Subject: Low-Load Climbing-Gym Fall Results In Rope Rupture


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Trad climber
the south
May 21, 2006 - 04:41pm PT
I would expect posts on, and other sites, and the name of the gym, and possibly the brand of the rope, maybe a name or two of the posters at least, and some other verifiable facts.

Why would someone ONLY post on ST about this?

Ragmeat might not weigh enough, you might have to fatten him up a little.

Gamma Quadrant
May 21, 2006 - 05:14pm PT
As an engineer for one of the major climbing rope manufacturers I can say with absolute certainty that this is not a case of manufacturer defect. The average 10mm rope is made up of more than 300 individual strands of nylon yarn. It is statistically impossible for enough of the fibers to be defective in precisely the same spot to cause the failure described. The rope was either cut or was previously damaged in some way.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
May 21, 2006 - 10:09pm PT
Impossible for a three-year-old rope to have failed under those conditions!

The rope was either damaged somehow, or it was an incredible manufacturing defect. The latter is unlikely, since it sustained several other falls.

I repeat - IMPOSSIBLE.

But it happened.


Trad climber
Gunks end of country
May 21, 2006 - 10:22pm PT
Locking carabiner? Seems odd.

Anyway, suppose the rope was caught between the gate and the biner. If he "clipped" from below then climbed same distance above, the climber would never feel the friction. And if the belayer does not take in, then let out, perhaps he does not either.

Maybe with the rope pinned on a sharp edge it fails. Even this scenario seems unlikely.

Of course, a lower biner could have pinned the rope and turned it into a factor oneish fall.

Finally, while it seems likely that the rope broke at the biner, I doubt that this was actually "observed". (If it was, then the rope must have been clipped into the biner after the climber hit the ground, other wise the rope falls through the biners to the ground with nobody knowing exactly what the point of failure was.) More than likely it was estimated to be the case post fall.

Mountain climber
jackson, wy
May 21, 2006 - 10:34pm PT
Sounds like a Touchstone gym.... Based on the poster's location I'm guessing the one in Sacramento.

They may you climb the route, hang from the last hold and take a fall.

This is a terrible incident and I hope that the climber is not seriously injured (and/or heals quickly).

Touchstone, from my experience, wants to discourage lead climbing as much as possible. It's the only gym where I've had to take a fall as part of the lead test (which is not altogether bad).

Maybe this is going to make them clamp down further on leading, or redesign their test.

I know of one gym that makes you lead on their ropes.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
May 21, 2006 - 10:41pm PT
Has the carabiner on the wall been checked? Maybe there is a burr in it or something that cut the rope?

Trad climber
the south
May 21, 2006 - 10:45pm PT
So far you are basing your analysis on the word of two first time posters, both fortunately at the same place at the same time to see the accident, but living in different states.

NO corroboration outside these two.


San Diego
May 21, 2006 - 10:54pm PT
Has the makings of an outstanding troll. Been quite a few nibbles and outright bites. But yet, no specific names, locations. Plus the odds are a bit against a rope flat out breaking under such weak sauce circumstances, eh?

Wonder if the thing will take on a life of it's own and spread like the Ebola virus to rc.n00b and beyond? Hope not. When those Aliens first started to fail, the manuf blaimed the inital posts as trolls....
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
May 21, 2006 - 11:20pm PT
I have to admit my suspicion of the post, lacking any specific information that could be checked.

But also because the result does not fit the facts. There are a number of factors that can significantly reduce the strength of rope....most notably using the rope for top-roping:

Also, marking the center of the rope with an unapproved marker:

urine can reduce a rope's strength, up to 30%. This and a series of rope comments from UIAA, including the comment that no rope has been known to fail sport climbing.....perhaps that is different, now.

So, for the rope to have failed in the manner described, with the world history of lack of such failures, it STRONGLY suggests that something damaged this rope. It would certainly be important for the rope to be examined by the manufacturer, or a reputable lab, along with the 'biner.

The use of a steel carabiner seems odd, most used in climbing these days are aluminum.

May 21, 2006 - 11:41pm PT
Post up OP of the Gym name/location and the real name of the person that fell.

We will call the gym to confirm the story.

Otherwise, this equals a bullshits troll!

Big Wall climber
Stoney Point
May 21, 2006 - 11:52pm PT

Social climber
down south
May 21, 2006 - 11:54pm PT
I Agree... would be a great troll. I ain't buyin' it, otherwise, I'd have to quit climbing, well, I guess I'd have to start back first :)

Seriously, if you can't trust your rope, well, need I say more?

Post up the gym name and dude that fell, or I'm with Braun.

Mountain climber
wilson, wyo.
May 22, 2006 - 12:14am PT
My bet is on Sac'to Pipeworks, as the scenario he described matches the Touchstone style of lead test to a tee.

Trad climber
May 22, 2006 - 12:34am PT
The maker of the rope (which the owner of the rope told me at the time of the accident)has been notified and has the contact information for the gym involved and people that saw the accident(me and others). I hope the rope gets tested and the guy recovers. I like it better when names are kept out of things like this. Just like all the posts, I want more information. Just have to wait.

May 22, 2006 - 12:36am PT

What gym? Why so secretive about the gym? Common man spit it out.

Trad climber
So. Cal.
May 22, 2006 - 01:53am PT
Difference between a "Ruptured" Rope, and a "Broken" Rope?

The Manufacturer says the rope "ruptured".

The guy whose ass hit the deck says it broke.
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
May 22, 2006 - 12:04pm PT
One of my partners was at the gym and told me about this accident.

It is indeed Pipeworks in Sacramento. Call them up.

Trad climber
Davis, CA
May 22, 2006 - 12:17pm PT
my initial though in reading this was that it was rocknasium sincew the ropes they use are old and they don't let you lead on your own ropes. plu si have seen some shitty techniques there from lead belayers.

my guess is the climber was fallen, having taken the lead test at pipeworks, they usually only have you go 3-4 clips up or so before they tell you to take the fall., and the floor they have is pretty cushy. but that is purely speculative.

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
May 22, 2006 - 12:34pm PT
There's a whole bunch of factors that would keep the impact of this fall somewhat low. Also, because (as was pointed out earlier) so many threads are involved in the inner guts of a rope, the idea that all the threads were incorrectly manufactured at exactly the same point is highly unlikely, if not impossible. If this isn't a troll (probable), everything points to the rope being previously damaged in the place where it broke. Send the broken shank to Kolin at BD and have him give it the once over.

Ropes don't break in the way described unless they have been previously damaged by SOMETHING above and beyond this little piss ant fall. The fall described is taken tens of thousands of times every day at sport crags and gyms all over the world.


Gym climber
berkeley, ca
May 22, 2006 - 12:39pm PT
My bet was on Rocknasium too. I didn't realize that they insisted that you use their gnarly ropes. I just knew that you could lead on their loners...and thought it was kind of a big liability for them.
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