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PartnErr on the side of caution/rope jam in gri-gri save?


Original Post
amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 715

When does one break up with a sketchy partner?

This weekend my partner would have lowered me off the end of the rope, to a long and nasty fall, had it not been for the plasticy end cap of my fat 10.5mm rope getting caught in the grigri2...

...The rope was completely out of his brake hand, only the very tip was caught up in the braking/camming section of the grigri. I still can't believe my extreme good fortune. Time to buy a powerball ticket???

I am good friends with this partner, and he's got many great qualities, such as being down to spend every weekend in the sierras doing long approaches, getting on awesome stuff, but he has a stoner vibe that I think is incompatible with being a good partner, and has said he has trouble not zoning out... (his not very distant history of weed use perhaps?) 

Anyway, checking/reminding your partners to tie into the rope or knot the end is as key to not dying as checking your figure 8 and if the belay device is threaded/locked. Mistakes happen. Reduce the number of ways an inattentive partner can kill/maim you.

Not the first sketchy thing this guy has done, and probably the last time I climb anything bigger than a boulder with him.

Learn from my mistakes. Think about breaking up with your sketchy/stoner partner before you get broken up. Don't climb with stoners? make sure the system is closed, and make sure your belayer doesnt move position.

(edit: 

I accept responsibility for not checking the system was closed. MY mistake, for sure. But I'd like to feel like my partner would be alert enough not to let the rope out through the belay device, one way or another. Also, the belayer moved lower down the incline from where we had made a snow platform to belay from, which is fine, but it shortened the rope length effectively. from where we started, this pitch was not a rope stretcher, as we had climbed several pitches in the same spot, the same weekend.

This photo is where this happened. (Lee Vining is still "in" btw- get out there!)

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,470

That sucks but in the situation you describe some of the responsibility for that is on you.

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425

I won't climb with people that have a cavalier attitude towards climbing. I'm just not comfortable with it.  Glad you are ok. 

Dave Holliday · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2003 · Points: 1,416

Why didn't you make sure the system was closed before heading up the route?

amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 715
Dave Holliday wrote:

Why didn't you make sure the system was closed before heading up the route?

I posted this thread to remind people to check that the system is closed, as I said in the original post.

I thought my partner would be tied into the rope, and like I said, should have checked that when I checked to see the grigri was locking etc.

Zachary Winters · · Mazama, Washington · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 207

Very glad to hear you're OK. I also have to agree with caughtinside and Dave: if both climbers accept responsibility for every possible safeguard, the party is twice as safe. In some climbing situations (guided, new climbers, etc.) the leader is solely responsible for things like checking route length / rope length compatibility as well as closing the system with a knot when appropriate (almost always IMO). That said, picking your partners wisely is also an important, and I know the feeling of looking down at a half asleep belayer - not fun.

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125
amockalypsenow wrote:

I posted this thread to remind people to check that the system is closed, as I said in the original post.

Then title the thread as such instead of laying all the blame on your partner. Fact is this can and has happened to plenty of non-stoned belayers.

amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 715

belayer flakes out the rope, knots the end or ties in. I take responsibility for this as a belayer.

yes, important to check each others shit, but also important to have responsible alert partners. I've explained to this partner to always tie a knot or tie into the rope. Anyway, no names here, I'm not trying to shame anyone.

amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 715

cue hate from pot smoking climbers...

maybe there's a difference between a pot smoker, and being a hazy stoner. but the sketchiest partners I've had have had a relationship with weed.

Mark Hammond · · Eldorado Springs, CO · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 220

Lame. Still failing to fully accept your responsibility in the situation. I'm not here to defend weed usage, and you are certainly free to choose your partners however you like, but you are using your own speculative theory that this person MAY have used weed in the PAST to lay the blame for a close call on him. Your conclusion of "Don't climb with stoners?" is slander to this particular partner. 

Glad everyone is ok. Maybe you should change the sensationalist, click bait title of your original post.

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,470
amockalypsenow wrote:

belayer flakes out the rope, knots the end or ties in. I take responsibility for this as a belayer.

I disagree that this is standard safety practice. I think it's smart, but I wouldn't say 

yes, important to check each others shit, but also important to have responsible alert partners. I've explained to this partner to always tie a knot or tie into the rope.

agree, but if you're planning on lowering off a single pitch some of the responsibility to knot the end is on you. Having belayers tie in on single pitch climbing is not a standard thing.  

Sucks that happened to you, but I'd agree with reboot, this has happened many times to good belayers.  If the pitch is a rope stretcher, its on both of you to take safety precaution about that.  

If you want to blame it on weed... ok? But there are plenty of non-stoned belayers who have done the same. 

amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 715

I accept responsibility for not checking the system was closed. MY mistake, for sure. But I think the belayer has a responsibility not to let the rope out through the belay device, one way or another. Also, the belayer moved lower down the incline from where we had made a snow platform to belay from, which is fine, but it shortened the rope length effectively. from where we started, this pitch was not a rope stretcher.

This photo is where this happened. (Lee Vining is still "in" btw)

(also, sorry if I wasn't clear but the weed smoking history statement was not speculative)

Chase Horn · · Los Gatos, CA · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 6
amockalypsenow wrote:

cue hate from pot smoking climbers...

also, maybe there's a difference between a pot smoker, and being a hazy stoner. but the worst partners I've had have been stoners.

To speak to this, everyone reacts to substances differently. Jim Bridwell blazed lines up El Cap flying on acid, yet the dude was an unstoppable force in the establishment of rock-climbing as we know and love it today. I think, like you mention, what you fear in your partner has more to do with his personality than his drug habits. I am a recreational smoker and I do partake when I climb, however, I find that the herb makes me more cautious than anything, but that is just me. I feel you though, it is just as hard to find a partner that is down for high-mileage days as it is to find a partner you can undoubtedly trust. Good luck brotha!

Mark Hammond · · Eldorado Springs, CO · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 220

Ok. Things are becoming much clearer with your edits and clarifications. And your responsibility in the situation has been more clearly acknowledged. (And is perhaps even clearer to you? I personally would blame myself equally for not checking such a critical part of the system.) Anyway, I really am glad you are ok! 

This (the end of the rope going through the belay device) is such a preventable problem that also commonly leads to tragedies minor and major, that it frustrates me when BOTH climbers don't assure that the system is closed. Good luck in the partner department in the future.

Jordan W · · NC · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 10

From that picture, that route sure looks like a rope-stretcher. I can see the stopper knot hanging between the belayer's legs. Especially when top-roping and there's even a possibility you get could lowered off, I check the rope before heading up to make sure I'm not going to get dropped off the end. Next to rappelling that's like the second most common way people get killed. Both people should be verifying something that crucial. Like said above, both assume the responsibility, and you're twice as safe.

amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 715
Mark Hammond wrote:

Ok. Things are becoming much clearer with your edits and clarifications. And your responsibility in the situation has been more clearly acknowledged. (And is perhaps even clearer to you? I personally would blame myself equally for not checking such a critical part of the system.) Anyway, I really am glad you are ok! 

This (the end of the rope going through the belay device) is such a preventable problem that also commonly leads to tragedies minor and major, that it frustrates me when BOTH climbers don't assure that the system is closed. Good luck in the partner department in the future.

yes, its been helpful to read the comments to reinforce the importance of both partners' duty to check that the system is closed. 

amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 715

I appreciate all the input and useful advice.

Stagg54 Taggart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 10
amockalypsenow wrote:

I thought my partner would be tied into the rope

Never assume anything...  

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

Having found myself in a similar situation a million years ago with a similarly inclined partner...the best thing to do is really just stop calling him. Find other partners and eventually, you'll go your separate ways, no harm, no foul.

Partnerships come and go for most of us- we're lucky when we can find someone who fits the bill and your climbing style for more than a couple years. 

Thomas Beck · · Las Vegas, Nevada · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,040
amockalypsenow,

About 10 years ago I got dropped by my partner climbing near "Running Man"  and "Red Heat" in Red Rocks. It was not the first time we had climbed together; we were having a good day and the psyche was high..  

I don't as a rule knot the end of my rope because I know the rope gets stuck in everything.  Belaying with a grigri, I know I can knot the end of the rope, if I stop the lower and knot the rope.  I do this if the distance looks short to get to the deck. It is also doable with a reverso or ATC.  I have done this a number of times.

The conversation went something like this: I was lowering off a sport lead neither of us had previously done and at the last clipped draw, I turned to my partner..."I'm going to unclip this last draw and there will be a little pop cause you are out from the base. You got me?"  He assured me he did.  At the angle I was at I could not see the end of the rope.

Well, in fact he did not check how much left over rope he had and about 6ft of cord slipped through the Black Diamond ATC.  I fell about 20 feet to the deck cracking a vertebrae. I was flat on my back for 2 months and to this day have some agrivation at times.

That was the last route we ever did together.  Even though he was a good partner and climber, I stopped climbing with this person.  

 
Nathan Flaim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 0

I think the answer to your original question is ..... dump an inattentive partner immediately.  

However, I find your own inattentiveness in the situation you described just as frightening.  Maybe you should break up with yourself too.  

Closing the system should be a part of every safety check.  Both the belayer and climber share this onus.  If you choose not to close the system, it should be a conscious decision EVERY time.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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