Route Guide - iPhone / Android - Partners - Forum - Photos - Deals - What's New - School of Rock
Login with Facebook
 ADVANCED
Gear unclipped itself, groundfall
View Latest Posts in This Forum or All Forums
   Page 1 of 2.  1  2   Next>   Last>>
Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.
1

Email me.
 
By David Shiembob
From slc, ut
Oct 2, 2012

I had a shitty thing happen this past weekend in Indian Creek that I thought I would share, and I have a couple of questions.

After a couple of 5.10 warmups, I got on a 5.11 thin hands crack that I knew I would probably fall on. The crack is in a right facing dihedral. I had three pieces in, I climbed above my third piece, eyeing a pod where I thought I could get a full handjam and place another piece. The pod wasn't as good as it looked, and I'm thinking I might fall when my belayer tells me "your last piece has come unclipped, you better place another." My belayer saw this happen, and agrees the piece was clipped normally. As I climbed past it the rope pressed the gate against the corner of the crack, causing the gate to open and the rope to fall out of the biner.

At this point I panic. I doubt my ability to slam in another piece before I fall, although in hindsight that is what I should have tried to do. I decided to downclimb, knowing that if I could just get a few feet lower, I would be out of deck range if I fell on my 2nd piece. As soon as I started downclimbing, I fell. Neither my belayer or I exactly remember what happened next, but we were able to piece together that my belayer threw himself backwards, and was pulled back to his feet by the rope, giving me a partial catch. I hit the boulders at the base from 20 - 25 feet up, cracked the back of my helmet open, and landed on my back. Long story somewhat shorter, I was super lucky and only have some whiplash, bruised ribs and a sprained finger.

We've been playing the "carabiner orientation" game ever since. I was aware that for sport climbing it was best to clip out to the side with the gate facing away from you, so as you climb past the piece, the rope twists the biner so that the gate is facing away from the wall rather than against it. I've never thought much about trad placements, since the biner gate is either facing into the crack or out of the crack. In this case though, that freak thing happened where the rope twisted and pushed the biner gate into an obstacle (in this case the corner of the crack), opened the gate and allowed the rope to come out. That combined with where on the route it happened and the difficulty of the route led to my first ever hard groundfall in a decade of climbing regularly. I would like to avoid ever having this happen again.

Does anybody have any tips or opinions about the right way to clip? An easy to remember rule of thumb would be nice - I understand what happened but I don't want to be scratching my head with every placement from now on. (Is the biner facing the correct way? Should I clip my end of the rope in on the left or the right? What way will the rope twist the biner and is that the direction I want it to twist?) Has this happened to anybody else?

- Dave


FLAG
By Marc H
From Lafayette, CO
Oct 2, 2012
The Cathedral Spires in RMNP, left to right: Stiletto, Sharkstooth, Forbidden Tower, Petit Grepon, The Saber, The Foil, The Moon & The Jackknife.

If the rope wasn't weighted while it "unclipped itself" you didn't clip it.


FLAG
By BighornAdams
Oct 2, 2012

Funny thing, I had the opposite thing happen to me last weekend. Something clipped into my carabiner that shouldn't have.

As I climbed past my gear in a straight in crack, the loop on the back of my shoe (meant to put the darn thing on) somehow clipped into the carabiner. I only noticed what happened when I tried to continue climbing and found myself stuck. I'm lucky that I was able to somehow scrinch down and unclip it without falling. My fall would have been caught by my shoe instead of by the rope, possibly turning me upside down, tweaking my ankle, etc, etc.

Moral of story: Maybe even us trad climbers should be more mindful of our carabiner orientations, and what we allow in or out of them.


FLAG
By Tradoholic
Oct 2, 2012

Shit happens guys. While trad climbing theres alot of things to think about and which way your carabiner faces is probably among the lowest priority.


FLAG
By bearbreeder
Oct 2, 2012

ive seen it happen .. my general rule is to clip the biner in a direction where the gate wont come into contact with the crack edges ... failing that, ill hopefully have another piece close enough for a bit of redundancy, or if thats not possible ill add a second draw onto the piece if the fall has serious consequences

on moderate ground i try to extend all my pieces to keep the rope out of the crack ... ive been swapping over to the DMM dragons and other such cams with extendible slings as they allow you to lengthen it enough to keep the biners out of the crack if needed


FLAG
By Max Supertramp
Oct 3, 2012

disagree with Marc H.

these things happen. as mentioned above, I believe that regular and repeated use of runners would help minimize the likelihood of this happening.

happy to hear that you are ok-ish.

i've seen it happen before, in situations where the rope was not weighted, and the momentum of the rope's movements as the climber passed his last piece caused an unclipping action of the uppermost (not properly extended) piece of gear. fortunately, i was moving into easy terrain.

seems like this is a real reiteration of the importance of 1) religiously extending your gear so as to minimize any hanky-panky between rope-holding 'biner and rock, and 2) placing plenty of gear close to the ground if you are climbing close to your limit.

good for you to come out with it that others might benefit.


FLAG
By Sandy Schwartz
From Dove Creek, CO
Oct 3, 2012

Whew! Glad you survived to debrief. I'm learning some good stuff from this post. Good effort on your belayer's part, too. Heckuva learning opportunity... I've been climbing about a decade, too, and have finally gotten serious about questioning "rules\beliefs\assumptions" in order to more truly assess risk.

I ran into your question in a dihedral at Indian Creek this summer when I took a short practice fall to see what my gear would do, and to learn about falling in dihedrals. My first piece was a little deep & the gate opened against the edge. However, higher pieces were not so deep, so no harm done, but I was shocked. I hadn't really thought about biner orientation since I learned the "gates away from the rock" rule as a newbie face climber.

The Creek has taught me to question & experiment. So, with that dihedral, I proceeded to play with deep and shallow placements, gates in, gates out. I hung, bounce tested, and took increasingly longer falls until I was confident & knowledgeable about placing gear to protect falls in that type of situation. I'm getting away from "rules" and thinking more about consequences, based on experience gained from controlled experimentation.

Thanks for sharing. Best wishes for a healthy & fun future.


FLAG
By Nelson Day
From Joshua Tree, CA
Oct 3, 2012
me (about to sneeze)

I'm really glad you are OK!

I have seen cams come unclipped before, but only when they are weighted. The times I have seen this happen, the cam was back clipped, similar to back clipping a sport quick draw. The twisting motion that occurs during weighting can pop the rope out. In your situation, if your belayer was keeping you tight, he may have put enough tension in the rope to cause the twisting motion and unclip the cam.

I have never seen a carabiner unclip the rope due to opening against a rock. I guess it could happen, but it seems very unlikely.

I agree with not burying your cams. Even if you had slung the piece, what would have prevented the sling from unclipping in the same fashion? Like others have said, the orientation of the cam biner could have been reversed if the cam was rotated and then placed. This would be extremely difficult to realize/act on on lead... Freak accident and very unlucky! Super glad you are mostly ok! Thanks for sharing with us.


FLAG
By mmainer
Oct 3, 2012

I can imagine exactly what happened. Perhaps with the biner facing to the left in the right-facing dihedral, the rope was pulled a bit to the left (perhaps as you were trying to get into a better rest position) and the gate of the biner got pressed against the outside edge (i.e. the arete) of the dihedral and the gate opened. Subsequently, the rope still being pulled to the left was simply able to come out of the biner.

I have never had this happen but often when extending a piece placed deep in a horizontal, you have to watch out to be sure the biner doesn't site right over the edge (a very weak position).

It sounds like without your helmet you'd be dead. Thanks for sharing this story.


FLAG
By Boissal
From Small Lake, UT
Oct 3, 2012

Glad you're in one piece Dave!


FLAG
By Kenan
Oct 3, 2012
Shelf Rd

When placing a piece, I try to quickly evaluate what might happen to the biner as I'm climbing past it or falling on it. If it's running over an edge or anything that could come in contact with the gate, I extend it further or double up on the biners (opposed and reversed). Lots of people (myself included) often climb past cams with an extra biner just hanging, because you had 2 on the sling (or draw) and 1 on the cam. If it's a solid placement and you don't need to use the extra biner, fine - let it hang to facilitate cleaning/racking for the 2nd. But if the gate of a single biner could come in contact with something, it's easy to reinforce the placement by doubling up and using that extra biner.


FLAG
By Daryl Allan
From Sierra Vista, AZ
Oct 3, 2012
Me and my Fetish I guess.. ;)

Where's the guy that was making fun out of folks putting lockers on their slings/draws? Suddenly doesn't sound like overkill in this context, does it. I've definitely used small lockers on the first few pieces on hard trad in the past bc, as others have said, I've seen this happen more frequently than I'd like to. Very glad to hear you're ok and thanks for sharing David!


FLAG
By Jason N.
From Grand Junction
Oct 3, 2012
Indy pass

How do people feel about rotating the orientation of the biner post clip, such that the rope is seated in the smaller end of the biner and further from the gate? I've noticed it happens on it's own occasionally, but I'm wondering if it would be worthwhile to flip them intentionally.


FLAG
By bearbreeder
Oct 3, 2012

You dont need lockers on draws ... If yr worried put another opposed draw

If you want to use lockers youd need TWO of them on the sling if you want to extend it ... As either biner on the sling can get caught in the crack

Have a system where the failue of a single piece wont mean disaster


FLAG
By 20 kN
From Hawaii
Oct 3, 2012

Jason N. wrote:
How do people feel about rotating the orientation of the biner post clip, such that the rope is seated in the smaller end of the biner and further from the gate? I've noticed it happens on it's own occasionally, but I'm wondering if it would be worthwhile to flip them intentionally.

I feel it is unnecessarily. I know that the OP had a biner come unclipped on him, and it has happened to other people as well. But, you need to consider the actual statistical probability of something like this happening and compare it to the difficulty of placing a locking draw on a hard climb. The probability of the draw coming unclipped is low, but the probability of you fumbling the rope on a locker and falling while clipping is pronounced. Granted, I sport climb more than I climb trad, but between trad, sport, and aid climbing I have probably taken 1,200+ lead falls and clipped many tens of thousands of draws/ trad pieces and I have never had a piece come unclipped outside of aid climbing. In the case of aid climbing, I had three pieces come unclipped on me once. But, all three pieces were on the same pitch where I clipped a single biner into a pin on and the rope unclipped itself while I was bouncing around in my aiders. However, the only reason why it happened is because I did not use a draw on the pin, which is my fault.

In the case of the OP, my suggestion would be to place pieces in pairs before hard moves. That would have likely eliminated the problem he encountered and provided redundancy. You can use locking draws, flip the biners, use O&O quickdraws and all that stuff, but every one of those options are inferior in most ways to just placing a second piece. Again, placing two pieces in a row before hard moves is going to do a lot more for you than placing a locker on a singe piece!

Lastly, and most importantly, I am glad to see the OP made. Stay safe.


FLAG
By slim
Administrator
Oct 3, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

i had the same thing happen recently also. as JLP notes - i had kind of buried the piece (#2 friend) due to the rock at the lip not being that great. the tech friends have a really short stem and a short sling - which really doesn't help the situation. anyway, as i flailed upwards i kicked the biner, it opened on edge of the crack, and dumped the rope. my colon about dumped immediately after.....


FLAG
By slim
Administrator
Oct 3, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

Jason N. wrote:
How do people feel about rotating the orientation of the biner post clip, such that the rope is seated in the smaller end of the biner and further from the gate? I've noticed it happens on it's own occasionally, but I'm wondering if it would be worthwhile to flip them intentionally.


i actually do this quite a bit - when clipping gear as well as when clipping bolts.


FLAG
By eMurdock
From Tucson, Arizona
Oct 3, 2012

Glad you are OK. I have seen something like this happen on a sport climb. The leader clipped the crux bolt with a draw about 30 feet off the deck - it was not back clipped. It just happened that the bolt was above a run on easy ground so it was actually the only gear protecting against a 30 foot ground fall. As the leader climbed through the crux and past the properly clipped draw, he was thrutching a bit and his hip dragged against the rock pinning the draw and inadvertently unclipped the rope. We did not realize it until he was a body length above the bolt and essentially soloing until he reached the next bolt. Shit happens.

Another close friend of mine took a pitch-long grounder, ending his prolific climbing career, after inadvertently unclipping a non-locking biner while shimmying around a tree to position himself for a rappel. He should of had two opposed or a locker but that is not the point. Biners can, and do, unclip.


FLAG
By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Oct 3, 2012
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.

Marc H wrote:
If the rope wasn't weighted while it "unclipped itself" you didn't clip it.

No disrespect, but I disagree. I've watched something like this happen. The gate can get up against something and the rope gets into the open gate... then the rope can pull out in another direction.


FLAG
By Tryhard
From Sandy, UT
Oct 3, 2012

Dave, thank you for your post, and thanks to everyone who has posted a response. I think it is very helpful to talk about what went wrong, and how we can make better decisions as climbers.

Let me begin by saying that I was belaying Dave when he took his epic ground fall. Here are a few more details for anyone that is interested.

We had both decided to get on Hot Fun Sunday (5.11), and we both knew that the route was going to be at or near our climbing abilities. MP has a good photo of the route – thin hands in a shallow right facing dihedral, slightly right leaning. Hot Fun Sunday (5.11)

For whatever reason, I was looking directly at the piece when the rope came unclipped, so I have a very clear picture in my mind of how it came unclipped. There was nothing out of the ordinary about how the piece was placed or clipped, and the piece was not bumped, or kicked, or subjected to any aggressive movement as Dave climbed past. The piece that unclipped was a green C4 that was placed 18-20 feet off the deck. The next piece below was only 12 or so feet off the ground. The rope was clipped to a wire gate carabiner that was attached directly to the sling on the cam – the piece was not extended. Dave had his left foot in the crack 8-12 inches above the last piece, and the rope was running to the left of his left foot. He made a very gentle shift in body position, moving slightly to the left. The movement of the rope pulled the sling out from the crack so that the gate of the carabiner pressed against the outside corner of the dihedral. The gate opened and the rope appeared to “float” out of the carabiner. All of this occurred in a very fluid motion.

I warned Dave of the danger. His response and body language seemed to indicate that he was not going to be able to get a piece in. I asked him if he could down-climb – not a good suggestion in retrospect, because he immediately blew out from the crack when he tried to reverse his last move. I believe I was able to give a little bit of a catch, but not much. Dave hit the ground hard. The fall zone was not good, and he was extremely lucky in how he hit the ground. Dave made the best decision of his life when he put on his helmet.

Since the accident, I’m constantly thinking about the little things that can make a big difference in safety. Admittedly, it is up to each individual to judge if a particular solution is practical, but something you read here may save your life. Please continue to post your comments!

Get well Dave! You’re the best!

Jonathan Scoville
(Jonny Tryhard)


FLAG
By David Shiembob
From slc, ut
Oct 6, 2012

Thanks everybody!I think it's important to know weird things like this can happen. I think maybe the simple answer for me is that I'm going to be more aware of situations where I really only have 1 piece keeping me off the ground.


FLAG
By Tom Fralich
From Fort Collins, CO
Oct 7, 2012

BighornAdams wrote:
Funny thing, I had the opposite thing happen to me last weekend. Something clipped into my carabiner that shouldn't have. As I climbed past my gear in a straight in crack, the loop on the back of my shoe (meant to put the darn thing on) somehow clipped into the carabiner.


Amazingly, this happened to me as well once.


FLAG
By wankel7
From Indiana
Oct 7, 2012

Wild story glad you're okish!

What kind of helmet did you have on?


FLAG
By patto
Oct 10, 2012

I extend most of my cams. Not extending makes such situations more likely.


FLAG
By David Appelhans
From Lafayette
Oct 10, 2012
Imaginate

patto wrote:
I extend most of my cams. Not extending makes such situations more likely.


Have you ever been to Indian Creek?


FLAG
By topher donahue
Oct 11, 2012

Tryhard, before reading your report I was going to bet the farm it was a wiregate biner. They're perfectly designed to open against a 90 degree corner in IC, extended or not.

This scary story confirms a change I made after seeing too much funky shit happen - not just in the Creek. I realized we all place these ultra bomber belays and then almost never fall on them. Then we frequently trust a single piece - especially the 2nd and 3rd pieces on a lead where a ground fall gets ugly - to massive forces and unpredictable and complicated physics.

Now, instead of placing equal distance between pieces, I try to build little nests of 2 or even 3 pieces in those crucial places to avoid relying on one piece. I climb with the assumption that one piece can fail easily, but two good ones failing would be really unusual. Then I try to back clean when reasonable and run it out a bit more when the fall is clean so I don't really use more gear overall. With practice I've found this strategy feels way safer than the standard approach of shorter runouts relying frequently on single pieces. (and has saved my ass once or twice)

So glad he's OK!


FLAG


Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.
1

Email me.
Page 1 of 2.  1  2   Next>   Last>>