Home › Forums › Climbing Talk › Climbing on CALM land – Stathams – Mar 19 2006
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Bear with me for this post… I know its long, but its also important
I woke up this morning to the obnoxious sound of a Nokia mobile phone alarm beeping its horrid wake up call. Slowly crawled out of bed in time to get grumpy at how long it seemed to be taking my girlfriend’s eight year old daughter (Ati) to get ready… We had planned to go climbing today and the sun outside was shining brightly at half-past six, I knew we were going to be late. We jumped in the car at about 7:40 knowing we would be late to meet my sister and her kids for a day of climbing at Stathams, with the sky as clear as it was and all of us laughing at how Ati took almost the entir half hour trip to get one shoe on, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to the day!
We crawled into the top carpark just after 8am and saw a couple of guys unpacking their car with one of the Climbing WA guidebooks, looks like we are going to have to cue for our share of the crag. Not wanting to wait in line for any of the climbs, I started to feel a bit cranky (should have drunk my coffee a bit faster) but quickly started to cheer up at the prospect of a couple of hours of climbing with the family.
My sister and brother-in-law are just starting out so we put up a top rope on one of the easiest climbs in the quarry, SES guys and abseiler milling around, Paul and Ben climbing on the newly rebolted climb to the left of morning glory, some-one else climbing on Kid Rock and a few others trying some of the harder climbs in the shade near Chain Reaction – the crag was filled to capacity! I didn’t have to wait for any government bureacracy to tell me when and where I can climb, how dare they even consider it!
We had been there for about an hour and a half, Sam was top-roping on one climb, my sister and her husband on another and I was entertaining my niece Ella as she climbed the fence near the sigh that said (Danger Losse Rocks above – or something to that effect)… what happened next is one of those things that will stay with a person forever.
A loud crashing sound echoed around the quarry, sounding like someone had dropped a tool box off the top of the quarry – that barely took my attention from Ella’s mad antics on the wire fence – Kids always make a lot of noise, screaming and shrieking, it gets to the piont where that kind of stuff becomes as moving as another disaster on the 6 o’clock news – the sound that came next however is one I won’t ever forget – the scream rang out through the enire valley, I dont remember exactly what she was saying but the girl’s screaming and shrieking for help went through me like a knife!
I put Ella down and looked over to the SES guys up on the wall near Ersatz, I put Ella on the ground near Ati and ran across the gorge expecting to see one of the SES guys broken across the rock pile – the scream had that kind of urgency to it – dont move him was all I could think – as bad as it sounds I was kind of hoping that the screaming sound was coming from whoever has made that crashing noise I had heard seconds earlier, at least that way she is conscious and probably not in an immediately life threatening situation – running while yelling for my recently graduated sister to lower her husband off the climb so she could come and help – What I saw this morning won’t leave my memory for a long time –
I didnt quite make it to the bottom of Ersatz, because at the base of the chossy cliff to the left of Carrot Master (right where the abseilers play) there was a crumpled pile of clothing and abseilling gear – I didnt even have time to think as I turned and ran straight past his shrieking daughter to see 63 year old Gerald a veteran abseller with some 20 years experience lying in the recovery position where he had fallen only seconds earlier – I threw my back pack and first aid kit to the ground and started barking orders – handing a pair of medical gloves to my sister telling her to clear his airway as I held his head and body in alignment – his daughter screaming near us the whole time – someone else ran to call an ambulance and people flocked around – I did all I could tio steady my shaking hands as I tried to keep him as steady as possble while my sister cleared the blood from his mouth –
He had been doing another run down, the same thing he had done for years – clipped into the back of his harness – through a gear loop.
I didnt see him fall I only heard the screaming and crashing. Apparently he was fine for the first few metres – he had managed to make it almost half way down the cliff before he stumbled – a small trip that shock loaded the thin nylon strap at the back of his flourescent pink and yellow harness, 15 metres up the cliff his figure eight and black ‘biner blew as silent testimony to the chaos below.
Gerard had fallen face first down the cliff somehow managing to land in the recovery position on his left side – he was breathing loudly though his nose and blood was pouring and spraying from the same place – his mouth was jammed closed by what may be a broken jaw – he did not respond to anyone’s calls of his name – I held his shoulder openso he could breathe and kept his head from moving as his laboured beathing struggled against the flow of blood from his nose and mouth – he made a regular choking and sobbing sound as he exhaled blood laboriously
Joe and the SES guys took a little while to get across, they had to safely get themselves off the rock face first – when they did get across they quickly joined in – putting up a blanket to shade him and taking down details – 9:42, 20, regular and laboured, they called out his vital stats every few minutes – the ambulance is on its way and maybe a helicopter , no ETA as yet…
The ambulance arrived what must have been 20 minutes later – they had a few complications getting him onto the stretcher and he almost choked on his own blood as they rolled him onto his back on the spinal board – the ambulance left 10mins after it arrived with sirens blaring on the way to RPH emergency ward – the helicoptr never made it off the ground, probably because of budgetary constraints.
That was this morning… its now 6pm and I have had a day that has changed the way I see life. I have always been the kind of guy who likes to take my life in my own hands, if I join CAWA it wil be because I want to if I am forced to do anything then I’m probably not interested – I rack up speeding fines and bike crashes on a regular basis, hey thats what fun is all about, I never stop to think about what this means to the people around me.
My life has changed more than a little today, now I feel a heavy burden of responsibility – its not just my life I take into my hands when I go for a climb, a ride, a surf, or even a drive some place, its everyone else I love that is with me – thats a heavy burden for anyone to bear.
Because of what has happened today I think we all need to do a bit of thinking about what it is we love about climbing, its not just the freedom to push yourself on a regular basis, its everything that comes from enjoying life with the people we call friends and family – I think that that is something that is worth protecting.
I dont agree that the government should get involved, they have proven that a bureacracy is incapable of managing these kinds of activities – besides, their job is to facilitate not to control – I love my freedom and do not want to give that up – one thing that I am willing to accept is that the status quo needs to change, we can no longer go along just teaching ourselves, we need some structure to help prevent stupid mistakes, an accepted means of operating, all WA climbers need to be aware if this and no one should climb without proving that they know the risks –
I am not sure what has happened to Gerald just yet, the Ambos said his pupils were reactive, which is a good signbut he had not regained consciousness befofre he left the quarry – our thoughts are with him and his familyHendrik DikKeymaster
Basically, I am hoping that this serious accident that is possibly going to leave a family without a father, or a man with long term injuries will not be in vain – we do need to review our sport – we need a way to get all of the informatin about our sport out to all of the participants, especially the ones who do not want to learn the lessons of the veterans among us – sometimes they can be the ones who need the help the most – I oppose restriction through regulation, over regulation will only make our life sterile, we do need to come up with something, and soon before this happens againBenKeymaster
How are regulations going to stop a 20 year veteran of abseiling having an accident? Only good risk management on the veteran and the crew’s behalf are going to stop something silly like this happening. A simple safety check could have avoided this.
Yes, regulations could help amatuers learn safe practices and make them ‘competent’, but they won’t prevent an accident like this (when experienced people are involved) from occurring.
Once someone is deemed competent in the abseiling world, it still comes down to good risk management by the instructor..
Also, condolences to all involved. I know what they are going through.Hendrik DikKeymaster
Of course regulations can’t stop accidents like this from happening… Some of the stats that have been thrown around lately have suggested that the people most at risk of falling victim to an accident like this are the ones who are doing it most often – no amount of regulation is going to stop that – at the same time, seeing first hand what happens when things go wrong means that I can’t sit back and watch as some tempt fate – if the thrill of climbing for any individual is tempting death, then we should have the freedom to do that – I also get a kick out of pushing the envelope and walking away unscathed time after time – the thing with that selfish way of living is that its not the climbers that feel the pain when things go wrong, its the ones on the other end of the rope that have to pull the pieces back together again. I am rethinking the reasons that I climb, for me it isnt about trying to prove something, I really enjoy being in some of the places that only rock climbing can get you to – like sitting on the halfway belay on Sirius in Wilyabrup waiting for my second to reach me and watching dolphins play in the surf – careless accidents would jeopardise my own freedom to enjoy those moments – not to mention the lost joy of all the people who have to bear witness to the messy end of ‘poor risk management’
Its easy to say that someone is not practising good ‘risk management’ and leave it at that – it doesn’t address the simple fact that we (the climbing community, not any external body, and especially not a bunch of career regulators who have never even seen a crag let alone tied a figure eight) need to come up with a way of mitigating these risks beyond just saying that accidents happen – I’m not saying that I have any real answers, just that some kind of certification is starting to look pretty attractive at the moment – this is coming from someone who would have said the exact opposite 24 hours ago – before today my position has always been that freedom is more important, in more ways than one, I am starting to see the value in another way of lifeNeilKeymaster
So he was definitely clipped into his gear loop ?
I was at the quarry too and heard various stories about what exactly went wrong.
Well done to everyone for working quickly together in a trying situation.
Best wishes to Gerald and his family.
One thing CALM needs to learn from this… is not to lock the gates.Henrik,Keymaster
I’ve been climbing for 13 odd years, still do, every week. There are many ways in which climbers safeguard themselves, they can basically be lumped into Training, Experience and Procedures. Regulation does not come into it.
Training – CAWA coordinates official training courses, also available outside, and provides a meeting place for informal training.
Experience – is available through own learning, magazines, books, Americal Alpine Club annual stats etc.
Procedures – “buddy” checking, I always do this informally i.e. look at my leader to see if he looks properly set up, make sure we both talk same signal words, hcek myself etc. It sounds like this is where Gerald came to grief, his problem would have been visually obvious to anyone else.
Now the kicker – 13 years ago when I was starting I did an abseiling course and did exactly what Gerald did – clipped a gear loop in my back before running forward. I’m here today because someone saw me and told me. Since then I tell people “do not run forward with rope clipped to your back”. You are at best relying on someone’s else word, with your life, because you cannot see your own safety system. The trill of running forward comes from the danger and the danger comes from it going wrong sometimes.
I was also involved in a near fatal accident, in Peru. My partner improperly tied into the rope, fell, and the rope untied. She whizzed 200m down an icy ramp and lived, undamaged. Good luck, bad luck. I have long accepted that one it may all go wrong for me too, if you climb and don’t accept that then you are living in denial. No different from rock fishing, paragliding, snorkelling (indeed swimming at Cottesloe!) etc., clever as we homosapiens think we are we cannot control nature, including human nature.RossKeymaster
oops, I somehow signed myself as Henrik in the last post…crossed wires.
Bad news, I hope Gerald recovers OK. I think there are plenty of us that could have ended up in the same situation via any number of errors or gear failures.
I hope no-one finds the following observations out of place given my current world location.
I’ve had regular big hits in footy, mountain biking and skiing. I find sport climbing and bouldering are NOT particularly accident prone compared to other sports (I don’t do enough trad to pass a verdict).
The climbing info and experience you can access in West Oz is fine (CAWA or elsewhere). That some believe the solution for accident prevention lies in formalised/regulation enforced courses is simply naive. Human error means even the best can be made to pay with injury or worse. Formal climbing courses are easy to obtain here in the land of cheese. They cost coin which I’ve happily outlayed and every one of them involved a security focus…that did not prevent my climbing accident last year nor has it prevented those of many others.Hendrik DikKeymaster
Not sure if it was the belay loop – a couple of the SES guys that were there said that was the cause of the fall as a gear loop was suspiciously broken. His carabiner and belay device appeared intact and were still attached to the rope 15-20m up the cliff; every other part of his harness also looked ok, except where the ambos cut it off. The short of it is that I am not 100% certain sure what caused the accident, but from what we saw and from what i heard on the day it seems like the most likely scenario.
Hey Ross and Ben,
I understand your stance against regulation. Until Sunday morning I vehemently held the same view.
I agree with your base assumption: that the only person who is responsible for you, is you. Ultimately, we came into this world alone, and we will leave it alone. However, while we are here we have to travel with others. If your friend that fell 200m pancaked instead of walimg away, I’m fairly sure you would feel pretty shitty and would now be looking for ways to stop that from happening again. I am also sure you would blame yourself for not checking her tie-in properly. I am sure you would have checked properly for a while afterwards!
There are a lot of steps that can be taken to prevent accidents, and most of these are the responsibility of the person participating. I am not saying that any kind of regulation would make this any less true. What I am saying is that it is the responsibility of all of us to identify and implement some ways to make the sport less prone to stupid mistakes. Even if is something as simple as self regulation, with all of us making sure we watch our mates that bit closer than we usually do. The alternative is not being able to climb freely on CALM land.
Some of the ideas that came up at the CAWA meeting on Thursday make some sense. Some kind of accountability could be introduced into climbing without affecting our enjoyment of the sport to much. It happens in a lot of other high-risk sports, sky-diving and scuba-diving for instance.
At the end of the day, it is up to us to climb, or not to climb, and to follow the rules, or not to follow the rules. Its a free country, and youre free to do whatever you want. You’re even free to walk up to someone in the street and shoot them with a gun! You’ll probably have to do some time, but that’s what being free is. You can choose to live your life however you want.
All I am suggesting is that we don’t just say ‘no regulations’ without giving due consideration to what kind of regulations may actually make a positive difference to people we care about! If regulation is not the way to go, then dont just say that, put forward some ideas that may improve things.
Simply to make sure that avoidable accidents, like Gerald’s dont happen so often.RossKeymaster
Some comments – I cut and pasted Hendrik’s message and commented on specific points within it in capitals. Hopefully this clears up my stance.
I understand your stance against regulation. Until Sunday morning I vehemently held the same view. I agree with your base assumption: that the only person who is responsible for you, is you (I DO AGREE WITH DUTY OF CARE LEGISLATION, CALM HAS SOME RESPONSIBILITY FOR USERS IN QUARRIES, I.E. THEY NEED TO TAKE REASONABLE CARE TO MAKE QUARRIES SAFE FOR USERS). Ultimately, we came into this world alone, and we will leave it alone. However, while we are here we have to travel with others. If your friend that fell 200m pancaked instead of walimg away, I’m fairly sure you would feel pretty shitty and would now be looking for ways to stop that from happening again (AGREE, SINCE 1995 I HAVE BECOME VERY PICKY ABOUT CLIMBING PARTNERS, SOME PEOPLE THINK I’M A SNOB, BUT TRUTH IS I DON’T TRUST THEM….OK MAYBE I’M A SNOB TOO…). I am also sure you would blame yourself for not checking her tie-in properly (DISAGREE: I WAS DEAD TIRED AFTER SUMMITING A 6100M HILL BY MYSELF ON THE SAME DAY, DESCENT WAS AT 1AM AFTER 30HRS ON THE GO. IF SHE DIED, BAD LUCK, THAT’S MOUNTAINEERING. I DON’T THINK SIMON YATES OR ALEXEI BOUKREEV CAN BE BLAMED FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO J.SIMPSON AND ON 98’EVEREST RESPECTIVELY. TIRED PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES.) I am sure you would have checked properly for a while afterwards! (IF I’M NOT STONED ON LOW OXYGEN….). There are a lot of steps that can be taken to prevent accidents, and most of these are the responsibility of the person participating. I am not saying that any kind of regulation would make this any less true. What I am saying is that it is the responsibility of all of us to identify and implement some ways to make the sport less prone to stupid mistakes. (YES, CARE ABOUT YOUR MATES’ LIVES. THIS IS MAIN IMPLEMENTATION MECHANISM – SAFETY NEEDS TO BECOME PART OF HOW WE BEHAVE AND FORUMS LIKE THIS ARE USEFUL TO BUILD THIS BEHAVIOUR) Even if is something as simple as self regulation, with all of us making sure we watch our mates that bit closer than we usually do. (SPOT ON….JUST THE WORD “SELF-REGULATION” IS SUBJECT TO MISINTERPRETATION, I WOULD SAY “LOOKING OUT FOR EACH OTHER”.) The alternative is not being able to climb freely on CALM land. (LOGIC?….SELFISH PEOPLE CLIMB ALL OVER THE WORLD, THEY ARE THE ONES WHO CARE LEAST ABOUT REGULATION AND COULD NOT CARE ABOUT ACCESS AND BOLTING RESTRICTIONS…OR CAWA) Some of the ideas that came up at the CAWA meeting on Thursday make some sense. Some kind of accountability could be introduced into climbing without affecting our enjoyment of the sport to much. It happens in a lot of other high-risk sports, sky-diving and scuba-diving for instance. (YES, I SCUBA DIVE REGULARLY AND IT STRIKES ME HOW HUGELY REGULATED SCUBA DIVING IS WHILE CLIMBING IS NOT…GOOD POINT….ALSO, 90% OF SCUBA DIVING TRAINING IS ABOUT SAFETY WHEREAS ABOUT 10-20% OF CLIMBING TRAINING COURSES ARE DEDICATED TO SAFETY…THIS SHOULD CHANGE, ARE CLIMBING INSTRUCTORS REGULATED? CAWA COULD TALK TO ADV-OUT AND HELP THEM TAILOR THEIR COURSES WITH MORE SAFETY FOCUS….) At the end of the day, it is up to us to climb, or not to climb, and to follow the rules, or not to follow the rules. Its a free country, and youre free to do whatever you want.(IF YOU WANT TO CLIMB WITH ME THEN YOU WILL FOLLOW THE RULES.) You’re even free to walk up to someone in the street and shoot them with a gun! (THAT’S ILLEGAL, YOU ARE NOT FREE TO DO ILLEGAL THINGS) You’ll probably have to do some time, but that’s what being free is. You can choose to live your life however you want. (IF YOU CAN PAY FOR IT…) All I am suggesting is that we don’t just say ‘no regulations’ without giving due consideration to what kind of regulations may actually make a positive difference to people we care about! If regulation is not the way to go, then dont just say that, put forward some ideas that may improve things. Simply to make sure that avoidable accidents, like Gerald’s dont happen so often. (HMMM…I SAY LET US REJECT ANY CALM REGULATIONS OUTRIGHT AT THIS POINT IN TIME, IN WHATEVER FORM. WE SHOULD THEN DO OUR THINKING IN PRIVATE, NOT IN PUBLIC. CAWA COULD THEN LOOK INTO WHAT IS PRACTICABLE AND DONE ELSEWHERE, PLENTY OF MAGAZINE ARTICLES ON ACCESS IN USA ETC. THE COMMUNITY SHOULD THEN BE CONSULTED. THEN AND ONLY THEN, AFTER MUCH THROUGHT, WE DISCUSS WITH CALM.)
THANKS FOR YOUR WRITINGS HENDRIK, YOU HAVE WRITTEN A LOT AND IT IS BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU SHARING THEIR EXPERIENCES THAT THE REST OF US CAN LEARN. GOOD CLIMBING. rossHendrik DikKeymaster
Some of your points are fair, others I disagree with. Thats my right in a democracy. Because it is a democracy, the only way to come to the best conclusion in any matter is to discuss it openly.
As for the current debate as to whether climbing in WA should have more regulation or not, that is up for all of the climbing community of WA to decide. If it were up to me, I’d be going the route of accreditation that was discussed on the other CALM discussion post.
I appreciate the freedom I have to take part in these sports and don’t want any uninformed body (CALM or whoever) stopping me from excercising my freedom.
Having said that, every one of the sports that I practice could result in my death if I make too many mistakes.
I’m not saying that external regulation is the answer to any of these. As you I think has been discussed quite openly, the only people that know what climbing is about are the climbers that are taking part. That is who should be driving the formation of some solid guidelines for climbing in WA.
Ross, if you’ve convinced yourself that you wouldn’t feel bad if you pancaked a friend, then I think that just about says it all…
To give you some credit, at least you’re open enough about your disregard for the lives of your ‘friends’ that those that value their lives can steer clear of you.
I climb with the people I climb with because I like them as people. For this reason, I’d feel pretty damn gutted if I did anything that resulted in their death.
So far I’ve been pretty lucky, I haven’t witnessed a close friend die because of any mistakes that I’ve made. I’d like to keep it that way.
I know that I, like almost everyone else I know, get pretty complacent about the routines involved in climbing, pretty often it takes an accident to wake us up about the importance of all of the steps in climbing. Simple things like buddy checking do save lives.
Pretty often it takes a big accident to really wake us up. Most of us will be fortunate to never see such an accident. Some of us will.
I’m not saying bring on CALM regulations, that isn’t likely to do much anyway. What I am saying is that there needs to be frank discussion about what can be done, and that is not happening anywhere on this forum from what I can see.
If we don’t all speak up, like you are doing, then we will end up with regulations that don’t make any sense.ConcernedKeymaster
I just want to say in response to how regulated SCUBA diving is as a bench mark for our argument. Sure there is a lot of safety training in SCUBA diving, and a lot of Protocols such as tank checks, log books etc. HOwever for our argument, you still dont need to go get a permit from CALM to go and scuba dive in CALM waters such as Marmion Mraine park, SHoalwater Bay, Jurien Bay MP and so on. Furthermore, a more dangerous activity is free diving, however there is no training for that, nor regulation but this can be performed freely in CALM waters also. Sure this is harder to police out on the water but thats no excuse for CALM to police climbing and not diving, jsut because its easier.
Personally, i think that CALM’s direction of argument has been taken as it will be an easier fight to win rather than focussing on the environmental concerns which is ultimatley what CALM is there for (Conservation and Land Management). FOr this they will need a lot more resaerch to support their argument. SUch as wildlife surveys etc, which cost money, will take at least two -three years to complete, and will require some solid science. Not only this, then they will then need to examine the effects of climbing on the wildlife in specific areas to see if it is negatively effected. Which, would be extremely difficult prove, especially statistically where it all matters.Hendrik DikKeymaster
Interesting set of points.
Fear mongering about what can go wrong will not solve the dilemma. CALM already made it quite clear that the status quo is not acceptable.
The question is not ‘will there be regulations on climbing on CALM land?’ it is ‘what will those regulations be?’
My suggestion is that we come up with something ourselves that serves the needs of the majority of WA Climbers and that gives CALM a way of ‘hand balling’ the responsibility to us.
A head in the sand approach that fails to address the pertinent issues will only serve to leave us at the hands of a minority.MaritzaKeymaster
Any word on Gerard’s health?
Also, I’ve attempted to clarify the issue of regulation and how it was raised at last week’s meeting on the thread that Dena started “Climbing on CALM land”.
Mostly it was about the need for healthy debate, which you’ve started. I also agree that the principal danger of not looking at safety issues ourselves is being dictated to by a minority.
Now, we just need some other climbers to be as open, honest and expressive as you’ve been…TocKeymaster
I’m just going to make some points as Toc, (just another climber, not in any capacity in CAWA).
1. No regulations could have saved Gerald other than maybe a regulation requiring his friends to check him. That would eventually become cursory and may still not have helped.
2. My non-accredited climbing mentors who started me climbing stressed over and over again the need to check each other. This sort of free and continuous instruction of less experienced climbers is difficult with the present liability fears and about to become more difficult. The proposed CALM regulations will ensure that. It’s not possible to drill climbers in the one or two lessons they may take from professional instructors. This is not just throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It’s bludgeoning the baby so there’s no need for a bath.
3. Climbing is not abseiling and abseiling will never be climbing. The two should not be lumped together. This is not an elitest statement, just a fact. It is just a tool climbers use sometimes when it is needed. Lack of recognition of this is a major part of the problem we are having with CALM. Abseiling absolutely depends on equipment not failing and not being used improperly. That being the case and considering the way it is taught to groups, abseiling as an end in it’s own right should be subject to regulation. Climbers use of abseiling is totally different in approach and not nearly as frivolous.
4. My fear is that this sort of regulation will make it harder for CAWA and experienced climbers to pass on their knowledge to those coming on in the sport and result in a lessoning of safety not an increase particularly as with the advent of gyms the long period of time spent in improving climbing ability used to go hand in hand with an increased knowledge of how to use gear.
5. If accreditatiom makes any sense at all, then it is completely contra-indicated that people who know nothing about climbing should be attempting to make rules governing climbing.
There is of course far more to be said than these few points and I personally hope and will be working to ensure that CAWA does get the chance to put the case for climbers.Hendrik DikKeymaster
Thanks Maritza and Toc,
The last news I had of Gerald was that he is was in a medically induced coma, I havnt heard anything sionce Tuesday so I hope that means he is ok…
You have both clarified my point condiderably. Of course CALM, as an uninformed external group, should not be making regulations that influence the actions of climbers, the only ones who can do that are us.
To reiterate where I am coming from, I am not saying that external regulation is the way we should move forward (even thiogh my previous posts may suggest otherwise). I’d just like to see more intelligent discussion about the alternatives.
Without external regulation stopping all of us from climbing, what can we do to add a little bit more safety to the climbing community?DiKeymaster
What can we do to add more safety . . . CHECK EACH OTHER!! If you read through accident reports either online, or in publications such as Accidents in North American Mountaineering, you get a fairly strong sense that most accidents are the result of user error- not gear ‘breaking’.
Even world-class climbers such as Lynn Hill make mistakes- she once got distracted tying in before a climb, didn’t finish her knot, and only found out when she got to the top of the climb and leaned back to lower off. Luckily for her she survived a 70m ground fall but there is a lesson for us all in there!
So no matter how geeky you think it might be, check your knot and harness as well as those of your partner before anyone leaves the ground. If Lynn Hill can screw it up, so can the rest of us . . . .Ben JKeymaster
Simple safety checks.HFKeymaster
thats not quite right about lynn hill.
she tied in with a bowline, but didn’t tie a stopper knot. the bowline worked itself loose and when she went to lower off it came undone.RodKeymaster
I totally agree that buddy checks are THE vital security habit to form.
The following will be contentious: from personal observation of the same accident data that Di cites along with some Club Alpine Suisse data I came to the conclusion that accidents are probably reduced by bolting. Presumably that comes about through lower room for human error in gear placement.
To prevent flame: don’t interpret that as a personal bolting bias, WA has some vital assets that should stay bolt free.RossKeymaster
I’m offended by henrik’s comments of 22 March, he seems to be putting words into my mouth and needs to read line 7 of para 2 of my last post again. I AGREE WITH YOU, for chrissake! An essential part of constructive arguing is listening (or reading) carefully. RossRossKeymaster
Rob – if I understand correctly then you argue that bolts lead to fewer accidents as they are safer than trad gear. But bolting has probably increased the number of people climbing ten times, hence my feeling is that the total number of accidents due to bolted climbs being available is actually higher now. But on a normalised basis (per climbing manhour) the accident RATE is undoubtedly lower, for well-bolted climbs. In other words the individual risk is lower. So it then gets to the old argument whether people see climbing see as purely athletic endeavour with no risk, i.e. the French style, in which case the safest thing is to toprope anyway (on our tiny crags). Or do people see mental challenge as important, i.e. the 70s American style (Henry Barber, John Bachar et al.), which invariably means the ego-shattering accepance of having to climb lower grades. There was a great interview with Hot Henry in the Climbing mag a few months ago. This is a personal style choice. As I wrote in the Perth guidebook, I think we need a mix of routes, so people can fulfill themselves in whatever way. Hence respecting what is now there is a good approach I think and the bolting safety argument is not crucial. As I pointed out before, any route near Perth can be toproped. Fair’nuff?RodKeymaster
Mine is an accident rate interpretation as you suggest.
To restate my original position, I think trad gear is as safe as bolts but the human error rate is higher due to the far greater judgement and expertise required of placement. Safety wise, the personal awareness of one’s required grade margin is the differentiating factor. To illustrate my personal safety margin, at the end of last season I was onsighting sport routes at around 6B with one or 2 onsight 6c’s…I never jump on a long route with a reasonable % of trad above French 5C (both soft but good enough for now).
I agree about having a range of routes for all comers and that is true for Perth, its sufficiently developed. However, I’d like to retain that all comers mentality in development of easily accessible locations away from Metro areas.
To that point, we’re a bit restrained by the CAWA bolt ethic: “Fixed protection may only be used on new routes where there is no possibility of arranging protection by common traditional means”. I’d like this ethic relaxed slightly such that we have the latitude to do bolt 1 of the 2 in a new development where 2 crack routes exist in close proximity. We could remain consistent with the all comers point, I would hope this would contribute to lowering accident RATES.
The top-roping French/American style thing: it’s always nice to debate at the pub over the 10th beer but I doubt it’ll be overly productive to improving safety. Its been out there for decades and history has shown that people don’t rest in either end of the spectrum.
To prevent flame from new readers: I reiterate WA has some vital assets with zones that should stay bolt free.RossKeymaster
I disagree with bolting well protected cracks. This is not done anywhere outside of France or ultrasoft limestone like Krabi (that I know of). I think most climbers do not want to see McBolting to provide for the LCDs (Lowest Common Denominators) or grade fantasies of L.H.FOOGs (Leader Heroes Fresh Out Of Gyms). But this is a bit academic as only <10% of climbs in WA are cracks.
Where we have gone wrong in WA is on routes that are unprotectable by trad. We have a simple correlation: harder grade=more bolts. I sinned there myself, not really thinking about this as I simply did not need more bolts on easy (for me) routes, but lately have come to accept this as unwise, well, selfish and cheap actually. I now think that every bolted route should be bolted well, to a standard that a fall from anywhere will not cause major injury (long recovery or disability-type).
But it is done, so now there is the respect and tradition argument, else it is open slate with egoes on both sides armed with equally good but misaligned arguments (and shut ears).
But bolting trad-protected routes to create variety and better safety? No sorry. There is little trad rock left within 2 hrs of Perth, please leave it alone. Or better still, toprope. When I was learning to climb, with Jon, we toproped every weekend for 2 years before getting on a lead. I could toprope 20 before I tried leading a trad 14. That was my safety margin. Now I sometimes onsight lead 23, trad or bolted. I can place trad gear so well that I do not care if the protection is bolted or trad, as long as it is adequate. My safety is time, my safety is experience. If time is of essence and interest in learning not present, I plead for toproping. Not McBolting.RodKeymaster
Top roping I’m not really into because I didn’t find it aided progression with leading but I buy into your argument. A location I played on a long while back has since been bolted by people claiming FA’s which I believe aren’t theirs. These were bolted in a manner I think is over done, one in particular can be trad protected in my opinion…but all that’s another story.
For the record, I’ve no intention of bolting these routes (or nearby slabs) anytime within the next 4 years. I’ve not even claimed FA’s because I don’t want people crawling all over them given the environmental issues that build with exposure. One of the sites didn’t have the environmental issue and I thought should have already been. I didn’t spot evidence whilst climbing there so I queried via Toc, the rest I’m staying quiet on. None are within 2 hours of Perth. For this discussion I’m just working the ethical angle because of the lets improve safety point of this thread.
My safety concern remains for the LCDs (Lowest Common Denominators) or grade fantasies of L.H.FOOGs (Leader Heroes Fresh Out Of Gyms). If permitted to instal bolts as belay anchors on crack routes such that they can be used to top rope then I think we’d have improved the safety adequately for them.
How does that play with you? Do you think it fits with the current CAWA ethics? Personally, I don’t think it does fit with the CAWA ethics.