Safe habits and advice to avoid accidents.
Righto beloved brethren,
this is the thread that has been dying (no pun intended) to be outed publicly. It's high time we took a step back from the intoxifications of sending successes and social cameraderie...and instead gave sober thought to our own behavioyurs and actions (regarding safety) at the crags.
To be clear from the very start, THIS IS NOT AIMED AT ANYONE OR ANY ONE INCIDENT IN PARTICULAR, though I know there will be some who think it is. Actually it's not, and I didn't want to be the one to start this thread, but I got this message:
Frankly I think that's a nonsense, a kind nonsense and well intentioned but I'm just a dude who climbs (badly enough) for fun. No better than anyone else. So, egos and sensitivities aside - take no hurt or offence anyone - this is just because I, we, everyone, wants everyone else to stay healtthy, happy and alive. Got it? Sweet.
Belaying and ettiquette a the crag:When a person is belaying, don't distract him/her with excessive chat, flashes of cleavage or slaps and tickles. They have a deadly serious job to do, and chatterboxes etc are putting the climber at risk.
Watch your feet and where you walk. DON'T tread on ropes ever, especially not when someone is using that rope to belay/ climb etc.
When you belay, make sure you have a clear area about you (as much as possible). Be aware of where things are so you don't trip and pull off the climber. It happens!
Think. Think again. If you are belaying someone much heavier, then tie in! Tie in to a tree, a belay bolt or get someone to hold you. If a heavy climber falls you can get jerked off your feet into the wall and lose control. Even happens just lowering someone, so be careful!
If you are uncertain about how to use a beay tool, or are just feeling "uncomfortable" ask someone to help you/ watch you/ back you up.
Climber and belayer should use SIMPLE CLEAR signals. "Hey, yeah you know like I'm groovy so you right to gimme the catch down, eh?" Is a fast way to die.
AGREE on all climb signals before climbing with a partner, especially if they are not your regular partner. Different people have different calls.
If you see someone doing something imperfectly, or dangerously standby to intervene! You don't have to humiliate them, berate them or feel embarrassed to correct them....just try and do it asap in a quiet and friendly way. "Hey I just thought I'd show you another way to do that..."You looked OK, but try this instead, maybe it'll be easier/ more comfortable for you...etc etc. BUT watch carefully anyone who is doing things a bit dodgily.
If you have a small group of KOTRers etc in your area, set up a practice safety skills day (or even a half hour before cragging/ lunch time) and get old hands to join in, just like newbies - it makes everyone feel more equal and less singled out.
ALWAYS KEEP A HAND ON THE BRAKE even with a Gri-gri.
Climbers: DOUBLE-CHECK your belayers are paying attention before lowering, taking, setting off etc. Look and check if possible. Their "OK" may be directed at someone else!
Climber and Belayer MUST always check each others harnesses and tie-ins EVERYTIME! Do you?
If the 1st bolt is high, belayers should spot the climber till the first bolt. The belay is useless till they clip that 1st bolt! KEEP THUMBS TUCKED IN!
OK now add your own thoughts and ideas. Every KOTRer should think about these issues and share honestly with all.
Can't argue with any of that. I might add, don't drink and belay. or sms.
mine is a tale of folly but not plight. i could chock it to the wind carrying my voice but i did call out "READY FOR CATCH?!" not "OKAY TAKE!" either way, it was lost, and i'm lucky i'm not paralyzed more broken or dead.
my suggestion is find A (as in one...as in a partner) belayer. communication is just as crucial a lifeline in this game as your ability and your rope.
the distraction of belayers is a problem. giving you neck a rest by dropping your head is one thing but having fun and games down below is another. and the brake should NEVER....ever...be off EVER.
keep tabs on those you see that have lackadaisical habits and help them be more astute. these are your friends. keep them healthy, happy and ambulatory.
A few things that I have nodiced as well particularly while lead belaying:
We were at the Daejeon wall and a child decided to ride the "up rope" where it drooped as a horsie. Right when she did, her momma took a fall and little baby went a FLYING. Lucky for her, she had a strong little grip and caught the rope. Only injury was a bruised toosh, and a slight head bang.
Second - when someone is lead climbing, get your a** in to the wall. Don't stand back so you can check out what they are doing, thats what verbal communication is for (obviously some circumstances will require you to move out to see whats going on). If the leader falls, and you are far out from the wall, you will probably break a world record for the 10m dash as you get pulled up and in.
When the first starts to climb past first bolt (and you are done spotting), get in to the wall, but OFF TO THE SIDE. If they fall, they fall ON YOU if you are right under 'em (not a good idea).
As they progress up the wall, and make 2nd or 3rd clip (common sense rules), then moove your toosh under the first bolt. That way, if they fall, the only way that you are going is up.
Too many times, on the Daejeon wall (massive ovehung section -about 10m horizontal) we have seen belayers who have come all the way out to see where the first is on the face when they take a fall, and the belayer literally is RUNNING towards the wall (being pulled) and the first almost decks because of all the extra slack that is being paid out by their sprinting belayer. TSK TSK!
That being said, Im far from a perfect belayer. I appreciate, and request anytime that anyone sees something unsafe, or even THINKS its unsafe, to come and talk to me about it. Climbing shouldn't be about pride, in my mind anyways, its just about fun and the good vibes (and safety!).
So brush up on those knots folks! and remember, practice on your girlfriend.
- know what knot to use, AND WHEN to use it!
Good on ya for starting this thread Jakester. God knows how many times you have caught me putting the rope into my reverso backwards....
Actually I don't know if I've ever caught you putting rope into a reverso backwards....but I remember taking you completely off belay atop pitch 3 on New Millenium Ridge without having you safely daisied in etc - mea culpa! Likewise I have caught myself doing other dumb things (chatting with everyone whilst belaying, forgetting to lock belay biner, letting too much slack develop and using all sorts of inane vernacular whilst climbing). Point is, we all do it, and we would all benefit from having a open and honest critique of our behaviour/ habits at times. I shouldn't get the credit for this thread either BYW, it was suggested by several people at the M&G as well as via pm's.
brake hand up or down?
since this thread's up, now's a good time to get a discussion going and increase awareness about which way the brake hand should be, I prefer the hand's down method (as I think most people do, however I've seen a few hands up belays at the crags) as it gives you way more braking power if your about to catch big whipper...
Panicked-- when I first arrived in Korea (and by god, when I left) the climbing scene often enough looked like an accident waiting to happen. I've seen maybe slightly more than usual share of accidents here (probably proportionately less than Thailand), but when you look at the climbing density and see how prevalent climbing is here. . . we'll, it's like driving. . . too many people taking it up too quickly. Korea does make progress, though, as people are exposed to new ideas.
When I first saw the "walk-up" method of belaying (often with a gri-gri, cigarette and phone). . . I'm with you. But I realized I wasn't going to change this (as the only foreigner at the time) so I watched all my potential belayers and chose accordingly. I also bought a gri-gri:p which I love. Sometimes it's hard to "turn down" a belay from a friendly, willing belayer. . . you don't want to seem rude. . . but if you're not comfortable with how someone belays, you're not going to push yourself anyway.
I am a "lightweight belayer" who gets pulled off her feet even when someone smaller falls. . . I keep my daisy girth-hitched to my belay-loop and always look for a place to tie in (some walls and crags put in bolts for this, even, but a piece of gear or natural anchor works too. Sometimes in Korea, with the loose rock, etc, I don't want to be too close to the crag, and at a noisy crag I would rather be able to visually check what my partner is doing. I often spot the climber to the first or 2nd bolt, than move backwards as the friction from the bolts will give me more leverage (I still like to tie in once I'm further back, and the daisy/gri-gri make this possible without compromising safety).
As Dan's article shows, there is more than one way to accomplish something, and often the "old standard" isn't the best (I tend to do the "hands down" but I mix it up after years of "hands up" (these terms are new to me (hand over hand vs. slide) when I am not using my gri-gri. I tend to teach both.
One thing I will say: While I have seen a few severe lapses in judgment, overall, KOTRers are among the safest climbers. Very good at checking each other out, teaching basic safety practices, not pushing people to do things they are not ready for, and warning each other at the crags and on KOTR.
Jake-- say it isn't so:eek8: ?! You were in my super-trustworthy safe and conscientious belayer/partner category?! I figured you were good, if not for topping out with :p at least for getting us to awaiting food and drink at the end of the day:cool8: !! I think I'll have to reaccess your color-coded belayer status before I go back. At least until you invest in an auto-lock biner! Scandalous!
This isn't much help to any of the more experienced folk. However, to any other newbies out there like myself, I think it's really helpful for preventing mishaps to have some spare rope on which to practice/perfect knots. Right after getting shoes and a harness, I got a 10' long, 11mm wide, static rope just for this purpose.
I've only been climbing for a couple of months and, so far, I kinda suck at it. But, I'm not bad at all when it comes to securing knots. I'm certain I can tie a figure 8 follow-through (as well as other figure 8 variations) in the dark and upside-down!
If we ever climb together and I check your knot, you can be sure I do so in earnest... even if you insist on using a double bowline ;)
By the way... hello! 안녕! aloha! This was my first post ^_^
I'm not in Korea yet, but I'll be moving there at the end of January. See y'all then!
A meter of cheap cord from a climbing shop won't set you back $1 but will allow you to practice tying in, on, up! Buy 3-5 meters and it actually becomes useful for reinforcing anchors, anchoring yourself while belaying, extending draws, etc. I also found a bandana in Korea with various knot diagrams on it :-) As with anything, practice makes perfect and a long time without practice makes you a little rusty!
Skinsk -- I was talking to some KOTR-ers about this very thing this weekend. I am a staunch supporter of the idea of tying into an anchor, but I find my opinion wavering when I started to learn a bit about dynamic belays and the importance of being able to soften the fall a bit especially when someone takes a) a massive whipper or B) takes a fall when the last clip was within 2 meters of where they are (insert bruised ankles, broken legs etc here).
What about running belays? You can't do those when you are anchored down.
I dont know really where I stand on this now. Should anchor ins only be used in the case of extreme weight differences, or is it literally by a case by case basis? Depending on if you can see the climber the whole time and thus pay out the appropriate slack when in a bad fall position should you consider anchoring in versus not?
As the Franche say: Je suis confu!
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