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Chockstone Forum - Accidents & Injuries
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GlebeChris - thanks very much for the comprehensive report - very useful, very interesting, really appreciate you taking the time to write that up.
I'm so sorry to hear your injuries are so severe. You sound like a smart person with good people around you and a great attitude, so I'm sure you'll make the best of it - I wish you all the best in your recovery / rehab.
It is really sobering to read the details of the accident and your summary of the likely causes. In a nutshell, skinny near new rope, a lot of rope out for a blown clip, possible inattention/loss of focus, possible rope not seated in Reverso v-slots, belayer unable to slow the fall significantly. And this is a pretty experienced person you climbed with a lot. Wow. Time to do a lot more catching practise with my partner to make sure we are on top of things...
Keep on mending, I hope to see you on that top rope soon :-)
Sorry to hear of your accident and the ongoing medical issues you're experiencing. I hope your recovery keeps moving in the right direction, for you and your family. Stay safe, and positive... :)
as for the idea of taking a few steps back from the wall when climber is 4 pieces in, i have always done this, and of course, those who don't think about it, will criticize.
1. way easier to see what's happening. if you are in a cave, and the climber is above and behind you, your brain is a bit slower to 'see' the situation. left is right, right is left when the climber is progressing. better to turn so your view is un-impeded and step 2 steps out, especially if routes wander 'sideways' on vertical walls; also if there is a bulge and the leader is over it, you can't see what they are doing at all from next to the rock.
2. my legs are stronger than my back. which means, if i need to step in quickly, my leg muscles can handle the force and change of direction much better than my spine. if you are next to the rock, the leader falls, you will NEVER end up farther from the rock. you will be sucked into the rock with no muscle mass to help absorb the jerk. (the first time this happened to me was the last, way too painfull) even one step away from the rock puts your whole body in a better position to absorb, and (from #1) see what happened to the leader.
3. the two extra meters a leader will fall because you are 1.9 meters out from the wall may of course cause them to hit a ledge or something, but that is a less likely scenario, than you being crunched upward against the wall and letting go of your brake hand. (i have seen this in person at least 6 times; one occasion leader hit the ground and broke his pelvis; another both feet multiple fractures and surgeries)
4. MOST IMPORTANT if the leader is struggling to clip, drops the rope, pulls up rope again, etc... which has happened to all of us, i can quick step back and forth way faster than i can give out or take up slack, and my HANDS are never off the rope. very, very, very few belayers are so good they and keep up with a leader clipping, dropping, pulling up for re-try, such that the rope out is exactly what's needed to clip AND prevent long fall. (none of this is applicable on multi-pitch walls where you are belaying from only one static position; and for gear leads, zipper piece is essential regardless of where you stand)
as for what happened to the climber OP who was injured, sorry as hell it happened. glad you are recovering; may i suggest open ocean swim competitions: way less shock loading to your skeleton )))
>On 10/02/2017 GlebeChris wrote:
>>(On a technical point, I have always liked to belay from further away
>>from the wall once the climber is above about the 4th clip - that way
>>can normally give rope by walking in and never take the rope out of the
>>locked off position. I hear people on these forums criticizing this technique
>>but if my partner had adopted this method I am convinced I would not
>I agree, and have had some gym staff telling me off for doing just this.
> I don't understand the criticisms - can someone help me out here ?
I'm not an expert (or much of a climber), but can explain what I understand. I'm not making a judgement of the particular conditions or what is right. Just answering the request.
One concern is that the belayer might be pulled off balance horisontally, and lose control of the rope. Once a person is pulled off balance, they become more at risk of some automatic responses kicking in, like putting a hand out to stop your face from hitting a wall or the ground. This hand could be the one that should be holding the brake strand of the rope. The angle of the rope from the belayer to the first piece makes a big difference, so the risk really happens when you have a low first piece relative to the distance back you are standing. Likewise the force of the fall matters, so once you are a few clips up, the leader is less likely to sustain a hard fall (hence an earlier comment about doing this when the leader is up a few clips).
Another concern is zippering the gear. This is a trad problem only I would think, unless you have some very dodgy bolts.
Another concern (or benefit, depending on the situation) is the softness of the catch. The best way to explain it is that gravity helps you resist the fall the most when you are right under the rope. So if the rope has a significant angle to the belayer, you can end up effectively feeding more rope out by being pulled up and towards the gear. Not such a bad thing in moderation, as long as there isn't a reason to restrict the fall distance (ledge or ground close). Really this is the same as the top reason.
On a sport climb with a high first piece, not so important I would think. An overhanging wall with a low first piece is the sort of place this could be an issue. Worth thinking about this sort of thing in multi pitch situations where being pulled out of your stance could be bad. Lots more considerations for Trad. Basically it is situational.
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