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Are we really prepared???

Submitted by verticallaw on 2002-06-07

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I wanted to post this experience that I had on the weekend. This is not a post for debate on responsibility at the crags but more a friendly reminder that anyone could find themselves in the situation that I encountered on the weekend........ I went to the crags with a friend of mine to go and work on some single pitch sport routes. It was a o.k. day but nothing to write home about weather wise. The crag that we went to has about a 1 hour approach mostly uphill (grueling). We arrived at the crags and found that there was one other party already there. The party consisted of 4 climbers approximately 18 years of age (no offence to the younger climbers online) The ability level of the party was low and obviously so. They had been up the night before drinking (judging by the beer cans by their camp) They had 1 climber on the wall and the other three where at the top instructing him. I could hear the fearful yells from the climber on the wall and I asked politely if everything was o.k. the response that I received was "were fine screw off!" This concerned me as the noise from the fellow on the wall was growing more panicked. I set up my rap gear and walked to the edge of the cliff just in time to see the kid on the wall drop his rope (he was stationed and they where teaching him how to change the rope over to rap down)and no one had informed him to tie 1 end to his harness so that the rope would not fall if dropped. The kid on the wall went into panic mode and started hitting the gear on his harness. The other climbers in his party where yelling instructions at him and he was getting very confused. He was not using locking biners on his station slings and with him moving around and hitting his gear one of the slings unclipped from his harness and he rested on the other sling. I jumped off the top of the crag with my rap gear on and managed to station into him and get him set up for me to lower him with my gear. I managed to calm him down enough to talk to me while I set up the gear. While he talked I found out that this was his first time at a crag and he had been to the gym only twice (HE HAD NEVER STATIONED BEFORE!!). I lowered him to safety ( my partner had raped down after me to receive him at the bottom. As I lowered myself off I realized that I had caught my hand between the rope and the rock when I jumped off and had torn off 2 knuckles down to the bone. When I got down and started patching up my hand the kids partners arrived at the bottom (they had to walk around as they only brought 1 rope) the leader of the party began to give the kid a hard time for screwing up!! I lost it and went up one side of the guy and down the other. I not so gently reminded him that if it wasn't for his incompetence that his friend would not have been in the situation to begin with. My hand is healing although there will be scarring. I reclimbed the pitch later and realized that I had come very close to losing my finger. I would however do exactly what i did again if the situation arose. My point is this: To all of the climbers that are new.... BE CAREFULL you only have 1 life and a small amount of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Respect the fact that what you are doing will not hesitate to kill you. This kid was lucky if we had not been there he probably would have cratered and that would be the end ( or a 1 hour hike with a injured man) To all the experienced climbers: this could happen to you!!! are you prepared to put your life on the line for a unknown stranger simply because you can?? are we prepared for disaster to strike when we go to the crags?? One can only hope that the answer is yes. I do not know the fellow that we helped and now thinking back I did not ask his name and nor him mine. I am glad that we all escaped virtually unscathed but it has made me think long and hard about the responsibility we undertake when we as climbers step foot on a crag. Mike

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