Thursday, April 23, 2009

Safety & Springtime

Hi everyone,
I was up at Rumney this past Sunday, and aside from running circuits on climbs I've done in the past, I found out exactly how unsafe climbing can be...

The day started out well, we were joking around, enjoying some of the best conditions New England has to offer. I trusted my belayers to catch me when I was in need of one and they trusted me not to mess up the beginning of the climb, where you're on your own until you reach the first draw. And it was the same for everyone else that was out there, enjoying springtime at one of the most popular crags in the US: trusting that gri-gri to catch the rope, and lower people off on auto-pilot by pulling that plasticey lever. Even with the general concern for each other's safety, checking for availability of all draws, making sure the rope isn't torn up to the core, and the regular precautions one can make, something can go wrong.
Today it might not happen to you, but something CAN go wrong, and EVERY safety check should be performed! There was an accident at Main Cliff, involving two of my good friends. They got on an easy (I mean, really easy for them) 5.10, and started climbing just like you would on anything. The climber got to the top, and was being lowered off, until the 60m rope, likely attached to the bag, went right through the gri-gri, knot untying easily, and the climber (my friend) falling straight on his back/neck from 10-15ft high. He hurt his vertebrae (cracked?) but survived and is in a 1-2 month recovery with a neck brace. Regardless of the details of what happened, safety should not be taken for granted, and this is a reminder to us all, from beginner to expert climbers! (Peter Kamitses, I've never seen anyone take it more seriously than you, keep it up)
I have to say, I have been taking tying a knot at the end of the rope for granted until that day, and tying a knot such as I've been tying for the past 10 years won't help the rope. The regular, pretzel knot will not save your rope from being pulled through the gri-gri! Take 2 extra seconds to tie a figure eight... Be safe out there: the more people stay safe, the more people will buy the gear, the better it is for this industry! ;)

knot that will not save your rope from going through the grigri

knot that WILL save the rope from running through the grigri

both images were ripped off of google... sorry, google.


Vasya Vorotnikov