Superstar Preteen Climber Dies After Fall

7/5/13 - Tito Traversa, an Italian climber who just turned 12 years old in April and had already climbed several 5.14 sport routes, has died from injuries suffered in a ground fall at the French crag Orpierre. According to the website of the French magazine Grimper, Traversa was lowering off a 5.10+ route he had climbed as a warm-up when eight of the 12 quickdraws on the route failed, sending him on a ground fall of some 25 meters (82 feet). After three days in a coma in a nearby hospital, Traversa died from his injuries.

According to Grimper, the young climber was using quickdraws that another member of his group had recently purchased. The report indicates that the person assembled the quickdraws incorrectly, passing the clipping carabiner solely through the rubber-band "keeper" attached to the draw, instead of through the full-strength loop of the quickdraw. Unfortunately, the eight bad quickdraws were placed in the upper half of the route that Traversa climbed, and no one noticed the error in time.

Traversa did his first 5.14a at age 10 and had completed many more extremely difficult routes, including his fourth 14a just two days before his accident.

Date: July 5, 2013

Sources: Grimper,


Previous Comments

Do you guys know when this happend

shamari - 09/23/2013 1:56:06

Helmets aren't to help you when you fall like they are when you are on a bike, they're to protect you from falling rocks or metal pieces of gear. In well traveled sport routes, these falling rocks are almost non existant

nathan - 09/16/2013 5:52:17

Is anyone stopping to think that the company who made the gear is largely at fault. Yes he was young, so what. Most of us climbers trust our gear, we are taught to trust the gear. The manufacture, and the sales people did not notice the flaw. Ever piece of climbing gear needs to be tested and go through inspection before it even hits the shelf. All of the gear used for climbing is a life line, and it is the manufactures responsibility to put out safe gear. Yes, it is sucks, its horrible no one noticed the flawed gear, but it was not noticed by the adults who made the gear, or the adults who sold the gear, so just because the climber was young is not why it was overlooked.

corielle gambrell - 07/20/2013 9:27:07

A tragedy, which has made me sit up and take notice twice over. My son is 11 years old and leads regularly. I always set the 1st draw and I insist he wears a helmet except on top rope which I will change as of today as an adult should always be responsible for a child of that age. BUT here comes the shocker. I am currently recovering from a fractured wrist which will probably never completely recover after an 8 meter fall of a training wall at home. I went inside for a drink and returned to climb and did not clip to the autobelay. I did not even fall. I just jumped off. Seems impossible but it happened and I am 55. I was really lucky as I landed on my back. We have to realise that when the risks are lowest that is when we are most complacent. You know the saying - "it won't happen to me" - Better to day to yourself "That could be me!!My condolences to the family. I am so sorry.

Matthew Stubbs - South Africa - 07/15/2013 3:11:49

So where are all the helmets in the Climbing magazine videos that I just watched and on all the photo shoots that you do for your movies and magazine. when you start to walk your talk maybe I will subscribe again. When the big name climbers start showing these young kids that it is cool to climb safe and wear a helmet then they will too. So disappointments me when you write over and over that it is a safe and prudent practice to wear a helmet and then none of the climbers in your articles and videos have one on---shame!!

Loni Uchytil - 07/12/2013 11:24:47

This was not 'gear failure', so it has nothing to do with the brand of quickdraw or any other equipment. A photo of a quickdraw from the area, provided by the investigators of the site of the accident, clearly shows that the upper 'biner does NOT pass through the webbing at all; it is connected only to the rubberband-like keeper. It's not even a dogbone-type device that can obscure the webbing when the quickdraw is assembled improperly. This should have been obvious. With apologies and condolences to the parents' and others' sensitivities, it IS important to debrief about this accident. SOMEONE at the scene should have spotted the mistakes in how these draws were assembled. Obviously, no one took the precaution to do so. And, as has been said elsewhere in another discussion about this accident, children do not have the capacity to fully appreciate the risks when climbing. It is biological fact that their brains aren't fully developed (until into the early 20s) so as to be able to exercise the kind of high-level abstract judgement that can keep them alive, especially when the routes get physically more difficult or more complex. I would love to see the climbing media take it upon itself to STOP touting the 'accomplishments' of child climbers. Such agrandizing DOES influence the general paradigm, and individual climbers, and perhaps even their parents, to greater or lesser extents, and for no good reason. Gymnastics has implemented minimum age requirements for major competitions, I believe, and that's because the bodies of younger competitors are significantly different - the physical capacities and capabilities are very different from their older peers. As these young climbers age, strength-to-weight ratios and the physical configuration changes such that they might be average at best within 2 - 5 years. So, is it really news-worthy to hype a 65 lb. kid climbing a hard route? Where's the balance in recognizing that all the photos we're seeing of this poor kid show him climbing without a helmet? As to brain development, would you want a 10 or 12 year-old belaying you? Would you trust his or her attention span to watch for your or your child's safety as a belayer for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or longer? Not me. This is a very sad accident. It was COMPLETELY preventable. Similar accidents are recognizably completely preventable. There is an opportunity for manufacturers of these 'dogbones' and rubber band keeper for quickdraws to improve their products and/or improve their marketing and instruction. There is an opportunity for everyone to re-address their safety practices, indoors and outdoors. And, there's an opportunity for the climbing media to gain some perspective on whatever small role they may play in hyping the 'accomplishments' (sarcasm intended) of children, without attendant proportional consideration for proper safety practices for those who are especially vulnerable and not yet capable of adult decision-making.

JDS - 07/12/2013 10:40:13

Very sad, an accident that could have been prevented after some gear safety checks even just prior to his climb. Sincere condolences to his friends and family, such a shame and so young.

Suzanne - 07/12/2013 9:28:11

As parents of two young climbers we are especially diligent to check and double-check their gear. An earlier comment pointed out that no matter how skilled at climbing, this young man was only 12 and not many 12 year olds are as focused and experienced as many adults who could never achieve the level of climbing skill. I am even more determined that my children learn basic safety skills and the basics of ropework and pro/anchors before being let loose on a rock. Helmets have been a must, whether sport or trad climbing, ever since a dear friend suffered a severe and life-changing brain injury in a helmetless leader fall. Helmets should be cool, not rare, at the crags.

Christine - 07/11/2013 5:38:01

Noticing that he spent 3 days in a coma, I wonder if a helmet would have made a difference? I haven't heard if he was wearing one or not, but I'm assuming he was not, since none of the high end sport climbers do. Most of the attention in this tragedy is being rightly focused on the quickdraw mistake and his young age, but I wonder about the helmet factor. I was spared a traumatic brain injury during a groundfall by wearing a helmet - and I was climbing in an area where a lot of people choose not to wear helmets. I wear one ALL the time now, and I still find it amazing how unusual it is to wear a helmet - particularly when sport climbing. Unfortunately even when taking a routine sport fall it is always a possibility that you could hit your head on the wall or be dropped / deck.

Dave - 07/10/2013 5:50:39

P.S. if this could be considered a design flaw in the quickdraws in question I would hope that the manufacturer is considering a recall, or at least rigorously campaigning for the awareness of correct assembly. Again, condolences to friends and family. I can't fathom what they must be going through right now.

Jon - 07/09/2013 4:12:19

Thanks Kai -- I am not familiar with any draw that would conceal something like this, though I'm sure they're out there. I appreciate the explanation. I guess from my experience, I really couldn't imagine how an oversight like that could be possible. Not trying to be a jerk or play the blame game or anything. Just trying to wrap my head around this one. My condolences to the family.

Jon - 07/09/2013 4:08:13

Here's a link to a video that might possibly explain how such an accident could occur. Regards and be safe everyone.

Dakotaclimber - 07/09/2013 9:08:00

I would like to know what brand of Quickdraws were behind this event. Really sad. Should never have happened for so many reason. Sorry for the family and for this amazing little athlete.

Daryn Edmunds - 07/09/2013 7:53:52

Let us all learn from the tragedy to check and recheck and demand the same of others on expeditions. Sad to see so many comments here laying blame coming from people who don't know the circumstances. My heart goes out to the family.

Mia - 07/09/2013 12:58:33

True that indoor gym bred climbers take protection for granted. Climbers are now not doing safety checks before climbs, thinking it will all be fine... until something happens. Do not hesitate to voice out when you see someone doing the wrong thing. Rather be looked at as a nosey guy than letting them risk their lives knowing you can prevent that. And if it's something your life depends on, do check yourself if you value your life. Danger is real but it's a small thing to worry about if you've done your safety checks.

Alvina L. - 07/08/2013 9:47:46

He was 12. Remember this. A 12 year old kid that does not "think" like most of the "experienced in life" climbers on this website. My heart goes out to his family and friends. So sad. Just because he could climb like an adult does not mean he thought like one.

Dawnpatrol - 07/08/2013 8:06:44

I think maybe some of you holier than thou out there need to stop and realize a family is missing their baby tonight and no parent should ever have bury their child. I've seen some of these quick draws and as an adult I can see how a CHILD (whether great or not) but a child would miss this. And you should all count yourselves so luck to know it all and never make mistakes especially for as long as you lived. You should all be ashamed. Let the family morn and not have to watch the climbing community not be there for one of their own but judge and blame. FOR SHAME!

Beth - 07/08/2013 5:47:18

>I don't understand how an incorrectly rigged quick draw wouldn't be >completely obvious... If you are using a small rubber piece to hold the carabiner in place, you'd need to take the quick draw apart to see if the carabiner runs through the webbing or not. This could almost account as a design fault.

Kai - 07/08/2013 3:05:49

How this child, though young, could have failed to notice that only the rubber band portion of the quick draw, and not the actual sling itself, was clipped into the carabiner is unfathomable. It reminds me of an incident which occurred a few years ago involving the death of a base jumper in Yosemite Valley. The decedent made the jump using someone else's rig which she herself had not packed, not inspected, and was further unfamiliar with. When the rig failed to deploy during free fall, she perished. Check your knots ... check your harness ... check your rope for cuts or slices ... check your anchors ... check to see your gear is in good shape and functioning properly ... the list goes on. It's really hard to get killed sport climbing, but it happens often enough to remind all of us that, yes, it is always possible. Never mind all of the accidents we hear about that occur in sport climbing gyms.

Sandstone climber - 07/08/2013 2:53:22

Where is the evidence that he spent ANY time in a Climbing Gym? and why the bashing of gyms in an article about a tragic gear failure? Certainly there were several mistakes that led up to this, but I can't see anything that would happen in MY gym that could be construed as a root reason for an accident like this. Maybe the gyms you attend should be informed of whatever "failures to instruct" they are missing.

Glenn - 07/08/2013 12:59:51

Such an unthinkable tragedy.... 8 draws fail!!! Everyone would do well to perform a "jerk" test before using gear. Especially when it is borrowed. I look to do it anytime I am using a Gri, if only to verify that I have fed the rope correctly.

Craig Childre - 07/08/2013 12:02:32

This comes from the increasingly materialistic view of climbing, how hard can we climb and impress others, setting aside esthetics and safety as mere side shows. Climbing is NOT Disneyland!

Jorge Gonzalez - 07/07/2013 7:26:12

La mia arrampicata non è più la stessa...

Mario - 07/07/2013 3:52:56

My heart aches for his family and friends, I will say that I think gyms are a big reason why people are becoming so careless this is something that should have been caught before he climbed easily, I see so many bad habits learned in a gym setting its upsetting.

taylor - 07/07/2013 10:28:56

This video explains how the draws might have been incorrectly equipped.

Seth - 07/06/2013 9:43:41

How didn't anyone ( at least 2 people handled them more than once) notice the draws weren't right? And why was he lowering off the draws instead of the anchor?

Turtle - 07/06/2013 8:06:18

Sport climbers need to realize that climbing rock cliffs high above the ground requires safety and roped protection that you know is reliable and you can trust your life to. Too many indoor gym bred climbers take protection for granted. Safety and rope work are a part of climbing and always will be. The trend of sport climbing to pursue maximum difficulty with the convenience of fixed gear and quick draws to minimize " the rope" is just going to lead to more tragic accidents. Thoughts and condolences to the friends and family of Tito.

Ted Hammond - 07/06/2013 7:02:54

I don't understand how an incorrectly rigged quick draw wouldn't be completely obvious...

Jon - 07/06/2013 5:18:59

¿And the instructors? answers please.

armando nicolau - 07/06/2013 12:09:31

That's something I couldn't possibly live with. May we all learn a valuable lesson from this. Condolences.

Paul H. - 07/05/2013 10:56:14

Another terrible reminder to ALWAYS check the gear you're using before you climb.

AJ - 07/05/2013 6:00:05

This is frightening. Such a shame. Thoughts to his family

Siobhann - 07/05/2013 5:33:02