Surviving Sedona.....January 8th is my new second birthday


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Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Jan 12, 2013 - 02:17pm PT
Whew! Glad to see that our very own, ST Resident-Part-Time-Curmudgeon is still intact.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jan 12, 2013 - 02:29pm PT
I want to second Ed's remark about Jim's public-spiritedness in posting about this episode. He could have kept it to himself and avoided the snide Monday-morning QB-ing.

Jim's recollection about slings holding up well might have been from this result posted on the BD QC Archive (;

December 2, 2005 - Testing Old Gear from the VRG

FYI-sling ratings are 22 kN
Minimum carabiner ratings are 20 kN
Typical sport climbing falls are in the 2-5 kN range.

I pulled a bunch of mank gear from some routes last weekend at the gorge (DCMD, Fall of Mouse). I'm never really concerned about the biners from a strength standpoint- more from getting a sharp edge and "sheathing" the rope. The biners I tested were WORKED, but all values were still above the original product ratings (all over 24 kN).
The slings were very sun bleached and dried out-I'm pretty sure some have been up there for 3, 4, or even more years.

The results were: 16 kN
, 11 kN
, 11 kN, 
5 kN. Obviously getting well into sketchy land.

The morale of the story from KP's point of view-carabiners and slings are way burlier than people think [emphasis is mine], ie. leaving a route fixed for a while isn't the end of the world. As I said, the biners developing sharp edges is usually my big concern. But it is important to remember that it IS possible for slings and carabiners to break-slings from being excessively sun bleached and dry and/or being worn from excessive rubbing on the rock.

From Effect of outdoor exposure and accelerated ageing on textile materials used in aerostat and aircraft arrester barrier nets, S. K. Pal, Vikas B. Thakare, Gaurav Singh, and Mahesh Kumar Verma, Indian Journal of Fibre and Textile Research Vol.36, June 2011, pp 145--151 (my summary):

Nylon webbing exposed under controlled conditions on a roof in New Delhi lost half its strength in a year. Most of the loss, 35%, occurred in the first month. Webbing treated for UV resistance didn't have quite the same initial rate of deterioration, but still ended up at half-strength after a year.

Only one of KP's samples had lost more than half its strength, and that even at 1/4 strength it probably would not have failed during a rappel. Jim's sling seemed to be little more than cohesive powder just waiting to achieve its particulate state. It must have been in place for quite a while, or else the conditions were particularly harsh, even compared to New Deli summers...

As an aside, UIAA tests on climbing rope UV deterioration found, among other things, that the loss of mechanical properties of the fibers was roughly proportional to the loss of color, so beware of bleached slings.

On descents where time is not very critical, I've taken to backing up all in-situ rap slings for the first person, regardless of how good the material appears. If the slings are even a little bleached or crunchy, I add more material and, depending on how degraded the original appears, either keep it or cut it away.

I rarely set up fixed rappel sling anchors, but when I do, I've started using two independently tied loops of retired (but not at all trashed) 8.5mm half rope. Rope is much better than webbing because the sheath protects the core from UV deterioration, which the Indian Journal tests suggest is immediate and rapid.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Jan 12, 2013 - 02:36pm PT
When all is said and donini, he's no hero: He's a PBJ on wheat in wax paper.

Social climber
Jan 12, 2013 - 04:49pm PT
hey there say, donini...

finallyyyyyy, i got a bit of time to READ more here...

was curious about your 'new second birthdy' :)

and the saw the surviving... 'silly me'... thought it was
about a vacation time, for a birthday rerun, :O

man oh man... was a WHOLE lot more serious...
the ol' 'supertopo title-wave' through me, a tad, in the wrong direction...

i am so very glad things are well with you, and that you are safe-through-this, :O

thanks for sharing the 'SOUND MORALS' of this story...
oh my.... i remember reading accident reports on how folks need to check this stuff, and keep praying for folks to be safe...

god bless to you, with your new and WONDERFUL second birthday!
and may the trail continue to be sweet for you and your loved ones!!!

Social climber
Jan 12, 2013 - 04:55pm PT
hey there say, ed.... had not been able to read all the MIDDLE HERE..
but i did see the start, and after my post, i DID see your post, here, nearby mine...

as to this quote:
Jim Donini didn't have to post this incident up... that he did speaks volumes about him and it serves as an important lesson to all of us: that we all can make mistakes of judgement no matter our experience

three cheers to donini for love his fellowclimber enough to share this with all... the best way to learn, is to share what not to do, as well as, to share WHAT to do... and work them together well...

acturally, that is what good parents, do too...
and they, in whatever fields they have come through (whether the dad or the mom, and ecompossing all their OWN childhood years) they have the much to say in many experienes... all a waste, though, if never shared with their children...

well, as i said, i missed a lot in the middle, but here is this:

donini, thank you so very much for sharing what will be another 'steppingstone' to help reinforce a 'let's safe someone's life'

man oh man, am i glad you are still here, to love your family and be
loved by your buddies, IN person....

happy new birthday, once again...

Social climber
Jan 12, 2013 - 05:07pm PT
hey there say, hossjulia... i just saw this--i am fairly sure that i know what you mean, by that:

as to your qoute:

[quote]Not trying to be a smartass, but is your near vision not so good? quote]

during THESE LAST FIVE YEARS, i have had, and have seen sooo many odd situation that come up, to do eye-depth perseptiong, due to the far-sightedness that happened to not only ME, but to MANY folks (starting up sneaky, as about age 30, and getting very strong, into the 40's and onward)...
it causes the most oddest 'think you saw, did not really see fully, and 'brain tricks' that you'd NEAR not believe it, 'til it begins to dawn on you after far too many 'series of events'...

meaning the brain will out of habit,
register that something is 'what you are use to seeing' when in fact, it is 'slightly out of focuw' ... this will cause you to reach for SOMETHING and miss or overshoot and it will fall, spill, and be missed by your grip...

this always affeects what we look at... as in what you suggested, as to the edges of the material etc... or a host of otherthings as well...

a very strange occurance that happens to all of us, as we age...

'couse, younger folks have a whole other ball game...
in a hurry, take a too fast a glance, or just assuming things...

so many 'brain tricks' due to that too...

well not sure if that helps anything, but the good ol'

DOUBLE CHECK AND RECHECK, no matter how old or young we are,
or no matter the situation, sure is a 'good safeguard',


Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jan 13, 2013 - 11:13am PT
Boobs aren't the only thing that deserves more exposure here. Between politics and sex, mere life-and-death issues for climbers don't seem to stand a chance. Bump for those who may not have seen this yet.

Jan 13, 2013 - 11:32am PT
There was a post on (I think) Mountain Project about an identical incident. Climber in Red Rock backed up a rap anchor that was one old, bleached sling. Leaned out and the sling snapped, caught by the back-up.

Social climber
The internet
Jan 13, 2013 - 11:59am PT
I think the report Jim is citing was a well published and circulated test of webbing - maybe 10 years back at this point. Everyone read it and could cite it. I think the cam resling business spiked afterwards.

I don't recall all the details, but the gist was that Spectra was more suseptable to UV, and tubular seemed to maintain it's strength longer than expected, even when sun-bleached - maybe about 1/2 its strength as Jim seems to recall.

While they also did some controlled exposure, they were basically pulling webbing off random climbs - no controls - kind of a crappy and inexperienced study overall if you happen to be an engineer type and do this kind of thing for work. Maybe someone can find it on Google. Like I noted above - once you see a UV bleached sling - how do you know it hasn't been UV bleached 100x over - ready to turn to dust and blow away?

The Warbler

the edge of America
Jan 13, 2013 - 12:00pm PT
You're lucky you're not fat like me, because that backup knot would've failed too.

Hanging from the knotted sling, I got a hand jam, placed a red camalot and all was well.

I thought you only carried a blue one.

No, seriously, scary story - really glad you and your wit are still with us. Happy Birthday, Jim!

Please be more careful, eh?


Social climber
Jan 13, 2013 - 01:20pm PT
Jeez Jim. Scary schitt.

I say we start a fund to get donini some new briefs. Doubtless his have been thrown out & there was talk from his own fine self about going commando unless in Bermuda shorts.

Might be time to start wearing ginch. Hope poo didn't rain down on those below when that sling gave up the ghost.

Super glad yer writing about it instead of us reading about it.

Y'ALL stay SAFE out there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

Big Wall climber
Jan 13, 2013 - 01:35pm PT
captain chaos

Jan 13, 2013 - 03:03pm PT
"life is a series of narrow escapes with sighs of relief in between"

Credit: captain chaos

Credit: captain chaos

Credit: captain chaos

Glad you escaped this one Jim... tell Bridwell I say hello, Craig

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 13, 2013 - 04:03pm PT
Everbody thinks I soiled my underwear. Actually, it happened so unexpectedly and suddenly I wasn't scared at all. I just found myself hanging from the knotted sling and knew I had to do something. A convenient hand jam and a good red camalot placement brought the situation completely back to normal. Never felt nervous, if I had seen it coming the underwear surely would have needed washing.

Oakland, CA
Jan 13, 2013 - 06:38pm PT
You mentioned no leaver was there when you arrived, which means that probably at least one party had rapped and then pulled their rope directly over the sling.

In the desert, the sawing on the sling when a rope is pulled through is even worse given the inevitable sand and grit that find their way into the rope's sheath.

Your story will definitely stick with me and echo back to the surface on future raps. As a guy who likes to climb obscurities in Yosemite, I appreciate the reminder.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 13, 2013 - 07:58pm PT
One lesson is to test "white" slings.
And maybe that nylon goes bad a lot faster in Sedona than in Yosemite and other places that don't routinely go over 100 degrees F?

P.S. cragnshag is my climbing partner, and I thought the plan was not just to send the heaviest person first, but to have the temporary backup in place for them (with enough slack so that it is not directly weighted).
The other way to choose who goes first is who has more people at risk if they don't make it. Haven't had to seriously use this one, fortunately.
Usually we have 2 of cragnshag's really good bolts and quicklink/chainlinks in for anchors, so there's about zero anchor *material* failure risk.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Jan 13, 2013 - 08:22pm PT
I was taught the leader went first and the 2nd had to clean the backup.. these days I leave whatever is needed to make it safe...

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Jan 13, 2013 - 08:32pm PT
Wiley and experienced. Thanks for sharing. That's not luck - that's listening to that inner voice.

So much for you folks who laugh at me and my redundanitis.

Social climber
The internet
Jan 13, 2013 - 09:25pm PT
One lesson is to test "white" slings.
How would one test them? IMO, if it's white, it can't be trusted.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Jan 13, 2013 - 09:27pm PT

Talk about cool under pressure.

That's JD!
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