NUT OR CHOCK PULLED OUT, POOR POSITION
North Carolina, Moore's Wall, Sentinel Buttress, Zoo View
On September 2, Ron Lantham (37) and friends were climbing Zoo View, (5.8) a popular climb on Sentinel Buttress. After completing the first pitch, Lantham, the leader, constructed a belay anchor under a large roof. He placed the belay anchor low and redirected the rope through a single piece placed overhead. His second fell, causing the upper placement to take the force of the fall, causing it to pull out. The resulting shock-load caused the belayer to lose control of the belay and drop the second.
The victim remained dangling on the rope for several hours after falling approximately 50 feet. Stokes County Mountain Rescue lowered the climber to the base of the wall around 7:30 p.m. The climber was airlifted to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem. He had a fractured ankle and possible internal injuries.
Three important factors should always be considered when setting up any belay: Anchor (SRENE: Strong, Redundant, Equalized, No Extension), friction (belay device), and position (climber in relationship to his/her anchor and direction of pull). In this case, the leader ignored his position in relation to the direction of pull and the dynamics of a potential fall. The climber should have positioned himself below the anchor rather than above it, in either a sitting or hanging belay with the belay device attached to the harness. Redirecting the rope in a hanging belay can be done more efficiently, especially if the belayer is facing the anchors. Or the leader may have had more control if the belay device was attached directly to the belay anchor via a Munter hitch, GriGri, or other device suitable for this purpose. This approach may have given the belayer more options, especially in executing a belay escape and assisting his partner, or the leader could have climbed through the overhang and set up his belay— the preferred set-up. (Source: Aram Attarian)