Lessons Learnt – Groundfall on Second

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Lance 10 months, 1 week ago.

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    Hi all

    I thought I’d share a recent accident and some lessons learnt from a recent climbing accident. Hopefully it will trigger some thoughts and we can take something away from it.

    The victim was seconding the first pitch of a unestablished climb where the leader was belaying about 15m above. The climb had a large roof and the belayer was standing above the roof which lead to poor communication as well as potential for the rope to get caught or create drag over the lip.

    Unfortunetely there wasn’t a second person that witnessed the accident and therefore cannot point my finger on exactly what was the root cause and the victim did not recall exactly what happened either.

    The belayer took in the slack and started belaying the climber up. The seconder was feeling confident and started climbing, made a few meters progress before they suddenly fell. The climb started in a bit of a ditch whereby the main platform was about 1m behind. It is uncertain whether it was due to rope stretch or the rope getting caught over the lip leading to slack however the climber fell, landed on their backside in the ditch before the momentum pushed them backwards where they hit the back of the head on the edge of the platform behind. The victim wasn’t wearing a helmet.

    As some of the group were hanging out at a platform a few meters below the climb, it wasn’t immediately obvious that the climber was injured. They were found lying down with severe bleeding from the back of the head. Fortunately the victim was able to walk out on what I would consider a remote location with a not easy walk out. The group took the victim to hospital and ended up with 3 stitches.

    Some of the thoughts I had were around the potential dangers of seconding (belaying from above) particularly above a roof where communication both visual and verbal is poor. The climber hadn’t had much experience climbing outside and whether someone experienced was there besides them to keep an eye on the slack might have helped? The other thing was that the victim was fortunate that their butt took most of the damage and not their skull. Wearing a helmet would have helped the situation. Another thing to also consider when we do go out as a group is the importance of looking after one another especially when we’re in remote places. If the accident was worse and the victim couldn’t move or passed out, I’d imagine it’ll be quite a few hours before help would arrive. That would have turned into an epic for everyone involved.

    Keen to hear your thoughts. Hopefully there’s a few things that you can take away from this accident.



    #189295 Reply


    Thanks for the report Pete.
    Slack belay rope is always trouble. If there were sufficient runners between leader and second and a firm belay rope between the two.. then there should be no reason to ground fall and swing into other objects.

    So glad the outcome was not too serious.

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