/ Helmets and sport climbing

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Ron Walker - on 21 Oct 2013
I know it's uncool to wear a helmet Sport Climbing or Cragging, but a really nasty fall at 1.06 and the kind likely to cause serious rope burn and head injuries?

Falling with the rope around the back of your legs is quite common and invariable spins and flips you upside down, with your head taking most of the impact...

I had a similar unexpected fall years ago and ever since have always worn a helmet!

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fm0N_rQEyTc
Neil Williams - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:

Do you wear one indoors out of interest? That sort of fall could happen there as well.

Neil
Giles Davis - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:

I always wear a helmet, Trad or Sports. My daughter climbs and I try to set an example to her and the rest of the youngsters. I think belaying and hanging around at the bottom of the crag is far more dangerous than a fall whilst Sport climbing as I've seen loads of potentially fatal sized rocks come off when people are on routes.
Neil Williams - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Giles Davis:

If there's only one helmet, I'd rather my belayer wore it than me. If I get pelted by rocks, he's there to rescue me. If he gets pelted just as I come off, there's a massive problem.

Neil
GridNorth - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to Giles Davis)
>
> If there's only one helmet, I'd rather my belayer wore it than me.

In a similar vein I would also prefer my belayer to have an "auto assisting" belay device and having just returned from a sport climbing trip I have also realised the benefits of those CU belay glasses. As well as preventing neck and back ache they also help to concentrate the belayers mind on the climber. That makes 3 things that I would like all my belayers to make use of.

Hay - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:
Pretty much no excuse now with helmets like the Petzl Scirocco but you do feel a bit of a plampf.
Less of a plampf than you would with your head caved in right enough...
B..
David Bennett - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker: this is why I wear a helmet http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=74465
..... And he was wearing one........
ericinbristol - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:

You might be interested in the results and discussion of a little survey I did on helmets and sport climbing:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=498264
Jamie B - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:

Definitely always wear one at Moy!
Jon_Warner - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:

> Falling with the rope around the back of your legs is quite common and invariable spins and flips you upside down, with your head taking most of the impact.

> I had a similar unexpected fall years ago and ever since have always worn a helmet!

While I wouldn't discourage anybody from wearing a helmet, the trick here is to make sure you never put your legs behind the rope. I've been sticking to this rule after inverting and smashing my head... felt ill for a couple of days. Second nature now.

Ron Walker - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to ericinbristol:
> (In reply to Ron Walker)
>
> You might be interested in the results and discussion of a little survey I did on helmets and sport climbing:
>
> http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=498264

Good one, strangely enough I never saw that as I was probably thinking of ice climbing back in March and yes, everyone wears a helmet for that!!

Ron Walker - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to Ron Walker)
>
> Definitely always wear one at Moy!

Your not kidding especially as belayer after it's been raining, three near misses in a day!
Ron Walker - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to David Bennett:
> (In reply to Ron Walker) this is why I wear a helmet http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=74465
> ..... And he was wearing one........

Nasty....!
I once had a trad fall when one of the half ropes caught the back of my leg and I inverted. In slow motion, I remember the rope coming tight just as my scalp grazed a razor sharp flake of rock. Due to the two ropes coming tight, I was then violently spun around. This resulted in a badly sliced wrist and massive blood loss on the same sharp bit of rock my head had just missed.
I was just millimetres from a serious head injury or worse.
Over the years I've seen several similar incidents and always try to wear a helmet when leading something difficult or when sitting or belaying at the base of a crag...
Jamie B - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:

I get distinctly uncomfortable there when folk are milling around helemtless below me, quite a lot of folk don't seem to have grasped it!
Ron Walker - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Giles Davis:
> (In reply to Ron Walker)
>
> I always wear a helmet, Trad or Sports. My daughter climbs and I try to set an example to her and the rest of the youngsters. I think belaying and hanging around at the bottom of the crag is far more dangerous than a fall whilst Sport climbing as I've seen loads of potentially fatal sized rocks come off when people are on routes.

Some climbers with their kids really worry me too, especially when they are in the firing line at the base of routes... :-(

Ron Walker - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to Ron Walker)
>
> I get distinctly uncomfortable there when folk are milling around helemtless below me, quite a lot of folk don't seem to have grasped it!

Strange isn't it, I'd have thought it was common sense but obviously not!
Bulls Crack - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:

I wear one for sport as well as trad - just got into the habit - who gives a toss what anyone else thinks?!
rocky57 - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:

A helmet has saved my life twice. Once on a Sports route in Spain, and once on a Trad route in the States.

I don't need anyone to convince me of the benefits of wearing one.
gethin_allen on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:
Only climbing in the lower grades (mid 6s) everywhere I've been sport climbing have been chossy and loose so helmets make good sense. The only route I've climbed where my helmet impeded me was scarlet chimney on rivelin where I couldn't reach the crack at the back of the chimney because my helmet didn't fit in the chimney, but that's trad so doesn't count.
wi11 - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker: I started to wonder what makes me decide to wear a helmet or not when I went to the Orme and packed my helmet for trad climbs but not for the sport climbs, even though they are on the same crag. That and falling, inverting and breaking my helmet.

I wear a helmet a lot more now but still not all of the time; although I still do not completely understand my decision making process for this.
winhill - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to Ron Walker)
>
> Do you wear one indoors out of interest? That sort of fall could happen there as well.
>
> Neil

I'd agree that is the relevant question here, especially if you don't have the benefit of an overhang.
Ron Walker - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to winhill:
> (In reply to Neil Williams)
> [...]
>
> I'd agree that is the relevant question here, especially if you don't have the benefit of an overhang.

It's a good point which I'm sure someone involved with risk assessment at climbing walls and looking after swinging kids will explain.
From my experience the bolts are much closer together, the resin is softer to hit, holds less sharp and you normally only fall off on overhangs when leading? Having said that I try and avoid leading on < vertical walls with big holds to hit if you slip off - though gum guards could be useful!
winhill - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:

Christ kids, now we've got four things that aren't relevant to the OP: kids, ice, belayers and death from above, what next, dangerous dogs?
Nath93 - on 21 Oct 2013
Jack.H.92 on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:
Do you wear a helmet indoor though?
Never wear a helmet to sport climb, don't do sport climbs where there's a chance of hitting anything on the way down (including the floor, thats what clipsticks are for) defeats the object if it being safe to fall off surely? Wear a helmet for everything else.
Ron Walker - on 21 Oct 2013
Bulls Crack - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Jack.H.92:

I watched some gash their head open lowering off a sport route at Kilnsey once!

I broke my arm on a sport route

Ergo - you can hurt your head
r0x0r.wolfo - on 21 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:
> (In reply to Jack.H.92)
>
> Watch 1:06 of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fm0N_rQEyTc

So what happened to him? Dead? Disabled? Hospitalised? Serious head injury? Stopped climbing for the rest of the day? What? Sorry, it's the video that cuts away. Could you enlighten me? Thanks in advance.
Ron Walker - on 22 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

Him!!!
Otis - on 22 Oct 2013
Being reasonably new to climbing I can't get my head around the 'uncool' logic mentioned above.

Amongst climbing my other hobbies are, or have been, MTBing, white water kayaking, snowboarding & kite buggying. Wearng helmets for these is completely unquestioned (and you'd be branded a tool if you went helmet-less for the first two).

Coming from a background of these sports to climbing, not wearing a helmet outdoors was never even on the cards - I personally am used to them and can't see any reason why not to wear one. Each to their own mind.

To date my helmet has proved invaluable for bumping my head on roofs and in chimneys - not used it 'properly' yet and just hope I never have to!

Mike.
Neil Williams - on 22 Oct 2013
In reply to Otis:

I must admit to finding it surprising that indoor walls don't require helmet wearing because of their insurance etc.

That said, there are other aspects to the RA. For instance, helmet straps can catch on large holds and spin people or cause a neck injury when bouldering or using auto belays where the rope can't be taken tight to prevent the injury (or at least release them). My local wall bans helmet wearing completely on their "Crazy Climb" feature because of that risk. Much less likely outdoors where you don't so much get big sticky-out holds.

Neil
1poundSOCKS - on 22 Oct 2013
In reply to Otis: I tend to find I bump my head a lot more with a helmet on, so I wouldn't assume you've saved your head a lot of damage.
DubyaJamesDubya - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
> (In reply to Ron Walker)
> [...]
>
> So what happened to him? Dead? Disabled? Hospitalised? Serious head injury? Stopped climbing for the rest of the day? What? Sorry, it's the video that cuts away. Could you enlighten me? Thanks in advance.

It doesn't matter does it? You can clearly see it is a very dangerous incident. It quite shocked me as it gives the lie to the whole 'safe on steep walls argument'. BTW: She surely?
Wiley Coyote - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:
I would have thought that by any logical assessment a helmet is a good idea. About 30 years ago I had a Joe Brown model that was so heavy and uncomfortable that I ditched it except for ice climbing. Then I ditched iced climbing. This year, having gone on the Warfarin which apparently makes me more vulnerable to cranial bleeding in the event of a head injury I bought a Petzl Meteor which is so light I genuinely forget I'm wearing it. Iwear it on all outside routes but not indoors. I carried it all the way to Kaly recently and never wore it. There was no logic to that decision other than the heat and the solidity of most of the rock. That said, the two occasions I could have done with it were both belaying, once when a rock came down and once when some muppet dropped a quickdraw from 30m.
GridNorth - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Wiley Coyote: I have a Petzl Meteor but don't find it all that comfy especially when it's hot. Mine now has several dents and a small hole in the side which I can only put down to rough handling but there is something slightly concerning and counter intuitive about having to treat a device that is meant to protect your head as if it is a fragile piece of glass. I tried a Sirocco and have to say that it's the comfiest helmet I've worn.
Jamie B - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:

Things could yet change. When I started climbing 17 years ago hardly anyone was wearing helmets on outcrops - even as a beginner I was advised that it was just for mountains and loose quarries! That perception has changed, the one that sees helmets and sport crags as mutually exclusive could do so as well.

Somebody died at an Aussie sport crag a few years ago when he inverted in a fall and smashed his skull. It can happen.
GrahamD - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

>That perception has changed, the one that sees helmets and sport crags as mutually exclusive could do so as well.

It already has in France and Spain, at least for climbers operating in the lower grades. Helmets are as common as not at most crags.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:Yes it does matter. You can't point to it being unsafe unless you have proof of it being unsafe. The video is unclear so I need to know the extent of the injuries. Is that not reasonable? The clip is being used on a highlight reel, she was most likely fine and saying, 'I reckon she took severe rope burns and injury to her brain' is a load of speculative tripe.

Guys, guys! The facts don't matter, don't let them slow you down in your professional judgements of the issue.
DubyaJamesDubya - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
> (In reply to DubyaJamesDubya)Yes it does matter. You can't point to it being unsafe unless you have proof of it being unsafe. The video is unclear so I need to know the extent of the injuries. Is that not reasonable? The clip is being used on a highlight reel, she was most likely fine and saying, 'I reckon she took severe rope burns and injury to her brain' is a load of speculative tripe.
>
People have survived falling from planes It did not make the event 'safe'
Anyone (apart from a very small minority) can see that the fall in the video is not a safe one. Are you realistically telling me you would happily replicate it (with or without a helmet) if you heard that she was 'OK'?


r0x0r.wolfo - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo)
> [...]
> People have survived falling from planes It did not make the event 'safe'
Superb example.

> Anyone (apart from a very small minority) can see that the fall in the video is not a safe one. Are you realistically telling me you would happily replicate it (with or without a helmet) if you heard that she was 'OK'?

Yes, I would fall off a overhang without a helmet. If the person is O.K then I don't care how bad it looks to a bunch of armchair critics. Can we have some facts in this thread and can someone just tell me what happened to the girl. Ignorance is fuelling this storm in a teacup right now.
Dave Musgrove - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo: I suspect the girl in the video wasn't seriously hurt or we would have heard about at the festival party that night. However, watching the footage she was very lucky.

Sport climbing is not always safe and leader falls and rockfall all have the potential to cause serious head injury and occasionally do with most unhappy consequences. My 21 year old nephew was killed at Arapilles a few years ago when he fell, was flipped upside down and his head hit a ledge. A helmet may not have prevented injury but would probably have saved his life.

Whilst in Kalymnos at the same time as the festival another experienced climber fell a relatively short distance on a warm-up route when a hold broke, he clipped a ledge with his foot and badly broke his leg. He also ended-upside down with his head inches from the next ledge. A broken head probably wouldn't mend - his broken leg will.

The rules for the festival open marathons stipulated that helmets and self locking belay devices must be used (not that anyone checked) so I wonder if the elite athletes in the film had to sign up to the same conditions? It was an opportunity missed by North Face to promote helmets if all competitors had been obliged to wear one. Modern helmets are light and cool and once you get into the habit of putting one on at the same time as fitting your harness you'll soon forget its on. Its a no 'brainer' or could be if you hit your head without one!

dave
Michael Gordon - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

So if you saw those involved walk away unscathed, save for the odd cut and bruise, after a high speed car crash you'd call the incident 'safe'?
Jonny2vests - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

I think you're trying to draw too much out of a single example. But if you replayed it a thousand times with slightly different starting conditions, I suspect she'd be ok most of the time, but not in all.
gunbo - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Ron Walker: having grown up horse riding then progressing onto off road biking motor and pedal power I wear my climbing helmet 95% of the time. seen and had a lot off falls (only a couple of climbing falls) and a helmet is always with. I dont use my helmet on routes I know well and that are well within my grade.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Dave Musgrove:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo) I suspect the girl in the video wasn't seriously hurt or we would have heard about at the festival party that night. However, watching the footage she was very lucky.
Right, fair enough. At least that's an answer. I can't tell from that clip if she was lucky or not. She was unlucky to catch her leg.

> Sport climbing is not always safe and leader falls and rockfall all have the potential to cause serious head injury and occasionally do with most unhappy consequences. My 21 year old nephew was killed at Arapilles a few years ago when he fell, was flipped upside down and his head hit a ledge. A helmet may not have prevented injury but would probably have saved his life.
That is absolutely terrible.

> Whilst in Kalymnos at the same time as the festival another experienced climber fell a relatively short distance on a warm-up route when a hold broke, he clipped a ledge with his foot and badly broke his leg. He also ended-upside down with his head inches from the next ledge. A broken head probably wouldn't mend - his broken leg will.
That's horrible too. Yes a helmet was clearly no use there. That doesn't sound like a good sport route, leg breaking ledges. Ugh.

> The rules for the festival open marathons stipulated that helmets and self locking belay devices must be used (not that anyone checked) so I wonder if the elite athletes in the film had to sign up to the same conditions? It was an opportunity missed by North Face to promote helmets if all competitors had been obliged to wear one. Modern helmets are light and cool and once you get into the habit of putting one on at the same time as fitting your harness you'll soon forget its on. Its a no 'brainer' or could be if you hit your head without one!

That sounds weird, did anyone have a helmet on in that video? Most of the elite sport climbers don't wear helmets, why is that? Do you agree that belaying with a non locking device is dangerous aswell then?

r0x0r.wolfo - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo)
>
> So if you saw those involved walk away unscathed, save for the odd cut and bruise, after a high speed car crash you'd call the incident 'safe'?

Another superb example. I would say, driving is safe if there had been statistically very few injuries or deaths even after being confronted with a video of a nasty looking accident.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Jonny2vests:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo)
>
> I think you're trying to draw too much out of a single example. But if you replayed it a thousand times with slightly different starting conditions, I suspect she'd be ok most of the time, but not in all.

No, not at all. I like the way you put this as it is precisely my point, there is a video of a slightly awkward fall then the O.P is making a case from that. I totally agree someone is trying to draw too much out of a single example but it isn't me. I am not the one referring people to 'fastforward to 1.06 of this video to see how dangerous sport climbing is'.
Jonny2vests - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
> (In reply to Jonny2vests)
> [...]
>
> No, not at all. I like the way you put this as it is precisely my point

Oh, I see. I admit, I didn't read that far back.
DubyaJamesDubya - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
> (In reply to Jonny2vests)
> [...]
>
> No, not at all. I like the way you put this as it is precisely my point, there is a video of a slightly awkward fall then the O.P is making a case from that. I totally agree someone is trying to draw too much out of a single example but it isn't me. I am not the one referring people to 'fastforward to 1.06 of this video to see how dangerous sport climbing is'.

Yeah and you seem to be confusing the admitting that the video shows a clearly dangerous event with signing up to a campaign to make every one wear helmets (which you are clearly so vehemently against that you won't allow common sense or logic into the debate) Every time you use the phrase 'superb example' it was thanks.
A dangerous moment doesn't have to result in death or serious injury otherwise no one would learn from them.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Du mesDubya:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo)
> [...]
>
> Yeah and you seem to be confusing the admitting that the video shows a clearly dangerous event with signing up to a campaign

I quoted this "It quite shocked me as it gives the lie to the whole 'safe on steep walls argument'"

I see your confusion now, but I'm basically contradicting the above statement that in light of this video sport climbing helmetless is now 'very dangerous' or like 'jumping out of a plane'...

> (which you are clearly so vehemently against that you won't allow common sense or logic into the debate) Every time you use the phrase 'superb example' it was thanks.
Yes, falling off a sport route is like rolling an aston martin at 200 mph, it's like playing russian routelette with a automatic shotgun or whatever other hardcore things you can think of. I get it.

> A dangerous moment doesn't have to result in death or serious injury otherwise no one would learn from them.

As you must recognise I'm arguing more generally about sport climbing falls on steep routes. I don't care about the definition of a dangerous moment, although it did take me some time to see what all the fuss was about. I simply acknowledge that whilst every fall could have been worse than it was it doesn't affect the amount of people who are having injuries in this way. Unlike yourself I wasn't shocked and frightened by this video.
DubyaJamesDubya - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

I don't think we're as far apart as it might appear and are in danger of running around circles while making two different points.
Barrington - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
"Unlike yourself I wasn't shocked and frightened by this video". You are young & I genuinely feel sad for you - you really do have a lot to learn.... I think it was Walter Bonatti who was quoted as saying something like "a wise man does not learn from his experiences; he learns from those of others". So, I will give you & and any others who doubt just how lucky that lady was the benefit of my experience:

Small fall backwards (no more than 6ft), impact to back of head, unsurvivable depressed skull fracture.

If she'd hit an edge, her head would have split like a egg, there's no other way to describe it.

You are not immortal & sometimes you don't get a second chance - good luck with your life.....
Murko Fuzz - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

If you're the belayer!
AJM - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Barrington:

You're enormously patronising and that won't get your message listened to. If you want to persuade people of your views, the "oh god I'm so much wiser than you" attitude will do precisely nothing positive towards that aim.

The one thing I noticed in that clip is that she's actually barely moving inwards towards the slabbier rock, or downwards for that matter, by the time the camera cuts off. Very nice dynamic belay killing almost all of the inwards momentum that could have made it far more of an impact.
Barrington - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to AJM:
Not trying to be patronising at all. You can debate the dynamics, etc as much as you like. I am simply pointing out that your skull is an incredibly fragile thing and to dismiss any "free" lesson of the video is foolish. Most of us (me included) think we can judge risks, however there is a huge body of acadaemic evidence which suggests that humans (particularly young males) are in fact really bad at it....
AJM - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Barrington:

In which case, my suggestion would be to re-read before posting and if you see phrases like these:

> You are young & I genuinely feel sad for you
> you really do have a lot to learn

> I will give you ..... the benefit of my experience:

> good luck with your life.....

Remove them because all they will do is turn people off from your message.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo)
>
> I don't think we're as far apart as it might appear and are in danger of running around circles while making two different points.

Fair enough. I think one of my replies had an 'it' in it. Which meant for me 'sport climbing on a steep wall' or could have just as easily meant 'that specific fall the girl took'. I should have taken more care here.
In reply to Ron Walker:

surely rocks and the groundare hard no matter what kind of climbing you're doing
Michael Gordon - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to ivebittenoffmorethanicanstu:

that's why he's advocating use of a helmet

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