Much has been going around the internet about Todd Skinner’s death Monday while rapping off the Leaning Tower in Yosemite. I received an email today from a climbing partner who just moved out to California. His friend and fiance were on Leaning Tower right before Skinner. They were rapping down as he was jugging up and helped afterwards. Their report from the scene is that
His harness broke. It was old and worn out, and he had a new one on the way in the mail.
If that isn’t a sad reminder for all of us to check our gear regularly, I don’t know what is.
The SuperTopo forum has a long thread with a lot of stories memorializing Todd. Will Gadd (Gravsports) and Dougald MacDonald (The Mountain World) relate their thoughts about Todd and there is some more media coverage at MSNBC, MountEverest.net and The Mercury News.
UPDATE: More from my friend on the accident and the harness failure:
what he heard from one of their SAR friends was that the belay loop gave out
Again, remember to check your gear…
Black Diamond performed some tests on damaged belay loops and found that even if the company cut 90 percent across the webbing, it still would have a breaking strength of 777 pounds. Skinner’s loop may have broke under less force than that.
His partner noticed Skinner’s belay loop was badly worn, acknowledged by Skinner himself. The damage was induced by an attached daisy chain, an extension device itself made of webbing. The rubbing between these components over time caused visually apparent damage.