Found this on the web.
I only saw the one section of rope that was cut down and contained the
failure point. I did not see the rigging, retrieval rope, or the section
that was attached to Dan directly.
Everything I did was visual examination. I did not untie any knot or
tamper with the rope in any way other than prying the knots to see inside.
With some insight from Doug Heinrich I concluded that the failure of Dan's
rope was not due to tensile overload or from being tampered with. I
strongly believe that Dan did miscalculate on his last jump. For some
reason he moved his jump site. In doing so he crossed the ropes (either
on the retrieval line or on the main jump line). When he jumped the first
knot above the one he was tied in with slid down a section of rope several
lengths up. The sheath was heavily melted and removed in several sections
on this upper part of the rope. The knot that slid down the rope was
melted in multiple locations and was melted nearly completely through,
deep inside the knot. This knot was not tight, yet others in the system
were (this is the one open question that is unresolved as far as I know).
It is my conclusion that Dan's rope was cut by his own rope sliding
against itself. Use of a magnifying glass indicated to me that the cut
surface was due to sliding action in one direction. There was no evidence
of hot cutting with a knife or other type of instrument. I conducted
further experiments in my lab to see if tensile overload could have caused
this failure. The samples I tested were significantly different in that
they were heavily frayed and tattered. My analysis of Dan's ropes in
general was that they were in great condition. There was no evidence to
me of damage due to previous falls, uv exposure, or weather. I would have
climbed on these ropes without any hesitation had they not been from this
accident. I do not believe that the condition of the ropes had anything
at all to do with the failure of the ropes. Nor do I believe that Dan's
basic shock absorbing setup was incorrect. Crossing the ropes was the
I was asked by YLE not to make my findings public until they had finished
their criminal investigation. They forced me to tell them who sent me the
rope and they pressed charges against this individual (I will have to live
with the fact that I was unable to keep this information confidential). I
still have not heard back from YLE about closure of this accident and
decided to make my findings public now due to the vast numbers of
misinformed posts relative to this subject. Maybe my analysis will stop
some of the useless bickering many of you are currently engaged in.
What is to be learned from this accident? NEVER LET NYLON SLIDE AGAINST
NYLON! You should already know this.
I also know that Dano's rigging setup was reviewed by more than a couple
of technically competent people. I also know that he tested it multiple
times. I personally do not think that what Dan was doing (when done
properly as he had done on earlier jumps) was any more dangerous than
modern ice climbers doing hard thin ice routes (like in Maple Canyon and
elsewhere), in fact his setup was most likely safer in my personal
opinion. Dan's death was a tragedy and an accident.