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Gear unclipped itself, groundfall
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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!


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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Oct 11, 2012
tanuki

I refer to those as "comfort nests" and build them all the time!


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By MTKirk
From Billings, MT
Nov 16, 2012
Me on Supercrack

I watched a similar thing happen to a climber I was belaying on the fourth pitch of El Matador (Devils Tower). He'd placed a camalot with an extended alpine draw in a finger crack under a roof, he then climbed up and right. When his feet passed the roof the rope pulled the draw straight out to the right & up, the gate hit the corner of the roof, opened & the rope fell out.

I made a quick and agonizing decision not to tell him, my thoughts behind this were 1) He was past the crux and already in the process of selecting his next piece. 2) He looked to be in control, at least capable of getting in another piece & yelling take. 3) The piece & draw was now under the roof, it would have been a real feat to get back to it & re-clip. 4) I would not want to know if it were me in this situation. I climb a lot better thinking I'm only going to fall 6' than I do if I'm facing a 12 footer on a manky pin.

I'm not sure I made the right decision here, or if I would have made the same decision in your case. I got lucky and my leader cruised the rest of the pitch unaware of the drama I went through (15 seconds never went by so slow). It's a really tough situation to be in. I'm glad you're both OK.

+1 for the comfort nest


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By JohnnyG
Nov 16, 2012

+2 for the "comfort nest." I do that too. Well stated, Topher.


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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Nov 16, 2012
You stay away from mah pig!

OP, glad you're all right.

+3 for the comfort nest. I prefer to sew it up and build little mini-anchors for the first 20-30 feet of a route, even if it means running it out a bit higher up when falls are clean.

I also had a rope unclip itself from a biner, in a splitter feature on Harvest Moon at the Gunks. No idea how it happened, but I had climbed about 20 feet above a bomber 3 camalot, looked down, and realized that the rope was completely unclipped. I did not fall. Scary.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Nov 16, 2012
El Chorro

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. 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.


Crazy! Similar thing happened to me a few years ago. I was doing a big drop knee on a steep route and one of the draws on my harness clipped the loop of my shoe. I noticed it pretty quickly as I began what would have been a big move. Thankfully I was on a big enough hold that I was able to hang and take the draw off my harness before I fell. Kind of freaky, but I figure if you climb long enough, that sort of thing happens.


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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Nov 16, 2012

Glad you're okay!

There has been some good analysis in this thread. I wanted to point out that statistics cease to matter once that statistically unlikely event happens to you personally. I'd definitely change my climbing behavior after experiencing a statistically unlikely event.


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By Kirk Miller
From Golden, CO
Nov 16, 2012
Bugaboos, 1978 <br />Photo by Ken Trout

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


Sorry, not true. I've had the rope come unclipped from a draw below me (partner saw it happen and told me) and watched draws come unclipped from bolts (this has happened on both ring shuts and standard hangars). I guess sometimes contortionist moves, wind, or even odd rock features will move a rope or draw around enough for it to become unclipped. As a result, I keep lockers on a few of my draws in a variety of orientations. Double lockers, locker on bolt end, locker on clipping end. If I have any doubt, I grab one of these appropriate to the situation.


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By gearwhore
From Orange, CA
Nov 16, 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.


heck yes...whenever it looks like the gate will make contact with something close by. No brainer actually and is regularly performed!


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By Peter Carey
Nov 16, 2012
me

I haven't heard what brand of carabiner it was?
I have noticed that the action(stiffness) varies greatly on most wiregates. I ended getting rid of a bunch of Camp Photon's when I had a situation where a thrown rappel rope tag my gear (while on lead) and knocked my rope out. Very unusual but I now make sure the gate action is on the stiffer side.


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By Tryhard
From Sandy, UT
Nov 19, 2012

The carabiner that unclipped was a Metolius Inferno in good condition.


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