Todd Skinners failed harness - update


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Messages 41 - 60 of total 127 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
Oct 5, 2012 - 02:19pm PT
how does one know if an inherited caribiner is overused?

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 5, 2012 - 02:40pm PT
^^^ When you get it for free, duh.

Oakland, CA
Oct 5, 2012 - 03:08pm PT
When I think of this accident it always hits me just how fortunate his partner was that day. They both had a loaded gun with a hair trigger pointed at them in the form of that harness, not just Skinner.

Another aspect that blows me away is that the piece of straw that finally snapped the harness' back came during the rap, with super low forces involved, rather than during a harsher catch with minimal rope out, or some other dynamic event involving higher peak forces.

I guess that if the donut blew while he was catching a fall, it's conceivable that everybody would have been ok IF he were tied in to the anchor besides his donut and IF his belay device and it's biner somehow got sucked into and jammed in the first piece of pro that the lead rope ran through.

Idle, hypothetical, useless thoughts, always come back to me when I look at the LT or think of this accident.

RIP Skinner and peace to his friends and family.

Trad climber
Santa Fe
Oct 5, 2012 - 04:56pm PT
Seems like girthing a dogleash through the harness points, not the belay loop, is standard practice. Am I the oddball here? Most tie-in points are reinforced these days to account for abrasion. At the time your reinforcement material is totally blown, you can assume you have gotten your $$ worth and retire the harness, long before the integrity of the harness is compromised.

If you only use hardware to clip into your belay loop, not software, you should also avoid over-using the loop and it should last longer than your tie in points. Mammut uses hard low-friction plastic to reinforce the tie-in points, a reasonable design if you ask me. But will make it harder to keep tabs on wear and thus lifetime of the harness.

I have used this as a guide to harness replacement for the last 5 or 6 harnesses Ive owned. Probably could get another good year from all those harnesses, but......

Skinner == inspiration to many of our climbing careers. Never met the guy but usually knew something of his pursuits.
The Skin

Trad climber
Long beach, ca
Oct 5, 2012 - 05:01pm PT
Isn't this the second fatal Arc'teryx harness failure in the valley in almost as many years?

Trad climber
Oct 6, 2012 - 02:20am PT
The fact is simple, whether we care to accept it or not... An old harness that is subjected to many falls PLUS the ultraviolet rays of the sun which are known to break down the harness fabric and materials over a given amount of time (that's why we retire harnesses, slings and ropes after a given amount of time, even if they don't show an extreme amount of wear) should have been disposed of, not used even more. It was a case of pushing the harness to the extreme, and not getting away with it this time.
Sorry folks, this had to be said and Ill take the rap for calling it this way, and I'm sure Todd would want the plain and simple truth to be told so others don't make the mental error in the future.

Oct 6, 2012 - 08:10am PT
Thanks for the tribute video, very nicely done. There are times at Jackson Falls when I think back to the day he visited, and on sighted most every route he got on, and down graded one or two. Todd was the real deal and certainly inspired me. I have the North Face poster of him and Paul next to my climbing woody. Proud to have met him.

Trad climber
Oct 6, 2012 - 11:00am PT
Thanks for posting, and I'm very sorry about what happened to Todd.

I never rappel from the belay loop, I always rappel from a 'biner put through the same two loops that the belay loop runs through, preferring two points of failure over one, even though it is obvious that the belay loop is more than capable of supporting the load when new. My thinking being that the belay loop is more exposed and more likely to get worn, plus as stated previously it's a single point. I do belay from it, but it's in parallel with my rope tie-in, which is also going through the main harness loops, making it still a redundant system.

Social climber
Oct 6, 2012 - 11:21am PT
It seems a lot of misinformed people out there.

Sometimes adding things to a system makes a more complicated dangerous system, FYI. Make sure you pay close attention when you start adding contraptions.

Tucson, AZ
Oct 6, 2012 - 01:37pm PT
"But guys like Skinner myself and various others didn't rely on checking our gear much.

We threw the stuff around and neglected it. Gear was just some annoying junk to deal with.

Most climbers love to fondle this garbage called gear and get all involved with it.

I hated dealing with that junk"

It's called Technical Climbing for a reason...

I'd venture to say only a soloist could state a quote like that and not appear stupid. If you use one piece of gear to keep from falling you've now entered the world of technical climbing. You are not depending solely on your ability anymore, rather you've put some or all of your faith in the gear, especially when you are frikin hanging on it! Blind faith doesn't count for intelligence either. Kids, if you don't want to die earlier than necessary, respect your gear.

Oct 7, 2012 - 10:58am PT
Is there an official accident report to be found anywhere perhaps? Have been searching unsuccessfully on the web.


Trad climber
fort garland, colo
Oct 8, 2012 - 04:41pm PT
It still sucks and I still miss Todd....I'm suprised he never got killed by that wood burning stove in the VW Bus

Trad climber
Windham, OH
Jan 16, 2014 - 11:28am PT
So I enter this topic and conversation after more than a decade away from climbing altogether. I had not known of Todd's death (nor that of Bachar, or Heresey either) until very recently. I am gutted as these were guys I had admired, and in one case, met.

All the conjecture and speculation are fine and dandy, but let's not forget one salient point: gear maintenance. Cleanliness...wash your softgoods-ropes, webbing, slings, harnesses. Also don't be overly miserly. Replace anything that causes one to pause before use.

Rockdust and chalk are all sharp on a microscopic scale. Get the bits out of harm's way please.

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Jan 16, 2014 - 05:40pm PT
Toker Villian
Whenever I belay, self or otherwise, I attach directly to the swami and leg loops.
The only reason I do not cut off the loop is to use it for body weight aid.

Thanks for the validation.
I am so tired of being ridiculed/back talked for that one!

Good observation John ;)

Trad climber
Mohave County Arizona
Jan 16, 2014 - 07:29pm PT
I remember when the belay loops came out. I couldn't believe it.
Never use mine, except for one of the mini traxions when solo tr'ing.

Mountain climber
there and back again
Jan 16, 2014 - 09:04pm PT
Same here. I always tie into and clip my belay carabiner into the harness and leg loops. I use the belay ring to tie my dasie chain on with.

I just in JTree and someone had tied in with the rope and was clipping their belay device into the ring. And I mentioned if your going to clip into the loop you might as well clip into the rope as well.

Double up for safety, double up.

Social climber
Greensboro, North Carolina
Feb 28, 2014 - 10:05am PT
As someone who used to make harnesses I can you that belay loops are very strong. Anyone who walks away from this accident and thinks that belay loops are dangerous per se have not done a good analysis of the accident.

Todd's loop was almost worn through and he was rappelling with a Grigri. This can easily add a lot force to a harness versus an ATC style device, especially if one bounces for any reason. Sadly, as Todd was such a well-liked and inspiring climber, this accident is not about equipment failure as much as it is pilot error.

El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Feb 28, 2014 - 10:14am PT
Rankin- would you explain the atc vs. grigri thing?
Is it just that we're more likely to bounce with the grigri?
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Feb 28, 2014 - 10:31am PT
Just got a new harness. Been using a Misty Mountain I bought 2 or 3 years ago, used; off the internet. ;D Caught many a fall on that belay loop, rapped more times than I could count (or remember, anyway).

OMG Sometimes I feel like I'm fixin to die, rag.

What are we climbing for
don't ask me I don't give a damn
Next pitch is off width land...

Anyway, brand new Camp harness, its yummy. Nice new belay loop. Of course I don't hesitate to use the belay loop for its intended purpose. It works GREAT for that. I also use it for mini trax self belay etc too. I even girth a sling to it to be used as a belay daisy.

I used to be better about gear inspection. Now I usually inspect it on the lead.

Wanna climb?



Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Feb 28, 2014 - 11:19am PT
"...over equipment failure in the obvious category. "

Ron, it wasn't equipment failure so much as pilot error (as described above). Daisys that had been girthed onto the loop for years certainly weakened it in a way that a belay loop was not intended to be used. Belay loops are hella strong (though I also usually tie in/clip in directly to belt/leg loops), but like any other equipment, they can also be misused with tragic results.
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