Tito Traversa Seriously Injured in Climbing Fall

posted by dpm on 07/03/2013

8a.nu reports that 12-year-old Tito Traversa has "fallen to the ground" at Orpierre, France and is now "fighting for his life" at the hospital in Grenoble. If more information about his condition becomes available we'll keep this story updated.

Tito, from Ivrea, Italy, climbed his first 5.14a in 2012 at the age of 10. Just a few days ago, he ticked his fourth 5.14a with Pablo Diretta at Gravere. Maybe it's the Megadeth soundtrack on his blog or the way he goes 'a muerte' in the videos below but I always liked Tito's style. He seems like such a rad little dude that it makes it especially saddening to hear of his serious injury . We wish him the best and hope for a speedy recovery. 

Click the image for video of Tito climbing Criptonite (8b)

Click the image for video of Tito climbing Sarsifal (8b)

Source: 8a.nu

Update 7/4/13: Folks, as I said I'll do my best to update this story but unfortunately haven't been able to find out much. Jens Larssen at 8a.nu told me in an email that Tito's father would be keeping him updated but that he'd heard nothing new this morning. In a comment posted in the thread on 8a, a person with username Yaploq translated a short clip from the French newspaper Dauphiné Libéré. His comment:

He was on a trip with a group of 10 kids and 3 adults from Italy. While he was climbing he fell of 15 to 20 meters. He was belayed from the ground by a person but they don’t mention if he was toproping or lead climbing. Local police is still investigating but at this point they talk about an equipment problem, a quickdraw was apparently not used correctly. Like previously said he is in Grenoble hospital and fighting for his life.

I join the other climbers and send good vibes to him, familly and friends.


Update 7/5/13: No good news as of this morning unfortunately. Jens Larssen at 8a.nu has presumably heard from the Traversa family and writes in the comment field of the story on 8a:

The Traversa family is thankful for all support but, "Unfortunately we do not have any good news. Tito is fighting for his life minute by minute."

In addition, Jackie Hueftle forwarded us a clip from the Italian climbing news source Pareti. The google translation:

Tito Traversa, Biella, 12 years, the greatest promise of climbing walls Italian men which has devoted a cover when he was still nine years, it crashed to the ground from a height of about 15 meters, sector Belleric (pictured) of the cliff French Orpierre.  He was climbing with friends, parents were not present.  Polytrauma, even to the head, was taken to hospital in Grenoble from a helicopter SAF stationed in Tallard.  The hypothesis being studied by investigators are classic in this unfortunately common kinds of accidents: the ventral node wrong, error insurer. But this time it seems happened something much more unusual: an incorrect positioning of the rubber stops carabiner. Seems also that the rack of referrals was not the one normally used by Tito.  We and all of Italy Vertical tifiamo for him.

Based on the bold sentence above regarding "incorrect positioning of the rubber stops carabiner," I'm going to speculate on the potential cause of the accident in an effort to educate some folks of the dangers of using any kind of keeper on a long sling. Whether this was the true cause of the accident or not is uncertain and represents only my personal speculation. 

Just over three years ago, there was a climbing fatality at the New River Gorge. The victim, 33-year-old Karen Feher, fell from the anchor of the route Rico Suave (5.10). She was found on the ground with two long slings properly girth-hitched to her harness. On each of the two anchor bolts at the top of the climb was a locked carabiner with a broken Petzl string, a rubber keeper used to keep the carabiner in place on the sling. After analysis, it is believed that, somehow, Karen had looped both slings back through the carabiner so that only the string was holding the carabiner to the sling. See photos below:

Upon quick visual inspection, this sling and carabiner look good to go. Photo: Mike Williams

A side view of the same runner reveals a dangerous setup. This sling will hold no more weight than the breaking strength of a rubber band. Photo: Mike Williams

Click the image for video of UKC's Jack Geldard demonstrating this dangerous situation. 

Perhaps I'm overstepping my bounds in posting my personal speculations on the cause of an accident that I have no knowledge of other than a single sentence from Pareti. But, whether this contributed to Tito's accident or not, I think it's worth showing what can potentially happen when using any kind of keeper on an open sling. Petzl warns of the dangers of using their strings on open slings but the same goes for any kind of keeper whether it's a hair tie, rubber band, or piece of climbing tape. Share this info with your friends and anyone you see at the crag with this potentially dangerous setup. 

Best wishes to Tito and his family. Please keep him in your thoughts and hope for better news in the coming days. We'll keep you posted.