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Accident Avoided


Original Post
Kent Pease · · Littleton, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 725

This is a reminder of the value of backup systems and situational awareness. You just don’t know when “stuff” will happen!

The short version is that I rapped a 35 m pitch with a 70 m rope but the ends were not equalized. There was no accident because I noticed the problem mid-rap and I had knots in the ends. However, the result could have been different.

For those who like details here’s the long version: I rope solo led an easy slab climb, tied a figure eight in the middle of the rope then clipped it into two draws on the anchor, and rappelled. All is well. I TR soloed a harder climb using an ascender on one strand (with a chest harness and the end of the rope weighted with water bottle) and the other strand as a backup with occasional direct tie-ins. All is still well. At the top I tied directly into the anchor, pulled up the free end, fed it through the chains, tied a knot in the end, lowered it to the middle point, then untied the figure eight in the middle. My standard procedure when doing transitions is to tie a knot in the end, not only for safety but also to avoid any chance of dropping the rope which would be especially bad when climbing alone. The end of the rope went out of sight onto a ledge. I rappelled with a tube device on both strands then about half way down noticed that one end was well short of the ground. I was still at least 25 feet short of the end of the rope.

Analysis: In the process of feeding one strand of the rope through the anchor chains, that end snaked down the slabby route to a ledge where it accumulated in a pile rather than going to the ground. Normally this is no big deal; however, the other strand going to the ground now had more weight, and after untying the figure eight in the middle of the rope it self-fed backwards through the anchor chains without me noticing.

We can micro-analyze the details this incident and avoid a recurrence, but the next one will be different and also unexpected. The takeaways are: 1) “Unexpected Stuff Happens”, 2) we use safety and backup systems for a reason, and 3) being aware and alert pays off.

Kent

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,075

You forgot

4. Never climb alone.... ;)

Cor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 1,460

Glad your all good, homie!

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,615

There was a discussion in another thread about the good and bad of middle marks for those of us not up for the coin of a bi-pattern rope. So I am not so much on a crusade about them. Just a thought.

Good on you for having a system that prevented this from becoming a life-changing event. I get the care with which you are approaching this endeavor. I could learn a thing or two informing my rope soloing from this.

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

middle mark is a no brainer..

Kent Pease · · Littleton, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 725

I agree with middle marks and even better bi-pattern ropes. In this case the rope had a middle mark that had faded and was not obvious - it has since been upgraded.

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 456

If you don't have the middle marked and you have any doubt at all then, when setting up the rope for the rap, put one end through the anchor, match it to the other end and lower both ends together at the same time until you reach the middle at the anchor.

Kent Pease · · Littleton, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 725
Healyje wrote:

If you don't have the middle marked and you have any doubt at all then, when setting up the rope for the rap, put one end through the anchor, match it to the other end and lower both ends together at the same time until you reach the middle at the anchor.

In this case I had the center of the rope at the chains with the two sides hanging, so it was not a matter of finding the center. After the rap was set, one side self-fed backwards without me noticing it resulting in the problem. It would have been obvious though with a bi-pattern rope or a prominent center marker.

susan martin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0

Thanks for sharing the tips to avoid accidents while climbing!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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