Another accident which could have been prevented

What your instructor never taught you. Continuing your education and learning from others. Climbing safety topics and accident/incident discussions.
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Posts: 53
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2005 9:39 am
Location: Pretoria

Another accident which could have been prevented

Post by twiga »

\"They attached their rope above the large overhang and made it into a big swing. The rope must have been cut on the edge of the overhang. It was also probably aggravated by the wind, that moving back and forth. She must have fallen about 20m. She died from multiple injuries,\" said Tromp.

Not a smart thing to do I guess, still I feel sorry for everyone involved and the family of the girl.

- twiga

Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:26 pm
Location: Cape Town


Post by fundaddy »

My sympathy to family and friends of the dead girl.

Does anybody have more info on the incident? I recently started climbing with my family and it has been awesome. One struggle I did have was convincing my wife that it was a relatively safe sport if you are careful and know what you are doing. A big issue was the strength of the rope and I assured her that in my research there were no known accidents due to rope failure OTHER than where the rope was stressed over a sharp edge.

Was this the case in this tragedy? Also, the IOL report quotes Kevin Tromp as saying she was \"participating in a mountain sport where climbers secure a rope and swing underneath an overhang\". Is this a sport or just what happens when you fall while trying to climb an overhang?

Posts: 53
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2005 9:39 am
Location: Pretoria

Post by twiga »

How I understood it, is that they repeatedly jumped / swinged underneath the overhang. Causing the rope to cut against a sharp edge of the rock. (wasn't caused by a single fall)

Regarding rope strength, see below (from the tradgirl FAQ):

In a report on dynamic climbing ropes Pitt Schubert, President of the UIAA safety commission found the following....

1. Ropes cannot break in the tie in knot, or at the running belay.

2. Use of twin ropes has cut down on breakage's.

3. There have been no known rope failures in sport climbing

4. Petrol, Diesel, WD40, Coke and sea water do not damage ropes.

5. Autan (insect repellent), although damaging to plastic, was not found to damage fact strength was slightly increased.

6. UV radiation does not damage ropes. Nylon is UV stabilised and only the colour will be lost.

7. Standing on a rope loaded over a right-angled metal edge with three times body weight did not reduce a ropes strength.

8. Standing on a rope in the snow with crampons did no damage. Neither did standing on it on rock with a 75kg body weight. In a further test crampon points were forced right through the rope with no strength reduction/damage occurring!

9. The suggested life span of 10 years which has been given for ropes is to help the user determine life span . However, after contact with ICI it was found that although after 10 years there was a measurable degradation in nylon (not just in ropes, but all nylon textiles) ageing itself would not cause a rope to break, unless it was loaded over a sharp edge.

10. Top roping damaged ropes, but the damage was visible and could be felt. The same applied to damage from stonefall.

However, lest we become complacent...

1. Any rope can break when loaded over a sharp edge. It is not possible to produce a rope that is strong enough not to break when loaded over a sharp edge, however, the maximum chance for survival is with a new rope.

2. Car battery acid damages ropes and cannot be visibly detected.

3. Ropes soaked overnight in urine (!) had their strength reduced by 30%. However, this was only relevant when the rope was loadedover a sharp edge.

4. The strength of frozen and wet ropes was reduced but again, unless the rope is loaded over a sharp edge, it would not matter.


I would be more concerned about gear ripping than a rope breaking.

- twiga
Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2006 2:15 pm

Post by RockHopper »

My sincere condolences to all her friends and family, my thoughts are with you all, she was loved by all and will be missed. Unfortunately I can not release her name for courtesy to the family during this difficult time.

Thank you to all the rescue and medical personal that assisted.

From what I have gathered, the accident was not rock climbing related.

Do remember climbing is inherently a dangerous sport done at one own risk. The chance of a rope breakage is very slim on lead and there so far has not been a recorded instance of a rope breaking on a fall.

Naturally sharp edges and sharp crystals / flakes increase the chances of a rope fraying. There is a lot of information regarding rope and rope safety.

A cliff jump was rigged in the early morning of Sunday off the large overhang that she often jumps off.

This usually involves a rig using a dynamic climbing rope or two, off several anchor points and then jumping the slack out of the system and swinging. In essence a bridge swing off a large overhang.

It seems the accident did not occur on the jump but afterwards, it was noted that the ropes where frayed / busy fraying while she was swinging below the overhang

Other members of her group tried to lower another rope to her in order to try and save her life.

You will be missed...
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