Monday, October 31, 2011

Do You Have A Knot? (Near Miss on The Gaisberg)

"Es geht locher aus!" ("There's easily enough!"), he said nine meters above the ground as he was cleaning the quickdraws from the route.  A few seconds later there was a scream from the young women belaying and the thumping sound of his body hitting the ground and tumbling down the steeply sloping landing.

The young couple climbing had a 60 meter rope. They were on a route that is 38 meters long and designed as a two-pitch practice climb to learn and perfect multi-pitch rope technique. There is a two-bolt belay anchor at 18 meters into the route. A climber could also naturally climb the full length and belay the second from above, making two rappels to get down.(there are independent rappel anchors)

The young guy that fell was luckily not seriously injured.  There are a number of wooden and iron spikes in the ground that support retaining logs that form flat terraces for the path and belay platforms.  He could have very easily landed on on one of the spikes.

A knot at the end of the rope would have prevented the accident.


ARC'TERYX: The Adamants "What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong" from ARC'TERYX on Vimeo.

Toni and Brunno in the video above had a similar accident. Toni Lamprecht is a professionally sponsored climber and very experienced.  I assume Brunno is just as experienced.  If something like this could happen to them, it certainly could happen to you.  It's my firm belief that accidents like this are total surprises to the victims involved.  We rationalize that it is only others, those less experienced, less careful, in more demanding situations, that make mistakes.  This is why one must be vigilant, even in seemingly mundane situations.

It is standard practice to always have a stopper knot at the end of the rope while sport climbing, rappelling, climbing with a self-belaying system, etc.  Falling due to an un-knotted rope passing through a belay device is perhaps the most common technical mistake that leads to climbing accidents.  So if your partner is not tied into the end of the rope, then there should always be a stopper knot on the end.