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Reducing Rock Climbing Risks

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 13 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Rock Climbing Climbing Mountain Climbing

When out rock climbing, preparation is the key to reducing the risks and there are several things you should do before venturing out to climb.

The Weather

Before you even attempt to set out on a rock climbing trip, you should be fully informed about the weather conditions in the location in which you’re going to climb. You should never base your climbing plans around a weather forecast from the day before as you’ll no doubt be aware that weather at altitude in particular can change dramatically in an instant.

Therefore, on the morning of the day of your proposed climb, by all means check the forecast but also contact the ranger station or other appropriate department to get the up-to-date current conditions along with any news about possible changes to the weather that day.

Checking The Equipment

It doesn’t matter how accomplished you are at rock climbing or mountain climbing, you’re only as safe as your equipment allows. Therefore, all of the rock climbing equipment that is to be used on your climbing trip must be checked thoroughly before you set off. You should get into the habit of keeping equipment logs detailing who used what equipment and when and where the equipment was used.

Additionally, you should inspect the equipment before you set off carrying out any maintenance to it or replacing it with new rock climbing equipment where necessary. If in any doubt, always opt to replace equipment rather than risk a botched repair job.

Emergency Planning

The more prepared you are, the more likely your rock climbing trip will go without a hitch and will be enjoyable for all. However, it’s important that you have plans and procedures in place in the event of an emergency.

Things can go wrong very quickly when out mountain climbing due to freak weather conditions, illness and accidents. So, each member of your climbing party should be prepared for all of these things. Issues to take into consideration should include:

  • Ensuring that there are enough first-aid kits to go around, that they are fully stocked and that people know how to use them. If not everybody is carrying a first-aid kit or some people aren’t trained in first-aid, then it’s vital that everybody who is trained and who is carrying the equipment. Any person who has specific medical needs or issues should also inform the rest of the party.
  • Everybody should know what the evacuation plan is if one becomes necessary
  • Everybody should be aware of both self-rescue and partner rescue techniques

Other Issues

Other issues which should be addressed to minimise the risk when out rock climbing include:

  • Everybody being fully aware of the demands of the route that is going to be climbed, how it is going to be approached, what personal responsibilities each climber will have, how long the climb is expected to take and the details of the descent
  • There should also be a group understanding as to how the party are going to communicate with each other once the climb begins

Informing Others Of Your Climbing Plans

It’s also important that you leave details of your planned climb with somebody ‘back at base’. This should include letting them know your proposed route and your expected time of return.

Therefore, if you do not return within your stipulated time, the person back at base can raise the alarm with the rescue authorities whereby they will also be able to give specific details of where your party was climbing.

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