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Climbing Safety Starts Before The Climb: How to Stay Safe While Climbing

Last updated January 24, 2022| Learning

Climbing is a great sport that many people have taken up. It’s no wonder climbing has grown in popularity with its excitement and exhilaration.

Experienced climbers know that there are risks associated with climbing. Failure to take safety precautions can result in injury, or worse. Though it’s important to make sure your climbing gear is safe for use, safety includes more than equipment inspections alone. Safety also means being aware of your surroundings and what you can do to minimize risk during climbing activities.

Here are some things you need to know about climbing safety!

Climbing Safety Starts Before The Climb: How to Stay Safe While Climbing

Inform Others

Rule number 1 in climbing: never go climbing alone without informing others. This

Let others know where you’re going to be climbing and when you’re supposed to return. Make sure to follow your planned route, so if anything happens then it is likely that someone will know where you are. If you would deviate and get lost, it will be far more difficult for help to reach you.

Also, keep in mind cellphone reception may be bad at your climbing location.

If you can, always bring someone with you when you climb.

Leave Your Ego at Home

When climbing, there’s no need to try and be a daredevil. There’s no place for your ego when scaling boulders and rock faces.

Safety must always be at the forefront of climbing. Professional climbers know that if something is too dangerous to attempt, don’t do it. Showing off can result in nothing but injury and hospitalization.

Its true climbing is a sport that can be exciting and adrenaline-inducing, but it also requires the utmost self-control which means leaving your ego behind for safety reasons. The climbing community has seen many accidents when people refuse to listen to their climbing partner or guide’s warnings about an area they shouldn’t be climbing in.

This is why climbing safety starts before the climb even begins. If you’re unsure about a route or spot, find out more information first and then make your decision accordingly. It’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to climbing.

Your safety should take precedence over your focus on arguing or confronting, so before you start a climb, leave any disagreements behind.

Climbing Safety Starts Before The Climb: How to Stay Safe While Climbing

Know Your Physical Limits

When climbing, a climber has to be cognizant of the fact that climbing is both physically and mentally challenging. Climbers need to know their physical limits and climbing ability. Climbing safety starts from climbing safely and within one’s limits.

A climbing partner can help a climber identify his/her physical limitations by observing the climber in action on different climbs, identifying what type of climbing activity is best suited for his or her abilities, and monitoring climbing equipment to ensure it is up to standard before every climb.

Pulled tendons and ligaments and injuries from falling rocks are some of the most common injuries.

To learn more about physical climbing safety, check out our article about 8 ways to prevent injury when climbing.

Be Aware of Your Environment

The climbing environment is another key part of climbing safety. Plan your climb with careful consideration of the weather and other environmental factors.

When climbing outside, there are numerous environmental hazards that you should be aware of and take steps to avoid or mitigate the damage they can cause. Before climbing outside, examine your surroundings for any hazards such as strong winds, loose rocks on the ground from rain, ice patches in places where it is shady and dark, or loose handholds.

If you are climbing with a group or partner, know the experience and level of expertise of each person.

If you’ve never climbed in a certain area seek advice from others who have experience with the location.

Communicate

Communication is an essential part of any climb’s safety. You need to communicate with your climbing partner before, during and after the climb to avoid any accidents.

  • Before climbing: One of the best ways is to talk about what type of climbing you are doing, so each person knows their role in safety on the climb.
  • During climbing: Be sure to communicate anything you see or feel that might affect your climbing partner’s safety. This includes loose rocks, out of date gear, and other climbers on a different route than yours.
  • After climbing: It is important to debrief on the climb and any issues that arose during the past climb and how you can improve them the next time.

Communication with climbing partners, locals or other climbers can help identify possible hazards before they become an issue. This will keep everyone safe from accidents like a rockfall or rock slide, which happens when rocks break off from a face due to natural erosion, climbing too close to it, or other climber’s actions. This can cause serious injury, or worse.

The more communication you have in climbing situations, the better your chance of staying safe.

Climbing Safety Starts Before The Climb: How to Stay Safe While Climbing

Be Fit to Climb

Lastly, keep in mind your (medical) fitness. Climbing is a strenuous activity and you should assess if you’re fit enough before heading out to the climbing location.

Don’t go climbing if you feel under the weather or you’re recovering from a previous injury. Before endeavoring on a climb perform some stretches so your muscles won’t be stiff and will be more prepared for the strain of climbing.

If you have the flu or are recovering from an injury it’s best to wait until you’re healthy enough to do the activity. Additionally, if you feel under the weather or don’t feel like climbing it’s best to go climbing another day.

Climbing can be an uplifting experience and is often called a religious experience. Take steps to prepare for your climb. Make sure you are physically able and aware of surroundings, as safety starts before the climb.

Have fun!

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