Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

*** Caution ***

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • *** Caution ***

    Just felt compelled to warn anybody into more technical climbing about the Black Diamond Couloir climbing harness. I was using mine (brand new at Christmas) at the Cleveland Rock Gym last Friday. I made it to the top of my route and began the rappel down when my harness failed on me. I fell 25 feet and broke my back. I spent three days in the Cleveland Clinic with 3 fractured vertebrae, as well as abdominal / foot contusions and other minor scrapes and bruises.

    I'm not posting this to start an arm chair quarterbacking debate. Everything was done properly at the gym...Doubled back through the buckle, rope through the loop and main belt, etc. Again the knot didn't fail, the harness did. It simply came undone for no apparent reason. The gym staff looked it over and were just as perplexed as me.

    I have to cancel my trip to Mt. Rainier this year since I'm in a walker now until I regain enough strength to walk on my own again. I will be trying again next year though. And will be hitting the good old Adirondacks for training as soon as I'm able to again.

    Have fun in the mountains and stay safe,
    Steve
    46/46 - #9464
    7/46 "W"
    NE115 - 53/115

  • #2
    Holy $h!t. That's horrible. I hope you have a speedy and full recovery.

    Comment


    • NorthBay
      NorthBay commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you very much Makwa...little bits of progress each day. Baby steps for sure right now.

      Steve

  • #3
    Wow! That's a little unnerving.

    What exactly failed? Did the loop break or come unattached? I'm sure a lot of us have BD climbing harnesses...
    ADK 46/46W, Grid 235/552
    Photos & Stuff

    Comment


    • #4
      Keep your harness and advise BD, if there is a flaw they will make a recall. As for myself , I wish you a prompt return to a healthy state. Thanks for the info.
      8000m 0/14

      Comment


      • NorthBay
        NorthBay commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you sir...I have to let BD off the hook for this. I think it was entirely on me.

        0/14 8000m? When are you planning to go after the 1st? Which one?

    • #5
      Originally posted by autochromatica View Post
      Wow! That's a little unnerving.

      What exactly failed? Did the loop break or come unattached? I'm sure a lot of us have BD climbing harnesses...
      My questions as well. Photos or more details will be helpful to other users. I'm not sure about the description of how the rope was attached to the harness - if the rope was through the leg loops as well as through the waist belt, then there does not appear to be a mechanism by which the harness and rope can separate, even if the buckle is undone.

      Did you fall out of the harness? If so, was the waist belt still buckled (but loose) or was the buckle completely undone? Or did the rope become detached from the harness, so that when you fell, you were still wearing the harness?

      ...confused...

      Comment


      • NorthBay
        NorthBay commented
        Editing a comment
        I'll still try to get a few pictures up later on tonight for you guys to look at.

    • #6
      To put it plainly the buckle came unbuckled even after it was doubled back on itself to prevent that from happening. The harness was dangling from the wall and was attached only through the bottom loop. I made double sure that the buckle was doubled back and cinched down properly. I also made sure to pass the rope through the bottom loop AND the main belt (there is no top loop on this model) as required.

      I just talked with the owner of the gym and he is forwarding pictures over to me. I'll be happy to post them up tomorrow to paint a better picture. And I do intend to contact BD just as soon as I can. Everything seems to move a bit slower right now.

      If anybody has any ideas as to why the harness failed after I post the pictures up I'd certainly be interested in other theories. Right now all I know for certain is that it simply came undone when I started my rappel down the wall. Why? I have no idea.

      Steve
      46/46 - #9464
      7/46 "W"
      NE115 - 53/115

      Comment


      • #7
        Heal well and quickly!

        Comment


        • NorthBay
          NorthBay commented
          Editing a comment
          Thank you TCD...I''ll be back and climbing again before I know it....I hope.

          Steve

      • #8
        I'm really sorry to read this and I'm glad you weren't injured even worse. I'm sure black diamond is going to want to know about this.

        Comment


        • NorthBay
          NorthBay commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks Halocline...I'll likely still let BD know what happened, but I do believe the fault was all mine at this point.

          Steve

      • #9
        If it was fastened the way you described (a very common technique) and yet the webbing managed to slip through the buckle under the mild load of a rappel (as opposed to the high load of a fall) ... something may be horribly wrong with the buckle's design. "Slippery" should never be an adjective for a harness buckle!

        If this harness has no record of catastrophic failures, you've just had the misfortune of finding one. This is a very serious incident that demands an explanation otherwise the harness falls into the "zero confidence" bin. Black Diamond must be informed of this incident.

        ​Very sorry you had to be the one to suffer the consequences of this potential design flaw. I wish you a strong and full recovery.
        Looking for Views!

        Comment


        • NorthBay
          NorthBay commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks Taras...I just posted an update. Apparently the only design flaw was in my mind. This is the only rational explanation as to what happened.

          Steve

      • #10
        Hey, Steve. Man, I am sorry to hear of your accident. Speedy recovery. I'll give you a buzz.
        Nothing like being in the woods.

        http://www.gerardsadirondackpics.shutterfly.com

        Comment


        • NorthBay
          NorthBay commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks Gerard...give me a shout this weekend. I should be around not doing much of anything.

          Steve

      • #11
        Well everybody...this kills me to put out here, but I'm afraid I need to take the focus off of Black Diamond's product and direct it more to myself. As memory serves me anyway...

        When an accident of this nature happens it sure is easy to point the blame on somebody else and deflect the responsibility. However, I keep replaying things over and over in my mind. I distinctly recall doubling the buckle back as it should be; however, I also recollect undoing the harness due to a twist and redoing it.

        The image of me doubling back the buckle was so embedded in my head I was sure that I had done it, and I had. So why would the harness fail? There had to be a rational explanation. I kept replaying things, then it dawned on me...as I was belaying my climbing partner I recall the tag end of my harness flopping around to my right side. I tucked it in and thought nothing of it. Until now that is...that tag end should have been going to the left if I had in fact doubled it back. It's strange how little details like that come back to you days after an incident.

        Well, I did double it back initially, then undid it and neglected to double it back the second time I put it on. I have no one to blame but myself for this, it's far too easy to become complacent about checking your partners gear prior to climbing. So maybe this is more of a caution to make sure you know your partners gear and you double check it thoroughly prior to each climb. Complacency can kill you. I should have known better. I'll heal up as quickly as possible and get back to climbing.

        For all you technical climbers out there...please double and triple check your gear as well as your partners.

        ​Steve
        46/46 - #9464
        7/46 "W"
        NE115 - 53/115

        Comment


        • Trail Boss
          Trail Boss commented
          Editing a comment
          Kudos to you for getting to the root cause.

          When I was taught the basics, my tutors impressed upon me an almost OCD level of attention to seemingly small details. Are you certain that knot has proper symmetry? Which way do you have the biner's gate facing? Did you drop any of your metal gear? Did you double-check this that and the other thing? Are you sure? Etc.

          You remembered which direction the excess webbing was facing, so you did notice the little things and that's half the battle.

          BTW, were you rappelling or was someone lowering you (commonly done when top-roping)? I'm assuming a rappel in a gym means a high-angle if not free-hanging descent. That's the maximum load on a harness outside of a leader-fall or a military-style rappel where you might "hop" down (sudden stops along the way; this causes severe loading on the anchor and the harness; not advisable for recreational climbers).

          I'm asking all these questions because I'm still trying to understand how all that excess webbing ran through the buckle during a low-load incident like rappelling. The buckle on my harness holds the webbing fairly securely even if not doubled over (although that's an improper way to secure it).

        • NorthBay
          NorthBay commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, I'm fairly certain this was the culprit aside from the harness simply "failing" which explains utterly nothing. It had to have something to do with the tag end of my harness belt going off to the right which would be incorrect. I do plan to contact the gym again tonight and let them know as well. They are very safety conscious and anything to help prevent another accident from happening is welcomed.

          I have talked with owner a few times since then. He called me after the fact to check on me and made it clear he was calling as a concerned person, not the business owner. They stress the simple details as well. The ironic thing one of the instructors couldn't have sent a clearer message about complacency when checking your gear as well as your partners. That stuck with me, yet I still made a critical mistake.

          So anyway, the wall I was on was vertical, no incline in either direction. I kick off the wall just enough to clear myself of the holds. If I recall I pushed off the wall twice as I began to descend. The second time is when my harness gave way. I don't do an all out bounce off the wall as in military rappelling, just a simple push to clear obstacles is all. The backward inclined walls (or overhangs) we simply lower each other for obvious reasons...no obstacles to clear. Walls with a forward incline (away from the climber) we sort of walk/lower one another.

          I still find it odd that the webbing would feed through the buckles and come undone myself. Even without doubling it back it sure seems solid enough, but it obviously is not. I could maybe see where it would come undone after coming further down the wall and working it loose on the way. But almost at the top of the wall?!? Not much tolerance there at all.

          So again, this is more of caution for climbers to double, triple, and quadruple check their gear and their partners gear. Make sure your partner knows what to check for as well, he or she may not have the same gear as you. Good climbing everybody, and thanks for the questions Taras. Feel free to ask more if there is something that I didn't answer clearly enough.

          Steve

      • #12
        I never used a harness with such buckles and have no desire to use it in a future.

        Comment


        • #13
          Hi NorthBay...I'm very impressed and grateful for your honesty about your potential user error especially since this admission will help educate other users of the necessity to always double check systems when climbing. Everyone makes mistakes and complacency is always possible. I think of driving errors that I've gotten away with...I have to say that I (and I'm sure other climbers in this audience) suspected it was "pilot error" as I've never heard of a modern, properly used harness failing in this way...Lynn Hill, a world famous rock climber once did something very similar and fell 80 feet from the top of an outdoor climb in France when she forgot to buckle back her harness and was leaning back to be lowered (which is actually different than rapelling which is basically when you lower yourself and not usually allowed in climbing gyms). She was injured too but recovered and continued climbing as one of the best in the world...It can happen to the most experienced!

          Comment


          • NorthBay
            NorthBay commented
            Editing a comment
            Hey Festus...I didn't see any need to point the blame at somebody else. In all honesty that was my first inclination. But the more I replayed things in my mind the more little details came back to me. If this helps ensure other climbers double and triple check their own gear then the post and honesty was well worth it.

            I know mistakes occur all the time. I guess I always assumed it would be the other guy that paid for it though, never me. I hope my daughter looks at he exploits in a new light now. She likes to think she's invisible quite a bit too. Thanks for the comments, especially regarding Lynn Hill. That's good to know.

            Steve

        • #14
          Here are a couple of pictures from the gym...


          46/46 - #9464
          7/46 "W"
          NE115 - 53/115

          Comment


          • #15
            Very sorry to here about your accident. Thanks very much for posting as all of us that do climb can hopefully learn something from this. Hope you heal well. Many years ago we had a serious accident in our climbing club with a very similar scenario when a member fell out of their harness due to the waist belt not being done up correctly.

            Both of these incidents really show that the leg loops do nothing if you are not connected at the waist.

            Comment


            • NorthBay
              NorthBay commented
              Editing a comment
              Yep, the cheap plastic buckles on both of the leg loops broke on my harness. Those things are about worthless. Accidents certainly do happen. If this post helps prevent even one accident then it was worth posting. Thanks for commenting...Climb On!

              Steve
          Working...
          X