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Petzl Spirit Biner breaks from normal lead fall
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By Wylie
From Flagstaff, AZ
Apr 8, 2013
Whitney Portal
I emailed Petzel directly and received this from them. This is the exact text:

"We only recommend carabiners facing the same direction. I have attached a page from our carabiner product experience that is available for download from our website in the carabiner section. Having the gates facing opposite directions increases the chance of the top carabiner getting hung up or unclipped by the bolt it is clipped to.
Let me know if you have any more questions. "

I am having trouble downloading the Technical booklet for the Spirit draw from Petzl's website, there seems to be something wrong with the PDF file, but I will post a link to that as soon as I can.

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By kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Apr 8, 2013
Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks
Wylie wrote:
I emailed Petzel directly and received this from them. This is the exact text: "We only recommend carabiners facing the same direction. I have attached a page from our carabiner product experience that is available for download from our website in the carabiner section. Having the gates facing opposite directions increases the chance of the top carabiner getting hung up or unclipped by the bolt it is clipped to. Let me know if you have any more questions. " I am having trouble downloading the Technical booklet for the Spirit draw from Petzl's website, there seems to be something wrong with the PDF file, but I will post a link to that as soon as I can.


That is all fine and dandy but it has absolutely nothing to do with this incident.

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By Ian Stewart
Apr 8, 2013
kennoyce wrote:
That is all fine and dandy but it has absolutely nothing to do with this incident.


How do you figure? Petzl said:

Petzl wrote:
Having the gates facing opposite directions increases the chance of the top carabiner getting hung up or unclipped by the bolt it is clipped to.


And I think it's pretty clear that the top draw in this incident got hung up on the bolt.

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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Apr 8, 2013
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.
This is a good reminder when bolting sport routes to be aware of trying to have more than one bolt keeping you from a ground fall. That obviously is not always possible without being ridiculous, but something to think about. Draws do get kicked accidentally or otherwise flipped into odd positions that can break or unclip a beaner. Using glue-in bolts like the Fixes placed at a bit of an angle down (so the top of the eye is more countersunk),as they suggest, also helps lessen chances of unclipping.

I remember being on some routes down south with very sparsely bolted initial (sandy) faces and then over bolted roofs at the top and thinking they weren't too well thought out (happens all over, not just down south obviously). The whole idea of a sport route is to have it reasonably safely bolted, not be macho like some trad mentality. You need to get well up in the air before you can make the runs more airy.

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By Joe Palma
From Stouffville, Ontario
Apr 8, 2013
Petzl's technical notice for the new Spirit draw here states only that "The gate of the rope-end carabiner must always face away from the climber's direction of travel"

While all the drawings in the technical notice show the gates of both the anchor and rope end biners facing the same direction, they don't state anywhere that they must face the same direction. It's a matter of personal preference, not safety. Having them face the same direction on quickdraws does somewhat simplify clipping when you know that the biner you're about the clip to the anchor is facing the same way as the biner you're about the clip the rope into.

The direction the biners were facing doesn't look to have had any bearing on the failure of the anchor end biner in this case. Simply a matter of the nose being pinned between the hanger and the bolt.

May have been less likely to happen if biner on the anchor had been clipped with the gate facing right as opposed to left.

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By EricSchmidt
Apr 8, 2013
kennoyce wrote:
That is all fine and dandy but it has absolutely nothing to do with this incident.


Lol that seems to be EXACTLY what we are talking about in this incident. Where have you been??

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By kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Apr 8, 2013
Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks
Ian Stewart wrote:
How do you figure? Petzl said: And I think it's pretty clear that the top draw in this incident got hung up on the bolt.


If you read the report of what happened, the draw was bumped by the climbers leg into that position. The direction of the lower biner had absolutely nothing to do with the biner ending up in the position that caused it to break.

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By Ian Stewart
Apr 8, 2013
kennoyce wrote:
If you read the report of what happened, the draw was bumped by the climbers leg into that position. The direction of the lower biner had absolutely nothing to do with the biner ending up in the position that caused it to break.


I read the report.

Petzl says that a) the gate on the rope-end biner should be opposite the direction of travel, and that b) the biners should be facing the same direction.

In this situation, these guidelines weren't followed: (a) was followed but (b) was not. The result was that the top biner was facing the wrong direction, got hung up on the bolt, and snapped off. It doesn't matter how the draw got into that position.

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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Apr 8, 2013
Bucky
Ian Stewart wrote:
It doesn't matter how the draw got into that position.


Yes it does. That is perhaps the only thing that matters, which I think is kennoyce's point.

Ian Stewart wrote:
In this situation, these guidelines weren't followed: (a) was followed but (b) was not. The result was that the top biner was facing the wrong direction, got hung up on the bolt, and snapped off.


Just because "guideline" (b) was not followed does not necessarily imply that it was the reason for the biner getting hung up (i.e. correlation does not equal causation). In fact, I am sort of skeptical of Petzl's interpretation of how draws get hung up because I have witnessed it occurring with biners in every permutation of draw setup. Probably the only way that truly fixes the problem is to use the old crusty trad trick of flipping the top biner after you clip it to the bolt.

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By Ian Stewart
Apr 8, 2013
J. Albers wrote:
Just because "guideline" (b) was not followed does not necessarily imply that it was the reason for the biner getting hung up (i.e. correlation does not equal causation). In fact, I am sort of skeptical of Petzl's interpretation of how draws get hung up because I have witnessed it occurring with biners in every permutation of draw setup. Probably the only way that truly fixes the problem is to use the old crusty trad trick of flipping the top biner after you clip it to the bolt.


I never said the reason the draw got hung up was because of the direction of the gate, but it's naive to ignore the direction of the biner as a contributing factor especially when it's been explicitly pointed out by the manufacturer to be a known problem.

Like you said, correlation does not equal causation. But you could say the same thing about the whole "biner was kicked by the climber" (which, for the record, was just a guess by the climber).

Would the biner have gotten hung up if the climber didn't kick it? Possibly not.
Would the biner have gotten hung up if the biner was facing the right direction? Possibly not.

All of these things are factors that COULD HAVE contributed to the incident. You can't discard them just because you think you know better than Petzl.

Also, just because you've seen properly clipped biners get hung up on draws does NOT mean that they are just as likely to get hung up as improperly clipped ones. That's like saying that "I saw a guy crash his motorcycle and die when he was wearing a helmet, so I don't believe that wearing a helmet makes it any safer".

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By Ian Stewart
Apr 8, 2013
Ian Stewart wrote:
Would the biner have gotten hung up if the biner was facing the right direction? Possibly not.


Quoting myself here: my use of "right" direction here isn't fair. It's not even clear from the story where the climber was in relation to the draw, so for all we know the top biner could have been facing the correct direction. Or, what is often the case, the climber was right above the bolt or wandering left and right so one direction isn't any more ideal than the other.

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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Apr 8, 2013
Bucky
Ian Stewart wrote:
Also, just because you've seen properly clipped biners get hung up on draws does NOT mean that they are just as likely to get hung up as improperly clipped ones. That's like saying that "I saw a guy crash his motorcycle and die when he was wearing a helmet, so I don't believe that wearing a helmet makes it any safer".


You are certainly correct here. In fact I have actually given quite a bit of thought to which orientation is more likely to hang up, but alas all I have is my own (and my partners) anecdotal evidence. To make things worse, I think that some biner designs are more prone to getting hung. That said, my anecdotal evidence suggests that biners get hung more often when they are clipped into the hanger in the orientation shown in this picture (bottom bolt):

mountainproject.com/images/46/...

My of my partners strongly disagrees with me though, so who knows.

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By Ian Stewart
Apr 8, 2013
J. Albers wrote:
That said, my anecdotal evidence suggests that biners get hung more often when they are clipped into the hanger in the orientation shown in this picture (bottom bolt): mountainproject.com/images/46/...


I think you're actually talking about how the biner is clipped in relative to the orientation of the hanger/bolt instead of relative to the climber's position, right?

So, in that picture, the hangers are tilted such that the left side points down and the right side (with the bolt) points up. You would prefer to clip "upwards" such that the biner goes in from the left and the gate faces the right. Am I correct? I don't know if that's actually preferable but personally if it's not clear which side of the draw I'll be on, I tend to clip it that way too...it just seems to sit so much nicer and be more confidence inspiring, heh.

BTW, I think that lower draw is in the EXACT position it would need to be in for it to snap like the one in the original link. It also looks like the perfect example of how it's hard to tell which way is "right": from below, it looks like the line goes right...but once you've clipped and move past the bolt you end up to the left. It's this sideways motion while above the draw that probably put it in that wanky position to begin with.

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By 1Eric Rhicard
Apr 8, 2013
It is a good sized roof. Photo: Jimbo
I am guessing this flipping and catching of the biner is more likely to happen when it is back clipped as well.

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By Jim Amidon
Apr 8, 2013
J TREE
Carabiners break.........

End of story....

Move on......

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By T Howes
From Bozeman, MT
Apr 9, 2013
Colonel Mustard wrote:
The practice always strikes me as some backwards application of "opposite and opposed".



I've always figured that it made clipping the draw to bolt, with the gate facing away, and clipping the rope to draw, with the gate facing toward you, both slightly more efficient.


This biner breaking doesn't strike me as particularly strange. You can't take all the risk out of climbing, strange things happen.

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By Aric Datesman
Apr 9, 2013
I'm curious why all the focus on the biner? May well be the biner was fine and there's actually a problem with the design of the hanger. After all, hangers shouldn't be breaking biners, should they?

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By kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Apr 9, 2013
Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks
Ian Stewart wrote:
Quoting myself here: my use of "right" direction here isn't fair. It's not even clear from the story where the climber was in relation to the draw, so for all we know the top biner could have been facing the correct direction. Or, what is often the case, the climber was right above the bolt or wandering left and right so one direction isn't any more ideal than the other.


wow, it looks like you are finely thinking about this the right way. According to the person who broke the biner, the route doesn't wander left or right at all when moving past that particular bolt, and the bolt was right between her knees when she fell which means that there is no "right" direction for the top biner. This is why I have been saying all along that the orientation of the bottom biner doesn't matter.

The reason for the guidance to configure draws with both biners facing the same way is that on wandering routes it is advised to have the rope end biner facing away from the direction of travel. In this case, it is more likely for the bolt to interfere with the top biner if it is facing oposite to the rope end biner. This direction to have both biners facing the same way is only applicable if the route is traversing, which the route we are talking about in this thread was not.

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By bearbreeder
Apr 9, 2013
Aric Datesman wrote:
I'm curious why all the focus on the biner? May well be the biner was fine and there's actually a problem with the design of the hanger. After all, hangers shouldn't be breaking biners, should they?


as a climber you choose the biner and how its set up ... you usually dont get to choose the hanger

;)

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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Apr 9, 2013
Bucky
Aric Datesman wrote:
I'm curious why all the focus on the biner? May well be the biner was fine and there's actually a problem with the design of the hanger. After all, hangers shouldn't be breaking biners, should they?


That is actually another issue that I have considered in the past. In particular, I have found that Mad Rock hangers cause my draws to get hung up far more frequently. My guess is that it is because of the small opening that you are clipping. While MR hangers are cheap (and SS), I decided to stop using them because of this issue.

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By Ian Stewart
Apr 9, 2013
kennoyce wrote:
The reason for the guidance to configure draws with both biners facing the same way is that on wandering routes it is advised to have the rope end biner facing away from the direction of travel. In this case, it is more likely for the bolt to interfere with the top biner if it is facing oposite to the rope end biner. This direction to have both biners facing the same way is only applicable if the route is traversing, which the route we are talking about in this thread was not.


Though that's also the only reason I knew of before as well, is that actually the only reason to face the biners the same direction? I'm not trying to provoke an argument here, it's a genuine question, and one that I feel you're dismissing without even considering. Do we know all the reasons why Petzl makes this suggestion?

Carabiners are not symmetrical. Here's a quick diagram of two Petzl Spirits, one with gates facing the same direction and the other with the gates facing opposite directions. The green line is vertical from where it would likely hang on the bolt. The area filled in red is the area to the left where the rope is free to move without pulling the draw. As soon as the rope touches the left side of that red area, the draw will start rotating in a clockwise manner and the gate on the top draw will start moving up towards the hanger (eg. closer to the position to get hung up). It's clear that the one on the left has more rope "freedom" before this unwanted rotation starts happening. (Also note that I just photoshopped this from a stock photo...if you look at the draw hanging in the original article, the third picture, you'll see that the biners don't hang straight and thus the "area of freedom" for the opposing biners case is even smaller)

Does relative gate direction matter?
Does relative gate direction matter?


Furthermore, if rope gets pulled straight up while left of the green line, it will likely run across some area of the blue line. On the left draw, about half of this blue line is still inside the biner/on metal where friction should be pretty low, while on the right side it's completely covered by the rubber holder thing that would have higher friction on the rope. Perhaps this could be more likely to grab onto the draw and pull it into a bad position?

Yes, I'm looking at extremely minute differences here, and it's possible that it's all just bullshit. But, keep in mind that reducing the chance of a draw getting caught on a bolt by 0.01% means that there will be one less hangup every 10,000 clips. If you have 100 climbers climbing 5 routes/day with 10 bolts/route, you'll hit this 10,000 in a single weekend. Add up all the climbers and climbs done around the world and even reducing this chance by just 0.0001% could make a noticeable difference.

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By amarius
Apr 9, 2013
I believe there is consensus that the rope side carabiner has to face away from travel, even folks who trans orient their draws do not argue with that.
Then you should really flip your right biner, and the red area, that is area that you postulate would be the safe zone, will change. I would even guess it is going to be less than one on the right.

If one were to return to OP- how many of you paid attention that Lena was right above the bolt when she fell? If she were above the bolt, the whole cis/trans orientation becomes irrelevant.

Perhaps orientation of hanger in relationship to the bolt side carabiner has more to do with this failure?

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By Chris Vinson
Apr 9, 2013
Aric Datesman wrote:
I'm curious why all the focus on the biner? May well be the biner was fine and there's actually a problem with the design of the hanger. After all, hangers shouldn't be breaking biners, should they?


Welllll....a hanger should accomodate two full sized carabiners, have the rough edges tumbled off, and minimize the possibility of rollout.

The carabiner snagged on the bolt head, cross loaded against hanger and snapped when the climber fell.

There are several recorded instances of this happening, at least a lot more than you'd expect! Black Diamond had a good talk with us about this issue. If the bolter didn't use a washer, the bolt head is less likely to snag the biner and this never happens.

Something like this is hard to "engineer out" because the bolt head is what caught the carabiner in all likelihood. Washers are redundant, this is just another example of how, in some cases, they cause more harm than good.

Clip your gates away from the bolt head and this is less likely to happen, if the route trends left, its a judgement call but not something worth stressing over. Glue ins with a Buhler head are a good way to go to avoid all of it.

Wait, scratch that, yer gonna die!

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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Apr 9, 2013
Bucky
ClimbtechGear wrote:
Clip your gates away from the bolt head and this is less likely to happen, if the route trends left, its a judgement call but not something worth stressing over.


Actually I don't think this solves the problem at all. In fact, I try to do the exact opposite because I have seen way more biners get hung up with the gate facing away from the bolt (see the picture that I linked above).

I said this earlier, but I will say it again anyway...the only way to really mitigate getting your biner hung up on the hanger/bolt is to use the old crusty trad solution: flip the biner after you clip it to the bolt. In fact, flipping the biner also solves the other problem that Petzl brings up in their "Spirit biner fact sheet"; that is, if you pull the draw upwards you can actually unclip the biner from the bolt in a fall. Now, I don't flip my biners all the time like some of my older tradster buddies, but I definitely do if I am concerned about it or that particular bolt is the only thing keeping me off a ledge or the ground.

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By Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
Apr 9, 2013
...
"Something like this is hard to "engineer out" because the bolt head is what caught the carabiner in all likelihood. Washers are redundant, this is just another example of how, in some cases, they cause more harm than good."


^^^

You're stuck on that WASHER idea. I'm not sure how a washer is involved in this one.

;-)




The ONLY way to eliminate ALL danger from climbing, is to QUIT climbing!

I don't see this biner breaking as a BINER issue personally. Or a bolt/hanger issue for that matter. I see it as one of those freak accidents.

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