Accident Report in HK: Quick Draw Unclipped

Earlier this year, an accident occurred in the rock climbing area “Beacon hill” in Hong Kong.  A lead-climber fell from the height of the second bolt before clipping it. The belayer took in slack to catch the fall, but before the climber weighed the rope, the first quick draw unclipped itself from the bolt and slid down along the rope to the belayer.  The result was a 7-meter ground fall.

How Come the Quick Draw Unclipped Itself?

Accident investigators determined the cause to be that, during the fall, the rope caused the bolt-side biner to rotate up and snag on the bolt. See the video below for demonstration:

What kinds of quick draws are prone to such a scenario?

  • draws with bigger (i.e. more prominent) nose surface. This makes it easier for the draw to snag on the bolt.
  • draws with short sling. This makes it easier for the rope to flip or rotate the draw to an inappropriate position.

How to reduce the risk?

  • The rope-end gate should face the opposite direction of your climb. (pic below)
  • Choose quick draws of the right sling length accordingly.  Longer slings result in longer falls, but they are helpful in reducing rope drag and the chances that the rope rotates the bolt-side biner.


photo source

Other factors to take into account

  • degree of overhang: on slabs (as in the video here) it is easier for the draws to be shifted by the rope and press against the bolt, compared to that on vertical or overhanging walls.
  • orientation of bolts
  • bolt nut: If the bolt has a big nut, it may affect the position of the bolt-side biner. (pic below)
  • Draws with nose hook may have a bigger chance to get the nose hook stuck on the bolt (pic below)
  • Also keep an eye on the rope-side biner to prevent unclipping!



Author: A-ming, 2019.04.02

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