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Fallen Climbing Legend
October 30, 2006 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Todd Skinner falls to his death Sport and free climbing pioneer/entrepreneur, Todd Skinner, died over the weekend in a 500-foot fall. Sadly, it appears that his death was from a "..very worn.." belay loop on his harness. I met Todd about 10 years ago, and was struck by his warmth and enthusiasm. He spent almost three hours at a dingy Seattle climbing gym with about 10 neophyte femail climbers. He helped us all climb better and have more fun. He was generous with his praise, and offered truly helpful instruction - his ego did not get in the way (unlike many climbing instructors/"stars"). He'll be missed.
posted by dbmcd (32 comments total)

 
He was one of those guys that made me proud to be from Wyoming. This is too bad.
posted by hatchetjack at 10:07 AM on October 30, 2006


Skinner, whose stories were generally regarded as 85 percent true[....]

What a well-written obituary. That one sentence carries so much. I'm a bit sad, now, and I'd never heard of the guy.
posted by Malor at 10:10 AM on October 30, 2006


But, what's a neophyte femail?
posted by found missing at 10:20 AM on October 30, 2006


I must have missed the memo about femail entering the PC lexicon.

Sad news, though.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 10:29 AM on October 30, 2006


Between this guy and the base jumper, it's a bad couple of weeks to be mucking around on high stuff.
posted by klangklangston at 10:29 AM on October 30, 2006


So, femails are female emails.

Anyway, here is the SuperTop Climber's Forum thread discussing Todd Skinner and his death. In this thread there are lots of people relating their personal remembrances, good pics, etc.
posted by found missing at 10:42 AM on October 30, 2006


Doh!!...I *can't* believe I made such stupidstupid error! I really did not mean to detract from the article.
What I was trying to say is that we were all female climbers, and most of us fairly new to the sport (but using fewer words).
posted by dbmcd at 10:46 AM on October 30, 2006


sorry, "SuperTopo"
posted by found missing at 10:47 AM on October 30, 2006


You've got neophyte femail.
posted by jeblis at 10:57 AM on October 30, 2006


I've done some rappelling/rock climbing and I'm always surprised by how weak the belay loop looks on the harness. Wish there were two loops as this looks like the weakest link in the chain.
posted by jeblis at 11:01 AM on October 30, 2006


k. this is sad... but FPP why?

on the other hand someone who was risking his life for less self indulgent activities was killed this weekend as well - Brad Will killed in Oaxaca
posted by specialk420 at 11:08 AM on October 30, 2006


Oh wow, that is so sad specialk420.


..
posted by shownomercy at 11:10 AM on October 30, 2006


GIS Leaning Tower Yosemite; e.g.
posted by jam_pony at 11:19 AM on October 30, 2006


died over the weekend

By which you mean "last Monday". Ah, Monday, my favorite of weekend days.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:24 AM on October 30, 2006


Isn't this the third well-known climber/base jumper/parachutist that has plummetted to his death in the past couple of months?

Gives a new meaning to the "Fall season".
posted by darkstar at 11:36 AM on October 30, 2006


*
posted by quonsar at 11:45 AM on October 30, 2006 [2 favorites]


In other of news today, typist gets RSI, miner gets lung disease, singer loses voice, etc...
posted by dydecker at 11:51 AM on October 30, 2006


Oh, I'd have to say Brad Will was equally self-indulgent.
posted by keswick at 12:27 PM on October 30, 2006


The belay loop is not meant to be used as a tie-in point for your rope (it creates a high center of gravity).

He was pushed.
posted by three blind mice at 12:36 PM on October 30, 2006


.
posted by damnthesehumanhands at 12:41 PM on October 30, 2006


Slightly to the left of topic: Check out Murdering The Impossible about Reinhold Messner's climbing feats in the new National Geographic. But buy the print issue if only for the pictures of Messner's climbing feets.
posted by hal9k at 12:53 PM on October 30, 2006


Feets don't fail me now.
posted by found missing at 12:57 PM on October 30, 2006


Todd was super tight with Steve Bechtel, a fellow climber who was under great scruitiny when his wife Amy Wroe Bechtel went missing while running outside of Lander back in 1997. Steve actually comments about Todds death from Todds desk here,
Amy has still not been found.
posted by hatchetjack at 1:03 PM on October 30, 2006


"I'm always surprised by how weak the belay loop looks on the harness. Wish there were two loops as this looks like the weakest link in the chain."

In virtually all modern harnesses, the belay loop is composed of 2 or more independent loops, bar-tacked together.

"The belay loop is not meant to be used as a tie-in point for your rope (it creates a high center of gravity). "

The belay loop should not be used to tie-in, because you want to minimize wear on it, center of gravity is unaffected. Skinner was rappelling on a device attached to it, which is appropriate use if the equipment is in good shape.
posted by Manjusri at 1:08 PM on October 30, 2006


k. this is sad... but FPP why?

on the other hand someone who was risking his life for less self indulgent activities was killed this weekend as well - Brad Will killed in Oaxaca


Thank you for your self-indulgent and irrelevant commentary. Comment why?


Thanks for the link dbmcd. He sounded like an interesting character. Interesting that climbers seem to admit it is one of the strongest points of gear that they have, but seem to believe that, because of this, it just won't fail. If I was routinely trusting such small pieces of gear, especially hundreds of feet above the earth, I'd certainly want to replace them at least every year or so.
posted by The God Complex at 1:12 PM on October 30, 2006


Knowing the gear was worn and needed replacement and it even being noticed by his climbing partner yet climbing anyways sounds like the fatal consequences of expert over-confidence by both of them.
posted by srboisvert at 1:21 PM on October 30, 2006


sad. when i climbed often, i sometimes thought ," wow how much would it suck to fall from here with all that time in the air knowing you were soon dead?".
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 2:39 PM on October 30, 2006


specialk420 - if you want to post about someone who's life was more "worthy", make your own FPP. If you'd bothered to actually *read* some of what was said about the man, maybe you'd understand why I posted. He was much more than "just another climber/base jumper/parachutist" - and I'd wager that no one who met him ever forgot it (and I mean this in a good way).
Sorry to get all defensive, but the man was an incredibly good climber who always had time for folks climbing at the beginning level - his enthusiasm, encouragement, and compliments were rare, coming as they did from someone so accomplished. This kind of thing is rare in humans, regardless of their vocation/avocation - and I think it deserves a shout out.
posted by dbmcd at 2:42 PM on October 30, 2006


"k. this is sad... but FPP why?"
Cause the guy was famous?
posted by hatchetjack at 2:54 PM on October 30, 2006


dbmcd: I agree with you.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:33 PM on October 30, 2006


It's a damn shame, because he shouldn't be dead.

If your very life depends on a piece of gear, you inspect it every time you go to use it. If it does not pass n every aspect, you do not use it.

If this means you no longer have the gear you need, you don't go. Period.

This is the oldest safety rule in the book when you're dealing with single point failures, and the vast majority of fatal accidents in recreation come from violating this rule. Damaged safety gear is far more dangerous than no safety gear at all, because you will act as if you've got somethign to save you when it goes wrong, and you'll find out halfway down just how wrong you were.

Get religon here. If it isn't pefect, it's trash. Wear trash instead of safety gear, and quonsar will be posting a splat in your obtiuary thread.
posted by eriko at 7:41 PM on October 30, 2006


.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 10:55 PM on October 30, 2006


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