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What piece didn't catch your fall (and why)...?
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Partner angry


Dec 29, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Green alien, it failed because I got lazy and should have used a nut. Tradklime's head broke my fall.

I have also taken big whippers on the black alien in bad rock and it held. It all depends on the placement.


braaaaaaaadley


Dec 29, 2004, 11:54 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
Im seeing some trends here:
a) Many pieces fail b/c people suck at placing them.

Bradley,

This is definitely NOT a conclusion anyone should arrive at from the examples in this thread. I started the thread because I thought it would as useful or possibly even more useful to hear placements that blew than about placements that held. I also have read numerous threads about fear of falling, and people learning to trad lead, hanging vs. falling, and about a lot of folks who apparently trad lead but never fall on their gear.

Falling and the rare blown piece are a normal part of the gig, folks. If you're not actually falling on your gear and have never had a piece blow then either you probably aren't pushing yourself enough or you still have a lot of learning to do (not that every new route doesn't have something to teach us all). So, again, keep in mind (hopefully without a lot of judgement) that falling, falling on your gear, and the odd occasional blown piece are all normal experiences in a [trad] climber's life and to be expected if you are really climbing anywhere near your limits.

In my case, I'm actually very good at pro, but over the course of thirty years I've had dozens of pieces blow for a variety of reasons, albiet most were knowingly marginal to begin with or in known marginal rock. But every now and then [even] I :wink: blow a call and either: a) place an inappropriate size/shape/type piece (rarely); b) incompletely place a piece (very rarely); c) just slam it in without looking/thinking about/studying the placement (almost never); or d) place a piece more or less blindly (highly undesireable) due to extenuating circumstances [I probably shouldn't have been in or couldn't otherwise avoid and do the route] (occasionally).

[Note, however, that a line of pro zippering (more than a couple of pieces) is another gig all together; it should never happen - ever - unless you've ventured into A3+/C3+ Aid climbing and screwed up or farted at the wrong time.]

*Warning this might be all over the place...*

First off, I would like to say that perhaps I should not have said that people suck at placing gear, but rather something along the lines of that their choice of placement sucked and could have been better, or that they should have opted to climb themself out of trouble-- at least to a better placement instead of their decision to rely on a prayer to save them in the event of a fall. The point(s) I am trying to get across is that you don't want to rely on those questionable placements unless it is your last option(duh) and that beginner leaders sometimes dont know what good placements are especially if they are not falling on them... its like taking 100 tests and then not being graded on them... but then one test at one point is graded; do you see what I am getting at? I must admit that I myself am rather new to trad. This will be my second year tradding. I have lead about 20 climbs so far and have not fallen once. All of my leads have been onsights and have been from the 5.4-5.9 range(most are mp routes around 5.6-7). Even so, I feel that 90+% pieces I have placed were good placements. I must also admit that I do not push myself while tradding. I feel that's the reason sport was invented (i fall on sport quite often). When I step up to a trad climb I treat it as I am free soloing; not as if im on some project sport route where falls are likeley to occur and are obviously a part of the game. I believe my reason for this train of thought is that I do most of my trad leading in NC where its common to be ranout 20+ feet... or worse have your first placement be 20 feet off the deck. Perhaps someday once I gain more confidence in my climbing I can adapt your tradding style, but untill then im sticking to easier terrain... I mean why risk it right :D ?


Partner gunksgoer


Dec 30, 2004, 12:09 AM
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Re: What piece didn't catch your fall (and why)...? [In reply to]
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has anyone ever had a piece fail because it broke? im just curious because many people are cautious about the strength ratings on their gear, but i havnt heard of many pieces failing structuraly.


healyje


Dec 30, 2004, 12:26 AM
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Bradley,

No, you're not all over the place; that was actually well said.

You might think of it this way - all the routes put up in the SE prior to gyms and sport climbing were put up trad and it was as normal to everyone then as sport climbing is to most folks today.

The "never fall on trad" and the "lead trad four levels below what I climb sport" syndromes are, I think, a very highly evolved form of a very specific [group] lack of self confidence/responsibility resulting from two decades of gym and sport routes.

I believe that most folks now are simply not used to trusting protection and anchors not "installed" for them by some ["acknowledged"] "professional/expert". Taking the responsibility for "installing" protection and anchors yourself [and falling on them] was/is the normal everyday business of climbing. But again, two decades of gym/sport routes have kind of whittled away at that part of [the] climbing.

Hey, you and yours are just as capable of taking responsibility for "installing" your own [trad] protection and anchors as anyone else at any other time in climbing history and there is nothing particularly special about the [few] folks who you are all relying on to do it for you now for sport bolts and anchors. They all were and are just people like you.

I'd really encourage you and everyone else to not be so intimidated by this very normal aspect of climbing - it's all about self responsibility - trust our history, trust your skills, trust the gear that is ten times better than used to be used, but most of all - trust yourselves more and give yourselves a bit more credit than you all are currently.

The bottom line here is you'll never trust your pro if you never trust your pro. And you'll start trusting your pro after spending some time learning by seconding with an experienced climber. By short-cutting the process and trying to teach yourself to lead it really will take you much, much longer because of the "100 ungraded test" effect. Anyone wanting to trad lead really should seek out an experience trad leader and second for them (pester them to death if that's what it takes...).


healyje


Dec 30, 2004, 12:45 AM
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In reply to:
has anyone ever had a piece fail because it broke? im just curious because many people are cautious about the strength ratings on their gear, but i havnt heard of many pieces failing structuraly.

I've never had a piece of gear break outside of very, very small wired stoppers and I've never heard of anyone breaking a piece of gear that wasn't horribly misapplied somehow in the process of [mis]using it. And believe me and a few other old guys here: the gear we used was a lot better than what came before us and the stuff we're using today borders on unimaginably good compared to not that many years ago. It is all safe to take flying leaps on to when applied well.


Partner holdplease2


Dec 30, 2004, 12:49 AM
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Bradley: Nice parallel with the 100 tests, but none are graded. 'cept that one...

-Kate.


robreglinski


Dec 30, 2004, 3:34 AM
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i broke an old mirco a few years back coz the wires were running over a sharp edge. silly really

it was part of my dads hand me down kit that all went in the display cabinet when i got home. willans harness and stubi piton hammer anyone

id be rather suprised if a larger wire broke unless it wasnt cared for id also be suprised if after breaking said wire you walked away or indeed walked again, 14kn+ is a lot

what allways suprises me is that you see a lot of insitu mank around and about but not a lot of it is broken. could be because its insitu mank and no one in their right mind would clip it

Rob


billcoe_


Dec 30, 2004, 2:32 PM
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Re: What piece didn't catch your fall (and why)...? [In reply to]
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In reply to:
While soloing the Finger of Fate on the Titan I pulled a red\yellow alien on the second pitch. The #7 HB nut below it ripped right through the crack. A 2" tied off bong below the nut ripped out of a shallow hole. The big grey alien in another shallow hole ripped out. I was caught by an original star-drive bolt on a homemade hanger that was clove-hitched with the hanger turned up for an upward pull. This left me 20' below the anchor. I guess those star-drives aren't that bad.

Reason the pieces pulled? They sucked!

Larry: I'm still cleaning my underware from the Stagg Chili now and all I did was just read your blurb.

Joseph: I HATE to fall. So I don't push myself, generally, and a fall is rare unless I'm toproping. I'm a pussy. No disputing it.

FA of Flying Dutchman also at Beacon. I'm almost at the top of the first pitch, it's raining. Jim had fallen already and lowered off (Hence the name Flying Dutchman). Because of the rain, moss and choss I was tossing off, both Jimmy Opdycke and Bob McMahon are belaying well back from the route, with the rope gently curving loosely up from under the blue tarp we'd stretched out. I hammered a soft iron pin up under a loose sort of flake. Clipped and stood on it without much testing cause I was wet and almost to the little ledge just above. Pin and the flake pulled and it must have been a 25-30 foot fall with all the slack. I suspect Jim even dropped his smoke, his book he must have been reading and all the gear he must have been playing with in the flurry to lock off. I thought I'd zipped a bunch of placements, but nope, just the 1 pin.

Nother time, East Face of Monkee, when it was C4 aid. Straight nutting, 2nd pitch, well overhung, slotted a larger wired stopper in a perfect flaring pinscar: had it been a tcu it would have been A1. Barely held me. I get up and it rips on Bob as he follows. Previous nut held. He's swinging out and back so far that some friends on the NW Corner see him and say hi.

Other than that, my falls have been held. I did see a couple of Canadians at Smith once, leader had 5 pieces in, fell twice and the then top piece held: both times. Dude climbs up, he slots 2 more nuts, spaced 6 feet apart. Now he has 7 nuts in total, he's up 60-70 feet. He falls. The top 3 (which included the 1 nut with had held the falls before) all rip and he dies, right in front of his 4-5 friends waiting to follow. We rapped and took over the CPR for no reason.

2 months later the 2 Outward bound instructors die on Trezlar, same area @ 100 ' uphill. Ginny Hornbecker and I soloed up the descent route and lowered them off.

I have more horror stories, but bottom line, I'm a pussy and a chicken, no question, and it's something which is a learned skill I believe.

One time, I'm a young dude, doing a FA on the north side of Broughtons, Bob goes up and falls like 2 feet onto a piece a couple of times before pussing out. I tie in, climb above his, put in another piece, wired nut, climb up a hard assed pitch, pop off take a 24-28 foot fall that ends when my right Ass-Cheek smacks the only ledge in the area, approx 8 feet below my belayer. Much to my wife's amusement (this was back when she thought my ass was firm and cute, not old, wrinkles and disgusting, that's how long ago it was!) my right ass cheek later turns black, purple and yellow in a pattern exactly like a target which one would use for target practice. It stayed that way as I limped around for weeks. Piece held though, so I climbed back up, past where I fell (I am a pussy, but still a dumb one): however the top was all mossy, since I was in pain and in no position to F* with cleaning off moss - we backed off there and never did finished the route.


edited for speling:-)


dirtineye


Dec 30, 2004, 5:03 PM
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Bradley, did you bother to read those threads about learning to place trad gear?

Do it on the ground, and test the hell out of what you place where it is safe.

With only 20 leads in 2 years, nothing greater than 5.9, averaging 5.6-5.7, and no falls, that is not enough experience to be making the kind of inferences you are making.

You've already been advised to find a trad mentor and follow them, and that is exactly what you should do.

Furthermore, when you do lead something, get your trad mentor to critique every piece you place. they will probably do this anyway, especially if any are bad, but make sure they do. I've even made people rap back down to see what was wrong with what I thought was a really bad placement.

So, to recap, take you whole rack, place all of it while standing on the ground, and see how many pieces will hold anything. Repeat til they all hold. Get a trad mentor.


braaaaaaaadley


Dec 30, 2004, 6:22 PM
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Dirtineye- I had a trad mentor, a very expierenced one at that, but, currently he is spending a year in california. I have followed him a half dozen times and he has followed me twice on two seperate climbs. Since the majority of the climbing around where I am is sport, tradding sometimes gets put on the back burner. He said that all of my placements were bomber. In addition to him, I have followed several others and have been followed by another climber with less expierence, but still I had the same response from him about my placements. Before I led my first trad climb I had been sport climbing for two years and I spent a lot of time building anchors and practicing placements on the ground. In addition to this practice I have read several books on the subject. As I said before I feel very confident that the majority of my placements are bomber. I openley admit that I am not the most expierenced climber around... but I still feel that I am a very safe while I climb. I made the inferences that I made with a combination of common sense, advice from climbers I know, and what I have witnesed when I have been out climbing with climbers with less expierence than myself.


ikellen


Dec 31, 2004, 12:08 AM
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Never popped a piece on a fall, but ive had a few stoppers come out due to bad rope drag on a multi-pitch when I ran out of slings. But otherwise, everything has held..........so far :P


tahoe_rock_master


Dec 31, 2004, 4:57 PM
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This isn't really a fall, but I'll tell it anyway...
I was new to traddding and had toproped a sketchy 5.9 crack at Donner Summit, placing pro as I went up. As I lowered down from the top, I got to my first placement, I blue TCU (metolius) under a thick flake. It didn't look very good, so I wnted to test it. I put a sling on the piece (I am still onTR) and stood on it and bounced around a little bit. I swung to the side and gave it one last stomp when I heard what sounded like a gunshot :shock: . The piece had broken off a piece of the flake and ripped out from the rock. That taught me a good lesson about not placing pro behind even solid looking flakes. Again, not really a fall, but a pulled piece.


dirtineye


Dec 31, 2004, 5:29 PM
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In reply to:
Dirtineye- I had a trad mentor, a very expierenced one at that, but, currently he is spending a year in california. I have followed him a half dozen times and he has followed me twice on two seperate climbs. Since the majority of the climbing around where I am is sport, tradding sometimes gets put on the back burner. He said that all of my placements were bomber. In addition to him, I have followed several others and have been followed by another climber with less expierence, but still I had the same response from him about my placements. Before I led my first trad climb I had been sport climbing for two years and I spent a lot of time building anchors and practicing placements on the ground. In addition to this practice I have read several books on the subject. As I said before I feel very confident that the majority of my placements are bomber. I openley admit that I am not the most expierenced climber around... but I still feel that I am a very safe while I climb. I made the inferences that I made with a combination of common sense, advice from climbers I know, and what I have witnesed when I have been out climbing with climbers with less expierence than myself.

Are you the brad I know from the WFR course?


esallen


Dec 31, 2004, 6:25 PM
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I suppose that the people with the best gear-popping stories are probably not around to tell their stories.


incogneato


Dec 31, 2004, 6:40 PM
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I have pulled quite a handful of pieces, some have resulted in bad falls and some have led to minor injuries - it's the game I choose to play.

Three different partners of mine have all broken the lobes of cams in the result of a fall. All Metolius, two 00s and a 0. Gear really does break - in this case, when you use aid gear while free climbing.


braaaaaaaadley


Dec 31, 2004, 9:07 PM
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Are you the brad I know from the WFR course?

I took one last April in Virginia why?


dirtineye


Dec 31, 2004, 9:28 PM
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Are you the brad I know from the WFR course?

I took one last April in Virginia why?

Cause I had a wrf course with a brad who was learning to trad.

Same sort of story as you, same age as you, pretty coincidental.

I have a new recommenddation for you in light of what you have written: hie thee to a 5.8 hand crack, pretty much dead vertical, plug a butt load of pro in it, and fall on your gear.

You can hunt around the falling on gear stuff I writoe to get an idea how to do this safely. In the most extreme case of paranoia, you could even set a top rope backup with a seperate belayer with just enough slack in the TR to let you find out if your gear holds safely.

This top rope backup is used in self and leader rescue courses so that the students don't kill themselves while learning the do's and don't's of various techniques.


healyje


Dec 31, 2004, 11:42 PM
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DirtInEye is right on the "get thee to a crack" and fall on some gearbut please, skip the top rope - never, ever place gear on a tope rope - back down a grade or two if you have to instead. The whole TR thing just takes you backwards mentally and emotionally.


dirtineye


Jan 1, 2005, 12:34 AM
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DirtInEye is right on the "get thee to a crack" and fall on some gearbut please, skip the top rope - never, ever place gear on a tope rope - back down a grade or two if you have to instead. The whole TR thing just takes you backwards mentally and emotionally.

Read it again pal. The top rope is a backup to his lead line and only comes into play if he pulls gear. This is not mock leading on TR.

Having a top rope backup will not set him back nearly as far as having some gear rip and hitting the ground, I promise you that.


healyje


Jan 1, 2005, 2:31 AM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
DirtInEye is right on the "get thee to a crack" and fall on some gearbut please, skip the top rope - never, ever place gear on a tope rope - back down a grade or two if you have to instead. The whole TR thing just takes you backwards mentally and emotionally.

Read it again pal. The top rope is a backup to his lead line and only comes into play if he pulls gear. This is not mock leading on TR.

Having a top rope backup will not set him back nearly as far as having some gear rip and hitting the ground, I promise you that.

DirtInEye and Bradley,

I read it fine the first time - and I repeat - do not use a TR for any lead related activities. Either lead or don't, period. If you don't feel reasonable and at least semi-confident in what you are leading then back off in difficulty - but don't TR, ever. It is the worst possible thing to do to your head and development as a lead climber. Again, back off in difficulty, go back to seconding experienced leaders, or just do the real thing (and in this case pacticing falling would come under the category of the real thing). If you are practicing falling do it high off the deck and with several bomber placements in a row; if you can't feel confident in those placements you shouldn't be doing such practice.


dirtineye


Jan 1, 2005, 6:59 AM
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OK healeyj,

Then we disagree.

But you are erring on the side of accident, and I am erring on the side of a known safety practice that has actually proven useful.

Your dogmatic fear of premanently damaging a 'lead head', is interfearing wiht your ability to recognize a sound tried and true , and TEMPORARY measure that would allow a new beginner to safely find out just how good his placements were.


Furthermore, I would love to see you use your logic in a self and leader rescue class, where the top rope backup while learning a technique has prevented injury, allowing the student to learn painlessly from their mistake in a way that they will never forget, and then go on to preform the tasks safely, with confidence and without error-- forgoing that grerat learning experience and confidence builder of a trip to the hospital.

At the risk of being too subtle, I don't think you know what you are talking about.


healyje


Jan 1, 2005, 2:28 PM
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In reply to:
OK healeyj, Then we disagree..

Yep, no doubt about that...

In reply to:
But you are erring on the side of accident, and I am erring on the side of a known safety practice that has actually proven useful..

No, actually I'm not and it isn't a known safety practice in this context - it is a very bad psychological crutch and it isn't useful at any time in training a person to lead (unless, possibly the person shouldn't be doing the training in the first place).

In reply to:
Your dogmatic fear of premanently damaging a 'lead head', is interfearing wiht your ability to recognize a sound tried and true , and TEMPORARY measure that would allow a new beginner to safely find out just how good his placements were.

No leader, beginner or otherwise, has or will ever have the luxury of a top rope when leading - that's why they call it leading. A true beginner can walk around the bottom of the rock with an aider to place and test pro and that's appropriate; they can second an experienced leader and see solid pro and that's appropriate; but once they start leading, leading or seconding is what they should be doing, period. If a person isn't confident with their placements they need to either: a) back down in difficulty so they can think clearer; b) go back down to the bottom and practice with an aider some more; or c) they need to go back to just seconding.

There are two issues at hand here: 1) being able to place good pro and 2) trusting it once you do. If you can't yet confidently place good pro you need to go back to do the recommendations in the preceding paragraph. But if #2 is more what we are talking about, and I believe it is, then you simply need to start falling on your pro in either simulated, real, or both. A person that can competently place good pro, but doesn't trust it, has boxed their mental/emotional growth in and handing them the psychological crutch of a TR defeats the whole point of the exercise and just digs that hole deeper. Either you trust the gear or you don't. Also, doing simulated falls on trad gear is an exercise only for someone that can competently place gear - it isn't a productive exercise, TR or not, for someone that cannot yet compentently place gear.

In reply to:
Furthermore, I would love to see you use your logic in a self and leader rescue class, where the top rope backup while learning a technique has prevented injury, allowing the student to learn painlessly from their mistake in a way that they will never forget, and then go on to preform the tasks safely, with confidence and without error-- forgoing that grerat learning experience and confidence builder of a trip to the hospital.

Ah, a commercial climbing endeavor - an entirely different beast. As both an educator and a business person I'd say insurance and risk management concerns override all others - even at the expense of some of the learning objectives. And recscue classes where most folks are being exposed to complex rope and device handling for the first time are yet another special case, confusion typically rules the day, has added group dynamics, and the learning objectives (particularly mental/emotional) are entirely different.

In reply to:
At the risk of being too subtle, I don't think you know what you are talking about.

Actually, I have a degree in post-seconday (adult) education, have been teaching people to lead for the best part of thirty years, have done more than a few FA's and FFA's, and have way over a thousand roped solo leads under my belt. I feel quite confident in both my qualifications and experience to make all the above statements.


akclimber


Jan 1, 2005, 4:02 PM
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Re: What piece didn't catch your fall (and why)...? [In reply to]
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:deadhorse: :deadhorse: :deadhorse:


akclimber


Jan 1, 2005, 4:09 PM
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Re: What piece didn't catch your fall (and why)...? [In reply to]
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well, the WAS an interesting thread...


petsfed


Jan 1, 2005, 4:13 PM
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Re: What piece didn't catch your fall (and why)...? [In reply to]
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Going all the way back to the original subject...

It wasn't that the piece didn't hold my fall. Rather that its popping out caused my fall. Bearing in mind that this was my second lead ever, I'm up Breezy on Wind Tower in Eldo and waaaaay off route. There's these two fin things right next to each other, forming a brief, flaring, vertical crack. So me, being a n00b with not nearly a good enough eye for bad placements, slams a red metolius tcu in there. It should've been apparent to me right off the bat that the piece wouldn't hold when it took considerable difficulty to get it to stay in the crack to begin with. But I persisted. I had a good stance so I could use both hands. The stem of the tcu stuck out perpendicular to the rock and thus perpendicular to the direction of fall. I did notice that much so I set to work resetting the cam so it would (so I thought) hold a fall. A prudent leader, aside from not setting the piece in the first place, would remove the cam and reset it the way he wanted it. Not me. I jerked on the cam to reorient it in the direction of I wanted. Unfortunately, the cam popped at that point and me, not expecting such a thing, leaned slowly but inexorably backwards until I fell off of my no hands stance. I recall thinking, just before the cam popped, that I should just remove and replace the thing, but I was a little sketched, a little angry, and cursing incoherently at this point. I recall, as I fell, cursing softly before the rope caught me literally inches from the ground. My partner, however, claims that profanity echoed from the canyon walls. Despite Brook's skilled belaying, my heel still slammed into a rock, leaving me with quite a sprain and a lesson I didn't heed until I finished the pitch shortly thereafter.

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