Zodiac A2 5.7

 
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El Capitan


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Sign from the Zodiac
Monday November 11, 2013 6:19pm
Has anyone else encountered an unfortunate turn of events on a climb due to the unplanned release of a twist lock carabiner? My partner and I thought we were going to have an uneventful ascent of the Zodiac last weekend, but instead encountered a mechanical error. (Of course there were human ways to prevent this error.) Read the trip report on my blog below. Please feel free to comment if you have any experience with the same mistake/error.

http://wavehaven.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/sign-from-the-zodiac/

Adam Long scopes the next inverted hook move on the Zodiac
Adam Long scopes the next inverted hook move on the Zodiac
Credit: Miss B

  Trip Report Views: 1,258
Miss B
About the Author
Miss B is a climber from Santa Cruz, CA.

Comments
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mtnyoung

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  Nov 11, 2013 - 07:03pm PT
Unfortunate event, but a good story.

And great writing!
Morgan

Trad climber
East Coast
  Nov 11, 2013 - 07:11pm PT
Wow, that's spooky. Me and two other friends are wary of a long-running Labor Day climbing curse. There have been whippers, and mechanical (car) epics on the Holiday. In one instance, on the climb MARIA DIRECT (5.9) in the Gunks, the belayer was using a twist-lock biner and a Figure 8 to belay. Some weird leverage of the 8 on the twist-lock (CLOG pearbiner) caused the rappel device (with the rope) to come off the belay carabiner!

One observation: It looks like the Black Diamond swivel is too small to accept the chosen biners without rubbing/shifting. You would either have to go with a larger swivel (e.g. Petzl Large) or downsize your carabiners to something with a thinner cross-section (e.g. BD Positron Locker), but who really knows exactly what happened.
Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Nov 11, 2013 - 07:15pm PT
Scary, I'm just glad you guys are ok.
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
  Nov 11, 2013 - 07:48pm PT
Sorry that happened to you guys. We came closer than I'd like to having the same experience when we were on it nearly a dozen years ago.

I looked down to see the bag hanging onto the teeth of the open biner (a regular screw-type with no spring or notch back-up mechanism). I called up to my partner to stop climbing b/c it freaked me so much, fixed it and added a bunch of weird back ups with the materials on hand. Even if it was backed up by the time I saw it, it had to have gotten into that state on the previous haul when it wasn't backed up. After the next haul, I found the main (now multiply backed up) biner was opening again.

I bought a bunch of ball-lock biners after that and use them on all of my key safety points that get knocked around even though they're a pain to open with swollen hands.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 11, 2013 - 07:32pm PT
Wow, not a frequent type of accident. I do recall Stephen B. Ross lost a haul bag off the NA many years ago when its daisy broke and it was the only thing anchored.

You were missing redundancy in anchoring the bag.
A standard method is:
1. Big main biner to the haul line, like you had
2. sling or daisy from haul bag strap
Both are clipped to the anchor.

At least the bag wasn't attached to the back of your harness with 60m of slack....
Miss B

climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Author's Reply  Nov 12, 2013 - 12:34am PT
Thanks All, for the suggestions and tips. Those are all pretty much the conclusions we came to when evaluating our hauling system. I used to use the button lock carabiners exclusively for that sort of thing and got so tired of pushing that thing in as my hands progressively got beat down, but I'll guess I'll go back to them. And yeah, strange coincidence of falling haul bags that week. Would never attach one to my harness.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Canada
  Nov 12, 2013 - 12:55am PT
You have to always treat the bags like a 3rd member of your team. They don't say much and never carry their own weight.

They do demand attention by giving you the silent treatment though.
elcap-pics

Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
  Nov 12, 2013 - 10:41am PT
Interesting that this kind of thing has happened twice in the past few weeks with yours and the Caldwell incident. Thanks so much for your post. It is always instructive to tell others of your experience and what you feel is the cause... I'm sure you will be back!!
dkny

Trad climber
Irvine, CA
  Nov 12, 2013 - 11:02am PT
Thanks for posting! Glad you both are ok.
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
  Nov 12, 2013 - 11:27am PT
Excellent stuff.

Steve
Jaysen

Big Wall climber
NYC
  Jan 7, 2014 - 06:25pm PT
checkout the pmi ball lock biners, i like using them for the bags. When they are not available a swatch of duct tape around a screw lock biner is also a popular option.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Jan 7, 2014 - 07:48pm PT
Sickening. Thanks Miss B and Adam. Glad the failure turned out so benignly. Contact Apple about this story and how the phone worked!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Jan 7, 2014 - 07:57pm PT
Top notch writing. What a scary thing to have happen up there!

We both froze, paralyzed by what was coming. Seconds went by with him standing on the ledge, me sitting crossed legged on the portaledge. We waited for it. And it came. The explosive sound of a pvc canvas bag, big enough for me to crawl into, crushing against the boulder strewn ground 800 feet below.

Maybe add one more bullet point to the lessons learned at the end of your outstanding report: Always yell ROCK!!!!

Miss B

climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Author's Reply  Jan 8, 2014 - 08:55pm PT
"Maybe add one more bullet point to the lessons learned at the end of your outstanding report: Always yell ROCK!!!!"

Yes, Le_bruce, we both normally yell rock. And good point, I will add it. Under the circumstances I think it was shock and the fact that I was listening intensely that kept me from yelling. Adam and I also felt fairly certain that no one was on the ground below because we had neither heard anyone nor seen any lights. And if anyone had been down there, hopefully they would be smart enough to stick close to the wall since the overhanging nature would project falling objects away from the base. But still, no excuse for not yelling. I know the sound of the bag crashing raised alarm with other climbers on El Cap as friends of ours who were up there questioned us later if we too heard a "big boom."
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
  Jan 8, 2014 - 09:10pm PT
That's a crazy story! When I was learning one of my mentors taught me to use a screw gate and wrap the gate in tape to make sure there was no way the binder could open and he always argued that there wasn't any good reason to ever open that binder until you were on the ground. I always thought it was kinda overkill but I've done it on every wall. Kinda crazy to realize that sh*t can actually happen. Glad no one was hurt.
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Photo: Chris McNamara
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