Over the last two weeks in my local climbing area, there have been two serious accidents, resulting in two deaths and a climber left in critical condition. I did not personally know any of the three involved in the recent accidents, but we had mutual friends. Events like this shake the whole community and serves as a grim reminder to us all that the sport we choose to spend so much time doing, carries inherent risks.
The loss of life in this community hits close to home, for all climbers. We’ve all made bad decisions, neglected to do safety checks, assumed everything was all right, and many of us get lucky. These incidents serve as a grim reminder that we are not invincible, that even experienced individuals slip up, and the consequences are very real.
Climbing is about controlling variables, minimizing risk and finding ways to move safely through otherwise dangerous terrain. Maintaining controlling, creating checks and balances, and working to maintain our own safety and the safety of those around us is paramount. It doesn’t matter how many times you have done something, how hard you can send, what peaks you’ve scaled, maintaining vigilance in our safety systems is so important.
With these accidents making national news, and having had my own recent close call at the forefront of my mind, it’s caused me to do some reflection. Why do I continue to take part in an activity that carries such a high risk?
I climb because it pushes me. I climb because it lets me explore my physical and mental limitations. I climb because it takes me places I would never otherwise see. I climb for the sense of gratifying fatigue, for the sense of accomplishment, for the challenge.
Each climber has their own reasons, and these should inspire us to reach new heights, but let us not forget that our lives are in the hands of ourselves and the partners we choose to share the mountains with. Safety Checks only take a minute. Triple check your anchors and knots. Stay safe in the mountains friends.
For those who knew the two climbers who died in last week’s accident, you have my profound condolences.