Rock climbing is an adventurous activity, loved by adrenaline junkies around the world. However, without stringent safety practices, it can turn out to be extremely dangerous. Here are a few tips one can follow to accomplish the task safely...
Rock climbing is not child's play. One has to be very cautious when indulging in this activity. Even a slight mistake can cause serious injury, which may prove to be fatal. Several enthusiastic individuals have taken up this sport as it is highly challenging and allows a person to test his own limits.
However, its increasing popularity has resulted in higher incidences of injuries pertaining to this sport. It is, therefore, imperative that one follows preset safety measures to ensure safe climbing.
Rock climbing can be performed either indoors or outdoors. Outdoor climbing is far more dangerous than indoor climbing because of the lack of additional protection for the climber. If you are interested in this adventurous activity, you can ensure protection by following the measures given ahead.
For better understanding, we have segregated them as general and specific safety tips. General tips must be followed by indoor as well as outdoor climbers, whereas specific tips must be followed depending on whether the activity is performed on a rock wall or in a simulated climbing gym.
Rock Climbing: Play by the Rules
☞ Before the Activity
The first requirement for safe climbing is that you have to be mentally prepared and physically fit before beginning this exhaustive task. With a sound mind and body, it will be easier for you to handle difficult situations, thereby aiding you in escaping mishaps.
Purchase new equipment on your own and do not borrow it from others. Make sure you have purchased good quality equipment and backup materials to ensure protection. Cheap and low quality equipment can land you in trouble.
Select your climbing shoes with utmost care because uncomfortable shoes make climbing difficult. Look for shoes that provide proper grip when going up on a rock wall. It is wise to keep an extra pair of shoes so that you can change into them if the shoes you have put on gradually wear out.
List all the necessary items you will require during the climbing session, and pack them appropriately so that you do not miss out anything. Even the smallest missed equipment can put your life in danger.
Ensure that you have all the required knowledge about the climbing equipment. Having good equipment will not serve any purpose if you do not know how to use them at the right time.
It is important to acquire the necessary skills and learn different climbing techniques to prepare yourself for handling difficult and dangerous situations.
Learning the skills from a professional is something you must definitely do prior to taking up this activity. You can also practice climbing on different rock surfaces to sharpen your skills.
Choose a climbing partner with similar experience. Someone who can lend a helping hand in tough situations and not be a burden due to lack of experience.
Maintaining balance is extremely essential during climbing. Practice exercises like the one-legged stand to improve your balance.
Perform stretching exercises so as to prepare your body for the exhaustive task before you begin. This way you will condition the body and prevent the occurrence of sprains.
☞ During the Activity
Wear a helmet to protect yourself from loose rocks that may fall off and hit your head causing injury.
Plan each move before making it on the rock wall. Having a clear picture in mind will land you at the right place safely.
Check the harness, rope, belay device, knots, and other equipment before climbing and also intermittently en route. Replace equipment whenever you feel they are not working properly or are worn out.
Be careful when climbing or belaying. Be responsible enough to be attentive, specially when belaying because of the risk involved. Any carelessness on your part may result in disastrous consequences.
Maintain the position of the rope over your leg. Having it behind or on the sides can flip the climber upside down, causing serious head injury.
Always use two or three anchors to keep you safe and alive. Remember, to sail through such an activity safely, it is better to have multiples of everything, starting right from anchors to knots in the rope.
Ascertain the appropriateness of each hand and foothold before moving forward because loose rocks may make you fall.
Water is essential to keep you hydrated.
So, do not neglect to drink water before and while performing this activity. Carry a bottle of water to prevent problems like blurry vision, dizziness, instability, etc. Facing any of these in the middle of nowhere is definitely not good.
Make it a habit to use complete and appropriate verbal commands like 'off-belay' and 'climbing' to maintain uniformity for easy understanding. Random commands can most likely land you in trouble due to misunderstanding between you and your partner.
Be aware of your comfort level and limits. If, at any point, you feel that it is not possible to climb further, take a break and relax.
Pointers for Climbers
☞ Outdoor Rock Climbing
Do not forget to inquire about the weather of the location where you have decided to go rock climbing.
Study the rock wall so that you know how it is, and decide the route you are going to take. A steep wall calls for a climbing technique that is quite different from what you would use with a dirt-filled rock wall. So, figure the technique you are going to use beforehand.
Always give the details of your trip to family and friends so that they are aware of where you are headed to, and are able to look for you if circumstances go wrong.
When climbing outdoors, you are likely to reach far heights on the rock wall. Avoid looking at the base because you may feel dizzy, and your balance might go for a toss.
Look for creatures like snakes, lizards, insects, etc., that usually reside in rock crevices. If you encounter any of these, stay calm and alert, and do not provoke them to harm you.
Call for help from your companions if you face any problem when climbing.
Few Places for Outdoor Rock Climbing
☞ For Beginners
The Alps, France
Railay/ Krabi Area, Thailand
Ozark National Park, Missouri, USA
Great Langdale, United Kingdom
Yosemite National Park, California, USA
☞ For Experts
Las Torres, Patagonia
Rocklands, South Africa
The Ironclads Range, Colorado
The Stolen Chimney, Utah, USA
☞ Indoor Rock Climbing
When bouldering indoors, stay in your designated area and do not cross the set height limit. You cannot ignore the chances of injury, even if there is mat below to protect you.
Ensure the protective mat is right below you till you are done with the activity. Absent-minded fellow climbers may take it away before you are actually done, subjecting you to unexpected injury.
Indoor climbing gives you the opportunity to get down of the rock wall and take breaks. So, make use of it when you feel like. This is specially helpful in regaining strength for new climbers.
Several experts and beginners participate together in indoor climbing gyms. Grab this opportunity to observe and learn how experts safeguard themselves during this task.
Some Climbing Gyms in USA
Stone Summit, Atlanta
Stone Gardens, Seattle
Brooklyn Boulders, New York
Mesa Rim Climbing Center, California
It will also be wise to carry a first-aid kit in your bag pack to be able to provide emergency treatment. The above safety measures will definitely reduce the risk of mishaps, if followed religiously. Above all, to be able to reach heights safely, what a climber requires the most, is the confidence to make to it happen so as to emerge as a winner.