The Quickdraws that Led to the Death of Tito Traversa


The incorrect quickdraw set-up that led to Tito Traversa's fatal accident. The carabiner should be threaded through the full-strength nylon loop of the dogbone instead of the rubber "keeper" string. Normally this keeper is on the rope end of the quickdraw. Photo courtesy of grimper.com

7/9/13 - The French magazine Grimper has published photos from the police of how the quickdraws that led to the death of 12-year-old Italian climber Tito Traversa were assembled. The young man was lowering off a 5.10b at the French crag Orpierre when, tragically, eight of the 12 quickdraws failed, sending him tumbling about 25 meters to the ground. Traversa spent three days in a coma in a hospital before succumbing to his injuries.

The quickdraws belonged to someone in Traversa's group and had been set up incorrectly. The clipping carabiner passed only through the rubber-band "keeper" attached to the dogbone, instead of through the actual full-strength loop of the quickdraw. The eight draws assembled incorrectly were on the upper half of the route.

Grimper reports that the accident is under investigation. The photos were released as a reminder to always double-check that climbing gear is assembled correctly, knots are tied correctly, belay devices are loaded properly, and so forth.


20 comments

Previous Comments

Wrong about the rubber keeper on the clipping end. It should be on the hanger (bolt) end as this is where the biner can rotate an come unclipped.

anon - 03/12/2014 12:23:58

To be fair to child climbers and their families - I've been climbing since I was very young. There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with having your 12 year old child belay you, nor with your 12 year old lead climbing. The consequences are complex, the situation needs to be continously evaluated, and all gear should be checked all the time, just as with adult climbers. But as with most things in life, this can be dealt with very well or very poorly. My father was extremely safe with me as I developed my climbing skills, and we both acknowledged that there were risks involved and we would do our best to mitigate them.

Greg L - 07/12/2013 2:23:14

It seems the quicks were assembled by someone else, Tito just concentrated on climbing, assuming the person who was responsible for safety did a proper job. So I put on top of my "what to teach beginners" list: If you're not sure, don't do it, ask! I don't agree to the gym - bashing at all. With the good sight and the short distances between fix points, it's an excellent training ground for procedures you need to have outside. We all need to take care that each accident is examined and that we take our lessons. If we don't, we will lose more children and friends.

Hans - 07/12/2013 2:15:41

This isn't the first time using a rubber band like this has killed a climber: http://humanfactorsblog.org/2010/06/25/the-human-factors-of-rock-climbing-a-matter-of-life-and-death/ It's been a well known issue for a long time: http://vimeo.com/4138205#at=0

Karl - 07/12/2013 12:42:55

Totally the fault of 'sport' and 'gym' climbing mentality........Neither 'sport' focuses on safety nor trains people for real outdoor climbing. Yes, I'm an old timer......but at least back then, young climbers were 'mentored', usually by a knowledgeable and experienced climber. One should learn the basics on how to be and stay safe before venturing out on real rock, often with an inexperienced group. RIP in peace young man!

Max - 07/11/2013 8:29:50

Protect all. Check all equipment always. Recheck. Check again. It is never too much. Or too often. Children are children. Protect at all cost. My thoughts and prayers to all involved in this tradgety. God bless.

Darcie - 07/11/2013 8:28:21

I am haunted by this tradgety. As a parent all I can see is Tito hitting each QuickDraw and believing that it would catch him. Eight gasps. Omg! I keep seeing this and wondering why any child could be in this position. He was developmentally not able to function as an adult as he apparently was thought to be based on his amazing ability. I pray for him and his family due to this horrific tradgety. I only hope that this senseless death make parents and adults encouraging and nurturing such sports aware that children are still children and safety is of the utmost importance. Equipment must be checked and rechecked for anyone especially those under 25 whose brains are not fully developed. Look at statistics..... Under 25 they are not mentally seve Oped enough to understand fully. No joke. It is our responsibility as adults to protect.

Darcie - 07/11/2013 8:23:05

I’m very sad for Tito and his family. I’m a climber as well and my 7 years old son is now bouldering in a boulder gym. I look forward to seeing him climbing with me in a crag but I think i would never let him go with anybody else but me. Climbing is safe and when these accidents happen 99% of the times it is due to bad material or reckless actions or lack of attention. Despite his strength in climbing Tito was a 12 years old child and he should have been looked after by adults and adults should have checked the equipment before because accidents might happen. This does not mean that if you check you are 100% safe, but you minimize risks. Nothing is riskless.

guido - 07/11/2013 9:15:42

"informed" consent

MH - 07/10/2013 8:19:56

I agree with Adam's comment on how developmentally unready a young child is for this kind of responsibility. A 12 year old can't participate in conformed consent and understand the dangers of rock climbing outdoors. It is unbelievably negligent that his parents let him go on this kind of climbing trip. He shouldn't even be handling gear, much less setting anything up. Even if he didn't set up the draws, or have any responsibility for gear, it's still inappropriate to allow a 12 year old to do something so risky.

MH - 07/10/2013 8:17:47

there are lots of comments about what happened. I don't believe in the quickdraw rubber mistake. It is too obvious and apparent. And Tito was, despite of his age, very experienced. I believe we need more realistic information. And this is just expectation yet.

Alex Bizinoto - 07/10/2013 5:05:06

The rubber things are great, just gotta use 'em correctly, like anything else. Normally they are on the bottom/bent gate 'biner. Photo recreation may be wrong, or maybe that's how the kid set them up. Training on the fine points of climbing, the way I learned 30 years ago from climbers who had been around a long time themselves, I think has been somewhat lost in the gym-born era. Nothing against gyms, but I see people at the crags that do way more climbing inside, and I am surprised more bad things don't happen based on things I witness. Condolences to the family, and be vigilant out there.

Turbo - 07/10/2013 3:38:18

Well, I see many adults and professional climbers not doing proper verifications as well. That's not exclusive because it was a kid. To me, he wasn't taught right on the importance of verifying ALL parts of the climbing system as leading requires. And, believe it: that's not too much. However, it may take only one non verified part to die or kill someone in climbing.

RioClimbingGuides - 07/10/2013 8:39:01

This is a sad reminder that children, regardless of how strongly they climb; a 12 year old does not have the developmental capacity to plan and predict consequence. They are therefore not a reliable part of the safety system that normally exists in the climber belayer partnership. No matter how experienced a child is, they are still a child without a developed frontal lobe. The onus is on us as adults to accept the full responsibility for checking, double checking and getting a second adult to also check.

Adam - 07/10/2013 7:53:03

Poor Tito and - don't forget - poor person who assembled these, probably not knowing how to do it right. I have an 11yr old kid and know how hard it is to double check on what they do. This reminds me to never stop insisting, be it my own kid or anyone else I have responsibility for. So even more go my thoughts to the instructor of the gym group, who will probably know where the real responsibility for safety has been and who will probably and hopefully never forget this day. And please don't blame the equippment. Whatever you use, you must know how to. As soon as you start to assume, you're wrong. And also please don't tell me about certifications. In 8 out of 10 fatal incidents there were certified instructors aound. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against certified instructors, but this is not all it takes. Awareness and responsibility ir required and this is where we all make mistakes occasionally. So let's tell off the idiots that laugh about partner check and other security rituals.

Hans - 07/10/2013 1:13:10

"There shouldn't be a rubber keeper on the bolt end anyway, only the clipping end (bent gate). This picture does not follow the description. Thoughts and prayers go out to Tito and his family." First off, there prob wasn't a keeper on bolt side, and prob came attacked to the packaging, (that he chose not to read). My question is, if someone were to be making this kind of mistake WHAT else did they screw up. and if you are their partner and not seeing this, what else are you not double checking?

More Jason - 07/10/2013 12:33:35

"Ice and Rock Climbing are inherently dangerous sports. The process of learning by trial and error is at times a risky. Be responsible and learn the proper safety techniques before setting off on your first climb. Safe climbing begins with proper instruction with knowledgeable, skilled instructors. AMI climbing instructors are AMGA certified and have MA degrees in education to provide you with the best possible learning experience. Make learning fun and exciting while taking a climbing course near Asheville or Brevard NC. AMI offers several courses for those interested in learning the skills necessary for a safe and exciting climbing adventure. If you want beginning climbing instruction, anchor building or want to learn trad leading skills, AMI will have a course for you" \ READ THE Instructions and recieve proper training. Next thing you will find a climber with the rope around his neck, trial and error.

Jason - 07/10/2013 12:31:26

Get rid of those damn rubber things, they're dangerous and not important at all.

Paul Wolf - 07/09/2013 6:50:54

My sincerest condolences go out to Tito's family. And I wish peace on the poor soul that assembled these. That's a tough way to go through life...

Ryan - 07/09/2013 1:42:00

There shouldn't be a rubber keeper on the bolt end anyway, only the clipping end (bent gate). This picture does not follow the description. Thoughts and prayers go out to Tito and his family.

Anonymous - 07/09/2013 11:47:28