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Indoor climber fell to death after tying the wrong knot

by rockcity on April 12, 2012

The Times newspaper today reported on the inquest that followed an accident at an indoor climbing wall.

A pensioner fell 30ft to his death from indoor climbing wall after tying a bowline instead of a figure of eight knot in his rope, an inquest heard.

Climber David Rothman, 73, was described as a “meticulous” man who had been climbing for more than 50 years.

But he fell more than 30ft from the top of the climbing wall at the Warehouse Climbing Centre in Gloucester on November 7 2011.

The father-of-two, from Bredon, Worcs., suffered multiple injuries including numerous fractures and died two days later at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

An inquest in Gloucester heard Mr Rothman, a retired aerospace engineer, had probably used a bowline rather than a figure of eight knot in his rope.

Experts said a bowline knot is more likely to slip than a figure of eight unless a ‘stopper knot’ is also tied.

It appeared Mr Rothman had failed to tie a stopper knot and his rope gave way just as he was beginning to descend from the top of the 11-metre high wall.

Gloucestershire coroner David Dooley described it as a tragic case of human error as he recorded an accidental death verdict.

He said: “Had a stopper knot been used the rope probably would not have failed.”

At Rockcity we have always encouraged the use of the figure 8 knot with a stopper knot as the best knot to use.  This confirms that tieing a stopper knot is essential to keeping things safer, even in the indoor environment which gives a lot of people a false sense of security but the risks and dangers are very real.

Now would be  a good time to refresh our practices indoor and out and take a step back and look at what we do when tieing in or belaying.  THe Buddy system of checking each other before leaving the ground and being strict with each other will make a difference.

Check out www.animatedknots.com for cool knot tieing videos.

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