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Readers, please send your Weekend Whipper videos, information, and any lessons learned to Anthony Walsh, email@example.com.
We won’t beat around the bush: this week’s whipper is horrifying.
Found on the cover of the 2012 Squamish Select guidebook, the fourth pitch of Warriors of the Wasteland (5.12, 200 meters) in Squamish, BC, is as striking as they come. This was Casey Dubois’s first redpoint attempt of the 30-meter pitch, a thin 5.12-, with a low crux and secure finger locks higher up.
“Casey had climbed through most of the hard climbing with one final hard move before the sinker 5.11 finger-crack finale,” the filmer, Kyle Smith, wrote to Climbing. “Unfortunately he fell on that final hard move and ripped a 0.1 x4 BD at his ankles. We were expecting a small fall, but the cam failed and the carabiner on the cam below unclipped itself causing Casey to fall over slightly half the pitch.”
Dubois, thankfully, was wearing a helmet, which sported multiple cracks from the impact. “He was a little shaken of course, but was totally okay,” Smith said.
We asked Smith if he knew how that second carabiner unclipped itself. “We couldn’t figure [it] out … but it did. It just was one of those perfect storms,” he said. Indeed, strange things happen when gear holds for an instant before ripping: the rope stretches and stretches, ready to arrest the fall, but failing gear can reintroduce a meaningful amount of new slack into the system. We’ve seen this “new” rope wrap itself around feet, arms, and even necks during massive gear rippers, and, if wrapped around a carabiner, it will easily unclip.
But the rope and carabiner didn’t part ways here—it was the cam that was left on its own. Locking carabiners are an obvious preventative solution, and certainly not a new concept for headpointing dangerous routes, but they are cumbersome and impractical to have on each cam. Doubling up on pro (when possible) can help limit this type of unclipping, too: more cams in the system means less new rope is introduced when once piece fails. Finally, and maybe most importantly, adding a rubber band to the sling of your cam will ensure proper orientation in the event of a fall. Had the carabiner not had the opportunity to rotate, it may not have unclipped itself at all.
Happy Friday, and be safe out there this weekend.