Investigation Shows Worn Gear Failed Skinner
Rangers at Yosemite National Park have confirmed that renowned climber Todd Skinner fell some 500 feet to his death from the "Leaning Tower" last week when part of his climbing harness failed.
Ironically, Skinner and his climber partner, Jim Hewitt, had talked about the worn "belay loop" prior to the accident and agreed it needed to be replaced. In fact, Skinner had already ordered replacements and was awaiting their arrival.
The "belay loop" is a strap that connects a climbing harness's waist belt to its leg loops and also serves as a clip-on point.
Hewitt, who was above Skinner when his friend fell, told rangers that on his way down he found Skinner's Grigri descent device still attached to the rope being used to rappel from. The device was attached to a still-locked carabiner that had been connected to Skinner's harness.
When rangers recovered Skinner's body, the harness was missing its belay loop, which was found the next day nearby.
An excellent account of the accident and reaction from the climbing community can be found here.