Trying harder and harder rock climbs can mean you take greater and greater risks. Managing safety in rock climbing is one of the key factors to rock climbing safely. Whilst for many this section may seem like we are teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, but taking time to increase our awareness of risk and safety will help you grow and develop as a rock climber whilst minimising the risk of injury or accident. Often It’s about common sense, when you look at a hazard (like being high off the ground) and the risk (of falling) you will consider ways to reduce the risk.
Many of the dangers at the crag can affect the climber, the belayer and even bystanders. So it is important to keep an eye on the situation around you as it develops and adapt your plans to suit. The key to climbing safely at the beginning of your climbing career is to choose the right crag, grade and route.
Choosing the right climb may seem difficult. Guidebooks are a starting point but local knowledge can be invaluable, so talk to people you meet at the crag or wall, the sales assistant in an outdoor shop and instructors or outdoor centres, most will happily give advice on venues. UKClimbing.com logbook also provides a wealth of information of routes and even some beta. Eventually you need to assess a crag or a route’s suitability for yourself. Often, just by being aware of a hazard will greatly reduce the risk of an accident.
Its the risks you don’t know you are taking that are likely to kill you.
We’ll consider a simple break-down of Indoor Climbing, Outdoor Climbing, covering Top Roping, Bouldering, Trad Climbing and Sport Climbing. Examining hazards these expose us to and any measures we can take to reduce the risk and the residual risk after we’ve taken action. Many of these things are common sense.
You may find the technical rope work and risk management side of climbing daunting, but by becoming more aware of the ropework skills and sound judgement you need to avoid unnecessary risk, you will become a safer more competent climber. Just like training for climbing and using efficient climbing technique, this requires regular considered and deliberate practice. Only then will these skills become second nature and your safety will increase. For novices and intermediate climber it is sometimes better to spend some of this time learning ropework and safety skills from a professional instructors. This is one area of your climbing for which there is no substitute for informed instruction.