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bearbreeder


Dec 21, 2012, 2:05 PM
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Rappel accident, 60' fall
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http://www.youtube.com/...ed&v=3T4FT2SHFLo

its canyoneering, but its still highly relevant

http://www.bogley.com/...Rubio-Canyon-60-fall

On Thalehaha Falls in Rubio Canyon, Altadena, CA, my buddy rigged his autoblock incorrectly. When he slipped on the mossy face, he sadly instinctively let go of the brake line. He fell 60'. It was miraculous that he walked away with nothing but deep bruises. Credit the shallow pool, slight slope of the face, landing on his butt, and the redirection the autoblock created which contributed some friction.

I actually haven't rappelled first in ages, always the leader now and checking others' rigging. But he wanted me to get pics and video of his coming down. He has done about 25 rappels total in his canyoneering career, including the 100/120' Leontine falls in the same canyon. I was concerned, I cautioned him, but he insisted. So I went down.

His mistake, as verified by still from the video, was that he didn't clip his autoblock 'biner into the leg loop. Rather it was above the leg loop. Of course it slid up and couldn't cinch the brake line.

In hindsight, a fireman's belay would have prevented this. Such is the risk of a 2 man descent and the desire to get video/pics. I don't know if I should have insisted on going last, or forgone the pics and done a fireman's belay, or done like I did and granted that a canyoneer is responsible for themselves at some point in their career.

Thankfully his ego is the most bruised of all.



acorneau


Dec 21, 2012, 6:34 PM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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One lucky mo-fo.


Gmburns2000


Dec 21, 2012, 7:28 PM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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bearbreeder wrote:
http://www.youtube.com/...ed&v=3T4FT2SHFLo

its canyoneering, but its still highly relevant

http://www.bogley.com/...Rubio-Canyon-60-fall

On Thalehaha Falls in Rubio Canyon, Altadena, CA, my buddy rigged his autoblock incorrectly. When he slipped on the mossy face, he sadly instinctively let go of the brake line. He fell 60'. It was miraculous that he walked away with nothing but deep bruises. Credit the shallow pool, slight slope of the face, landing on his butt, and the redirection the autoblock created which contributed some friction.

I actually haven't rappelled first in ages, always the leader now and checking others' rigging. But he wanted me to get pics and video of his coming down. He has done about 25 rappels total in his canyoneering career, including the 100/120' Leontine falls in the same canyon. I was concerned, I cautioned him, but he insisted. So I went down.

His mistake, as verified by still from the video, was that he didn't clip his autoblock 'biner into the leg loop. Rather it was above the leg loop. Of course it slid up and couldn't cinch the brake line.

In hindsight, a fireman's belay would have prevented this. Such is the risk of a 2 man descent and the desire to get video/pics. I don't know if I should have insisted on going last, or forgone the pics and done a fireman's belay, or done like I did and granted that a canyoneer is responsible for themselves at some point in their career.

Thankfully his ego is the most bruised of all.

Nothing to do with the autoblock - he let go of the freakin' rope.


patto


Dec 21, 2012, 8:32 PM
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Re: [Gmburns2000] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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Gmburns2000 wrote:
Nothing to do with the autoblock - he let go of the freakin' rope.

Which is more likely if one has the assumption that their autoblock will offer protection if you let go of the rope.


Partner rgold


Dec 22, 2012, 7:56 AM
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Re: [patto] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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Right. It used to be an absolute cardinal rule that you never took the brake hand off the rappel line, unless you had wound the brake strand five times around your thigh. Autoblocks have changed all that, and this isn't the first accident involving an autoblock failure. At least one such failure has killed an experienced climber.

The fact of the matter is that autoblocks don't always work. If you wind them really tight, they make rappelling a pain. If you wrap them too loose, they may not grab, and they won't grab at all unless you let go of them. If you don't get good spacing between the knot and the rap device, they won't grab. Setups that appear to work may suddenly release if the rappeller raises their leg.

Autoblocks are basically there to save the climber in case something knocks them out, but if something does knock them out, then you have an unconscious climber hanging on the rappel line, with the potential for a long and complicated rescue.

I'm not saying autoblocks are worthless, but I think a more nuanced approach, rather than always using them, is preferable. In particular, a "fireman's belay" for all but the first person down seems to me to make far more sense.

On the other hand, extending the rap device to eye level seems to me to be a really good idea, whether you are combining that with an autoblock or not. You get a bit more friction out of the rappel device and can easily use both hands for braking. (Having one hand above the device is pretty dumb if you think about it...) You can easily throw on an autoblock at any time if you see the need for one.

There are downsides to an extended device. It is harder to start rappels with low anchors, and the device can grate disturbingly against the lips of overhangs you rap over. You have to be very careful to keep long hair out of the device and not let a hot device touch bare skin (say on your shoulder). All in all, I think the plusses outweigh the minuses though, and a number of very experienced climbers I've encountered seem to agree. They rappel with an extended device whether or not they are using an autoblock.


bearbreeder


Dec 22, 2012, 8:30 AM
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Re: [rgold] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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keep both hands below the device ...

its really that simple

the autoblock doesnt make up for poor rap technique

Wink


namoclimber


Dec 22, 2012, 10:40 AM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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Is this a common practice to not use double rope rap when available.
If you let go of the brake hand this will happen.
Lucky as hell it ended the way it did.


marc801


Dec 22, 2012, 10:53 AM
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Re: [namoclimber] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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namoclimber wrote:
Is this a common practice to not use double rope rap when available.
In canyoneering, a double rope rap is almost never used except by the clueless. Typically you use a 9mm static rap line anchored with a biner block, and a 6mm or 7mm retrieval line. Both are payed out from rope buckets as needed by the first person down, thus avoiding having to deal with 70m of rope all over the place for an 8m drop.


socalclimber


Dec 22, 2012, 9:16 PM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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It's simple. Close the system. If I even think that going over the edge is going to be tricky, I just pull up 10 feet of rope and tie a knot in it. That way if I blow it on the edge, I'm not going very far.


healyje


Dec 23, 2012, 2:54 AM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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Rgold, I think you're being a bit too kind in this instance and Gmburns2000 is pretty spot on and the bottom line is this person clearly wasn't competent to be doing that rap.

I also believe this has nothing whatsoever to do with an autoblock and everything to do about not having the requisite experience to maintain his brake hand on the rope under those conditions.

He's lucky to be alive.


patto


Dec 23, 2012, 5:35 AM
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Re: [healyje] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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If there was an Rgold fanclub I would be a Gold Star Member. Like usual I believe he hits the nail on the head.

There is a whole lot of evidence that points towards the ineffectiveness of autoblocks in panic situations. There are also numerous failures of incorrectly rigged autoblocks or other failures to stop the descent.

The problem arises because the autoblock is ROUTINELY used as a reliable backup when in reality there is a really isn't the case. Extending the device significantly improves the reliability of the autoblock. Though firemans is almost always the best option.


healyje wrote:
I also believe this has nothing whatsoever to do with an autoblock and everything to do about not having the requisite experience to maintain his brake hand on the rope under those conditions.

If you think the autoblock will reliably operate as a second hand then your instinct to hold onto the rope will likely decrease. In contrast if you consider it death to let go then in all probability you wont.


(Next week I'm going for a 8 days of canyoning with a largish group of mixed abilities. There is a culture among some of excessive use of the autoblock. This is something I wish to change or at least insist on fireman's belays as well.)


wivanoff


Dec 23, 2012, 5:43 AM
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Re: [marc801] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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marc801 wrote:
namoclimber wrote:
Is this a common practice to not use double rope rap when available.
In canyoneering, a double rope rap is almost never used except by the clueless. Typically you use a 9mm static rap line anchored with a biner block, and a 6mm or 7mm retrieval line. Both are payed out from rope buckets as needed by the first person down, thus avoiding having to deal with 70m of rope all over the place for an 8m drop.

LOL.... Using a 70m rope AND a retrieval line for an 8m drop sounds pretty clueless


Partner rgold


Dec 23, 2012, 7:07 AM
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Re: [healyje] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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healyje wrote:
Rgold, I think you're being a bit too kind in this instance and Gmburns2000 is pretty spot on and the bottom line is this person clearly wasn't competent to be doing that rap.

I also believe this has nothing whatsoever to do with an autoblock and everything to do about not having the requisite experience to maintain his brake hand on the rope under those conditions.

He's lucky to be alive.

Joe, I almost agree with what you are saying. Letting go of the brake strand like that would have been a sign of total incompetence BITD.

But nowadays autoblocks have convinced a large proportion of climbers that they can let go whenever they want---I see it all the time, among both the inexperienced and the otherwise experienced, and part of my post was meant to convey my opinion that autoblocks are not reliable enough to be used for casual release of the brake strand. They are supposed to be an emergency backup, not an everyday substitute for leg wraps, which are about as foolproof as anything in climbing can be.

The one thing I disagree with is your statement that the accident has nothing to do with the failure of an autoblock. It is beyond contention that the autoblock failed, probably because it was set up too close to the rap device. If the autoblock had held, there would have been no incident at all. Of course he should never have let go of the brake strand like that to begin with, but once he made that potentially fatal error, the autoblock indeed failed to function.

Full agreement that the guy is lucky to have walked away from that one.


billl7


Dec 23, 2012, 9:57 AM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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Wow!

There was also a wet-rap-with-autoblock accident in Zion, unfortunately fatal:
Man dies rapping in Zion

In the Zion case, if understood correctly which may not be the case, it appears the too-close autoblock jammed in the rap device preventing further lowering. Pushing the autoblock down the rope has been my limited experience and I think this is normally the conservative assumption to make about the failure mode.

A fireman's / caver's belay has its issues too. The person giving the backup belay needs to be 100% attentive the whole rap and understand they need to pull down to apply braking.

I emphasize that because our very-frequent imprinting (and so the common instinct) is that resisting rope movement is enough: instinct that becomes ingrained by catching a fall, by lowering someone from a climb, or by braking your own rap. But simply resisting rope movement is no good when actually needing to save someone with a fireman's / caver's belay.

Better to not rely on instinct when giving a fireman's / caver's belay. I'll go a step further and say it is best to periodically practice holding a fall with a fireman's / caver's belay in hopes of negating that other instinct.

Bill L

Edit: P.S. It took about 3 seconds (maybe 2) from the time the person rapping first slips to the sound of the splash when he decks. Three seconds seems a long time. But I still doubt that's enough time for a person belaying below and relying on the common instinct to
a) realize it's time to engage the fireman's / caver's belay (first second);
b) realize that gripping the rope isn't helping (second second), and
c) realize that just gripping the rope harder also is not doing the job (third second).


(This post was edited by billl7 on Dec 23, 2012, 10:31 AM)


bearbreeder


Dec 23, 2012, 11:38 AM
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Re: [socalclimber] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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socalclimber wrote:
It's simple. Close the system. If I even think that going over the edge is going to be tricky, I just pull up 10 feet of rope and tie a knot in it. That way if I blow it on the edge, I'm not going very far.


i believe the guy was down more than 10 feet when the fall happened ...


patto


Dec 23, 2012, 11:47 AM
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Re: [billl7] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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Do people really think that simply gripping the rappel rope in a fireman's belay will slow the climber? Surely not!? Anybody who doesn't know how to give a fireman's belay shouldn't be doing so. If I am showing an inexperience person how to rap, I would normally show them directly but pulling on the rope. I can't disagree with your idea of at least testing and knowing how to use the fireman's belay.


billl7


Dec 23, 2012, 11:57 AM
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Re: [patto] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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patto wrote:
Do people really think that simply gripping the rappel rope in a fireman's belay will slow the climber?
I tend to agree with that sentiment.

At the same time, I've seen many folks holding the rope while fully focused in a conversation with someone next to them or doing something else. Leads me to believe they haven't thought about it or are just inattentive.

About the only hope in that case is instinct.

Bill L

Edit: I shouldn't have said I've seen "many". I have seen enough where I think it is worth emphasizing when discussing the fireman's belay.


(This post was edited by billl7 on Dec 23, 2012, 12:00 PM)


bearbreeder


Dec 23, 2012, 11:59 AM
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Re: [rgold] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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the autoblock wasnt clipped in period ...

thats why it didnt work ... the rappeller failed to test his system before going down ...


billl7


Dec 23, 2012, 12:12 PM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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bearbreeder wrote:
the autoblock wasnt clipped in period ...
Looks to me like it was attached to the leg loop and the rope. See 1:26 for a shot of the autoblock's attachment to the brake strand.

That said, it looks like he had not much more than one full rap around the rope.

Edit: 0:58 shows the attachment to the leg loop.


(This post was edited by billl7 on Dec 23, 2012, 12:15 PM)


bearbreeder


Dec 23, 2012, 12:19 PM
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Re: [billl7] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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billl7 wrote:
bearbreeder wrote:
the autoblock wasnt clipped in period ...
Looks to me like it was attached to the leg loop and the rope. See 1:26 for a shot of the autoblock's attachment to the brake strand.

That said, it looks like he had not much more than one full rap around the rope.

Edit: 0:58 shows the attachment to the leg loop.


from the victim and his partner

His mistake, as verified by still from the video, was that he didn't clip his autoblock 'biner into the leg loop. Rather it was above the leg loop. Of course it slid up and couldn't cinch the brake line.



billl7


Dec 23, 2012, 12:23 PM
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billl7


Dec 23, 2012, 12:44 PM
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Re: [billl7] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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Okay - it's been a while since I've used an autoblock. Probably this set up: girth the cord to the leg, wrap around the brake strand some number of times, then clip back into the leg loop. (Except it was not clipped to the leg loop. Edit: Perhaps instead it was clipped back on the autoblock cord itself which kept the cord wrapped around the brake strand.)

Geesh: I'd have left the above 'deleted' post if I'd realized a blank entry would be left there. It was just me scrambling around trying to make sense of how the autoblock was attached to the harness and to the brake strand.


(This post was edited by billl7 on Dec 23, 2012, 1:47 PM)


moose_droppings


Dec 23, 2012, 2:21 PM
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Re: [billl7] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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billl7 wrote:

A fireman's / caver's belay has its issues too...

Yep, if they're getting swarmed by a bunch of bees, or a loose block tumbles their way, don't count on them. Line of sight isn't always there either.

That said, I use an autoblock below the device a lot, but never rely on it as an emergency tool. Mostly for stopping and untangling ropes, fiddling with stuck gear, taking a pic or whatever. I make sure it is engaged before removing my hands from below the device and if I'll be hanging for a while I'll toss in a few leg wraps.


billl7


Dec 23, 2012, 5:00 PM
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Re: [bearbreeder] Rappel accident, 60' fall [In reply to]
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Right. The explanation in that thread for why the autoblock didn't work was that the final clipping to the leg loop should be "at the block's girth" but was not. It was forward on the leg loop where it then "slid up [along the leg loop] and couldn't cinch".

This guide teaches that clipping forward of the girth is fine.

In David Fasulo's "Self-Rescue" book (1996 - it was recently revised), several illustrations show clipping rear-ward of the girth.

Is it really that critical whether the biner is clipped forward, at, or rear-ward of the girth? Can an autoblock in this application really be that sensitive?

Bill L


wivanoff


Dec 23, 2012, 5:57 PM
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billl7 wrote:
Right. The explanation in that thread for why the autoblock didn't work was that the final clipping to the leg loop should be "at the block's girth" but was not. It was forward on the leg loop where it then "slid up [along the leg loop] and couldn't cinch".

<snip>

Is it really that critical whether the biner is clipped forward, at, or rear-ward of the girth? Can an autoblock in this application really be that sensitive?

No, I have not seen that to be the case. Although, I put them on the same side of the buckle when I do that. Usually extend the rappel device, too.

I'm not convinced of the explanation given above. It looked to me like you were right: there were few wraps on the French Prusik. Maybe only one full wrap?

I would guess that coupled with the French Prusik being too close to the ATC, a regular ATC on a thiner single rope, not testing his setup and "instinctively" letting go of the brake hand all contributed to a near disaster.

Difficult to see the actual setup in that video. But, the photographer DID get some nice shots of the Camelback drinking tube..... that was very helpful Wink

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