Climber's death due to wrong knot inquest told
AN EXPERIENCED climber fell to his death from a popular indoor climbing wall because he did not knot his rope properly, a coroner has ruled.
Retired aerospace engineer David Rothman, 73, was described to the Gloucester inquest as a "meticulous" man who had been climbing for more than 50 years.
But on November 7, the dad of two, of Blenheim drive, Bredon, near Tewkesbury, fell about 30ft from the wall at the Warehouse climbing centre in Gloucester.
He suffered multiple injuries including numerous fractures and died two days later in the intensive care unit of Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
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The inquest heard that Mr Rothman had probably used a bowline rather than a figure of eight knot in his rope.
Experts said that a bowline knot was more likely to slip than a figure of eight unless a "stopper knot" was also tied in the rope.
But it appeared that Mr Rothman had failed to tie a stopper knot.
Mr Rothman's widow, Carol, said he was a very experienced rock climber who was always careful about his equipment and preparation and never took risks. Olga Greenslade, who was climbing with Mr Rothman, said when he landed from the fall there was no rope attached to him.
Tony Raphael, who has been climbing for 40 years, said he was belaying the rope for Mr Rothman when he felt some tension in it.
"I looked up and saw the rope separating from Dave. I saw it come away," he said. Almost immediately Mr Rothman fell.
Climbing instructor Alison Taylor said the standard knot is a figure of eight which tightens and does not need a stopper.
"A bowline will come undone under pressure unless it has a stopper knot and some climbing centres only allow a figure of eight knot," she added.
Recording an accidental death verdict, the deputy Gloucestershire coroner David Dooley said it appeared to be a tragic case of human error.
"Had a stopper knot been used, the rope probably would not have failed," he said.
"There is a direct causal link between his decision to use a particular knot without a stop knot and his fall."