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ClimbClimb


Nov 1, 2013, 12:08 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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This re-enforces my dislike of autobelays. In addition to triple-checking, one way to reduce risk somewhat is to just down-climb the route... Yes, you could still take a fall, but chances are you're training / doing laps, not climbing at your limit.


curt


Nov 1, 2013, 2:43 PM
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Re: [JAB] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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JAB wrote:
This definitely an auto-belay accident. Denying this is like saying Lynn Hill's accident wasn't a rappelling accident, as she never actually did get on rappell...

Lynn's accident wasn't a rappelling accident.

Curt


rocknice2


Nov 4, 2013, 10:15 AM
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Re: [jomagam] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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I think this was an auto belay accident. It's not 100% clear and never will be but I think her intent was to use the auto belay, since she let go at the end. The flaw is that it's possible to forget to clip in.


billcoe_


Nov 4, 2013, 8:00 PM
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rocknice2 wrote:
I think this was an auto belay accident. It's not 100% clear and never will be but I think her intent was to use the auto belay, since she let go at the end. The flaw is that it's possible to forget to clip in.

If someone is going to drive to work, but forget to get in the car and walk out into the street and get hit by a bicycle, would you also characterize that as a car accident? Their intent was to drive teh car....


ps, Curt is right about Lynn Hills accident. She wasn't rapping, she was incorrectly tied in, just like what occurred to John Long except he was in a gym. If that's not a wake up call to the rest of us gumbys: then I got nothing else to say.

Regards to all


JAB


Nov 4, 2013, 11:17 PM
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I think it is clear beyond all reasonable doubt that

a) the lady's intent was to climb with an autobelay, which she didn't clip in to
b) these accidents happen too often

In a way these accidents have much in common with rappelling/lowering accidents, which also happen regularly and continuously, even though everybody is well aware of the risks. There is a big difference, though. One accident happens to people climbing outside, on their own accord. The other accident happens in a commercially run gym, where a high safety standard is required.

You don't see routes with big ledges half-way up, no runout bolting, and no trad in climbing gyms, so it would make perfect sense to eliminate the clear risk with autobelays as well.


JAB


Nov 4, 2013, 11:22 PM
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Re: [jomagam] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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jomagam wrote:
The gym I go to has 6 auto belays and never heard of any issues. Almost all the routes that are toprope-able can be done on AB, which means that your proposed gate would have to be lowered by non-AB parties, so a second place is needed to clip the AB's twist lock biner into. The AB can be pulled on a rail to position it by the finishing hold of the route you're jumping onto, so not sure how it could work in a case when you have 30 feet of wall where one can start a route.

You're right, the gate solution wouldn't work with that setup. But to me it sounds like the gym takes a safety risk in order to save some money. To me the obvious answer is for the gym to stop being cheap and instead fix the autobelays in place, and maybe buy a couple more if they want to cover the whole wall.


rocknice2


Nov 5, 2013, 6:31 AM
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Re: [billcoe_] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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billcoe_ wrote:
rocknice2 wrote:
I think this was an auto belay accident. It's not 100% clear and never will be but I think her intent was to use the auto belay, since she let go at the end. The flaw is that it's possible to forget to clip in.

If someone is going to drive to work, but forget to get in the car and walk out into the street and get hit by a bicycle, would you also characterize that as a car accident? Their intent was to drive teh car....


ps, Curt is right about Lynn Hills accident. She wasn't rapping, she was incorrectly tied in, just like what occurred to John Long except he was in a gym. If that's not a wake up call to the rest of us gumbys: then I got nothing else to say.

Regards to all

You're beaning a bit ridicules. If she intended to go to the rock gym but instead ended up at the grocery store, then it wouldn't be an auto belay accident.

If she is in her car on the way to work and there is a red traffic light. She intends to apply the brakes but instead hits the gas and plows into another car. Is it an accident or the act of a reckless speed demon?

When rapping, someone fails to clip the rap device into thier belay loop and falls 100ft to the ground, that a rappelling accident not an act of suicide.


jomagam


Nov 5, 2013, 8:43 AM
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Re: [JAB] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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JAB wrote:
jomagam wrote:
The gym I go to has 6 auto belays and never heard of any issues. Almost all the routes that are toprope-able can be done on AB, which means that your proposed gate would have to be lowered by non-AB parties, so a second place is needed to clip the AB's twist lock biner into. The AB can be pulled on a rail to position it by the finishing hold of the route you're jumping onto, so not sure how it could work in a case when you have 30 feet of wall where one can start a route.

You're right, the gate solution wouldn't work with that setup. But to me it sounds like the gym takes a safety risk in order to save some money. To me the obvious answer is for the gym to stop being cheap and instead fix the autobelays in place, and maybe buy a couple more if they want to cover the whole wall.

That's too complicated IMO. You're asking to have a dedicated area for autobelays, and for each piece of hardware only to cover a couple of routes instead of a dozen. Those AB-s aren't cheap.


rocknice2


Nov 5, 2013, 10:55 AM
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Re: [jomagam] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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Is it possible to put a colored sheath on the first few feet of the cable [ biner side ] so that the climber would always see that color. Once they don't a neuron may fire and maybe trigger a thought.


viciado


Nov 5, 2013, 11:53 AM
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Re: [rocknice2] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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rocknice2 wrote:
Is it possible to put a colored sheath on the first few feet of the cable [ biner side ] so that the climber would always see that color. Once they don't a neuron may fire and maybe trigger a thought.

Ultimately, this was a case of pilot error. The belay device did not fail. The user failed to employ the device properly (or at all). Bright webbing and signs will likely only serve to alert novice or occasional users. I have failed to clip in twice during training sessions while running laps, but the problem was the lack of self-check that I always do outdoors. Changing the way I think about indoor climbing has resulted in no failures to clip in since then. IMHO, the problem is more on the side of education/training for use of the auto belay systems that implies a safer environment than is actually available. It could also make sense to increase the visual supervision of the auto belay routes.


rocknice2


Nov 5, 2013, 12:27 PM
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Re: [viciado] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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I meant a bright color on the cable. might alert a climber who is used to climbing with it that red is always there and when it's not something is wrong.

Whatever the case we can never eliminate personal error.


markc


Nov 5, 2013, 1:26 PM
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Re: [jomagam] Climbing gym fatality,woman falls 30 feet ,Grapevine gym Texas [In reply to]
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jomagam wrote:
JAB wrote:
jomagam wrote:
The gym I go to has 6 auto belays and never heard of any issues. Almost all the routes that are toprope-able can be done on AB, which means that your proposed gate would have to be lowered by non-AB parties, so a second place is needed to clip the AB's twist lock biner into. The AB can be pulled on a rail to position it by the finishing hold of the route you're jumping onto, so not sure how it could work in a case when you have 30 feet of wall where one can start a route.

You're right, the gate solution wouldn't work with that setup. But to me it sounds like the gym takes a safety risk in order to save some money. To me the obvious answer is for the gym to stop being cheap and instead fix the autobelays in place, and maybe buy a couple more if they want to cover the whole wall.

That's too complicated IMO. You're asking to have a dedicated area for autobelays, and for each piece of hardware only to cover a couple of routes instead of a dozen. Those AB-s aren't cheap.

Obviously the culture is established at your gym, and seems to be working well. If a gym purchases auto-belays, I think it's worth considering fixing them and using the gate system JAB mentioned. If there are two or three routes per wall section and six ABs, you're conservatively covering 12 - 18 climbs of varying difficulty. Thats not a ton, but it gives an individual an alternative to exclusively bouldering or gives the odd man out in a larger group the opportunity to climb without a belayer. A gym may be willing to trade off flexibility for that extra safety precaution.

Gyms in my area don't have auto-belays. I'd be curious to know if they're usually fixed or easily relocated by members in most gyms.


(This post was edited by markc on Nov 5, 2013, 1:27 PM)


Fred20


Nov 5, 2013, 4:17 PM
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So was the auto belay not attached to where the wall is (i guess 5' from wall)...

I've seen similar setups where the autobelay is held at an anchor (about 5' from the wall). My current gym I climb at has a cool setup where it is anchored at the wall so you really can't start it w/out using the autobelay

Sad, but ultimately a foolish mistake. I haven't looked and will, but are autobelay accidents common? I would imagine the only dangerous part is ensuring the gate is closed/attached properly...i try not to think about the autobelay actually failing since I will use them when i don't have a belay (tho i know people that refuse to even use them)


dagibbs


Nov 5, 2013, 5:25 PM
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JAB wrote:
I think it is clear beyond all reasonable doubt that

a) the lady's intent was to climb with an autobelay, which she didn't clip in to
b) these accidents happen too often

In a way these accidents have much in common with rappelling/lowering accidents, which also happen regularly and continuously, even though everybody is well aware of the risks. There is a big difference, though. One accident happens to people climbing outside, on their own accord. The other accident happens in a commercially run gym, where a high safety standard is required.

You don't see routes with big ledges half-way up, no runout bolting, and no trad in climbing gyms, so it would make perfect sense to eliminate the clear risk with autobelays as well.

This sort of forgetting doesn't only happen with auto-belays. I was in a gym down in Florida a couple years back, and a woman headed up a wall -- at first I thought she was just going to boulder the first few moves of a climb, so didn't stop her -- that's pretty common. Then she kept going, so I told her she wasn't tied in. She continued, I said it again louder, she continued, and I shouted it at her... and she looked down and went "oh shit, I'm not tied in". She tried to down-climb, couldn't, grab a nearby rope, and slide down it giving herself rope-burns. She'd just been so focused on finally doing this climb that was a project that she hadn't even started, not say finished, the process of tieing in to a rope.

If it had been an auto-belay, maybe we'd have called it an auto-belay accident. But, it wasn't - same problem though.


JAB


Nov 5, 2013, 10:42 PM
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viciado wrote:
I have failed to clip in twice during training sessions while running laps, but the problem was the lack of self-check that I always do outdoors. Changing the way I think about indoor climbing has resulted in no failures to clip in since then.

I'm probably beating my head against the wall here, but this is exactly what I'm talking about. Perfectly safety conscious people make the same mistake as the lady in the accident (of course most people, like you I assume, notice their mistake before getting to the top of the climb). Learning from your own and others' mistakes is ok and vital when climbing outside, but implying that the same should be the case for gym climbing is simply irresponsible. All kinds of people with little or no knowledge of the risks in climbing climb inside, especially on autobelays (as no belayer who can screw it up is needed), so this device should be as fool proof as possible.


viciado


Nov 6, 2013, 8:31 AM
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I am not sure I understand why you think applying the same criteria for responsibility for indoors and outdoors is inappropriate, but I may be mis-reading your post.

I have suggested two areas of concern that address your own expressed concern... noobs.

1) Better initial training involving rick management protocols onnthe level of standard belay testing. (ie more than this is how the system works, have fun.)

2) Eyes-on supervision in which visual checks are performed. This implies qualified staff or volunteer is directly overseeing the use of auto belay.


petsfed


Nov 6, 2013, 8:34 AM
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One thing I emphasized (we could not afford to keep our autobelays) at the gym I work at was that the device cannot catch you if you're not connected to it, and every time I helped somebody in, I reminded them to tug on the webbing (not the carabiner) to verify that it was attached to them. Typically the advice rolled off them like water off a duck's back, but I'm used to people thinking I started climbing 3 weeks ago. It comes with working in gyms.

The latter part is a bigger problem than any equipment issues: even experienced climbers act like the gym employees are just following scripts. Yes, I get it, some gyms hire high school students who learned to belay last week. That doesn't mean that their safety advice on a device you've never used before is irrelevant.

Its not just that beginners forget that climbing is dangerous, experienced, otherwise safe, climbers forget that climbing is dangerous. The autobelays do nothing to change that state of affairs, except perhaps that there's nobody to call the bullheaded ones on their mistakes.


JAB


Nov 6, 2013, 10:41 PM
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viciado wrote:
I am not sure I understand why you think applying the same criteria for responsibility for indoors and outdoors is inappropriate, but I may be mis-reading your post.

No, this is really my point. A commercially run gym should be required higher safety standards. It's the same as with professional climbing guides. If you hire a guide, he has a totally different responsibility of your safety than a buddy you go climbing with.

And this is pretty much how it works already. If the gym had no responsibility (i.e. just providing a venue and taking a charge to cover the investment), why do they require you to make a belay test? If the gym provides a device with a KNOWN safety issue, should they not be required to eliminate this safety issue?


JasonsDrivingForce


Nov 7, 2013, 10:55 AM
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If all of the gyms were forced to or perhaps by choice removed all of the auto belays would it affect you? We only have two gyms in our region with auto belays. A lot of people(Mostly kids) use them at those facilities.

I stopped using them when I found one auto belay with a broken carabiner. The gate would close completely but it would not lock automatically like it was supposed to. I reported it to the staff and won’t use them anymore even if they say that they have been fixed.


rocknice2


Nov 7, 2013, 11:18 AM
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@ JasonsDrivingForce
Why stop just at the auto belay? If you feel the gym isn't inspecting it's gear properly then wouldn't it be prudent to stop climbing there all together. All the draws and tope rope are wear items.


@ JAB
The KNOWN safety issue is with the user. There have been numerous climbers cratering for failing to tie a knot.


ericthebat


Feb 11, 2014, 3:06 PM
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(edited from post to another thread)

Arguing semantics is a classic, silly, frivolous waste of time and too much filler on most threads.
We should be seriously and critically looking at every accident, to learn every possible lesson that may be applicable to our own climbing habits, the mistakes we see at our local crag or gyms, etc.
My local gym, the Boulder Rock Club, has several Trublue units, and perhaps because they are financially invested in the company, they are diligent about servicing them. Yet, our gym has had two, and now possibly three user error incidents, the most recent one the first fatality - Mark Hesse, a tireless Access Fund advocate with a rock and alpine resume going back to the 1970's.
Noone saw him fall, but some heard an impact. He was basically DOA, and while harnessed, was not clipped in at all to the Autobelay. The two prior accidents both also involved men over 60, at least 10 years experience, and both simply spaced out clipping in. One let go at the ceiling, and instantly realized his error, surviving with a few major breaks and internal bruising. The other fellow had lesser injuries but had fallen lower.
Calling these incidents "autobelay accidents" is a lazy simplification, but it's close enough, as long as we clarify that the devices in no way failed. The paradox is that the device is actually totally outside the accident, save for its presence in the facility.
I have worried about all possible distractions like the use of earbuds, but such things have not been factors in our recent accidents.
Without some exotic, high-tech "belay nanny" to automatically intervene in some way, instilling some sort of checklist, safeguard, self-preservation mantra is necessary. Make up one for yourself; share and compare it with friends; make it foolproof, then make it automatic. Keep your eyes peeled for everyone else on or near the walls, look for mistakes and never let embarrassment or false pride interfere with giving or taking sincere advice, especially if it may avert an accident.


shockabuku


Feb 11, 2014, 7:15 PM
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Auto-belay gate.

Two lower slings attach to the wall, upper attaches to the auto-belay biner. Hard to start without recognizing that the gate is still in the way. Once detached it lays on the floor.


lena_chita
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Feb 12, 2014, 7:03 AM
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shockabuku wrote:


Auto-belay gate.

Two lower slings attach to the wall, upper attaches to the auto-belay biner. Hard to start without recognizing that the gate is still in the way. Once detached it lays on the floor.

And who clips the thing back, after the climb is done? The climber? Then you are running into the same problem as before. A climber did not hang this banner back, maybe the gym was busy and there was someone ready to climb right away, and couple steps down, the next climber, used to the visual clue, forgot to clip into autobelay...


wivanoff


Feb 12, 2014, 8:15 AM
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lena_chita wrote:

And who clips the thing back, after the climb is done? The climber? Then you are running into the same problem as before. A climber did not hang this banner back, maybe the gym was busy and there was someone ready to climb right away, and couple steps down, the next climber, used to the visual clue, forgot to clip into autobelay...

I don't understand. If the climber did not clip the carabiner back into the top of that gate, wouldn't the autobelay retract and pull it up to the ceiling? It looked to me that the bottom two legs of the "gate" were attached to the floor (or lower wall) and the apex of the "gate" is what was used to hold down the autobelay carabiner.


(This post was edited by wivanoff on Feb 12, 2014, 8:16 AM)


lena_chita
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Feb 12, 2014, 11:01 AM
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wivanoff wrote:
lena_chita wrote:

And who clips the thing back, after the climb is done? The climber? Then you are running into the same problem as before. A climber did not hang this banner back, maybe the gym was busy and there was someone ready to climb right away, and couple steps down, the next climber, used to the visual clue, forgot to clip into autobelay...

I don't understand. If the climber did not clip the carabiner back into the top of that gate, wouldn't the autobelay retract and pull it up to the ceiling? It looked to me that the bottom two legs of the "gate" were attached to the floor (or lower wall) and the apex of the "gate" is what was used to hold down the autobelay carabiner.


What you are saying does make more sense than the way I was picturing it, if you only have these blue triangles, and no other way to anchor the device.

I was still imagining the daisy chain floor anchors in place, in addition to these blue triqangles, but it would make sense to remove them, assuming that the walls are only used for climbing with autobelay.

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