Broken Harness Likely Caused Skinner's Death

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Although an official investigation remains to be completed, it appears increasingly likely that a broken belay loop on Todd Skinner’s harness caused his death. Skinner fell about 500 feet on Monday while rappelling fixed lines during an attempt to free climb a route on Leaning Tower in Yosemite Valley. Jim Hewett, Skinner’s climbing partner on Leaning Tower, is quoted extensively about the accident in today’s San Francisco Chronicle. “[The harness] was actually very worn,” Hewett told the paper. “I'd noted it a few days before, and he was aware it was something to be concerned about.” The story by Chronicle staffer Peter Fimrite continues, “Friends of Skinner said he had ordered several new harnesses but they hadn’t yet arrived in the mail. On Monday’s climb, Hewett said the belay loop snapped while Skinner was hanging in midair underneath an overhanging ledge.”

It is not known if the nylon webbing in the belay loop had been cut or compromised by some corrosive substance.

Read the complete San Francisco Chronicle story here: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/26/CLIMBER.TMP.Comment on this story