Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

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Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby Msabet » Sep 15, 2008 2:32 am

I recently reviewed two climbing accident reports in Yosemite National Park in which an LED headlamp was separated from its harness during a fall.These were models in which the lamp snaps into a yoke attached to the strap system. Two different brands were involved. In the first incident (November 10, 2007), two climbers were rappelling at night on Cathedral Peak during a sudden snow storm. One climber accidentally swung a short distance and struck a corner. The low-speed impact did not hurt him but it popped his LED headlamp out of its yoke (on his helmet) and the lamp was lost. Later that evening one of the climbers died due to hypothermia. The loss of the headlamp had slowed them somewhat but it may not have been a major contributing factor in the climber's death, since they were already in serious trouble. In the second incident (May 15, 2008), a climber was seriously injured in a leader fall on the Nose route of El Capitan at night. His LED lamp separated from its yoke during the fall and was lost. The injury forced the climbers to wait until morning before moving, so the missing lamp played no role in the accident or its outcome, as far as we can tell. I had a short conversation about this with John Dill (YOSAR) and we looked at two of the latest model LED headlamps that come with yokes. This design enables you to interchange different lamp and harness models at will, but you run a significant risk of losing your light. Even without this particular risk, there are lots of other ways to lose or damage a light,and the loss can be serious, so YOSAR recommends carrying your spare batteries in a spare headlamp. The accidents mentioned above is published on the YOSAR website (http://www.friendsofyosar.org )and will be published in the American Alpine club annual Accidents in North American Mountaineering .


Note; There are too many ,model make LED lights that comes with snap(yoke) option and this is not an official recall of any kind but just to inform users. If you are concern about an specific model LED headlamp you use for caving then you should contact the LED headlamp manufactures .

Regards

Majid Sabetzadeh
Yosemite Search And Rescue
www.friendsofyosar.org
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby NZcaver » Sep 15, 2008 3:30 am

Welcome to the forum.

Thanks for posting that interesting info. OK, I give up - where on the "friends of YOSAR" website are these reports published? I took a look but couldn't seem to find them. Specifically, which models of headlamps were involved in these incidents? I'm not familiar with the "yoke" part of a headlamp, but perhaps you mean some sort of clip where the light attaches to its elastic headband? I'd be interested to know more about all this.

In my experience, many cavers (including myself) are quick to modify headlamps and/or helmets so lights don't easily detach. Often a simple application of duct tape or cable ties will do the trick. We also have a general rule of carrying at least 3 reliable sources of light, usually with 2 of them mounted on the helmet ready to go.
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby John Lovaas » Sep 15, 2008 5:57 pm

The 2007 report is here-

http://www.friendsofyosar.org/rescues/m ... ality.html

and the 2008 report is here-

http://www.friendsofyosar.org/rescues/2 ... _Nose.html

The 2008 report says absolutely nothing about a headlamp detaching from a helmet, and the 2007 report- well, the headlamp detaching from the one climber's headlamp was the least of their problems.

Experienced cavers generally securely fasten their headlamps to their helmets. And I used the term headlamps- plural.

What if the climber had partially discharged batteries in his one headlamp when he started his rappel? His headlamp could have stayed in place on his helmet and still fail for any number of reasons, and the result would have been the same- unless he had a second source of light. And even then, I don't see any compelling evidence to suggest that a second source of light would have made much of a difference in this case.
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby Squirrel Girl » Sep 15, 2008 6:06 pm

Ya know, when I first started reading the OP, I was expecting the tragedy was going to be the light flying off the head and *hitting* someone below. At Yosemite, it really could kill someone.

Thanks for posting. It doesn't hurt to have cavers who haven't considered the problem re-look at their gear. Of course I agree that cavers would have multiple back ups, but it's interesting to consider. Generally, caving is tough on gear and we discover quickly what isn't securely made. I'd guess that climbers can get by with wimpier lights than cavers, but maybe I'm mistaken.
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby wyandottecaver » Sep 15, 2008 6:15 pm

well one issue is of course weight. When dangling by your fingertips that 2nd STEN might make a difference (ala' anmar). I am surprised that they didn't have some sort of backup though.
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby Squirrel Girl » Sep 15, 2008 6:53 pm

wyandottecaver wrote:well one issue is of course weight. When dangling by your fingertips that 2nd STEN might make a difference (ala' anmar). I am surprised that they didn't have some sort of backup though.

Yes, that's why I suspect they use wimpier lights. If you can get by with something with light strapping and few/small batteries, you would. Even so, a (wimpie) back up would seem to me to be a no-brainer.
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby wyandottecaver » Sep 15, 2008 8:30 pm

Of course this is all moot for me as "I'd rather crawl than fall" :big grin:
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby NZcaver » Sep 15, 2008 8:42 pm

John Lovaas wrote:The 2008 report says absolutely nothing about a headlamp detaching from a helmet, and the 2007 report- well, the headlamp detaching from the one climber's headlamp was the least of their problems.

John - thanks for providing the links. I thought the 2007 report was very well written, but I agree the lost headlamp seems to have been one of the lesser contributing factors. And like you said the 2008 report makes no mention of headlamps, except the one "climber 2" used as a signalling device.

Perhaps Majid might offer to shed some more light on this? I'm still interested in which model of headlamp was lost in the 2007 incident, if this is even known considering the circumstances.

Also, I'm curious to know what the terms class 3, class 4 etc rappel (or descent) refer to. I'm guessing something to do with the length of the drop, angle of the grade, available anchoring options, or such like?
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby John Lovaas » Sep 15, 2008 9:57 pm

Don't thank me, thank Google! ;-) I couldn't find the reports via their current website structure, but found archived links to the reports.

If there was a loss of a headlamp in the 2008 accident, it may have occurred as a result of the 30 foot fall the lead climber took. And since the climber suffered a head injury, is it a case of the light popping off, or simply being destroyed upon impact?

As to "snap on/snap off" lights, I know Princeton Tec has a little 2 LED light that snaps on and off of the strap. It is a tiny little thing, and if I was deliberately planning on rapelling at night in an alpine environment, it'd be my 4th or 5th source of light. It would be my last choice as a primary light for working at night. And that isn't due to any experience in caving I may(or may not) have- it is just basic critical thinking.

Speaking of Google- if you Google "LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure", you'll find the original post in identical form on several climbing forums. Several folks have replied along the lines of "this was a critical piece of gear that was not backed up." Which, from an accident analysis POV, would be a more appropriate comment, than "watch out for lights that might come off of your helmet". And I don't quite get the headlamp comment in the 2007 report-

Losing the headlamp: The best way to carry spare batteries is inside a spare LED headlamp.

Is it a circuitous way of saying he should have had a spare? I hadn't seen any prior mention of a need for fresh batteries during their descent. I'm just an imbecile sheepherder ;-)
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Sep 15, 2008 10:20 pm

Without knowing the make of the headlamps it's a bit hard to say but perhaps the precaution of a piece shock cord linking your headlamp to your helmet is an easy, light, and cheap piece of insurance against this sort of thing happening? :question: A climber or anyone else could quickly put the cord around a vent in the helmet or one of the straps before attaching the headlamp...
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby Squirrel Girl » Sep 16, 2008 5:48 am

fuzzy-hair-man wrote:Without knowing the make of the headlamps it's a bit hard to say but perhaps the precaution of a piece shock cord linking your headlamp to your helmet is an easy, light, and cheap piece of insurance against this sort of thing happening? :question: A climber or anyone else could quickly put the cord around a vent in the helmet or one of the straps before attaching the headlamp...

Come on. The real answer is DUCT TAPE! :grin:
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby NZcaver » Sep 16, 2008 2:36 pm

John Lovaas wrote:Don't thank me, thank Google! ;-)

Thank you, Google! :banana_yay: Praise Google, hallowed be thy name. :big grin:

Also praise the Almighty Duct Tape, and a healthy dose of common sense when it comes to choosing, using and modifying our own gear. :wink:
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby wyandottecaver » Sep 16, 2008 5:10 pm

NZcaver wrote:
John Lovaas wrote:Don't thank me, thank Google! ;-)

Thank you, Google! :banana_yay: Praise Google, hallowed be thy name. :big grin:

Also praise the Almighty Duct Tape, and a healthy dose of common sense when it comes to choosing, using and modifying our own gear. :wink:


Just don't forget that while google gives you information, it is COLLECTING it at the same time :shhh: Now we'll be getting spam from climbing gear vendors :big grin:
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Re: Warning ,LED headlamp harness (yoke) failure

Postby icave » Sep 17, 2008 12:21 pm

My Apex cord is firmly ductaped to my helmet, as is the elastic attachment band. I'd swear that the thing pops off if you looked at it crosseyed. I also cut a slot in the plastic mount for my old Corona and have it mounted on the same elastic band, directly above the Apex.

Duct tape is definately the answer. Now even when the battery case pops off, it can't dangle too far, or pull off the rest of the light.
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