Accidents can happen…

Posted: April 3, 2012 by Ben Weber in Climbing, English, Training
Tags: , , , , , , ,

And very nearly did last night.

Not to us on this occasion, but we were quite close to the scene: basically a girl next to us who was belaying (securing the rope for her partner who was climbing up) had not secured the belaying device to her safety harness properly and it slipped out when her partner was close to the top. At the time this happened, fortunately the guy was firmly secured with his hands and legs on the wall, but had he not been, there would have been a nasty ten metre fall awaiting him that would have caused serious injury at the least. The monitors seeing what had happened rushed over to secure the rope and connect it to one of their own harnesses so the climber could come down safely.

Dan Osman - at the limit

A while ago, back in 1998, a massively experienced climber, Dan Osman, fell to his death whilst performing “controlled jumps” which led to the ropes snapping. In spite of all his experience, perhaps his self-confidence got the better of him, and he used equipment that had been exposed to the elements for months.

Accidents can happen. I have had a couple of small things happen to me – one stupid: climbing up one wall, I lifted my hand up quite quickly and caught it on a “rock” on the wall; still hurts now, five days after it happened. The other time was not really my fault: a “rock” was slightly loose and turned suddenly under the weight of my foot which was taking all my weight when I was traversing along at the bottom of the wall – almost got a groin strain but fortunately was okay. Much worse things that are out of our control can happen outside of the safety of the gym. Climbers have been killed in avalanches and in severe weather after conditions changed on their mountain in the blink of an eye.

Climbing, if everything is done properly, is pretty safe. Incidents like what happened to the girl and her partner; what happened to my finger and what happened to Dan Osman can certainly be avoided (otherwise us climbers would (literally) be dropping like flies!): We must always be aware of exactly what is happening to ourselves and with our colleagues. We should be calm and steady in our movements to avoid breaking any of our own bones…! We must be careful with all of our equipment to make sure everything is set up properly before taking steps forward into potentially dangerous situations even a few metres off the ground. We must always take care of and maintain the equipment itself.

Things can always happen that are beyond our control. The weather might close in on us in the worst of places. All we can do is try to be prepared for even the worst and minimise these risks. Waiting for avalanches to happen before attempting an ascent; ALWAYS looking at the weather and being prepared for the harshest of conditions. The risks of “rocks” turning around (rocks come loose on the mountain, that’s for sure) can also be reduced: looking and feeling the lay of everywhere we place our hands our feet. Is it secure and stable?? Does it feel loose? Can we move somewhere better?

Always maintaining a distinct sense of … not fear, but awareness of the possibilities… can be a real life saver. After all, no matter how many mountains we climb, we are far from invincible.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s