Forums: Climbing Information: General: Re: [cracklover] New Year's Resolution: Edit Log


Jan 19, 2013, 11:31 AM

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Re: [cracklover] New Year's Resolution
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from the Outside article wrote:
harder for a partner to check visually.

I read that diatribe up there and have to say something. Good story in Outside mag in my view, please don't blow it off so easily. Reread that quote. This quote above is the best point to take away from the story. Indeed, which is why I've told my regular partner who ties in with the "foolproof" double bowline, several times, that I'm not checking his knot. I can't. "harder for a partner to check visually" - that's right on the money and leads to complacency.

Of course I try anyway. The figure 8 is easy to eyeball, even a beginner knows if it's right or wrong. This is not true of the double bowline. One guy I know who solos a lot doesn't think its the partners job to double check his double bowline knot anyway.

BTW, the reason figure 8s are so prevalent is because bowlines were becoming untied on climbers in the middle of climbs AND PEOPLE WERE DYING. (So please note that truth shockabubo on your #1 point commentary). Almost everyone switched over and went with the figure 8 in the early 70's for this very reason. The former majority of climbers which had been tieing in with bowlines dropped to closer to zero as folks mostly converted to the figure 8. Some, preferring the easy of untieing after a whipper that the bowline provided, went with a version of the bowline which seemed immune from the untieing itself issue. I've heard it called several things but lets go with "double bowline". As these folks were but statistically but few, and usually highly experienced, accidents with the double bowline were - and are, rare to hear about.

So continue to tie in with the double bowline GO, that's what makes the game so interesting, you have the freedom to do what you wish. As long as you are 100% perfect you'll be fine, but you admit in your story that you are not 100 percent perfect, and that's worthy of consideration.

For myself, I don't believe that it's worth that risk, I always check others knots and can figure out if the figure 8 on my buddy is perfect by a glance from quite some distance. I can't with the double bowline and know many others can't either. It was true in John Longs partners case. Clearly it was missed by the climber AND HIS PARTNER. Lynn Hill's parner same thing. As I understand it, she had her accident when her double bowline knot was not finished and she leaned back at the top of a climb and she plunged to the base. Same thing as JL except at a cliff, and she got super lucky. Clearly it was missed by both climbers AND BOTH OF THEIR PARTNERS. Same same scenario. If you wish to believe that you are better than Lynn Hill and John Long, I'd hope you may reconsider that thought.

There's 2 very prominent skilled expert climbers WITH IDENTICAL STORIES. Who really needs more stories before they convert? Well, I guess that I personally know 2 of them:-)

I'm glad that John Longs accident was only in a gym and thus survivable. I know we all wish him well. Good Outside article.

Oh, almost forgot, quoted for posterity.

cracklover wrote:

Worst article ever. Ugh.

Shall I take it piece by piece?

1 - The article implies that accidents are happening due to the bowline "working itself loose if not backed up properly".

As far as I know, that is misdirection bordering on outright lying. I'm unaware of *any* serious accidents caused by such working loose. Ever.

2 - The article states as fact that the complication of the knot and how difficult it is to inspect is the cause of the two recent accidents.

Now there is a pure bold-faced lie. These two accidents were caused because the knot was not tied!

Has *anyone* ever tied their bowline completely, but wrong, had it not inspected, and then fell because of it? Personally, I think this is just made up by trollers and then passed on by unscrupulous journalists.

3 - Next is the appeal to authority: "Know the bowline for what it is: An instrument of death," says Duane Raleigh "Almost every year someone dies because their bowline either came untied because the complicated knot was tied wrong, or because the bowline magically untied itself."

And his proof for this contention? One fall in England where there is no evidence that the knot was tied wrong or "untied itself".

4 - Finally, the article implies that since we are all human, and prone to mistake, the Fig-8 knot is therefore better because it is "as foolproof as possible"

Now that's almost criminal. To suggest that if you make the same mistake with your Fig 8 (start the knot, pass the rope through your harness, but don't finish it) you won't wind up just as dead with the Fig-8 as you would with the bowline couldn't be more wrong.

Believe me, I know. I almost got to watch my partner crater in front of me because of just how "foolproof" the Fig-8 knot is.

Personal story: Last fall I belayed a leader who left the ground with an unfinished fig-8 knot. He had made the eight, put it through his harness (bottom to top), and then somehow got distracted and didn't rethread it. Fortunately he noticed about 15 feet up, since he later fell on the route.

I felt bad, and I wish I had inspected his knot as I usually do. But the fact is, had he been tying in with a bowline, it would have made no difference at all, except that he himself would have been more likely to notice. Think about it.

John Long himself wrote about his accident: "I made the two bowline loops and threaded the rope through my harness, but I didn't bring the rabbit out of the hole and around the tree."

So that means he simply had a straight rope, with no knots or bends, running through his harness when he left the ground. Does the author of the article seriously think that this could ever be missed by a belayer who inspects it? Yeah, because a straight rope is "complicated"

In my case, I did catch a glimpse of something that looked like an 8 with no backup knot, and a long tail. In other words, acceptable, though not ideal. Had I examined it closely, I would have obviously seen that it was not followed through. In John Long's case, if I had made that same glance around a hip I would not have seen anything that looked like a knot, and perhaps that would have been enough of a red flag to go in for a closer look. Certainly it would not have been less so.

Oh, and for full disclosure, I tie in with a double-bowline with a double fisherman's backup about 90% of the time. The rest of the time I use a fig-8 follow-through.



(This post was edited by billcoe_ on Jan 19, 2013, 11:32 AM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by billcoe_ () on Jan 19, 2013, 11:32 AM

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