Is my climbing harness safe?


The story starts with a mysterious incident. A Black Diamond Customer was climbing at his local rock gym when suddenly POP, his harness ripped off at his waist while top-roping one afternoon. The climber immediately contacted Black Diamond Headquarters and their Quality Assurance team researched the harness failure.

“Through extensive and meticulous testing, both in the lab and in the field, the Quality team helps ensure that you can count on your BD gear to be as durable, reliable and as strong as possible every time you head into the mountains or out to the crags”, says the Black Diamond QC lab.  

The team’s first impression was the possibility of the harness’ exposure to chemicals and contamination. They dove head-first into the effects of chemical contamination on climbing textiles.

Quality Assurance engineers tested popular household cleaners and other potential corrosive substances on harnesses to see the effect and hopefully find the culprit. They narrowed it down to hydrochloric, muriatic, and sulphuric acid which is present in aquarium pH adjusters and bleach. The BD investigators also sent the customers harness into the lab for further chemical analysis.

With exposure to these chemicals, the lab could recreate the level of degradation of the harness similar to the customer’s experience. They tested samples of nylon, Dyneema, and polyester with the chemicals in question. After exposing test harnesses to the chemicals, the team determined that some chemicals weaken the structural integrity to a point where the harness would fail at extremely low loads.


Photo courtesy of  Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd.

After the team’s hard-work and testing, they were not able to determine the exact cause of contamination of the harness failure. However, the teams work was not in vain —protecting your gear from hazardous materials and visually inspecting it on a regular basis is of the utmost importance. The Black Diamond Team suggests…

Don’t give your gear the opportunity to be contaminated. Store your gear properly, use rope bags, and know the complete history of your gear. If you’re unsure if your gear may have been exposed to harmful chemicals, retire it. Likewise, buying used textile climbing equipment is never recommended.”

Note: This article is for educational purposes only. Apex Mountain School accepts no responsibility in the accuracy of this information and/or the failure or safety of your gear and/or it’s use.

Want to read the Entire Black Diamond Acid Test? Check it out at: