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Another Accident due to mis-use of the Gri-gri


slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,085

sorry i keep using the word 'break' instead of 'brake'. the older i get i seem to do this more often. apparently this makes me ineligible to recommend applying a firm grip to the brake side.

mort, i have climbed around you and i have a hard time believing that you can't control the rope with the grigri dead open. unless you have switched ropes to teflon coated 6mm or something. i definitely don't agree that the force on the brake hand "isn't critical". it isn't critical, until it is critical...

slime, i still don't agree with your definition of root cause analysis. nothing personal, but at this point i guess we just have to agree to disagree.

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125
Mort wrote: John - I don't think the force of the brake hand is necessarily critical. Ultimately, it's the force on the cam, so I think it's the force of the fall being reduced by the force from the climbers-side hand (or friction from a roof, traverse, etc. or a loosely held brake hand) that matters. Then the "tug" on the Grigri isn't hard enough to engage the cam.
I think you mean grip force on the rope and force on the cam. The latter more or less only depends on the cam spring tension and brake force (that you can measure by tying a weight to the brake side of the rope like what Greg D has done, except w/o clamping the cam open). When you are "tugging" the Grigri, you are still relying on rope friction for you to exert enough brake force (or the rope with just slip thru). However, you CAN engage the cam by pulling both ends of the rope in opposite directions, w/o any tugging, even with a slick rope. I have on occasion done that in anticipation of a fall; I'm not sure it's necessary or even detrimental.

Mort wrote: And again, Steph and I handled the actual rope and Grigri involved in Jim's accident. She could feed the rope through incredibly quickly, holding the rope ATC-style. Sure she wasn't locking down with her brake hand, but sharp tugs that I would have expected to lock a Grigri weren't enough to lock this one with this rope.
I would be uncomfortable belaying someone with that setup, especially if the climber outweighs me by a lot. But given the situation, I'm not sure I'd have just not climbed.
Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,767
Mort wrote: Sure she wasn't locking down with her brake hand, but sharp tugs that I would have expected to lock a Grigri weren't enough to lock this one with this rope.
I once had a Sterling Velocity 9.8 that would creep through ATCs and an old style GriGris. Since it wasn't the min 10mm dia I couldn't fault the grigri but the creep on the act was scary. Sterling sent me a new rope after lots of complaining about it being unsafe and not wanting to climb on it. I could easily see non-spec ropes with dry treatments not activating the cam.
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

I think the whole discussion may and should have moved away from the terrible accident to Jim that initiated the thread to a general consideration of optimal belaying technique with a Grigri. So IÂ’d like to take a slightly different tack, which I hope will be useful for belayers and which is not meant in the spirit of any kind of argument.

One position in the debate is that any observed failure of the belay must trace its causes back to the brake hand being improperly located and/or clenched, because if the brake hand is solid, any other condition that disengages the cam can be overcome. So letÂ’s stipulate that this is true and ask whether experienced belayers always achieve this ideal configuration.

I think the answer is no, and I donÂ’t know how aware belayers might be of their actions in this regard, since we are speaking of hand and body positions in a very brief time frame, less than two seconds total for a fifty foot sport pitch.

The Grigri is remarkably resistant to mishandling during the belay process, and will lock up most of the time no matter what. So when I speak below of “preconditions for belay failure,” I am not saying that such conditions guarantee belay failure or even make it likely. I’m just suggesting that the whole system is less likely to perform as it should if these conditions obtain. With those demurrals in place, here’s what I’m thinking.

Preconditions for belay failure:
1. the belayer is lifted
2. the belayerÂ’s reaction/anticipation of lifting cause them to
a. grip hard with the feeding hand
b. bring the braking hand up above the device.

I think most people would agree that with the cam disengaged by (2a) and with (2b) in force, the rope would run with almost no resistance and might not, by itself, engage the cam unless the belayer manages, at this point with perhaps less than a second to impact, to get the braking hand down where it belongs and then control the situation.

Of course, (2a) is to be avoided (but a lot of people apparently didnÂ’t and still donÂ’t know this), and surely (2b) is also bad and is rightly regarded as a failure of proper belay technique. But I think both conditions happen and not just to noobs. HereÂ’s why:

Get out of your chair in front of the computer and take a little jump. Note that the ingrained reaction is to raise both hands to facilitate the jump. This reaction that has to be retrained for belaying, because you donÂ’t want the belay hand to come up when the climber is lifted.

But it does. Watch very carefully at the gym or crag, or surf the internet for videos. It doesnÂ’t seem to be unusual for a lifted belayer to not only hang on to the rope with their feeding hand, but also to bring up the braking hand as part of the lifting process. IÂ’m not saying it happens all the time but I donÂ’t think youÂ’ll go a long time without seeing it once you look for it.

For example, the Petzl video has experienced belayers modeling both “good” and “bad” braking-hand positions. I think they're all clutching with their feeding hand but can't tell for sure. I’ve put in the times so you can check and see if you see what I think I’m seeing, and added the stills below.

Belayer lifted, brake hand above device, at 1:23.

Belayer lifted, brake hand above device, at 1:24

Belayer lifted, brake hand above device, at 6:03.

Belayer lifted, brake hand above device, at 6:05.

Belayer dragged forward, braking hand below device, at 2:11.

Belayer lifted, brake hand below device, at 5:59.

My point is that even experienced belayers who probably think they have done everything correctly might, without realizing it, be entering the realm of "preconditions for belay failure" with the feeding hand gripping hard and the brake hand above the device for a few critical moments.

So what to do? Well, surely no one can seriously claim that it is actually a good idea to do things that sometimes disengage the cam, so learning to catch falls with an open feeding hand is just plain common sense. But you also want ATC-type braking reactions for the brake hand, even though they may not be needed most of the time, because the brake hand is still the “court of last resort,” and I’m suggesting that we particularly need to be aware of our reactions to being lifted.

Of course, it all comes down to instruction and training as many have said over and over. But the images of experienced people “violating” the optimal brake hand position ought to be cause for some quiet reflection rather than blanket and reflexive condemnation. Even if a Grigri is “just like an ATC” with the cam disengaged, you won’t be able to control a leader fall with the brake strand held above the device.

I suspect that the issue may be most pronounced with people who have learned to belay with a Grigri and have rarely or never used ATCÂ’s.

Daila Ojeda

Everyone gets that the belay is likely to fail if the belayer has their braking hand above an ATC when a leader fall happens, and and solid locking off is a cultivated learned response. But for people learning to belay with a Grigri and never using anything else, the proper brake hand position may seem to be a hypothetical concern that doesnÂ’t have much reality content. And the hypothetical nature of the concern is certainly enhanced by the claims that letting go with the brake hand is not simply a good idea but in fact the best idea.

I think kids make up the demographic most likely to begin with and continue on with Grigris. With significant weight mismatches, a child might not be able to hold a leader with an ATC, and some kind of assisted locking device is arguably the only game in town. The kids grow up with Grigris and may never be obliged to develop ATC-like braking hand reactions, which pretty much fall into the category of eating your spinach.

IÂ’m making observations, not proposing remedies except by implication, but Bearbreeder in particular has said a number of times that learning to use an ATC competently ought to be a prerequisite for Grigri use, and has also said that periodic returns to ATC belaying, even for climbers who mostly use Grigris, is desirable for keeping braking hand skills up to snuff. Makes sense to me.
bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 3,065

The "solution" is simple

Belay with an ATC once in a while and catch whippers on it just to practice a solid brake hand

As ive said over and over again, there is a tendency for folks who always belay with a grigri/smart/etc to get lazy with the brake hand as the device "does the work"

No doubt quite a few folks here will deny this ... But simply go to your local gym or crag and see the multitude of folks wih grigri/smarts whose brake hand is doing god knows what in which position

With an ATC youre forced to keep the rope in the proper position, or folks get dropped pretty quick

I used a smart exclusively for over a year until i took the brake hand for granted that i unconsciously let go on a rappel

Of course this is just lazy farts yapping away on MP ... In the real world folks will keep dropping each other as belaying is boring, until something bad happens

runout · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 30
bearbreeder wrote:The "solution" is simple Belay with an ATC once in a while and catch whippers on it just to practice a solid brake hand As ive said over and over again, there is a tendency for folks who always belay with a grigri/smart/etc to get lazy with the brake hand as the device "does the work" No doubt quite a few folks here will deny this ... But simply go to your local gym or crag and see the multitude of folks wih grigri/smarts whose brake hand is doing god knows what in which position With an ATC youre forced to keep the rope in the proper position, or folks get dropped pretty quick I used a smart exclusively for over a year until i took the brake hand for granted that i unconsciously let go on a rappel Of course this is just lazy farts yapping away on MP ... In the real world folks will keep dropping each other as belaying is boring, until something bad happens
Except having a hand on the climber's end is how you pay out and take in slack quickly with the ATC. When a fall happens you hold on to the climbers end to stay in control of the belay and keep your body up right. As long as you hold on and pull the brake hand back, everything is fine. And doing that with the Grigri is going to kill someone now? So should we take your advice and practice with the ATC or not?

I would say no, learn to use each device as intended. Making assumptions because you learned how to use a tube style device and expect that all device to conform to that style of belaying is where things can go wrong. Besides, trying to feed out rope with a GriGri like an ATC is not going to work too well, so you have to learn GriGri specific techniques anyway.

The thing that rubs me the wrong way about this thread is there are conflicting eye witness accounts. Byrnes says burns on both hands; Mort says only on the brake hand. And people start blaming a good device saying it's well known that you can't put a hand on the climber's rope when that's not the root cause at all.
Mort wrote:And again, Steph and I handled the actual rope and Grigri involved in Jim's accident. She could feed the rope through incredibly quickly, holding the rope ATC-style. Sure she wasn't locking down with her brake hand, but sharp tugs that I would have expected to lock a Grigri weren't enough to lock this one with this rope.
Petzl does say that rope diameter on the device isn't absolute. It also depends on the coating and the rope itself. It seems like that's the culprit, not using a compatible rope and not double checking the setup; not whether the belayer had a hand on the climber's rope (which doesn't even seem like it from the lack of burns).

Besides, it's impossible for me to believe that a 15 year old girl could have the grip and arm strength to slow down the rope so much to override the cam. Can it happen? Sure, if you do enough testing you will come up with a number at which the cam no longer engages. Was that number reached on an overhanging route, on a humid day, with slick new rope held by a 15 year old? No, I don't think so. You are taking about slowing down a 180 to 200 pound man whipping through the air with your bare hand. With one single hand.

So please, it's far from certain that having a hand on the climber's rope is a precondition to having a belay accident. I agree with the overall message to be vigilant while belaying, but damn, if the Gri gri is so damn sensitive no one would still be using it today. Much less second generation be made. Stop spreading FUD. It seems like Jim's supporters don't want to admit the ugly truth that it was human error and I can understand that because it is an unfortunate accident that I'm sure will forever change him and his family, but please don't turn this into an opportunity to spread false information; you are literally telling the entire climbing population that uses a Grigri that we are doing it wrong.
bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 3,065
Old Sag wrote: Except having a hand on the climber's end is how you pay out and take in slack quickly with the ATC. When a fall happens you hold on to the climbers end to stay in control of the belay and keep your body up right. As long as you hold on and pull the brake hand back, everything is fine. And doing that with the Grigri is going to kill someone now? So should we take your advice and practice with the ATC or not? I would say no, learn to use each device as intended. Making assumptions because you learned how to use a tube style device and expect that all device to conform to that style of belaying is where things can go wrong. Besides, trying to feed out rope with a GriGri like an ATC is not going to work too well, so you have to learn GriGri specific techniques anyway. The thing that rubs me the wrong way about this thread is there are conflicting eye witness accounts. Byrnes says burns on both hands; Mort says only on the brake hand. And people start blaming a good device saying it's well known that you can't put a hand on the climber's rope when that's not the root cause at all. Petzl does say that rope diameter on the device isn't absolute. It also depends on the coating and the rope itself. It seems like that's the culprit, not using a compatible rope and not double checking the setup; not whether the belayer had a hand on the climber's rope (which doesn't even seem like it from the lack of burns). Besides, it's impossible for me to believe that a 15 year old girl could have the grip and arm strength to slow down the rope so much to override the cam. Can it happen? Sure, if you do enough testing you will come up with a number at which the cam no longer engages. Was that number reached on an overhanging route, on a humid day, with slick new rope held by a 15 year old? No, I don't think so. You are taking about slowing down a 180 to 200 pound man whipping through the air with your bare hand. With one single hand. So please, it's far from certain that having a hand on the climber's rope is a precondition to having a belay accident. I agree with the overall message to be vigilant while belaying, but damn, if the Gri gri is so damn sensitive no one would still be using it today. Much less second generation be made. Stop spreading FUD. It seems like Jim's supporters don't want to admit the ugly truth that it was human error and I can understand that because it is an unfortunate accident that I'm sure will forever change him and his family, but please don't turn this into an opportunity to spread false information; you are literally telling the entire climbing population that uses a Grigri that we are doing it wrong.
No

You do NOT need to grasp the climbers strand hard to brake with an ATC

You do NOT need to grasp the climbers strand hard to keep upright

In fact petzl warns about gripping the climbers strand hard in a fall with the reverso

if you want to hold it LIGHTLY thats yr choice, but there is absolutely no reason to grasp it HARD

If you cant keep upright catching with an ATC without grasping the climbers strand hard, i suggest going back to the basics and relearning it

The braking position with a gri gri (and the smart) is the same as an ATC

Feeding the grigri like an ATC is EXACTLY what you should do

Petzl recommends the "fast feed" method for the grigri only for quick clips, the rest of the time its the exact feed method as the ATC

The problem is that many if not most folks tend to use it on a permanant basis ...
Paul Merchant · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 10

Jim daughter was 13 not 15

Ewing’s 13-year-old daughter, Maxine, was belaying him when the accident happened. Ewing said his daughter “has belayed me for years with no problems, mostly using Grigris.”

Sometimes the most important decision is not what belay device to use or how it is set up, but should I be climbing at all. If your belayer is to small, doesn't have enough experience, rope type, terrain inhibiting safe belay... etc maybe you should wait for someone else, different route or conditions.

The conditions surounding which we climb is just as important as the condition in which we climb. Making good decisions keep us as safe as the equipment we use.

"Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions."

People are going to screw up. It's important to learn from their mistakes so they don't become ours.

runout · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 30
bearbreeder wrote: No You do NOT need to grasp the climbers strand hard to brake with an ATC You do NOT need to grasp the climbers strand hard to keep upright In fact petzl warns about gripping the climbers strand hard in a fall with the reverso if you want to hold it LIGHTLY thats yr choice, but there is absolutely no reason to grasp it HARD If you cant keep upright catching with an ATC without grasping the climbers strand hard, i suggest going back to the basics and relearning it The braking position with a gri gri (and the smart) is the same as an ATC Feeding the grigri like an ATC is EXACTLY what you should do Petzl recommends the "fast feed" method for the grigri only for quick clips, the rest of the time its the exact feed method as the ATC The problem is that many if not most folks tend to use it on a permanant basis ...
I never said hard death grip. And even a hard death grip I don't think your skin and grip can make that much friction with the rope to make a dent into the falling force of a person. If you can, we would hear a lot more about how someone was saved by his belayer's bare hands or slowing them down enough to prevent death, etc. No, that does not happen.

You can teach a newbie how to belay with a gri and never teach that person ATC and he will belay just fine as long as you tell him to pay attention, understand to hold the brake hand tightly and keep it down towards the hip, etc. You can teach them the motions of an ATC on a Gri, if you want. The petzl instructions do not say "understanding with an ATC is a prerequisite to belaying with the grigri." Feeding is theoretically the same, but in practice they are different when you need to feed slack quickly, which is often. Besides, I can pull hard with the ATC to feed slack, but if I do the same I will lock up the cam, causing me to short rope the climber. So in practice, not the same.

If you want to be safe and take your hand off the rope as soon as you are done, that's fine and it is your choice, but it is by no means a contributing factor to this accident. So please stop telling people that we're doing it all wrong and using this unrelated accident to your advantage.
bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 3,065
Old Sag wrote: I never said hard death grip. And even a hard death grip I don't think your skin and grip can make that much friction with the rope to make a dent into the falling force of a person. If you can, we would hear a lot more about how someone was saved by his belayer's bare hands or slowing them down enough to prevent death, etc. No, that does not happen. You can teach a newbie how to belay with a gri and never teach that person ATC and he will belay just fine as long as you tell him to pay attention, understand to hold the brake hand tightly and keep it down towards the hip, etc. You can teach them the motions of an ATC on a Gri, if you want. The petzl instructions do not say "understanding with an ATC is a prerequisite to belaying with the grigri." Feeding is theoretically the same, but in practice they are different when you need to feed slack quickly, which is often. Besides, I can pull hard with the ATC to feed slack, but if I do the same I will lock up the cam, causing me to short rope the climber. So in practice, not the same. If you want to be safe and take your hand off the rope as soon as you are done, that's fine and it is your choice, but it is by no means a contributing factor to this accident. So please stop telling people that we're doing it all wrong and using this unrelated accident to your advantage.
on gripping the climber side of the rope tightly ... around 5 minutes in ...

"avoid gripping the climbers side of the rope too tightly, as you run the risk of reducing the reversos braking ability"

http://vimeo.com/80477504

on using the grigri just like an ATC as the primary belay method

"this technique is the same for all petzl belay devices, just like when belaying with a tube style device or reverso ... this is the primary belay position"


vimeo.com/80481246

please stop telling folks unsafe belay techniques are fine ...

no your DONT grab the climbers side tightly as petzl clearly does not recommend it for the grigri or the ATC

and yes you DO belay primarily with the grigri just like an ATC if you follow peztl

if you are only trying to pull hard with your climbers side hand on an ATC youre doing it wrong ... its a pull AND push just like the showed in the video ... if you belay alot with an ATC you would know this

from the petzl video again ...

"this technique remains the same throughout ALL PETZL BELAY DEVICES"


petzl how to belay with a reverso "this technique remains the same throughout ALL PETZL BELAY DEVICES"

folks ... just watch the darn petzl videos and follow the instructions ... that and practicing a solid brake hand

and you wont drop anyone

as this conversation shows even experienced MPers cant admit when they are doing something wrong ...
John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 451

I'm hoping that this is my final post on this topic because it seems that after rgold's last post, there's little more to discuss. I think he's spot-on.

Those who cleave to half-truths will continue in their beliefs regardless of mounting evidence and testimonials.

I will, however, voice support for rgold's contention that having the brake-hand above the device is a contributing factor, for this reason:

The differential force, tension, between the two ends of the rope must (via friction, a capricious bitch), overcome the spring-force of the cam for the device to lock. Having the brake-hand down causes a sharp bend in the rope, increasing this tension, and thus further increasing the probability of the cam engaging.

And obviously, having a light, or no, grip on the climber-strand is important too.

At almost 30,000 views, I have achieved what I set out to do: Make more people aware that this can happen, since it's absurd to expect people to change their habits to avoid an unknown pitfall.

I'm confident that many people will change their habits now that they know, and hopefully, that the knowledge will spread by word-of-mouth.

runout · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 30
bearbreeder wrote: on gripping the climber side of the rope tightly ... around 5 minutes in ... "avoid gripping the climbers side of the rope too tightly, as you run the risk of reducing the reversos braking ability" vimeo.com/80477504 on using the grigri just like an ATC as the primary belay method "this technique is the same for all petzl belay devices, just like when belaying with a tube style device or reverso ... this is the primary belay position" vimeo.com/80481246 please stop telling folks unsafe belay techniques are fine ... no your DONT grab the climbers side tightly as petzl clearly does not recommend it for the grigri or the ATC and yes you DO belay primarily with the grigri just like an ATC if you follow peztl if you are only trying to pull hard with your climbers side hand on an ATC youre doing it wrong ... its a pull AND push just like the showed in the video ... if you belay alot with an ATC you would know this from the petzl video again ... "this technique remains the same throughout ALL PETZL BELAY DEVICES" folks ... just watch the darn petzl videos and follow the instructions ... that and practicing a solid brake hand and you wont drop anyone as this conversation shows even experienced MPers cant admit when they are doing something wrong ...
I never said to grip tightly on the climber end. You did. Over and over again. You constructed an easy straw-man and reworded my comments and also ignored most of what I said. I don't think death gripping the climber's end is a good habit, but I don't think it's also a death sentence. It is discouraged because you end up forgetting about the brake hand if you grip too tightly with the other hand, and that causes the accident, not because you have a hand on the climber's end.

My point is:
What evidence do you have to show that having a hand on the climber's rope caused *this* accident?

If you have something against having a hand on the climber's rope then start another thread and do a PSA there.

And no, you don't belay the same with the Gri gri and the ATC. If you do, there is no need to go back and periodically practice with the ATC catching big falls, is there? Again, in theory you do, but in practice I can lock up the gri gri at will and have to adjust for that. You can't do that with the ATC.
bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 3,065
Old Sag wrote: I never said to grip tightly on the climber end. You did. Over and over again. You constructed an easy straw-man and reworded my comments and also ignored most of what I said. I don't think death gripping the climber's end is a good habit, but I don't think it's also a death sentence. It is discouraged because you end up forgetting about the brake hand if you grip too tightly with the other hand, and that causes the accident, not because you have a hand on the climber's end. My point is: What evidence do you have to show that having a hand on the climber's rope caused *this* accident? If you have something against having a hand on the climber's rope then start another thread and do a PSA there. And no, you don't belay the same with the Gri gri and the ATC. If you do, there is no need to go back and periodically practice with the ATC catching big falls, is there? Again, in theory you do, but in practice I can lock up the gri gri at will and have to adjust for that. You can't do that with the ATC.
this ENTIRE thread debating off the OPs description about the belayer gripping the climbers side .. and yet yr attacking me about it????

and yes your PRIMARY belay position with a grigri is the same as an ATC if youre using it correctly as per petzl

if you use the fast feed method then only do so briefly as per petzl, and immediately return to the brake position

if you are using an ATC properly ... you can "lock up at will" .. just use your brake hand, if you cant lock it up stop belaying someone youll drop someone

regardless my suggestion about beginners use an ATC, and old geezers periodically re-use one is to keep the BRAKE HAND IN PRACTICE

regardless of which way you feed this is what matters ....

if you bothered reading you would see this, but then "You constructed an easy straw-man and reworded my comments and also ignored most of what I said. "

ive posted video instructions, accident reports, etc related to the OPs description over and over again in this thread ... and get attacked

thats MP for ya now !!!
Christian · · Casa do Cacete · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 1,465

Straw man and ad hominem argumentation on MP!!!!???

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!!!!

youtube.com/watch?v=SjbPi00…

runout · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 30
bearbreeder wrote: this ENTIRE thread debating off the OPs description about the belayer gripping the climbers side .. and yet yr attacking me about it????
Yeah but OP's account got revised and updated with other accounts. I thought you would have picked up on that. No burns on the left hand, slick rope, etc. So why are you still harping on something is no longer a factor in this accident?

By the way, I am well aware of the blurb in the petzl video about not holding the climber's rope. But the climbers in their videos do another thing entirely. So it's one of those "do what I say, not what I do?" That's not very responsible of them.

And, even if the belayer had burns on both hands, that just means that she was holding the climbing rope. You don't need to death grip a fast moving rope to get burns. Don't believe me? You can drop a free weight from top rope and you will get rope burns. No need to grip it hard. Just try it if you don't believe me. It doesn't mean it's the cause of the accident, just a RESULT of having an accident. There is a difference.

No hard feelings bearbreeder.
bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 3,065
Old Sag wrote: Yeah but OP's account got revised and updated with other accounts. I thought you would have picked up on that. No burns on the left hand, slick rope, etc. So why are you still harping on something is no longer a factor in this accident? By the way, I am well aware of the blurb in the petzl video about not holding the climber's rope. But the climbers in their videos do another thing entirely. So it's one of those "do what I say, not what I do?" That's not very responsible of them. And, even if the belayer had burns on both hands, that just means that she was holding the climbing rope. You don't need to death grip a fast moving rope to get burns. Don't believe me? You can drop a free weight from top rope and you will get rope burns. No need to grip it hard. Just try it if you don't believe me. It doesn't mean it's the cause of the accident, just a RESULT of having an accident. There is a difference. No hard feelings bearbreeder.
if you read the last few post before your intervention where you came out swinging about the climbers strand

you will notice that i said, and have been saying over and over again that a SOLID BRAKE HAND is something that should be done regardless of whatever feed method you use ... whether you grip the climber side lightly or not

petzl themselves state that a solid brake hand is what will insure the grigri catches (and not blocking the cam or reducing its motion through grabbing the climber side tightly)

THATS what im harping on ... train the brake hand

which is something you tend not to do very well with grigris/smarts/etc, folks get lazy or never learn ... as you usually feel a minimal if any weight on the brake strand, you tend not to develop a FIRM grip

keep in mind that i use a smart for ~80% of my belaying ... however im very aware of the risks that using grigri or smart poses

i got on a grigri this entire week at the crag ... many of my partners use grigris, but they are all competent and proficient in catching with an ATC as well

if you want a good explanation read rgolds post on the last page ... he explains it better than i ever would
Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470
bearbreeder wrote: if you want a good explanation read rgolds post on the last page ... he explains it better than i ever would
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."

youtu.be/9cWnubJ9CEw
rob.calm · · Loveland, Colorado · Joined May 2002 · Points: 630

Old Sag wrote:

"I never said hard death grip. And even a hard death grip I don't think your skin and grip can make that much friction with the rope to make a dent into the falling force of a person. If you can, we would hear a lot more about how someone was saved by his belayer's bare hands or slowing them down enough to prevent death, etc. No, that does not happen."

A few months ago, a friend, using an ATC, was lowering a climber kind of fast. A clump developed on the brake side and when it hit his hand knocked it free from the rope. He struggled to get a hand back on the brake side, but he couldnÂ’t, since the rope was wiggling like a snake. In desperation he grabbed the climberÂ’s side and stopped the fall. The palm side of both hands were burnt significantly.

Decades ago there was a well-known event on the Naked Edge. A climber leaned back, thinking she was tied in. She wasnÂ’t. She fell off the ledge, but, shall we say miraculously, managed to grab a hanging line and to stop herself. Really badly damaged both her hands.

So, it does happen. Infrequently, to be sure.

Rob.calm

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

There was a bare-handed save in the Gunks years ago too. A roped-up guy who wasn't tied in fell off a ledge. A climber in another party happened to be next to the zipping pile of rope and managed to grab a strand with one hand. He slowed the guy down enough so that he hit the ground with---I think---only bruises from 80 feet up or so, but the "belayer's" hand was very severely burned (maybe down to the bone, but I'm not sure about that part).

There's also the famous "Welcome to the Gunks" story, which was also a bare-handed catch. It deserves a lengthy telling, one that can, I think, be found on the internet, but the short version is that McCarthy fell off the belay ledge at the top of Never Never Land after calling off belay but before actually anchoring to anything. When McCarthy fell, his belayer (Pete Geiser), spun around and grabbed the rope with both hands. Jim plummetted to the ground but was unhurt. Geiser burned his hands.

Mind you, all this was back in the days of real knicker-clad men who could rip pitons from the rock with their bare hands, professionals on a closed track if you will. Do not try this at home.

Claude Ingersoll · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 0

I learned climbing basics from an old guy named Paul Pedzolt at a little out of the way outfit called NOLS. To me this accident is purely a training issue. The belayer was incompletely or inadequately trained, and perhaps didn't practice enough. As a person that young, it was not her fault. It seems that this was an avoidable accident. I have great hopes for the two injured climbers' recovery - both physical and emotional.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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