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Black Diamond Aspect Climbing Harness **FAILURE** warning long post
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By Jan Tarculas
From Riverside, Ca
Jun 27, 2011
after flower of high rank
Facts:

Harness:
-Black Diamond Aspect Harness size small
-Purchased from REI few months back(so legitimate product, not a knock off from what I've heard some petzl gear out there is)
-Used one three occasions (One day on Birdland and one day on Frogland at Red Rocks National Park), third time is event of failure, so pretty brand new

Belay Device:
Gri-Gri with an auto-locking biner attached to my belay loop.

Me:
5'5, approx 140 lbs

Climber:
5'9? approx 180 lbs

both experienced sport climbers and very SAFE!

Event of failure:
Day started of climbing an 5.10b warm up. My friend climbed first. Everything was made sure that I was double back on both leg loops, and waist, and that he was double back on his waist (his harness have fixed leg loops). I lowered him down with no problem and I was lowered down no problem. This shows that putting gradual weight on the harness had no problem because we both asked belayer to "take" first before getting lowered down.

Next climb was a 5.11b problem. Climber fell approximately 8 feet max and I was pretty much right underneath him. As climber fell and weighted the rope, my waist straps came **UNDONE** As I was lifted in the air I looked down was like WTF? And as I look at both leg loops (both double back), the right leg loop came **UNDONE**. I believe the right leg loop came un-done once he fell and bounced a little on the rope. At this point climber is about 15-20 feet above the ground and was just hanging by one leg loop of my harness. I immediately lowered him down.

My buddy first reacted by telling me that my leg loops weren't doubled back (because how the hell would that happen right?). I re-assured him because I made sure I checked him and I before he started the 2nd climb AND I never took my harness off or did any adjustment on them after our last climb. To verify what happened, I put my harness back on the way it was, and sure enough, I tugged on the belay loop and the waist strap came sliding a few inches. ALL THREE straps (waist and 2 leg straps) were all doubled back and the ends were slip through the loops provided on the waist and leg strap.

Thoughts and theory:

Two other experienced climbers were there, but didn't witness the event. We showed them my harness and talked about what the hell happened. They mentioned that the loops were the two buckles go (the waist and leg buckles) both have have "play" in them. As in they can move around. I don't know if this is a defect on the harness, combined with a freak accident, the angle of the fall, my weight vs his weight, or whatever other ideas you or and I can come up with. The most experienced climber there (I know that has been climbing for at least 20+ years, maybe more) checked out the harness too. I tested it with him by "yanking" on the harness with all the straps properly placed right and the waist moved a bit. Obviously the more we kept tugging, it created more of a "kink" on the strap and it prevented it from sliding more.

Once I got my Petzl Adjama Harness, we compared the two there. It is obvious that the loops were the buckles go through are a lot more fitted (as in not much play) compared to the Black Diamond Aspect. The Petzl Adjama also has a black lining inside the three loops, which seems to create more friction and prevent less movement? The ends of the straps of the Adjama are also much thicker then the black diamond. They are so thick that both leg loop straps can't just slide out of the buckles. I have to use a good amount of force to push them out, where as the end straps of the black diamond harness can easily slide out of both buckles.

I provided pictures below of the harness and the comparison of end straps, buckles, and buckle loops to provide a better picture of what I am talking about.


Product number of harness
Product number of harness



Black Diamond Aspect, size small
Black Diamond Aspect, size small



Leg loop buckles of Black diamond harness, right b...
Leg loop buckles of Black diamond harness, right buckle is were the failure happened



Waist leg loop/buckles of Black Diamond harness
Waist leg loop/buckles of Black Diamond harness

FLAG
By sunder
From Alsip, Il
Jun 27, 2011
ICE PIT 2011
Glad no one was hurt.

Did you contact Black Diamond that should be you first step.

Erik

FLAG
By Jan Tarculas
From Riverside, Ca
Jun 27, 2011
after flower of high rank
Petzl Adjama leg loop end strap.
Petzl Adjama leg loop end strap.

This photo is to show how this harness has thicker end straps (three layers), the difficulty of it going through the buckles, and how the buckle loop is smaller and has a black lining inside for less play/movement of the metal buckles compared to the Black Diamond.


Black Diamond Aspect leg straps
Black Diamond Aspect leg straps

This photo shows how thin the end straps are and how much more movement of the buckles have in the loops they are in.


Side by side
Side by side



Again, side by side
Again, side by side

FLAG
By Larry S
Jun 27, 2011
The wife and I road-trippin on the Connie.
Can we get a front view of the buckles? My guess is that they aren't symmetrical and have part that's intended to be sewn in and part that's supposed to face out and maybe somehow they're backwards and thus it doesn't pinch/lock as it should.

FLAG
By Steve Williams
From Denver, CO
Jun 27, 2011
That's pretty darned scary!

I've used BD harnesses (Blizzards) for a long time, caught
numerous falls, and never had an issue with any of the belts
coming undone. I wonder if it's a new design, just a certain
batch of harnesses or what.

In any event, glad you're both okay!

FLAG
By Ty Harlacker
From Albuquerque, NM
Jun 27, 2011
Silverton
Jeez, glad you guys are okay. That could have easily resulted in two fatalities given a slightly different scenario. I have to say that I just don't like BD. The exception of course being their cams and ice screws. It seems like they are trying to corner the market on too many venues. You may want to send it to UIAA or someone to pull test it.

FLAG
By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Jun 27, 2011
I would say check for a burr or something on the buckle, or see if the loop that holds both pieces of the buckle is too tight or too loose. The smaller buckle is supposed to pinch the strap against the larger buckle. If it somehow gets hung up against the large buckle it may not lock the strap down under tension.

FLAG
By Jan Tarculas
From Riverside, Ca
Jun 27, 2011
after flower of high rank
Larry S wrote:
Can we get a front view of the buckles? My guess is that they aren't symmetrical and have part that's intended to be sewn in and part that's supposed to face out and maybe somehow they're backwards and thus it doesn't pinch/lock as it should.



Front view 1
Front view 1



Front view 2
Front view 2




Front view 3
Front view 3



The event of the failure was also my first time "catching" a fall. Even though it was only max 8 feet. Every time harness was ever waited (the two days of trad climbing, which is about 8 pitches each, and the previous climb I did) was only from being lowered down or lowering someone done. It has never experienced that immediate "tug" from a fall...

FLAG
 
By Jan Tarculas
From Riverside, Ca
Jun 27, 2011
after flower of high rank
To whoever asked about double back and was confused on the matter, this is what I am talking about. I don't know why you deleted your post, but again here...




double back
double back




not double back
not double back

FLAG
By Daryl Allan
From Sierra Vista, AZ
Jun 27, 2011
Me and my Fetish I guess.. ;)
Call BD now. 801.278.5552

FLAG
By Jan Tarculas
From Riverside, Ca
Jun 27, 2011
after flower of high rank
sunder wrote:
Glad no one was hurt. Did you contact Black Diamond that should be you first step. Erik


Yea we were pretty freaked out about it, but very glad that none of us were hurt. I was so close to using my other harness too, but at the same time I am glad I use that harness that failed...Only because that the failure ended up with no one getting hurt instead of it happening later or a different even with worst circumstances (i.e. death of climber)

I will be contacting black diamond soon. I just wanted the public to know what happened and to make sure they ALWAYS check each other before any climb and to ALWAYS inspect your gear before use.

FLAG
By JitsClimber
From Broomfield,Co
Jun 27, 2011
Me doing my Jits thing (what I do when not climbin...
This is crazy! I got an Aspect a couple months ago and luckily haven't experienced this at all but will deff be on the lookout for it. I love the speed buckles on it. The thiness of the endstraps has been a worry of mine and I've been watching it for just this same thing as well. Please let me know if you end up Contacting BD and also what they say. Happy Safe Sends!

FLAG
By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Jun 27, 2011
My navigator keeps me from getting lost
WOW!

My GF just had a similar, scary experience. She was halfway up a climb on TR and, when she had me take, she screamed that the harness was coming undone. I quickly lowered her to a ledge and had a buddy who was climbing on the next climb over check out her harness. He confirmed she was doubled back.

Because she's new to climbing and I've never, ever heard of this problem before, I assumed it was an operator error.

But, maybe not. She bought her harness roughly 6 months ago. I'll be interested to see what you hear from BD. Please keep us updated.

FLAG
By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Jun 27, 2011
I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to CONTACT BLACK DIAMOND IMMEDIATELY rather than going on about your speculation on an internet forum.

THIS IS A SAFETY ISSUE. PEOPLE COULD DIE due to your lack of action.

Any time you have an issue with any piece of climbing gear, before you post it on the internet, contact the manufacturer. Not only will you get better informed answers to questions, you may also notify the manufacturer of an unknown defect in their product and SAVE LIVES.

CALL THEM. NOW. Not soon. Not after lunch. RIGHT NOW.

FLAG
By Jan Tarculas
From Riverside, Ca
Jun 27, 2011
after flower of high rank
JitsClimber wrote:
This is crazy! I got an Aspect a couple months ago and luckily haven't experienced this at all but will deff be on the lookout for it. I love the speed buckles on it. The thiness of the endstraps has been a worry of mine and I've been watching it for just this same thing as well. Please let me know if you end up Contacting BD and also what they say. Happy Safe Sends!


I just contacted Black Diamond and spoke with someone from Warranty. I won't post his name for obvious reasons. I explained my story and re-assured him I was double back, that I checked prior to my first climb, lowered my partner safely, and I was lowered safely, and checked again after the 2nd climb when the event happened. He initially told me the best thing I can do is to return it to REI to get a new Harness. He re-assured me that their harness have been tested vigorously and that it only fails when not properly used. He didn't seem to concerned on what happened from his tone of voice and his response. I immediately responded with a very concerned tone and questioned him about the harness at hand and what they will do. He responded saying, Well if you return it to us, you will be out of a harness for a long time. You have to ship it to us and we have to check it....I then asked him, "So if I return it to REI, should I tell them what happened and they contact you regarding the harness" He then said, yea that will be the best thing. Return the harness and have them replace it and they can contact us and move on with the process...

I am not sure if this is always the case, but I have dealt with other manufacturers regarding failed parts on after market things for my vehicle and such and they always seemed very concerned. I have always been giving an invoice number or something of the sort so that if any other concern for the same problem, it can be logged in and tracked. I just hope REI does contact Black Diamond when I return this harness and they actually check it. I wasn't so pleased on how they handled my complain.

FLAG
By sunder
From Alsip, Il
Jun 27, 2011
ICE PIT 2011
RNclimber wrote:
Yea we were pretty freaked out about it, but very glad that none of us were hurt. I was so close to using my other harness too, but at the same time I am glad I use that harness that failed...Only because that the failure ended up with no one getting hurt instead of it happening later or a different even with worst circumstances (i.e. death of climber) I will be contacting black diamond soon. I just wanted the public to know what happened and to make sure they ALWAYS check each other before any climb and to ALWAYS inspect your gear before use.


Glad your calling. Im sure they will want the harness back for testing.

The other poster might of been talking about the older style harness where you do like the following


But the newer harnesses have the speed buckles (like yours) which feeding them back though is consider double backing as well.

FLAG
 
By bwalt822
Jun 27, 2011
Is it possible to recreate the failure in a video?

FLAG
By Jan Tarculas
From Riverside, Ca
Jun 27, 2011
after flower of high rank
John Wilder wrote:
I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to CONTACT BLACK DIAMOND IMMEDIATELY rather than going on about your speculation on an internet forum. THIS IS A SAFETY ISSUE. PEOPLE COULD DIE due to your lack of action. Any time you have an issue with any piece of climbing gear, before you post it on the internet, contact the manufacturer. Not only will you get better informed answers to questions, you may also notify the manufacturer of an unknown defect in their product and SAVE LIVES. CALL THEM. NOW. Not soon. Not after lunch. RIGHT NOW.


Yes I called them right now and wasn't very pleased. I expected him to at least ask me a few questions. I told him my story, mentioned I was double back, and the only question he asked me was "Are you sure you had it on properly?" I asked him about sending it to them to check for any manufacturer defects and he mainly said return it to REI for a new harness...WTF? REALLY?...He failed to at least ask what type of harness it was, the part number, size, or any other details about the harness. I assumed he would ask those questions, jot it down, and search some sort of company data base to see if other problems similar have occurred...

FLAG
By Scott Hansen
From Westminster, CO
Jun 27, 2011
Teton beer
I emailed a link to this post to their service dept

FLAG
By Angela Mabe
From Flagstaff,AZ
Jun 27, 2011
On top of Dr. Rubos
holy smokes! i'm glad i'm not the only one with this problem! i have the womens version of this and i am constantly tightening my leg loops. they never stay in place and always get loose. i tried climbing tape to have them not slip but that didn't work either. it drives me nuts when i'm climbing and have to pull them tighter all the time. i just got this harness in the spring but i'm thinking of going back to my trusty misty mountain cadillac now. i'm not new to climbing and darren and i are safety freaks. so yes mine are always double backed.
whats the contact at black diamond cause i will call too and let them know. they can come and even watch me belay and climb and watch them get loose all day long.

FLAG
By Eastvillage
From New York, NY
Jun 27, 2011
Me on the summit of Devil's Tower
Very Scary. Black Diamond has been telling the climbing Community how all of their equipment manufacturing outsourcing ( or making it in a country with cheap labor, what ever they want to call it) is no problem and that quality will not suffer.

Hmm, coincidence?

I know they recently sold the company so IMHO, maybe they are going the way of all companies that get big and are starting to sacrifice quality for profits.


Beware.

FLAG
By sunder
From Alsip, Il
Jun 27, 2011
ICE PIT 2011
RNclimber wrote:
I just contacted Black Diamond and spoke with someone from Warranty. I won't post his name for obvious reasons. I explained my story and re-assured him I was double back, that I checked prior to my first climb, lowered my partner safely, and I was lowered safely, and checked again after the 2nd climb when the event happened. He initially told me the best thing I can do is to return it to REI to get a new Harness. He re-assured me that their harness have been tested vigorously and that it only fails when not properly used. He didn't seem to concerned on what happened from his tone of voice and his response. I immediately responded with a very concerned tone and questioned him about the harness at hand and what they will do. He responded saying, Well if you return it to us, you will be out of a harness for a long time. You have to ship it to us and we have to check it....I then asked him, "So if I return it to REI, should I tell them what happened and they contact you regarding the harness" He then said, yea that will be the best thing. Return the harness and have them replace it and they can contact us and move on with the process... I am not sure if this is always the case, but I have dealt with other manufacturers regarding failed parts on after market things for my vehicle and such and they always seemed very concerned. I have always been giving an invoice number or something of the sort so that if any other concern for the same problem, it can be logged in and tracked. I just hope REI does contact Black Diamond when I return this harness and they actually check it. I wasn't so pleased on how they handled my complain.



I would call back and hopefully you get someone else, if not insisnst on talking to a manager or a supervisor. Unfortantaly it sucks to do this but don't hangup until you talk to a supervisor or manager.

FLAG
By Jan Tarculas
From Riverside, Ca
Jun 27, 2011
after flower of high rank
sunder wrote:
Glad your calling. Im sure they will want the harness back for testing. The other poster might of been talking about the older style harness where you do like the following But the newer harnesses have the speed buckles (like yours) which feeding them back though is consider double backing as well.


That system, which I have seen in older harness, seems to work much better. This is just an assumption, but it seems like the "double back" feature where the straps contact each other would create more friction and tension (by compression against each other when taught). In this new system, the straps are being compress by two metal buckles...I also realized when comparing the two harnesses (given that my Adjama is older, dirtier, and has been put more to use), the Black Diamond straps seem a lot stiffer and glossier/smoother. Usually, a strap that is stiffer and smoother can glide through metal objects easier...

FLAG
By Ty Harlacker
From Albuquerque, NM
Jun 27, 2011
Silverton
Well, this is enough for me to not climb on their harnesses. I am not going to climb with anyone who has one either. They obviously aren't testing them.

FLAG
 
By Jan Tarculas
From Riverside, Ca
Jun 27, 2011
after flower of high rank
This is me comparing the my Petzl Adjama and Black Diamond Harness together...

With the pictures I provided, you can see were the buckles on the Black diamond have more "play" so they can easily move around more compared to the Petzl. The Petzl buckels are also curved in an angle so when the smaller gray buckle lays on top of the bigger black one, it seems to "fit" better, possibly slide less and can compress the strap when it is taught compared to the BD harness. The Black diamond buckles look to be more flat shape. To me, a flat piece of metal on top of another flat piece of metal can easily slide(and in this case, slide open for the strap to go through).

FLAG
By Chris. T.
From Longmont, Co.
Jun 27, 2011
Enjoying a cold day on The Saber. RMNP
I have a new B.D. Momentum harness(not the S.A./speed adjust straps shown in the pictures), and noticed that the adjustable leg loops do loosen over time, sometimes within a day. This does concern me, however I have caught numerous falls and fallen numerous times without incident. Although I do check them before climbing, and have to tighten them regularly. I have never had a problem with the waist buckle/strap.

I used to have a B.D. Momentum S.A. type harness, and never had an issue.

hmmm.... might be time for a new brand of harness!

FLAG


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