Safety

This page has some “golden nugget” safety hints that outdoor climbers may find useful.

Wire-gate carabiners, ultra-lightweight carabiners and bolt plates

Never use a wire-gate carabiner to clip a bolt plate. The gates are so thin that that the bolt plate may come off the bolt even though the carabiner is still clipped through it. Since many routes in WA have hangerless bolts, it is best that on your rack you have wire-gate carabiners on the rope end of the draw only. You will only save 15 grams per carabiner so on 13 draws it is 200 extra grams, which is less than the weight of a cup of water – not worth risking your health over. For the same reason it is recommended not to use ultra-lightweight carabiners on the bolt plate end – they may be so thin in some sections as to give the same problem as a wire gate. Use a normal straight gate biner, no need for anything extra chunky, just make sure that it is not too thin.

Helmets

Consider using a helmet, especially at crags which have loose rock at the top such as Churchman’s, where dislodged rocks regularly land at the bottom. A helmet is just as important for the belayer as for the leader and is considerably less bothersome to wear while belaying so why not?

Bolt hangers

RP hangers will not fit on some bolts, hence it is best not to use them. The hole in them is a tiny bit smaller than for other hangers, and they may not fit on “fat carrots”. Fat carrots are bolts which have been hit by the installer’s hammer so hard that their diameter is increased. Use PFH 90 degree hangers, they will fit on pretty much anything.

Belayer ground anchor

If the belayer is much lighter than the leader, attach the belayer to the ground with a sling or with the slack end of the lead rope. Useful attachment points are tree trunks, roots, bushes, rock features etc. The belayer ground anchor need not be bombproof, you need something to counter a circa 50kg upward pull. There have been MANY minor accidents where the belayer got pulled up and into the overhang just above them, and ended up with a very sore head.

Lightweight wind/rain jacket

If you are climbing a high and exposed cliff (Bluff knoll, Peak Head South Face, Peak Charles) get a compact and lightweight wind/rain jacket (eg. polyuretane coated nylon, about $80, no need for it to be fancy or breathable) and stuff it into a small camera case. The jacket and camera case should together weigh no more than 400grams. Clip the camera case to your harness with a carabiner ensuring there are no dodgy velcros that can come undone). This may not sound like a safety item but if you get hypothermic it is easy to make bad judgement errors and have bad accidents.

Headlamp

On big cliffs always carry a lightweight LED headlamp with fresh batteries. Descending from Peak Charles in pitch black darkness is incredibly exciting otherwise.

Knot on end of abseil rope

Unless you are sure that the abseil rope can reach the ground, put a knot on the end of it – Figure 8 will do. Many people have died worldwide after they abseiled off the end of a rope (often in the dark and when they were judgement-impaired due to cold/exhaustion etc.)

Discard old gear

The world-famous climber Todd Skinner died when his worn-out harness broke. The legend is that in the next week everyone in Lander, Wyoming went out and bought a new harness. Other stuff breaks too: ropes break (especially when loaded over sharp edges), nylon ages and loses strength, wires on nuts corrode and break. Keep gear in good shape and don’t get attached to relics.

Other

There are many other dangers not listed here. It is a very good idea to do training courses, read instruction books, read accident reports in books and magazines and talk to experienced climbers.