If you’re an avid rock climber you’ve probably already heard about the tragic, untimely, and completely unnecessary death on July 5th of 12-year-old Italian climbing phenom Tito Traversa at the French crag Orpierre. Apparently while being lowered off of a 5.10b eight of the 12 quickdraws he’d used to protect the route failed, causing him to deck after a fall of some 25 meters. The police photo above, published in the French climbing magazine Grimper, reveals what speculation has suggested up to now: the quickdraws, which were provided by someone on he gym team he was travelling with, were improperly assembled. The tiny bit of elastic, which is designed to keep the carabiner in an upright position at the end of the dogbone for easy clipping, was used as the sole attachment point between the carabiner and the nylon/dyneema dogbone itself. You can see similar coverage in English from Climbing magazine.
Unless you’re mindful to carefully inspect your quickdraws before you climb, this assembly error isn’t readily apparent until the quickdraw is actually weighted (in which case it’s too late). However, assuming you use your own quickdraws, which you’ve assembled yourself and probably used many times in the past, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll encounter this assembly error. So maybe this is a cautionary tale for those rare times you borrow someone else’s quickdraws, right? Perhaps. But in this video from UKClimbing, climbing gear designer Streaky Desroy shows us how we unwittingly might encounter this very quickdraw problem simply by carrying our quickdraws around in a pack. This is probably a greater danger for open slings used to create alpine draws than your conventional dogbone style sport climbing quickdraw. Nevertheless, it’s something we should all be mindful of anyway.
Location: Orpierre, Haute Alps, France