/ blue ice harness choucas

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muFF1n - on 16 Oct 2012
Hi,

I've used it climbing on altitude over the summer
and recognized the sliding part of the waist buckle rotating and pivoting under load exactly into the position where it would unthread from the fixed part while hanging from a belay.

Scary.

The following signs are on the harness:
- #400 10001
- hand wash only
- type C (sit harness)
- CE 0082
- EN 12277:2007
- year 2011
- size M/L

Anyone else with similar experiences?
What are your views on this harness?
muFF1n - on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to muFF1n: noone else using blueice harnesses?
cuppatea on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to muFF1n:

Not me! But I'd like to know more as part of my "should I replace my old harness with an old school threadback or a paranoia inducing speed-unlock buckled harness" research.

:-)
muFF1n - on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to cuppatea:

ooookaaaay ... it might enlighten you that in 27 years (starting with Mammut's doublebuckles in 1985) of using
non-threadbacks this (the blueice buckle) is the first I'm afraid of.

cuppatea on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to muFF1n:

Thanks for the reassurance! Deep down I know it's an irrational fear. Maybe stemming from cutting my climbing teeth on loose choss, or having watched Cliffhanger too many times..

What happened to your harness? Did the buckle catch on something or was it at a funny angle due to clothing underneath?
nufkin - on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to muFF1n:

I've not used one, but have thought they look lovely and light.

It sounds like a potentially serious problem - have you contacted Blue Ice directly, or Beyond Hope? And maybe the BMC would be interested as well.
muFF1n - on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to cuppatea:

neither.
I was taking photos, lent a bit sideways and when I looked down amd my left eye catched the moving buckle I really freaked out ...

And no, I did not yet talk to blueice, wanted to know if I'm the only one paranoid on the planet ...

I'll try and post a pic if you swear you say nothing in the direction that I'm too fat ;)
cuppatea on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to muFF1n:

I'll say nothing! I'm verging on the well insulated shape myself..It's a good extra layer for winter, and makes pull ups more beneficial ;-)
muFF1n - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to cuppatea:

So true!

Ok, here is some more pics and a vid,
the package:
Recycled polyester pouch
Harness: Weight 170 gr. Material Dyneema®, High tenacity Polyester and ergal buckle
http://i.imgur.com/tZ1Ka.jpg
The buckles: bottom square, upper hex-rectangular (or so)
http://i.imgur.com/mn0Mh.jpg
The tag:
http://i.imgur.com/JTVbe.jpg
Another view of the buckles, note the Dyneema folds
http://i.imgur.com/U8uNa.jpg
Buckles top view:
http://i.imgur.com/SuUDQ.jpg
Buckles closed and correctly aligned:
http://i.imgur.com/Qvmty.jpg
Buckles closed and correctly aligned top view:
http://i.imgur.com/OYuIL.jpg
Buckles closed under load, incorrectly aligned, this is normal when you use the harness:
http://i.imgur.com/9Btum.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/gMgHN.jpg
And this is what may happen then ...
http://i.imgur.com/ROyPO.jpg
Harness correctly worn from top:
http://i.imgur.com/vn9X3.jpg
Harness loaded:
http://i.imgur.com/HcsKP.jpg
Buckle rotating under load:
http://i.imgur.com/7H59T.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/sLkHu.jpg
Buckle pivoting under load:
http://i.imgur.com/oxQjL.jpg
*sht*
http://i.imgur.com/o2UrO.jpg

I tried to capture this altogether on vid:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seb4t4Nwyo8

Has anyone used this and experienced similar behavior?
In reply to muFF1n: I didn't get what you meant originally but the looks really dodgy! If it can twist round in normal use that looks pretty bad. Lots of products have been recalled for less than that. I'd let your national mountaineering body (if you're not in the UK) and the company know.
muFF1n - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA:

I confirm: it rotates and pivots in normal use.
At least for me. Anyone else?
Mr Fuller on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to muFF1n: As Toby says, regardless of the experiences of others, this is definitely worth telling Blue Ice about, and the relevant body.
cuppatea on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to muFF1n:

Holy shtuff! That's pretty scary.

The buckle arrangement looks like that found on a lifejacket rather than a climbing harness.

Glad it didn't drop you a long way down.
In reply to muFF1n: Aren't they a new and small firm? If so probably not too many other people have those harnesses, so you might not find anyone else who has seen that - but perhaps that means even more so that you should report it!
muFF1n - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA:

k then ... I sent notes with a link to this forum to blueice and the leader of the DAV Sicherheitskreis, currently Florian Hellberg? (Chris Semmel resigned in August and we do not have a similar body in Austria).

tapdadapp ...
muFF1n - on 29 Oct 2012
Hello,

the answer from the manufacture is:

1.) they cannot reproduce the behavior
2.) the harness is designed for professionals
3.) the user should pay attention when wearing it in order to avoid possible usage errors
4.)they updated the buckle with a new design for the 2013 collection that they introduced at the Friedrichshafen Outdoor show last July.
angry pirate - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to muFF1n:
Blimey!
As an amateur climber, I'll avoid one of those then :)
uncdunc on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to muFF1n:

Truly scary looking indeed!!!
My wife has one of these and I was really jealous of it until now......

She uses it for ski touring so as yet has never actually rappelled anything or had it under load to produce the same effect. She is by far a novice with all things climbing and harness related and no one in the shop that sold her the harness (Snell sports) told her it was for 'professionals'. I'm sure the blurb that came with it never mentioned that either.

When I get home I'm gonna have a play with hers and see if I can replicate your pivoting and unbuckle. If so, I'll be knocking on Blue ice's door (we are in Chamonix)and taking it back. I'll visit the shop she got it from too and let them know it's potential for disaster.

In reply to muFF1n:

Are the following direct quotes from the company concerned? Or you interpretation of their position? Because if that's there stated position it's a bit worrying.

> 1.) they cannot reproduce the behavior

It's interesting that this comes first, as that seems to lead to what I think would have do be called the dismissive following points.

> 2.) the harness is designed for professionals

Well at least one shop in the UK has them for sale, I can't imagine Peglers refusing to sell them to people who aren't "professionals". Does it strike anyone else as total bollocks? Professional what exactly anyway? Mountain guides? Indoor climbing wall instructors? Doctors? Lawyers?

> 3.) the user should pay attention when wearing it in order to avoid possible usage errors

Compare that to the Wild Country recall where they say that the problem with Ropeman 3 is clearly only in very specific and probably rare circumstances but "Nevertheless we recognize that there may well be scenarios particularly in difficult conditions such as poor weather, extreme fatigue or during the course of an accident where the Ropeman 3 may not in our opinion be fully relied upon to meet the reasonable expectations of the user." http://www.wildcountry.co.uk/community/latest-news/2012/10/29/Voluntary_Recall_Notice_Ropeman_3/

> 4.)they updated the buckle with a new design for the 2013 collection that they introduced at the Friedrichshafen Outdoor show last July.

If to them there ISN'T a problem with the original design, what's the relevance of this?

giovanni.blueice on 30 Oct 2012
I am the designer of the Choucas Harness and I would like to clarify our reply to muFF1n. Here is the quote of the original message:

“Hi Lukas,

We looked into the issue you point out in your message. Below you will find our conclusions.

We have made specific tests on the harness and we were never able to make the buckle turn by itself when the harness is properly tighten and worn. We have also asked our ambassadors and none of them observed this behavior in more than two years of usage.

This harness and buckle were designed for use by professionals who must wear the harness with gloves and, like other harnesses, it requires attention when wearing it and closing the buckle. Because of the success of the product and to avoid all possible usage errors, we updated the buckle with a new design for the 2013 collection that we introduced at the Friedrichshafen Outdoor show last July.

Finally, I would like to assure you that APAVE Sudeurope certifies that the harness conforms the CE norms and that we are audited on a yearly basis to ensure that our manufacturing procedures responds to the required safety standards.

If you have any further question, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly.

Best regards,

Giovannibattista Rossi”

I would like to explain this further:

The buckle used on the harness, known in French as a “boucle rapco” is a well-known design and it is used on a variety of safety equipment, including the Mammut Alpine Light harness. This buckle can be closed and adjusted easily when wearing gloves and it is what our customers demanded when we designed the harness. Because of the success of the Choucas, for our upcoming version we decided to sacrifice some usability in favor of a more error proof design: the “rapco” buckle must be inserted in the right way when wearing the harness and the webbing must be flat and without twists (see the third paragraph of the section “Putting on the harness” in the instructions booklet). We have been using and testing the Choucas Harness for more than two years and we have never observed the buckle rotating on itself when it is closed correctly and with the harness properly worn and tighten.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly at info@blueice.com.
muFF1n - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to giovanni.blueice:

I've never seen a Mammut harness with exactly that buckle
or any harness featuring the combination of this buckle and soft Dyneema webbing. References, any?

The webbing is far softer than e.g. Nylon and starts folding, rolling as you move, especially under load. Just wet the harness, wear it for 3 hrs climbing steep terrain without constantly realinging it and drop into a crevasse to test it.
muFF1n - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to muFF1n:

And for those who don't know Dyneema (ultramolecular Polyethylen):

Weight 0.94g/cm³, lighter than water but tear resistant as steel.
It already melts at 144°C. Its highly cut resistant.
The problem is its extremely smooth surface, you cant even color it, sewing requires special techniques. You therefore also cannot use it for climbing knots: an overhand knot e.g. is known to start moving when loaded with 80kg.

So, is this the material to be used in harnesses?

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