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12-year-old boy injured in climbing accident after using faulty carabiners

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by Downward Bound, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. Downward Bound

    Downward Bound

    Flagstaff, AZ
    I realize this is a little off-topic here, since it was a climbing rather than rappelling accident, but an interesting tale anyway. I talked to some people at the rock gym yesterday, and the word is that this kid and his parents went to Home Depot and bought a few toy carabiners and a piece of rope, then headed out to the Pit (local sport crag) to let their kid try to lead a 5.11c route.

    This is from the Flagstaff newpaper (Arizona Daily Sun):

    12-year-old boy injured in climbing accident after using faulty carabiners
    Sep 11, 2018

    On Sunday, September 9 at approximately 1:20 p.m., the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit responded to a climbing accident at the climbing area known as The Pit, which is accessed from the Canyon Vista Campground. According to a press release, a 12-year-old male who was climbing with family members had fallen approximately 20 feet and was injured.

    Flagstaff Fire Department and Guardian Medical Transport assisted in the operation, including hiking to the climber’s location and initiating treatment and transport out of the canyon in a basket litter. The climber sustained a head injury and a wrist injury and was transported by ambulance to Flagstaff Medical Center for treatment. The climber and his family were visiting from the greater Phoenix area.

    Investigation into the accident revealed that the climber was lead-climbing a route known as The Microwave and fell while he was attempting to clip his rope to the third bolt fixed on the route. When he fell, the carabiners connected to the second bolt and first bolt broke.

    According to the Sheriff's Department, upon inspection it was determined that the carabiners were not rated for climbing.
  2. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    I wonder which carabiners he was using? The only ones I can think that aren't rated for climbing are the key chain ones and the ones you buy to clip stuff to a pack.

  3. Downward Bound

    Downward Bound

    Flagstaff, AZ
    It's not clear. Third-hand info is that they were marked "Not for climbing use". Could have been a snap-link also. snap-link.
  4. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous



    Utah, Zion National Park

    On August 4, 1985, a man (37) left his car and began hiking upstream in the Virgin River Narrows. He carried 15 meters of nylon clothesline, a hatchet, some steel tent pegs, a large hunting knife and a fanny pack with a canteen. He did not have a topo map, but had a Park mini-folder given to him at the entrance station.

    He hiked to the end of the paved trail, then continued about a kilometer further upstream against the river current and over slippery boulders. He consulted his mini-folder map and noticed a trail parallel to the river that would be an alternative route back to his car. (The trail is located about 200 vertical meters and several kilometers distant.)

    He decided to climb out to the trail using a crack and chimney system he noticed on the west wall. He ascended by pounding tent pegs into the crack with his hatchet, then looped the clothesline over a peg and pulled himself up. He lost his fanny pack (with canteen) while trying to throw it ahead of him onto a ledge. About 60 meters above the river, he came to a chimney roof that he had trouble getting past. It was very exposed, with loose rock and poor hand and foot holds. His efforts caused a rock slide, and he lost most of his tent pegs. He then tied his hatchet to the clothesline and threw it over the roof to and around the base of a six centimeter diameter tree on a ledge above. He then pulled himself hand over hand on the clothesline to the ledge.

    He continued, eventually causing another rock slide—in which he lost the clothesline and the rest of his tent pegs. He continued his ascent by hammering his hunting knife into cracks with the hatchet, then standing on the knife or using it as a handhold, then removing the knife. He eventually came to a point where he could ascend no further, estimated to be 120 meters or more above the river. So he began to descend using the hatchet-knife method.

    About 60 meters above the river, he caused an additional rock slide, destroying a critical section of his ascent route and stopping his descent. He rested on a ledge area. In the late afternoon hours he noticed some hikers headed downstream by the river below. He frantically began chopping down small trees and throwing them off in an effort to attract their attention. He almost hit the hikers. (They were upset and later reported the incident.) It was not relayed to park rangers until the following day. The rushing river prevented any verbal communication.

    The next morning he saw additional hikers and was able to yell over the river noise for help. The hikers contacted park offices and a two-man technical rescue team was dispatched about 1030. The team climbed up through much loose, rotten rock. They dislodged one huge block in their climb. (They rated the climb a 5.8 difficulty, but emphasized they would never climb in horrible rock like that unless they had to.) After reaching the victim, they placed two bolts and lowered him to the canyon floor.

    He was given liquids and escorted to Park Headquarters. Because of the hazardous position in which he had placed himself, the hikers below and his rescuers, he was issued a federal citation for disorderly conduct and subsequently paid the fine. (Source: Bob Line- back, Ranger, Zion National Park)


    The victim had once been shown how to climb by a friend using a rope and pitons. From his memory of that day, he created his tent peg-clothesline ascending system. While in adequate physical condition, his outdoor skills were minimal. He seemed to realize his mistake and promised to seek professional instruction before doing any more climbing. While he suffered some scratches and abrasions, his major problem was dehydration as he went 24 hours without drinking during two days when the high temperature exceeded 30°C. (Source: Bob Lineback, Ranger, Zion National Park)

    (Editor’s Note: This is the kind of accident the media will pick up to demonstrate how dangerous climbing is and to illustrate “the true nature ” of climbers. This accident is not part of the data pool.)


    @ratagonia new bolt chop proj for you?
    Canyonero likes this.
  5. ratagonia


    Mount Carmel, Utah
    I will check with SAR to get the exact location, and we can go there, climb the route (3rd ascent, presumably) and then fiddle off a tent peg. A WOODEN tent peg, already infected with a fungus.

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
    hank moon likes this.
  6. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

    Salt Lake City
    I've tested an 8mm snap link:

    8 mm X-section Snap Link Biner on Rope: Key hook pulled through Nose Key slot at 1950 lbf.

    Didn't really break, per se. Kinda just straightened out. Short, hard fall might be enough force, but, might not have "broke".

    My bet is they just picked up some of the cheap, aluminum "not for climbing use" carabiners.

    Average weight of a 12 year old boy is around 90 pounds? I've climbed at the Pit, not on the route or area though. Its a short route, only 30 feet with three lead bolts. Crux near the top. Probably had some rope out, and, clipped through the first two bolts. I'm guessing the fall factor was pretty low.

    Can't imagine he generated that much force on the first piece of pro he loaded. Enough to bust a cheap biner though...
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
    Rapterman likes this.
  7. Canyonero


    Who needs climbing gear?

    Seriously though, what kind of liability do you have leaving fixed draws on a sport climb that aren't actually rated for climbing?
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