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 By: Johan Svensson  | Date: 2007-01-03  | Category: Tips & Tricks    | Comment  
Keep your lower arm straight so that you feel if the rope is ending and you've forgotten to tie a knot
This hold came off and almost hit the belayer!

 Every year, sport climbers are injured and sometimes killed and few experienced climbers have not been involved in serious incidents. One reason is that climbers who get experience may become too self secure and careless. This can be seen in climbers who feel offended when someone asks to check their knot, control the use of the belay-device etc. However, if you plan to stay alive after thousands of climbs, it is important to stay humble and encourage your partner to be alert and help avoid major risks. When the Swedish national team climbed with Francois Legrand, 3-times World Champion, he asked them to check his knot!

 We believe that the most frequented error is poor communication. In many other sports performed in pairs, such as diving, you always check the equipment of your partner and control the use of commands. This "buddy-check" is a matter of reducing the human error and increase communication. In climbing, the risks can be greatly reduced if both partners check the climbing knot, the belay-device and repeat commands before starting to climb. Also, if somebody approaches you and gives you a safety tip, don't be offended but show that you appreciate it and pass on the favour to other climbers. Below follows 5 important pointers, which can help to increase climbing safety for you and your partner.
1. Belaying

  • Belay technique - Belay dynamically to avoid static falls. A static belay combined with a leg behind the rope can create a swing that brings you head first into the wall.
  • Gri-Gri technique - Common mistakes are a rope that is too thin, twisted safety-carabiner and letting go of the rope with the safety hand.
  • Sloppy belay - Watch the climber and comment on unsafe climbing, such as leg inside rope.

2. Cleaning the route

  • Anchor - Always use two safety points. If there is only one, try to use the last quickdraw as a back-up.
  • Commands - Always repeat commands, such as "safe", before giving rope or going off belay.
  • Coming down - Keep you lower hand (i.e. the safety hand) as low as possible so that you can feel if the rope is ending.
  • Last carabiner - Cleaning an overhanging route may cause a swing. Be sure to unclip the belayer's end of the rope before unclipping the last carabiner.

3. Runouts/Scrambling/Soloing
 Almost every climbing day you put yourself at great risk while doing an easy run-out or scramble. A small miss happening, such as a slip or a hold breaking, can lead to serious injury or death. This happened to an 8a friend of ours while doing 3a run-out, which ended in a helicopter rescue. Remember, your skills as a climber do not make up for loose rock.
Solo climbing involves enormous risks and it is always unpleasant to witness an accident. Soloing at a popular crag without your own rescue team is therefore unfair to other climbers at the crag. It can be seen as putting your own thrill over the enjoyment of fellow climbers. So, if there is someone soloing at the crag, it is OK to tell that climber that you feel uncomfortable.

4. Loose rock
 At sport climbing crags most loose rocks have been removed by the area-developers. However, there is always potential for more rocks to come down as the routes are climbed by many and different types of climbers. As a climber you've probably had small pebbles and rocks come off when you tried using them as a foot- or hand-holds. Although less common, this happens also with large rocks, potentially causing severe injury to climbers. So watch out, especially in areas with cold winters, where ice forming in cracks can "push" a previous solid rock outwards and loosen it.

5. Breaking carabiners and other equipment
 Climbing material is rigorously tested to fit the high standards. However, as soon as you start using the material, wear and tear lower the standards. Therefore:

  • Top carabiner - hang-dogging in the top carabiner quickly wears it out and lowers the quality.safety.jpg
  • Bolts and hangers - Bolts rarely break unless they're old and rusty. More common is that loose hangers drop. Every climber should have a fixed key #17 in his or her personal equipment for tightening loose hangers.fast-nyckel.jpg
  • The rope - Use different ends of the rope for repeated leads and cut 5m of the ends of the rope at regular intervals to keep the rope safe.
  • Harness - The part of the harness that is worn the most is the loop.