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Another speed buckle catastrophic failure
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By Eric Dunlap
Jul 22, 2011

When I first read the other thread regarding the BD harness failure, I thought "bullshit, this guy is a gumby who screwed up putting on his harness." I've had a Mammut speed buckle harness for four years. I've taken ~50 lead falls onto it, including several 20-30+ footers. I"ve caught large falls wearing this harness. I've rapped tens of thousands of feet and sat through countless hanging belays. The buckle never even so much as slipped a fraction of an inch. Until today.

Went up to cob rock for the evening. The harness was weighted with my full body weight crossing the tyrol. Climbed the east crack without incident (although I never weighted the harness on this route). Lead Huston crack, and lowered off without incident. Not even so much as a slip. And believe me, since the other thread about speed buckle failure, I've been keeping a watchful (albeit skeptical) eye on my buckle.

When I went to cross they tyrol on the way home, my harness COMPLETELY failed. Under a fraction of my body weight, the entire strand of webbing slid straight through the speed buckle, rendering the entire harness but for the leg loops useless.

Were I not able to pull myself back to shore by hand over handing a bit of the tyrol rope, I would have drowned in Boulder Creek tonight. If I had been unlucky enough for this to have happened during a lead fall, I would be dead.

I don't know what happened. I've tried unsuccessfully to recreate the harness failure. I've tried wearing the harness both tighter and looser than normal to create failure. No luck. My only guess is that somehow something pulled up on the speed buckle allowing the webbing to pull through.

This only has to happen once to kill you. And unless the two of us are complete morons, it could very easily happen to you as well.

I am promptly retiring this harness and buying a new one with traditional buckles.

This has been a public service announcement, take it or leave it.


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By sfotex
From Sandy, UT
Jul 23, 2011

Out of curiosity how did you attach to the Tyrollean? Belay loop or directly into the waist loop?
Were you waring a pack with a waist belt?


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By tooTALLtim
From Boulder, CO
Jul 23, 2011
Me on Land of Ra, Cadillac Crag, Eldorado. <br /> <br />Thanks for the picture Craig Muderlak!

Wow, crazy experience, glad to hear you're alive!

I've never understood "speed" buckles, I've never wanted to speedily get in or take off my harness...


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By Eric Dunlap
Jul 23, 2011

I was attached via my belay loop with two quickdraws. Pack waistbelt was not buckled.


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By Bang
From Charlottesville, VA
Jul 23, 2011
Thanks Hank Caylor!

Hi Eric,

Your post just reminds me the info I looked out last month about Mammut harness. This link gives the life span of the harness (estimated) www.mammut.ch/en/harnesses_faq_lifespan.html
So I guess when the harness is well used, it will be pushed to its limitation.

And according to Mammut's testing www.mammut.ch/en/harnesses_quality_howtested.html, the only test the belay loop when the force is exerted either up or down when you are in climbing position. So when you are doing the Tyro traverse, the force is applied in the other direction, so not sure if that may have some kind of side effect on the old harness??

Maybe you can contact Mammut and keep us posted to see what they say.

And I'm glad that you made it back safe!


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By Yarp
Jul 23, 2011

That's it...two speed buckle CATASTROPHIC FAILURES in as many months.

I'm selling all my climbing gear and taking up golf. Climbing just isn't SAFE enough anymore. Who wants to buy a shit ton of USED gear? I'm sorry but I couldn't even begin to tell you the history of most of it. Would consider a golf cart in trade.

Or perhaps the OP is just as full of shit as the last person to start a thread like this? Amazing that after all that use the buckles only slipped after reading about someone else's buckles slipping on MP. You then rush home and post up your very own 'I almost died' thread. This place is just chock full of drama queens.


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By Bang
From Charlottesville, VA
Jul 23, 2011
Thanks Hank Caylor!

Yarp wrote:
That's it...two speed buckle CATASTROPHIC FAILURES in as many months. I'm selling all my climbing gear and taking up golf. Climbing just isn't SAFE enough anymore. Who wants to buy a shit ton of USED gear? I'm sorry but I couldn't even begin to tell you the history of most of it. Would consider a golf cart in trade.


LOL I thought most of your gears you acquired by snatching from other climbers, may be that explain "couldn't even begin to tell you the history of most of it"!

Citation "mountainproject.com/v/fs-stolen-climbing-gear/107116609#a_10>>>


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By Ben Beckerich
From saint helens, oregon
Jul 23, 2011
About half way up the East Arete on Illumination Rock

you cant just call BS on people without any kind of supporting evidence. just makes YOU look like the bullshitter.

OP- glad you're OK.. you should contact metolius- my guess is they'll not only want it back, but probably give you a replacement.


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By Jaysen Henderson
From White Plains, New York
Jul 23, 2011
on p13 or so of zodiac

This speed buckle shenanigans never got its hold on me, ive always felt like the less mechanically complex anything has to be the safer it will be. keep it simple.


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jul 23, 2011
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

Eric, could you post a link or picture to the harness you have? Thanks.


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By Peter Stokes
From Them Thar Hills
Jul 23, 2011
Wall Street, Moab, UT

For anyone having trouble with these "speed buckle" systems, there's a quick & cheap mod you can make (I posted this on the other thread a while back). I started doing this when the webbing belt got slightly worn where it sits against the buckle (making it slip a bit), and I've had no problems in 2 years. I'm not taking a position here on design/build quality, or whether or not anyone can "duplicate the failure"... but for about 50 cents you can have a safer harness tomorrow.

Speed buckle backup
Speed buckle backup


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By Clay Zamperini
From Tarzana, CA
Jul 23, 2011

bkb0000 wrote:
you cant just call BS on people without any kind of supporting evidence. just makes YOU look like the bullshitter. OP- glad you're OK.. you should contact metolius- my guess is they'll not only want it back, but probably give you a replacement.


He's right, send it back to Petzl.


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By sfotex
From Sandy, UT
Jul 23, 2011

The only way I've been able to reproduce something like this is if I feed the waist belt thru
top plate in the wrong direction. The buckle will then hold enough weight to keep the harness on but will slip all the way thru under moderate weight.

If the buckle is fed thru correctly and you play around with it I can get the waist belt to slip a bit If I hang up the buckle on something, but it seems damn impossible to get the waist belt to totally slip thru the buckle - it hangs up on the end where the webbing is sewn back on it self.


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By The Mother Ship
Jul 23, 2011

sfotex wrote:
The only way I've been able to reproduce something like this is if I feed the waist belt thru top plate in the wrong direction. The buckle will then hold enough weight to keep the harness on but will slip all the way thru under moderate weight. If the buckle is fed thru correctly and you play around with it I can get the waist belt to slip a bit If I hang up the buckle on something, but it seems damn impossible to get the waist belt to totally slip thru the buckle - it hangs up on the end where the webbing is sewn back on it self.


You're right! This kid is obviously lieing! I'm sure he staged the whole thing....nothing like an impromptu dunk in the creek. How're things at BD?


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By Bruce Hildenbrand
Jul 23, 2011

I am with TooTallTim on this one. Certain aspects of climbing shouldn't be 'speeded up' and one of those is the ability to get in and out of your harness.


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By sfotex
From Sandy, UT
Jul 23, 2011

The Mother Ship wrote:
You're right! This kid is obviously lieing! I'm sure he staged the whole thing....nothing like an impromptu dunk in the creek. How're things at BD?


Now I know reading is really hard, but go and try and find someone that is good at it and have them read what I wrote aloud to you. Note that I never used the word 'lieing'. Nor did I say that he staged the whole thing. I just posted one scenario where I've been able to get my speed buckle harness to fail.

BD is great, with all the investor money we have, it's hookers and blow 24x7.


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By Bud Martin
From Bozeman, MT
Jul 23, 2011

Clay Zamperini wrote:
He's right, send it back to Petzl.


+1 send it back to CAMP.


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By Buff Johnson
Jul 23, 2011
smiley face

sfotex wrote:
BD is great, with all the investor money we have, it's hookers and blow 24x7.


Sweet, there's a few climbers around here looking for work.


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By Eric Dunlap
Jul 23, 2011

So I spent a fair amount of time playing around with the harness last night. The only possible way I could get the buckle to slip, in any scenario I thought up, was to force the buckle up into the "open" position. The only way for this failure to have happened, as far as I can figure, is that my arm pushed the buckle up and "open" as I reached up and grabbed the Tyrol rope. This would have happened around the same time I weighted the harness, and while improbable, doesn't seem impossible.

Doesn't seem to hard to imagine a scenario where the buckle would get caught up on the rock on the way down in a fall given what happened here, either.

I'll post up pictures of the harness when I get back from lumpy tonight for anyone who is curious.


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By Em Cos
From Boulder, CO
Jul 23, 2011

I was there, it was terrifying. I don't know about anyone else, but for me personally, the fact that we can't duplicate the failure is the opposite of comforting. If you don't know for certain exactly what happened, how can you be sure it wouldn't happen again?

What we do know for sure is that his harness was threaded properly and tightened before he got on the tyrol, that it had held body weight with no problems minutes prior, and that when he weighted it getting on the tyrol the waist belt came completely undone. To be clear, it didn't loosen, but came completely unthreaded, even the thicker sewn part of the webbing at the end.

I've become sort of attached to my climbing partner, so I'm immensely glad this happened three feet from the shore and not in the middle of the tyro, or on a hanging belay, or a lead fall, or catching my lead fall..... or any number of life-threatening situations in which we trust our harnesses to keep us safe.

So all we're really saying is, if you're attached to your climbing partners (or yourselves), then hey, heads up.


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By Gunkiemike
Jul 23, 2011

Em Cos wrote:
To be clear, it didn't loosen, but came completely unthreaded, even the thicker sewn part of the webbing at the end.


One problem I have with these reported failures is the claim that one part or the other came completely undone. Now, I don't own any speed buckled harness. But on the several harnesses I have owned, it's inconceivable that one part would be pulled out so far in any direction to come undone, without the load falling onto the leg loops (in this case). I mean, you're tied or clipped into both parts of the harness (RIGHT???) So when the waist belt begins to loosen, the weight becomes more on the leg loops. Esp. if you're clipped into the belay loop, as I do on a tyrol. The belay loop is what, 3 inches long? And it takes what, 8, 10 inches of buckle slippage for the end to pass through?

Doesn't make sense to me.


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By Em Cos
From Boulder, CO
Jul 23, 2011

Gunkiemike wrote:
One problem I have with these reported failures is the claim that one part or the other came completely undone. Now, I don't own any speed buckled harness. But on the several harnesses I have owned, it's inconceivable that one part would be pulled out so far in any direction to come undone, without the load falling onto the leg loops (in this case). I mean, you're tied or clipped into both parts of the harness (RIGHT???) So when the waist belt begins to loosen, the weight becomes more on the leg loops. Esp. if you're clipped into the belay loop, as I do on a tyrol. The belay loop is what, 3 inches long? And it takes what, 8, 10 inches of buckle slippage for the end to pass through? Doesn't make sense to me.


Doesn't make sense to us either. Which is why it was so unexpected, and scary. And why we posted to share this with the climbing community.


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By Em Cos
From Boulder, CO
Jul 23, 2011

Gunkiemike wrote:
it's inconceivable that one part would be pulled out so far in any direction to come undone


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Ha, sorry couldn't help myself. But seriously, folks. Scary stuff.


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By Finn the Human
From The Land of Ooo
Jul 23, 2011
Mathematical!

Gunkiemike wrote:
it's inconceivable that one part would be pulled out so far in any direction to come undone




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By slim
Administrator
Jul 24, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

i think its pretty conceivable on a tyrol for the load to not be directed towards the leg loops. if the waist belt started slipping, his upper body would rotate downwards, which would keep pushing on the waist band until it stopped slipping, or in this case came undone.


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By jmeizis
From Colorado Springs, CO
Jul 24, 2011
The Beginning of Mr. Clean (5.8) at the Barkeater Cliffs in Adirondack Park NY.

Quick simple solution to solve this problem that doesn't cost anything and backs up the apparently most common failure mode of autolocking buckles, something getting hung up on the buckle and pulls it open. Tie an overhand knot in the webbing behind the buckle.


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