Mountaineering Dogma- Separating fact from Fiction
At SIET, we believe in evidence based decision making. We also feel that there's so much dogma in the climbing community that even the most experienced climbers end up misinformed. This quiz is an opportunity to learn some industry accepted practices...
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Other notes: The answers will contain a good bit of discussion to help folks understand these sometimes complex and often debated topic. Each answer will be reviewed by multiple veteran and certified guides and only unanimously agreed upon answers will be published so you can be sure these are not the opinion of just one guide. And please remember, the purpose of this quiz is to help educate the public about common misconceptions and is in no way a substitute for professional instruction or quality mentorship.

All quiz takers, irrelevant of score, will be entered in the raffle. Because your 'grade' is irrelevant, we've included links to reliable resources on the subject. It's recommended that you take the quiz first, then look up the answers you were unsure about by using the links.

Good luck!
Most accidents happen on descent.
Answer: False. Most accidents in North American happen of the ascent- about 76% of them. The adage, 'most accident happen on the way down' probably still holds true for alpine mountaineering, though there's not much data on this. Answer results from test takers: True 251 84% False 47 16% Reference:
Clear selection
Which of the following 3 categories of accidents are most common in North American mountaineering?
Answer: A. This come directly from the 2014 Accidents in North American Mountaineering by the American Alpine Club. Answer results from test takers: Slip on rock, slip on snow, falling object (rock, ice, etc) 92 31% Avalanches, rappel failure, slip on snow 91 30% Falling objects, belay error, exceeding abilities 114 38% Reference:
Clear selection
Most accidents are a result of technical error, not human factors.
Answer: False. Most errors originate from human factors but often result in technical errors. Answer results from test takers: True 8 3% False 146 49% It's most often a combination of both 142 47% Reference:
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Knots and Hitches
A ‘safety knot’ to backup your figure-eight follow through on your harness is needed because
Answer: D. If your tail is a sufficient length, you do not need to back up this knot, ever. Answer results from test takers: It allows for enough tail and this knot often comes unraveled so it’s good to have it backed up 24 8% It makes the knot stronger 9 3% It makes a sleeker, more streamlined knot 15 5% It's not needed and sufficient tail (double the length of the knot) is more than sufficient 247 83% Reference:
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Clove hitches in rope slip under big loads so they should be backed up
Answer: False. There is no data that suggests that a well dressed, tightened clove hitch slips more than a few millimeters under normal conditions. In drop tests, the hitch will constrict it's self until the point of failure, ie the rope breaks. There is little slippage before this happens. Answer results from test takers: True 68 23% False 141 47% Sometimes 85 28%
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Belaying and Rappelling
When using a Gri Gri, is it ok to let go of your break hand?
Answer: E. This one is pretty self explainitory. It's good to see that only 4% of test takers thought it was OK to let go of the break hand while belaying a leader. About 10 years ago, that was the norm and it resulted in many accidents. A) Not while paying out slack to a leader 19 6% B) Only if you're paying out slack to a leader 13 4% C) If you are an expert using it for self belaying, it is common, thought there are implicit risks that must be understood 32 11% D) When you have a back up knot (catastrophe knot) within 2-3 meters 38 13% A, C and D are correct 193 65% Reference:
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Which of the following statements is true?
Answer: E. Date collected by the American Alpine Club. Answers from test takers: A) Since the year 2000, the most common cause for rappel accidents was equipment failure 0 0% B) It is rare for people to rappel off the end of their ropes because it's such an obvious mistake. 2 1% C) Since the year 2000, the most common cause for rappel accidents has been uneven ropes and could have been prevented with knots in the ends of the rope(s) 106 35% D) The second most common cause for rappel accidents is anchor failure 4 1% C and D are correct statements 181 61%Reference:
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Most avalanche accidents occur when the victims are in familiar terrain, especially highly experienced parties
Answer: True. See graph on page 3 of this article: Answer results from the public: True 244 82% False 53 18%
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Group size plays a large role in how people expose themselves to avalanches. Statistically, groups of 5-9 and solo travelers, have a higher accident rate compared to groups of 2-4
Answer: True. Data from: Answer results from test takers: True 217 73% False 79 26%
Clear selection
Regarding nylon and Spectra slings, which one is correct?
Answer: All of the above. Answer results from test takers: Generally speaking, you should not use Spectra for a tether if there's any chance it could be shock loaded 7 2% Due to its light weight and hydrophobic nature, Spectra is great for alpine and trad climbs 6 2% Nylon is the best choice for tethers because it is slightly dynamic, therefor it reduces the shock load in a high factor fall 6 2% Nylon is more than twice the weight but half the cost of spectra 2 1% Spectra slings are generally unreliable for a friction hitch 4 1% All of the above are true 271 91% Reference:
Clear selection
The application of a 'Magic X' as a top-rope or multipitch anchor is a good choice
Answer: C. Jed Porter's article explains it best: Answers from test takers: True 26 9% False 34 11% Only if extension-limiter knots are used and it has a redundant masterpoint 162 54%
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Self Rescue
A 3:1 pulley system is usually sufficient enough to haul a single person out of...
Answer: C. The 3:1 often doesn't work (i.e. is unreliable) for pulling someone out of a crevasse unless there's multiple people pulling on it or the lip that the rope goes over does not have much friction (i.e. icey lips). It will sometimes work outside of the above scenarios if a single rescuer is pulling down hill. For rock rescue, it's often impossible to haul someone (dead weight) up if, a) you weigh much less than the person you are hauling, b) you are hauling on a slab, or c) you are hauling someone who's more than 50' away from you, especially if you have a skinny, stretchy rope. Reference: Answer results from test takers: A crevasse with a snowy lip (not an icy lip) 52 17% Up a rock route when the hanging climber is >50 feet away 20 7% It is rarely sufficient enough to haul full body weight in an actual rescue scenario 224 75%
Clear selection
When performing a self rescue maneuver, you should
Answer: All of the above. Answers from test takers: Never leave a live load hanging on one friction hitch (ie prussik) 4 1% Strive to make each system releasable under a load 4 1% Back-up all rappels and lowers with a friction hitch 7 2% All of the above 278 93%
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