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Momentum Climbing Accident - Utah
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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Feb 1, 2013

I know there was an accident at Momentum (Sandy, UT) the other day and they transported a climber to IMC with a shattered leg or similar injury. Does anyone know the details of the accident and if the climber is going to recover okay?


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By SMR
Feb 1, 2013

I heard from someone on staff that the climber was on a top rope wall and failed to tie her figure 8 knot. She leaned back from the top and fell.
Recovery expected, but I don't know many details except the climber's foot/ankle was broken into pieces.

Bottom-line: Check your knot 3x before getting on the wall.


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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Feb 1, 2013
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.

It is the belayer's duty to double check the knot too. Usually you can tell with a quick glance, but do what you have to do to make sure.

These kinds of accidents are pretty inexcusable. That being said, I did not notice that my climber was only tied through their leg loop once at a gym and they flipped over when they fell. Not good and I was rightfully mortified.


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By Marc H
From Lafayette, CO
Feb 1, 2013
The Cathedral Spires in RMNP, left to right: Stiletto, Sharkstooth, Forbidden Tower, Petit Grepon, The Saber, The Foil, The Moon & The Jackknife.

M Sprague wrote:
It is the belayer's duty to double check the knot too.


It's the responsibility of the climber to check their knot. They're the one that's going to be hurt or killed if it's not tied properly. It's a good idea for the belayer to check the climber's knot, but certainly not a responsibility.


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By zenetopia
Feb 1, 2013

It is everyone's responsibility in the 'group'or partnership to make sure every person is safe. No one with whom i climb, especially my regular partner, will even think of starting a climb unless they have been dble checked...


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By Marc H
From Lafayette, CO
Feb 1, 2013
The Cathedral Spires in RMNP, left to right: Stiletto, Sharkstooth, Forbidden Tower, Petit Grepon, The Saber, The Foil, The Moon & The Jackknife.

zenetopia wrote:
It is everyone's responsibility in the 'group' or partnership to make sure every person is safe. No one with whom i climb, especially my regular partner, will even think of starting a climb unless they have been dble checked...


It's unfortunate that you and your partners can't trust themselves to look at their own knot and know if it's tried properly.

Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Why is it so lacking these days?

If I fail to tie my knot properly and deck, it's 100% on me. I wouldn't even consider that to be anyone else's responsibility. It wouldn't even cross my mind.

zenetopia wrote:
It is everyone's responsibility in the 'group'..


So if you're climbing in a party of three, you have both people standing on the ground check your knot before you climb? Really?


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By Brian in SLC
Feb 1, 2013
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch

Marc H wrote:
It's the responsibility of the climber to check their knot. They're the one that's going to be hurt or killed if it's not tied properly. It's a good idea for the belayer to check the climber's knot, but certainly not a responsibility.


Disagree. As a belayer, my partner's safety is pretty much in my hands.

It should be the belayer's responsibility and not just "a good idea".

Should be a habit.


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By zenetopia
Feb 1, 2013

"t's unfortunate that you and your partners can't trust themselves to look at their own knot and know if it's tried properly.

Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Why is it so lacking these days?

If I fail to tie my knot properly and deck, it's 100% on me. I wouldn't even consider that to be anyone else's responsibility. It wouldn't even cross my mind. "

Well, good thing you and i will never climb together.


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By pfwein
Feb 1, 2013

I agree with Marc H, although I'm not strident about it and if someone wants me to check their knot, no problem.
My reasoning is that double checking something that is in fact easily checked by the person who will suffer the consequences of failure may cause the climber to do a less thorough job than he would otherwise. Just diffuses responsibility.
While I acknowledge that none of us are immune to making these mistakes, I have more confidence in developing my own mental checklist and strictly applying it than I do in having a belayer (who may or may not be a reliable double checker) inject himself into my tying-in process.
I use the following mnemonic:

B - belayer got me on?
R - rope (knot) propery attached?
A - A is tough, "anchor" is the best I can do so far, maybe N/A
H - harness on properly?


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By zenetopia
Feb 1, 2013

As well, if you deck it isn't just 100% on you. Imagine what watching something like that does to your partner and/or belayer...Not making sure everyone you are climbing with is as safe as possible is just irresponsible & a selfish attitude brought on by senseless ego.


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By D-Storm
Feb 1, 2013
Enjoying a misty day on top of the Bookmark on Lumpy Ridge at age 14 or 15.

"Thou shalt check thy knot three times, then untie the knot and tie it again to ensure it has been properly tied," dictates the holy office of the Redundant Department of Redundancy. "Once the knot is retied, check it thrice more ... Repeat until there's no time left to climb and you may thank these safe habits for keeping you safe."


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By SMR
Feb 1, 2013

I think there is a mutual agreement that climbers climbing together watch out for each other, so a small error or lapse doesn't turn into a life -changing event. Not just with checking a knot, but with z-clipping, rope behind the leg, climbing in a dangerous situation over a ledge etc.

I climb at Mo. and have started checking the climbers next to me when I am on the ground or whatever. 1/2 the time I don't even know them.


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By Malcolm Daly
From Boulder, CO
Feb 1, 2013

pfwein, good job on coming up with that nemonic. I'be been using CBBLAK for

Check
Buckles - is your harness on, buckled properly and tight
Belay - Am I on belay? Is the belayer paying attention? Will the system work?
Landing - If rapelling, are BOTH ends of the ropes on the ground? If starting a pitch, how is the landing in case you fall before getting to the pirst pro. Should the belayer be spotting?
Anchors - Are you anchored in? Is the belayer? How do the anchors look? Are the bomber?
Knots - Check your knots.

I like CBBLAK because it covers all aspects, regardless of whether you're belaying, rappelling, lowering or climbing. I recite it to myself every time I go on the rope. Yes, even before I take at the top of a gym route.

I've tried to get the AMGA to adopt a nemonic for climbers besides SERENE (stupid) that doesn't save lives but they've been reluctant. Maybe they think climbers are too stupid to remember more than one nemonic?

Climb Safe,
Mal


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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Feb 1, 2013

Marc H wrote:
It's unfortunate that you and your partners can't trust themselves to look at their own knot and know if it's tried properly. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Why is it so lacking these days? If I fail to tie my knot properly and deck, it's 100% on me. I wouldn't even consider that to be anyone else's responsibility. It wouldn't even cross my mind. So if you're climbing in a party of three, you have both people standing on the ground check your knot before you climb? Really?


Double checking each other for safety reasons is neither an abdication of personal responsibility nor an indication of a lack of self-trust.

When climbing with a partner you are 'part' of a team, and the success of your venture one way or another depends on being part of that team. It's a group responsibility to ensure that the team is safe and successful - individual personal responsibility is inherently part and parcel, the prerequisite, of team responsibility.

Your comment about a party of three is silly at best; a poor argument to help prove your point.

Any high performance team, whether there are 2 members or more, has to work together and watch out for each other - that is a necessary dynamic to their venture, whether that be climbing or something else.

I'm curious Marc, do you not double check your partner's safety system when you're out climbing because you simply expect them to be responsible? Accidents and oversights occur to the best of us, to err is human.

Stack the odds in your favor and in the favor of those loved ones you climb with.


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By David Sahalie
From on the road again
Feb 1, 2013

wow. yet another 'check ur knot' thread.


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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Feb 1, 2013

Disagree. As a belayer, my partner's safety is pretty much in my hands. It should be the belayer's responsibility and not just "a good idea". Should be a habit.

>

Well said.


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By BruceH
From Salt Lake City,UT
Feb 1, 2013
New Religion

Unfortunately, I saw the fall on Tuesday; it was horrifying. Fortunately, the woman landed on her legs, which were undoubtedly severely injured, and thus hopefully avoided any spinal injuries. When she fell, no belayer was in the area, which made the entire incident seem that much more bizarre. The following is hearsay but it fits the facts: apparently the belayer became aware that the climber's knot had become undone and went to get help.

All those involved in this accident were deeply shaken and my thoughts are with them. Thinking under stress is not easy for everyone, and it certainly does not come naturally to me. Which (I will venture the editorial) is why it is so important to practice unusual scenarios and to observe usual protocol. Heretofore, I have been rather casual about checking partners' knots in the gym. After seeing that fall, I will now ALWAYS check those knots as if my own life depended on them. Redunancy is not an abnegation of personal responsibility but rather it is plain old good engineering and common sense.


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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Feb 1, 2013

BruceH wrote:
Unfortunately, I saw the fall on Tuesday; it was horrifying. Fortunately, the woman landed on her legs, which were undoubtedly severely injured, and thus hopefully avoided any spinal injuries. When she fell, no belayer was in the area, which made the entire incident seem that much more bizarre. The following is hearsay but it fits the facts: apparently the belayer became aware that the climber's knot had become undone and went to get help. All those involved in this accident were deeply shaken and my thoughts are with them. Thinking under stress is not easy for everyone, and it certainly does not come naturally to me. Which (I will venture the editorial) is why it is so important to practice unusual scenarios and to observe usual protocol. Heretofore, I have been rather casual about checking partners' knots in the gym. After seeing that fall, I will now ALWAYS check those knots as if my own life depended on them. Redunancy is not an abnegation of personal responsibility but rather it is plain old good engineering and common sense.


Spot on. Thanks for the info on the accident.


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By Marc H
From Lafayette, CO
Feb 1, 2013
The Cathedral Spires in RMNP, left to right: Stiletto, Sharkstooth, Forbidden Tower, Petit Grepon, The Saber, The Foil, The Moon & The Jackknife.

zenetopia wrote:
Well, good thing you and i will never climb together.


A good thing for me or you? Hahah

pfwein wrote:
I'm not strident about it and if someone wants me to check their knot, no problem.


I'm in your boat. If someone wants to check my knot, I'm happy to oblige. I'm someone wants me to check their knot, I'm also happy to oblige.

zenetopia wrote:
Not making sure everyone you are climbing with is as safe as possible is just irresponsible & a selfish attitude brought on by senseless ego.


You are assuming you understand my motivations, and you are wrong. I believe that a climber that assumes it is his belayers' responsibility to check his knot leads to complacency. Complacency can kill, injure and maim. Ego is involved none whatsoever in that line of thinking.

Mark Lewis wrote:
Your comment about a party of three is silly at best; a poor argument to help prove your point.

zenetopia wrote:
It is everyone's responsibility in the 'group'or partnership to make sure every person is safe.


In the context of this conversation, I interpreted Zene's comments as meaning that all members of his group check knots and systems before anyone leaves the ground. I don't think that's silly. I was simply clarifying.

Mark Lewis wrote:
I'm curious Marc, do you not double check your partner's safety system when you're out climbing because you simply expect them to be responsible? Accidents and oversights occur to the best of us, to err is human.


I tend to mostly climb with competent people--that are also human and prone to occasionally making mistakes. When it's prudent, I double check systems. When I'm in shape at the gym, I tend to climb dozens of routes in an evening. I do not double check my partners' systems at every climb. But I double check my systems every time.

Case in point: a couple days ago I was climbing with a good friend of mine and chatting with his fiance who was standing next to me. I threaded my Grigri incorrectly. But before he left the ground, I followed the climber's end of the rope (as I always do) expecting it to lead to my climber. But instead it led to the pile of rope on the ground. My partner didn't know what was wrong, but he could tell that I wasn't ready, probably by the confused look on my face. I fixed the problem while making sure he wasn't yet climbing. I then looked at him in the eye to indicate that I was now ready to belay him. He smiled and started to climb. It all worked out because I had a sense of personal responsibility to make sure that I had my system connected properly.

To me, it's much more important that my personal safety system is correct--whether I'm the climber or the belayer. I expect that my partners do the same thing. It's less important that I double check my partners' systems. If you are an experienced climbed and can't look at a knot and tell if it's tied correctly, or look at a belay device and tell if it's rigged correctly, then climbing is not for you. If you are new to climbing or new to me, then I am more likely to double check your systems.

BruceH wrote:
apparently the belayer became aware that the climber's knot had become undone and went to get help.


Went to get help??? If you're the belayer, you are the help! If you notice as your climber is climbing, that her knot is untied, then it's your job to speak up. You tell your climber not to climb any higher and not to weight the rope! Down climbing on the biggest most positive holds or tying in short to the nearest 'draw is by far the safest thing she could do. I have a hard time picturing a (competent) belayer doing this. I really hope your account is inaccurate.

BruceH wrote:
When she fell, no belayer was in the area..apparently the belayer became aware that the climber's knot had become undone and went to get help.

Mark Lewis wrote:
Spot on. Thanks for the info on the accident.


Wow. You question me about my comments and simply accept this account--without question--as if it's not totally insane!? Bruce implied that the victim's belayer disconnected his belay device (while she was still climbing), and abandoned his climber "to go get help!" That doesn't strike you at all? I'm truly amazed, Mark.


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By Tom Mulholland
From #1 Cheese Producing State!
Feb 1, 2013
Whiskey-a-Go-Go

pfwein wrote:
B - belayer got me on? R - rope (knot) propery attached? A - A is tough, "anchor" is the best I can do so far, maybe N/A H - harness on properly?


I would go with A for Attitude, which is something a brah needs plenty of (and usually has in abundance) before leaving the ground.


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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Feb 1, 2013
My navigator keeps me from getting lost

It's nice if my belayer checks my knots, buckles, etc. I certainly watch out for the climber's safety when belaying.

But, you shouldn't rely on someone else to make sure you're doing what you should to protect your own life. And, by saying it's the belayer's responsibility, we create an expectation that someone else is going to watch out for you.

Appreciate it when someone is but don't behave as though you expect them to.


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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Feb 1, 2013

Bruce said, 'After seeing that fall, I will now ALWAYS check those knots as if my own life depended on them. Redunancy is not an abnegation of personal responsibility but rather it is plain old good engineering and common sense.'

That is the section of his post I'm referring to as spot on Marc, not the belayer leaving his partner in the aforementioned situation. Our debate isn't about that, it's about group responsibility and the part an individual of that group plays in the overall safety of a climbing team by double checking his/her partner (s).

Group responsibility does not preclude individual responsibility, as I stated previous - individual responsibility is a prerequisite of group responsibility.

Many of you who are against-but-not-against your climbing partner checking your safety system, and vice versa, are missing the point. Safe practices are habitual, and part of your individual responsibility is taking your part in ensuring your partner is safe as well. Neglect that, and you have neglected your personal responsibility as well the group's.

Your partner is your safety back-up, not safety-replacement. Those who become bristly about checking each other for safety really have other issues going on. Your partner checking your safety system does not lead to a sense of complacency thereby increasing accident risks. In point of fact, it decreases the odds of an accident occurring.


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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Feb 1, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV

Marc H wrote:
It's the responsibility of the climber to check their knot. They're the one that's going to be hurt or killed if it's not tied properly. It's a good idea for the belayer to check the climber's knot, but certainly not a responsibility.


This of course depends on your definition of 'responsibility'. I would think that a 'responsible' belayer would take it upon themselves to check both their own device setup as well as the climber's harness and knot. But this is only according to my definition of 'responsibility'. I would hope that my climbing partners all feel the same way as I do, but the more time I spend on MP, the less confident I am in that assumption.


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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Feb 1, 2013
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.

Checking each other’s knots etc doesn't mean you don't take checking your own seriously or don't take responsibility for yourself. That is just stupid. It is just putting that extra layer of checking in, which is worth it considering you are dealing with your partners life and is so easy to do. Especially in a gym, there are tons of distractions. It also doesn't mean you have to make a big deal of it. If I am climbing with a regular partner, the checking would probably be almost imperceptible to somebody else, with a look in the eyes and a nod to signal on belay. Since the leg loop incident I do take the moment more to not only see the knot is good, but where it is actually attached. If it is not obvious I'll ask "Knot OK?" and they will check and show me. It takes about 2 seconds.

Yeah, David, another “check your knot thread”, because people still forget and deck and some nincompoops don’t understand that watching out for your partner is a good thing.


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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Feb 1, 2013
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.

Jon Zucco "This of course depends on your definition of 'responsibility'."

Yeah. I am not talking legal responsebility, like you should be sued if you don't catch that your leader's knot is bad.


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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Feb 1, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV

M Sprague wrote:
Jon Zucco "This of course depends on your definition of 'responsibility'." Yeah. I am not talking legal responsebility, like you should be sued if you don't catch that your leader's knot is bad.


Absolutely, there is certainly a difference between legal responsibility and personal responsibility (and with 'personal responsibility', I would go as far as to lump checking a partner's setup in there because they are your partner). I just cringe when I read some of the comments that apparently express nonchalant approaches to belaying. But for the most part, this is probably just a matter of arguing semantics. I think we are generally on the same page about this.

Anyway, long story short: accidents happen. When they do, we are all reminded of the inherent danger of our sport, and to take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves and our climbing friends/partners.


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