On Sunday, 13 April 2014, a climber found himself in a pretty awkward place at King's Kloof: Hanging about 6 meters off the ground on an overhanging thirty meter abseil, out of rope. To make matters worse:
- he had tied one end of the rope to his harness, and used the other end of the rope to lower himself to the ground (running the rope through his belay device), rather than setting up a proper abseil. This forced him to hold on to the rope to arrest his descent (he eventually wrapped the last little bit of the loose rope around his leg to give his hands and arms a break).
- Because of the overhang, he was too far from the rock face to climb back up (or down).
- He had no Prusiks on him, so he could not ascent the rope.
- He had not tied a stopper knot to the end of the rope and risked sliding off the end of the rope.
- He thought he had a 60m rope, when in fact it was only 50m long (a 60m rope would have just made it to the bottom of the crag).
After some unsuccessful efforts from his climbing partners to assist him, he eventually asked for help. Three climbers walked around to the top of the climb, set up an abseil with two 60m ropes and transferred the stranded climber from his rope to the rescuers' ropes and safely lowered him to the ground. By that time, the climber confessed to almost having passed out, and he had lost feeling in his legs from hanging in his harness for about an hour and from the rope he had tied around his leg to prevent himself from sliding off the end of the rope. A 6m fall on rocky terrain would have most certainly ended up in broken bones, if not worse.
Please remember the basics:
- Know your equipment. Knowing the length of his rope would have saved him a lot of discomfort and embarrassment. His rope is now another meter shorter, the rescuer had to cut the climber loose after he was transferred to the rescuer's rope.
- When abseiling, setup a proper abseil, both ends of the rope through the belay / abseil device.
- Always tie a knot on both ends of the rope.
- Always have at least one, preferably two Prusiks on you when abseiling. One Prusik on the rope and attached to the leg loop of the harness, the second on your gear loop for "just-in-case" you need to get back up the rope.
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- The stranded climber, holding on to the rope, about 6m up.
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- The climber is transferred to the rescuer's rope. The end of the climber's rope is visible just below his right foot.
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