Risk Managment Corner: December 2023

A near miss due to a loaded rope over a sharp edge.
Graham Ottley Graham Ottley
December 06, 2023

Overview: The CMC Leader, overseeing an Intermediate Alpine Climb at Lincoln Falls, reports a near miss incident that occurred on November 4, 2023. The incident involved a participant and highlighted the potential dangers of climbing ropes running over sharp rock edges.

Key Details:

  • Participants: CMC Leader and an unnamed participant
  • Date and Time: November 4, 2023, at 1:00 PM
  • Location: Lincoln Falls, Pikes Peak
  • Activity Type: Climbing

Incident Description: During a practice session, a participant was lowered off a cliff edge to ascend a rope. Due to poor visibility, they ended up on a different terrain than planned. After ascending about 40 feet, the participant noticed damage to the climbing rope, with the sheath completely cut but the core intact. The CMC Leader, observing from above, identified that the rope had passed over a sharp rock shelf during ascent, causing the damage.

Immediate Response: The CMC Leader swiftly provided a backup rope for the participant, allowing them to safely continue ascending past the damaged section.

Analysis: The incident underscores the risk of weighted climbing ropes being cut over sharp rock edges, especially during pendulum-type motions. The damaged rope could have led to serious injury if undetected. Climbers are urged to inspect the terrain during rappels or ascents, avoiding excessive rope motion over rocks while under tension.

Follow-up: No further files or attachments were provided in the report.

This incident serves as a valuable lesson in safety awareness and emphasizes the importance of vigilance when navigating challenging terrains during climbing activities.

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