/ NEWS: No contamination on Skinner’s harness

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Michael Ryan 20 Sep 2007
An investigation of the climbing harness that failed and sent Lander, Wyo. climber Todd Skinner plunging to his death in Yosemite National Park last October found no signs of contamination that might have weakened the safety webbing.

The report by Yosemite ranger M. Faherty has been awaited by clim...

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/
Tim Chappell20 Sep 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:



Poor guy.

The key bit of the report seems to be:

Climbers also know that Skinner’s harness was worn, that his climbing partner, James Hewitt, commented on its poor condition, and that Skinner agreed the harness needed replacing.

So the message is: if there's any doubt about the safety of your battered old harness, replace it before doing 800 ft abseils in it.

But what's this stuff about 'contamination'? Does that just mean no one tampered with Skinner's harness, e.g. by pouring acid over it?
Michael Ryan 20 Sep 2007
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)

> But what's this stuff about 'contamination'? Does that just mean no one tampered with Skinner's harness, e.g. by pouring acid over it?

No.

There was some speculation that the harness may have been contaminated accidently, for example by storing it in the back of a truck or in the boot of a car.

Further speculation:

"Skinner’s partner reiterated in interviews with rangers that he observed the loop “had been about 20 percent worn through three days prior,” to the accident. Faherty wrote that he, too, “also observed that the harness was extremely frayed and worn where the belay loop should run through the ‘swami belt’ and the leg loops.”

“The belay loop appeared worn near where it was torn,” Faherty wrote. “The actual torn section appeared frayed. I could see no fusing of Nylon fibers suggestive of a shock load...”

Faherty also found a sling girth-hitched to the broken belay loop, which Hewitt believed had been in place for some time and prevented the belay loop from rotating and absorbing wear evenly. “Also broken was the keeper strap on the leg loops,” ranger Faherty wrote. Loss of the keeper strap would free the leg loops to saw against belay loop, often in the same spot, given Skinner’s harness set-up.

Those observations support climber Will Gadd’s theory, published in a recent issue of Outside magazine, that the sawing leg loops contributed to the belay loop’s failure."

Tim Chappell20 Sep 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Thanks, Mick.

Further question: how could leaving a harness in the back of a car compromise it? Unless there was some noxious chemical in there, I just don't see that.

I'm pursuing this for the usual reason-- not because I'm morbid but because when some poor sod dies, I think the rest of us owe it to his memory to work out why so we can avoid making the same mistake again.
Derbyshire Ben20 Sep 2007
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Petrol and oil... perhaps from a spare can. More common in times gone by and older cars than the plush carpeted things we all drive these days.
Michael Ryan 20 Sep 2007
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)
>
> Thanks, Mick.
>
> Further question: how could leaving a harness in the back of a car compromise it? Unless there was some noxious chemical in there, I just don't see that.


Exactly. They checked just to see if it had been contaminated. People often keep chemicals in the back of their cars: anti-freeze, oil, leaky old batteries etc

They had to check if it had been exposed to chemicals that may have weakend the harness.

That test came back negative, so they have a faily good idea what caused the harness failure - see above.
Chris F 20 Sep 2007
In reply to Derbyshire Ben: Petrol, Oil, Brake Fluid, Antifreeze, Window wash. Any one of these could potentially contain things that may damage nylon given long term exposure.
Glyn Jones 20 Sep 2007
In reply to Derbyshire Ben:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> Petrol and oil... perhaps from a spare can. More common in times gone by and older cars than the plush carpeted things we all drive these days.

Not so true - my sleeping bag's stuff bag is coated in patches of oil from the other half's boot - fortunately the sleeping bag is not.
Duncan I 20 Sep 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:


This incident and a conversation with a friend in the trade has prompted me to replace my 10-yr-old harness that now seems laughably tattered. All of a sudden I feel much more comfortable whilst abbing on sea cliffs....
Tim Chappell20 Sep 2007
In reply to Duncan I:

I got the screaming ab-dabs abseiling into Earnsheugh the other day, because my partner wanted me to try out a different abseil set-up, and I didn't completely trust it because I hadn't tried it before. I did everything about 4 times before setting off, including checking my belay loops. Everything was fine, but abseiling always makes me jumpy. Perhaps that's a good thing, when you think of the statistics-- and the old French saying: "tous les grands chefs sont tues en rappel".
gingerkate 20 Sep 2007
In reply to Tim Chappell:
Check out the thread I started on 'the rope that broke' for more info from various people on acid damage.
Harald 20 Sep 2007
In reply to Tim Chappell:

As you (and all climbers) should be aware of, damage done by acid [from a car battery] is almost invisible but significantly weakens the rope/tape/nylon. Check for instance http://www.bergundsteigen.at/file.php/archiv/2006/1/70-71%20(das%20erste%20mal).pdf
and http://www.santafe.edu/~albers/personal/climbing/Rope_Breakage_final.pdf

Oil/gasoline on the other hand is not much of a problem. Glycol? Dunno for sure, but I think it wont harm polyamid.
Darron 20 Sep 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

The report also mentions a sling girth hitched (Ithink what we might call a larks foot) to the loop thus preventing the loop rotating (and thus giving even wear). This is somthing many people do when sports climbing to enable a 'gripper clip' to the chains if necessary. UK climbers probably only set up this arrangement on their hols (and thus not for a significant amount of time). Worth bearing in mind though.
Also, the bit about the connection between leg loops and belt. I've never thought of this as part of the safety system but clearly this is not the case. Again, no big flap but worth bearing in mind.
blancbleu 20 Sep 2007

Anyone know what neat washing liquid could do to a harness. The bottom of my leg loop sat in some for a day or two
John Lisle 20 Sep 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

The key point I recall from the lengthy discussion at the time of the accident is that, unlike ropes, the webbing used exposes all strands to the surface over a few centimetres - so if you rub a few centimetres with sandpaper you will weaken the tape waaay disproportionately to the apparent wear.

You can get that kind of damage in a single session thrutching inside a rough chimney for example.

I guess you could back up the loop on abseil by clipping the screwgate that you are abbing from not only to the belay loop but also to an extender clipped to your tie-in loops?

J
Harald 21 Sep 2007
In reply to Darron:

Please understand that there is a difference between a sport/normal climber girth hitching a sling and a bigwall climber doing the same (for a very long period of time). The first wont be much of a problem. The bigwall climber on the other hand will jumar considerable distances, and with the belay loop not being able to rotate a constant sawing action by the legloops will take place. As the keeper-loop on Skinners legloop was worn through, the sawing action of the legs moving up-and-down when jumaring could become larger then normal.

in reply to John Lisle:
Please read Kolin Powick's blog on the bdel site before speculating. It has info on breaking strength of cut-through/abrased webbing.
http://www.bdel.com/scene/beta/qc_kp_archive.php#102706

Dont speculate - stick to facts.
John Lisle 21 Sep 2007
In reply to Harald:

I wasn't speculating.

See Adam L's post on this thread (about half way down):

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=209288&v=1#3068230

Also the Health and Safety Executive tests linked near the bottom.

Rather different strength reduction test results to those found in the Black Diamond link you provide.

Now, you may well be right, but I wasn't speculating; I was actually trying to reduce speculation by referencing an apparently good source that had reached different conclusions. Should have included the link at the time.

John
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> People often keep chemicals in the back of their cars: anti-freeze, oil, leaky old batteries etc

I once got a lift to Font on the seat of a car that had previously transported a leaky car battery. I didn't feel anything at the time, but by the time we arrived in Font, the acid on the car seat had eaten its way all the way through a pair of sturdy jeans.

The damage to my jeans was immediate and obvious (!), but I hate to think the sort of hidden damage just placing a harness or rope on that seat for half an hour could have done.

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