09 Dec Rock Climbing and Safety
“It is the end of the spring, and you may be wandering what to do when the spring comes. Rock Climbing is a great way to go outdoors and enjoy the thrill of vertical activities on sunny days. One important aspect for this activity to be enjoyable is to be safe and sound. In order to achieve this goal, I will explain some basic procedures for preparing yourself for rock climbing and belaying your partner.
First I will begin with the instruction on how to handle a rope and attach it to your harness. When you take the rope out of the bag, lay it down on the ground on a clear area. Watch out for any sharp edges, such as rocks, that may cause mechanical damage or tear the outer shear of the rope. Some of this damage may not be noticed visually, but it will increase the chances of tear during a fall. Never step on the rope, because this may cause some mechanical damage to the inner core (the strongest part of the rope). Keep in mind that the rope and the whole climbing system (the chain of devices connected in the process) is only as strong as its weakest point. For example, when the rope is stretched under extreme stress, such as falling during a belay, the forces on the rope will be multiplied and it will break at its weakest point. Small unnoticed damages will be increased and the rope may fail to absorb the excessive forces.
Don’t put the rope near any chemical substances, such as a car battery. If there is a leakage, the acid from the battery will deteriorate the nylon material of the rope. When handling the rope, check for any strange bulky parts, puffs, boogers or soft spots, and examine the rope’s surface fibers. Gloves should not be worn to do this, as feeling the rope is important. Feel the rope for fuzziness and changes in diameter- swelling or shrinkage- due to damage. Also feel for any changes in stiffness, as these occur at any point of damage. Make it a habit to study the rope carefully. Your life depends on it. If a puff, booger, or any marked change in diameter or texture exists, it is definitely time to cut the rope.
The next step is to tie a knot on the rope in on order to connect it to your harness. Ties are essential to successful rigging and should be as simple to untie as they are to tie. You don’t need a vast repertoire of knots or ties. Knowing a few ties and knowing them well is far better than being familiar with dozens of ties about which one feels only vaguely comfortable. In our case we will use the Figure 8 knot. It is one if the stronger knots used in climbing. Simply form a large loop when tying the knot on a bight. Feed the end of the loop back through the first part of the knot, then loop it back over the two loops thus formed, and pull the slack out using the two loops formed. Note that if one loop is damaged, the other is directly affected also.
Attach a carabiner through the knot and the loop of the harness and make sure that the locking sleeve at the carabiner gate is locked. Put your harness on, check all connections and secure them before climbing or belaying.
These simple procedures in the preparation for rock climbing are important elements of your safety and healthier well being before engaging in the world of vertical dimensions. A close attention to detail should be maintained at all times. Safety is paramount, especially when it comes to belaying your partner”, says Ivan Kristoff
Note that three climbers have died from falling down in this area…. but three of my friends photographers were tightly secured with ropes… just to take this photo…solo