Climbing is Safe, Sometimes

We’ve been doing some work recently out at Thompson Creek to comply with the new agreement that will allow climbing to continue out there. Both times, I’ve been belaying and caught falls caused by the climber snapping off a loose hold. I had a helmet on and was using a Gri Gri, and neither occurrence was an issue. Take away either of those safety elements, however, and you start to open the door for bad things to happen.

My wife and I got to talking about this stuff on the way to Moab this weekend, and I mentioned how I often don’t feel comfortable being belayed by someone without an auto locking device, especially at newly developed crags. What if I pulled off some loose rock, fell and it hit them? Tracy told me a story from Boise where a couple was out climbing, and the husband pulled off a block, which hit his wife in the head. She died instantly and he plummeted 50 feet to the talus as the rope zipped through her device. A helmet may or may not have saved her life, but had she been using a Gri Gri, the husband could have escaped the tragic event without physical harm. Obviously auto locking devices aren’t failsafe, and accidents do happen, but I will always feel better knowing worst case scenario my belayer can get knocked out and I wont hit the deck.

And while we’re on the subject, why not wear a helmet while belaying? At most of the new crags around here, if the line has been bolted, the developer has probably made sure that nothing big will come off, but it often takes many ascents for a route to clean up completely. A good friend took a chunk of choss to the head in Rifle last summer walking under the Project Wall, and that place sees tons of traffic. He was lucky the rock was crap and it broke apart instead of going straight through his head, but it still messed him up. Oh wait, I forgot, it’s not cool to wear helmets at Rifle, my bad.

But seriously, climbing can be a safe endeavor, so why not take the extra steps to make it that much safer? You probably wear your seatbelt even though you have an airbag in your car.

Have fun out there, and climb safe.

One Response to Climbing is Safe, Sometimes

  1. I’ve worn a helmet a Rifle

    GW April 27, 2007 at 7:58 pm
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