Home Forums Accidents, near-misses and mishaps Unsafe Practises at Quarries

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  • #158539 Reply

    Hey Guys,

    This is a bit of a general awareness announcement after watching a couple of very questionable activities at Mountain Quarry yesterday. I’m positing this on the CAWA forum, not because I think it’s CAWA member that are the culprits, but rather to raise awareness, so that the more experienced members of the climbing community can be aware of these things, help out the less experience climbers, and intervene when they see something which is clearly a dangerous being done.

    There were a few thing that I watched at the quarry yesterday that made me concerned that the WA Climbing community are sitting on a time bomb, and waiting for a major accident to happen.

    Firstly – I watched two separated parties (seemingly not associated with one another), who were both top-roping on Running with the Bulls, from the anchors of Power Play. Not only is this setting the climber up for a very large pendulum swing, but there is also a real chance of slicing the rope open on one of the shape edges at the top of Power Play. It was only a couple of years ago that a climber fell to the ground after cutting their rope on Power Play. I spoke to both parties and suggested that the top-rope arrangement was not an ideal setup. One party changed their plan and top-roped Urban Ethics instead. The other continued as they were doing and indicated that my concerns were misplaced. I certainly wasn’t hugely comfortable stepping in on either occasion and telling the groups how they should be climbing … but watching something that I could clearly see was dangerous wasn’t comfortable either.

    Secondly – One of the above-mentioned parties had climbed Power Play, and got the rope such a crack on the way down (I’m guess he didn’t climb all the way to the anchors, otherwise this probably won’t have happened). The climber proceeded to sit in the rope and jump around to try and free it. This time Graeme (my climbing partner), yelled out to the climber and suggested that he should climb up rather than bounce. It seemed clear from his response that he didn’t think what he was doing was dangerous at all.

    Thirdly – Several of us watched a dog fall from the top of the Playboy wall. I didn’t see the incident, but just listening to it was rather disturbing. Miraculously, apparently the dog is totally OK, though no doubt he’ll be sore for a few days! The dog was clearly very loved, and his owner was understandably distraught by the incident. I have no idea what lead to the incident, how the dog came to be at the top of the cliff, or what lead to it falling off. I certainly don’t want to point any blame at the dog owner, because I really don’t know what happened. But it does point to a general attitude of complacency about the risks of a climbing location.

    What I observed yesterday seemed to characterizes the general behavior I’ve observed over the last few months. Other things I’ve observed include; top-roping Penthouse from the Playboy anchors, throwing a helmet off the top of the playboy wall, leading on the playboy wall with a belayer who didn’t realise that they needed to hold the end of the rope when using an ATC (i.e. assuming it worked like a grigri), top-roping straight through the ring bolts (on several occasions), as well as a few other “do you really want to do that” moments.

    There is no doubt that the climbing community in Perth is growing, and watching these things yesterday made me realise that it’s not a case of “if” but “when” we are going to see a really nasty climbing accident in one of the quarries. Because most new climbers are starting out and learning the basics in climbing gyms and then move outdoors into an environment which is far less controlled, they start climbing outdoors without awareness of the risks or the gaps in their skill.

    I know CAWA (and some climbing gyms) have attempted to run skills courses in the past, with the cost of insurance being a largely prohibitive factor. Because most teaching and learning is done on an informal basis, with the number of climbers increasing, we really need to be better than ever at helping out new climbers, and making sure they’re safe. There are three ways I think we can really help with this:

    – Firstly, lets try and help out new climbers. If you know someone who wants to learn, take them out and teach them to do things the right way.
    – Second, try and take the less experience guys out with you when you climb, so that they can learn by watching and being involved.
    – Thirdly, if you see someone doing something dangerous, step in and point out the dangers. We’re all a climbers at the end of the day, so lets watch out for each other.

    #158540 Reply

    please ignore my terrible spelling

    #158542 Reply

    Using the Power Play anchors is especially silly, considering that it’s straightforward to get a top rope onto the Bulls anchors. I can’t fathom how someone would be comfortable doing that. That saying would be fierce.

    #158543 Reply

    *swing would be fierce.

    #158547 Reply

    Thanks Dane I couldn’t agree more, I have been going to Mountain Quarry and have seen some really safe practices and unfortunately some really bad practices , Iam going to let anyone know if I think something is dangerous Please don’t take offence if some of the more experienced in the climbing community tell you that what you are doing is unsafe we actually give a shit about your safety.

    Graeme ( happy to talk to anyone one on one about good practices )

    #158552 Reply

    I’ve seen a number of climbing parties top roping directly through the ring bolts over the years. I can understand why (newbie and lower grade climbers not able to finish the route, saves time and effort on cleaning) but that doesn’t make wear and tear on the ring bolt anchors any less through good intentions. Not particularly good for the rope either.
    May I suggest as part of the CAWA rebolting campaign putting shackles/mallions/whatever is most suitable on ring bolt anchors for direct top roping. These items are easier to replace than the anchors themselves. Ideally not top roping through them in the first place would be better…. but that doesn’t change the realities of what actually happens in the quarries.
    Not every quarry user reads the CAWA forum, is a CAWA member, is open to random strangers giving advice or is aware of the effort and cost involved in putting in ring bolt anchors (or gives a sh*t).
    As for bouncing on stuck ropes – natural selection in action? 😉 Yes I’m stirring. The whole climbing community cops it when someone stuffs up.

    #158633 Reply

    How about a Quarry Crash?

    #158833 Reply

    Yep good call Ang – on all counts ha ha!

    mailons chains etc

    #158836 Reply

    It’s good to see that we are finally having more open discussions about these issues. As Dane says, there is a two-way discomfort: the potential for disaster you can see in front of you and approaching the people involved.

    Just to clarify, the issue for CAWA in terms of providing training directly was not cost of insurance. The topic of training came up over and over again for many years, as we recognised a need to be helping to build solid skills and that it was something members wanted. Unfortunately, our previous insurers and others approached, would not provide insurance for this type of activity. Anything run via commercial companies wasn’t an issue as they have their own cover. So back in 2009/2010 we did that in an attempt to provide some training opportunties. Anything we wanted to run informally oursleves wasn’t possible at that time. In 2014, we managed to source and negotiate with a new insurer to be able to provide CAWA run training. This was a huge thing for us because it finally meant that we could be more proactive in trying to address the sorts of issues (and more) discussed above. Not just by providing training to the people who attended, but just as importantly, hopefully by them sharing that information and influencing others.

    The events organised when I was on the committee in 2014/2015 were a combination of informal and formal (with commercial providers) training that were well attended and based on feedback, hit the spot, so to speak. People definitely showed a strong desire to learn safe habits. We had strong support from Adventure Out with the formal events (and there are other providers who expressed desire to get involved with future events as well, we just ran out of time to do more) and it was a relief to be able to run some less formal training as well. All with a view to improving safety and trying to prevent problems as mentioned above or facilitate change. Sometimes people don’t know what they don’t know.

    I’ve seen my fair share of scary stuff and it was a topic of conversation when I was at dinner just last night. Sometimes the most experienced climbers are the most complacent, take short cuts and are often not receptive to feedback of any kind. We all have a responsibility to talk to each other, hopefully be receptive to feedback (sometimes mistakes are made) and teach safe habits. Though there is the issue of poor habits being passed on. We are seeing a lot of beginners teaching beginners too.

    I believe that as many/most of climbers are starting out in the gyms, this is the ideal place to ‘catch’ and educate them before ‘release’ out into the wild. Transition to outdoor climbing courses are run by at least one of the gyms over east a few times a year to try and equip people with the basic skills they need. And then there are the commercial courses that people can do. There is already a lot for people to take in at their first gym induction but maybe it’s worth planting the seed even then. Many will not go on to climb outdoors but some will.

    Whilst there is a need for the community as a whole to increase awareness, there is also a need for people to take personal responsibility for their own learning as well.

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