Dynamic rope severed

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Dynamic rope severed

Postby clif » Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:22 pm

I'm finding it difficult to imagine a climbing rope being cut through by a grooved/sharpened edged carabiner. I do not find Rick's analysis suspect.
Was it a clean cut across the rope? How is it that (assuming) the rope impinged across the sharpened edge instead of the load bearing long axis?
Maybe I'm assuming too much in thinking that it is the degraded carabiner that is the weak link in the system. Was the sheath of the rope in an advanced stage of wear?

Just thinking out loud..
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby mike_a_lafontaine » Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:50 pm

I was thinking along the same line when I read that report. I don't doubt it, especially knowing Rick and the attention to detail he pays to EVERYTHING. But in looking at my rope inventory, I have a new 10mm rope that I just don't see getting cut through on a lead fall even on sharpish edges. But my old 9.6 that has been stretched a lot (mostly because my fat ass has been climbing on it)...it has lost a lot of elasticity, and I definately could see it going. So I would also like to know the condition of the rope. Either way, even if you have a more robust, new rope, falling on a sharp edge like that probably does more damage than falling on a smooth, rounded edge, so looking for wear on gear can only be a good thing.
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby weber » Wed Sep 08, 2010 8:41 pm

As I wrote, my research is continuing. Although I didn't witness the incident, we have the word of several climbers that the rope was severed completely with a loud pop when the climber fell. I do have the draw, but we have not been able to get a look at the rope. If anyone knows John Gold (works at Miguels) please encourage him to contact us and let us look at his rope, which was the one that was severed. We have been trying to no avail to talk to him. We were told by the climber who fell that this rope was relatively new with only a few climbs on it.

Until all the facts are on the table, we cannot be 100% certain what actually happened. But, to the best of our knowledge, the probability is high that this event did take place as described. And so the responsible action is to post an alert. There are still draws up on Tape Worm and other climbs in Muir that are significantly worn.
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby rockman » Wed Sep 08, 2010 8:49 pm

that biner looks way better than a few than TeamSuck has replaced. No doubt that it is possible for a full cut.
http://teamsuckclimbing.com/photos.php to see a few more
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby weber » Wed Sep 08, 2010 8:59 pm

It's also interesting to note on the illustration of the cross section that the biner has worn to a point where the angle of the knife edge is at its most acute. Any less wear or any more wear, and this angle becomes more obtuse. This is due, of course, to this particular biner's cross sectional "I" shape. Wearing a biner with a round cross section would probably not have created such a sharp knife edge.

I noticed that although the illustration and photo show up on my posting under "Announcements", they do not appear on the home page posting. If anyone hasn't seen them and wishes to, open the post on the Announcement forum.
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby the lurkist » Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:04 pm

Terrifying. How many biners worn similarly exist in the Red (and any other climbing area one could name.)
I assume Rick is trying the replicate this with the biner in question.
Is anyone aware of similar rope slicing episodes occurring?
Nice work on analysis of the accident and I am glad the guy is okay.
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby krampus » Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:42 pm

Last year a friend was on 8-ball and fell going to the second bolt. We heard an odd noise and had him check his rope before getting back on. Sure enough, there was a huge gash partly through the core and a bit of a tear up the sheath. I don't remember how hard the fall was but it was a new rope and I could imagine a full slice if the fall was unknowingly repeated or at just the right angle/force. I replaced it and think I still have the old biner somewhere, I could pass it along to compare to the one from tapeworm.
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby DHB » Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:03 pm

I know these steel caribiners that everyone is equipping with are durable, but nothing lasts forever, right? what kind of use are we talking about before they start showing similar wear? And it looks like many steel biners are basically made from bent rod stock, so I assume the more round design (vs the "I" shape of many aluminum biners) will prevent the creation of (dangerously) sharp edges, right?
Last edited by DHB on Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby dustonian » Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:35 pm

Ropes are damaged relatively frequently from sharp edges. On El Cap there have been around a dozen reports of deaths due to ropes cutting over sharp edges (thus the duct tape on the sharpest edges on popular routes), and the biner in question from Tapeworm was MUCH sharper than granite could ever be, not to mention it's metal and not granite. From talking to people at different crags, I have heard of numerous anecdotal reports of sheaths completely severing from sharp-edged grooves on fixed biners, though this is the only case I have personally heard of a rope completely failing by this cause, in the Red at least anyway (there are reports of this from AINAM in previous years).

It is not difficult to imagine this happening. Try it yourself--hang a 9.2-10mm rope under 250 lbs of load (still much lower than a leader fall), and you can easily cut it with a few passes with a butter knife, even plastic. In the last week I have replaced 3 carabiners at Drive By and 2 from Big Money Grip (one at the crux no less) there were at least as a sharp as an average butter knife. The problem is especially bad on first bolts and anchors due to the decreased fleet angles incurred in lowering with sandy ropes (though an anchor should never see the loads seen in a leader fall), though unfortunately in inspecting a few routes last weekend it is by no means limited to first bolts and anchors.

Rick's point is well-taken and hugely important: CHECK FIXED GEAR BEFORE YOU TRUST IT IMPLICITLY. IF A BINER IS GROOVED AND (MOST OF ALL) SHARP--TAKE IT OFF THE ROUTE AND REPLACE IT WITH A NEW ONE!!
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby DriskellHR » Thu Sep 09, 2010 7:04 am

About 10 yrs ago while clmbing at torrent I witnessed a kid fall on one of the 10's and he rope was severed by the draw. It did not cut all the way through, he had like 3 strands of the core left holding him. Newer rope, experianced climber...... crazy shit does happen.
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby pigsteak » Thu Sep 09, 2010 7:24 am

so why again do we leave so much fixed gear? are climbers really that lazy?

rhetorical..I know the answer.
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby Shamis » Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:11 am

What was the thickness of the severed rope?
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby caribe » Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:43 am

DITTO @ the LODE a year ago.
DriskellHR wrote:About 10 yrs ago while clmbing at torrent I witnessed a kid fall on one of the 10's and he rope was severed by the draw. It did not cut all the way through, he had like 3 strands of the core left holding him. Newer rope, experianced climber...... crazy shit does happen.
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby heacocis » Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:48 am

I have John's rope, and will be sending it to the manufacturer asap. I will get some pictures of the rope and try to post them as the analysis continues. The damage to it is quite impressive, in a terrifying way. It was a 9.8mm rope. I can also assure you that it severed - well it looks more like an explosion - and that it happened after falling on the first bolt. I think the fact that so many of us are/were skeptical that this could happen shows us 1) we don't yet know all of the potential things that can go wrong in climbing, and 2) how much blind trust we put in climbing equipment.
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Re: Dynamic rope severed

Postby heacocis » Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:51 am

oh yeah...it was almost a brand new rope.
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