower variety of miscommunication at the top of a one-pitch climb. And as stated, you need to have it explicitly understood before you leave the ground - particularly when climbing in groups where you may end up belayed by someone you don't know. This is one that can bite the experienced and inexperienced alike if you aren't clear upfront.

This is definitely my take-away from the accident. For sure it's a wake-up call to stay vigilant about communication issues, every single day, always.

But later we'll know more about the specifics of the accident.

GO
Since you seem to be familiar with the area, is lowering or rappelling the usualy method of descent for the area?


jakedatc


May 24, 2011, 6:17 PM
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Re: [madrasrock] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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madrasrock wrote:
Why do we do what we do?

I cannot believe all the communication accidents between the lead climber and the belayer, this year. But it did get me to thinking. Why do we do what we do?

Basic sport lead climbing steps:
Climber climbs up
Placing pro or clipping bolts on the way up
Getís to the top, clips some draws in to the bolt anchors
Getís lowered by the belayer.

Heavily relying on good communication with the bealyer during the decent.

Why do most climbers do it that way?

Letís eliminate the communication problem.

Climber climbs up
Placing pro or clipping bolts on the way up
Getís to the top, clips some draws in to the bolt anchors
Puts ATC or GRiGri on rope, with Auto block back up lowers down.

This would totally eliminate the communication problem that seems to be happening.
Also it would not put the tension on the pro gear at very odd angles.

Rick


there are as many or more examples of people rapping off the end, rapping off uneven ends, etc.

Lowering is the preferred method of getting off single pitch sport routes. If you've ever tried cleaning something even remotely overhanging you'd know that it is at best a pain in the ass and at worst can be pretty sketchy.

you rely on your belayer the whole entire way up the climb.. facing 5, 10, 15+ foot falls depending where you are.. you can't rely on them to lower you off?


Partner cracklover


May 25, 2011, 7:36 AM
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Re: [redlude97] Lowering accident. Serious Injuries [In reply to]
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redlude97 wrote:
cracklover wrote:
Regarding the Clear Creek accident:

redlude97 wrote:
Obviously I wasn't there, but if the route was overhanging to such an extent that the climber was out of sight, wouldn't lowering have been the obvious route of descent? I'm not familiar with that crag and the consensus on lowering from the anchors there so any insight would be appreciated.

The first 15 feet of the climb overhangs, and it's then very slabby all the way to the top. Communication could certainly be difficult. Also, my understanding is that it was raining pretty good, which could have made communication more difficult, and possibly might have made people more likely to hurry.

healyje wrote:
Yes, from the sound of it this was the classic rap-or-lower variety of miscommunication at the top of a one-pitch climb. And as stated, you need to have it explicitly understood before you leave the ground - particularly when climbing in groups where you may end up belayed by someone you don't know. This is one that can bite the experienced and inexperienced alike if you aren't clear upfront.

This is definitely my take-away from the accident. For sure it's a wake-up call to stay vigilant about communication issues, every single day, always.

But later we'll know more about the specifics of the accident.

GO
Since you seem to be familiar with the area, is lowering or rappelling the usualy method of descent for the area?

Here, like most places, the majority of people lower, but many people rap, and anchor hardware varies from climb to climb. It's definitely something each team needs to discuss and decide on.

GO


onrockandice


May 26, 2011, 9:30 AM
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I see a lot of replies implying it was the fault of the belayer. Rubbish.

I climb because I enjoy it. I live because I'm pedantic to the excessive. I read sh!t here all the time about lowering accidents. I refuse to be lowered. My safety is my problem. Nobody is going to have a chance to drop me. I'd never put that burden on someone. The guilt if they mess up and the fact that people mess this up all the time are/were enough for me to change my tactics completely. If you cannot rap safely on your own power then you don't climb with me. When you reach the anchors your safety is your issue.

I've never been "lowered" and I never will be. My habits at the anchors are set in stone. There is no mantra or "method" to it. It's simple. It's been stated and restated here 1000 times.

If you get "dropped" then honestly it's your fault for:

1. Agreeing to be lowered and not being hyper aware of all the safe aspects of a safe-lower.

2. Staying on your personal anchor until the lowering rope is fully tight with your body weight and there is no load at all on your PAS(s). Only then do you unweight disconnect your PAS and lower off. Even then you grab the other side of the rope and hold on until you are sure everything is *SAFE*.

3. Verbal communication is NOT safe. Test that rope liberally before you agree to weight it with no backup at all for lowering.

*NEVER* assume your belayer has the situation under control and blindly trust the system. It's your job to keep yourself alive. Do everything in your power to make sure that when you let go to come down you know that the rope is taught with your weight.

*ALWAYS* skip being lowered. Rappel, rappel safely, back up your rappel, inspect your system, weight the system, repeat at least once more to be sure. Then rappel off safely to the ground.


shockabuku


May 26, 2011, 9:38 AM
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onrockandice wrote:
I see a lot of replies implying it was the fault of the belayer. Rubbish.

I climb because I enjoy it. I live because I'm pedantic to the excessive. I read sh!t here all the time about lowering accidents. I refuse to be lowered. My safety is my problem. Nobody is going to have a chance to drop me. I'd never put that burden on someone. The guilt if they mess up and the fact that people mess this up all the time are/were enough for me to change my tactics completely. If you cannot rap safely on your own power then you don't climb with me. When you reach the anchors your safety is your issue.

I've never been "lowered" and I never will be. My habits at the anchors are set in stone. There is no mantra or "method" to it. It's simple. It's been stated and restated here 1000 times.

If you get "dropped" then honestly it's your fault for:

1. Agreeing to be lowered and not being hyper aware of all the safe aspects of a safe-lower.

2. Staying on your personal anchor until the lowering rope is fully tight with your body weight and there is no load at all on your PAS(s). Only then do you unweight disconnect your PAS and lower off. Even then you grab the other side of the rope and hold on until you are sure everything is *SAFE*.

3. Verbal communication is NOT safe. Test that rope liberally before you agree to weight it with no backup at all for lowering.

*NEVER* assume your belayer has the situation under control and blindly trust the system. It's your job to keep yourself alive. Do everything in your power to make sure that when you let go to come down you know that the rope is taught with your weight.

*ALWAYS* skip being lowered. Rappel, rappel safely, back up your rappel, inspect your system, weight the system, repeat at least once more to be sure. Then rappel off safely to the ground.

I won't climb with you.

If I can't trust you to lower me, I can't trust you to catch me either. It's called a partnership for a reason.

However, I do agree with you at some level - if you get dropped it's your fault for choosing that partner and how the two of you do business.


bearbreeder


May 26, 2011, 9:47 AM
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ditto ...

how can you trust someone to belay you and not to lower you?

its a pretty binary decision (uh oh) ... either you trust your belayer or you dont ...

and if you do and there is a boo boo ... you made the wrong decision

hopefully its corrected without you being hurt and he/she learns from it ...

i always weight my myself on a sling/PAS primarily because its always possible that ive made a mistake setting up or misheard something due to the wind ... i would do that even on rappel when its "all in my hands" and not my belayers


(This post was edited by bearbreeder on May 26, 2011, 9:51 AM)


redlude97


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onrockandice wrote:
I see a lot of replies implying it was the fault of the belayer. Rubbish.

I climb because I enjoy it. I live because I'm pedantic to the excessive. I read sh!t here all the time about lowering accidents. I refuse to be lowered. My safety is my problem. Nobody is going to have a chance to drop me. I'd never put that burden on someone. The guilt if they mess up and the fact that people mess this up all the time are/were enough for me to change my tactics completely. If you cannot rap safely on your own power then you don't climb with me. When you reach the anchors your safety is your issue.

I've never been "lowered" and I never will be. My habits at the anchors are set in stone. There is no mantra or "method" to it. It's simple. It's been stated and restated here 1000 times.

If you get "dropped" then honestly it's your fault for:

1. Agreeing to be lowered and not being hyper aware of all the safe aspects of a safe-lower.

2. Staying on your personal anchor until the lowering rope is fully tight with your body weight and there is no load at all on your PAS(s). Only then do you unweight disconnect your PAS and lower off. Even then you grab the other side of the rope and hold on until you are sure everything is *SAFE*.

3. Verbal communication is NOT safe. Test that rope liberally before you agree to weight it with no backup at all for lowering.

*NEVER* assume your belayer has the situation under control and blindly trust the system. It's your job to keep yourself alive. Do everything in your power to make sure that when you let go to come down you know that the rope is taught with your weight.

*ALWAYS* skip being lowered. Rappel, rappel safely, back up your rappel, inspect your system, weight the system, repeat at least once more to be sure. Then rappel off safely to the ground.
I'm willing to bet you don't climb very many overhanging routes.

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Forums : Climbing Information : Accident and Incident Analysis

 


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