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Date of Incident

04/04/2021

Country

England

Area

Culm coast

Route

Incident

I had just sent a route that was a pretty big tick for me and it was very early in the season so my headgame wasn't quite where it normally is. I topped out, celebrated for a short while, and then because nobody wanted to second it I set up an ab from a stake to retrieve the gear. The adrenaline had subsided by this point. I found the marked midpoint of my rope (recently shortened to 58.5m), rigged an anchor on the stake at the midpoint of the rope, and because I was descending into a river I flaked both ends of the rope into a ropebag which I suspended from my belay loop. I forgot to tie knots in the ends of the rope. I descended using my ATC and a prussik loop. Everything was fine until one end of the rope zipped through my device. Fortunately my reaction was to immediately remove my hand from the prussik loop and it jammed with a very short tail left on my side. I was freaking out a little bit at this point and holding on very tightly to the rope. I was probably about 5 metres above the boulder strewn river. Once I'd calmed down a bit I made an anchor using some of the nuts I'd retrieved, reset my ATC and prussik loop, and did the slow prussik shuffle back to the top. I was saved life changing injuries or maybe death by my use of the prussik. Maybe the unequal rope lengths helped but I think the prussik would have jammed even if both ends had gone through the device. I used to attach my prussik to small loops on the legs of my harness until a friend pointed out that they weren't rated for much and it would be safer to use the belay loop. Very glad of that advice now.

Lessons

Always tie knots in rope ends for descending and always use a prussik. I guess this is that skill fade I keep hearing mentioned.

Activity

Trad rock climbing

When

Descending

Injury

No injury

Causes

Abseil or rappel failure or error

Anonymous?

Yes

Reported By

Participant

Wearing Helmets?

Yes

Rescue Services Involved?

Author

15 April 2021, 15:44:55

For more advice and guidance on good practices visit BMC skills

All reports are self-submitted and have not been edited by the BMC in any way, so please keep an open mind regarding the lessons and causes of each incident or near-miss.