The death of a climber at the Warehouse in Gloucester is a tragic reminder of the importance of checking your harness knot.
A coroner’s inquest has ruled that Gloucestershire climber David Rothman died because he did not tie into his harness properly. Rothman, 73, a retired engineer and a regular at Gloucester climbing wall the Warehouse, suffered multiple fractures after falling about 30ft, and died in hospital two days later.
The inquest focused on how Rothman might have become detached from the rope. His belayer Tony Raphael gave evidence that he felt resistance as Rothman’s weight came onto the rope before the highly experienced climber fell.
This suggests that Rothman had attempted to tie his usual bowline but the knot had failed. It is possible Rothman either forgot to tie his bowline after pulling the rope through his harness, or did so only partly or incorrectly. A figure-of-eight knot has been discounted because there was no bight left in the rope. Deputy Gloucestershire coroner David Dooley said: “Had a stopper knot been used, the rope probably would not have failed.”
Contrary to a statement read in court from a local climbing instructor, a bowline will not ordinarily come undone if no ‘stopper’ knot is tied. A correctly tied bowline is an accepted way of tying into a harness, but it is imperative to tie a stopper knot in case the bowline is incorrectly tied or loosens and inverts.
The BMC extends its sympathy to the family and friends of David Rothman.
Tying in safely
This article was edited on 23/4/12 to remove any ambiguity about the importance of a stopper knot.
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