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Something not right about ropes

You published a photograph captioned "the right stuff" alongside a front-page article about dangers found at an outdoor centre's climbing tower (TES, December 16). If this picture professes to show the correct way to carry out a safe abseil session conducted by a properly qualified instructor, I have to tell you that I and several of my colleagues, all fully qualified climbing instructors, were horrified by the number of potentially dangerous techniques depicted.

The personal safety rope of the instructor appears to be loose, even though he is leaning right over the edge of the cliff. This could mean that he would fall over the edge of the cliff, should he lose his balance.

The rope running away from the instructor's hand to the ground - the dead rope - can quite clearly be seen to pass between the white abseil rope and the safety rope at the instructor's feet. This means that, as the student proceeds to abseil down the cliff, all three pieces of rope would come into contact with each other and, as one of the ropes will be moving, cause a great amount of friction. Climbing ropes are very susceptible to damage under such conditions and this could put the student's life at severe risk. I hope that organisations setting themselves up as training bodies will take a long, hard look at their own practices before they criticise others.

KEVIN BOWERS

Buckland Manor, Buckland Filleigh

North Devon

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