Climbing Safety 101

Placing a cam? Slotting a nut? Slinging a tree?
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Artsay
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Climbing Safety 101

Post by Artsay » Mon Oct 20, 2003 2:09 pm

Most climbing accidents can be prevented (a lot seem to happen while rappelling). What are some tips you all can offer to a more inexperienced person that you think would be helpful? Wes, I'm sure you have a ton of tips so let's hear 'em...

1. Tie both ends together or a safety knot in each rope end to prevent rapping of the ends of the rope.
2. If you're rapping off webbing around a tree, horn, etc., always check the webbing to make sure it isn't weathered, worn, or has been chewed by animals.
3. Learn how to tie a prusik knot and how to use it to aid up a rope.
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Post by Spray Lord » Mon Oct 20, 2003 2:14 pm

Never say "OK, take me up." when you are at the top of a route, as your belayer might think you just said, "OK, take me off."
In case you misunderstood, I wasn't soloing in reality. I was just bouldering the beginning of that route. I see no glory in soloing... unless it gets you on the cover of Rock & Ice.

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Post by andy_lemon » Mon Oct 20, 2003 2:16 pm

Make sure your partner is paying attention to you, whether he/she is above or below you. Have your partner on the ground spot you while you are coming down... (e.g. "rope not on the ground" "watch the tree" "look at your landing"). A firemans belay can also be helpful.
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Post by Wes » Mon Oct 20, 2003 2:17 pm

Number One rule: Always pay full attention.

Number Two rule: Always weight the rope before commiting to the lower/rap. Then if you made a mistake, your slings will catch you.

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Post by Artsay » Mon Oct 20, 2003 2:17 pm

That kind of happened to me once, Spray Lord. My partner said just that and I was the belayer. I heard "take me off" and didn't think it seemed right (I had been climbing for about 2 months) and I said, "OK, I'm taking you off belay" and he immediately screamed, "NOOooooOOOO!!!!!". So I guess I'd add on to what you said with: Always verbally express what action your about to take....or something along that line.
Does he have a strange bear claw like appendage protruding from his neck? He kep petting it.

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Post by andy_lemon » Mon Oct 20, 2003 2:20 pm

If you have long hair, don't get it caught in your rappel device... same goes for your shirt.
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Post by Spray Lord » Mon Oct 20, 2003 2:23 pm

I was in Eldo, my belayer thought I was going to belay from the top but I had built an anchor and wanted to just rap down as it was a single pitch and some others were going to TR the route. I actually started to weight the rope(I also wasn't clipped into anything as I was just standing on a ledge... mistake #2) and realized that there was no tension, looked down and she was sitting over by our packs getting a drink of water. Scary shit!

These stories help I think. It's kind of like reading Accidents in North American Mountaineering as it allows us to learn from other people's mistakes.
In case you misunderstood, I wasn't soloing in reality. I was just bouldering the beginning of that route. I see no glory in soloing... unless it gets you on the cover of Rock & Ice.

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Post by Spragwa » Mon Oct 20, 2003 2:32 pm

Use your belayer's name at crowded cliffs. Always be sure that you use the same "climbing vocabulary." For instance, when I am clipped directly into the anchors and am about to clean a sport climb I always say, "I'm in direct" then I ask for a "little" slack to test my gear and then I ask for "cleaning slack." Not everyone uses the same terminology.
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Post by Danny » Mon Oct 20, 2003 2:38 pm

Make sure you and your partner talk about communication ahead of time. When one person says something the other person should always shout OK to mean I hear you. OK only means I hear you and understand not OK you are on belay. Don't leave your partner wondering if you heard them. Shout OK. OK

The other week this guy was run out and shouted "Whipping" when he was getting ready to fall. It sounded like "Clipping". You can figure out the rest of the story.

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Post by JB » Mon Oct 20, 2003 3:07 pm

Here are some of my big ones.... though most are just agreeing with what others have already said.

1. Figure out your "system" before you leave the ground. This means figure out what commands you're going to use, how things should work, etc... KNOW before you leave the ground. Assume nothing!

2. Double check everything twice (redundant redundancy?).

3. Carry 2 prussiks at all times or have 2 ways to ascend/lockoff.

4. Always check gear... never trust fixed gear. Don't hesitate to leave a spare nut, biner, sling behind if you are even slightly suspicious. $10 bucks vs. your life is an easy wager.

5. Leave 6 inch tails on a water knot.

6. Understand that Walmart quicklinks are not the same as french Maillon rapides. Guess which one will support you?

7. Always test a system before leaving another (see Wes's post). At my ropes course, a staff memeber of mine once fed only one bight of rope through his ATC when preparing to rappel. He started to lean back and luckily only fell backwards onto a platform. If he had still been clipped in somewhere, he would have been backed up.
btw... he no longer works for me.

8. Try this. Say "take up slack" outloud right now. We usually emphasize the last word, which is also the longest syllable in this phrase... guess which word is the only one your belayer hears?

9. Know how to tie a muenter hitch or make a 'biner break in case you drop your device.

10. INSPECT YOUR ROPE!!

11. Tie back long hair... tuck in clothing. Rappel slowly.

12. Consider using an autoblock if you are the least bit trepidatious.
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Post by Legion » Mon Oct 20, 2003 3:07 pm

Learn the autoblock or another suitable rap backup and use it EVERY SINGLE TIME you rap. It only takes a couple of seconds more.

If you are belaying a lead climber pick a stance reasonably close to the wall. This should be a no brainer but I see people #$% this up all the time. Better yet, anchor yourself and then you can escape the belay much easier (you DO know how, right?)

Ditto on the commands. Don't slack off on inspecting your buds, either.

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Post by tomdarch » Mon Oct 20, 2003 3:12 pm

On Saturday of Rocktoberfest, we (a bunch of us from Chicago, including Casamig and Merrick) had a way too 'thrilling' day at the crags. A guy got himself in a not-so-swift situation and blew while pulling up slack to clip and took a really, really long fall. He even got caught in a loop of the rope on the way down and got flipped over (along with some rope burns). Luckily, it was a slightly overhanging route with nothing to hit on the way down, because he was totally out of control and flipping because of how he fell.

It got all of us talking about saftey issues. First on our minds was the issue of falling while pulling up rope. The general consensus was that most of the time you're better off jumping than trying to make a really sketchy clip (speaking specifically about sport - for trad, it's usually better to try the clip.) I've heard about too many bad things happening with falls while clipping. One is the issue of holding the rope in your teeth while pulling up more rope, falling and forgetting to get the rope out of your mouth - the result is teeth being pulled out. The other nastiness is the issue of getting a limb or fingers caught in a loop of rope mid-air. There's a thread here somewhere about fingers getting looped in the rope and when the rope came tight the skin of the fingers was 'de-gloved', or ripped off. Tip: think through the implications of trying to make the clip, especially if it's way overhead.

One thing that came up was vocabulary. Some people just don't 'click' with climbing vocabulary. When it's the distinction between 'flash' and 'on-sight' it really doesn't matter, but when it's something like 'off belay!' that's a big deal. One really nice thing about climbing at the Red is that it's mostly single pitch cragging - you can almost always yell up/down to reconfirm what your partner is intending to do.

Speaking of 'take me off belay' - don't. In many situations, you as the belayer can keep the climber on and just feed slack. When you're pulling half the rope for a rapell, it can be a pain in the ass, but when you're cleaning anchors and lowering, just don't take the climber off - leave them on and keep your brake hand on. It will just take a minute to clean, you can wait before rooting in your pack for that energy bar.

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Post by tomdarch » Mon Oct 20, 2003 4:36 pm

Another note about double checking eachother - do it! do it! do it! I was an instructor at a small wall (about 22' high) where the climbs were obviously short, so I've tied in and/or set up a GriGri probably thousands of times. A few times in those thousands of times, I've screwed up (and, yes, you do too every so often). Sometimes I catch it myself, but no two ways about it, double checking helped alot.

And for all you beginner climbers - don't be afraid to question what more experienced (even 'expert') climbers are doing. Just ask: "That looks funny - is that how it's supposed to be?" Usually, it won't be a big deal, but once in a while you'll catch something serious.
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just skip this

Post by Alan Evil » Mon Oct 20, 2003 7:34 pm

I'm really new at this but I've got a great teacher(s) so here's one thing I can tell from being out the little bit I've been doing this:

If you're learning and the person you're with isn't giving you detailed instructions that you understand about EVERYTHING you're supposed to do on your climb, don't climb with them. If you've climbed up a little bit and they're shouting instructions to you that you don't understand, tell them to lower you and get off the rock until they either get a grip or until you meet someone that will teach you.

One of the things that makes rock climbing so amazing is that it is "death defying." If you don't do things right you can die very quickly. If you don't know how to do things you're very likely to do them wrong. If you are methodical, patient, and questioning you'll survive.

Kudos to whoever said, "Check everything twice two times."

Oh, yeah, make sure that the rope on the diaper-wearing-lizard-person side of the Grisgris (down in New Orleans that means a bag of spices and voodoo magic) is the rope going to the climber. That's important.

I would like to add that this is one of the best sports in existence and we should all always be looking out for each other. If the people climbing next to you are f***ing up, call them on it. Better to bruise some egos than have a broken body on the rocks.
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Post by ynot » Mon Oct 20, 2003 7:57 pm

Double and triple check things,it only takes a glance. Learn to spot rotten rock,feel will tell you.
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