Helmets or not?

Access, Rehab Projects, Derbyfests and more...
Post Reply
Steve_RRG
Gumby
Gumby
Posts: 37
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 8:35 pm

Helmets or not?

Post by Steve_RRG » Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:56 pm

I suppose many of you have seen this. The link was on the Sky Bridge Station Facebook page. It's such an easy thing to do, wearing your helmet. The story also makes me think I should be using a GriGri for sport climbs. It's another easy thing that could really save you in case of rock fall, etc.

http://cruxcrush.com/2014/05/20/the-cli ... killed-me/

User avatar
Ascentionist
Dream Catcher
Posts: 1081
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 5:23 pm
Location: Fifteen minutes from Martin's Fork
Contact:

Re: Helmets or not?

Post by Ascentionist » Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:40 pm

I'm not arguing against helmet use. But I'm going to give you some other strategies for protecting your head (as a belayer) that may just be more effective at preventing injury than wearing a helmet.

1) Use your head. If you're belaying, position yourself where you can see your climber and where there's no way anything can fall from above and hit you, and position yourself so there's no way you can be pulled into the rock and be injured.

Really, that should just be the only rule.

2) Pay attention to your climber and your surroundings. Always.

3) If you hear "rock" immediately step into the wall and if you're able cover your head.

If you can't adequately mitigate the danger of rock fall with #1 then wear a helmet.

When climbing the smart thing to say would be "always wear a helmet." Obviously if you choose not to you risk facing the kinds of injuries described in the story. But I think if you use your head and don't do stupid things the likelihood of having those kinds of injuries is significantly reduced. Helmets are great in situations where you can't do anything to avoid a hazard, but where you can just get yourself out of the way of falling rock or position yourself so it won't affect you. Honestly, the helmet only protects your head, and if a falling rock severs your arm (anyone hear the El Potrero story from a decade or so ago?) it doesn't matter if you're wearing a helmet, you're probably going to die before you can get help anyway. Better to not get hit by rockfall in the first place if you can avoid it.

Again, I'm not arguing against wearing a helmet, but relying on the helmet alone to protect you is plain stupid. Let's not get caught up in a helmet vs no helmet argument. What's important is using your head to protect your head.

For a helmet to be effective you need to be aware anyway. You've got to be wearing it correctly, it has to fit, and the rock needs to hit you square on the helmet. Even then, I've seen some rocks fall that were big enough to crush a helmet and regardless someone's spine would have been seriously compacted if they'd been hit by them.
There is no TEAM in I

User avatar
J-Ru
Gumby
Gumby
Posts: 80
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:51 pm
Location: Logwood Forest

Re: Helmets or not?

Post by J-Ru » Thu Jun 05, 2014 4:43 pm

Just curious, Ascentionist do you wear a helmet when you mountain bike? I do, but I don't always when climbing. Recently I have been getting it out when belaying or climbing chossy/new routes or if there is an obvious feature in the route or belay that seems sketchy.

User avatar
Ascentionist
Dream Catcher
Posts: 1081
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 5:23 pm
Location: Fifteen minutes from Martin's Fork
Contact:

Re: Helmets or not?

Post by Ascentionist » Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:25 am

Always when mountain biking. Not always on the road. I have my reasons for being choosy on the road, but I'm pretty out of control on the mountain bike most of the time. I go much faster than I my abilities should allow.

And when climbing I don't always wear a helmet. There are some circumstances when I always do and some when I rarely do. There are a lot of factors that go into the decision. How do I feel on a given day versus my first-hand knowledge of the route, multi-pitch vs cragging, sport vs obscure trad, home crag vs on the road, etc, etc.
There is no TEAM in I

User avatar
cliftongifford
Lame Wade
Lame Wade
Posts: 650
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2007 7:57 am
Location: Omnipresent
Contact:

Re: Helmets or not?

Post by cliftongifford » Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:51 pm

Helmet always. They definitely save lives. A good friend isn't dead or a vegetable today because of one. Even when climbing steep sport routes, things don't always go as expected. I hope that helmets someday become the norm in the climbing community. I'm still the last to judge someone if they're not wearing one, it's all about personal choices.

Steve_RRG
Gumby
Gumby
Posts: 37
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 8:35 pm

Re: Helmets or not?

Post by Steve_RRG » Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:54 pm

Hmm... Road biking safer? What are the chances of being out on a nice ride in the country and seeing a squirrel run across the road in front of you. Cruising along at 20, no big deal as he heads to the other side. Oops, with no warning his buddy darts out at the last minute and I hit him dead on. Folds my fork back into the frame and tosses me directly over the bars to land right on top of my head. Had a helmet on, but it still knocked me out for a minute. Ruined the bike and killed the squirrel. Rode for years with no helmet. Much nicer with the breeze in your hair, but it was nice to have the helmet on that day. Always wear it riding road or mountain. Don't always wear one when belaying, but usually take a good look overhead before making the decision. Climbed for years without one also, but now wear one.

User avatar
One-Fall
Good Egg
Posts: 842
Joined: Mon May 12, 2003 8:27 pm
Location: Louisville

Re: Helmets or not?

Post by One-Fall » Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:11 pm

Going to get one for belaying new/rarely traveled climbs.
Can't we all just get along?

User avatar
Ascentionist
Dream Catcher
Posts: 1081
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 5:23 pm
Location: Fifteen minutes from Martin's Fork
Contact:

Re: Helmets or not?

Post by Ascentionist » Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:01 am

When I say not always on the road I'm not talking about not always when I go out in full kit on my sporty-sport bike and try to break some Strava PR. "On the road" sometimes means on the cargo bike over to the grocery store with my seven year old on the back. I don't get over 15 miles an hour and I ride like I'm balancing an egg on top of my head anyway. If I'm with my family on a separated multiuse path I don't think a helmet is necessary.

You can argue about cars whizzing past on my grocery run, but you'll never convince me that a Styrofoam bowl on my head is going to protect me from the bumper of a car. If I get hit by a car I think I'd rather be dead than maimed with full awareness because my head was spared.

Having said all that, on the mountain bike screaming through the trees or on the sporty-sport bike bombing into Stanton at 50 mph off of Furnace Mountain I will always be wearing a helmet.
There is no TEAM in I

User avatar
kato
Blade Master
Posts: 884
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2002 8:54 am

Re: Helmets or not?

Post by kato » Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:27 am

Well said Ascensionist, I was trying to figure out a way to say the same thing without taking away from the rec to wear a helmet. Significant rockfall will go through a helmet like butter- a helmet is good, but learn to stand out of the way!
No chalkbag since 1995.

User avatar
Ascentionist
Dream Catcher
Posts: 1081
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 5:23 pm
Location: Fifteen minutes from Martin's Fork
Contact:

Re: Helmets or not?

Post by Ascentionist » Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:17 pm

I had one for a while, but I doubted the ability of the Petzl Meteor to stop a decent sized rock from going right through it. And even one of those industrial strength caving helmets doesn't protect your neck, face, or shoulders. And even a softball sized rock in the back of the neck could be serious if not fatal. That's why not relying on the helmet as your sole protection against rockfall is a good idea.

I'm very leery of the constant: "Helmet! Helmet! Helmet!" sermons. We need to be critical thinkers, not just slaves to fear and marketing.
There is no TEAM in I

User avatar
ynot
Trad Grandaddy
Posts: 6431
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2002 9:02 pm
Location: the corner of Walk and Don't Walk
Contact:

Re: Helmets or not?

Post by ynot » Mon Jun 09, 2014 2:29 pm

wear it anyway don't be a shmuck
"Everyone should have a plan for the zombie apocolipse" Courtney

User avatar
kato
Blade Master
Posts: 884
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2002 8:54 am

Re: Helmets or not?

Post by kato » Fri Jun 13, 2014 9:05 am

Just finished belaying a buddy one time, and lowered him. We were standing there chatting as he started to pull the rope. Then he looked up and a rock about the size of a pack of cigarettes hit him right in the forehead, below the rim of the helmet. Knocked him clean out for about 10 seconds. Took two lessons away from that- 1) small rocks are nasty but the helmet can protect against those 2) IF the rock hits you in the helmet.
No chalkbag since 1995.

User avatar
Ascentionist
Dream Catcher
Posts: 1081
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 5:23 pm
Location: Fifteen minutes from Martin's Fork
Contact:

Re: Helmets or not?

Post by Ascentionist » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:05 pm

Yeah, had a similar instance where the rope dislodged a rock about the same size (I always said the size of a pack of cards, go figure) and came straight down along the rope and hit my father-in-law in the hand as he was extracting the rope from a belay device. He has worn a helmet 100% of the time while at the cliff after that instance because he recognized how bad it would have been if it had hit him anywhere else.
There is no TEAM in I

Post Reply