Mistakes in climbing
Climbing is an intrinsically dangerous sport where objective dangers linked to the environment and subjective dangers inherent in the human component are affected. While in alpine climbing the objective factors are particularly severe: falling rocks, landslides, sudden weather changes, avalanches, etc. in sport climbing on cliffs the objective dangers are greatly reduced even if they do not disappear completely and then almost disappear in the case of indoor climbing.
Certainly the falling rocks from the top can also occur on the cliff but it is a rare phenomenon since the roads are normally cleaned first. Even the breakdown of stops and bolts is possible but is confined to the hypothesis of cliffs where there is little or no maintenance with an obvious state of abandonment of on-site protections.
I have only mentioned a few examples to make it clear that in sport climbing what most affects in determining the dangerousness of a situation is the human element in terms of errors, false beliefs, distractions and wrong behaviors.
Unfortunately around the cliffs you can see all sorts of colors: climbers who make sure their partner is barefoot (in case of flight you are projected towards the rock and you have to oppose it with your feet), others even make you sit safe away from the wall .., old equipment, rough maneuvers and so on. Most of the time it ends well, but the patron saint of the cliffs can sometimes have the bales turned and then the error leads to very serious consequences.
The 6 most serious mistakes to avoid in sport climbing
Incorrect node or node not closed.
It seems incredible but it is the number one cause of fatal accidents on the cliff. The routine and the distraction linked to the repetitiveness of the gesture are to blame. Experienced and famous climbers over the years have run into this sneaky and terrible accident. Here you can read a personal experience of mine, fortunately successful.
Solution: cross-check with the partner before leaving, avoid sweaters or sweatshirts that cover the view of the harness near the knot, do not distract the partner while he is tying.
Incorrect positioning of the rope inside the insurance brake.
It is one of the main causes of serious accidents in sport climbing. Often the brakes for insurance are not used according to the indications given by the manufacturers. The classic mistake is that of the introduction of the rope backwards in the Gri-Gri, thus making any locking impossible.
Solution: mutual check before leaving, do not distract the partner while inserting the rope in the brake.
Don’t knot at the end of the rope.
You can discuss hours on how to build the stop, on the best way to protect the street, on what the passage to be careful of, etc. but it is much more likely to suffer a serious injury in the descent because the rope ends and comes out of the brake of the insurer because he did not make the final knot to the rope.
Solution: tie one end of the rope to the rope bag or yourself. Always get used to it even when the length of the street is visibly shorter than the length of the middle of the rope.
Rope behind the foot while climbing from the first.
Every time you pass a traverse, a steep step, you are at risk of placing your foot in front of the rope. In the event of a fall, the rope will “trip over” and make you fall head down with the serious risk of banging your head.
Solution: Always keep an eye on the rope while climbing and if it is in the wrong position, correct the gesture and put your feet in the right place, even if this will make you lose the sequence, it’s worth it.
Poor communication or lack of understanding between peers.
Perhaps you are climbing in the valley of the wind or you are making a path of 40 meters and you can no longer hear your companion.
Solution: Before leaving, tell your partner what you want to do once in the chain. If you are still “within earshot” clearly communicate with your insurer by telling them what you are doing: “I am in a hard stretch, eye”, “I am parked safely, I have to make the maneuver to pass the rope in the ring closed ”, etc. Avoid surprising your partner.
Insert the rope in the return in the right direction.
Always make sure that the lever of the carabiner is always positioned in the opposite direction to the direction of progression. In practice, the rope that comes out of the return must always look us in the face. If you try on the ground to do a test and put it backwards, pulling the rope towards you as if you wanted it to come out of the delay, it really comes out.
Solution: While climbing, pay particular attention to the carabiners and always use quickdraws with a movable carabiner on the spit side (carabiner at the top) and flies side rope immobilized on the webbing with appealing STRING.
To conclude, after analyzing the main errors in climbing and their solutions one by one, I want to open a small parenthesis on the use of helmets at the cliff. Personally I put it only when I climb in the mountains but never in the cliff. Surely I’m wrong, I admit it, bad habits die hard. It is a fact that those who practice mountaineering wear a helmet much more often than those who practice sport climbing. But why? Yet even at the crag you can fly and crash into the rock, fall upside down, can your partner lose material (did you ever get a Grigri in the head?). And the falling rocks even if rare where you put it? It is always possible …
On a cliff with or without a helmet? It is a choice to make with one’s own head regardless of aesthetics. It is important to be aware of the risk of not using it.