possible alpine quickdraw failure


Original Post
Tim Neumann · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

Hi there,

yesterday I was climbing at my local crag when I noticed I made a mistake when using one of my alpine quickdraws. Usually I use any draw with both carabiners facing the same direction (just personal preference). As it often happens with alpine draws you mess up the dircetion of one of the carabiners when shortening them back up after extension.

alpine draw with carabiners faceing opposite direction

when I was taking the orange carabiner out of the draw (not to extend it but simply to flip it) I accidentaly clipped it only back into two of the strands

clipping two strands by mistake

I noticed my mistake before climbing on and fixed it. At home I recreated the possible outcomes of the situation if the rope would have been weighted or a fall occured. Depending on which two of the three strands you clip the result can be dramatic:

a) The sling is twisted up in a weird way but stays inside the carabiners
twised up but seems okay
twisted up but seems okay picture 2

b) It comes out alltogether
sling comes out completely

c) It fucks up the gate of the carabiner quite badly
sling wrapped around gate
sling wrapped around gate picture 2

[Note regarding c): depending on the direction the carabiner faces it might be alright since the sling doesn't wrap around the gate as shown in the picture but the spine of the carabiner. Also: the carabiner in use (Petzl Ange) has apparently been known to cause thin dyneema runners to snag on its gate in a few cases (
supertopo.com/climbers-foru...). This is a problem i've never encounterd with mine accept in this case. But that's a different story. I've tried it with an other wiregate carabiner (Camp Nano 22) and the outcome was the same.]

To summarize: You're in for quite a gamble if you mess up on your alpine draws (again this occurs only when you clip two out of the three strands). It seems pretty unpredictable what happens with the draw under load but chances are it's not going to be pretty. To prevent this I can only think of a few ways:
- obviously double check if you put the carabiner through all the strands
- don't mess with the draw unless you want to extend it (flipping a carabiner is not all that important to begin with)

I don't know if this is a well known issue. It was certainly new to me, that's why I wanted to share.

Cheers from Germany

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 200

It's nice that you spent the time to analyzing this, but anyone who uses an "alpine draw" should know this already. When I teach others about the alpine draw, I teach them to never clip only two strands. Either clip one strand to fully extend it, or clip all three strands to fully shorten it. Again, never clip only two strands because the possibility of b - the biner will just slip right off the sling. When this possibility exists, I don't really care about possibilities a and c.

Mark O'Neal · · Nicholson, GA · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 1,175

I always give mine a little tug as I'm resetting them. Just to be sure

Seth Jones · · New Lenox, IL · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 5
Mark O'Neal wrote:I always give mine a little tug as I'm resetting them. Just to be sure
+1
BigFeet · · Texas · Joined May 2014 · Points: 0

Bringing up problems encountered whether known or unknown is always good for a refreshing of memory, or educational moment to some.

It has been awhile since there was a discussion on slings becoming detached from the carabiner in some form or fashion.

Be careful out there.

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 0

Good one, thanks for the reminder.

Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0

Bump! Always an important piece of info for new leaders or those who have forgotten!

Bill Czajkowski · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 15

You might consider changing the title of your post since what you describe was not failure of the draw but a (almost) user error.

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 95

Why did you feel compelled to flip the biner around? For me, you are just looking for a problem in fixing an issue that does not exist. An alpine is really, really unlikely to unclip itself from the rope in a fall, as opposed to a dog bone that holds the biner pretty steady.

But really, how many times has this ever happened, anywhere. My gym, as do pretty much all gyms that allow leading, uses fixed biners. So the gate is always on the same side, regardless of which direction you are climbing. Figure all the lead falls in the 3 year of my gym, at 10 falls an hour, 8 hours a day, that is 100,000 falls. 50% will be on the gate side of the biner, so that is 50,000 falls in my gym alone (which is a low, low, estimate). I have never heard of the biner getting unclipped. during a fall. Sure, maybe if there is a backclip, but not from a fall on the gate side of a properly clipped biner.

I am not saying we should just forget this advice. I am all for taking any addition potential failure out of the system when we can, but it seems like what you did had way more potential for failure (you might have dropped the biner or reclipped it wrong) versus the miniscule chance that the a fall would have resulted in the mythical rope unclipping itself.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,865
Bill Czajkowski wrote:You might consider changing the title of your post since what you describe was not failure of the draw but a (almost) user error.
The OP's problems are as much an "alpine quickdraw failure" as this is a "sport draw failure":

User F'ed up
BigFeet · · Texas · Joined May 2014 · Points: 0

Matt,

I believe the op's issue was with the lengthening and shortening of the draw when clipping back onto itself, and how the sling orientation is after the fact. Unclipping of the sling during a fall is a completely different issue.

Clicky

Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0
Gunkiemike wrote: The OP's problems are as much an "alpine quickdraw failure" as this is a "sport draw failure":
I think a hard climbing kid died from draws that were setup like this. Really fucking sad. I always prefer to climb on my own gear.
Tim Neumann · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0
Matt Himmelstein wrote:Why did you feel compelled to flip the biner around? [...] but it seems like what you did had way more potential for failure (you might have dropped the biner or reclipped it wrong) versus the miniscule chance that the a fall would have resulted in the mythical rope unclipping itself.
As I wrote, I like to have my quickdraw carabiners facing the same direction simply out of personal preference. Not the best argument I realized when recreating the incident at home. Because you are absolutely right in saying that it probably does not provide any benefit in terms of safety especially with alpine draws while at the same time unnecessarily introducing risc. That's exactly what I took away from what happend at the crag: Don't mess with alpine draws unless you are extending them (no matter the direction of the carabiners).
Tim Neumann · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0
Bill Czajkowski wrote:You might consider changing the title of your post since what you describe was not failure of the draw but a (almost) user error.
let's settle on possible failure due to (almost) user error ;)
Nathan Large · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 8
Tim Neumann wrote:I noticed my mistake before climbing on and fixed it.
Thanks for sharing. I learn and relearn a lot form these forums and it was an enjoyable read.
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

I was actually never taught this from my mentor, who said you could choose 3 different lengths. I actually noticed this while teaching a friend how alpine draws work. Makes me glad I tend to bring short slings and long QDs for that length extension.

On the other hand, it would be nice to bring a single size sling and still get the options of all three lengths of extension. There has to be a better way. If only bearbreeder were here to go dug up information or spend hours experimenting to figure it out.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

All good or fatally bad are easy to envision, but the catch on the gate I had not thought of. It's obvious now, though!

Best, H.

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 95
Tim Neumann wrote: As I wrote, I like to have my quickdraw carabiners facing the same direction simply out of personal preference. Not the best argument I realized when recreating the incident at home. Because you are absolutely right in saying that it probably does not provide any benefit in terms of safety especially with alpine draws while at the same time unnecessarily introducing risc. That's exactly what I took away from what happend at the crag: Don't mess with alpine draws unless you are extending them (no matter the direction of the carabiners).
Should we ever climb together a remote possibility I am sure), we'll need to use your gear, because I set all my sport draws with the gates in opposition. If I am going to move to the right, I clip the hanger with an arm motion to the right and then the rope with an arm motion to the right. With alpines, I don't care since they are going to flop around.
Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 95
BigFeet wrote:Matt, I believe the op's issue was with the lengthening and shortening of the draw when clipping back onto itself, and how the sling orientation is after the fact. Unclipping of the sling during a fall is a completely different issue. Clicky
Yes, but the reason he messed with the alpine was because he wanted the gate facing the other way. And the only reason you do this is because you are concerned about the rope unclipping itself, or you are OCD.
BigFeet · · Texas · Joined May 2014 · Points: 0
Matt Himmelstein wrote: Yes, but the reason he messed with the alpine was because he wanted the gate facing the other way. And the only reason you do this is because you are concerned about the rope unclipping itself, or you are OCD.
Well, the rope unclipping I would imagine it would not matter this way or that which way the carabiner is oriented, for all kinds of craziness happens to the sling and carabiner during a very fast, and load direction changing event. If the carabiner is being compromised in some way from the effects of the sling orientation... there is a problem that could lead to a catastrophic situation.

As others have stated up thread, a quick check, focus, and knowledge can go a long way in assisting those not in the know, or are in need of a bit of humble pie. This is not directed at you, by the way.

Yes, I believe wanting the carabiner gates to face the same direction is a bit neurotic, but so be it. Clip that alpine draw incorrectly when adjusting length - could be bye-bye you, or if lucky just a partial draw you just clipped to whatever. Most likely remote just as the rope unclipping, but... complacency has bitten my ass a time or two.

As the op's pictures illustrate, a compromised gate not being noticed, or the sling becoming completely free is not a good thing, in my opinion.

I applaud the op's PSA, but I also understand your intent.

Be safe, my friend.
Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,115

This is not an alpine quickdraw failure, it is a user error. When using an alpine draw at full length gate orientation is moot. Unclip all of the stands but one and you are done. If everything is not loosey goosey you screwed something up.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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