/ Ethics of 'children' leading hard routes
But the question goes something like this.
We (being Western countries as a whole) prevent or discourage non-adults (usually defined as below a certain age, which varies mainly between 16 and 21) from potentially dangerous activities like car driving, drinking, owning a weapon, serving actively in the army, engaging in sex, voting....
So thinking about the recent tragedy, some questions.
Should lead climbing outdoors have a minimum age limit? under certain conditions?
What about climbing walls? do they already have a minimum age for leading? (I never really looked)
Should UKC show clips of non-adults lead climbing? Is it analogous to juvenile porn?
Personally, I would not let my kids lead, except under the easiest of conditions so they can learn the process: it's like allowing them to drive around an empty parking area.
To repeat, these are not my personal positions! But what do you think?
Lets not reinvent the wheel. The BMC and various training books have clear info on this including the legal perspective.
This would be a great troll if I had not called "troll" within two posts!
Is this a joke? Kids can get hurt top roping too. In fact they can get hurt walking to the crag.
Juvenile porn! Ey?
I don't think it is.
If this is a parody of the top climbers in helmets, logic in a blender thread then it succeeds in asking the same style stupid questions.
But you've let yourself down with the 'personally' vs 'these are not my personal positions' contradiction.
For what it's worth, I don't really think this has to do with the recent tragedy - that wasn't an issue of a bad judgement call on a dangerous route or someone setting off up a serious trad route because they've been encouraged by ambitious parents / coaches and they aren't mature enough to understand the consequences, it was a mistake with basic safety equipment, and while people may argue about who should have been responsible for checking the safety equipment, that's quite a different issue.
Other than that, I don't children leading trad is a blanket bad idea - I can imagine letting your kid lead a pitch of a classic mountain diff at a comparatively young age being a great experience for all concerned. As far as hard / dangerous routes at their limit goes, it's hard to say from an outside perspective when someone has the maturity to understand what they're letting themself in for and make an informed decision. I know people who are thirty who probably shouldn't be allowed near trad gear...
Hi mike, it's an interesting question/ set of questions.
I think that the allowing people to participate in dangerous activities is critical for development - what the level of danger is, and the age at which kids get to choose are hard to define.
No need to just say hard/dangerous climbs though - cycling, climbing trees, swimming, walking to school, all car significant risk.
You overestimate people, I think.
The BMC (to paraphrase) says that all participants should know the dangers and it is a decision for parents and in loco parentis. My questions: is it enough, and at what age can a child make a proper judgement?
The same applies to any sport, surely? In the last 12 months my son now aged 14 has been in hospital twice:
On the C2C bike ride he lost concentration on a downhill and crashed, knocking himself unconscious. He is now considerably more circumspect when descending hills.
Skiing in France he took a jump, for which he had no training or experience and landed badly, compressing a vertebra and spending 5 days in a French hospital. I'm sure that next time we ski he will be considerably more circumspect, especially when tempted to pull stunts.
Thankfully neither incident has caused him permanent harm but his experience is now considerably better than that of his peers, which can only be a positive thing. We certainly wouldn't consider curtailing his cycling or skiing.
Look at one of North Wales leading climbers, been leading mid to high E grades since 14-15? always had a mature head on his shoulders, more experienced that people twice his age.
I don't like the 'youngest ..' approach.. but think they should just be allowed to do what their judgement allows, and their parents.
Is teaching a child to lead safely more or less dangerous than happily soloing scrambles with a child? I've taken my godson climbing since he was 6 and while he is fine seconding easy stuff, he prefers scrambling since he doesn't have to worry about gear etc. Is there a risk he'll fall? Of course. Is that risk justifiable? Probably. When he was 8 he asked me to teach him to abseil. Which I did, but I taught him how to tie a prusik and sent him down with no safety rope. Irresponsible? Not at all, I'm teaching him self reliance and he loved it.
I have a similar attitude to most things. Better they learn to do it safely and supervised, than either be forbidden due to hazards, or go off and try it themselves. In the recent case it seems that the lad was indeed doing things as safely as everyone thought possible, under supervision of parents, and in a group of other youngsters. Accidents happen sadly, but they can't be a reason to impose any bans.
No. I said for my kids I have a clear position for good reasons I think. And I think that adults (like the helmets issue) can do whatever stupid things to themselves that they want.
But I also think that we (being society) should protect vulnerable people, but in this case I'm not sure how.
> The BMC and various training books have clear info on this including the legal perspective.
> The BMC (to paraphrase) says that all participants should know the dangers and it is a decision for parents and in loco parentis. My questions: is it enough, and at what age can a child make a proper judgement?
The age at which a child is able to make a proper judgement is subject to a whole host of variables, which are so wide-ranging as to make any single answer (and I think any set of rules) pretty meaningless.
> The age at which a child is able to make a proper judgement is subject to a whole host of variables, which are so wide-ranging as to make any single answer (and I think any set of rules) pretty meaningless.
Although I agree basically with you, it's interesting that the law does not generally agree. Climbing is a lot like sexual activity I think. Great fun, with risks that can be avoided with precautions. Yet it's banned for kids. As is promoting underage sex (hence my reductio ad absurdum question about UKC video clips)
You'd let a 3 year old use their judgment?
That's where the parents' judgement comes in.
Compared with tree climbing, cycling, playing in rivers - even hill walking in bad conditions - lead climbing outdoors under adult supervision is one of the safest things active kids can get up to. I think the idea of a ban or formal rules is just daft.
I think, in general, banning something until a certain age and then making it a free for all is a bad plan. Far better to have the freedom to introduce things gradually, at a pace suitable for the individual child.
Mind you, I'd also suggest that older kids (say secondary school age, for the sake of argument) are capable of taking on far more responsibility than we (as a society) tend to allow them to these days.
Lead climbing? Well, I'm certainly not about to push mine into it. But if they want to learn how to place gear at ground level, practice leading a horizontal pitch at ground level and then lead a very easy scramble, I wouldn't stop them either.
Is it [non-adults lead climbing] analogous to juvenile porn?
My considered reply is : No, you fecking eejit.
No which is why he said and their parents.
Parental consent and in loco parentis are there for when the children are unable to make an informed decision.
As pointed out earlier there are many juniors climbing well into the E's and 8's in sport.
Due to the fact that the only tragedy to do with juniors i can remember ( i may be wrong of course ) is the recent one and that wasn't a hard route anyway this is a moot point.
It doesn't need any legislation as it is being self 'regulated' well enough as it is. Parents do tend to want to keep their kids alive in my experience and will let them take risks that they think they are capable of dealing with.
> That's where the parents' judgement comes in.
And how do you handle the fact that there 'bad' parents out there? (they are stupid, ignorant, evil, uncaring, unprotective, etc etc) Should there be a legal backstop (as in the law about sexual activity)?
> Although I agree basically with you, it's interesting that the law does not generally agree. Climbing is a lot like sexual activity I think. Great fun, with risks that can be avoided with precautions. Yet it's banned for kids. As is promoting underage sex (hence my reductio ad absurdum question about UKC video clips)
But the law takes a simplistic approach to this because you would need a very good knowledge of a child to be able to make judgements about their level of maturity - hopefully a parent or perhaps teacher can be in a better position to do this.
> Is it [non-adults lead climbing] analogous to juvenile porn?
> My considered reply is : No, you fecking eejit.
In fairness i think he was making clumsy attempt to say that by showing 13yr olds cranking 8c or climbing E7 will it influence kids who aren't ready for that to go and give it a try.
I may be wrong, in which case i have no idea what he's going on about.
Have you ever heard of:
Reductio ad absurdum (Latin: "reduction to absurdity"), also known as argumentum ad absurdum (Latin: argument to absurdity), is a common form of argument which seeks to demonstrate that a statement is true by showing that a false, untenable, or absurd result follows from its denial, or in turn to demonstrate that a statement is false by showing that a false, untenable, or absurd result follows from its acceptance.
> In fairness i think he was making clumsy attempt to say that by showing 13yr olds cranking 8c or climbing E7 will it influence kids who aren't ready for that to go and give it a try.
Thanks. I'm glad someone got it!
Although with the occasional veto (or at least distraction into something a bit more acceptable), and only my 3 year old, whose abilities I know pretty well.
There generally is anyway (laws about child neglect etc). We don't need to be any more specific with regard to climbing.
With regard to driving, sexual activity etc it is more about the possible impact on/by others than the individual, IMO.
> No which is why he said and their parents.
> Parental consent and in loco parentis are there for when the children are unable to make an informed decision.
> As pointed out earlier there are many juniors climbing well into the E's and 8's in sport.
> Due to the fact that the only tragedy to do with juniors i can remember ( i may be wrong of course ) is the recent one and that wasn't a hard route anyway this is a moot point.
> It doesn't need any legislation as it is being self 'regulated' well enough as it is. Parents do tend to want to keep their kids alive in my experience and will let them take risks that they think they are capable of dealing with.
I think you have yet to make a case where this is necessary.
Laws tend to be passed to tackle specific problems.
Can you give examples of these parents willingly risking the lives of their children ?
Most parents of young climbers ( climbing outside ) tend to be climbers themselves and therefore mostly aware of the risks inherent within the sport.
It'd also be helpful to establish to what extent laws actually solve the "problem".
There is, after all, still plenty of underage drinking and teenage pregnancy to be found.
(Although, on the other hand, I think there probably is evidence that stopping kids drive tractors at 12 - or was it 14 - has prevented some serious injuries)
Though equally there will be farms where this still happens. The countryside isn't exactly awash with police. Nor are crags. And indoor leading has far fewer risks.
Is it just UKC, or more general, that people can't see the difference between a question and a statement?
A clue: the use of a question mark.
This site is pish. Once you realise that you spend less time trying to explain things to people who don't want to know.
And it's fairly likely it just delays many accidents by few years, too. But I thought I probably ought to try and add a little balance ;-)
> There generally is anyway (laws about child neglect etc). We don't need to be any more specific with regard to climbing.
> With regard to driving, sexual activity etc it is more about the possible impact on/by others than the individual, IMO.
Mike's question is basically should we have a law to prevent a problem that doesn't exist.
I say no and let's face it there isn't going to be one anyway so this debate is mostly about filling up some dead time before we can all justifiably head to lunch.
Isn't the situation pragmatic and sensible - the combined judgement of parents and children is allowed to determine whether they climb (or whatever) or not. Occsionally this lead to problems but that is life (or death). I can't see a rigid age limit helping much as some young children will be fine leading whearas some older ones and even adults will be reckless. (Much like sex)
In what universe does voting NOT affect bystanders?!
Possibly drinking in public? But yes, to a degree sex is an outlier, but I didn't want to run that example too much less UKC starts baying paedoaphile!
> In what universe does voting NOT affect bystanders?!
Where I live, I can assure you, who I vote for won't change a thing.
> Mike's question is basically should we have a law to prevent a problem that doesn't exist.
Well a ten year old child dies, and UKC treats it as a technical problem about quickdraws.
As I said above, I think we should protect vulnerable people. No problem with easy routes under responsible management. But I'm still not convinced the moral and legal lines are drawn in the right place.
And I am definitely not happy with UKC showing clips of non-adults leading dangerous routes because it could encourage less competent kids and parents with bad judgement.
You transition these two extreme positions abruptly at your (and your child's) peril.
"Sex is the oddity here though isn't it rather than climbing? Are there other activities that the law prevents children doing that don't potentially affect bystanders?"
That's the other side I presented - it's substantially to protect children from the acts of unscrupulous adults. But also to prevent the "effect on others" that might occur if a child results from it - the effect on the child (of a parent who's too young to look after them) and on those (e.g. their parents) who in practice have to step in.
Unusual as it may be I rather agree with you on this. I'm not sure about any legal measures being required but I do get the impression that some youngsters are pushed too much. I don't know if this is the case concerning this sad accident but the desire to be the youngest to "achieve" something doesn't seem that healthy to me.
Overall I never pushed my children to climb, they came along and scrambled a bit on boulders at Fontainebleau and went walking with us on family trips to the Alps but I never dragged them up anything and as none showed any great desire to take up climbing as a hobby I didn't insist. This is a deliberate choice as climbing is dangerous and I don't want to be the one who pushed someone into a pastime which then kills them - especially for my own kids.
My own brother started climbing because of me, at first he wasn't interested at all, then he caught the bug... On a climb in the Alps we were caught in a storm and on the retreat came very very close to getting killed and it made me very aware of the responsibility involved in encouraging someone to do something as lethal as mountaineering, better to let people come to it of their own accord.
"Well a ten year old child dies, and UKC treats it as a technical problem about quickdraws."
It was, and was also about who was responsible for the state of said quickdraws, which for a child (or inexperienced adult, for that matter) is likely to be someone else. When instructing, I take that very seriously.
"As I said above, I think we should protect vulnerable people."
Yes, we should. But not by absolute bans, IMO, let alone completely unenforceable ones (the only place it's enforceable is indoor, and indoor leading carries far fewer risks, probably on a par with many other activities engaged in by children, e.g. skateboarding or riding a pushbike).
"No problem with easy routes under responsible management. But I'm still not convinced the moral and legal lines are drawn in the right place."
A law saying a child can only lead up to VDiff? How on earth do you enforce that when grading is so subjective?
What do you propose that is (a) measured, (b) enforceable and (c) defineable?
> This site is pish.
"some youngsters are pushed too much"
This is true, they often become a proxy for their parents' own inadequacies. That's as true of football, though.
I inherently dislike the "think of the children, we must wrap them in cotton wool and protect them lest they come to harm" argument."
It indicates stupid adults who entirely underestimate kids and like to think of them as pathetic and unable to make a decision for themselves more than indicating vulnerable children.
At *considerably* younger than the young climber in question I was climbing trees (No, no ropes or helmet, the horror!!), doing VERY stupid things on a bike (but I survived), and generally pushing the boundaries in the manner that kids do.
Yup, supervision is a good thing, showing them the ropes is a good thing, so that they can climb safely, but banning them from doing something risky? Oh, FFS.
I'd also point out that from the reports I have read on the nature of the accident it wouldn't have mattered if the climber was a kid or an adult, a serious and probably fatal accident would have occurred. So, actually, whether its a kid or not doesn't matter. Its not like the accident occured because it was a child. Or are you implying that kids lives are worth more than adults?
The age of consent ranges from 12 to 20 in Africa, from 13 to 21 in Asia and from 13 to 18 in Europe.
Driving is pretty much 16-18 around the world.
Voting is pretty much universally 18 as is drinking (notable exceptions USA and dry countries).
Enlisting is pretty much universally 18 (notable exception used to be the UK with "Boy Entrants" at 15)
I don't really see much that makes this a "western" thing.
> As I said above, I think we should protect vulnerable people. No problem with easy routes under responsible management. But I'm still not convinced the moral and legal lines are drawn in the right place.
> And I am definitely not happy with UKC showing clips of non-adults leading dangerous routes because it could encourage less competent kids and parents with bad judgement.
Angsty posts on ukc telling everyone how concerned you are won't amount to anything.
If you are actually concerned then go do something about it.
> I reckon I'm a pretty safe, competant climber and if a mate had put those draws in for me I wouldn't be able to say for definite that I would have noticed them set up incorrectly. It was a tragic accident, and it didnt result from the fact that he was 12.
You seem to be trying to find a problem where non exists.
western as in 1. being 16+ and 2. being enforced
> Angsty posts on ukc telling everyone how concerned you are won't amount to anything.
> If you are actually concerned then go do something about it.
I thought I was: by starting by getting opinions from people who know and understand what this about!
> Well a ten year old child dies, and UKC treats it as a technical problem about quickdraws.
I don't think it's pedantry to point out the child was 12, because this simple mistake demonstrates the amount of thought that has gone into the thread and raises a few doubts about your competency to discuss the subject in an informed and rational manner.
As does your personal statement about younger kids because there are a multitude of ways to make sport leading safe, the obvious one, simply throwing a top rope up an adjacent route and using both ropes.
> And I am definitely not happy with UKC showing clips of non-adults leading dangerous routes because it could encourage less competent kids and parents with bad judgement.
Again this sort of statement doesn't raise an interesting question it simply points at your experience (or lack of it) in these situations.
Climbing isn't like youtube vids of someone with a skateboard going off the roof of the garage, experienced kids intimately know their limits and the dangers of leading, less competent kids will simply not get far enough up an 8C to position themselves in mortal danger. There is a competency barrier that prevents it.
The sensible thread would be about protecting kids who are pushing their limits and ways of achieving it, this thread is more Daily Mail OMFG where's his safety string style, which is why you'll get questions about JAQing off, trollery and your own competency.
and esp. tennis.
But these are a bit less dangerous?
You're making the possibly naive assumption that physical danger is the only risk to kids. This is *very much* not true.
> raises a few doubts about your competency to discuss the subject in an informed and rational manner.
> Again this sort of statement doesn't raise an interesting question it simply points at your experience (or lack of it) in these situations.
> this thread is more Daily Mail OMFG where's his safety string style, which is why you'll get questions about JAQing off, trollery and your own competency.
However vastly more polite than what I was thinking about the OP.
I would have no problem with doing this. My question - not statement - (to be pedantic) was a general one about kids leading potentially dangerous and hard route
Great. Start it!
The first problem with your question is the assumption that climbing is dangerous relative to other activities. When you get into the statistics indoor climbing is extremely safe compared with other sports. For example, one review article estimates that youth rugby has 57 injuries per 1000 hours, competition climbing 3.1 injuries/1000 hours, mountaineering/trad climbing 0.56 injuries per 1000 hours and indoor climbing 0.027 injuries per 1000 hours.
The other problem is the assumption that hard routes are less safe. This would be true if the concern was about chasing E numbers on trad routes but in sport/indoor climbing the harder routes might well be safer to fall off.
western as in 1. being 16+ and 2. being enforced
what does this mean? the post showed that there is no appreciable difference between "western" legal ages and those around the world (care to point out a discrepancy?) and "enforced" is this supposed to imply that outside the "western world" these laws are routinely ignored?
> I thought I was: by starting by getting opinions from people who know and understand what this about!
On a UKC thread?
Well good luck with that.
I missed this comment in the OP. You say the comments are not necessarily your own personal view, but whoever came up with that one was a moron.
Well said, voice of reason. Agree fully.
> What do you propose that is (a) measured, (b) enforceable and (c) defineable?
Somewhere along the lines of making parents and in loco parentis more accountable I think. So parents check not twice but a 3rd time when kids are involved, and don't shout go for it like they would yo their mates. (And. before you jump, I am sure you all do take special care of your kids anyway - but everyone is not you!)
Oh! And also stopping UKC news reporting these prodigies.
Some recent hard ascents by young climbers reported at 8a.nu today.
The father of two young lads who have just done hard ascents says:
The Hörst family is on a family climbing trip for the month of July and next stop is Wild Iris. As a comment to Tito Traversa tragic accident, Eric comments.
"The main thing for us is to stay focused and undistracted. Cliff base is often noisy and busy with people talking and such...it's easy to be distracted and mess something up. So I remind the boys to "pay attention to all the critical things"...be aware and engaged in active risk assessment and management. But for kids it does take a responsible parent to be involved in the process.
"Somewhere along the lines of making parents and in loco parentis more accountable I think. So parents check not twice but a 3rd time when kids are involved, and don't shout go for it like they would yo their mates."
So you would be thinking that a parent would be charged with child neglect (or similar) if their child was killed/seriously injured regardless of cause?
(Remember a law has to be well-defined to work)
"Oh! And also stopping UKC news reporting these prodigies."
This is a fair point, though I bet the kids love the attention from it.
> Somewhere along the lines of making parents and in loco parentis more accountable I think. So parents check not twice but a 3rd time when kids are involved, and don't shout go for it like they would yo their mates. (And. before you jump, I am sure you all do take special care of your kids anyway - but everyone is not you!)
Sounds like good practice. That's all you can do, recommend good practice. Hopefully and it has started already, parents of u16's are now more aware after Tito's tragic death.
If this was a rugby site I would definitely be screaming!
And you're right, hard is not always dangerous. My working definition of dangerous was all 3 of 'leading, outdoors, and high grade'.
The test would be whether they acted with due care. (Which I think the responsible adult(s) in Tito's case would fail.)
> No problem with easy routes under responsible management ... not happy with UKC showing clips of non-adults leading dangerous routes
I think you are confusing "hard" and "dangerous". Easy routes are in general - and epecially in the case of sport climbing - more dangerous than hard routes because there is more to hit when you fall off. Hard sport clmbing otoh is generally one of the least dangerous forms of climbing.
I don't recall seeing *any* "clips of non-adults leading dangerous routes" on ukc. Could you point out a few that I might have overlooked?
Sorry, but this is not true. I stopped climbing for years and one of the reasons was losing 5 friends in one summer in climbing accidents. People who only climb in gyms may think this but once you get started climbing it leads logically to crags and mountains and this is dangerous. You may yourself only do the safer versions of climbing and be extremely cautious but you can have no way of knowing what the person introduced to climbing will end up doing.
There are other dangerous sports, motor sports, diving, paragliding etc and I'm sure that someone somewhere must have made a list in order of dangerousness but I don't think many are statistically more dangerous than climbing.
"The test would be whether they acted with due care."
What's due care? Easy to define for a specific thing like driving, but a judge/jury with no experience of climbing?
IMO a law like that would have unintended consequences, of the "too much cotton wool" variety, and kids leading E routes would continue anyway because it would only be enforced when something went wrong.
"I stopped climbing for years and one of the reasons was losing 5 friends in one summer in climbing accidents"
That is quite serious bad luck. I know quite a few people who climb, and the most serious injury I've seen is nasty rope burns (and a broken wrist, but he was half-cut and climbing a wall, not engaging properly in a sport).
Bruce... generally agree with you, however, please note that climbing indoors can be dangerous; there have been two deaths at UK climbing walls in the last two years and there are many undocumented, or rather publicly unavailable reports of accidents and injuries.
And also consider these days that indoor walls are the main entry point for beginner climbers, and have been for many years and they have produced many safe and competent 'outdoor' climbers, some who have gone on to climb some of the hardest and most committing climbs recorded.
Isn't this the problem though? Are children mature enough not to get carried away on the celebrity trip?
And before anyone says it, this can be said, alas, for many adults too but adults, as we all agree, are responsible for their own safety, children are not deemed to be in most societies.
I would only presume to state my position with my own kids and I would not have allowed them at 10/12 years old to do this. A 10 year old needs supervision, how can you supervise what they are doing and gauge the danger of the specific situation when you are 30 metres away.
"I have known more than 20 climbers who were killed climbing."
Climbing=what, though? Climbing = alpinism, or indoor leading?
I like climbing but see little attraction in putting myself at massive risk to do the north face of the Eiger, say.
To do what ?
Climb a route that is way below their ability level, do something that they have done literally thousands of times before and may know more about than you ?
He was climbing the level he was due to the fact that he climbs so much and even at 12yrs old probably knew more about sport climbing than i ever will.
What distance do you recommend people supervising children stand ?
How far away do you think you would have had to have been to spot the mistake that had been made ?
I don't reckon i would have spotted it either so maybe i better stop climbing.
Your last statement illustrates what is a relatively recent phenomena however, risk free climbing. For most climbers of my generation, not all, there was a natural progression from trad to alpine and the risk was an integral part of it.
No offence to you and Bruce but you have both been climbing a long time so have been able to rack up a few more incidents than most.
Also alpinism is an entirely different game and especially so when you guys were youngsters.
Are there any 12 yr olds doing ED4 on their own or as a pair with others of the same age ?
I agree (I have far too many now 'absent' friends), but I wonder whether those of us of a certain 'vintage', are looking at this from the viewpoint of what climbing was like when we were young whippersnappers - basically slightly more, shall we say, adventurous - than the indoor wall/sport climbing of today?
> I would only presume to state my position with my own kids and I would not have allowed them at 10/12 years old to do this. A 10 year old needs supervision, how can you supervise what they are doing and gauge the danger of the specific situation when you are 30 metres away.
I certainly wouldn't have let my kids do it (thankfully, none have chosen climbing as a sport, so I'm saved the worry and anxiety my parents must have suffered), but i also wonder, whether at such a young age, it's actually the gymnastic aspect of climbing, which they enjoy, as opposed to the 'head' aspect?
I seriously doubt that a 12 year old is mentally developed enough to derive satisfaction or enjoyment from the 'risk' aspect of climbing, or has the emotional maturity (or wiring) to be able to deal with it either.
Yes i got that thanks and i didn't know we were having an argument.
Your point was meaningless and pointless,if you can have a pointless point, as it added nothing to the conversation but stated what you would do, not why.
If it's not too personal why wouldn't you let your 12 yr old lead a 'safe' F3 or a Mod ?
All kids are different, which was my point.
I wouldn't let either of mine ( 12/14yrs ) loose on the sharp end of anything as they have serious issues with decision making. That's my reason but i would also very much encourage capable children to get to it.
And i think he did bloody well, looked solid all the way and was steered in the correct direction by his experienced adult supervisor.
Hard routes or dangerous routes? These are 2 very different things indeed!
As this is clearly in light of the recent accident then I assume you are referring to hard sport routes, in which case then I think banning children or putting any sort of age restriction is an utterly stupid idea!
Promoting safe practice and having adequate supervision on the other hand is very important.
Sending a child up an unprotected E5 (for example) is a different matter entirely, however again I think any sort of ban or age limit is stupid. Decisions such as this should be entirely be up to the child in question and the parents.
If you don't expose children to risk, they will never learn to deal with risk.
It's a sad state of affairs but most kids are bubble wrapped these days.
I see many young children as an Outdoor Education Teacher (and also as a parent) making huge gains in confidence through participating in activities such as climbing including lead climbing.
> If it's not too personal why wouldn't you let your 12 yr old lead a 'safe' F3 or a Mod ?
"I certainly wouldn't have let my kids do it (thankfully, none have chosen climbing as a sport, so I'm saved the worry and anxiety my parents must have suffered), but i also wonder, whether at such a young age, it's actually the gymnastic aspect of climbing, which they enjoy, as opposed to the 'head' aspect?"
Interesting you'd put them off rather than drive them towards a safer area of the sport?
"I seriously doubt that a 12 year old is mentally developed enough to derive satisfaction or enjoyment from the 'risk' aspect of climbing, or has the emotional maturity (or wiring) to be able to deal with it either."
I might well agree - though there is a "gymnastic" aspect to leading (balancing to place gear/clip) and an added frustration (having to repeat chunks of the route when you fall) even if it's pretty safe and you aren't scared of it (e.g. indoor).
> "I certainly wouldn't have let my kids do it (thankfully, none have chosen climbing as a sport, so I'm saved the worry and anxiety my parents must have suffered), but i also wonder, whether at such a young age, it's actually the gymnastic aspect of climbing, which they enjoy, as opposed to the 'head' aspect?"
> Interesting you'd put them off rather than drive them towards a safer area of the sport?
They have never shown the slightest inclination, but if they had, I would have used my reasonable amount of experience, to make sure they were safe, and, even then, as a parent, I would have been anxious.
> If you don't expose children to risk, they will never learn to deal with risk.
> It's a sad state of affairs but most kids are bubble wrapped these days.
You mean like swimming, cycling, skateboarding ... ?
Fair enough but in relation to the incident he was doing something he had done 1000's of times before safely at a level he was very comfortable with.
What about activities like riding a bike to school ?
Again it's very subjective and i wouldn't let either of mine do it as their hazard awareness is very bad. However loads of kids do.
It's well up there as a life or death decision making, as is crossing the road and lots of other risks we let our kids do.There's no such thing as a safe road.
Maybe the connection to climbing and life/death decisions just seems more obvious with climbing.
I have a friend who lives on Gibraltar and is married to a Gibraltarian. She is horrified that he takes the kids out on bikes. It's just not in their culture. They see it as a hugely dangerous activity. His in laws tell him off for it and all sorts.
They don't mind when he takes them climbing though.
I guess we all perceive risk differently.
> You mean like swimming, cycling, skateboarding ... ?
Oh come on, you can get killed falling of the back of a sofa if you land badly and break your neck, but lets look at the level of risk which is a natural aspect of a sport.
God don't some folk on UKC get all hyper defensive at the drop of a hat?
Eek. I would be scared if that were my son. Just like I was on Sunday when I watched my ten year old son do his first open water solo swim across a small alpine lake.
> If you don't expose children to risk, they will never learn to deal with risk.
Not necessarily true. I don't believe I was ever seriously exposed, knowingly to risk but I can manage it perfectly well now I am an adult. It's one thing for a child to participate in risky activities, most do, but it is a totally different propostion for an adult to purposefully expose them to it.
> It's a sad state of affairs but most kids are bubble wrapped these days.
True but I can assure you that mine were not.
> I see many young children as an Outdoor Education Teacher (and also as a parent) making huge gains in confidence through participating in activities such as climbing including lead climbing.
I don't disagree with you but we all seem to be getting into arguments that are a little polarising. And lets be honest thgere is perceived risk and real risk. I would imagine in your position you are only dealing with the former.
> I think there is probably a half way house between being bubble wrapped, and doing a sport that can actually kill you - don't you?
Sadly statistics show that youngsters are more likely to die through such things as Alcohol, Drugs, Obesity, road traffic accidents etc etc than through pursuing a healthy lifestyle e.g. participating in a sport such as climbing.
'Half way house' is just another way of saying 'compromise'; why hold back if your child really enjoys climbing, give them all the time and opportunities you can, opportunities to learn so much about the world around them and about themselves.
Accidents in Sport Climbing are very rare in comparison, I do however worry about very bold trad, but here's an example of a lad who started climbing when he was young, take a look at what he's achieved today..
Awesome! This would not have happened without his supportive parents who luckily didn't bubble wrap him!
A wise man once said...it's a parent's job to worry!
> A wise man once said...it's a parent's job to worry!
And we only stop worrying when we're dead :-)
> Oh come on, you can get killed falling of the back of a sofa if you land badly and break your neck, but lets look at the level of risk which is a natural aspect of a sport.
I'd say that riding a bike on a public road has a lot more in common with climbing than it does with sitting on a sofa.
In any case, it depends a great deal on how you approach the sport, doesn't it? I mean, I'd be extremely disturbed if we were getting excited about young kids putting up big E-numbers climbing at their limit on necky trad, on the other hand I wouldn't say out-of-hand that some younger kids under some circumstances couldn't lead an easy pitch of a classic mountain vdiff because trad climbing is so inherently risky.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> but I do get the impression that some youngsters are pushed too much.
Again, this is simply not understanding the situation.
Even young Tito was too old to be considered a prodigy, kids get to be very good climbers by training hard and often, coached by good coaches.
The ones making vids are just the best of a wide spectrum of very good young climbers.
A kid who trains 5 times a week and travels 200 miles to spend a week falling off an 8c simply isn't being goaded up by a pushy parent with a cattle prod on a stick. How hard do you think 8c is?
Adrian Berry famously said you can't coach above your own competency, so who do you think is coaching these kids? And just how good do you think the coaches must be?
Not only are they climbing hard themselves but they know how to communicate that skill to others, especially to young climbers and how to enthuse them to achieve their potential, it really is no small skillset.
A 5 minute video doesn't reflect the sheer hard work and self motivation behind the achievement but it simply ain't going to happen without it.
let's all agree and all dangerous activities be banned, let's protect our kids to the point that they do not know what danger is, let's create a generation of helpless beings.
I have not forgotten what my childhood was, golden. We had a lot of unchecked time and we did lots of stupid things. Thankfully we also had taken part to accompanied dangerous activities from a young age and it gave us a gauge to see what we did was really stupid. We did not start again because we were 12 and at that age bravado did not stop us from acknowledging we were scared. What 16 to 18 years old is going to admit to his pal this fact readily? I say for the safety of our kids they should take part to this activities and be encouraged to take responsibility as soon as they can: for some it will be 10 for others later.
On a somewhat linked but different topic.This was a tragic death. I cannot even imagine how devastated the family must be. But a few deaths for a majority of fairly sane and adjusted youngsters... I am ready to pay that price; be it with my own child. If we blanket ban all source of risk we have a blissfully unaware majority for a short term no death, what of the long term common sense deprived youth become adults?
I think the OP has a valid point that needs discussed, however my personal answers are let's not do any of what I stated at the start of this post. I am saddened by how un-independent and clueless a lot of my pupils are despite being well-mannered, intelligent and fun people. All because they are seldom confronted to "real-life" scenari where blowing it does have real scary consequences.
I am sure this could be better formulated and that some people will wholeheartedly agree and disagree with me. It is important we think on long-term basis otherwise we could end up like those guys on the intergalactic cruise ship in the Wall-E cartoon!
> "The test would be whether they acted with due care."
> What's due care? Easy to define for a specific thing like driving, but a judge/jury with no experience of climbing?
Au contraire. There is a well defined and documented practice for climbing safely. Look at all the stuff of UKC.
And the Tito accident exemplifies this. The danger of QDs set up wrong is documented. And as nearly everyone on UKC has said, this was avoidable with a simple check. Surely when a 12 yo handed a rack of draws by one of those big adult people it does not immediately becomes his responsibility alone?
> I'd say that riding a bike on a public road has a lot more in common with climbing than it does with sitting on a sofa.
> In any case, it depends a great deal on how you approach the sport, doesn't it? I mean, I'd be extremely disturbed if we were getting excited about young kids putting up big E-numbers climbing at their limit on necky trad, on the other hand I wouldn't say out-of-hand that some younger kids under some circumstances couldn't lead an easy pitch of a classic mountain vdiff because trad climbing is so inherently risky.
I agree, I and my friends were certainly leading on trad at around 14 (possibly younger!), but by then, we'd got hundreds and hundreds of feet of 'supervised' and seconding experience over a wide range of routes and from single to multi-pitch.
I think one of the reasons some people from my generation may be a bit over protective of our kids, is we can look back at the risks we took, and often the only thing between us and a potentially nasty accident was some rather good fortune.
Mind you, I remember when John Allen made on onsight solo of Wall of Horrors at Almscliffe when he was 14!!
And John Gillot sometimes of this parish, was a bit of a sensation in the 70's when he was flashing extremes at around 13!
I suppose there will always be those very gifted kids that come along every now and then with all the tools already in place.
I agree with all that, Buster caught the train and bus to get to Malham according to his blog he wasn't driven there by pushy parents.
What do you mean by you can't coach above your own competency ?
Who is the better tennis player; Ivan Lendl or Andy Murray ?
Who is the better footballer, Rooney or Ferguson/Moyes ?
Matros ( coach of Alexander Megos ) has not on-sighted 9a but his student has.
Etc etc etc.
Unless you mean competency as a coach i.e. you may not play the sport at the same level as those you coach but you can still coach them effectively.
Off topic anyway, sorry.
> let's all agree and all dangerous activities be banned, let's protect our kids to the point that they do not know what danger is, let's create a generation of helpless beings.
I never said anything close to this. When I was a kid we were away from home for hours, climbing trees, riding bikes, swimming in rivers. From 14 on I used to hitchhike across the country to go climbing. I know exposure to risk is a learning experience.
What worries me (and what Bruce alludes to) is that rather than protect kids in risky climbing situation, there seems to be a competitive element creeping into climbing culture that ratchets up the risk level for kids. unnecessarily.
"And the Tito accident exemplifies this. The danger of QDs set up wrong is documented. And as nearly everyone on UKC has said, this was avoidable with a simple check. Surely when a 12 yo handed a rack of draws by one of those big adult people it does not immediately becomes his responsibility alone?"
If I lent someone some equipment I would certainly feel responsible to some extent if it failed and I hadn't at least pointed out that it might, adult or child, but more so child. So in that sense I agree.
And I can see that that is higher for a child - if, say, I give an adult a retired rope, saying it is not for climbing as it is not safe, for tying stuff on his roofrack and he goes and climbs on it, falls and injures himself, his own stupid fault. I might think twice before giving it to a child in case they climbed on it anyway.
"What worries me (and what Bruce alludes to) is that rather than protect kids in risky climbing situation, there seems to be a competitive element creeping into climbing culture that ratchets up the risk level for kids. unnecessarily."
If you're talking climbing E-numbers, yes. If you're talking sport/indoor, no, as (in principle, as long as there aren't dodgy bolts) pretty much all sport climbing of whatever grade is similarly safe.
This accident involved sport climbing. The same thing could have resulted whether it was a 4 or an 8a.
Correct! Although generally the harder the sport route, the safer it is! Nothing to hit on the way down!
True - you don't go doing falling practice on a slabby 4, as that's asking for broken bones...
> there seems to be a competitive element creeping into climbing culture that ratchets up the risk level for kids. unnecessarily.
I don't see that it does, because the aspects of competitive climbing culture that kids are encouraged to pursue are generally competition climbing and sport climbing, which are as climbing goes relatively safe, and generally even safer when they are hard than when they are easy.
The recent tragic accident happened on an easy warm up route and had nothing to do with anybody pushing their grade.
If a lot of kids were being encouraged/pushed towards alpinism or hard trad climbing then I would probably agree with you, but I don't see that happening.
Indeed. The issue kind-of is that the term "climbing" can mean anything from top-roping an F2 indoors to going up K2. One isn't very dangerous, one has a very good chance of killing you.
Certainly is, there are even more deaths now than back then!
No one does or did it for the danger it's just that if you want to have the enormous pleasure of alpine climbing it's hard to avoid all danger. You can reduce it to a reasonable level though by being careful, not pushing it and turning back, even a few hundred metres from the summit if things require it. Humans being humans and holidays being short though often people don't respect their own rules.
I only had one year like that though, one was enough, two died in Bolivia and I was with them, two in the Alps on a fairly easy climb, and one slipped scrambling home up to the top of the Avon gorge so it's not just cutting edge North faces stuff. Two years later when descending in Chamonix a man fell to his death abseiling just next to me, nearly knocking us off too... it can happen anywhere where gravity functions.
Not meaning to dramatize, just point out that promoting climbing is also promoting a riskier game than cricket or bingo.
And all points in-between. If I have position, it's that for kids we (being the community, not just individual responsible adults) consciously move the point towards the safer side.
Was that Tony Wilmot by any chance Bruce?
Hmm - I think you're comparing chalk and cheese here. There's a bit of difference between some of these sort of things that need a wider experience and have a potentially wider fall-out of damage to other people and property and something like lead climbing, which is a much more focussed activity - and that's ignoring any physical parameters, such as being able to lift a weapon or see over the dashboard. Others are regulations based on common sense and maturity - liver damage and so on.
I know I haven't put that very well, but I think you get the gist.
I don't have a problem, in principle, with children leading routes, once they have demonstrated that they are mentally and phyically ready to do it - taking into account the increased exertion of leading and pulling a rope up compared to top roping/seconding, for example. Is it any different to letting them learn to ski - there's similar types and levels of risk to themselves and others.
> and one slipped scrambling home up to the top of the Avon gorge
> Was that Tony Wilmot by any chance Bruce?
Yes, it can happen to even the best. The two in Bolivia were from Bristol too (Tony was living in Bristol at the time)... Meeting the parents at the funeral, with empty coffins as the bodies remained in the mountains, was so sad. One, Dave Steele, was his parent's pride as he had succeeded in getting into university and all. Years later I read my Mother's diary, after her death, and I realised what I put them through when we were on the other side of the world and they got the news. Youth is callous at times, I don't regret it but I think deciding on such an activity should be left to the person entirely.
I find it hard to understand people who actively push youngsters into such activities, and mildly irritating when people do it for commercial reasons... not so much parents but sponsors and the whole "who's done what at x years old" nonsense. The notion of "coaching" children to create super-climbers is an entirely alien concept for me too. The French now use the English word "coaching" for all sorts activities, so it's not just a British thing.
Such a law should be based on the same principles as the law about the minimum age you can leave kids alone at home.
I would like to see you find an example of a sponsor 'pushing' a young person into such activities.
These super climbers come about because they want it. It's their personality. SPonsorship helps them achieve what they want to achieve.I am sure there will be/have been one or two pushy parents in sport but these are the ones who stop the sport as they are not doing it for themselves. That's nothing to do with climbing and everything to do with their parents.
I can well understand the idea being alien to you though, fair enough. Climbing is a wide sport and there is a bit, or bits, for all of us.
I find it hard to see your point. I don't see any evidence of anybody pushing youngsters into alpinism, hard trad climbing or soloing, and I don't see sport climbing - which is where young climbers are being pushed, if anywhere - as being particularly comparable with any of those things. Apparently you do.
My first ever climbs were the classic cliche: v diff / severe solos in a local quarry in woolworths plimmies at the age of about 17. If I had already been able to climb 8b - a rather modest level of underachievement for a 17 year old these days it would seem - then I would have been a lot safer.
> You'd let a 3 year old use their judgment?
Jesus Christ... are you a delinquent?
I'm not justifying that with an intelligent response...
We all led at 14/15/16 years old... why should that change?
I'm not sure you can prove a general proposition - encourage young climbers to climb pushing limits - from a single instance
I never knew there was golf tee at the top of IF!
Which law's that? Or were you meaning that the law doesn't specific a minimum age, just that they shouldn't be in danger from being left alone?
Don't sponsors sponsor the better known climbers then? Those who do exceptional things rather than the average sort of climber? Don't young wanabee "stars" aspire to being noticed by such sponsors? If so then how is this not encouraging them to do exceptional climbs?
I think the whole red bull Patagonian bolting fiasco demonstrated well enough what such sponsorship can lead to.
It's the whole competitive thing that some try to encourage, or at least appear to admire as "fans" that I find "alien" to the spirit of climbing. I realise that some disagree but then I'm speaking for myself, not for them. I hope you allow me the possibility of having a different opinion? I respect your right to have a different opinion, if you want to be a pompom boy that's your business. I don't think you should do it with minors though.
> Which law's that? Or were you meaning that the law doesn't specific a minimum age, just that they shouldn't be in danger from being left alone?
I was referring to the fact that there was no law, as there shouldn't be regarding what parents let their kids do. The clue is in the name. 'Parent'
this is clearly a really difficult topic and runs up against peoples core values around freedom and the role and limits of the state
lead climbing is clearly a dangerous activity. my life insurance premiums are ample testament to that. and young people are, across a population, poorer at accurately judging risk; the frontal lobes, which have role in exercising judgement and looking at potential consequences of actions, are not fully developed into into peoples 20s. the consequences of this in another potentially dangerous activity, driving are easy to see- RTAs are the leading cause of death for young adults
ultimately, i cant see any way regulation would work, and the only way it can be managed is by letting parents decide. sadly, as anyone who has worked in child protection will tell you, not every parent is able to keep the best interests of their child in mind. and while frankly abusive behaviour by parents is almost certainly very rare, parents are fallible human beings, prone to errors of judgement and losing sight of the bigger picture. in this area, a small error of judgement could have very serious consequences
i do worry, as other posters have said, about persuading people to join me on climbs when they otherwise would not have engaged in that activity. most of my friends have young families; a death or serious injury would devastate many lives.
i've also got young children myself. i;m not sure i'd encourage them to take part in lead climbing. certainly not till they were old enough that i thought they were able to make an informed decision to run the risks themselves.
presumably, in the UK, were a child to die lead climbing, there would be a coroners inquest/fatal accident inquiry. this may look at the role of the parents and as to whether the supervision was appropriate, and its possible that criticism could be made if the coroner felt that adults involved had not acted responsibly.
in the end, i think thats the only way it can be managed. regulation is unworkable and intrusive. people just have to exercise their judgement, and be responsible for their own actions,
>...it can happen to even the best... One, Dave Steele, was his parent's pride...
Now you're making me sad, but thanks for filling in the gaps. I knew Dave well and climbed with him - he was a great guy - I didn't know Rog nearly as well. But I didn't know about the funeral: I was out of the country for months at the time.
Anyway safe climbing to all. I was almost killed climbing [like so many on here probably], and only years later came to think what that would've done to my parents.
It's rare that more than a few days go by without me thinking of him, even though it was over 40 years ago... It's not a light decision getting into climbing but in the pleasure and happiness of doing it we often forget that hanging off high bits of rock or going to cold high places is not an exactly natural thing for humans to do, especially when young and feeling immortal.
Thanks a lot for your thoughtful reply. “It's rare that more than a few days go by without me thinking of him, even though it was over 40 years ago...” and “It's not a light decision getting into climbing”, too right. I also think about Dave more these days, I don’t know why.
Once again, safe climbing to all.
Because we're getting old :-)
I've sent you an email.
I would like you (being UKC) to be more careful about news stories, photos and clips of young climbers climbing hard routes. As we all know, young people have (obviously there are exceptions) less judgement about dangerous situations. So too much adulation of young climbers, emphasising their age and standard (e.g. first 3 yo to solo climb the Nose and Half Dome free in a day) runs the risk of emulation by less capable non-adults.
Everytime i talk to you Bruce you come out with this " I hope you allow me to have a different opinion. " bullsh1t.
This is a debate/conversation where people bring different opinions to the table and we talk about them. Stop the poor little me act please it gets very tiresome. No one is stopping you from having an opinion. I even said i can well understand your opinion.
Encouraging people to do exceptional things is bad. Hmmm !
Certain types of people may want the 'glory' associated with sponsorship. They are not the ones who are climbing 8c at 16. They are climbing 8c at 16 because they love climbing.They just happen to be supported at the same time. It's not as if the vast majority get anything other than free gear and shoes.
The wannabes fade as they realise the amount of hard work they have to do to get 'noticed' far outweighs they joy of a free pair of shoes.
I will ask again if you can give me an example of where young people are actively pushed by sponsors to do dangerous climbs ?
I can just imagine little Jimmy bricking himself on an E9 chop route thinking: " I've got to pull this 7a move off or i won't get my new ropes."
It's just not going to happen in reality.
Apart from in actual competition climbing there is very little competition in climbing itself. People still compete against themselves and the rock, not against what their peers are doing. As Buster said on his blog it may be that he is the youngest brit to climb 8c but he doesn't care. He much prefers the fact that he climbed the route.
As for Red Bull they are not a climbing or a sport company. Also i don't think they told him to bolt it did they ? DId he say he felt the pressure to bolt it and get to the top because of the sponsorship ? I honestly don't know.
Have a read of this:
Will Gadd walked away from a very expensive trip at one point funded by Red Bull. They fully supported his decision.
> I've sent you an email.
Thanks a lot - I'll reply in a few minutes.
1)Allowing a three year old to make their own judgements.
They make all sorts of judgements and decisions, giving them safe space to make and learn about them. In the attachment parenting style children are using sharp knives by then. Seren was climbing anything and everything by then too although I doubt any of it had a grade.
I think every parent should wrap every child and their friends in cotton wool
How else are we going to breed enough children to wear the red shirts in Star trek?
3) Loss of any friend/child is sad in any circumstances.
I remember a child in my reception class (too many years ago) died in a fire being at home stopped life too short. We just have the internet to talk about it now so can drag more people into the discussion.
You are the one claiming no one is "pushing" people. Would you like to explain how encouraging differs from pushing?
Yes, that's what sponsors often do. As you admit this happens what exactly do you disagree with me about? I'm sure you realise that for anybody, let alone youngsters, getting free gear is a lot more than just the monetary value, it's like a prize or a cup, an acknowledgement of achievement.
The old forum "give me proof" gambit, as if we have to provide line and verse like in a court of law, just precociousness, especially as you, apparently, know of occasions when people are given gear and shoes by sponsors so you already have "proof".
But be my guest, think what you like, if all is fine and dandy in the best of possible worlds... except it isn't, there has just been an accident which is what this thread is all about.
Being pushy means pushing your children into doing things they don't actually want to do and making it so that the child is undertaking things to please the parent and not themselves.
There is a distinctive difference.
Has the hand wringing stopped yet?
Have any of those concerned citizens made any positive steps to alleviate their concerns?
No? Thought not.
Except that, as has repeatedly been pointed out, Tito's accident had nothing to do with the fact that he was leading "hard" routes or whether he was being pressured to do things by sponsors or whoever else. It was a mistake (by someone else) with basic safety gear on what was, for him, a comparatively easy route. It would be the same risk if he'd never climbed anything harder than a five, and if he'd only ever toproped indoors there'd still be a risk of a mis-tied knot, a badly set up top rope, a cock-up by the belayer or a badly done up harness.
If you want to entirely prevent accidents due to badly set up safety equipment in otherwise relatively safe activities, you'll have to stop "encouraging" kids to go near crags and mountains (or seas, rivers, roads, caves, trees or pretty much anything apart from the TV and the playstation) entirely. If you want to talk about perfidious commercial pressure to perform hard putting kids at risk, you'll have to talk about young kids being pressured into leading necky trad. But that'll be hard, because as far as I can tell, it isn't happening.
Indeed. From what I can see, these kids are pushing themselves (a) indoor, (b) bouldering and (c) sport. Other than safety equipment failure (through misuse, mainly, as in this case) or crap belaying, none of these present a particularly high risk of death. I would venture that road cycling in a town is as risky.
Should kids be pushing their grade on bold trad? Possibly not, but then I don't want to either. And not many kids *are*.
FWIW, now I know of this issue, I will double-check any quickdraw I lend to anyone before they get it - adult or child. Not that I do very often. Because regardless of their skill level, if something happened I would feel responsible.
My attempt to stop this thread before it started is a clear fail. Accidents and kids... what a mix eh? Certain to generate over emotive crap, and worse still, this time, some unexpected potential libel (have we forgotten what happened to the rather obtuse Bercow tweet so soon?). It's bad enough for a parent and family and the fellow climbers involved that a child has died but now we are speculating on their duty of care based on incomplete information, to add insult to their massive 'injury'.
I have asked UKC to limit stories about under-age climbers. If I could, I would insist. But since I don't own UKC, the most positive thing I can do is propose it to them. Do you want to join me, or are you just going to be sarcastic from the sidelines?
> I have asked UKC to limit stories about under-age climbers. If I could, I would insist.
I wouldn't stories encourage others and show what can be achieved. UKC and the BMC are both responsible reporters and I dont think their journalism needs to sell that many papers......
The OP was on the subject generally and as said specific replies concerning this accident are likely to give rise to even more polemics but your answer does rather illustrate what the thread is al about: you say the mistake was by "someone else" but if it had happened to an adult no one would have said that it wasn't the responsibility of each individual climber to check his own gear, blame on anyone else would only have been possible if it had been a manufacturing fault in the equipment.
So, IMO, there is a debate to be had here, generally we have always said, most climbers that is, that we are each individually responsible for our own safety, so where does that put minors who are legal not considered responsible for their acts, legally or morally.
I'm not for laws on the subject but I think some people could consider a little the implications of what they are doing.
PS. I'm surprised no one has commented on actual gear concerned, if I was the manufacturer I would be thinking seriously.
> PS. I'm surprised no one has commented on actual gear concerned, if I was the manufacturer I would be thinking seriously.
The thread http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=556073 towards the end has some useful information (IMHO) about what you should use and not use and why and how. (I learned new stuff anyway about quickdraws).
Maybe I'm missing a whole world of children being pushed to climb hard - it's quite possible. But from what I see, climbing parents take a much more sensible approach than those involved in many other sports.
The example that springs to mind, mainly because I have experience, is MotoX. Certainly has a risk of serious injury, and of death. I used to first aid/ambulance crew for it, and it was alarming common to have to attempt to reason with a parent who was shouting at their crying 5 year old that they "#%** well had to stop being a baby and get back on their bike and finish the %#**$€ race" when their child had clearly broken a bone and was in real pain. I've never seen anything of the sort in climbing.
As the OP I'm signing out of this thread. The overwhelming consensus is that:
1. Climbing is not really dangerous
2. Kids thrive on risk and can manage it
3. There are no irresponsible climbing parents
4. The whole issue was a waste of space.
Thanks for the input everyone!
> I have asked UKC to limit stories about under-age climbers. If I could, I would insist. But since I don't own UKC, the most positive thing I can do is propose it to them. Do you want to join me, or are you just going to be sarcastic from the sidelines?
We've got some great young competition climbers and IMHO stories about their achievements are a good thing.
The point where it would get ethically problematic for me because of the risk of encouraging other kids to do the same thing is if the achievement being covered is about the climber's willingness to accept danger rather than technical ability i.e. "10 year old climbs E9" has ethical problems but "10 year old climbs 8b" isn't.
> I have asked UKC to limit stories about under-age climbers. If I could, I would insist. But since I don't own UKC, the most positive thing I can do is propose it to them. Do you want to join me, or are you just going to be sarcastic from the sidelines?
I don't really agree with you exactly so I'm not going to join with you but I applaud your positive action for what you believe in.
> What do you mean by you can't coach above your own competency ?
> Off topic anyway, sorry.
I think you'd have to ask Adrian Berry, as I have no idea how you climb or coach 8c.
But I think it's true that the performance and technical difference between say a punter and an expert is greater than the difference between an ab initio beginner and a punter, I've heard it said about a lot of different sports. It's possible to quickly reach a certain level of competency but to get beyond that takes a whole lot more and some (most?) plateau way before they even reach the upper levels.
Obviously there is a process of opimisation in what Berry says, but for instance, if you are trying to coach high 8s you need to know the technical aspects and also, to offer the best chance of success, the difference between alternate 8cs, whether it suits someone's style etc.
If you're going to spend a week on a route it would be a bugger to discover that the higher moves didn't suit you and you'd wasted your week.
I don't think this is off topic because some people really lack the real life experience/knowledge to fully understand the situation, if you don't know and understand the difference between heads and tails you won't know which way up the coin is.
"1. Climbing is not really dangerous
2. Kids thrive on risk and can manage it
3. There are no irresponsible climbing parents
4. The whole issue was a waste of space."
Oh come on, don't be a troll. I don't believe that was the conclusion at all.
"The point where it would get ethically problematic for me because of the risk of encouraging other kids to do the same thing is if the achievement being covered is about the climber's willingness to accept danger rather than technical ability i.e. "10 year old climbs E9" has ethical problems but "10 year old climbs 8b" isn't."
Agree. And you don't seem to hear many stories about 10 year olds climbing E numbers - it is mainly about sport. And I'm unlikely to be pushing anyone to climb E numbers as I don't want to myself - that kind of danger is not for me, I'm more into the physical challenge of "can I get up that", as well as the mental challenge of making something that naturally feels unsafe (but isn't) feel safe so it doesn't inhibit the first bit, rather than deliberately putting myself in actual danger, as I do quite enough of that every time I go onto the roads.
Feel free to call me a wuss if you like... :)
> As the OP I'm signing out of this thread.
It's a wasted opportunity, you could have used the thread to extend your competence to the level that you had something relevant to say, instead you've just doubled down on the chicken little sky is falling.
Moving forwards for the next time, it's best to get informed before getting shirty.
Yup, I'm with you Neil. How about
1. Climbing has plenty of risks
2. Kids are pretty good a judging risk,and their own limits, if used to doing so, but adults still have the ultimate responsibility for their safety
3. The majority of climbing parents behave responsibly, and it's hard to see how you could legislate effectively against a few irresponsible ones
4. There may be some irresponsible reporting of underage achievement, but actually I don't have a clue as I rarely read the news reports...
I've heard one story of a teenager climbing an E number. It was about how the parent (who climbed, but not at that level) had failed to check the rack she was taking was adequate for the route. And how said parent had had a right earful from other climbers about it. Which I suspect was rather more effective than legislation.
That seems a good sum-up.
> We've got some great young competition climbers and IMHO stories about their achievements are a good thing.
> The point where it would get ethically problematic for me because of the risk of encouraging other kids to do the same thing is if the achievement being covered is about the climber's willingness to accept danger rather than technical ability i.e. "10 year old climbs E9" has ethical problems but "10 year old climbs 8b" isn't.
Quite. And I asked further up the thread for examples of precisely this, and *one* isolated instance of "12 year old climbs E6" was cited. So I really don't see that there is a general problem of children being encouraged to climb dangerous routes.
> Yup, I'm with you Neil. How about
> 1. Climbing has plenty of risks
I'd actually go for "different forms of climbing have different risks (compare indoor bouldering with high altitude mountaineering) and in the forms of climbing in which children are encouraged to take part at a young age - sport, bouldering, indoor competition - danger is generally limited and carefully managed to a level that's acceptable given the enjoyment and satisfaction that the kids get from the sport."
That seems a fair summary, more so that mike's....
As I said, it's a difficult one. Another angle: to reach the very highest levels of performance in a physical skill it seems pretty clear that you have to start it very young indeed- andy Murray was 3 when he first started tennis for example. So if young people wait until they are 18 until they started leading, that may limit the level they can eventually perform at. And even then, they may be no safer, perhaps less so as because they were an adult, they would not need to be supervised at all. But if enough younger children are engaging in riskier forms of climbing, even with good supervision, it becomes a certainty that there will be accidents, occurring to people that could not fully participate in the decision making around whether to expose themselves to that risk.
Is that a good enough reason to ban all children from the activity? I don't think so. But discussing the topic does seem fair enough, would be nice if it could be done without accusations of bad faith against people who hold a differing viewpoint,
> You are the one claiming no one is "pushing" people. Would you like to explain how encouraging differs from pushing?
Buy a dictionary. When i teach my kids and they don't know what words mean i get them to look it up. I find that way the learning experience is deepened.
>Yes that's what sponsors often do. As you admit this happens what exactly do you disagree with me about? I'm sure you realise that for anybody, let alone youngsters, getting free gear is a lot more than just the monetary value, it's like a prize or a cup, an acknowledgement of achievement.
I said that yes some do feel that way. I then talked about how the kids who are only in it for the glory probably won't get the sponsorship anyway as the level they need to get to takes a lot of hard work and dedication. That can only be ground out because you love what you're doing, not because you're chasing a new pair of shoes.
"Proof" of what ? No you don't have to come up with physical evidence but you did give an example ( Red Bull ) - i guess as a form of proof Bruce. Why did you feel the need to do that? Was it because my precociousness was annoying you. Did it annoy you more when it turned out that your example appears to be a misconstrued one ?
Giving gear to enable ( look that one up as well if you need to, it's similar in this context to encourage, but very different from pushng ) people to achieve more than they otherwise would have done is what goes on. Yes, they ( the company ) then get the publicity they want, of course, but i think we are very lucky in our sport that most gear companies are still owned/run by people who are climbers and have a more altruistic approach than other companies may do.
Ah, so you're giving up on the argument with the old forum gambit of "Think what you like" Roughly translated it means: "Well you're obviously too stupid to see things from my point of view so i shall dismiss you and be pitying and condascending in the hope that makes me look better. "
PS the accident you are referring to didn't have anything to do with children leading hard routes. Are you aware of that ?
How do you know there is a problem or are you just arguing for the sake of it as often seems the case for you ?
We do sometimes need proof. Proof that there is an actual problem of children being PUSHED into climbing hard/dangerous routes they otherwise would not attempt. You have stated this goes on so i feel the onus is on you to give some evidence to substantiate your claim.
Please don't go back and search your words and start twisting and claiming that's not exactly what you said. That is what you implied and we all know it.
Are you prepared to name a company involved in this ?
If not what grounds or experience has made you believe this is going on ?
We know why the quickdraw failed but we do not know the exact circumstances around the accident so I think the speculation in this thread is distasteful and as I said potentially libelous if it implies unfair blame.
Do you seriously think climbers under 16 have no individual responsibility in their own safety and no moral compass? That would be a pretty minority view I suspect. Given the experience of this lad the only issues that seem pertinent to me are the legal position (duty of care) and if his age/experience played a part in the accident (and until anything suggests otherwise I will stick to the fact that age was most likely irrelevant).
You and Mike need to look up statistics on child deaths. Of the many dangerious things kids can get involved with, climbing is pretty tame. Swimming and horseriding see way more normalised particapant deaths before we start thinking about crossing roads when distracted or getting involved with gangs that carry knives. When following BMC advice I struggle to think of a better way to introduce responsibility when facing risk.
> would be nice if it could be done without accusations of bad faith against people who hold a differing viewpoint,
The very first reply to MikeTS pointed him in the right direction, the problem is MikeTS isn't interested in knowledge and isn't really that interested in the subject but that doesn't stop him making prescriptions about what other people should do.
What's interesting to MikeTS is the wibbling and wailing, so the point is we shouldn't engage with the wibbling and wailing but criticise his approach, he should get called out precisely on his bad faith.
You are sounding more and more like John Cleese in the 5 minute argument sketch, which is why I said think what you like.
I think you'll have a job persuading the OP and others of that.
As for pedantifying on the difference between push and encourage, if there is any significant one as "push" is relative, is one of degree, encouraging hard and pushing gently must be about the same for any one except the most blatant nit picker.
I'll pass on the "buy a dictionary" line, not worth replying as I think I speak English as well as you do, this is supposed to be a discussion not a verbal punch-up, but I have been involved in quite a lot of sporting activities for both children and young people with learning difficulties and small tokens are often as a prized as a gold cups - the pride with which someone who has just come 12th out of 20 in a judo tournament or 56th out of 80 on a cross country run is something that anyone who's seen it knows, more than I can convince you. Being "sponsored" by a well known brand, even if it is a pair of shoes, not cheap for a youngster anyway, is certainly more than marginally stimulating.
You may not believe this and I can't convince you, if I wished to, but I've witnessed it myself numerous times.
I've been around Judo since being an infant. Loved it as a kid and yet saw many many injuries. On the up side when I fell off my bike at speed(another incredibly dangerous thing kids do), or out of a tree (add an extra dangerous thing) my training meant I always got away with cuts and grazes when my pals who didnt know how to fall sometimes broke bones.
Sponsors only incentivise kids who are already hooked and you are seeing demons in good intent.
Typical knee jerk response.
Your argument for preventing children from driving as a reason for preventing them climbing is flawed. They are not mature enough to have the responsibility to control the vehicle but we still strap them inside it and drive them to the crag on our busy roads. Check out the statistics for child fatalities in vehicles. In the same we wouldn't drop them off at the crag with a rope, rack and tell them to get on with it.
The quickdraws were incorrectly slung and we would all like to think we always check our gear before we use it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Every time we strap our kids into our car do we ALWAYS get out the wheel brace and check the wheel nuts are tight?
Do we stop our children getting out of bed because it's risky? I'm sure if you checked the statistics for other sporting activities there would be more cause for alarm, horseriding, rugby.....need I go on?
With regard to children climbing hard routes. Most sports climbers would agree that falls are much better taken into thin air on the harder over-hanging routes. Are we confusing the words hard with safe?
> I've been around Judo since being an infant. Loved it as a kid and yet saw many many injuries. On the up side when I fell off my bike at speed(another incredibly dangerous thing kids do), or out of a tree (add an extra dangerous thing) my training meant I always got away with cuts and grazes when my pals who didnt know how to fall sometimes broke bones.
> Sponsors only incentivise kids who are already hooked and you are seeing demons in good intent.
I don't think it's demons, and I wouldn't question the good intent, offwidth. And as I've said, I don't see an alternative to the status quo. But unfortunate outcomes can emerge even with the best of intentions, and given enough young people climbing sad events like the one that prompted this thread will inevitably occur. I find it difficult to believe the young person in question really thought through the possibility of death as an outcome of his actions, and while I guess we all play mental tricks on ourselves to convince ourselves that we a re not taking excessive risks, we are adults and in the end know what we are getting into, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.
None of that is to say that young people shouldn't climb under supervision, and I agree that the difficulty of the climb is a red herring; you end up just as dead falling off a v diff as you do off an E5. But some measured reflection on the potential seriousness of the games we play seems in order, and also some reflection on the risks we invite others to run, whether they choose to engage in them willingly or not.
It's also a fair question to ask: yes, climbers are mostly good people, sensible and measured, and no one sets out to do harm. But they are also fallible human beings, and best practice by everyone all of the time seems unlikely, it would be unique in human activity if there was. There are guidelines as you say, but how as a community do we encourage adherence to them, and would we challenge what we saw as questionable practice? A poster above said they did, so perhaps the answer is yes.
> We know why the quickdraw failed but we do not know the exact circumstances around the accident so I think the speculation in this thread is distasteful and as I said potentially libelous if it implies unfair blame.
Sorry, for my part that was a much less thought-out comment than I should have made on such a serious point. I don't want to imply anything either way on that issue, the main point was that there's a difference between trad climbing, where managing risk is an inherent part of leading near your limit, and sport climbing, where it's more possible to decide how much safety-critical stuff is left up to the leader - ie you can take a reasonably sensible child sport climbing and take responsibility for almost everything short of making the actual clips.
You are aware that that's not actually an argument, yes?
I've only really dipped into this, but my dad taught me to lead when I was 12 by me seconding him up routes and then him seconding me up easy routes, and took pains to dissuade me from anything necky or anything which was a solo essentially.
I guess an easy route possibly isn't any more dangerous than being allowed to go around town and city centres when you're 12, which quite a few children do.
All deaths of children are tragic, and what's responsible is subjective.
> You are aware that that's not actually an argument, yes?
Pray explain why? It might be wrong but it's still an argument. The title of the thread is "Ethics of 'children' leading hard routes"
in the OP he says amongst other things:
He is clearly opening a debate on this subject due to the accident... from then on opinions may differ, some even say there is no problem, but all this is debateable, whatever each of us may believe on the subject.
Encourage has a positive connotation
Push has a negative connotation.
The connotation is in regard to the way you were using it. I agree in some cases, now you've added some adverbs to them, that they can be similar. You've added a positive to one and a negative to the other in order to make them match what you wanted them to mean rather than what you originally said.
Not nit picking it's true.
I'll try and persuade people then.
This tragic accident took place on a steep, bolted route at the grade of 6b.
It's not a hard route therefore no problem with the hard routes bit. It was as safe as climbing can be as it was bolted( bar the obvious issue with the quickdraws which i believe were placed by someone else ) and it was a steep route meaning potential roped falls will be into space.
So not a dangerous route and not a hard one either.
We are then left with the child issue.
The child concerned had racked up probably more hours climbing than you and i put together in his short life. That means more experience and decisions than most of us = maturity as a climber.
AFAIK the route had been climbed previously by someone putting the clips in. They then lowered off. He then climbed the route but possibly had cause to use a draw to rest on, for whatever reason and then the disaster happened.
Everytime i go climbing ( sport ) i probably do a route on somebody elses draws. I would have made the same decision as he did if i am honest.
My verbal punch up was in response to your plea to let me allow you to have your own opinion. It just winds me up when you constantly spout that. When no one is saying you can't express yourself how you want. You just don't seem to like it when people disagree with you.
I agree totally with what you say about pride in sporting activities. My kids are both disabled and have learning difficulties. You don't need to convince me how happy it makes them just to complete something in whatever position they finish. I never argued against that, just your assertion that kids go out to climb dangerously beyond their limits in order to gain a pair of shoes.
I don't believe you and you can't convince me at the moment as you have a completely unfounded argument based on nothing more than your own point of view.
If what you believe is happening is happening where are the accidents ? Tell me about some of these incidents and convince me. I am an open minded guy and ready to change my point of view if given a credible argument.
The French report linked from UKC explains that he had got to the belay and leaned onto his harness to be lowered off "moulinette" style. 8 out of 12 recently bought quickdraws had been badly assembled, just clipping in though the rubber gadgets as shown on the ukc article, so as he leaned back it snapped and then as the correctly assembled quickdraws were all on the first bolts the rest ripped and he hit the ground - the details are confirmed by the doctor who tried to save him at the crag (Orpierre in France). It was a warm up climb, 6b, he was doing 8 and above so it's not the difficulty of the climb that is in question. He is 12 years old and has been doing hard climbing for several years.
Those are the facts as reported - one report says 9 were incorrectly assembled but apart from that they say the same. He was with his mother and some Italian friends, some young like him and some adults. There is an inquiry underway but the "procureur" leaked the details of the cause of the death as a warning to others. It isn't clear who assembled the gear, and is probably best not to speculate, but what is clear is that he climbed past several, 7 or 8 quickdraws that were visibly badly assembled, they had already been places apparently, and started to lower off on one.
Can you really say that this does not raise any questions, that the OP wasn't justified in suggesting it did?
If you can point out to me where i have said this does not raise any questions i'd be amazed.
Of course it raised questions - about the correct assembly of quickdraws. The decisions he made that day were probably the same as i would have done.
Nothing to do with his age. I wouldn't have spotted it either and happily climb on others draws all the time. I will talk about this with my partners next time i climb and i am sure we'll all check our gear. Lessons learned.
So the route wasn't hard and i don't believe the issue was to do with him being under 16. It was to do with someone equipping the route with badly assembled draws. Have you seen the vids that show what they look like ? The point made in the DMM one is that it ISN'T obvious. They are NOT visibly badly assembled. They look OK until you load them. He's seen/handled more quickdraws than you or I put together. If anyone would notice he'd be more likely than most to be honest.
The only way his mother, or other adult in charge, could have prevented it was to check all quickdraws before every use. It's not likely that that will happen really is it ?
It's great that we have these discussions to highlight issues but as was pointed out the thread was kind of over by the 2nd post pointing out that good practice guidelines already exist.
We've just been arguing over whether kids are pushed or encouraged.
I am still waiting for some meat to your point of view by the way.
Why do you say under 16, he was 12! It's true to say in a pedantic way that 12 is under 16 but putting it the way you do is tendentious. I doubt that many would consider that at 16 the situation is the same - you are allowed to work even today at that age, it's for younger children that there is a debate IMO.
The photos don't really show that such poorly assembled quickdraws are difficult to spot, quite the opposite in fact. If you say you wouldn't have noticed than I'm surprised. It's not just one it's a whole string and even the one he was lowering off on... We'll see what the inquest says.
> Why do you say under 16, he was 12! It's true to say in a pedantic way that 12 is under 16 but putting it the way you do is tendentious.
If I've got where you're coming from correctly, it depends if you're thinking emotionally or how capable/mature children are at different ages, or just factually I suppose? It needn't be pedantic or tendentious.
If I've not got where you're coming from, I've no idea what you're on about...
> Why do you say under 16, he was 12! It's true to say in a pedantic way that 12 is under 16 but putting it the way you do is tendentious. I doubt that many would consider that at 16 the situation is the same - you are allowed to work even today at that age, it's for younger children that there is a debate IMO.
I say that because 16 is the general standard we have in Europe for being a child.
Ok, so what about my son who at 16 will still not be able to lead a route.He just doesn't have the capability to keep himself safe. Age is not a fixed thing.
This is shown by decisions made regarding underage sex. Some are prosecuted some are not. Some situations use different laws such as unlawful sexual intercourse depending on the situation. Not the age. However under 13 is statutory rape. But even then i know a girl who got pregnant at 12 by her 16 yr old boyfriend. No prosecutions occurred due to all sorts of ins and outs i won't go into here.Every situation and person is different.
My point is it's not the age that is important it's the maturity and capability of each child.
Not so long ago a guide died whilst using in situ gear. Surely he should have spotted the sharp edge worn into the quickdraw that cut his rope ? He was an experienced, professional, adult after all. Sometimes stuff happens. I still strongly believe that the message from this incident is to check your draws not to change the way we deal with children within the sport.
I can't see the inquest adding much to it - other than to find who was responsible for putting the draws in in the first place.
Have you seen the vid from DMM ?
Streaky says it's effectively impossible for it to happen to a sewn sling. It's VERY obvious if it has with a sewn sling as it's all scrunched up. So if you look up and see a quickdraw with a sewn sling that is dangling straight you wouldn't be thinking about the rubber at all. It should be impossible to happen. Therefore you wouldn't be on your guard for that type of problem, adult or child. That's why i say i probably wouldn't have spotted it.
"I can't see the inquest adding much to it " - I disagree.
I understand the QDs in this circumstance were pre-placed and that the first four were ok and the next eight were defective in some way.
If there were a bag of twelve QDs and eight are defective and the QDs are placed randomly, then the odds that the first four are ok and the next eight are defective is around 1 in 500.
If we make the dodgy assumption that if there was one good QD in the top six bolts then things might have turned out differently: the odds of this happening (a good QD in the top six) are nearly 95%.
If I place gear I give it a tug as a matter of course when I do it. If I placed it on lead I'd have used it in descent. If I placed it on abseil then even if I didn't give it a tug as a matter of course I'd have likely used it to pull myself back on the wall. It only takes the discovery of one defective QD before the accident to prevent it.
I think it is likely the inquest will add something.
> That's nothing new! Look at this photo, it should enable you to understand.
You think he was too young. That's a fair enough viewpoint.
12 to 13 was when I started leading mind you, theoretically he should have been safer from injury than I would have been in a fall, with me being on off vertical routes and without a helmet, though I was well within my comfort zone technically.
I can't imagine how the slings got attached just by elastic bands, that'll haunt whoever assembled them for the rest of their life, we're all fallible.
I was meaning in relation to the OP which was about children leading routes and making decisions.
I said in my post that finding out what happened/who was responsible for the quickdraws was going to be investigated for sure but other than that it probably wouldn't add much info for this thread.
Have you seen the DMM vid ? Streaky finds it quite difficult to break even the thin ring.Obviously full body weight or a fall is a different matter but a quick tug may not reveal anything.
Do you tug gear as a matter of course on sport routes ? It may be something that becomes more common now after this but i can't think when i've seen anyone do it as a matter of course.
In this case i believe he didn't place the draws and probably cruised to the top as it was a warm up way below his level so he obviously never 'tried' any of them.
Climbing on draws placed by other people is very common in sport climbing. It may not be so common after this.
Bit off topic sorry as this thread is about allowing children on routes.
Agree: I don't think tugging on gear on a route they can do comfortably is something that would come naturally to a competition climber - adult or child.
Also, the pic showed the badly assembled crab at the bolt side of the QD. I think almost all climbers, adult or child, would miss that when they are off the ground on a 6b. They're going to look at the crab they are trying to clip but there's no reason to look carefully at the other one.
discussing and he linked in to the incident and implied failed duty of care. Why let the fact almost any sports climber might have been unlucky enough to be caught out in such a situation get in the way of a good bit of proselytising.
Back on the subject its been made clear several times that the legal basis is fairly clear and much good advice exists, notably from the BMC.
> The very first reply to MikeTS pointed him in the right direction, the problem is MikeTS isn't interested in knowledge and isn't really that interested in the subject but that doesn't stop him making prescriptions about what other people should do.
> What's interesting to MikeTS is the wibbling and wailing, so the point is we shouldn't engage with the wibbling and wailing but criticise his approach, he should get called out precisely on his bad faith.
You should read what I actually said and you should apologise.
I asked some strong, I know, questions at the beginning, qualifying them both before and after by saying they were not my position. Can't you distinguish between a question and an assertion? These questions are a technique, to help think about what is special about climbing and the community's attitude to kids doing this.
If you read properly you will I was not 'wailing' about anything. And you might also see that my position is that as a climbing community we should find ways to be more careful to ensure that kids climb safely. You may argue things are just fine now, and that's fine.
But an attack like this: really!
That is weird. Suggests 2 batches / racks, one good and one bad
> But an attack like this: really!
It could be that one person's mistake has nothing to do with what is currently seen as best practice for taking children climbing in an official/organised way?
The only thing I can think of from this is to have something like the buddy check system for things like quickdraws and other bits and pieces, a 'double check' system where two people check things.
Never mind a "buddy check", apparently it was a "buddy" who assembled the quickdraws wrongly, just a normal check by the climber himself would have been sufficient.
The question is whether young children can be considered responsible enough to do this themselves of whether someone - parents, organisers, "coaches", whoever - should have this responsibility. The same can be said for ensuring common sense is applied, should a helmet be worn, for example? At what age is an individual considered as being old enough to look after himself?
I think that's what the OP was on about, and I'd agree with him that it's worth thinking about in the light of this very strange and tragic accident.
I agree that this sort of thing is important, but it all applies just as much to a more average kid on a 5 as it would to a child prodigy on a 9a, so as far as sport climbing goes, all the stuff about "leading hard", videos on UKC, the perfidious evils of sponsorship etc is irrelevant.
To young and full of life to die, to simplify, and for what is after all just a trivial hobby... but I can't really express what I feel... and also I'd better not try or the thread would go on for ever, for little further purpose.
It's sad, I agree. But there are plenty of potentially dangerous things kids engage in, one that springs to mind is road cycling, though there are plenty of others. The irony kind of is that if you just sit at home watching TV, you're not "full of life". So it is a hard one to call.
Tragic, yes. But tragic things happen, sadly.
"also I'd better not try or the thread would go on for ever," well, you are doing a pretty good job at making this thread last... why not worry more about shamefully preventable death like the mass child mortality worldwide from dirty water, rather than someone (irrespective of age) who just had some terrible luck. I felt the same as a child as I feel now, I'd rather live healthily as long as I can but as I must die, better after having done something really life enhancing.
Next you'll be saying "at least he died doing what he loved!", what sanctimonious and nonsensical piffle!
In reply to davidalcock:
Wouldn't you say there was a difference between a 15 year old leading competently and assuming her own security and the case in question here? I would, the grade of the climbs is quite different as is the age - in the photo I linked he was shown leading hard routes at 8 years old, he went on to lead 8b at 10, and he was just 12 at the time of the accident. The ukc article refers to him as a "climbing prodigy" but I bet his parents wish he had just led a normal childhood now, rather that be a "prodigy" without a life as it turned out.
Also your example illustrates a major difference between normal climbing in which the climber is responsible for his or her own safety and the illusion of total security that bolted climbing gives - several posting here claim, with what sounds like a certain relish, that they wouldn't have noticed 8 quickdraws with a crab clipped into just a bit of rubber, and also will have us believe that climbing hard routes is "safer" than easy ones! No one picked up on an 8 year old climbing without a helmet either as if young skulls are as solid as older ones.
All this "there's nothing to see here, move along please!" after such a tragic accident is sickening, and as for those saying "He could have been run over by a bus just as easily" or bringing up the fate of children in poverty stricken areas... well frankly the mind boggles! Why the need to justify the unjustifiable? Admit there was a problem, that this death was not inevitable and at least try and think about how to reduce the chances of such a premature waste for others.
So do you feel that children (where's the cutoff? 16? 18?) should just stay at home and watch television, then, as most of the kind of physical activities that would keep them healthy carry risks just as climbing does?
Or do you think climbing is OK, but should be limited to indoor top-roping with the belayer using a Gri-gri?
What (genuine question) is an acceptable level of risk to you, considering that zero risk is completely impossible to achieve?
Yet I didn't say that did I? You did however make the wise-after-the-event guess that his parents would wish he never took up climbing. I hope they can forgive such speculation and that you will eventually shut up.
> Next you'll be saying "at least he died doing what he loved!", what sanctimonious and nonsensical piffle!
> In reply to davidalcock:
> The ukc article refers to him as a "climbing prodigy" but I bet his parents wish he had just led a normal childhood now, rather that be a "prodigy" without a life as it turned out.
Thats a silly point to make.
Of course in hind sight you'd think that, but seeing people excel is great. I'm not a fan of 'dieing doing what he loved' statement either. But I do think life is to be lived. It's the life in the years not years in the life sort of thing. We can all live safer lives. This just seemed a complete freak accident.
Yes he was young but people make mistakes at all ages. They may occur less with experience but experienced people still make mistakes.
Of course a death at 12 is nothing but a complete disaster. I just lost my best mate in his twenties and it was/is awful; incomparable to losing grandparents in their 80's. We were laughing and joking at my grandads funeral. I've still not get my head around losing my mate as it was just a terrible unpredictable accident, just no sense to it.
It seems like the lads dad did everything reasonably possible to encourage his child, not push and try to be as protective as possible without stiffling. I'm not sure much else could have been done. It was just a mistake.
> Wouldn't you say there was a difference between a 15 year old leading competently and assuming her own security and the case in question here? I would, the grade of the climbs is quite different
> and also will have us believe that climbing hard routes is "safer" than easy ones!
Okay, maybe I'm being dense here but why is a well bolted 8b more dangerous than a well bolted 5+?
I though it was clear I don't think much of climbing walls, also that I've nothing against children choosing to take up climbing - can't you see that it is all a question of degree? and common sense.
Why do you think I should "shut up"? Do you consider that only you and people who agree with you may post of the forum? Whatever you opinion is, you don't make it clear.
It's not by sweeping dust under the mat and pretending that accidents haven't happened that other lives will be saved.
Why is a hard route more dangerous than an easy one? I'm sure you could tell me, for some reason you don't want to.
It was a sport route. OK hard technically but as safe relatively speaking as any sport route.
> It's not by sweeping dust under the mat and pretending that accidents haven't happened that other lives will be saved.
Thats a valid point. Advertising, like UKC have done, how these QD's can be wrongly set up. But all this talk about ethics of kids leading is nonsensical.
Had he fallen off an E7, a high trad grade with little technical difficulty, say a very bold route, then I'd see the point of what you are saying. If he'd died trying to push the grades but this was a sport route. He could have opted to take a rest to check something.. it's a just a tragic event.
Yes, and I don't see why a child should not be sport-climbing. Though given judgement issues, adult supervision will be necessary in most cases until they get quite a lot older. An adult checking the QDs might have avoided the problem - then again, maybe it wouldn't, because the problem might not have occurred to them.
But your posts seem to give the impression that he shouldn't have been doing what he was doing. The question which naturally arises from this is that assuming he liked to climb, what climbing should he have been able to do and in what circumstances? I'm genuinely interested in your view on this, and I don't think you've answered that yet.
I don't think he said a hard route (sport) was more dangerous than an easy one. If there isn't a gear failure, a hard route is probably safer as you fall into space rather than bouncing down a slab. However if you bring in the possibility of gear failure vs. less likelihood of falling off an easier route, it might balance.
 But didn't the QD fail when he was lowering off? And you do that from more or less any sport route?
Perhaps worth noting that certain gear failures are rather less likely to happen to a kid (e.g. bolts pulling) - the forces when a typical 10 year old takes a lead fall are quite a bit less than when I (at 18 stone) do...
I support robust discussion and respect differening views and so I don't often wish people would shut up but I find your repeated age links to the accident irrelevant and distasteful. I'd ask you to think about what you said about his parents in a public posting: would say the same thing to their face? It's just my opinion of course and you are free to disagree and push this thread to 1000 posts.
For the record, I'm also happy with the reporting of the cause of this accident on UKC (including the timing, as an equipment issue is involved) and I'd guess the design of this specific type of quickdraw will be withdrawn or modified as a result of this accident.
Agree. Equipment failures should always be analysed and acted upon, regardless of the sensitivities of the situation, because this could save another life.
Me too, although I do wonder if the reportage and moderating would have been different had it been a British crag, climber and parents.
I've already said at least twice that I don't think it's a question of laws banning things or saying what anyone could do at what age, such systems have existed in other countries but that's not what I'm proposing. As I said higher up concerning my own children, they saw that climbing was there to be done and I often took them to the hills, mountains, Scotland, Wales, the Alps and also we often picnicked at Fontainebleau and they scrambled about as children do but I let them decide if they wanted to go further - nothing more. That's what I think concerning the small part of humanity which concerns me directly, morally and even legally possibly.
Other parents may make other choices, it's not for me to judge them although, IMO, this, and other incidents seem to me to provide food for thought about young children doing hard climbs, in particular in a context of competitiveness and media participation for sports as dangerous as climbing.
I'm convinced that safety and risk are individual responsibilities, that relying on gear placed by others, bolts etc. should never override this. I remember another long and fairly nasty squabble concerning a climber in Australia who died climbing a route which had been "badly" bolted by another party and there was a cyber lynch mob after the blood of the bolters - I said then that the responsibility was on the climber to check the gear, not rely on others.
So the question for me is whether the climber is in a position of being responsible for himself or not, when is a child fully responsible, in particular when leading in a potentially dangerous situation? It would be the same thing for an adult who is not considered responsible for his actions for mental reasons. If someone, of whatever age is 100% aware of the life and death aspects of the activity then, for me, there is no problem. If there is any doubt of this, I'd say it raises a question for those around him or her in terms of their responsibility to provide assistance and guidance.
In Britain it is a only moral question AFAIK, in France, where this accident took place, there is a legal obligation due to a law about "non-assistance à une personne en danger", which is why the result of the inquest may be a surprise to some.
> Me too, although I do wonder if the reportage and moderating would have been different had it been a British crag, climber and parents.
That's certain, I'd have been less explicit too as the chances of it being read by the parents would be higher. Having said that the posts on the French site linked above were pretty direct, even from the doctor who tried to save the child. 8 out of 12 quickdraws failing is a pretty serious "mistake" by someone!
To me with bolts it depends if you could see the problem or not. If the bolts *look* OK, you have absolutely no way to know they aren't bar climbing on them and falling off.
This sort of thing does put me off sport climbing somewhat.
I agree (and I think I said way back) that seems a more likely cause than a large number of quick draws clipping back on themselves and inverting during transit, as in the original video/photo. The odd one, maybe, more than half seems very unlikely. The old quick draws we have like this, the sling is wide enough you can see it sticking out either side of the rubber keeper, but most modern slings wouldn't. Which does make it very hard to spot visually.
Also, if it was the bottom 4 quick draws that apparently didn't fail, then surely one the most likely explanations is that they never got heavily loaded, as odds are the climber would have unfortunately hit the deck before load came onto them?
More speculation. As I said before there are plenty of things we do not know but what we do know is that those rubber holders can cover and hide that the sling is not properly attached.
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