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an unexplained accident


JSH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 1,028

Up Yours wanders quite a bit at the start. Did an early piece pull, that perhaps you were not aware of, and introduce slack that way?

Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 1,959

OK, you are all to quick for me, It has been more than 10 yrs, since I traveled by that zone
 but the area is described in T Swains The Gunks Guide(3rd Ed. 1995) & 2 old Williams Guide books.(Black Cover 3rd ed. 1991)&(Gunks Select 1st Ed. 1996)
These descriptions add needed information.
I don't think anything walked or pulled....
More likely that Rope build up on less than vertical terrain & stretch/releasing over bulges was partially to blame, cause/at fault 
 

 The section of the Nears is more secluded, not prone to end of the day socializing... 
The actual terrain is described; Straight up to a slab past a bulge to a 'short Open book by a prominent crack"
 near the broken left facing corner system of "Up Yours".
So This then gives some clearer understanding of the likelihood that the extra tail built up in the crack & at the top of the slab.
  & a slab and ledges that, in the climbing description, one " zig-zags" up, but would descend directly over when lowering.

It has been torn apart, the blame shared liberally & spread around (& it may seem to some, that concern for the injured marginalized)
but that was to highlight, & to get to the important issue of the cause(s) which sound harsh, I apologize in advance:

 hubris / over-confidence / complacency

all  clearly understandable,  Regarding Taking the well-intentioned advice of someone who you felt was more experienced,

Applying a "short-cut" that seemed safe, but that created the dangerous dangling trailing end that combined with the long rope,                                                                                                        lowering over  varied & mixed terrain,"passing" a "broken" open book & prominent Crack,  returning to vertical passing a "bulge to  less than vertical(slab)
 all that were lowered over,
Were the  physical causes. Those interactions, together with a belay that did not provide a tight rope, led to near disaster.

I really think it is commendable that your willing to debrief in this way

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 877
Patrick C wrote:  Some ropes stretch 30%. If you have 100' going up from the belayer and 75' coming back down, that'll provide rope stretch of 30% of 175', which is a potential of 52.5'. 
Sorry.  That is not how it works.  The numbers given by rope manufacturers for elongation (rope stretch as you call it) is given for 2 different test.  Static and dynamic.  The static result given is for hanging 80kg on a specific amount of rope, no fall involved.  Most ropes are in the 8-9% range.  The dynamic result is for a substantial lead fall with 80 kg.  Most ropes test around 28-33%.  The scenario presented is nowhere near the dynamic test, but may be more than the static test if there was some slack in the system.  Climber weight is another factor.  

The part on the ground on the other side of the belay device isn't in the equation.
Correct.  Nor is the tail of the bight.  
GDavis Davis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 10

If I'm being lowered on a long ass rope via grigri, and I stop on a ledge and let the rope come slack, I'm not just stepping off the block without settling onto the rope first. This scenario means that the belayer either didn't notice, or wasn't aware of, this phenomenon, and I'm not confident in that based on the OP, however it is by far the most reasonable thing I've seen so far. 

GDavis Davis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 10
neils wrote:

I took advice from the team on the ground without question...because I felt they had more experience and it's just what I did.  I consider that my biggest mistake in this situation.  I can't answer the last question.

Without question is one thing, trusting something blindly is another. It is one thing if a party says I can lower with a 60m, I'll tie a stopper knot and if it isn't long enough oh well we can figure that out. If someone says a rope is fixed and I'm going to jump on it to rap or jumar, I tend to ask a couple extra questions...

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 30
Suburban Roadside wrote: OK, you are all to quick for me, It has been more than 10 yrs, since I traveled by that zone
 but the area is described in T Swains The Gunks Guide(3rd Ed. 1995) & 2 old Williams Guide books.(Black Cover 3rd ed. 1991)&(Gunks Select 1st Ed. 1996)
These descriptions add needed information.
I don't think anything walked or pulled....
More likely that Rope build up on less than vertical terrain & stretch/releasing over bulges was partially to blame, cause/at fault
 

 The section of the Nears is more secluded, not prone to end of the day socializing...
The actual terrain is described; Straight up to a slab past a bulge to a 'short Open book by a prominent crack"
 near the broken left facing corner system of "Up Yours".
So This then gives some clearer understanding of the likelihood that the extra tail built up in the crack & at the top of the slab.
  & a slab and ledges that, in the climbing description, one " zig-zags" up, but would descend directly over when lowering.

It has been torn apart, the blame shared liberally & spread around (& it may seem to some, that concern for the injured marginalized)
but that was to highlight, & to get to the important issue of the cause(s) which sound harsh, I apologize in advance:

 hubris / over-confidence / complacency

all  clearly understandable,  Regarding Taking the well-intentioned advice of someone who you felt was more experienced,

Applying a "short-cut" that seemed safe, but that created the dangerous dangling trailing end that combined with the long rope,                                                                                                        lowering over  varied & mixed terrain,"passing" a "broken" open book & prominent Crack,  returning to vertical passing a "bulge to  less than vertical(slab)
 all that were lowered over,
Were the  physical causes. Those interactions, together with a belay that did not provide a tight rope, led to near disaster.

I really think it is commendable that your willing to debrief in this way

thanks. It's clear you know the area well.  Yeah some of it is harsh...some of it I may not 100% agree with...but shit...if I don't ask and the parts of the equation I could have changed aren't known something could happen again.  I don't want that.  Granted debriefing on a public forum might be questionable but thus far (and to my somewhat surprise) the dialogue has remained mostly constructive and reasonably judgement free.

So I want to say/ask this  Let's leave the could of/should of out of it for a minute, meaning could have rapped or lowered off my rope in numerous ways, should have kept us a seperate team, should have waited for my ATC to be brought to me, never should have needed to reach out to the other team at all...etc etc..all those points are taken and understood.

To provide some additional context this was the third time I had climbed in this area on these routes.  I had personally been lowered off the same climb in question twice on other occasions.  I have also seen other parties do the same.  Literally right before us another party was TR'ing the line.  They would up sharing a rap rope with another group that happened to be on adjacent climb (essentially the exact reverse situation of mine) just prior to us starting.  I know the rap was a decision from the top - hey theres a rap rope here - I'll rap on this.  Had that rap rope not been there would they have lowered off...maybe, I have no idea.

My point is, we were by far not the first group to TR and  lower off this climb nor will be the last to TR and lower off it - I am certain of that.   Perhaps my previous "routine" experience on these routes led to the "hubris/overconfidence/complacency"  If I had pulled the rope all the way to the end and tied the climber in to the end of the rope and that 30 ft (or however exactly long it was) tail wasn't there would this still have happened?  Did that tail even have anything to do with this at all?  I am not sure we can say with certainty or ever will be able to.  I was not the belayer, I was not on the ground at the time - some pieces are just not known to me for 100% certainty and that's all I can or will say about that.  It would shock me greatly if anyone was not being forthcoming but I know stranger things have happened - let's leave that lie there please.

So I guess my real question(s) at this point is, if we leave the pre-lower decision making that has been dissected out of this, and leave the long tail (may or may not have been a factor but it seems was) out of this...is lowering off a climb like this inherently dangerous?  A somewhat wandery 100ft pitch over varied terrain...why doesn't this happen more often on this climb?  Did the person being lowered not mind the rope or any possible slack correctly?  Was it because the belay was loose because the he couldn't feel her too much because the route wanders and she only weighs like 120lbs...compared to my 190 when I was lowered...although I have since lost 20 lbs :)

I guess what I am getting at is...if we don't have the long tail there does this still happen, ever...and if so, how assuming the belayer did not lose control or have gri gri panic? Explain to me how slack can potentially get introduced even if nothing got stuck.  I want to understand that.  Thats the part now I want to be very clear on for awareness and future correction.  Has every person that has ever lowered off a somewhat wandery, long, varied terrain top rope just gotten lucky?  I don't think so.  Were they not using an 80 meter rope that may have added to the problem here, maybe.

In retrospect I think a lot of people, myself included, have TR'd things that are probably not such a good idea to TR.  I think TR'ing is generally regarded as "safe" but the reality is it is a full game on climbing situation that the climbing community in general doesn't acknowledge..oh its totally cool, you're on TR...yeah well shit can still happen, never get complacent.  I didn't NOT get that before but I get it even more now.

Sorry for the numerous really long posts in this thread - I am kind of verbose but I want to make sure I am saying what I mean to say and providing context.  I hope what I want to understand and why I want to understand it is clear.
neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 30
GDavis Davis wrote: If I'm being lowered on a long ass rope via grigri, and I stop on a ledge and let the rope come slack, I'm not just stepping off the block without settling onto the rope first. This scenario means that the belayer either didn't notice, or wasn't aware of, this phenomenon, and I'm not confident in that based on the OP, however it is by far the most reasonable thing I've seen so far. 

This.  To the question(s) in my most recent long ass post...if she stopped on a ledge say 25 ft off the ground and there was a 30ft tail that means there was at least 175 ft of rope out, probably more because the rope wandered through gear on the way up to the anchor and if even 8 ft of slack was there - that means she'd step back and take an 8ft dynamic fall and then hit the rope and stretch, probably a lot.  How does the slack happen in that scenario? This was one of the first question I was asked...did they stop at a ledge?  I wasn't sure at the time but yes they did. Is it the person being lowered job to know (or to be taught) don't just lean back on a slack rope and have some education how to be lowered? Should the belayer have her tight the whole time before lowering...of course...but perhaps he felt it was tight either due to the drag and nature of the terrain or the rope being stuck?   Is it possible somehow slack above her had gotten stuck (what she saw) and when she leaned back it popped at that point and that is what occurred?

Russ Keane · · Asheville, NC · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 170

All actions, for both the climber and the belayer, when lowering, are dependent on the feeling of tension in the rope.  The people are basically feeling each other.    I think Senor Arroz nailed it.   When the climber stopped at the ledge, the belayer was confused and opened up the GriGri lever, so when the climber stepped off the ledge it was open and the rope zipped through.

" I can see how someone lowering at 2/3 open Grigri might instinctively open it up MORE when their climber suddenly stops lowering.  And then, the device is wide open and prone to the rope suddenly yanking through."   

Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 1,959

neils, you are right to expound outwardly with these heavy thoughts...

Gravity Sucks Constantly
Stuff happens
Bad Stuff seems to happen in slow motion but in reality, it only takes a split second

The moments of grandeur are framed by the moments of terror & misery, these sorts of things, the compounding of small factors that then mix to produce the most undesirable results
happen.
These scenarios are what we have to guard against, by following the unwritten rules as exactly as we can,
 but and still, things happen.

 I have been  climbing for a long time

My worst injuries, near death moments -have, come from un-roped hubris/complacency/over-confidence (same thing)
 When I have been tied to a rope & climbing smart I've only had minor epics

 by following 3 main rules

 Keep it stupid simple, always - Complexities, changes in a "by the rote way", bring in unknowables

Never give over your critical thinking to "the rote way" -with that comes complacency, try to think 3 steps ahead

Triple check,& check constantly, breath deeply and slow down if there is no need for urgency
- when the need arises hope that it kicks into automatic due to repition of "the rote way"

Russ Keane wrote: All actions, for both the climber and the belayer, when lowering, are dependent on the feeling of tension in the rope.  The people are basically feeling each other.    I think Senor Arroz nailed it.   When the climber stopped at the ledge, the belayer was confused and opened up the GriGri lever, so when the climber stepped off the ledge it was open and the rope zipped through.

" I can see how someone lowering at 2/3 open Grigri might instinctively open it up MORE when their climber suddenly stops lowering.  And then, the device is wide open and prone to the rope suddenly yanking through."   

From This point of view, Yes I can see that too. & add to it the facts of a lighter weight climber & a system where there is 'rope-drag' & stretch, I think that there could well have been a larger amount of slack in the system, not so much observable, as slack at the clip in point or in front(at the feet of) the belay... but just a bit of slack at both of those places might have given a clue?

(was the lowering climber & the Belayer in communication & in sight of one another?) 


In The End This thing we Love to do,

 this playing with gravity

Is deadly serious, It only takes a second, for there to be no second chance

And it is only by our angels' blessings that there are not more funerals 



Well?!  Thank You, Jon! (Playing with posting limits)

Jon Hillis wrote:Anyone read Anasasi Boys by Neil Gaiman? This dude reminds me of the psycho boss guy in that story. Talks all in clichés and confusing sentence structure. I feel like I am reading a foreign language.
I'll make a point to look it up!  
Garble Base is an acquired taste.  It takes a long time to decipher.  I was sure to include important observations

To make sure I understand in my language...

 Rope drag, A stretchy long cord, the weight of the climber, A 'clip-in' where some slack might be missed?  

all that is in combination with the stop & go? So a split-second when both belayer and lowering climber failed to feel tension,?

 When the ledge was reached, a little slack was paid out ....And the stretch came out of the cord,
enough slack crept back into the system &/or the 'rope drag' released  too
So much so as to result in a blap  . . . hard enough / / /Ouch!
Ok.
 
neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 30
Russ Keane wrote: All actions, for both the climber and the belayer, when lowering, are dependent on the feeling of tension in the rope.  The people are basically feeling each other.    I think Senor Arroz nailed it.   When the climber stopped at the ledge, the belayer was confused and opened up the GriGri lever, so when the climber stepped off the ledge it was open and the rope zipped through.

" I can see how someone lowering at 2/3 open Grigri might instinctively open it up MORE when their climber suddenly stops lowering.  And then, the device is wide open and prone to the rope suddenly yanking through."   

now I understand this.  It is certainly possible.  It is also possible they belayer did this, and doesn't even know they did it, or recall it, or did it almost unconsciously...then the device locked, stretched and she hit - I am not saying this happened nor am I pointing a finger - but I can see it.  

I have to say from the start of this conversation the somewhat simplified  version of Occam's razor (from Contact) has been going through my mind - all things being equal the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.  I'll let the readers judge what that simplest explanation is.  

I will say for my part and in my partially in  my "defense" and what I learned - I shouldn't have introduced another rope into the situation - I should have made more of an effort to solve the situation independently.  Lower her or rap independently in any number of ways on my rope.  That being said we were completely climbing with another party and reaching out for group assistance was, IMO completely understandable.  We were making use of what was available to us.  Tying in on the bight...I am not sure why we did that - I guess to make it faster - it was sloppy, it led to the long tail hanging from the bight which may or may not have contributed to this incident.   I followed that direction from the ground and its potential impact did not compute with me at the time, in the moment.  It could have led to there not being enough rope to get the climber to the ground.  It is still possible that is what occurred and the story I am being told is not accurate - I hope to God that's not the case and would be highly shocked if it was but in reality I just don't know.  If the rope came tight on the device as I was told then that is not true...which is a relief, and it also would explain the not minor, but reduced nature of the injuries to what they could have been.

I was told...the fall definitely took place at the ledge or immediately thereafter so either slack had built up somehow (my previous question...if the rope had not gotten stuck or wrapped around something...is that even possible?) and was released when she weighted or slack was inadvertently released from the device at that point when the rope was unweighted on the ledge.

I am not sure to what degree I suffer from hubris/complacency/over confidence but I do appreciate Suburban Roadside's willingness to say it and I will and am certainly examining that.  Based on my previous experience on these climbs this entire situation should have been fairly routine.  It's possible that my actions could have, but didn't directly contribute to this at all. I am NOT trying to absolve myself of responsibility.  But I also don't need to mercilessly slay myself for the horrible person I am.  Better decisions could have been made but I don't think the choice to lower her on the other rope in the situation we were in is entirely indefensible or negligent.  I was taught in WFA and in other classes to make use of what you have.  Sure, stay self sufficient and be able to be self sufficient but if you need help and a doctor is standing right there..ummm...kind of a no brainer.  So I could have done things differently but what I did was not entirely without logic.  I try to do everything right, I climb every week - I am in my 4th year of climbing rock and ice.  I go out with guides, I read, I take classes, I talk to and climb with experienced skilled people, I practice, I write long things like this on the internet :), I subject myself to this level of dissection - point being I take this seriously and I want to learn and not repeat what happened here.
Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,637
I’ve read much of this thread but not carefully and not all. Apologies if this is a repeat - but I think not way off ...

Generally speaking, is difficult to have guaranteed performance in a a system with many unknown variables:  
  • different length / diameter rope, 
  • unfamiliar device, 
  • inexperienced belayer / climber, 
  • unfamiliar route,
  • unusually long tail,
  • unfamiliar partner / people
  • etc
With many unknowns in play at once, it gets hard to not have a surprising outcome.

Only generic suggestion I have is to work harder at reducing unknowns.  Be decisive / assertive that while something does not seem wrong, it is just not familiar enough yet or now for these circumstances.  And that today you choose to not roll it into the mix.

And if you get down to having just one known unknown, the focus can more productively turn to mitigations.

And may god help us with the unknown unknowns. 
Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 16,385

Patrick C  said "...An early post on rope stretch talked about 25-30' of it. Some ropes stretch 30%. If you have 100' going up from the belayer and 75' coming back down, that'll provide rope stretch of 30% of 175', which is a potential of 52.5'. The part on the ground on the other side of the belay device isn't in the equation. "

1) Only in the scenario where "there's 25 ft of slack beyond the device and coiled up at the belayer's feet" would there be the possibility of 30% stretch. I believe the UIAA requires 7% or less of stretch under 80kg ("body weight") and most single ropes are way below even that figure. 30%, 40%, even 100% is possible on a long leader fall, but if we rule out the "pool" of rope beyond the device, there needs to be some scenario postulated whereby that kind of slack could develop while the climber being lowered is still providing tension on the rope. So far, not one can think of a situation, tail stuck or no tail stuck.

2) "The part on the ground on the other side of the belay isn't in the equation". CORRECT, BUT ONLY because it is/was a 80m rope ( 262 ft). A climber who ties into the rope with a Fig-8-on-bite+ biner at the anchor of a 100ft climb with both ends of the rope down (as per a TR, and as this one was) needs a 300ft rope to be lowered. (less the body weight stretch of 200 of those feet)  Even with the 80m rope only about 62 ft remained "on the other side of the belay", so it was a very good thing Neils pulled up 30 ft of rope before she tied in !

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 30
Robert Hall wrote: Partric C said "...An early post on rope stretch talked about 25-30' of it. Some ropes stretch 30%. If you have 100' going up from the belayer and 75' coming back down, that'll provide rope stretch of 30% of 175', which is a potential of 52.5'. The part on the ground on the other side of the belay device isn't in the equation. "

1) Only in the scenario where "there's 25 ft of slack beyond the device and coiled up at the belayer's feet" would there be the possibility of 30% stretch. I believe the UIAA requires 7% or less of stretch under 80kg ("body weight") and most single ropes are way bvelow even that figure. 30%, 40%, even 100% is possible on a long leader fall, but if we rule out the "pool" of rope beyond the device, there needs to be some scenario postulated whereby that kind of slack could develop while the climber being lowered is still providing tension on the rope. So far, not one can think of a situation, tail stuck or no tail stuck.

2) "The part on the ground on the other side of the belay isn't in the equation". CORRECT, BUT ONLY because it is/was a 80m rope ( 262 ft). A climber who ties into the rope with a Fig-8-on-bite+ biner at the anchor of a 100ft climb with both ends of the rope down (as per a TR, and as this one was) needs a 300ft rope to be lowered. (less the body weight stretch of 200 of those feet)  Even with the 80m rope only about 62 ft remained "on the other side of the belay", so it was a very good thing Neils pulled up 30 ft of rope before she tied in !

just to be clear and somewhat exonerate the person on the ground - I started puling up rope - I still dont know how much I pulled up and really never will - but it was obviously enough - it wasn't until I had pulled up a bunch that they said - tie a bight.  It was not said prior to starting to pull the rope up.  My original intention was to pull it all up.  But I do recall starting to get confused and sorting through it  - I was like ok now I have this pile of rope here - I am going to have to feed this back down and the belayer is going to need to take in ALL this slack...ok....and as Suburban Roadside said...it was almost as if urgency was manufactured  -communicating with a party on the ground, going back and forth - when in realty, we were FINE.  She and I were on a giant ledge on a huge anchor chilling.  I could have taken two hours to sort out a solution and it wouldn't have mattered.  Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.  One thing at a time.  Simple.  Sequential.  Once I introduced the other party  (and I don't blame them) the complexity just spiraled, in retrospect of course.


If MP limits me and I don't reply thats why...but I appreciate everyone's insight here.
Jon Hillis · · Valley of Sun · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 0
Suburban Roadside wrote: neils, you are right to expound outwardly with these heavy thoughts...

Gravity Sucks Constantly
Stuff happens
Bad Stuff seems to happen in slow motion but in reality, it only takes a split second

The moments of grandeur are framed by the moments of terror & misery, these sorts of things, the compounding of small factors that then mix to produce the most undesirable results
happen.
These scenarios are what we have to guard against, by following the unwritten rules as exactly as we can,
 but and still, things happen.

 I have been  climbing for a long time

My worst injuries, near death moments -have, come from un-roped hubris/complacency/over-confidence (same thing)
 When I have been tied to a rope & climbing smart I've only had minor epics

 by following 3 main rules

 Keep it stupid simple, always - Complexities, changes in a "by the rote way", bring in unknowables

Never give over your critical thinking to "the rote way" -with that comes complacency, try to think 3 steps ahead

Triple check,& check constantly, breath deeply and slow down if there is no need for urgency
- when the need arises hope that it kicks into automatic due to repition of "the rote way"

From This point of view, Yes I can see that too. & add to it the facts of a lighter weight climber & a system where there is 'rope-drag' & stretch, I think that there could well have been a larger amount of slack in the system, not so much observable, as slack at the clip in point or in front(at the feet of) the belay... but just a bit of slack at both of those places might have given a clue?

(was the lowering climber & the Belayer in communication & in sight of one another?) 


In The End This thing we Love to do,

 this playing with gravity

Is deadly serious, It only takes a second, for there to be no second chance

And it is only by our angels' blessings that there are not more funerals 

Anyone read Anasasi Boys by Neil Gaiman? This dude reminds me of the psycho boss guy in that story. Talks all in clichés and confusing sentence structure. I feel like I am reading a foreign language.

SethG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 250

OK I've read the whole thread. I'm very familiar with the area. Here are my thoughts.

1. Tying in to the middle of the rope for a lower is not particularly sketchy or disfavored-- so long as everyone is really sure there is enough rope. I find Suburban Roadside's theory interesting-- that this practice leaves so much rope hanging that it impedes the belayer's ability to feel the climber's weight on the rope. But I don't really buy it. I would think that the belayer could still easily tell the difference between when the climber is weighting the rope and when not.

2. I think the "rope was stuck and then came unstuck theory" does not explain the fall. It may have been the cause of a DISTRACTION, i.e. it caused the climber to pause while being lowered and then the climber and belayer both failed to notice a loop of slack had developed while the climber paused on the ledge.

3. It seems pretty clear to me that unweighting and then weighting the rope while being lowered caused the accident. Both the belayer and the climber share some responsibility for this, and the climber, being inexperienced, probably did not realize how much stretch comes into play when you re-weight a rope in the middle of a lower, even when the rope appears tight. It doesn't take all that much slack for there to be a significant fall introduced when you re-weight the rope mid-lower.

4. If I'm thinking of the correct ledge it is less than 30 feet off the ground. I don't think it would take that much to introduce enough slack for the climber to touch down when the rope is re-weighted. So the climber stops on a ledge and the belayer plays out some additional slack without realizing it. The climber doesn't notice and goes to re-weight the rope... and bang. 

SeƱor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
neils wrote: 
I guess what I am getting at is...if we don't have the long tail there does this still happen, ever...and if so, how assuming the belayer did not lose control or have gri gri panic? Explain to me how slack can potentially get introduced even if nothing got stuck.  I want to understand that.

There's a saying in the medical world, "When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses not zebras." What that means is don't get drawn off and distracted by intriguing and exotic explanations for an observation (It's a ZEBRA!) when the observed facts (hoofbeats) most likely would come from horses. I think that applies here. You can spend all day trying to figure out how 30 feet of slack somehow gets "introduced" into the belay system. But the most obvious explanation is that the belayer made an operator error. It's easy to do. Especially now that you've explained it was a lightweight climber on a lower that probably had some significant drag. She hits the ledge (or the rope catches). Lowering progress stops. Belayer opens the GriGri lever wide open. She steps off the ledge or the stuck rope clears. ZING!

One of the most common lowering mistakes I see is people trying to use the GriGri lever to control lowers rather than really using the brake hand as a brake. 

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 30
SethG wrote: OK I've read the whole thread. I'm very familiar with the area. Here are my thoughts.

1. Tying in to the middle of the rope for a lower is not particularly sketchy or disfavored-- so long as everyone is really sure there is enough rope. I find Suburban Roadside's theory interesting-- that this practice leaves so much rope hanging that it impedes the belayer's ability to feel the climber's weight on the rope. But I don't really buy it. I would think that the belayer could still easily tell the difference between when the climber is weighting the rope and when not.

2. I think the "rope was stuck and then came unstuck theory" does not explain the fall. It may have been the cause of a DISTRACTION, i.e. it caused the climber to pause while being lowered and then the climber and belayer both failed to notice a loop of slack had developed while the climber paused on the ledge.

3. It seems pretty clear to me that unweighting and then weighting the rope while being lowered caused the accident. Both the belayer and the climber share some responsibility for this, and the climber, being inexperienced, probably did not realize how much stretch comes into play when you re-weight a rope in the middle of a lower, even when the rope appears tight. It doesn't take all that much slack for there to be a significant fall introduced when you re-weight the rope mid-lower.

4. If I'm thinking of the correct ledge it is less than 30 feet off the ground. I don't think it would take that much to introduce enough slack for the climber to touch down when the rope is re-weighted. So the climber stops on a ledge and the belayer plays out some additional slack without realizing it. The climber doesn't notice and goes to re-weight the rope... and bang. 

thank you for this summary Seth.  I have met you briefly a couple of times although you may not recall me.  I know you to be a reasonable, intelligent, responsible person.  You have climbed with some folks I know and I have read your blog as well.  I used some beta from it on Moonlight a couple of weeks ago :)  Point being I trust your opinion and you are known quantity to me.  You know the area well and you are talking about the correct ledge.

At this point I think I agree with you and I think you said it quite well.  Others said the same or similar things, but I am thinking this explanation makes the most sense.  This does not absolve me of my mistakes of course and I will take this as a learning opportunity on my part.
SethG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 250

Neils I think I remember you! Anyway don't kill yourself over this. Lucky nothing too bad happened and it is something anyone could have done. You were mostly just a spectator anyway. 

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,510

I'm impressed. I've never seen so much written about so little

To sum it up: Don't do weird shit.

Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 1,959

HMMMM?!

lets see?


GDavis Davis wrote:
You're just mad it wasn't the belay device this time.
When all you've got is a hammer everything starts to look like a nail...

Wait? It was ~in part~  the Device/Belay


YUP
GUNKS DAZED (Sorry,GDavis Davis (?)  no  delete by me(~)}=7, Added here to avoid the posting limits)

Tradiban wrote:
I'm impressed. I've never seen so much written about so little

Andrew Krajnik ·Wrote 6 mins
I see it all the time
Bwhahhaahhaha!
Thats funny 'cause it true!
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Injuries and Accidents
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