Remember the risks we take.

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.

Night Riding

Thanks to the unseasonable warmth that Calgary has been experiencing recently, I’ve been able to get out riding  a lot more. Despite the spring temperatures, we’re still living in a winter solar cycle, so it gets dark a lot earlier than it gets cold. As nice as it is to see so many people out enjoying the trails, there are a few things that drive me absolutely up the wall when it comes to night cycling.

1. Get an appropriate front light. Your 100 lumen headlamp set on strobe mode isn’t doing anyone any favors. Not only have you blinded oncoming traffic, you’re destroying your own night vision.I should be able to see you from a reasonable distance, but I don’t need to be able to see you from Mars.

2. Red Blinky goes on the back. Once again with the ultrabright rear blinky. Not necessary, and almost more of a hazard than a help. Think of it like a car. White light up front, red light in the rear.

3.Get a bell and use it. Not only are you legally required to have a noise maker of some variety, it decreases your chances of some surprised biker or pedestrian swerving into you.

4.  Stay on the right hand side. This goes for pedestrians as well. Treat the trail like a road. Stay on your own side.

5. Dogs. Keep them on a leash! walk them on the outside of the trail. Put yourself between your dog and people trying to pass. I get that you have the right to walk your dog or whatever, but for god’s sake don’t compromise everyone else’s safety for it.

It’s not difficult to get along and share the trail as long as we don’t ride like idiots. Lets stay safe and stay happy.