Tito Traversa, 12, Fighting For His Life


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Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Jul 9, 2013 - 06:26pm PT
It isn't just kids.
It's adults also.
All the time when I'm at the crags
I see people NOT following safe climbing rules.

From not saying the proper and long standing commands, making up their own commands, not checking their gear before climbing. the list goes on and on.

I LOVE it when someone gets to the top of a climb and says, Ok.
Ok what?
Sheesh, what am I, a mind reader?

Ever since I started climbing back in the 60s, there was a STANDARD climbing commands vocabulary. Stick to it. and check your gear and
every thing else each and every time you set off to climb,


I Don't mean to be so harsh and I really feel awful about Tito,
but If safety isn't followed more, more kids and adults are gonna
end up the same way.
Climbing is dangerous to begin with,but I'll bet there are more deaths caused by climbers error, and not following or double checking your safety


Sport climber
Jul 9, 2013 - 06:27pm PT
I don't think the grades the kid was able to climb has anything to do with it. Safety gear is safety gear. I'm sure it could of happened to any other kid in the group.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jul 9, 2013 - 06:50pm PT
it raises a perfectly reasonable question: how can we make fewer mistakes? That was the context in which I suggested, vaguely to be sure, that we need more fear.

Yep we need to look at ways to avoid this chain of errors.

If you look to commercial, professional and military 'risk procedures' you will find there are proven, effective ways to deal with the risk of complacency. They are time honored and they work. Watch a commercial airline pilot get a plane ready to depart - now apply that rigor to climbing. If we as a group did this? Complacency errors will be greatly diminished. Not eliminated, but greatly reduced.

But we're a free spirited lot and a lot of us can't be bothered with protocol rigor, until, sadly, it may be too late. And many of us never bothered to train for complacency in any real way, anywhere in our lives and therefore may not even recognize it.

I'm as guilty as the next climber, perhaps more so and have only dodged death or worse, by dumb luck and fortunate grace.

Dr. X

Big Wall climber
X- Town
Jul 9, 2013 - 07:05pm PT
I'm a little late to this party, and terribly saddened by the loss of a child. A thought came to mind though (and sorry if this has already been hashed over, I did not read the previous 400 posts prior to writing this).

I don;t know if Tito's parents are in this category (and I honestly think not), but I was at the gym the other night (I know, generally against the Doctor's morals), and I saw several parents, clearly non-climbers, who brought their kids to the gym to climb.

Well, I would imagine you can get top a point where a child starts to become physically very proficient, and maybe mildly proficient at the mechanics of sport climbing, from spending so much time at the gym.

Now, when these same kids start climbing outside, who is their mentor? Their parents aren't climbers.....Only their peers, also kids. Will this be a growing future problem? Don't know. Thought this might be the forum to start thinking and talking about it though......

Sport climber
Jul 9, 2013 - 07:07pm PT
I'm sure Tito's parents' had no worries in their mind when they sent their child off to go climb with the Climbing Gym group, as they have probably let him go time and time before.
Dr. Christ

Mountain climber
State of Mine
Jul 9, 2013 - 07:09pm PT
One of the parents of the kids put the quickdraws together that way.

I have loss a child...you never overcome it.

My best friend in 4th grade killed himself. His dad and my dad were good friends. I saw the agony, the howling, weeping, sobbing, heartache, depression. I can't even imagine what that felt like.

How can anyone ever overcome the sense of responsibility for this tragedy? Damn.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 9, 2013 - 07:24pm PT
I don't think there can be anything more painful for a parent than outliving a child.

But please lets not make it worse by circulating things that aren't true. The parents did not assemble the quick draws, another kid in Tito's climbing group did. We don't know if the parents saw the quickdraws before Tito used them. There is tragedy enough to go around as it is.
Dr. Christ

Mountain climber
State of Mine
Jul 9, 2013 - 07:33pm PT
And rehashing who did what here is NOT going to help anyone, especially those directly involved.

There is tragedy enough to go around as it is.


Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Jul 9, 2013 - 09:49pm PT
Michald. if the kids were 5.8 bumblies they would have had direct adult supervision. Because they were climbing very high numbers the adults assume that they know what they are doing with the rest of it.
house of cards

Jul 10, 2013 - 02:48am PT
Because they were climbing very high numbers the adults assume that they know what they are doing with the rest of it.

That would seem like a natural assumption, even if deeply flawed. Perhaps more attention should be placed to teaching kids "the rest of it", not only coaching them up to the high numbers.

Gym climber
Jul 10, 2013 - 10:54am PT
An incredible and seemingly senseless tragedy.

How can anyone ever overcome the sense of responsibility for this tragedy?

I imagine all those at the scene will never really overcome the feeling of guilt, how could nobody see the mistake? Hard to say this, but you would think even Tito himself would spot the funky draws as he racked up.

We get lulled into complacency, we see folks falling all the time and amazingly our gear works, every time. While it always feels odd, my good buddy checks my knot every time I tie in for a TR at the gym. Even my harness, each time. At first this bothered me. But then I realized he did it out of love and caring for me, and now I try to do the same for all my climbing partners. If nothing else, it's a reminder that this is indeed a sport that can hurt you.

Peace to all those affected.

Sport climber
Jul 10, 2013 - 11:42am PT
but you would think even Tito himself would spot the funky draws as he racked up.

He's 12. F*ck.

SF bay area
Jul 10, 2013 - 11:44am PT
I'm not sure I would have noticed if somebody handed me draws while I was racking up. I think quite a few of use would have missed it too.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 10, 2013 - 01:16pm PT
I agree Mono! Who thinks to check how draws have been assembled? Tragically, a lot of people will now.

Social climber
Jul 10, 2013 - 01:19pm PT
hey there say, monolith...

oh my, :(
thank you for posting these demo pictures, a ways back, of the
rubber pieces and the loops and metal clips, (don't know the tech word)
and HOW they fit... i did not understand how this set-up was not seen, or done right, etc... now i see...


i am a mommy and gramma, so i hope, in this sense, it is okay to share this--though i do not know of the 'physical body' part of climbing:

i DO know about the brain, though, and how it can 'play tricks' at times,
something you can 'think' you see what you should see, IF your brain is
in READY position for a new chore (the habit feature that kicks in) THAT
is why our 'knowledge, skill, practice, and precaution' area of the brain
NEEDS to be honed, and then LISTENED to...

i have a problem with 'transposing' (flipping opposites, or combos of yes/no pairs, IF i am in a hurry) so i understand how VERY VERY SERIOUS it is to CHECK AND RECHECK even if we 'feel silly' or others think we are 'weird' or over-reacting, :(

i am so very sorry to see what the 'closer look' at this situation WAS, :o

i can also see how a young child (if they did look at their gear fast) may not even have noticed--the brain 'trick' (optical illusions, as well, as to certain pictures, it sees, that are similar to other pictures) :(

we MUST teach kids to check and recheck and EVALUATE EXACTLY what it is that they ARE seeing or ARE NOT seeing... then--it will click into the brain, faster than a GLANCE...

of course, this goes for OLDER climbers as well, as, it is not
fully comprehended yet, to older folks but:

YOUR eyes and brain DO register DIFFERENT as well, when you age, you MAY
run on HABIT MORE and think things are okay...

also, things are not deciphered right, due to 'far-sightedness' ...
and depth perception changes... you may THINK something is tied on,
from a distance WHEN in fact, it is not, :O

once again, my deep condolences to the family, and my on-going prayers for the father and all concerned... this was so awful, :(

please, i usually do not post such things in sad thread like this ( i did once, long ago, and it was a boo boo, when i first came here) but:

in this case, DUE TO seeing and reading what THE BEAUTIFUL BRAIN CAN DO, and how it can TRICK us, as wonderful as it is:

i just HAD to share this info... our brain gets on 'auto pilot' at times, and, sometimes we NEED to CONTINUAL set it on NEW IMMEDIATE 'ALERTS'...

climbing, as all we do, is really brainwork, first and foremost,
at the foundation--hone this brainwork...

OTHERTIMES, TOO, it can block out things that it has reckoned
'are not part of the moment at hand':
ex: things LOOK well, therefore, they are...
(processing is a SERIOUS ISSUE of before, during and after CONNECTIONS, along with covering the 'what ifs')


as you are all climbers that i love, may any, some, or all, of this
BRAIN INFO, help folks, in some ways...

god bless...

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 10, 2013 - 03:15pm PT
I am not in general a fan of Andrew Bisharat's writing. But I think he gets it right here:


Gym climber
Jul 10, 2013 - 04:01pm PT
I don't fully agree with Bisharat.

Of course, setting up the draws in that wrong configuration is an incredibly stupid error to have made, obviously one born of inexperience. Itís something I canít possibly imagine anyone ever doing. Obviously the person who made this mistake looked at a properly racked draw, and tried to recreate what she or he saw. It was a horrible mistake. But it was also a freak mistakeósomething none of us couldíve ever predicted.

As we know, if the worst-case scenario can happen, the universe sometimes conspires to show us that it will.

This isnít the first time a climber has died because of someoneís inexperience. And it wonít be the last. But this was an accident that couldíve happened to any of us, regardless of age, gender, experience.

I don't think an adult would have been nearly as likely to wrongly assemble the QD's--whoever did was not necessarily of low intelligence, but just someone who was completely ignorant about important aspects of the way the world works (rubber bands are not particularly strong; webbing used in climbing equipment is).
I have to think kids are far more likely to be ignorant, in ways that we won't be able to predict but which may have catastrophic consequences.
That's why they need more supervision and perhaps more detailed training, and we shouldn't disregard the youth of the people involved in this tragedy.

Trad climber
San Diego
Jul 10, 2013 - 04:12pm PT
I completely disagree with that analysis. The accident was caused by human error and as such there are methodologies to follow that can limit the risk and prevent these occurences. The airline industry is a great example of how process improvment has saved countless lives.

In fact, this was the first day of Titoís life that he went climbing outdoors without his father there

Cant imagine what that must be like.

Gym climber
Jul 10, 2013 - 04:22pm PT
In the photo in that article, even the "correctly racked" draw has the keeper on the wrong (anchor) end of the draw.

Credit: murcy
Bob D'A

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Jul 10, 2013 - 04:43pm PT
I agree with Port...this was a human error and not a equipment error. Hopefully these clubs/gyms will make it mandatory that all gear is check out by qualified adult/adults when taking these kid groups out.
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