"It's really affecting the climbing community because harness failure is pretty unusual -- it is not supposed to happen," said Ken Yager, president and founder of Yosemite Climbing Association. "It's gotten people thinking about their old harnesses now. I know I'm going to go out and buy a new one."
The part that broke, called the belay loop, is designed to be the strongest part of the climbing harness, but Hewett, 34, said Skinner's harness was old.
"It was actually very worn," Hewett said. "I'd noted it a few days before, and he was aware it was something to be concerned about." Friends of Skinner said he had ordered several new harnesses but they hadn't yet arrived in the mail.
On Monday's climb, Hewitt said the belay loop snapped while Skinner was hanging in midair underneath an overhanging ledge.
"I knew exactly what had happened right when it happened," he said. "It was just disbelief. It was too surreal."
Stunned and in shock after watching his friend fall, he checked his equipment.
"I wanted to make sure that what had caused the accident wasn't going to happen to me," he said. "I then went down as quick as I could."
Hewett said he knew there was no hope. A search-and-rescue team found Skinner's body, wearing the harness with the broken belay loop, about 4 p.m. Monday on the rocks near Bridalveil Falls. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Full article at San Francisco Chronicle