/ Had a fall - ClickUp concerns
Hello all. I recently took a fall from approx 10m, which resulted in a fracture of my l1 vertebra. I'm hurting, but long term, I'm expected to make a full recovery, so I've been very, very lucky.
However, it's the circumstances of the fall that are worrying me currently, and I can't stop thinking about.
I was lead climbing indoors, however, having never fallen on lead (I push myself on top rope, but always drop a grade or two on lead), I thought it was time I took a fall to experience it.
I selected a route with a slight overhang, tied in, and we did a buddy-buddy check, we always do. Discussed my plans with my belayer, and went up. I climbed to the 4th bolt, and stopped. Had a quick chat with the belayer, informed them I was going to have a fall. I heard the click up "click", and heard my belayer indicate they were happy for me to take a fall.
I let go of the wall, and was suprised by how far I fell without feeling any resistance, that was all I had time to think before I hit the deck. Initially I thought I was fine, so attempted to stand up, and it quickly became evident I wasn't.
Whilst waiting for the ambulance, I had plenty of time to try and understand what had happened. I was still tied in to my harness (one of the staff at the wall had to untie the rope for the ambulance crew).
Rope was still in all the gear on the wall, I saw this myself and had several of those that had come to my assistance confirm it too.
Rope was still in the click up plus. My belayer went into shock almost instantly after the fall, and staff and climbers from the wall had to remover her equipment from her. They confirmed the click up was still attached to her harness, and the rope was routed correctly through the click up.
Belayer can recall the events as they unfolded with almost perfect clarity, and confirmed the click up was in the locked position (I heard the click too) before I fell. As soon as I let go of the wall, there was zero resistance from the click up, and all of her efforts to slow my fall were fruitless. A climber at the wall came forward and said they watched her, and their account marries up with the belayer.
Since I have been discharged I have played around with the click up plus, and it seems to lock, although, my tests have only been in the house.
We have both been using the click up for a while now climbing at least twice a week with it, and have previously taken falls on it whilst top roping. Before the click up, we were using a tube style belay device, but I upgraded to a click up as we both liked the additional safety features.
I was using a pretty new 10mm Beal rope, a 6 week old click up plus.
I'm a big fan of Occam's Razor, but after countless hours, I can't even decide what the simplest cause of the accident might be, let alone the most likely. In my gut, I'm thinking it must be an issue with the click up, but I know thousands of people use them with no issue? Has anyone ever had any weirdness with a click up?
I appreciate this is a long post, and I guess the reason I'm writing it is because I could really use some outside opinions or thoughts.
I'm at a bit of loss with it all, I don't know what to think about the whole event (apart from the fact I was lucky), I can't stop thinking about what could of caused the accident, I know it's best to not obsess over what happened, but, if I'm to climb again, I'd like to at least have some sort of understanding of the cause?
This might sound like a stupid question, but it's not fully clear from your account: was your belayer holding the rope when you fell?
Did you clip the 4th bolt or climb to it and fall before clipping it?
Maybe the problem was too much slack in the system relative to height above the ground rather than the belay device not locking.
Apologies for the lack of clarity; belayer was indeed holding the rope.
Climbed to the 4th, clipped it, and then took the fall, bolt was just below waist level when I fell.
Just to confirm, you say you climbed to the 4th bolt - did you clip it?
Lead falls do go a lot further than you’d think and caused by many variables, rope stretch, slack being taken up, knot tightening, belayer being pulled in/up. Overhanging routes tend to have the QDs pulled outwards which lowers you even further
Hope your recovery goes well and you find some answers
How far from the wall was the belayer and did they get dragged in and up? That plus, slack and rope stretch could give you the distance to hit the deck.
It's extremely unlikely there is an issue with the belay device its self unless there is some sign of damage to it which again seems very unlikely.
It's impossible to say with any certainty as I wasn't there to see it but it's very likely your belayer's fault. They were either not holding the rope or the right end of the rope, had too much slack out considering where you were falling from or didn't lock the belay device off as you weighted the rope.
Given the implied inexperience of your belayer and the fact you were shocked at how far you went with no resistance the most probable are not holding the rope or too much slack.
Hi mate. Yup, clipped the 4th, which was approximately 10m off the deck. I fell with the 4th bolt just below my waist.
Cheers, me too.
Near enough against the wall mate, no drag whatsoever.
Did your belayer feel the pull of the rope on their harness? If not, either the belay device failed to stop the rope or there was too much slack out and the belay device never got a chance to do its thing. Incidentally, I don’t think self arresting belay devices are meant to be 100% reliable. That’s why the belayer always need to keep a hand on the dead rope.
Did the belayer get pulled off their feet and into the wall? If yes, the device worked but slack in the system plus the belayer getting pulled it caused you to go a lot further than expected.
4th bolt wouldn’t be 10m up at the average wall. More like 6m. Still a long way to fall.
Well worth reporting this incident - https://www.thebmc.co.uk/modules/incident-reporting/?utm_content=link3&utm_campaign=news_id_0&utm_medium=news_post&utm_source=ukclimbing
Cheers for the detailed reply mate.
I wouldn't say she is particularly inexperienced, apologies if my essay portrayed it that way.
We run the click up the same way we ran a tube, always a hand on the brake side.
There was no resistance during my fall, and the belayer felt no resistance whilst I was falling from the click up, yet I heard it lock before the fall, and she confirms she locked it before the fall, which is why I'm so baffled by it.
Thanks for the reply.
Belayer felt no pull on their harness, and describe the rope running through their brake hand with zero resistance, as you'd expect it to feel if there was no belay device there.
We run the click up in the same way we ran a tube device, always a hand on the brake side, but it just pulled through her hand.
Yeah, sorry, the height is just what it said in my discharge notes from the estimate the ambulance service did, I'm not too sure on the heigh, only that it was the 4th bolt.
Thanks for the reply!
Did she have the right end of the rope on belay? The right strand on the live side? Did she feel any slack being pulled through the device as you fell (I assume not else she'd probably be suffering from rope burn)?
If she was holding the rope and didn't feel slack whizzing through the device, then there was too much slack out - either through rope mismanagement or from having the wrong bit of rope on belay. I can't see any other plausible explanation.
Hi mate. To your first two questions, yup, both were correct, I checked both before I went up, as I always do. She, would equally check me if I was belaying her. I also heard the click up "click" to the locked position before I released myself from the wall.
She was holding the brake side of the line with one hand, and felt the rope whizzing through her hand as you describe. Mild rope burn.
Thanks for taking the time to reply!
I'll definitely do this. I'm not after pointing blame at anyone or anything, but I can't get my head around what happened.
Thanks for the link.
May I ask where? If the fourth bolt is 10m high, I'd be very, very surprised...
> She was holding the brake side of the line with one hand, and felt the rope whizzing through her hand as you describe.
Ok, so NOT holding the rope then...
I'm sorry, I didn't mean for that post to sound accusatory. I cross-posted with your previous reply.
Left hand on the climber side. Right hand on the brake side. When the fall occurred, she felt the line whizzing through her hands, ie, it overcame her grip strength.
Apologies for lack of clarity.
The height I'm using is only as was reported on my discharge notes mate, after the ambulance service estimated it at the scene. I don't know the actual height, just that it was the 4th bolt and the notes said it was a 10m fall. It's plausible it was less.
> Ok, so NOT holding the rope then...
That's what it sounds like. It is very easy to happen. You use a device a lot and hundreds and hundreds of times it always locks up so you stop holding the dead rope tightly, you're assuming that it isn't necessary and you can pay out faster if you let it slide through your hand rather than grasping it.
Then you get the one time in a thousand the mechanical action doesn't lock, it's confusing because you expect to be getting dragged by the rope like every other catch and you're not, the rope is going through your hand really fast and you don't have time to figure out what is happening in the fraction of a second before the rope is moving too fast to grasp.
Is it possible that the biner attaching the click up to the harness was not clipped through the rope as well as the device? You may, when checking your partner have accidentally missed this. I haven't used the click up myself but it looked from photos of the device as if the rope if it were not clipped into the device would not come out of the click up, it would just not be bent round enough of an angle to generate the friction needed to catch the fall. Just a theory and I could easily be wrong. Best wishes for the recovery.
A couple of observations - the main one, despite what you both heard, I suspect the device hadn’t ‘clicked’ - otherwise the rope wouldn’t have run.
Secondly - we stopped using a ClickUp Plus as it has an annoying ‘halfway’ position between payout and lock mode which can be tricky to release if there is any weight on the rope. I wonder if with a slick rope, a small fall and a light hand on the rope, it has been in the halfway position and just run,
This sounds like a plausible and realistic failure, but one thing I still can't get my head around if this is the case, is that she manually locked the ClickUp prior to the fall (sharp upward tug on the climbers side of the line with left hand).
I guess it's not beyond the realms of possibility that it hadn't fully engaged after the click.
Thanks for taking the time to reply mate.
This has always been a concern of ours, so a part of the checks we do is giving the rope a good "tug" before going up, this should reveal if the rope has missed the bina.
Cheers for the well wishes!
I fear this is the case mate, you've summed up my thoughts after reading the feedback in this thread perfectly there.
Not going to lie, it's devastating, I wanted to exonerate her of it all, she's not slept since and is in a bad way mentally. Guess it might be time for a little white lie and to hang up our climbing harnesses.
Hope "southeastclimber" recover well and can go back climbing soon.
Thinking about it and guessing as well. I got a ClickUp+ as well. Using a smaller diameter rope though. Because a 10 mm feeds not very easy and tangels more (salade).
You say you heard the device click. Did belayer hold the free end of the rope down. For the Click Up+ it shouldn’t matter if the free end of the rope was down or slightly up as long as the belayer was pulling it down when you were falling. It should block. If it didn't block. With 10 meters of slack running fast trough the belayers hands it must have been a painful experience as well for the belayer and have caused burns. Does the belayer have burns in the hands? If so then it could be that the rope didn’t block or that the free end was not pulled down or … (Suggestions are very welcome) or if not it could have been just rope stretch (in that case it should have been just a soft touche down) or as other said paid out too much slack.
Listen well I am not accusing your belayer of poor belaying technic. I am just trying helping searching what could have happened and caused you decking. This shouldn’t happen.
I can imagine you want to know what caused you falling.
Thanks for the reply dude.
She held the brake end of the rope down, by her right thigh (although I imagine her hand moved during the duration of fall). She did suffer some burns too.
It was a high speed Impact for me mate, zero deceleration.
After thinking about the feedback offered in this thread, I think I suspect the click up was in a halfway position, having emmited the audible click, but not fully locked off.
> Not going to lie, it's devastating, I wanted to exonerate her of it all, she's not slept since and is in a bad way mentally. Guess it might be time for a little white lie and to hang up our climbing harnesses.
I wouldn't try and assign blame when a one in a thousand situation happens. It's a sport with an element of risk. People who have had accidents can be far safer to climb with because they have a better appreciation for the risk and are careful. The partners you want to watch are the overconfident ones who haven't had an accident yet and think it's all safe.
Why not give it a month and then go back to the wall for a session with an instructor? Get the instructor to watch you both and confirm that everything is fine to get confidence back in each other.
>Guess it might be time for a little white lie and to hang up our climbing harnesses.
Don't give up climbing. It would be more constructive to actually let them know what happened then they can make sure it wont happen again. If you gave up at something every time you make a mistake then no one would be good at anything.
Maybe go back to top roping until they are more confident again, use another device if you lack confidence in the click-up.
I only use a grigri or an atc so am unfamiliar with a click up.
doesnt it act like an unassisted belay device even if it hasn’t ‘clicked’, so just like a tube or atc?
That's the problem mate, I don't want to blame her, and indeed don't, it was my decision to take the fall, and my decision to go up the wall in the first place.
I guess I was hoping to find out the most likely cause of the accident, and that there would be a plausible explanation that meant it wasn't her fault in any way, so I'd be able to explain to her why it happened, and prove to her she shouldn't be blaming herself, but alas, that's not the case.
She's been amazing since the accident, but she already blames herself, and is struggling with the self imposed guilt.
My recovery is 3 months minimum, if they decide later I need surgery it'll be double that, I guess my hope is that with time she feels better about it all, and will be willing to engage with an instructor. Time heals all wounds, or so they say, hopefully this is ture for her confidence with regard to the sport.
I'd climb with her tomorrow, if she wanted to, if my body would let me, and I could explain to her what happened and why.
Oh well, time will tell. Thanks for taking the time to reply dudes.
Sort of mate. If you take a fall on a click up, so long as there is a hand on the brake side line, it'll "click" and lock off.
I know what you mean mate, and I'm definitely usually a "get back on the horse" kind of guy.
Right now, though, I think the worst thing I could do would be to confirm to her that she likely played a part in me decking. She's struggling with it mentally already, and at this point, it's still a mystery to her why it happened.
I guess with time I could perhaps phrase it along the line as "this is why I think it happened".
It's all still pretty fresh, for both of us, I'd love for us to continue climbing, I guess it's just finding a way to do it right.
If you predominantly climb indoors once you're healed nicely go bouldering.
Excellent idea, this is definitely the way to get out foot(feet) back in the door with the sport.
Love this community.
> >Guess it might be time for a little white lie and to hang up our climbing harnesses.
> Don't give up climbing.
This, don't, it's a great sport.
Back in the 80's a friend I was belaying took a ground fall when his gear ripped. 3 crushed vertebrae. He was climbing again in about 3 months. I'm not sure about the "go bouldering" advice though. There's pottentially quite a high impact when you fall. Personally I'd stick to top roping until you're completely recovered and change your belay device. After your experience, the click up cannot inspire confidence. I think you should go for a non-autolocking device such as an ATC. When you get back to leading, take plenty of practice falls to allow your partner to recover her confidence.
If the rope was running through the device and the belayer got rope burn, it was either device failure or user error or both. Not familiar with the click up so can’t comment which one is most likely.
Jesus. It's scary breaking one, let alone 3, glad he recovered OK!
100% will change belay device if we climb roped again, and certainly won't do anything until I am fully signed off as fit by the docs/surgeons. I think low level bouldering to get us back into a climbing gym again will be a good way of broaching the subject of top rope climbing.
Will see what the future brings! 🙂
If the belayer had really been holding a free-falling rope for 10m, they'd have more than mild rope burn.
My guess is they thought it was locked and trusted it on auto. It wasn't and the reaction time to grab the rope was just enough to get mild burns before the deck out.
Gri gris, click ups and whatever are not supposed to be hands free devices.
> she's not slept since and is in a bad way mentally.
It sounds like she's struggling and probably somewhat traumatized (which is very understandable).
What's her support system like? Has she got other friends to talk to and lean on (or who can provide some distraction)? It might be harder for her to feel she can lean on you emotionally right now, because you're the injured one and she's already feeling guilty.
And don't neglect your own wellbeing either, even if it seems like you're "coping" better at the moment. A bad accident like this is always going to mess with your head to some degree, and you do mention that you can't stop thinking about it.
Definitely doesn't mean you can't get back on the horse, but be patient and kind with yourself!
> Jesus. It's scary breaking one, let alone 3, glad he recovered OK!
It certainly was. My friend was a doctor, he lay there on the ground and said "Don't move me, I think I've broken my neck". Fortunately we were fairly close to the road, so when a doctor and the ambulance arrived, getting him to the ambulance was not too difficult. Also his injuries turned out to be not as bad as he first thought, thank goodness.
I don't want to speculate too much, but surprised the click up + didn't lock as I find it really grabby, to the point I assumed it was pretty much self locking (if not in name).
Also, the click you heard before letting go could have been from unlocking it if it clicked-up while belaying, which it does easily.
Good luck with your recovery and to your belayer, it's an awful situation for both of u and hope you are getting lots of support.
A bummer for you and great respect for your attitude. Absolute best wishes for the future for you and your belayer. After reading the thread I think the Clickup design has a design flaw. It simply should not be possible to have a halfway clicked but not locked position. That seems to me to be a dreadfully bad design.
So your belayer should blame the device for failing as the main contribution to your accident.
Just my two cents.
Best wishes to you both.
I don't understand why you got the belayer to lock off (click up) the device before falling if you were trying to experience a fall. Sounds more like you're asking to 'take'. When I've practiced falls with the click up I've checked the amount of slack rope isn't excessive and then jumped off. Only then does the device click to the locked state?
> Gri gris, click ups and whatever are not supposed to be hands free devices.
They're not, but unless something is wrong I'd be quite surprised if it's possible to grip the dead rope firmly enough to cause rope burns without the device locking up immediately.
Definitely send your rope, carabiner and clickup to climbing technology so they can have a proper look at it. If there is a problem situation then they'd want to find out what it was so it's worth them checking. (I presume it was the click up carabiner?)
I suspect the fault code would be RTFM.
> I suspect the fault code would be RTFM.
Yeah, the OP has already acknowledged above that human error on the belayer's part is a possibility. There's really no need to be quite such a dick about it though is there.
I was replying to timparkin who suggested sending the rope, caribiner and device to Climbing Technology. I'm pretty sure my response would be the same as theirs.
> I'm pretty sure my response would be the same as theirs.
I would hope that, even if it was essentially the same, theirs would be more diplomatically phrased.
This is why I like to use a bug type device, they're either wrong or they're not and people know what's what with them. KISS
I was referring to the internal report not the consumer version...
> I climbed to the 4th bolt, and stopped. Had a quick chat with the belayer, informed them I was going to have a fall. I heard the click up "click", and heard my belayer indicate they were happy for me to take a fall.
Think back, did you take a real fall or did you slump on to the rope - something that would be completely natural in the circumstances? I've never used a click up, but just about the only way a Grigri will fail to grab the rope is in exactly this case, when the shock is insufficient to engage the cam. I don't know if a click up will react in the same way. Even if it did though, I'd agree with Deepsoup:
> I'd be quite surprised if it's possible to grip the dead rope firmly enough to cause rope burns without the device locking up immediately.
Another thought, is it possible to load the rope into the device in the wrong direction?
Hello all. I've spent the last hour or two playing with the rope and click up involved.
After some of the comments here, I focused on manually locking the device. It is entirely possible to manually lock the device, and for the device to emit the audible click which would Indictate to the belayer it is in the locked position, however upon closer visual inspection, the device is not fully locked.
Once the device is in this in this position, it is possible, even with a firm hand on the brake line, to pull through the climbers side, and the device not move to the fully locked position, and offer little to no resistance. A very very sharp and fast snap on the climbers side will cause the device to become fully locked.
This is incredibly unscientific, however, these are my anecdotal findings.
In my mind, this fits with what happened. The fall was planned and expected, so the belayer locked off the device manually, and there wasn't a great deal of slack in the system, meaning the pull on the click up would of been fairly gradual, inline with my acceleration with gravity. If there had of been more slack in the system, perhaps the pull on the rope would of been more of a snap and managed to move the device to the locked position.
They locked off as it was a planned fall, it seemed like an additional degree of saftety to lock the device of manually (sharp upward tug on the climbers side with the left hand).
It was the ClickUp bina mate, as supplied with the item.
I'll give some thought to sending it off to them. I'd hate for similar to happen to anyone else and I won't be using the gear for a while 😂
Hi mate. I've been doing some unscientific testing tonight, think that after manually locking off the click up, it is possible for it to be "half locked" after clicking. When it's in this position, if you don't apply a very sharp or sudden snap to the rope, it offers next to no resistance and doesn't fully lock off.
I'd say it is possible to load the rope the wrong way around, but I'd expect this to have been caught by our buddy checks before leaving the ground.
Thank you Eroica for your well wishes!
After experimenting and doing some low key testing with the click up and rope tonight, I'm starting to think you coukd be right 👍
I think I will read her your comment at some point.
Don't send it to the manufacturer, BMC technical committee is more neutral.
> After some of the comments here, I focused on manually locking the device. It is entirely possible to manually lock the device, and for the device to emit the audible click which would Indictate to the belayer it is in the locked position, however upon closer visual inspection, the device is not fully locked.
That does sound like a design flaw, especially if people are relying on the noise as an indicator.
> Once the device is in this in this position, it is possible, even with a firm hand on the brake line, to pull through the climbers side, and the device not move to the fully locked position, and offer little to no resistance.
Are you saying that in this position, it somehow doesn't work like a tube device? Or just that it doesn't provide the assisted braking?
I haven't used the Click-Up but from looking at a diagram, I can't see how it could become less effective than a tube device. Though maybe there's something I'm missing.
Sounds like belayer error...
I have the original click up, and did once belay with it the wrong way round, with the hand side going to the climber. I didn't realise until the climber (top roping) weighted the rope. I think it still clicks up, but it didn't lock off and only acted like a standard belay device. That did suprise me but wasn't really a problem as I do most of my belaying outdoors on standard belay devices. It struck me that it could have been a problem if you were mainly used to having an assisted braking device.
I would be surprised and concerned if it is possible to put your click up + in a configuration that provides less braking than a standard belay device assuming the rope is held down with the hand in the locked off position.
I hope you recover quickly and well done for handling this thread so positively and sensibly.
I'm a huge fan of the original Click Up (as opposed to the Click Up +) and have used it to belay hundreds of times with leader falls, TR falls and 'takes' when working routes, not to mention locking it off prior to lowering from chains and never had a problem. I have also been held on Click Ups in all those situations as well. I have to say I'm mystified by the description of what happened to you. I hesitate to use a phrase like 'fool-proof' but I think the Click Up comes pretty close to it. Even if loaded upside down it still works as an ATC/tube device if the dead rope is held correctly. Similarly even just slumping on the rope (when working moves etc) it locks easily without the need for a sharp tug.
It is essentially a very simple device with no moving parts and no hidden 'innards' so I would have thought any damage or fault would be immediately apparent. If the rope had not been threaded properly through the karabiner it would have pulled straight out when you fell so I can't see that being the cause either.
It really does sound to me like some kind of user error either through too much slack or the belayer being dragged. Is there much of a weight difference between you? If so, was she using a sandbag?
As others have said, falls are often (usually?) longer than expected, certainly until you take a few and learn from experience. Again as others have said, the 4th bolt is unlikely to be 10m up and personally I would not deliberately fall from below the sixth bolt on the walls I go to (although that may have been a blessing for you since the belay system failed and a higher bolt may have meant a longer and more damaging fall).
Sorry I can't help you with a definitive answer but given the simplicity and reliability of the device and the length of time it has been in widespread use without apparent problems a process of elimination keeps bringing me back to some sort of user error.
I’ve personally dropped someone, although in much different circumstances, they took a rest on a cam at about 8 metres in a crack climb which popped out and they fell with such unexpected force it ripped open my hands. (Was using an ATC Guide) Thankfully they were absolutely fine, however I was and still am definitely traumatised by it and it has really affected my trad head game, and I soon started using a grigri permanently, whereas I don’t think it really affected the climber at all. Thus I can understand your belayer taking it much worse than you, but you just have to jump straight back on the horse. Best of luck.
> The fall was planned and expected, so the belayer locked off the device manually, and there wasn't a great deal of slack in the system, meaning the pull on the click up would of been fairly gradual, inline with my acceleration with gravity. If there had of been more slack in the system, perhaps the pull on the rope would of been more of a snap and managed to move the device to the locked position.
Not being overly familiar with this device (used it once for all of 5 minutes), is it designed to have a deliberate lock from the belayer prior to the fall? As you say if you had fallen with out the "prelock" the device would probably have gone fully locked and held.
Get in touch with Climbing Technology and ask their advice. It may be the case that it isn't designed to be locked by the belayer as they cant generate the right loading force to get a full lock and this leads to the unfortunate scenario that happened to you. In a real leader fall the device would never be "prelocked" by the belayer.
If the above is true then it's a case of user error and reading back on your previous comments something that both you and your belayer regularly did. In which case to ease your partners mental anguish with the whole situation the blame can be apportioned 50/50. It could easily of happened to them with you doing the same thing. All the while both of you thought you were being safe. If you dont know, you dont know.
Will look into this mate, thanks for the advice.
Thanks for taking the time to reply.
Yeah, I had a play with the click+ up last night and also noticed that it appears to function as a tube device when the rope runs through in the "wrong" way. This combined with the fact that we always do a pretty robust buddy buddy check leaves me confident it wasn't routed through the device incorrectly.
I'm fairly suprised too, however, I'm going to spend some more time playing with the device later today, and see how repeatable it is.
Thanks for the well wishes, all the best!
> Get in touch with Climbing Technology and ask their advice. It may be the case that it isn't designed to be locked by the belayer as they cant generate the right loading force to get a full lock
As far as I can see, the instruction manual doesn't advise doing this while lead-belaying (but doesn't say not to, either).
It does describe manually locking it (as Southeastclimber describes) to test that it's working and while top-rope belaying, so it should be possible to lock it that way.
No sensible, useful belay device needs to be set to take a fall, else unexpected falls do what. If you were by bolt 4 on most walls you're less than 6m up and I'd assume a mix of too much slack and belayer error
I'm in agreement with you if I'm honest mate, util the accident, I absolutely loved it, and now I'm just super mystified by it all, and was reassured by the fact it was so widely used, well regarded and simple.
She wasn't dragged at all, there was zero pull on her harness, the rope just ran through it the click up, so also zero stretch in the rope etc, as I fell in-attenuated.
No problem dude, I just appreciate everyone taking the time to share their thoughts and opinions👍
Sorry to hear you went through that dude.
Yeah, right now, I don't think all the money in the world could get my belayer to go climbing but I'm hoping with time (which we have plenty of until I'm recovered) she'll feel more ready.
The question I have is if the device doesn't fully lock, how much friction does it give? Comparable to an ATC?
Yeah, we've certainly both done it, and the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced it played a part in my fall.
You are right, I do now believe that if the device hadn't been manually put into the locked position (possibly not fully), and I released myself from the wall, it would of locked off.
@slab_happy kindly found an electronic copy of the manual. It advises manually locking the device for testing and top roping. I think this is where we've gone wrong.
When top roping, before lowering from the top, we remove most of the slack (pull through) then lock off manually(sharp upward tug on the climber side), before sitting down slightly or taking a step back to take the weight of the climber. Thinking back, I'm confident there have been times when I've done this, that the click up has adjusted itself (I assume moving into the fully locked position).
However, when I fell, my belayer knew I wanted some slack, to simulate a more realistic lead fall, so the device was locked off, but a little slack remained, in the system.
Last night I managed to half lock the device in such way that it emmitted the click, but offered little to no breaking on the rope (certainly less than tube), even when a firm hand was on the break side, whilst there was a firm and constant pull on the climbers side. If I did the same thing with less of a pull, and more of "snap" the device locked off fully.
It is now my hypothesis (again, completely unscientific and anecdotal) that when manually locking off the device, the audible click was heard, and all involved assumed the device was fully locked off (myself included), however, it must not of been.
I released from the wall (perhaps slumped, rather than fell, as some have discussed) and whilst there was some slack in the system, but not much, the fall may have initially appeared to the click up as a pull and not a "snap" and therefore not fully locked it off.
Whether it was a slightly weak hand on the rope (rope burn may indicate otherwise) or the fact the click up didn't provide much or any braking to the rope, I guess we'll never know for sure.
I think I'll keep playing with the ClickUp today and see how often I can get it to "half lock" and how little breaking it provides to the rope.
It's strange, as from the unlocked position, I can lock the click up whilst barely holding the rope between my thumb and finger, when a force is applied to the climbers side (never done this with a human on the climbers side). When it is "half locked" it requires a very firm grip on the brake side and a very sharp pull on the climbers side.
So, to anyone reading, my advice at this point would be; do not intentionally lock off your click up device manually prior to your climber taking a fall.
Before I go on, I feel I should say, my "testing" so far has consisted of me fiddling with the gear, whilst on a bunch of pain meds, in our house. It is quite probably as unscientific, unrelaibale and anecdotal as "testing" can be. Its also quite possible that all the gear behaves completely differently when setup at a wall, and the forces involve human bodyweight rather than a dude with a bad back pulling at things. Also, I feel, in order to balance this all out, I need to say, I have plenty of other Climbing Technology gear, and love it, and certainly don't have some personal vendetta against them or anything like that .
Having said the above, so far, it seems to me that when "half locked" unless there is a "snap" on the climbers side, the device is hesitant to move to the fully locked position. If it remains "half locked", there appears to be some friction, but I would say a fair bit less than an atc. Again, how linear this is, I don't know, the friction may sky rocket if there is a human falling on the rope as opposed to me just pulling it.
But, to avoid the possibility of this happening, I'd suggest not locking off manually if you think your climber is going to have a fall, and maybe having a visual check before lowering, rather than relying on the click.
If further testing comes to the same conclusion as you then:
Heavier leader taking a fall + device not locking giving low friction + belayer expecting assisted braking = Accident waiting to happen.
I've always found the feeling of rope sliding through an ATC when catching a big fall a bit unnerving as you know once the rope slips out of your grip there is no way you'll be able to regrip the rope. Would be good to see some data on friction levels from assisted braking devices, as I definitely would not want to be surprised by a sudden lack of braking power when catching leader falls.
Looking at your friends hands... which one is most burnt?
When I've seen a failure of this kind of device it has been grasping the live rope more than the dead end hence the device doesn't engage fully.
I think your theory sounds feasible as it takes very little 'pull' on the rope to lock the Click Up (eg a panicky yank of the rope for a clip can make it grab, as I know to my cost). However, in light of your experieince I wonder if that grab is a full lock of just half way. Your fall sounds so short that it was perhaps more analagous to taking a leader's weight before lowering and there I automatically take a step back (if belaying from the ground, as opposed to a stance) to lock it and actually put both hands on the dead rope end. This is habit rather than anything I was advised to do but perhaps is a hangover from my days of using an ATC. Again it requires very little 'pull' to get that lock. Once I can feel that I have the leader's weight and everything is working then I release one hand from the dead rope to tilt the Click Up for the lower. However, I confess that, like you, when leading once I hear the tell-tale 'click' I have always assumed it was locked.
Fingers crossed you and your partner both recover respectively from this incident. having only used a normal belay plate and a grigri I can't comment on the click up. I just hope you are both ok and this incident doesn't put either of you off climbing.
I read this and it unfortunately takes me back a good few years when I got it wrong. Mate was climbing (pembroke) and was clearly going to fall. I was using a VC pro and, being right handed, did the standard rh down to lock off. I also brought my left across, holding the dead rope between my rh hand and the device. He fell and I got a bad burn on my left hand (I did hold him!!). I put this down later to my left being in the wrong position and not my natural hand to hold the dead rope, burning my hand and letting go allowing my right to do the job. An inadvertent fall would have been fine, my right naturally holding in the correct position, it was the fact that it was an "expected" fall that I tried to really lock the device than just let it work. Belayer error.
I climb more sport now, not because of this, and use a Smart, which having tried a Clickup, I think is way better.
I wonder if this may be contributory...
”When top roping, before lowering from the top, we remove most of the slack (pull through) then lock off manually(sharp upward tug on the climber side), before sitting down slightly or taking a step back to take the weight of the climber.”
If this is your mechanism for belaying then you’ve rarely taken unexpected falls, so actually haven’t ever practiced catching a higher impact than the climber sitting back in control.
Playing with the device, it still works as a tube in any orientation and position I can put it in as long as the rope is threaded through it and through the biner (although the click function can be prevented with the wrong biner).
Friction is still generated by the “S” shape the rope makes running through device and carabiner, so I’m afraid that if the rope was still in the device then your belayer has failed to exert enough (any) force with the breaking hand. Very unlucky for you, this combined with whatever cirscumstance prevented the device from clicking, has resulted in your fall (and I do wish you the very best for your recovery and praise you for sharing so openly here).
It is worth everyone remembering that ClickUps, GriGris, Smarts, etc are all Assisted Breaking Devices, not locking devices - ie they may help, but fundamentally all still require the belayer to actually do the work. Any mention of locking is something to be very wary of.
The only possible scenario I can think of is your belayer held the device itself whilst “locking” it (in the same way you do when lowering) and then hung on tight to that when you fell, preventing it engaging and holding it open.
Anyway, speedy recovery and I hope you do both enjoy climbing again - spend some time with an instructor maybe to coach you both through the process.
Right hand mate, brake side.
Cheers for the kind words dude!
Thanks for taking the time to reply mate.
I definitely feel that the fact it was an expected fall was a contributing factor.
Scary stuff, I've never been injured in my life, despite many times I should have been. This has certainly reminded me of my of mortality and fragility.
I genuinely wish you and your belayer the best. You sound a straight up person given what's happened and put it on here.
Thanks for taking the time to pen such a beefy reply!
We ran a tube device for quite a while before we upgraded to the click up, learnt to belay on the tube too, and I've fallen on top rope (tube and click up) plenty, so she's experienced me falling, and we have always tried to treat the click up as we would a tube, but I guess people get used to the tools they are using.
Having spent another day thinking about what happened, and considering the comments on here, I think the following probably happened;
Click up was manually locked, emitted a click, but was half locked, and not fully locked off.
Belayer expected the device to be locked, and wasn't mentally prepared for the device to be running as a tube, so when I came off the wall, the forces overcame her grip, hence the rope burn, and once the line was running through her hands, there wasn't enough of a load on the brake side to move the device to fully locked.
Having said the above, I'm fairly sure, that if the device hadn't been manually locked, prior to the fall, it would of locked and acted as expected. I guess, to some extent we've both been lulled into a false sense of security. Wish we'd stayed using a tube 😂
I too hope we both fully recover, and I hope a time comes where we both feel ready to climb. I know, if that time comes we'll certainly spend a big chunk of time with an instructor, for peace of mind as much as anything, and we'll definitely go back to using a tube.
Anyway, just wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to reply and for their well wishes.
I feel I've got enough of an idea what happened to be realatively satisfied now, I feel I understand it all somewhat better, and at the same time, I think we both need to put it all behind us for a while, and learn from it when the time comes. So, I'll probably look to lock this thread at some point in the near future.
Thanks again everyone.
This seriously is one hell of a awesome community.
Whatever the device, burnt hands are usually a symptom of not paying sufficient attention in the first instance. For what it's worth I've experienced dozens, if not hundreds of falls using a Click-Up and NEVER witnessed a failure that could be attributed to the design of the device.
Glad you’re on the mend. Just an FYI for when you get climbing again. A rule of thumb is that with a belay device the ease of paying out is inversely proportional to how much ‘assist’ you get. An ATC pays out beautifully and doesn’t assist, At the other end of the spectrum, the gri-gri doesn’t pay out easily, but in my experience taking countless falls it locks with minimal user intervention. We use a grigri because of the weight difference between us, so Mrs Paul in Sheffield either flies up to the first bolt or flies into the crag if she’s standing back, the grigri is a bit of insurance against letting go and has never let us down even when I take big whippers.
maybe give one a go for confidence when you both get climbing again? Some people use arcane methods for feeding the rope out. We find reasonably skin by ropes, replaced when they get furry, feed without incident.
Get back on the horse as soon as you can.
Had pretty much the same happen to myself and my partner. High up, around 8/9 metres, sudden fall caused by a foot slip, speed of the rope going through the ATC and a bit of belayer inattention and i decked out very quickly.
damaged L1 vertebra.
We made it back to climbing briefly after the accident but there is no doubt that the reason I don’t climb now is because of it. Back rules out bouldering and there was always that slight doubt in my mind when belayed.
Get well, get fit, and get back to it, both of you, is my advice. Gri Gri device may suit going forward.
Whilst this is a bit late to be of use for yourself, there's a nice series of instructional videos by the UIAA on all, if not most of the assisted braking devices. Handy to compare usability if people are thinking of getting one and aren't able to try them out at the wall before buying! https://www.theuiaa.org/mountaineering/uiaa-and-dav-collaborate-on-safety-video-project/
> Mrs Paul in Sheffield either flies up to the first bolt or flies into the crag if she’s standing back
Have you considered the Edelrid OHM? It replaces the crab on the first quickdraw, and adds resistance to the system in the event of a fall.
The manager at my local indoor centre and his his partner, who is considerably lighter, use one, and swear by it. I've seen it in action, and it works as advertised.
It would reduce the risk of injury to Mrs In Sheffield when colliding with the wall; reduce the risk of her dropping you; and reduce the fall distance, minimising the chance of decking when falling from a low clip.
They aren't cheap, but a worthwhile investment IMHO. Best deal at the moment seems to be: https://www.exxpozed.co.uk/edelrid-ohm#!?variant=413299 (Easter Special - £88, free shipping). Never shopped with this company though, so can't comment on service.)
UKC review here: https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/climbing/belays/edelrid_ohm-9503
They're pretty much universal among large bloke - small woman climbing teams over here in Edelrid-Land.
To the OP: I'm surprised so few people have mentioned that clicking the device locked before you fall probably isn't a good habit to get into. No idea whether it contributed to your accident - not obvious to me how it would - but it's not what would happen in a real fall, and it's generally best to train realistically.
exxpozed are a big outdoor store in Kempten, Germany. I buy half my gear from them, no issues at all so far.
How long have you been climbing for?
how long had your belayer been climbing for?
> and I've fallen on top rope (tube and click up) plenty, so she's experienced me falling,
It sounds like she hadn't held a leader fall before this, though? In which case, the unfamiliar feel (on top of expecting the Click-Up to be locked when it perhaps wasn't) could very well have contributed to what happened.
All it takes is to lose control of the brake end of the rope for a moment, and then once it's running it's almost impossible to stop (though her rope burns show that she tried, which might be some comfort to her).
As and when you return to leading, a session with an instructor just to work on leading and lead belaying and to supervise some practice falls could be very useful, if only for psychological support for you both (though you're bound to get some good tips out of it as well).
> Belayer expected the device to be locked, and wasn't mentally prepared for the device to be running as a tube, so when I came off the wall, the forces overcame her grip, hence the rope burn, and once the line was running through her hands, there wasn't enough of a load on the brake side to move the device to fully locked.
I've not used a Click-Up but for what it's worth, that all sounds pretty plausible to me (if "the forces overcame her grip" means "she wasn't holding on firmly enough, or she loosened her grip for a moment").
> I feel I've got enough of an idea what happened to be realatively satisfied now, I feel I understand it all somewhat better, and at the same time, I think we both need to put it all behind us for a while, and learn from it when the time comes. So, I'll probably look to lock this thread at some point in the near future.
That all sounds really healthy! Best wishes for both of you in your recovery.
> All it takes is to lose control of the brake end of the rope for a moment, and then once it's running it's almost impossible to stop (though her rope burns show that she tried, which might be some comfort to her).
I'm not familiar with the click-up either, so we're both guessing a bit here. But while I think the above is quite correct for a 'passive' belay plate, tube or whatever, isn't it rather the point of an 'assisted' device that this is not supposed to be the case?
Putting my money where my mouth is, I just ordered one for my daughter for when we climb together, or she climbs with her boyfriend, (who is a similar weight to me).
Looks like you've had lots of useful suggestions and pretty much worked out what happened. Just one thing that hasn't been mentioned (unless I missed it). You say you were climbing with a newish rope. New ropes are very slippy until they roughen up a bit. I'm super careful catching falls and lowering on a new rope. So your rope may have been a factor too. Best of luck for a good recovery.
> I'm not familiar with the click-up
All it takes is a small force on the brake side of the rope for it to tip the CU forward which will cause it to move into the 'clicked up' mode. This locks off the device well - Scott Titt shared some tests on a thread I started and the CU+ has comparatively strong holding force. Basically if you are holding the brake rope it consistently locks off and the assisted braking will help catch a big fall.
As with all these devices it's main failing is ease of paying out the rope.... If it inadvertently locks up unlocking it can interfere with the usual safe belaying action that just works with a tube style device. Or users develop modified belaying techniques to stop then siezing up when giving rope like for the gri gri.
I've found myself changing the way I've belayed for 15 years to adapt to the click up + to be able to belay smoothly with it. I judge this to be safe, but have to conciously guard against carrying this change over when belaying with an ATC for trad.
Not to deviate too much from the original thread, but unintentional lock-up when paying out seems to be the achilles heel for the Click Up Plus. The original Click Up, while slightly heavier, seems less prone to this issue.
> I've found myself changing the way I've belayed for 15 years to adapt to the click up + to be able to belay smoothly with it. I judge this to be safe, but have to conciously guard against carrying this change over when belaying with an ATC for trad.
Same here. I mostly use a grigri these days, and then when I go and do some multipitch catch myself happily paying out rope with my thumb on top of my Reverso. Maintaining two sets of similar-but-with-important-differences reflexes for the same task is hard.
I had another mull on this yesterday at the crag, whilst fiddling with my ClickUp (1) and I am pretty sure I have a handle on what happened.
Firstly you talk about locking the ClickUp+ with a upward tug on the lead rope. Not sure where you got this idea from, the best way to lock it is by hanging onto the 'down' rope. A upward tug on the + needs to be pretty powerful (a falling climber!) to get it past the halfway position.
Secondly your belayer got rope burns - by holding the rope lightly in assumption that the device had already clicked.
Inadvertently you managed to created the one situation where the ClickUp+ (and ClickUp, and Grigri) won't work, i.e. device held 'open' and rope not held tightly.
Not sure if this is any help at this late stage, but it has to be good to know.
Best of luck with the recovery,
The more I think about this, the more pre-clicking the device seems like a bad idea. Not only because it's not what would happen in a real fall, but also because gripping the climber's strand is a known effective way of disabling a grigri. No idea if the the Click-Up is similar in this regard though.
I'm not familiar with the clickup but I suspect you've been lulled into a false sense of security by an assisted device that may not always lock (slick ropes and small falls being risk factors) and if it is going to it needs to be treated like an unassisted device with a firm hand on the dead rope which of course is also needed if it fails to lock. Accidents happen, the best we can do is learn from them.
I hope your back heals well and your partnership weathers the mishap.
Sorry to hear about your accident, and hope you recover quickly.
From reading through this I think there's pretty much a consensus on what happened here?
1. You climbed to 4th bolt
2. Balayer paid out some slack to simulate a real fall
3. Belayer pulled on climber end of the device to put into locking position, but actually only achieved half lock off
4. You fall, rope unexpectedly starts to run through device (and belayers hands as they expected it to be locked off) this is exacerbated by the slack
5. Belayers grasp on dead end of rope isn't enough to provide enough resistance to stop you hitting the deck or to make the click-up + engage fully locked position (which it may even have played a role in preventing?)
If you look at this sequence of events here, everything's basically fine until point 3, and from then on that set up an unavoidable sequence of issues that resulted in your fall.
It's not your belayers fault as you'd both agreed what you were going to do, but really the issue was that you guys were attempting to manually lock off the device before falling, which isn't how it's designed to be used. In real life falling situations, the belayer has no idea that the climber is about to fall, their weight coming onto the rope engages the locking mechanism fully.
Also I noticed you talk about how you lock the device when you're top roping.... When I belay my partner we have our click up (original not +) in the locked position from before she starts climbing (allowing me to use both hands to manually put it in that position) as in this position you can always take in but not pay out rope. How come you don't do this? Does the + not work like that?
Like I say, NOT your belayers fault, you both agreed what was going on, and are aware this is a dangerous sport in which accidents happen. Wishing you all the best and hope you both recover and climb together again.
Is there by any chance any security camera video footage from the wall.
Can you just explain what the function of this half locked off position is? Thanks.
No I've no idea - I've got the normal Click Up rather than the +
Have taken a look at the + and couldn't figure out why it exists...
Not really sure if it is an intentional 3rd setting halfway between stop and go but the whole device is longer (to improve handling?).
We found a tendency for rope to pop into this position when (e.g.) paying out quickly, it then becomes quite hard to release if you can’t unweight it.
We have gone back to the Mk1 which is markedly easier to use,
> Sorry to hear about your accident, and hope you recover quickly.
> From reading through this I think there's pretty much a consensus on what happened here?
> 1. You climbed to 4th bolt
> 2. Balayer paid out some slack to simulate a real fall
> 3. Belayer pulled on climber end of the device to put into locking position, but actually only achieved half lock off
> 4. You fall, rope unexpectedly starts to run through device (and belayers hands as they expected it to be locked off) this is exacerbated by the slack
> 5. Belayers grasp on dead end of rope isn't enough to provide enough resistance to stop you hitting the deck or to make the click-up + engage fully locked position (which it may even have played a role in preventing?)
> If you look at this sequence of events here, everything's basically fine until point 3, and from then on that set up an unavoidable sequence of issues that resulted in your fall.
> It's not your belayers fault as you'd both agreed what you were going to do, but really the issue was that you guys were attempting to manually lock off the device before falling, which isn't how it's designed to be used. In real life falling situations, the belayer has no idea that the climber is about to fall, their weight coming onto the rope engages the locking mechanism fully.
> Also I noticed you talk about how you lock the device when you're top roping.... When I belay my partner we have our click up (original not +) in the locked position from before she starts climbing (allowing me to use both hands to manually put it in that position) as in this position you can always take in but not pay out rope. How come you don't do this? Does the + not work like that?
> Like I say, NOT your belayers fault, you both agreed what was going on, and are aware this is a dangerous sport in which accidents happen. Wishing you all the best and hope you both recover and climb together again.
Hmmm. Given that it ought to work like a tube/sticht plate even without the autobrake then I think belayer wasn't holding the rope properly
That makes it sound like a design fault.
Healing vibes. Not experienced enough to comment on whys and what fors but that’s a horrible thing to happen to both of you. Get well soon
According to an article in bergundsteigen - unfortunately in German - the length of the notch that keeps the device in the open position was increased (1). Apparently, this is supposed to make giving out rope easier without unintentionally blocking the device.
Apart from this the new Click Up + is supposed to solve the previously identified issue where the device did not block, if the angle at which the rope was feed in was to low (see 2 for a comparison of assisted breaking devices). Another issue that was found in the same tests was that the device does not reliably block if there is no hard pull on the live end (e.g. top-roping) and one does not hold the dead end of the rope. Potentially, this is still the case and what you described above happened.
If this was the case, I would strongly disagree with your statement regarding the belayers fault. I find it irritating that being aware of the general risks of climbing, should also imply acceptance of, potentially negligent, errors of a belay partner. While I don't know about the legal situation in the UK, a belay accident in another country (e.g. Austria) might quickly lead to a criminal investigation and prosecution by the public prosecutor.
> Can you just explain what the function of this half locked off position is? Thanks.
I believe this "half locked" position is recommended for use in top roping situations to give additional friction, possibly because a fall under these conditions does not create enough force to fully engage the device from a fully unlocked position.
Ah ok. Don't really know why they've added that - like I say I always top rope with my click up mk1 fully clicked up before my partner even gets off the ground...
We need to be careful in what we are describing here. I've not used mine for some considerable time but I don't really recall the device having 3 positions as such. Sorry if I misled.
My two cents:
The original click-up is an excellent ASSISTED breaking device (i.e. you still keep your hand on the dead rope) that will auto lock with only minimal resistance, and would probably catch a leader fall even if the dead rope were not being held (as it ought to be)
The Click-up Plus is a grabby faff fest that is too much like a GriGri (fiddly, takes ages to get used to) but without the GriGri's in-built advantage of being in the camming position when rope runs through it uncontrolled.
Frankly, I've no idea why they bothered bringing out the Plus, except presumably as an attempt at a marketing drive/market grab. Very much a case of fixing something that wasn't broke. I recommend everyone with a Plus chucks it away and gets a regular Click Up, which is for my money the best assisted breaking device on the market.
Spot on as always Paul!
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