Tito Traversa Killed In Fall

Just a day or two after climbing another 5.14a, 12-year-old Tito Traversa was seriously injured in a sport climbing accident at Orpierre, France.  This report in French by Grimper seems to indicate that a number of quick draws he was using were improperly slung1 causing them to fail resulting in a fall from some 60 feet off the deck.  He is now fighting for his life in a Grenoble hospital in a medically induced coma.

It goes without saying that we are hoping all the best for him and his family in this difficult time.

Update:  According to this article in an Italian newspaper Tito has passed away.  Sad, sad story.

  1. Possibly as demonstrated in this video

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65 Responses to Tito Traversa Killed In Fall

  1. matt July 5, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    In a rough translation from the french website– it says that they had recently purchased new quickdraws, and that a young girl friend of the climber had improperly attached the carabiners to the dogbone, i.e. had attached the biner only to the plastic ‘anti-flip’ piece instead of the actual dogbone.

    8 of the 12 draws that the climber was on before the fall were mounted that way….

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  2. Supersonick July 5, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    I agree with the translation. Such an easy and terrible mistake to make.

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    • jeff constine July 5, 2013 at 11:55 am #

      “I agree with the translation. Such an easy and terrible mistake to make”
      Yea if you are a young kid!!!. Just because the kid was climbing stuff we dream about climbing at a very young age, Does not mean he is aware of the fact DON’T TRUST ANYONE. YOU MUST CHECK ALL THE GEAR YOURSELF.

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  3. Egghead July 5, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Yikes. Horrifying. Thoughts and prayers out to him and family, as well as the girlfriend who probably feels horrible.

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  4. jeff constine July 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Where was a Responsible Adult (MOM DAD)? Where was a Adult Mentor??? Trusting little kids to them self’s is irresponsible…

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    • Narc July 5, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      Unless you know all the facts I would hesitate to make sweeping statements about what happened

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      • paul July 7, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

        Love you narc. and up until now I’ve always agreed with you. But given the fact that a 12 yr old has tragically (and unnecessarily) died, asking where the responsible adults were doesn’t strike me as a ‘sweeping statement about what happened’. It sounds like the question that should be asked.

        This is so sad…

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        • Narc July 7, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

          The reports are a little hard to understand since they are not in English, but it’s my understanding that there were adults there, so my point was that jeff’s implication that this was a group of 12-year-olds run amok was perhaps best saved for when we know for certain what happened.

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    • Liz July 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

      The French newspapers reported, “He was on a trip with a group of 10 kids and 3 adults from Italy.”
      (http://www.8a.nu/)

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    • Killko Caballero July 8, 2013 at 3:59 am #

      Read the article! There were adults, present… 10 kids with 3 adults… The article implies that one of the parents was actually responsible for the bad rigging. Tito, and everybody else present failed to notice the problem on the 8 quickdraws that were rigged wrong…

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  5. tailer July 5, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    RIP Tito…

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  6. Philly Cheese July 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    As a climbing dad, I am deeply moved by this accident and Tito’s passing. What drive and passion this kid had. My thoughts go out to his friends and family.

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  7. peterbeal July 5, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    I am hoping that this will serve as a serious wake-up call for parents and coaches. I have seen a fair amount of irresponsible conduct, sloppy belaying and close calls involving youth climbers here in Boulder. Really bad things can happen and children are often not good judges of the potential (and irreversible) consequences of their actions.

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  8. peterbeal July 5, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Also looking over the Grimper piece, it elaborates that Tito was warming up on a 5.10. He must have clipped one of the improperly set quickdraws into the anchor, clipped the rope, and zippered the rest as he fell to the ground. I wonder what brand of quickdraws were involved. It looks like the “string” concept needs to be rethought.

    https://www.thebmc.co.uk/ae-open-slings-danger-check-when-you-clip

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    • Killko Caballero July 8, 2013 at 3:57 am #

      Peter, Grimper states that Tito clipped 12 quickdraws and then got lowered. That’s when the top 8 quickdraws that were all badly rigged all failed…

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  9. Will July 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    Nothing wrong with the “string” concept, Beal.
    It works exactly as intended. This was operator (rigging) error, plain and simple.

    RIP, little dude, hope you are in a better place.

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    • peterbeal July 5, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

      Will,
      I would suggest that any piece of climbing gear that is so easy to misuse and isn’t even essential to the protection chain, and yet its misuse can cause so many fatal/serious accidents, needs to be rethought.

      Here’s another example: http://climbingnarc.com/2010/06/accident-at-new-river-gorge-offers-learning-experience/

      Blaming operator error only goes so far when a small but critical mistake can result in death. Improvement and redesign of this device are definitely in order IMO. I predict there will be some serious questions asked about this setup in the coming weeks. This is a high-profile accident involving an internationally-known young climbing star. It will be all over the Italian press and will probably go Europe-wide.

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  10. Steve July 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Ugh, this makes me sick to my stomach. Sport climbing is still climbing, it’s not something for 12 year-olds to do unsupervised whether they climb 5.14 or not. Hopefully this is a warning to coaches, parents, and other adults out there who are in charge of the safety of young lives.

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  11. Mark July 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    I have always thought outdoor climbing is not supervised properly. I have seen it time and time again especially in sport climbing. Everything from poor belaying technique, bad clipping technique, poor anchors, bad repel set up, the list goes on.. The biggest one is, wearing a helmet. Was this kid wearing a helmet? I know they aren’t cool, but one might have saved his life. Bottom line is, if you are an adult on a trip, you better be 100% sure you can be responsible for the safety of every kid on the trip. This is a shame, and its not a 12 year olds fault that HE DIED, DON’T CARE IF HE CLIMBS 5.15 AND BOULDERS V15.

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    • Paul July 7, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

      Helmets are really good for small rock fall and 20 foot whippers, but not for 60 foot falls. If a person falls 20 meters, their impact speed is ~45 mph. Assuming he miraculously dissipated 20% of that, it’s still 36 mph. If he weighs 30 kg and falls on grassy field (stop time of about 0.1 seconds), he is still looking at 4.8 kN of average force (more than 1000 pounds). No matter how you distribute that force, it’s fatal. You can look at a nearly equivalent situation and conclude the same thing: imagine a 70 pound rock falls on top of you from 60 feet – a helmet’s not going to save you.

      Having said all that, I agree that helmet’s are a good thing to wear. Just don’t expect them to take the place of your quickdraws.

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      • becca July 10, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

        Hi. YOU ARE WRONG. i hate anecdotal evidence, but I fell 50 feet on packed dirt. the helmet saved my GD life. broke my skull, pelvis (5 places), shattered my humerus, radius/ulna compound fracture, sacrum broke in 2 places, 7 ribs, 5 vertebrate (processes only… a miracle), etc, but i am here- and walking. just finished my PhD, so i guess i still have some brains too. you have no idea how the impact may distribute itself in an actual fall because there are simply too many unknowns in reality to predict such a thing. don’t preach against life-saving, simple things like wearing a helmet. it’s bad karma.

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        • Paul July 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

          Thank you for the story and I’m very glad you were able to survive such a thing. You are undoubtedly more able to speak from experience as to the how the body reacts to such a fall. However, it’s important to note a few differences between your ordeal and what I was talking about. First, 50 feet is different from 60 feet. Since impact speed scales like sqrt(height), a fall from 60 feet results in a 10% higher impact speed, meaning the average force is 10% higher (10% is A LOT in high-force situations). Secondly, while I agree that it’s hard to know the bodily configuration, etc., the force has to be at least somewhat distributed throughout the body and vital organs are certainly affected no matter what (not all of these are protected by a helmet). I wasn’t intending to preach against helmets, I was simply pointing out that we shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations for what a helmet does. So I will reiterate: a helmet is a nice item to have when you’re dealing with moderate ground falls, large whippers, small rock fall, and an annoying partner that deserves a headbutt. A helmet is NOT a replacement for a functional rope, correctly strung quickdraws, climbing competence, correct belay technique, proper gear placement, climbing experience, or good luck.

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          • Richard July 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

            There’s an article about this in the newest issue of one of the climbing magazines. As it says, the bottom line is, “There’s rarely a good reason *not* to wear a helmet”. That said, don’t cartwheel off a cliff saying that your helmet will save you. As my coach says, “If you fall on your head wearing a helmet, it makes it easier to clean up the brains afterwards”

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  12. Jpless July 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    This hardly seems like a time for judgement. If anything, we should all use this tragedy as a reminder that we could all do a little better with our safety checks, and make sure that we each do our individual bit to improve the general safety of our sport.

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  13. jack July 5, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    Don’t blame the gear or the 12 year old. Blame the lack of supervision. Part of climbing is rigging…it is not for the mind or a 12 year old. We don’t let 12 year olds drive cars. I’m not saying 12 years is too young to climb, but they require close supervision.

    There is nothing inherently unsafe about the string. We can’t make useful gear totally mis-rigged proof. This ain’t golf!

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  14. pipo July 5, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

    WOW, this is the first time the comments on 8a seem to be more thoughtful and appropriate than on this site.

    Terrible accident, thoughts go out to the family and all those involved.

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    • dax July 8, 2013 at 6:12 am #

      8a.nu has a long list of “):”, “condolEAnces” and people too lazy to spell out “RIP”. Thoughtful? I don’t know.

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  15. jahsun July 6, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    Incredibly sad. Condolences to his family, friends.

    Please people act like intelligent, compassionate human beings. This is a tragedy. Anger, blame and condescension are not appropriate ways to address these issues. Respect is due to all. Lessons are to be learned, but not through internet bashing. My 2cents.

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    • Nathan July 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Absolutely , have a bit sympathy for the family

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  16. MrNick Helios July 6, 2013 at 3:59 am #

    Sensitivity is nice, but vaccinations hurt, and save the lives of thousands from diseases that at times killed tens of thousands. The potential benefits out weigh the potential risks. While fatal human error accidents may not have reached epidemic proportions (being optimistic here), it seems preventable accidents should be prevented with the tools and technologies provided by responsible experienced practitioners of the sport. If it was properly used and maintained equipment failure that occurred then this accident could not have been prevented by those at the scene of the accident and must be addressed by the equipment industry. If it was human error, then we as adults must take responsibility for something that could have been prevented, and make changes in the way we administer the sport. Tactfully examining an accident may hurt feelings, but would be much preferred to losing a child or sibling. My Condolences to Tito’s family.

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  17. Killko Caballero July 7, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    As parents of pre-teen climbers, my friend Rudy and myself have been devastated by this tragedy. Not knowing exactly what happened, I’m shocked by the stupid insensitive comments. As parents we constantly struggle with the risks involved in letting our kids climb, and try to make sure they are constantly trained and supervised. I’m certain Tito’s parents did the same!!! What we know is that Tito used another parents newly bought quickdraws, and we’ve seen multiple comments about the re-slinging problem in alpine quickdraws. However that scenario seems unlikely to repeat itself 8 times, which is the amount of failed quickdraws in this tragedy. So here’s another scenario that Rudy and Christine demonstrate in their video, that we think is quite plausible to be repeated several times, and what’s really scary is that it is pretty hard to notice unless you examine each QuickDraw in detail… Please remember, we don’t know if this is what actually happened, nor do we know the brand that was used by Tito. All we can say is: This could have happened, and it’s scary how hard it is to notice… http://youtu.be/4kSaTOIlMb4

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  18. Jacob July 7, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

    Im sorry Tito, this accident should not have happened. I am talking to you Metrorock
    and Philadelphia Rock gym, stop taking groups of 20+ children to rumney or the gunks with route setters and parents who have never climbed before. The behavior of rock gyms conducting these trips is wildly irresponsible and needs to stop now.

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    • Matt July 8, 2013 at 6:08 am #

      I concur. I’d be surprised if 10% of PRG’s employess climb Outside, let alone have any professional training as far as safety is concerned. In my nearly two decades climbing in and around PHilly, I don’t recognize any of their employees from any of the local crags. I’ve climbed with the owner a handful of times but never a front desk jocky or belay slave or “coach”.

      On a lighter note, I overheard a funny comment. This past weekend, I heard a PRG employee say that an east coast v11 is like a v13 out west. Homeboy struggles on v5 on plastic. I smiled, shook my head and walked away. He was talking to a girl. I didn’t want to blow up his spot by calling his bullshit.

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  19. Driftwood July 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    I checked out Killko’s video. If her speculation is accurate, I have to admit to myself that had I been one of the adults on that trip, the exact same thing would have happened. I would have assumed that the draws were bought like that. Someone is going to say something about assumptions, but we make them all the time in climbing. Please don’t have the hubris to think you are so far beyond the adults on this trip.

    There is a lesson to be learned here, and something to be taken from this tragedy. My heart also goes out not only to the parents and family, but the people on that trip. The family that bought the draws, the person who set them up incorrectly, whoever loaned them to Tito, the kids who watched their friend essentially die, and everyone for whom climbing may turn into a negative thing. This was an accident and, unfortunately, we can lessen the chances of such things but they are going to happen. How we conduct ourselves afterwards says a lot about us as climbers and human beings.

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    • brian July 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

      That video was super scary. I’m a fairly experienced sport and trad climber but would probably never have noticed what was wrong with those draws in a casual inspection. If this is what happened, it’s the kind of mistake everyone needs to be aware of and pay extra attention to.

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  20. Jacob July 7, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    Treating this accident like “one of those things” that could happen to any climber is to ignore the reality of the situation and learning nothing. Tito was an expert climber by any estimation. But when you put ten children together with too few adults. Anyone who climbs sees bad practices by large groups of children way too frequently, now is the time to actually change those practices and climb in smaller groups with more attention paid to proper rigging.

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    • Narc July 7, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

      I think the point is that there will be plenty of time to assess and react to what exactly happened, but until such time as we know more specifics it’s best to just recognize that family and friends have lost someone far too young and leave it at that for now.

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      • Jacob July 7, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

        This is not just about Tito or the parents or the gyms. It’s about the entire culture of relentlessly seeking out hard routes. Something gets lost in the process; sometimes it’s the enjoyment, sometimes it’s personal responsibility and sometimes it’s safety.

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        • Narc July 7, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

          Climbers have been seeking out hard routes for decades, and this accident happened on a 5.10.

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          • Jacob July 7, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

            Climbers used to know how to place their own protection before seeking out those routes.

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    • Driftwood July 8, 2013 at 7:30 am #

      I specifically stated that we need to learn from this. I now know to check out any new draws that I encounter. As is said below, you really don’t know if these people were practicing “bad practices.” All we know is that the qucikdraws were not checked. That’s it. Lumping this group in with others that you have seen is a bit presumptuous.

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      • jacob July 8, 2013 at 8:17 am #

        I don’t think its presumptuous at all. When you see a 13 year old halfway up a 5.12 only to realize that she didn’t bring enough quick-draws, its a problem in and of itself. If one person in that group had the forethought or skills to properly inspect and assess the equipment, then this tragedy could have been averted. Its a very very bad idea to wait until a tragedy like this happens to check any new draws you encounter. Inspecting new and old draws and bolts is just one of many good practices that need to be more widely taught and practiced at gyms that take groups of children outside. All I’m saying is that the negligence of gyms has been evident for a long time.

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    • bb July 8, 2013 at 8:25 am #

      I see just as much if not more bad practices form adults.

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      • jacob July 8, 2013 at 8:31 am #

        I totally agree. But adults can take responsibility for their own bad practices, that’s a burden we cannot place on young children.

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        • Driftwood July 8, 2013 at 9:11 am #

          Dammit, I don’t want to be pulled into internet arguing here. All I’m saying is, let’s take a lesson from what we know went wrong. You seem to be holding up this example as endemic of a “the negligence of gyms,” “climbers not knowing how to place their own protection,” and having groups with “too few adults.” Somehow, you even throw the “entire culture of relentlessly seeking out hard routes” in there. We do not know if any of these things contributed to this particular accident. You obviously have issues with climbing gyms, I get it. But bring that up in a forum where you can solely debate this issues instead of piggybacking on this particular incident. Certainly a debate about these issues can be had, but not here as it implies that these things contributed to a kid dying. We don’t know that this was the case.

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          • jacob July 8, 2013 at 9:56 am #

            “had I been one of the adults on that trip, the exact same thing would have happened.”

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          • Driftwood July 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

            Yes, I am saying that I would have made the same mistake. It sucks to admit that, and gives me significant pause, but I believe it is true. I’m not sure why you’re quoting this, given the context the meaning seems pretty evident.

            Maybe you want to say that had you been one of the adults this never would have happened. Honestly, I don’t think anyone can say that unless you ritualistically check the grommets on borrowed draws before you use them. I haven’t in the past, I will in the future.

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          • Jacob July 9, 2013 at 8:34 am #

            I respect your ability to admit that. But for me, part of climbing is having confidence in your skills and the ability to anticipate problems before they arise. If I thought that 8 out of ten quick draws could fail on my watch, I wouldn’t go climbing.

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          • Jason July 10, 2013 at 10:32 am #

            Had I been one of the Adults on this trip, Or one of the adults training him, Or one of his parents,
            Or even some random passerby, who saw the kids at the crag, This child would still be alive.

            They did not check the draws.
            Was the rope inspected? what was the state and condition of the rope?
            From past experience, How many of these children had the harness on right? were the harnesses checked?
            Was the belay set up correctly? was it checked?

            This Type of error is HUGE. To miss something like this, what else was missed?

            Were they tied in correctly? was it checked?

            I have in MANY ocasions as a random stranger walking past, seen and corrected mistakes EXACTLY like this.

            Children should be “self check, partner check, adult check”
            EVERY SINGLE CLIMB.

            On top of the arguement that a 12 year old does not need to be leading.

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          • Narc July 10, 2013 at 10:53 am #

            With how all seeing you are I’m surprised you couldn’t feel this accident coming and prevent it from your computer

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        • jacob July 9, 2013 at 9:13 am #

          That said, I’ve made stupid mistakes, everyone does. This accident should give everyone pause but I think you are being way too hard on yourself. From what I gather, there are many things about that setup which would have raised red flags if anyone had bothered to look, not inspect, just look. And when you’re climbing with children, you need to look at what’s going on. And that’s what bothers me about the behavior of gyms. It is not that mistakes occur on gym outings, its that nobody seems to notice.

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          • Jpless July 10, 2013 at 11:58 am #

            I daresay if I were to stop by every climbing party at the crag and tell them that as an expert in safety I felt it important that I inspect their gear, I think most of them would (rightly) tell me where to stuff it. Every climber has a limited sphere of influence, and it is, therefore, each climber’s responsibility to ensure that those they climb with remain safe. Realistically, I had no responsibility for Tito. I want every climber to be safe, but I can only do my part. Teach safe technique, practice safe technique, and use common sense. If we can get every climber on board, that’s all we can do.

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  21. JK July 8, 2013 at 12:07 am #

    @Jacob: That has nothing to do with anything

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  22. Richard July 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    I’m 16, and I’m part of a group at my school that goes climbing outdoors with 2 dedicated coaches. The focus has always been (since I joined at age 11) almost entirely on safety and skills like anchor-building, and never on chasing grades. Incidentally, none of us has ever trained for or participated in an actual competition… much the opposite of a lot of kids my age on the Gym team (One girl told me she never actually learned to lead belay; she was just given an ATC and told to figure it out while someone warmed up). I don’t want to make generalizations, but the trend among a lot of my age groups seems to be much more on grades and competitions than on safety…. definitely worrisome, and I’m not surprised gym teams are a source of problems, because their motivation is training athletes to win and bring them recognition. It goes without saying that my heart goes out to Tito… he could have been my brother…

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    • peterbeal July 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

      I wish I could “thumbs up” this post about 100 times. Well said Richard!

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  23. Stitchplate July 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    I don’t want to make generalizations, but when people say they don’t want to make generalizations, they’re about to make some generalizations. Generally.

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    • Richard July 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

      A “trend” is, by definition, not a generalization. It inherently implies that there exist outliers not subject to the trend… but congratulations, sir, on your new “general” density record.

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      • Stitchplate July 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

        pretty sure you just summed up what you think is happening amongst prepubescent climbers… hence generalizations. calling it a “trend” doesn’t change the fact that you’ve measured nothing, and you’re simply trying to validate your own criticism of the scene. plenty of kids could care less about the numbers are are simply psyched to go upwards – but no, you probably wouldn’t see them in the news.

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        • Richard July 9, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

          What I said was based purely on my observations from talking to, spending time around, and *being* a member of this age group. To be completely unambiguous, I will say that in my observations, a lot of people my age seem much more interested in the actual climbing than in the safety- understandable, since climbing is above all fun, whether that fun is derived from the pure physical challenge of grades or from “going upwards”. Gym teams logically have an incentive to focus more on the grades, but I can only concretely say that this is the case with the teams I’ve personally interacted with. While my original post expressed my opinion, here is my purely objective approach to the situation. Draw what conclusions you will, and understand that I am **not** implying anything about what motivates people to climb. It’s about balancing the satisfaction or fun side of climbing- regardless of cause- with the less exciting but more essential aspect of safety, especially in children and teenagers with poor judgment (that, too, is a scientific fact, and not a criticism of mine).

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  24. vale. July 9, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    I use to go in the same gym of tito, the one which organized the trip in france. (i’m italian, so sorry for my english). i just want to say that there was a mistake, but as someone sad is an horrible mistake, because is very easy to do it, but is not easy to see it: is not easy to see a quickdraw assembled in that bad way, expecially because that kind oh quickdraws have a piece which covers that mistake. The last news are that the quickdraws were sended to the team from the sponsor not yet assembled, and the children assemled it all toghether before starting. The problem is that the “adults”, (who were not tito’s parents) didn’t know that, and this is the reason why they didn’t check. An important point is that they are a team of very strong and good climber, even if they’re all really young. So as usual the adults trusted them, because they didn’t know that the equipment was new. Tito has a big experience with everythings he did on the rock, so I think it is normal to trust him and his equipment. And don’t be moralist, everyone of us before start control the rope, the node, and the grigri, nobody the quickdraws one by one, especially if you think that are already be used. tito was extremly unlucky to use all the bad assemblet quickdraws as lasts, So I think that an accident sometime is just an accident, and even if there is a little responsability of the adults I think that be there when the accident happend is enough as punishment. So is more respectful to think about tito as he was when he was alive and let him rest in peace, without try to blame someone. and yes, we can learn from the mistakes and from the tragedies, but we can do it even without someone to blame, whoever this someone is, he is suffering enought. Just a thought: if the accident had not happend he would have been the best climber of the history. Love for you tito, rest in peace.

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    • jahsun July 9, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

      Thanks Vale. Good perspective.

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  25. KT July 10, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    I do not agree.
    It is like when the person is shot and we say “rest in peace, we don’t want to blame somebody”. This approach is humiliating for him and his family.

    It is not looks just as “shit happen”. The adult were there (3 for 10 children, it is enormous!), they should have notions of climbing security and children psychology.

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  26. eric zschiesche September 12, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    To the family and friends of Tito Traversa,… my heartfelt sympathies go out to you. Sometimes,…. if we could just turn back the hands of time,…… but, alas we cannot. The breath of our existence always whispers with it’s inherent fragility,…. and from that awareness may we strive to reduce the tragedies that befall us on this journey…… so sad…….

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