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Beacon: Fall on 'Free For All' with broken sling


JosephH
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The other night someone took a fall on the .10 start side of 'Free For All' which resulted in a broken [older] Mammut skinny sling which was girth-hitched around one of the two rock constriction points. Apparently the fall was arrested by a stopper in the base of the first large opening.

 

Hopefully the leader wasn't hurt, and if not was lucky as this was a potential ankle breaker if the belayer wasn't right on it. Would like to know who this was in order to get a read on how old that sling was.

 

As a side note, those constriction points shouldn't be girth-hitched with any thin sling material for exactly this reason. If you sling one of those constriction points it's way better ( and easier for the second) if you put the sling over the constriction and then clip both ends of the sling with one or both biners instead of girthing it.

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Scary. I've girth-hitched horns fairly often. Thanks for posting this. It sounds like it might be worth changing my methods. Chad

Girth hitching a large diameter object is a somewhat different issue than a constriction that narrows to nothing, but doing either with 8mm dyneema slings is probably a bad idea.

 

I aways thought girth-hitching was supposed to be better because otherwise you can load the biner from three directions.

That can be the case in circumstances where the angle of the sling ends coming back together is large. But in the case of the FFA constrictions, and most crack constrictions, the angle is typically very small and so there is no need to worry about three-point loading.

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All petty bickering aside, Joseph raises a valid point.

I have also seen a skinny 6mm dyneema sling get shredded in one of those constrictions. It didn't break, but it was sliced about halfway through and had to be retired. I make sure to have a couple thicker nylon slings for that route.

 

I don't think girth hitching a constriction or horn is always bad - I think there's something specific about the shape of the constrictions on that particular climb that makes the skinny slings more dangerous. The edges at the top of the constriction really come down at a very sharp angle, almost like scissors. A skinny dyneema sling is small enough to get pulled down in there and basically sliced.

I don't think that clipping both ends of a skinny dyneema sling (as opposed to girth hitching) is necessarily safer at that particular spot. I think both are pretty risky with a super skinny sling, and just using a fatter sling in either configuration is the way to go.

I think it's valid to try and share route-specific protection beta like that with people.

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I don't think that clipping both ends of a skinny dyneema sling (as opposed to girth hitching) is necessarily safer at that particular spot.

That is correct in my experience also.

Girth hitching greatly increases the sling pressure on the constriction leveraging / ratcheting the sling down through the constriction. The mechanical leveraging / ratcheting action is not present if you don't girth hitch and simply clip both ends and thus 'safer' in degrees - that doesn't mean it still couldn't break, but simply that your odds are better. Better not to use a skinny sling there, but if you do, don't girth hitch it.

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girth hitching is far safer than clipping two ends of a sling around a constriction (or a tree, etc) because the force that is applied to the carabiner is made in three directions - the term is triaxial loading, and this is NEVER a good idea.

As I mentioned above, triaxial load only occurs and is a concern when the angle between the two sling ends is large, such as when wrapping a horn. In the case of the FFA and many crack constrictions the angle is essentially zero; hence clipping both end is much preferred because a) there is no triaxial loading whatsoever, b) it eliminates the multiplying forces of the girth hitch which force the sling down the slot, and c) it's easier for the second to clean.

 

To each his own but there is zero triaxial loading when clipping both ends of a sling around either of the FFA or similar crack constrictions.

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