Weekend Whipper: Carabiner Breaks!

Scary stuff and lessons to be learned in this one!

By Rock and Ice | October 23rd, 2020

This isn’t the first Whipper we’ve had showing a carabiner failing (See this one, and this one!), but we have more insight into it that usual.

Zac Wronski, the climber, was climbing To Walk Like Anubis, a 5.10b at a crag called Whiskeyjacks in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.

“Reaching the last bolt before the anchors, I noticed it had a quicklink on it, left behind by whoever climbed it last,” Wronski told Rock and Ice. “I clipped the hanger and continued up to the layback crux of the climb. I took a small, uneventful fall about two feet above the bolt. Hanging on the draw to rest, I noticed that the carabiner was loaded over the quicklink it shared the hanger with.

“I briefly thought about moving the quickdraw to a different spot on the bolt hanger or just clipping it to the quick-link instead, but I decided that since I had already fallen on it I was probably fine. I tried the moves above two more times, each attempt resulting in a small fall onto the draw. I rested a bit longer and decided to give it one more go.

“I reached a new highpoint, but I fell once again. As the rope started to come tight, I heard a ping and felt myself suddenly accelerating downwards again, finding myself about 25 feet below my high point when the rope came tight. A quick look at my tie in point told the whole story: the rope side carabiner of the quickdraw hung by my knot with a mangled bolt-side carabiner missing its top half dangling off the other end of the dogbone.

“Thankfully I was completely uninjured and lowered to the ground laughing with a rush of adrenaline. Had the same thing happened one bolt lower on the climb, I likely would have hit the ground.

“There are two key lessons I was able to take away from this. Firstly, when your instincts tell you something is wrong, don’t ignore them. It would have been quite easy for me to move the quickdraw to a better position, but I was lazy and chose not to. Secondly, when you’re clipping a bolt that has a quick-link on it, avoid clipping the draw so that it rests over the quicklink. Instead, either attach the draw to the hanger so that it rests under the quick link.

“Very thankful that I was able to learn from my mistakes in this situation without suffering any serious consequences.”

Thanks for the analysis Zac. Glad you’re okay!

Happy Friday and climb safe this weekend!


Watch Last Week’s Whipper


Weekend Whipper: “Jean” (5.9+), The Gunks, NY




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