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General Climbing Discussion

Topic Date User
Todd Skinner - Dies on Leaning Tower Yosemite 29-Oct-2006 At 9:52:12 AM The Keeper
There has been a very good discussion on the wear & tear, attributes and failure of belay loops, harnesses, ropes, slings etc on Supertopos - a parallel thread to the Todd Skinner one.

One has to keep some perspective in this - this is an extremely rare case given the person hours of climbing that is characteristic of this planet in a given period of time.
More people die from not wearing a helmet or rapping off the ends of their rope. In climbing, little things lead to big consequences.
Skinner was putting in a lot of hard mileage on his gear - the belay loop was clearly problematic and he was aware enough of the situation to have ordered a new harness.
The message to be taken from this is to stay in touch with your gear - regularly check it out for viability with more checks if one is climbing more and replace it appropriately.
If you don't respect the realities inherent in the gear (made by humans and used by humans = less than perfection) then it will come back to bite you.

Redundancy and backups - all the time = smart climbing. An autoblock is a wise investment and a cheap one. They definitely slow down a rap but unless a escaping lightning or something is forcing you to move fast - what's the rush - the rock is not going anywhere. I prefer the autoblock below the belay device as there is less chance of it getting fouled in the belay device and I like it controlled by the lower hand. I usually carry a spare belay device and an extra autoblock cord - just in case- extra weight doesn't amount to much and it just might turn out to be useful at some point.

I recall Bob Gaines examining my Trango harness in some detail at Joshua Tree and commenting on bar tacking etc. - being a relative newbie , I didn't appreciate much of what he was talking about then but the Supertopos discussion has certainly enlightened me.
I think it is a good idea to not only just "use" climbing gear but to take some time to more fully "understand" it - it is time well spent.

Climbing has certainly moved towards a trajectory of "light and fast" and whilst there are plenty of upsides on that - there are also significant downsides - the safety margin shrinks and negative consequences comes home to roost more often. It amplifies the effects of small mistakes that otherwise might have less problematic consequences.

Todd Skinner was a top bloke and it is such a sad outcome for his family and the climbing community worldwide. As the Supertopos memorial thread reflects - he mattered - because above all else he was kind.

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