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Climbing fatality in Yosemite Valley

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Postby Augie Medina » Sun May 09, 2010 4:21 pm

A sad Mother's Day for Mrs. Ellis. Rappelling continues as one of the most dangerous of climbing-related activities.
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Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Sun May 09, 2010 10:39 pm

Mountain Impulse wrote:A sad Mother's Day for Mrs. Ellis. Rappelling continues as one of the most dangerous of climbing-related activities.


When I was a very young lad, an old experienced climber asked me if I liked rappelling. Of course, I responded, "No."

He said you could always tell the neophyte climbers because they still liked rappelling.
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Postby WML » Sun May 09, 2010 10:58 pm

Sierra Ledge Rat wrote:
Mountain Impulse wrote:A sad Mother's Day for Mrs. Ellis. Rappelling continues as one of the most dangerous of climbing-related activities.


When I was a very young lad, an old experienced climber asked me if I liked rappelling. Of course, I responded, "No."

He said you could always tell the neophyte climbers because they still liked rappelling.


My thoughts exactly, Amen.

I read a quote in a climbing book, can't recall which one right now, but something along the lines of rappelling should never be considered fun. It is one of the most dangerous aspects of the thing we love,

RIP
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Postby The Chief » Mon May 10, 2010 12:10 am

Condolences to the Ellis family.

Sad to say, but observed 16 different potential fatal scenarios in the past two days in the A-Hills. Pointed em out to all the different parties. They corrected em immediately.

Everyone of em were folks that, no shit, all had those "Gym Tags" attached to their harnesses.

My buddy Jamie could not believe his eyes each time we saw one of these situ's. We discussed em all last night while watching the sun go down over Langley/Whitney/Russel/Williamson.

In regards to the OP, I will never ever RAP with this method. Never!

If a double Rope Rap is required, I will always use nothing less than a twin rope diameter(8.0 >) with my reg lead rope and will always still use the EDK with a backed up overhand.

Rapping has always been the most fatal op! I will always take extra care to do so safely with the technique and procedure that has kept me alive since I started this game, 42 years ago. NO FKING SHORTCUTS!!!!
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Postby Augie Medina » Mon May 10, 2010 12:19 am

squishy wrote:According to the climbing ranger Brain used a double euro death knot to join a skinny line with a thick rope. The knot went through the ring and he fell, he normally used a biner block or "Reepschnur" on a bite to join the two ropes below the ring, but not this time. He was relying on the knot and the rings were large.

This without the biner
Image

Here's another good picture of the method.
Image


Squishy,

Your first illustration and the pic below it seem to show slightly different riggings. In the first, it looks like one rope is knotted with a figure8 bight for the block (that is, no pull cord). I would always use a locking 'biner w/this rigging however (that's just me).

Your second illustration shows the thinner pull cord tied to the rap strand with a square knot and then the figure8 bight for the block. Your pic also shows a rapide through which the rope is threaded. I would be comfortable with that figure8 bight to block against that rapide if I didn't happen to have a biner. But if I had a locker, I would block the load strand by putting a clove hitch on the spine of the locker and that would be the block.

P.S. I do not mean to sound insensitive in any way to any friends and family who might read this thread by this discussion of technical matters. My comments are only motivated by the instinct to learn. Nothing can overwhelm the loss here.
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Postby The Chief » Mon May 10, 2010 12:34 am

With a knot system depicted in the photo above that will never even come close to slipping through the Anchor, what purpose does the biner serve?

From the latest post on ST by the local climbing Ranger, appears that the knot system was not large enough to act as a STOP. I do see that the biner system depicted above would have acted as the STOP/CINCH.

Still, folks out there should always remember that Rapping is the #1 cause of fatalities in this game. Triple checking all knots and rigging and ensuring that nothing can fail, should be the #1 rule before committing yourself 100% to the System. Remember, once you start the rap, you are 100% at the mercy of what you have set up. No turning back.
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Postby kamil » Mon May 10, 2010 12:45 am

Mountain Impulse wrote:But if I had a locker, I would block the load strand by putting a clove hitch on the spine of the locker and that would be the block.

Augie, that's exactly what I've been taught. I might use this method some day if necessary but so far I've always preferred normal double ropes with euro death knot secured with a safety knot.

Sorry to hear about the accident. This discussion is a very good thing though, we can all learn something so that we stay safe.
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Postby Marmaduke » Mon May 10, 2010 4:41 am

Sierra Ledge Rat wrote:
Mountain Impulse wrote:A sad Mother's Day for Mrs. Ellis. Rappelling continues as one of the most dangerous of climbing-related activities.


When I was a very young lad, an old experienced climber asked me if I liked rappelling. Of course, I responded, "No."

He said you could always tell the neophyte climbers because they still liked rappelling.


Wait a minute, did you just use my name in vain? :lol:
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Postby Guyzo » Mon May 10, 2010 4:39 pm

Very sad, my condolences to family, friends and all of us.

The only good to come from these tragic events (any fatality) is changes to what we do and how we do it.

Jim Madson, died, so we stopped using carabiner brake systems.

A fatality on the Glacier Point Apron, got us to stop using single bolt anchors . (think about that one people.)

Now we have this one.

I don't know about you folks but the weakness/flaw in this rap system is this: Rapelling with a single line system.

The climber was using a "cinch" - this is much like the Grigri, a devise made for the purpose of belaying not rappelling.

Looking at the whole set up it just looks bogus.

He died because they left off the biner and the knot pulled through the ring.

Simple as that.

The solution is simple, stop using belay devices as rapelling rigs and rap down on both lines.

I was hoping Todd Skinners death would have had a strong influence on the climbing public to stop using these for rappelling.

Sad, truly sad.
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Postby Augie Medina » Mon May 10, 2010 5:26 pm

Guyzo wrote:
I don't know about you folks but the weakness/flaw in this rap system is this: Rapelling with a single line system.

The climber was using a "cinch" - this is much like the Grigri, a devise made for the purpose of belaying not rappelling.

Looking at the whole set up it just looks bogus.

He died because they left off the biner and the knot pulled through the ring.

Simple as that.

The solution is simple, stop using belay devices as rapelling rigs and rap down on both lines.

I was hoping Todd Skinners death would have had a strong influence on the climbing public to stop using these for rappelling.

Sad, truly sad.


Guyzo,

I wouldn't use a Cinch for rappelling either. But apparently the use of that device didn't contribute to the accident, it was as you say the knot block pulling thru the rap ring. A 'biner would have made the difference. Plus, I'm not clear whether his knot block was a figure8 on a bight or whether he was using the EDK with which he tied the two lines together as his block.

I do disagree that a single strand rap can't be safe. For instance, a clove hitch on a locking biner set against a rapide is not ever going to pull thru.

Re Todd Skinner-as I recall it was his belay loop that broke that caused his fall and not his anchor rigging.

Too bad it takes a death to throw up reminders to check and double check your system.

Augie
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Postby granite4brains » Mon May 10, 2010 5:35 pm

My condolences to the family - sad news indeed. This post has also got me concerned about my own rap techniques now. Or, confused a bit at least ....

I've always used a double fisherman's knot to tie two same-sized ropes together. The knot is usually big enough to not slip through the rings, but I'm really confused as to why this would matter? When rapelling both sides of the line are weighted equally for the most part, so why does it matter which side of the rings the knot is on and why would it slide through in the first place?

I always thought that the reason you wouldn't tie together two ropes of different sizes, is that the knot (like a double fisherman's) would not be "strong" in this case and could come undone. I thought that was the concern and not the knot sliding through something??

Any clarification would be much appreciated?

Thanks
g4b
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Postby Sam Page » Mon May 10, 2010 5:45 pm

granite4brains: You described rappelling down two ropes. The victim rappelled down one rope and planned to use the other rope as a pull cord.
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Postby granite4brains » Mon May 10, 2010 5:48 pm

Sam Page wrote:granite4brains: You described rappelling down two ropes. The victim rappelled down one rope and planned to use the other rope as a pull cord.


oh okay, I didnt read that closely enough I guess. I get it now - thanks!
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Postby fatdad » Mon May 10, 2010 6:06 pm

Sam Page wrote:granite4brains: You described rappelling down two ropes. The victim rappelled down one rope and planned to use the other rope as a pull cord.


Very sad news. My condolensces to the victim's family.

Having said, that, why would anyone rap using the method described above? You've got two ropes, use them. So preventable. So tragic. I for one never liked rapping. I've never liked that feeling of being totally dependent on my gear. Rapping, jugging fixed lines, etc., has always made me uncomfortable, much more so than, say, being out on lead.

I, like the Chief, always try to point out errors in other people's systems when I see them. Sadly though, unlike the Chief, I usually get a bunch of defensive flak in return.
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Postby Snowball » Mon May 10, 2010 6:06 pm

Sierra Ledge Rat wrote:
Mountain Impulse wrote:A sad Mother's Day for Mrs. Ellis. Rappelling continues as one of the most dangerous of climbing-related activities.


When I was a very young lad, an old experienced climber asked me if I liked rappelling. Of course, I responded, "No."

He said you could always tell the neophyte climbers because they still liked rappelling.


:D

what's wrong with being a newbie having fun rappelling? arent we all just trying to have fun out there anyways? ehehehehee....

this is actually an interesting discussion here. personally i dislike rappelling and also feel its the most dangerous part of (my) climbing (esp alpine). but then again, i see experienced people climbing things in ways that make climbing just as dangerous IMO, so i think the only real difference is the source of the danger, not the actual amount of danger. How a climber eventually modulates or manages that risk (if at all) seems to be a strong factor in how long that person will enjoy climbing. sheer luck is the other major factor.
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