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#25237 - 10/27/06 11:14 AM Re: Harness Safety [Re: caver]
Aya Offline
old hand

Registered: 11/18/04
Posts: 754
Loc: Climbing somewhere
I think I'm going to go buy a new harness just because this makes me worry a little bit. My harness is in fine shape visually, but it's older...
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#25238 - 10/27/06 12:26 PM Re: Harness Safety [Re: Aya]
rime Offline
stranger

Registered: 08/24/06
Posts: 14
For gym climbing, I have found that the floor anchors tend to keep the locking biner in the exact same location all the time while belaying, and always make sure the biner gate is facing out so it won't wear down the belay loop. I didn't even use my belay loop until forced to in the gyms - harnesses didn't have them when I started climbing, and I have had a few "discussions" about it with other climbers and even guides. Their point was always that the harness is designed so the belay loop is the strongest attachment point, but I was more comfortable relying on both leg loops and waist belt. I mean, what good is a strong belay loop if the waist belt may fail???? Part of their argument was that the belay loop is centered, but I never had any problems with my ropes or rappel biners sliding side to side - I use double ropes and two locking rappel biners through both leg loop and waist belt, so they simply can't slide too far either way.

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#25239 - 10/27/06 08:41 PM Re: Harness Safety [Re: Julie]
quanto_the_mad Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/14/02
Posts: 2628
Loc: brooklyn
Quote:

It is interesting to note that a prussik attached to the leg loop, or another backup, would have helped immensely in this case




Maybe, but probably not. Once the belay loop breaks, there's nothing holding the leg loops up. You'd flip over and probably just fall right out of the leg loops. If you had a good hold with one hand, maybe you could catch yourself and hold yourself upright. But since you're sliding the prussik, and you have to let the prussik go for it to engage, I don't think there's a big chance in catching yourself.

Maybe once you got flipped over, if you were quick you could spread your legs and not slip out right away, enough time to grab the rope below you.

It's better than nothing, but I don't think it would have helped much in this case.
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#25240 - 10/27/06 08:55 PM Re: Harness Safety [Re: quanto_the_mad]
GOclimb Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/26/01
Posts: 2359
Loc: Boston
Well, who knows, the little elastic (or in some cases thin nylon) strap thingy that holds the legs up *might* be able to hold bodyweight. "Might" being the operative word.

GO

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#25241 - 10/28/06 03:16 PM Re: Harness Safety [Re: Kent]
Kent Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/21/00
Posts: 1038
Loc: The Bayards
I've never had any doubts about the integrity and strength of properly cared for belay loops. I still don't.

Interesting info from Kolin Powick, BD Quality Assurance Manager.

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#25242 - 10/28/06 03:37 PM Re: Harness Safety [Re: Kent]
MarcC Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/10/00
Posts: 3532
Posting a reply to Mr Malloc from the RIP thread......

Quote:

However, the report that the accident was caused by the harness breaking is highly unlikely.
That a harness in reasonable repair would fail under body weight alone is barely worth considering.



It wasn't in "reasonable repair." Quoting from the SF Gate article earlier in this thread:

The part that broke, called the belay loop, is designed to be the strongest part of the climbing harness, but Hewett, 34, said Skinner's harness was old.

"It was actually very worn," Hewett said. "I'd noted it a few days before, and he was aware it was something to be concerned about." Friends of Skinner said he had ordered several new harnesses but they hadn't yet arrived in the mail.

On Monday's climb, Hewett said the belay loop snapped while Skinner was hanging in midair underneath an overhanging ledge.

"I knew exactly what had happened right when it happened," he said. "It was just disbelief. It was too surreal."

Stunned and in shock after watching his friend fall, he checked his equipment.

"I wanted to make sure that what had caused the accident wasn't going to happen to me," he said. "I then went down as quick as I could."

Hewett said he knew there was no hope. A search-and-rescue team found Skinner's body, wearing the harness with the broken belay loop, about 4 p.m. Monday on the rocks near Bridalveil Fall. He was pronounced dead at the scene.


Of course the issue that still remains is exactly how the loop broke. Kolin Powick, QA Manager for Black Diamond, has some thoughts and test results worth reading at the BD site: http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/scene/beta/qc_kp.php


Edited by MarcC (10/28/06 03:39 PM)
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#25243 - 10/29/06 12:28 AM Re: Harness Safety [Re: quanto_the_mad]
Julie Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/16/00
Posts: 2090
Loc: SoCal
It is interesting to note that a prussik attached to the leg loop, or another backup, would have helped immensely in this case

Maybe, but probably not. Once the belay loop breaks, there's nothing holding the leg loops up. You'd flip over and probably just fall right out of the leg loops. If you had a good hold with one hand, maybe you could catch yourself and hold yourself upright. But since you're sliding the prussik, and you have to let the prussik go for it to engage, I don't think there's a big chance in catching yourself.

Maybe once you got flipped over, if you were quick you could spread your legs and not slip out right away, enough time to grab the rope below you.


My guess is that even with the leg and waist separated, there would either be enough friction of leg loops on legs, or the leg loops would catch at a bent knee (I think you'd reflexively contract into a ball), to give you time to grab the rope. At any rate, I think it would at least prevent the immediate acceleration. This is definitely a case where a backup above the device would be more ideal - but either is better than none at all.

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#25244 - 10/29/06 01:58 AM Re: Harness Safety [Re: Julie]
rg@ofmc Online   content
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2468
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
Tests by caving groups have shown that prussik backups that aren't released will not stop a falling climber, and that even climbers with a belay who know they are will be tested cannot, in general, let go of the prussik at the moment of failure of their rappel device.)

If something knocks you out or at least knocks your hand off the rope, the prussik backup should work, but if you're holding on the chances are poor that you'll be stopped.

In view of these results, it is unlikely, in my opinion, that this sad and terrible tragedy would have been prevented by a prussik backup either above or below the rappel device. (Unless...the rappel ropes were anchored at the bottom. I recall a case years ago in which someone fell the length of a fixed rope and was stopped, by a prussik knot that had failed to grab but was still on the rope.)

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#25245 - 10/29/06 02:14 AM Re: Harness Safety [Re: quanto_the_mad]
rg@ofmc Online   content
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2468
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
But I kept a sling girth hitched to the belay loop and used it to extend the belay. That kept the belay loop stationary and the leg loop wore on the same spot every rap. I suspect that after some time it would have seriously damaged the belay loop.

Once I noticed it, I started removing the girth hitched sling and girth hitching it each time, which should distribute the wear. I think I'll start putting a backup sling through the leg and waist loops as well.


I think a better idea is to either girth or loop a sling through the tie-in points when extending the rappel device. Same for a daisy---girth it to the harness tie-in points. Leave the belay loop for belaying and direct attachment of a rappel device.

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#25246 - 10/29/06 03:07 AM Re: Harness Safety [Re: rg@ofmc]
Julie Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/16/00
Posts: 2090
Loc: SoCal
Tests by caving groups have shown that prussik backups that aren't released will not stop a falling climber, and that even climbers with a belay who know they are will be tested cannot, in general, let go of the prussik at the moment of failure of their rappel device.)

I am interested: were the test subjects ones who habitually used a prussik backup?

I use mine often, to stop for various reasons on rappel. I'm very used to letting it stop me. I like to think that in a failure situation, I'd do the same, but the tests you cite indicate otherwise. If the test subjects were climbers who were already used to using (not just tying them on, but actually using) prussiks, I will reverse my thoughts on that ...

edit: Thanks for that link, Kent.


Edited by Julie (10/29/06 03:21 AM)

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