Gear checks are adventures in the sense that you might have one if you gear actually fails. I classify this kind of adventure as a Donner party sort of adventure. Or an adventure in becoming a statistic. They are not weekend hike up a 14er kind of adventures and I think we can all agree we’d like to avoid them. Lest we all freeze and eat each other.
My (near) gear adventure happened recently when I decided to do a more thorough check of my harness and found that it had some pretty significant wear and tear on the tie-in points. Which are load-bearing. So sorry everyone I belayed in Indian Creek a couple weeks ago….
And to keep anyone else from having a gear adventure, here is what to look for, how I went about replacing my harness, and some things that Petzl had to say about gear care and retirement.
The first thing you’ll need to do when you find some damage to your harness is get your model number. This little number can tell you all sorts of valuable information….like whether or not your harness is about to fall apart simply because the textiles and plastics are so old they have started to organically degrade. This is a bad thing (Or because Petzl is French, let’s say it is Le bad).
Your harness is good for about ten years if it otherwise is in good condition. I discovered that mine was more than ten years old and was promptly told: hmm… unfortunately we don’t make repairs to textiles that are already falling apart. Duh.
Check the tag on the inside and call up the manufacturer to have them look up your harness if you forgot when you got it. I actually just sent in an e-mail and got a reply a couple days later. This model number will also be used to figure out if the parts that are damaged can be repaired or if the whole thing needs to be trashed.
As a side note, I was really happy to not have to get on the phone. Who the hell has time for that? Apparently my land lord. Despite having told her many times to please just send me e-mails, she still calls me during work hours to leave voice messages that rival only my mother’s in length and complexity.
….But I digress….The best part of the whole e-mail experience is that The Petzl After-sales rep I e-mailed back and forth with had a picture of him in a red leisure suit and a creeper-stache as his official company picture. I did wonder if it was just an awesome picture and not actually the person I talked to. But who cares. I appreciate the humor.
This is really the reason I replaced my old Petzl harness with a new Petzl harness. It had nothing to do with the performance of the actual product.
I knew this damage was here on the leg straps, but since they don’t actually take much of the load when you take a fall, I wasn’t terribly concerned. HOWEVER this is dumb and don’t be like me.
………Or most other climbers who also ignore shit like this.
Because, really, why risk it? Is you or your friend’s lives not worth $60-$90? That’s like half the cost of whatever pants or hoodie or other stupid climbing brand thing you bought online this week while you were bored at work.
See, isn’t that better?
And they also sent me their equipment guide (which begins with an ENORMOUS disclaimer) to help you figure out if the damage you are seeing means it needs to be retired, how to repair it if it’s a simple fix, and general care.