Licensed Professional Engineers

Rock Climbing Gear Failure / Belayer Error (855) 627-6273

Rock climbing is an inherently dangerous activity, where any operator error can result in serious injury or death. MASE partner John L. Ryan has extensive experience with rock climbing gear, and can determine if an accident was the result of premature gear failure, user error, or some other environmental variable. Most climbing gear manufacturers have strict quality control procedures that ensure the integrity of their products and the safety of the end user. There are times when climbing gear does fail catastrophically, and this can result in serious injury or death. Soft goods like webbing and harnesses are susceptible to environmental effects, aging, and damage from chemicals. These can weaken webbing and ropes to the point of failure. Failure of rock climbing protection may occur during hard leader falls. Although a design or material flaw could be the cause, climbing protection has limitations, and is highly dependant upon placement and direction of pull. Failure of carabiners and belay devices is not common, but can occur. There are frequent reports of belayers dropping climbers using assisted belay devices such as the Petzl GriGri and the Trango Cinch. We have investigated the failure modes of these devices, and performed live testing to substantiate our findings. There are multiple failure modes due to human error. If you have a client being sued due to your client dropping a climber, give us a call today - we can help determine if the belayer was fault. If you have a client who was injured due to being dropped, give us a call so we can help you determine if the belayer made a mistake such as loading the device incorrectly, not holding the brake strand of the rope, or due to the belayer gripping the climber side of the rope as the climber falls. We can determine if there is a design error or manufacturing flaw, or a material inconsistency - while uncommon, this does happen. Our mechanical engineers can analyze the accident, inspect available equipment from the incident, and determine the failure mode that led to the injury of the rock climber. Compliance with manufacturer design can be determined with destructive and nondestructive strength/fatigue testing, hardness testing, and if necessary, electron microscopy to determine composition and mode of failure.

Call us today to discuss your case with us. (855) 627-6273/