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Chockstone Forum - Accidents & Injuries

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Topic Date User
St Peters Gym accident 2-Feb-2017 At 9:51:31 PM TheBelayer

5-I am a right hander and was holding the brake rope in the weaker left hand.
Corrective action=Always hold the brake rope in your dominate hand.  Even better while not feeding rope out hold the brake rope with both hands.

6-While at the time I was an experienced climber I was a beginner at catching a lead fall.  When you only climb with the same person and that person does not push their limits, frequently taking lead falls, as a belayer you are not getting catching practice.
Corrective action=Do lots of catching.  Set aside a time and safe place to practice if it is not happening as normal part of each climbing session.  Climb with other people as well, its a good way to learn all sorts of new skills.

7-This climber taking a lead fall was very much unexpected and out of character.  It's the belayers responsibility to be ready to catch all the time of course but their only human and humans are not perfect.  If you catch them unprepared it's you that will suffer.
Corrective action=If you are intending to do something unexpected then tell your belayer before hand.  It could be your going to push to failure when you don't usually or keep slack to a minimum where there is a possibility of hitting a ledge or what ever it might be.

8-There is one detail that I'm still not clear on.  At some stage I gripped the brake rope tight, my hand was correctly positioned below the ATC, despite getting rope burn I was not able to arrest the fall.  I didn't get lifted off the ground despite the climber being heavier than me indicating there was not much force on me.  The ATC was in so called high friction mode, through the V and teeth.  Being a new ATC it still had the shiny anodized coating on surfaces where the rope passes, ie the V groove and teeth.  An anodized surface has less friction than an un anodized surface so I always wondered how much this affected my ability to arrest the fall or is it simply unreasonable to expect to stop the rope once it's moving quickly.  I've never seen any tube manufacturer warn about this for a new device.  We did some subjective testing afterwards comparing the friction of the new ATC, an old ATC and even an ATC with no high friction mode feature and the new ATC seemed to have the least amount of friction.
Corrective action=Be extra careful until you wear the anodizing off your new tube or use an assisted braking device.

That's it, needless to say I'm a better more experienced belayer now than I was then. I hope this helps someone avoid the mistakes I made, don't ever take the responsibility of belaying lightly. I'm grateful we are both still enjoying climbing.

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