This from Abby Wines, canyoneer and ranger at Death Valley National Park. Accident report: webbing failure On Nov. 2, 2018, Sam (?), Eran Howarth, Brian Drew, and I [Abby Wines] did North Fork of Styx in Death Valley. We were clearly the first trip of the season, and had brought enough webbing and rapides to replace every anchor. Brian was first to the second rappel. He inspected the webbing in full, determined it was sun faded but in good shape. When I got there, it had been rebuilt. Anchor is a small boulder very close to the drop that is partially buried in gravel. Essentially like a horn anchor because you have to stay low to keep correct direction of pull. The Boulder has small rocks placed around it over the webbing. I said to the group that they were “confidence rocks” and I didn’t like them. I think I asked if any were touching webbing and Brian said no. I warned group about that (I didn’t inspect anchor but have done canyon about a dozen times). Someone made a joke about it not being long enough fall to kill you. I said, “No, but it would hurt.” Brian rappelled first. We did not back him up (which we should have), probably due to complacency over the shortness of the drop (about 20 feet to a walking section then 15 feet). While he was rappelling the confidence rocks shifted a lot. Clearly the webbing was in contact with them when under tension. I didn’t like that, but I didn’t change it. I rapped second. First stage was uneventful. Unweighted rope while walking to second stage. Slowly reweighted rope for second stage. Got a step or so down, heard webbing tear, fell. Eran says she saw it tear, that it broke on an exposed side of the Boulder that did not have rocks on it. Smooth. I fell about 12 feet, landed on right side (says Brian). I remember next being on hands and knees shocked and unable to talk. I’ve never had Wind knocked out of me that completely. Injuries were minor: right chest near sternum is sore (and certain motions involving abs muscles or right shoulder hurt), bruising on left arm, right shoulder, right jaw, and right eye. Very glad I had a helmet on! I had medically trained people with me. Eran is wilderness FR, Brian is intermediate level EMT, and Sam is a Sequoia backcountry ranger, so also similar level of training. I had a SPOT device with me. They asked what I wanted to do: bail to ridge and go up (a long way from there) or continue. I chose to continue. I didn’t inspect the webbing before the incident, but looking at it now, I likely would have also said it was good enough. This was a scary wake-up call. Lessons learned: sun damage varies a lot and back each other up with meat anchor (from rope or rapide, not webbing). ======================= further comments: Abby: Brian (the guy that inspected webbing) is not that experienced. Eran is experienced canyoneer, but only done a handful of DV canyons. Sam is realitive newbie, didn’t inspect anchors. I was the only one with a ton of canyoneering experience in DV. (Tom: as in, >200 canyons). But, I believe I would have judged it okay. Eran: The webbing snapped on an extended piece that had zero contact with rock. It was a little stiff and not as supple, but didn’t seem worn. At the time I had thought, I had “rapped off of worse”, which now invokes the adage, “good luck leads to bad decisions”. One of us should have also provided a backup. Needless to say, there is now a lot of fresh webbing in this canyon! Abby: webbing was just a little stiff near area that broke. No signs of damage. If you look at photo it shows a partial tear as well as the place that broke, that wasn’t there when inspected. So it was actually failing in two places.