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Gate Chatter... Myth or fact? .. Deadly or lifely?
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Oct 2, 2012
Why I do it...
We all spend way too much time on the net and not enough time climbing. We've all spent hours in a gear shop only to leave with nothing in hand. So what better place to ask about gate chatter.
It is true that I can hold about any solid gate biner, and whip the spine onto the heal of my hand and make the gate open because of its mass. HOWEVER has anyone ever heard of a failed draw, or the rope unclipping, or a longer fall because of this?
(I just won some sweet Cypher 11cm keylock quickdraws at the Idaho Mountain Fest and I'm on the fence to keep them or swap them out for wire gates. Yes I know wire gates are lighter and don't freeze, but I use alpine [camp nano's] slings for ice screws).
HERE IS THE QUESTION HAVE YOU IN ALL YOUR YEARS EVER HEARD OF GATE CHATTER BEING THE CAUSE OF ANYTHING BAD HAPPENING?
kevinhansen
From Albion Idaho
Joined Apr 21, 2008
49 points
Oct 2, 2012
Why I do it...
I started climbing in 1994 and still have never heard of gate chatter being the reason for a longer fall/death. kevinhansen
From Albion Idaho
Joined Apr 21, 2008
49 points
Oct 2, 2012
consider that almost every "pro" sport climber you see in the films use solid gates ... and consider that theyll whip more in a day than most people here do in a week ... or a month ... or a year even ....

also consider that almost every gym and climbing wall (that ive seen) uses solid gates ... and so do most comps i see ... and the people there whip all the time ...

im not saying it doesnt happen on a very blue moon or it aint possible ... but its like cross loaded belay biners ... if it was a real issue the people who fall the most and the organizations that regulate them in comps would require that no solid gates be used ... now would reputable climbing companies sell them if it were a serious issue ... and EVERY (almost) company sells em ...
bearbreeder
Joined Mar 1, 2009
1,876 points
Oct 2, 2012
I've never fallen in a situation where I was looking for gate chatter, however I've heard what sounds an awful lot like it, though it's never resulted in an unclipped rope or anything. If you aren't tying extra belay loops into your harness and obsessively re clipping draws so they "face the right direction" and eating cheese balls individually toothpicked at predetermined times of day you have better things to be worrying about than whether or not your gates are light and wirey. frankstoneline
Joined Apr 23, 2009
22 points
Oct 2, 2012
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch
Chatter? Dunno. Some types of accidents make it hard to figure out exactly what happened.

traditionalmountaineering.org/...

I've seen info from some source that a German climber died when a carabiner failed in a fail that was attributed to minor axis loading (1998 vintage?).

1991 ANAM has an accident report that was attributed to an open carabiner breaking. Gate chatter?

For me, an open carabiner is weaker. Best to minimize that if possible.
Brian in SLC
Joined Oct 6, 2003
10,997 points
Oct 2, 2012
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch
johnnyrig wrote:
Got me thinking... anyone ever test a dynamic fall on the minor axis of a wiregate? As in, did the rope running over the small-radius wire get damaged in a fall? After all, never heard of the factory testing for this, gate flutter aside.


Not over the wire, but, interesting:

blackdiamondequipment.com/en-u...
Brian in SLC
Joined Oct 6, 2003
10,997 points
Oct 2, 2012
I 'm not sure that there are too much accidental occurrence, I think there are 50%, 50% of death and life. I start my climbing in 2006 and visit there for more then 5 times due to its attraction and tough time. Robbey Clark
From New York
Joined Oct 1, 2012
0 points
Oct 2, 2012
Consider the fact that most leader falls generate between 4-7kn of force on the system. And if you look at the open gate strength of most carabiners, it is typically 7kn or greater. This is probably why you don't really hear about carabiners breaking in a fall.

Smacking the spine of a carabiner against your palm seems like an accurate test given your "smacks" are of equal force when comparing different carabiners. Wiregate biners defintely have less chatter in this test. Now, considering how much force it takes to make the biner gate "clack", think of the carabiner in a lead fall situation. It is unlikely (though not impossible) that the biner would receive similar forces at the exact moment the rope comes taught on the biner. There you have it. IMHO gate chatter is real but quite unlikely to cause any problems.
Mitch Musci
From Fort Collins, CO
Joined Apr 8, 2002
702 points
Oct 2, 2012
About half way up the East Arete on Illumination R...
Just climb. Ben Beckerich
From saint helens, oregon
Joined Jun 24, 2011
266 points
Oct 2, 2012
Interesting topic. I would love to hear of any stories about ropes unclipping. I get nervous when my foot or body is moving around the draw, that I'll accidentally open the gate.

Jason
jasoncm
Joined May 30, 2012
31 points
Oct 2, 2012
Middle
I dated a girl with braces that had gate chatter. Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Joined Jul 23, 2010
130 points
Oct 2, 2012
some .11c or d? i think
I was belaying my buddy In Indian creek when he took a huge fall on a yellow alien which was scary enough then we notice that the piece directly below the alien and about 7' lower had un-clipped its self and it was a wire gate if i remember correctly. If the yellow would have blown it could have been very bad news. issac overright
From Farmington NM
Joined Sep 25, 2011
50 points
Oct 2, 2012
Yes, it can happen, although obviously it's a rare occurrence and may be a thing of the past. It was documented using high-speed film; I used to have a copy of the monograph of the experiments, it was given to me by the US representative to the UIAA. Clearly showed gate open failure. The impetus for the experiemnt was (I think) that there were some accidents in France that were caused by broken 'biners and someone decided to try and find out why. This was when sport climbing was just starting and carabiner manufacturers were making carabiners with very loose, floppy gates (e.g., the Lowe 33) so that clipping was/seemed to be easier. Open gate failure was thought to be due to a) gate chatter, and b) the carabiner hitting the rock and the impact jarring the gate open. Of course for these to cause failure they would have to happen at the exact moment the climber's weight hit the rope.

We (local climbers) suspected it was the cause of a fatal accident at a PA ice climbing area some years ago, although of course we couldn't prove it. Long fall, ice screw still in the ice, carabiner attached to the ice screw and the sling, but the rope bearing carabiner - gone.
Dana Bartlett
From CT
Joined Nov 18, 2003
963 points
Oct 2, 2012
A few years back we were having this conversation and some aid climber was claiming that he unclipped ~20 pieces in a single fall. He attributed all of this to gate flutter.

I'll see if I can find the post. It was quite amusing.
Price
From SLC, UT
Joined Apr 29, 2007
324 points
Oct 2, 2012
Mashers Tower
Robbey Clark wrote:
I 'm not sure that there are too much accidental occurrence, I think there are 50%, 50% of death and life. I start my climbing in 2006 and visit there for more then 5 times due to its attraction and tough time.


huh
Cornelius Jefferson
Joined Apr 5, 2006
162 points
Oct 2, 2012
Why I do it...
JLP wrote:
Biners break all the time, either from non-ideal loading or the gate opening. This is ancient news only a noob could find doubt or surprise in.


I think he's joking...
Seriously since I started climbing in 1994, (Dana and Price's post just now being the exception) I've never heard of biner failure in a climbing situation. I've blown one or two up when I was pulling Volkswagons with webbing and a steal oval.
I'd never thought of biner failure while the gate was open. Hmmm.
I personally thought that gate chatter unclipping a rope was physically impossible. In order for the rope to move the biner (thus opening the gate) it must push the spine into a rock (or shake it back then forth quickly), then at the exact moment move through the opening created by the open gate. All this must take place as the climber is falling (loading the biner). It just too big of a pill for me to swallow that the rope be in three different places with in thousandths of a second.
I'm interested in fotage.
Now I could be persuaded to think that the load placed on the biner is greater than 7KN at the exact moment the gate opens, That way the biner will elongate/deform and when the gate returns to its origional position the pin/keylock will not seat, thus blowing up a new biner.
Also interested in footage.
At any rate, I'm keeping the new draws. No need to be paranoid over something that is highly unlikely to happen. (I don't wear a seatbelt, how about that!! Here I'm intrested in the odds of death over such a small thing, and yet I'm a terrible driver.)
kevinhansen
From Albion Idaho
Joined Apr 21, 2008
49 points
Oct 2, 2012
Why I do it...
Robbey Clark wrote:
I 'm not sure that there are too much accidental occurrence, I think there are 50%, 50% of death and life. I start my climbing in 2006 and visit there for more then 5 times due to its attraction and tough time.


CJC wrote:
huh


Yea, the climbing's a lot of the way easier I'd bet, then the English when it comes to some of the learning of thing to do.
kevinhansen
From Albion Idaho
Joined Apr 21, 2008
49 points
Oct 2, 2012
I personally thought that gate chatter unclipping a rope was physically impossible. In order for the rope to move the biner (thus opening the gate) it must push the spine into a rock (or shake it back then forth quickly), then at the exact moment move through the opening created by the open gate. All this must take place as the climber is falling (loading the biner). It just too big of a pill for me to swallow that the rope be in three different places with in thousandths of a second.

It was quite some time ago, but I do remember that the proof, on film, was undeniable: the gate flutter was happening and the gate could snap open if/when the carabiner carabiner hit the rock hard during a fall. And a few carabiners did break in the field, which was the impetus for the study, and the breaking could well have been due to open gate failure.

Of course, as you say, to have either of these happen at the precise time needed to cause open gate failure would be the absolute defintion of bad luck, and it may be that the springs in carabiner gates are more robust now then they were back in the mid to late '80s. This phenomenon, as I mentioned earlier, may be be just an echo from the past and no longer possible.

If someone really wants to pursue this, try and contact Jeff Lea. He was the person who gave me the stuff I'm writing about; he may remember.
Dana Bartlett
From CT
Joined Nov 18, 2003
963 points
Oct 2, 2012
Mashers Tower
I remember that too, and that ropes with braided cores were more likely to cause flutter. biner strength is quite diminished when the gate is open, that's a well-known fact. so if the biner is loaded at the instant it's open you're in trouble. Cornelius Jefferson
Joined Apr 5, 2006
162 points
Oct 2, 2012
CJC wrote:
if the biner is loaded at the instant it's open you're in trouble.



I think most of the biners on my rack are rated ~8kn open. Which is higher than what a .3 camalot, 0 C3, or #5 stopper are rated.

IMO, your bigger concern is nose binding on the hanger, cross loading, etc.
Will S
From Joshua Tree
Joined Nov 15, 2006
1,219 points
Oct 2, 2012
Gate Flutter kBobby
From Spokane, WA
Joined Oct 5, 2001
1,373 points
Oct 2, 2012
J TREE
I HAD GATE FLUTTER HAPPEN TO ME IN A FALL THAT ULTIMATLY BROKE THE BINER AND CAUSED ME TO CRATOR INTO THE GROUND FROM ABOUT 100'

it's real.....

Your being very closed minded and posting info you have no idea about.

The stats are out there
Jim Amidon
Joined Jun 12, 2001
927 points
Oct 2, 2012
Hanging at Seneca
Jim Amidon wrote:
I HAD GATE FLUTTER HAPPEN TO ME IN A FALL THAT ULTIMATLY BROKE THE BINER AND CAUSED ME TO CRATOR INTO THE GROUND FROM ABOUT 100' it's real..... Your being very closed minded and posting info you have no idea about. The stats are out there


Care to elaborate? Why did one biner failing cause you to deck? Or was it multiple failures?

And could you provide some of these stats for us? Thanks.
cjon3s
From Sterling, VA
Joined Sep 10, 2012
17 points
Oct 2, 2012
J TREE
It's wrtten up in ANAM........ Jim Amidon
Joined Jun 12, 2001
927 points
Oct 2, 2012
And most of us don't have ANAM. Elaborate or stop yelling. Will S
From Joshua Tree
Joined Nov 15, 2006
1,219 points
Oct 2, 2012
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Pea...
Gate Chatterer is really pretty scary.



Well, for 1987 I guess. Sigh.
Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
1,494 points


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