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Moses Tomahawk pitons with faulty cables!


Original Post
Yuki Weber · · Somerville, MA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

Hi everyone,

I would like to bring to your attention an issue with faulty cables on Moses Tomahawk Pitons that just caused a 40-foot leader fall on our ascent of the Muir Wall on El Cap (07/01 – 07/08). Meanwhile, a note has been posted on the Moses website (https://mosesclimbing.us/product-safety-advisory/) stating that all Tomahawks from 2019 through June may be affected – unfortunately too late for us!!

In a nutshell, I was leading pitch 29 (C4 crux) and placed 2 large Tomahawks in a row. While bounce-testing the upper one, I fell approximately 40 feet onto the portaledge we had set up at the anchor below. While dangling off the deformed portaledge and gathering myself, I realized that 2 micro nuts and an offset cam I had placed below the pitons had blown and were clipped to the climbing rope, however, the 2 Tomahawks I had placed last, and which should still have been attached to my aiders, were missing!  While leading the pitch the second time, I saw that both pitons were actually still in the crack, and the cable had pulled through the swage ferrule on both pieces (see photos)!

I don’t understand why such a flaw in the manufacturing process has gone unnoticed for 6 months and I really think the climbing community has to be made aware of this issue beyond the brief note on the company’s website. I'm not sure if Moses started a large-scale recall, but thus far I haven't gotten any email from the retailer I purchased the pitons from! Therefore, PLEASE SHARE this information, so that further accidents can be prevented! These cables can pull under body weight!!!



dindolino32 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 25

Wow! Thanks for sharing. Glad you are ok. What was the response like when you contacted the company?

mpech · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 2

Interesting- Moses is saying that a  "faulty swaging tool" is at fault-- wonder how that happens? I've only ever swaged things by hand, so I'm trying to understand how bad swaging can happen. 

Cryin Sheridan · · Western US · Joined Jan 2019 · Points: 1

Glad you are okay!

Yuki Weber · · Somerville, MA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

Thanks, I was very lucky that it was not a natural ledge that I hit!
I just messaged Moses today, but I'll post their response as soon as I get it!

Perry Norris · · Truckee · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 45

This just shatters my life long theory that there are many ways to die climbing, equipment failure is not one of them.

Man, respect for getting back up there and finishing the pitch!

Yuki Weber · · Somerville, MA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0
Perry Norris wrote:Man, respect for getting back up there and finishing the pitch!

We had to find out what happened! ... and get to the top ;)

Yuki Weber · · Somerville, MA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

Here is the message I wrote earlier today, and Moses' response below:

>>
Dear Moses,

Your safety advisory note was unfortunately too late. On June 07 I was leading pitch 29 of the Muir Wall ... (*the whole story*)
I was wondering, if you already started a recall for those pitons. I haven't yet heard anything from the store I ordered them from. I would also appreciate if you would get in touch with me so (...) we can talk about how to deal with the situation.
<<

Response:
>>
Yuki,

Sorry for the accident.

I will replace the cables on the Tomahawks and return them to you.  The address is on the webpage for shipping.

Thanks
<<

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 144

Hey sorry for your fall Yuki. Glad you're ok!...and huge congrats for getting back up there, for sure. Muir is an amazing route! So so so good!

Theron Moses is a stellar man, and I'm sure any brevity in his responses here or to you personally is only because of limited free time (he is a family man who makes our climbing gear after hours at his machine shop job).

I'm really hoping to ramp up my rental offerings for bigwall stuff (maybe offer some low cost subscription where you could borrow all the gear, bags, ledges for $100/year?), so taking care of, and dialing out, these speciality pieces will be easier. For the last several years I've recommended just cutting off the cable that comes with the beak and putting on a high strength 5.5 cord. See pic:


And please don't overlook that the pieces right off the belay came out in this story - of course climb as clean as possible but also keep yourself and your partners safe!

Woot Woot!
Erik Sloan - Yosemitebigwall.com RockclimbYosemite.com
dindolino32 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 25

Get the popcorn ready folks!

Billcoe · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 829
mpech wrote: Interesting- Moses is saying that a  "faulty swaging tool" is at fault-- wonder how that happens? I've only ever swaged things by hand, so I'm trying to understand how bad swaging can happen. 

The tooling wears out. I’ve seen 2 hearty swedging tools develop hairline cracks after many many swedges. That’s why there is a gauge that you use to periodically check your swedges.

The first nicopress we broke, we kept using to see what would occur as we didn’t have a backup. The crack widens until you clearly see it, but the whole time your swedging are not gaging to spec.
Russ Walling · · Overlord @ FishProducts · Joined Oct 2004 · Points: 3,426
Billcoe wrote:

The tooling wears out. I’ve seen 2 hearty swedging tools develop hairline cracks after many many swedges. That’s why there is a gauge that you use to periodically check your swedges.

The first nicopress we broke, we kept using to see what would occur as we didn’t have a backup. The crack widens until you clearly see it, but the whole time your swedging are not gaging to spec.

All sorts of stuff can happen to those tools.  Cracks, worn ovals in the head, and even the pivot bolts and cast parts can egg out and give less than optimal swages.  And to be even scarier, the gauge they give with the tool will not ensure a full strength swage across all the sizes.  It may look fine in the go/nogo gauge and still pull out at less than the cable BS.


Because of these problems we have developed work arounds and other tests to ensure our swages... always tricky though, and regardless of who is making the swages, there might be no way to 100% guarantee that the cable will break before the swage fails and releases the cable at forces under the absolute breaking strength.
Dante L · · Seattle · Joined May 2015 · Points: 15
Billcoe wrote:

The tooling wears out. I’ve seen 2 hearty swedging tools develop hairline cracks after many many swedges. That’s why there is a gauge that you use to periodically check your swedges.

The first nicopress we broke, we kept using to see what would occur as we didn’t have a backup. The crack widens until you clearly see it, but the whole time your swedging are not gaging to spec.

Speaking as someone who professionally flies / suspendeds actors and performers as a real job, the go/no go is used for every crimp not periodcally. And forget about using the cheap tools and crimps,  I have an out of spec cheap tool that I use in my learning workshops that we crimp with and pull test, scary the results of what looked like a good crimp.

Paul Morrison · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 10

Exploiting someone's accident to promote your nascent rental business? I'd call that "classic Sloan," except that those two words don't really belong together.

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 290
Yuki Weber wrote: Here is the message I wrote earlier today, and Moses' response below:

>>
Dear Moses,

Your safety advisory note was unfortunately too late. On June 07 I was leading pitch 29 of the Muir Wall ... (*the whole story*)
I was wondering, if you already started a recall for those pitons. I haven't yet heard anything from the store I ordered them from. I would also appreciate if you would get in touch with me so (...) we can talk about how to deal with the situation.
<<

Response:
>>
Yuki,

Sorry for the accident.

I will replace the cables on the Tomahawks and return them to you.  The address is on the webpage for shipping.

Thanks
<<

Sounds like he is going to take care of it, not much he can do beyond that?  Glad the problem got taken care of.

mpech · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 2
Erik Sloan wrote: Hey sorry for your fall Yuki. Glad you're ok!...and huge congrats for getting back up there, for sure. Muir is an amazing route! So so so good!

Theron Moses is a stellar man, and I'm sure any brevity in his responses here or to you personally is only because of limited free time (he is a family man who makes our climbing gear after hours at his machine shop job).

I'm really hoping to ramp up my rental offerings for bigwall stuff (maybe offer some low cost subscription where you could borrow all the gear, bags, ledges for $100/year?), so taking care of, and dialing out, these speciality pieces will be easier. For the last several years I've recommended just cutting off the cable that comes with the beak and putting on a high strength 5.5 cord. See pic:


And please don't overlook that the pieces right off the belay came out in this story - of course climb as clean as possible but also keep yourself and your partners safe!

Woot Woot!
Erik Sloan - Yosemitebigwall.com RockclimbYosemite.com

Random question -- do you have business insurance for your rental company? I wonder if you would have been liable if a customer rented defective tomahawks from you and got hurt (or, in the more likely scenario, if a customer has some sort of climbing accident while using your gear and sued you).  I've always assumed liability concerns was the reason that climbing gear rental businesses don't exist.

Yuki Weber · · Somerville, MA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0
Erik Sloan wrote: Hey sorry for your fall Yuki. Glad you're ok!...and huge congrats for getting back up there, for sure. Muir is an amazing route! So so so good!

Theron Moses is a stellar man, and I'm sure any brevity in his responses here or to you personally is only because of limited free time (he is a family man who makes our climbing gear after hours at his machine shop job).


And please don't overlook that the pieces right off the belay came out in this story - of course climb as clean as possible but also keep yourself and your partners safe!

For the last several years I've recommended just cutting off the cable that comes with the beak and putting on a high strength 5.5 cord.

Hi Erik,

Thanks for the kind words, and yes, the route was amazing! I totally believe that Theron is a good guy and I have great respect for his contributions to the climbing community. I still think though that he should take responsibility for the manufacturing error, and do everything he can to get them off the market (i.e., inform all retailers, who will send out emails to customers). I really hope this is already underway.

I am aware of the risks associated with climbing C4. In this situation, the beaks were the most bomber placement after the anchor (and in fact they didn't come out). Maybe it was wrong to trust the beefy-looking wire (which is thicker than the ones on any of the nuts I carried), and I should have tied them off with a sling right away. My hunch is, though, that most people would just clip the wire ...

Why exactly have you been recommending to replace the wires on the Peckers? As far as I've heard the Pecker cables are quite thin and not very durable, which is why the Tomahawks have been designed with a much stronger cable...

Cheers,
Y
Yuki Weber · · Somerville, MA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0
Kevin Mokracek wrote:

Sounds like he is going to take care of it, not much he can do beyond that?  Glad the problem got taken care of.

I think he should be proactive and inform retailers, who will then inform customers who have ordered the pitons. At least I haven't yet gotten an email from the store I ordered them from. 

I don't think he should expect people to searching the web every other day to check if any safety issues regarding their gear have come to light... 

Yuki Weber · · Somerville, MA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0
Russ Walling wrote:

All sorts of stuff can happen to those tools.  Cracks, worn ovals in the head, and even the pivot bolts and cast parts can egg out and give less than optimal swages.  And to be even scarier, the gauge they give with the tool will not ensure a full strength swage across all the sizes.  It may look fine in the go/nogo gauge and still pull out at less than the cable BS.


Because of these problems we have developed work arounds and other tests to ensure our swages... always tricky though, and regardless of who is making the swages, there might be no way to 100% guarantee that the cable will break before the swage fails and releases the cable at forces under the absolute breaking strength.

Hi Russ and Dante,

Thanks for your professional insights! I probably will never trust a swaged cable again, haha!
I was wondering if the cables that come with nuts are swaged too, or if that is some other kind of connection (e.g., soldered)?

Yuki Weber · · Somerville, MA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

I just informed Rock and Snow, which is where I bought the pitons from. They were not yet aware of the issue!
Shouldn't be like that!!

Russ Walling · · Overlord @ FishProducts · Joined Oct 2004 · Points: 3,426
Yuki Weber wrote:

Hi Russ and Dante,

Thanks for your professional insights! I probably will never trust a swaged cable again, haha!
I was wondering if the cables that come with nuts are swaged too, or if that is some other kind of connection (e.g., soldered)?

Nuts are swaged too... but, the larger the company the LESS likely there will be a failure.  But with that being said, this should NEVER happen.  It just CANT happen.... but it did, meaning Moses was not doing ALL THEY COULD to insure the quality of the swages on their gear.  That is troubling at best, and negligent at worst.


There have been other cases of things like rivet hangers having the cable pull and pretty giant rippers on a ladder on El Cap.  Those hangers were bought at the Yosemite Mountain Shop.  They were made by a small manufacturer back east I think.  Frikken scary... if I lived through some A5 crux and then had a rivet hanger fail and took the big ride and got fucked up... when I was healed up (if still alive) I swear to Satan I would go and choke the shit out of whoever made that dogshit piece.

Bummer this happened.  It should never happen.

Edit to add:  this is specifically talking about when the cable pulls through the swage sleeve... not broken cables, kinked cables, or wires failing due to bad angles and big forces.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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