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Climbing Safely is Your Responsibility

Use Your Own Good Judgment to Stay Safe Climbing


Climbing Safely is Your Responsibility

Eric Hörst climbs confidently but safely on Cathedral Ledge in New Hampshire.

Photograph © Stewart M. Green
Brian Shelton belays Bill Springer on the southwest corner of The Headstone.

The Headstone (5.6) is one of Joshua Tree's classic face climbs.

Photograph © Stewart M. Green
Climbing Safely is Your Responsibility

Climbers rappelling in tandem off Wilson Arch near Moab, Utah.

Photograph © Stewart M. Green

Read the following tips to stay safe climbing before you use any of the information on climbing at About.com.

Climbing is a Dangerous Sport

Climbing is not something to be taken lightly. I warn everyone who wants to climb that every time you go out climbing, whether it be a quick bouldering session, a fun afternoon at a top-rope crag, or a technical scramble up a mountain peak, you or your partners may be seriously injured or die. That's a fact. An uncomfortable fact, yes, but very true.

Climbing@About.com Is Not a Complete Source

Remember that all the information presented here at Climbing@About.com is not a complete source of climbing instruction, it's only a finger pointing you in the right direction, nor does the information here provide the experience or knowledge gleaned from personal instruction by a climbing guide or climbing school. Do not depend on any of the information here or any other climbing books or magazines that you read for your personal safety.

Your Safety Depends on You

Your climbing safety depends solely and only on You, no one else. Take responsibility for getting proper climbing instruction in establishing belay and top-rope anchors, climbing equipment use, rope handling, rappelling, climbing movement and techniques, and all other aspects of climbing by taking classes, hiring a guide for a day, or going out with experienced climbers as their rock climbing apprentice.

Using Good Judgment

Your climbing safety depends on your good judgment. Your judgment is your responsibility. Climbing safety is a lot about judgment-deciding to turn around in bad weather or lightning; backing up bogus anchors; creating redundancy in anchors and climbing systems; climbing with someone who is experienced; and not letting ego dictate the right decisions. Your climbing safety depends on your experience and having a realistic assessment and appraisal of your climbing ability and skills. These include your physical characteristics and overall fitness, your experience, your confidence, your technical ability, and your judgment.

Make Your Own Decisions

Remember that most climbing information is subjective and prone to personal interpretation based on your experience. Climbing routes can be underrated in both difficulty and danger. Information here or what you find elsewhere may be inaccurate, misleading, or just plain wrong. It's up to you to filter through it all and make your own decisions. It's all up to you. Exercise your routefinding judgment to figure out where a route goes, whether you're up to its challenge, and if your experience and ability is enough to safely guard and protect you from the many hazards and risks of climbing.

Hazards and Risks of Climbing

The hazards and risks of climbing include lots of objective dangers, including but not limited to:

Hire a Guide to Learn Safe Climbing

You will be safer when you go climbing if you realize the limitations of your knowledge and experience. If you have any questions about climbing, then ask someone. Experienced climbers are always willing to answer questions, give advice, confirm ratings of local routes, and give you extra beta. Take advantage of their expertise. At Front Range Climbing Company, a Colorado-based guide service that I work with, we take many newbie climbers out for intensive instructional sessions so they can learn all the basics of climbing as well as more advanced rope, anchor, protection, belaying, and techniques. Most climbing areas have guides and instructors available. I highly recommend that if you're serious about climbing and being safe, that you hire a guide or instructor to learn the ropes and to become proficient in climbing safely. Your life depends on it!

Accidents Happen

If you have any doubts or misgivings about any part of climbing, then do not attempt it. It's better not to do something than to do something wrong. Accidents happen. That's life and that's climbing. Be careful out there on the rocks and peaks and don't do anything foolish if you want to live long and prosper.

You Assume All Responsibility

By using this climbing website and all the information it contains, you assume all responsibility for your own climbing safety and sole responsibility for your own actions. Climbing safely my friends.

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