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Gear Failure on West Face Leaning Tower results in whipper.
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By Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
May 6, 2013
...

"couldn't he just use a locking biner?"

I know I did and DO!

It's also how my nickname was placed on me. I fucking had LOCKERS all the fuck over the place. I still will do a little OVERKILL when my nuts have the shrinkage factor in play.

EDITED:

"I've seen ... the rope end biner on a sport draw unclip".

Ditto! Not a pretty site!


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By Kaleem Khwaja
From Emeryville, California
May 6, 2013

Adam Burch wrote:
Unless I'm crazy, this doesn't qualify as a factor 2. If he had no gear between him and the anchor when he fell, that would be a factor 2


True enough, though it's hard to say how much energy the 3 pieces absorbed as they failed. It may have still been pretty close to a factor 2 fall. As a theoretical minimum, if the pieces were spaced evenly below him, and if each piece completely stopped his fall before failing, he would have essentially taken 4 factor 0.5 falls in sequence. In practice, I think the fall factor was probably well above 1.


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By Jonathan Dull
From NC High County
May 6, 2013
Edge of a Dream

Locker wrote:
"I've seen ... the rope end biner on a sport draw unclip".
Locker Question for ya; Have you (or anyone for that matter) ever heard of flipping you carabiner (rope end) up once clipping your rope into the draw, so that the biner is facing upwards? It's suppose to reduce the possibility of the rope unclipping its self in the event of a fall or accidental back-clipping. A couple showed this to me once at the New River and I seemed to make sense. Has anyone else heard of doing this?? Just wondering...Also I'm sure this works better on a sport draw where the biner does not move around as much.


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By Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
May 6, 2013
...

If it were a TRUE "Factor 2", wouldn't he have had to stuff his intestines back up his butthole?


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By Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
May 6, 2013
...

"Locker Question for ya; Have you (or anyone for that matter) ever heard of flipping you carabiner (rope end) up once clipping your rope into the draw, so that the biner is facing upwards?"


Yes and I am certain MANY others have as well.


;-)



EDITED:

"Also I'm sure this works better on a sport draw where the biner does not move around as much."

I find the opposite to be true. An OPEN draw works better than a "DOGBONE" as the tightness of the "BONE" can make it difficult to rotate the biner.


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By Christiney
From Wheat Ridge, CO
May 6, 2013
Horseman

Kaleem Khwaja wrote:
I think we'd all sleep a little better if we could blame this fall on the rope being a static line, but unfortunately there's no way it was. A 60' factor 2 on a static line would cut you in half, or at least break your pelvis into 100 pieces. You wouldn't walk away from it.


What if the trad draws were nylon instead? It would be a bitch to carry trad draws made of nylon instead of dyneea, but ... would the nylon help absorb the fall enough to reduce gear failure, or is it too short of a distance?

If a rope was not dynamic and were a steel cable instead it would snap off all the pro, even bolts.

It's not the fall that kills you but the stop. If it weren't for dynamic properties the rope stop would be like a ground fall.


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By Adam Burch
From San Dieger
May 6, 2013
you local?

Kaleem Khwaja wrote:
True enough, though it's hard to say how much energy the 3 pieces absorbed as they failed. It may have still been pretty close to a factor 2 fall. As a theoretical minimum, if the pieces were spaced evenly below him, and if each piece completely stopped his fall before failing, he would have essentially taken 4 factor 0.5 falls in sequence. In practice, I think the fall factor was probably well above 1.


You're correct, it would be hard to say, but we know he put enough stress on it to snap a biner. I'd be careful speculating on the factor, too many variables (and your math is a little suspect). One thing to take away for sure, is don't skimp on your belay anchor, and run the rope through it from your harness.


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By Kris Solem
From Monrovia, CA
May 6, 2013
Kris Solem climbing the route, 11-30-08. Photo by Michael Ybarra.

Yeah I've done that flipping of the biner. Usually after I made the clip thinking the moves would go one side of the bolt or pro (thus orienting the biner with that in mind,) then realizing the moves go the other way.

Factor two or not? Shern (belayer) could help us out by telling us if he felt the rope come tight, as if he were catching the fall, before each of the two biners failed. If the rope did not come tight, generating a lot of force, then the failure of these biners is a real mystery.


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By Adam Burch
From San Dieger
May 6, 2013
you local?

Locker wrote:
"Locker Question for ya; Have you (or anyone for that matter) ever heard of flipping you carabiner (rope end) up once clipping your rope into the draw, so that the biner is facing upwards?" Yes and I am certain MANY others have as well. ;-) EDITED: "Also I'm sure this works better on a sport draw where the biner does not move around as much." I find the opposite to be true. An OPEN draw works better than a "DOGBONE" as the tightness of the "BONE" can make it difficult to rotate the biner.


I think perhaps the point is being missed. Lack of ability to rotate is a GOOD thing when it comes to preventing crossloading, which is probably what caused the breakage here. Could also have been something odd with the biner being levered over a corner or something, but the footage didn't seem to have any of that going on at that bolt.


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By Jonathan Dull
From NC High County
May 6, 2013
Edge of a Dream

Adam Burch wrote:
I think perhaps the point is being missed. Lack of ability to rotate is a GOOD thing when it comes to preventing crossloading, which is probably what caused the breakage here. Could also have been something odd with the biner being levered over a corner or something, but the footage didn't seem to have any of that going on at that bolt.


I understand that, I just was making a comment a little of topic, wasn't suggesting that this was the problem in the west face scenario. Maybe I should have just created a new thread for the question. Sorry for the confusion..


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By kennoyce
From Layton, UT
May 6, 2013
Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks

Adam Burch wrote:
I think perhaps the point is being missed. Lack of ability to rotate is a GOOD thing when it comes to preventing crossloading, which is probably what caused the breakage here.


I think that it is much more likely that the biners failed due to open gates than due to cross loading, especially given the fact that they are solid gate biners.


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By Adam Burch
From San Dieger
May 6, 2013
you local?

kennoyce wrote:
I think that it is much more likely that the biners failed due to open gates than due to cross loading, especially given the fact that they are solid gate biners.


Good point. All my babies are wire - hope they behave themselves and stay shut.


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By Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
May 6, 2013
...

"I think that it is much more likely that the biners failed due to open gates than due to cross loading, especially given the fact that they are solid gate biners.


Good point. All my babies are wire - hope they behave themselves and stay shut."




You OBVIOUSLY weren't very convinced with your original theory.


You sure as hell backed off QUICK!


LOL!


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By T. Maino
May 6, 2013

Looking at the pics of open gate failures on black diamond's site. They look a lot like OPs failed 'biner. Anybody with more expertise know about open vs. crossloaded failure patterns?


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By Locopelli
From Lakewood, CO
May 6, 2013

Wow, thank you for posting. Here's to placement and anchors that held--keeping you both from being a couple of statistics.


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By T. Maino
May 6, 2013

I agree and should have added that to last post... glad you made it!


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By Kris Solem
From Monrovia, CA
May 6, 2013
Kris Solem climbing the route, 11-30-08. Photo by Michael Ybarra.

I don't have the math chops to do the calculations, but, aren't there additive forces on the gear when a falling climber is being caught?

As I see it those biners were subjected to the force generated by the falling climber plus the force generated by the belayer, who is pulling hard against the biner to arrest the fall.

The same is true if one catches a fall directly on the belay with the rope clipped through the anchor (as opposed to just off the harness.)

On another note, am I reading it right? at the bolt above the belay the rope end biner on a sling unclipped from the sling but remained clipped to the rope? Now that is unusual.

I am reminded of a video I saw (DMM?) warning how if you use a rubber keeper for the rope end biner on an open sling, and one side of the sling gets pulled through the biner gate (say while rummaging around through gear in a pack) the rubber thing will keep the biner attached to the sling but the sling will not be through the biner. When loaded the rubber will break releasing the biner.


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By Adam Burch
From San Dieger
May 6, 2013
you local?

Locker wrote:
"I think that it is much more likely that the biners failed due to open gates than due to cross loading, especially given the fact that they are solid gate biners. Good point. All my babies are wire - hope they behave themselves and stay shut." You OBVIOUSLY weren't very convinced with your original theory. You sure as hell backed off QUICK! LOL!


Glad you're digging the lulz, lock-dawg. Neither one of us had our ass ducktaped to the wall that day, so these are all "theories". Mine, and his.


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By alleyehave
From San Diego, CA
May 6, 2013
Start of Pitch 3

Correct me if I'm wrong, and I likely am. But a fall factor has less to do with potential absorption of failed pieces as it does the length of rope in relation to the anchor the fall was stopped on.

In other words, if a climber is at a belay station and has 30ft of rope between him and the anchor, he pitches off at the anchor and falls 30ft. Technically a factor 2 fall no? 30 ft of rope out, 30ft fall onto last piece.

So, in theory, a climber even ripping gear out, the force absorbed by gear pulling would be negated at the point in which the climber falls past the belay in a free fall.

Maybe someone with 133734 math skills can dissolve my theory.

Regardless, a F2F produces roughly 10kn, which is less than half of what most modern slings/carabiners are rated to, and Mammut produces.

That wall in general is extremely overhung, and that pitch is no exception. Its safe to say that neither of the carabiners were positioned against the rock in a way to create an action that would be unnatural torque or leverage on the carabiner. Nor would it be likely or even plausible that a rock protrusion or feature on that wall would cause a gate to inadvertently open.

With fall forces and rock features causing a stuck gate being eliminated as a candidate for cause of failure. Only two explanations exist: Fault in carabiner production/design, and gate rattling open on first piece.

This seems fucking impossible in my mind. I'm hoping this is a hoax because it defies nearly everything we understand about climbing physics and our gear.


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By alleyehave
From San Diego, CA
May 6, 2013
Start of Pitch 3

JLP wrote:
My only conclusion is that lightweight biners with a solid gate seem like a bad idea. The longer draws probably also acted like a whip - ie, the biner accelerated and decelerated faster than it would on a sport draw.


This would be interesting to test, but this phenomenon occurring on three biners in succession would be on par with winning the lottery.


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By Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
May 6, 2013
...

"Glad you're digging the lulz, lock-dawg."


THANKS!

The entertainment value here is priceless.

;-)


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By Kris Solem
From Monrovia, CA
May 6, 2013
Kris Solem climbing the route, 11-30-08. Photo by Michael Ybarra.

The fall factor is the ratio of the length of the fall, without interruption, to the amount of rope out. The fall you describe is factor 1; 30' fall on 30' of rope.

The fall described in this thread would be a bona fide factor 2 fall if there were no gear in or bolts clipped. Those failures had to slow down the falling climber. I hope we hear from the OP regarding how much impact he felt as belayer when the biners broke...


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By John Peters
May 6, 2013

Hmm, I wonder what a straight-gate carabiner that's broken by crossloading looks like.

It seems at for wire-gates, the point of failure during crossloading is the gate hinges:
www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/journal/climb//qc-lab-we>>>

Of course, what happens in the lab is very different from what happens in the real world.


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By Shern
May 6, 2013

Hey all-

First off thanks for all the responses, feedback and well wishes. To say the least, Anthony and I felt good to get our feet on the ground after such weirdness. Just home from work and I'm stoked to see this thread lit up. It was a rattling experience for us both and my intent in the original post was to get some bearing on what the hell happened. There are a bunch of questions and requests for clarification I'll do my best to answer.

Firstly, the climber was definitely NOT leading with the static haul line, nor was the haul line clipped into the system or get caught on anything or absorb any of the impact of the fall. He would be dead and I would have been cut in half. He was trailing the haul line from his haul loop on his harness. After the fall, when he was hanging directly from my grigri on my belay loop, I fixed the haul line and he jugged back to the anchor.

The sequence of events: Anthony led the 7th pitch from the anchor at the top of the 6th pitch. He clipped the rope into three pieces before falling: 1st a bolt with an extended trad draw, 2nd a nut with an extended trad draw and 3rd a .5 c4 with an extended trad draw. After the fall, there was one of the rope side biners still on the rope. @~0:26 in the video you can see the trad draws still on the bolt and nut without the ropeside bent gate biners. Also--Anthony found the .5 c4 and draw minus the bent gate hung up on one of his aiders by some kind of luck. It was not clipped to it--it was tangled in it and he found it after the fall when he went to set up to jug. So on the way down, we figure his aider hooked the cam and pulled it as well. I agree that this all is pretty weird and a crazy string a ungodly bad luck. That's why I'm posting it here. Anthony and I have gone over the fall several times and so far, it seems like it was a pretty normal--even ideal situation up to the fall.

All three biners that resulted in the huge fall were Mammut bent gates on the rope side of my trad draws. All of my trad draws are composed of Mammut wire gates for the gear side, Mammut dyneema shoulder slings and the Mammut bent gates. The bent gates are rated at 24kN along the major axis, 8kN at the minor axis and 8kN open gate. One of my big questions: should i chuck the rest of my Mammut biners? I've never had any other problems, let alone a run of failure like this! ouch$$$.

here's the broken end of one of the failed biners that a party below us found on their approach to the base of the West Face.
here's the broken end of one of the failed biners that a party below us found on their approach to the base of the West Face.


At first we thought the biners cross loaded because how the hell do you break a biner in normal use? Gate flutter? I've never heard of that before and that's kinda scary. After looking at this: scroll down BD QC Lab's pics of cross loaded vs open/closed gate failed biners.

And from the one broken biner we have--at least that one did not cross load. I've been playing with the gates on the other mammut bent gates i have and they seem pretty firm and snappy--comparable to my other biners. The prospect of 'gate flutter' and that two of the things opened and snapped and another unclipped from a draw is an ugly thought.

Yes--I was glad (and so was Anthony!) that I was belaying him with a gri gri. I heard a metal popping noise (I now think it was one of the biners snapping) and a whir of air as he fell past me. Neither of us felt any of the protection pieces slow the fall--we both experienced it as one big drop. I realize that the three pieces of pro must have taken some of the force so it was not a true factor 2, but was definitely the bigest force I've felt from a fall. It happened very quickly, and with the rope coming down across my wrist (and as i found out later, my leg), and the force of the fall being arrested by my grigri/belay loop was pretty big. I dont think I let go of the brake end, but I'm not sure I would have arrested his fall immediately on an ATC. I'm glad to not have dealt with that. PS--Anthony weighs ~135-140 lbs I'd say. With the rack and all, maybe up to 155.
I found out later that the rope had come down across my leg as well.
I found out later that the rope had come down across my leg as well.


I'll try to get in touch with Mammut and see if they want some of these biners for inspection or whatever and report back.

thanks all.
shern.


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By David Appelhans
From Lafayette
May 6, 2013
Imaginate

It sure looks the same as open gate failure from black diamonds website.

failed mammut bent gate biner with intact biner for comparison.
failed mammut bent gate biner with intact biner for comparison.


The closed gate failure has the nose stretched down quite a bit. It would be great to get to the bottom of this.


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