/ NEWS: Mina Leslie-Wujastyk - Harnesses, Helmets & Head Injury at Malham

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UKC News - on 31 Aug 2017
Last weekend, top sport climber and boulderer Mina Leslie-Wujastyk was involved in an accident at Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales. Mina has written a blog to share her experience and open a discussion on the use of harnesses and helmets in sport climbing, and has kindly agreed to reproduce the piece on UKC.

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1poundSOCKS - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Just read it. I've lost some weight, got a loose harness now. Thinking about a helmet.
2
Dave Garnett - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:
> Just read it. I've lost some weight, got a loose harness now. Thinking about a helmet.

Yes. I've always been a bit baffled by sport climbers not wearing helmets. As Mina says:

To give context I would guess, in my experience, that 90+% of sport climbers don't wear helmets. I was part of that 90%. For traditional climbing, I always do wear a helmet and I think that is a common approach and distinction among many climbers.

My instincts are completely the opposite. I very rarely wear a helmet when trad climbing because I very rarely fall off. In sport climbing there's an assumption that falling off is routine, so it seems to me obvious that there's a much more compelling case for wearing a helmet.
Post edited at 10:26
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Christheclimber on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Hi Mina,
Glad to hear that you are now home and on the start of the road to recovery and that you are considering a helmet as part of the process for your return to climbing.
Regarding helmets, all I can say is that I had a bad accident last year and wearing a helmet saved my life.
All the best for a speedy recovery,
Chris
GarethSL on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

I'm in exactly the same position. Having 'trained' for climbing for the first time ever I have lost a significant amount of weight and am slowly accepting that my harness is way too loose now. This incident and article makes for some worrying reading (and that link above even more so!).

I probably would have tried to get through winter with it fitting as it is, but I guess its time to have some serious second thoughts! Fortunately I'm in the 10% who wears a helmet as I (personally) see no good reason not to.
planetmarshall on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

There's no particularly rational reason why wearing a helmet is common in Trad and less so in Sport. If anything an objective observer might expect the reverse to be true, given that taking falls is part and parcel of the latter.

To me the most obvious reason is that in climbing as in all else, people imitate their peers and aspire to be like their idols. Isn't Mina on the front cover of the BMC Peak Limestone North guide, not wearing a helmet? Perhaps responsibility shouldn't be laid entirely at the athletes' door, but also with sponsors and publishers. With a new Peak Limestone guide in the off, maybe someone should be having a good look through the photos.
11
neilh - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Christheclimber:

I know another poster on here who now wears a helmet sports climbing after a similar incident at LPT.

And we were both witness to another incident in July at RPS involving a well known climber.

There are some incredibly lightweight helmets around.

Well worth lookking at.

Offwidth - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

A lot of stuff goes into choice of action shots and especially cover shots and I know that helmet use is already part of that in the BMC team. I'm sure they would be delighted with more great inspirational photos of climbers wearing a lid. Like Dave G above I think about wearing a helmet more often in sport than trad as I'm much more likley to fall. I'd recommend others to think about doing so especially in the UK as commonly bolted rocks like slate and limestone tends to be around looser rock on average than many popular trad areas. I'm also one of the few who often wears a lid when bouldering on my own, as again I will fall often and sometimes out of control and if my head could hit a rock in such circumstances or the problem is highball the lid will go on.

Another thanks for the artcle for Mina. I'd not properly appreciated the loose harness effects before.
Robert Durran - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
> There's no particularly rational reason why wearing a helmet is common in Trad and less so in Sport.

Yes there is. You are far more likely to hit stuff on a typical trad route than on a typical sport route. I wear a helmet when there seems a realistic chance of hitting something, which means some of the time on trad and virtually never on sport. Similarly I use a rope when there seems a realistic chance I might fall at all.

> With a new Peak Limestone guide in the off, maybe someone should be having a good look through the photos.

I disagree. Climbing is about personal responsibility and the photos should reflect what people actually do, not what some committee thinks they should do. Should photos of people soloing also be censored?
Post edited at 11:09
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SteveSBlake - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Thank you for exposing the details of the incident Mina, I'm glad you're OK.

I had a Kaly trip earlier this year, it was noticeable how many people were wearing helmets, I'd estimate at least half of the folks we encountered were wearing lids. I rarely wear a helmet when sport climbing, but would consider it depending on what I think the level of risk is. To wear or not to wear remains a choice.

Regarding harnesses, something else that I think is worth considering is the rise. The waistbelt needs to be tight enough and around your waist, not on the crest of your hips dipping down over your pelvis. If it is dipping down at the front the 'rise' (the belay loop) is too small. I think a harness sitting higher on the waist must make a big difference in how we pitch about at the end of a tumbling fall. I've always wondered why there aren't a harnesses with an adjustable rise?

Thanks again for posting and get better soon.

Steve
planetmarshall on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Yes there is. You are far more likely to hit stuff on a typical trad route than on a typical sport route.

Well that's demonstrably untrue, since the probability of falling of a sport route in the first place is already far higher.

> I disagree. Climbing is about personal responsibility and the photos should reflect what people actually do, not what some committee thinks they should do. Should photos of people soloing also be censored?

Well the key word here is *personal* responsibility. What precautions people take or do not take when climbing for themselves is their own affair. However when sponsors and guidebook publishers are involved, I do not think it is so clear cut. If climbers want to accept the benefits that come with sponsorship then they should also accept the responsibility that comes with being a role model.

9
gaw - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Very glad you're OK Mina - good outcome!
Disregarding the relative risks of head injury in sport and trad climbing my experience is that having got used to wearing a helmet I now don't feel right setting off up any style of climbing without one - I immediately feel less confident. I think we've seen the same thing in cycling for a large number of people - they've got used to wearing one and now don't feel right without one.
Yes, I am biased - I've been helicoptered into Fort William, stabilised and ambulanced to Glasgow where I stayed for 3 weeks, but only because I was wearing a helmet. Without it I wouldn't have had that luxury treatment.
Well, as you know also only because we have such fantastic emergency services!
gaw - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Tony Jones:

> Christ!
> Open that link at your peril: it's hard to unsee those images even after you've closed the window.

I wish I'd read your comment first!!!!!!!
Webster - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> There's no particularly rational reason why wearing a helmet is common in Trad and less so in Sport. If anything an objective observer might expect the reverse to be true, given that taking falls is part and parcel of the latter.

again another "yes there is"

traditionally helmets are there to protect you from objects falling from above, most helmets provide minimal impact protection at the back and sides for a fall (I know more and more bicycle helmet styles are available these days, but its a slow shift in habits and 'fashions'). consequently I wear a helmet whenever there is a realistic possibility of stuff falling onon me, which is far more likely in trad than sport (and almost a given in winter/alpine). as I only operate at the lower grades I adopt a 'no falls' approach in sport as well as trad because a fall on a 5+ sport route is often still likely to result in injury due to hitting ledges etc. so I don't include 'likelihood of falls' in my equation for wearing a helmet, and base it purely on the stability of the rock above/climbers above dropping gear etc. the day I get a more modern bike style helmet will be the day that I recalibrate my risk management slightly...

16
ah - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Years ago I inverted at Kilnsey and was hospitalised with a broken head.

I've also been hit by on the head by a large rock whilst on a deserted Malham Catwalk. Fortunately it glanced off, but it really freaked me out.
Dave Garnett - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
> However when sponsors and guidebook publishers are involved, I do not think it is so clear cut.

You may have a point about sponsorship, although I think the way it works is that the sponsors will consider the image they wish to project (which may or may not involve setting a 'responsible' example) and sponsored climbers will be obliged to accept the terms of the deal.

I don't think guidebook publishers have any such responsibility. If you go down that road then they will be leaving hard, unprotected routes out of future guides altogether. The first priority with photographs is that they should be worth looking at, whether it's because they are exciting, inspiring, unbelievable or just artistically striking.

In some cases, undoubtedly they convey a level of commitment and risk; nobody wants to look at somebody toproping because it lacks any sense of drama, and there's a reason memorable sport climbing shots are difficult to take. In some cases, a helmet can detract from the image because it draws the eye and emphasises that the situation is probably less dangerous than it looks when, obviously, the intention is to convey the opposite - why else do we pose on aretes and overhangs?
Post edited at 11:47
ericinbristol - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Best wishes to Mina for a full and speedy recovery!

Here are the results of an unscientific survey I did via UKC some years ago about sport climbing and helmet wearing asking why people do or not wear a helmet for leading or belaying while sport climbing:
https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=498264
(Apologies for boring those who have seen me post this more than once before).

FWIW, my own helmet use is:
- Sport leading: easy/ledgy. Helmet.
- Sport leading: steep and decently bolted. No helmet.
- Sport belaying: Helmet.
- Trad. Helmet.

Robert Durran - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Well that's demonstrably untrue, since the probability of falling of a sport route in the first place is already far higher.

And most typical sport route can be fallen off hundreds or thousands of times with negligibly small risk of injury.

> If climbers want to accept the benefits that come with sponsorship then they should also accept the responsibility that comes with being a role model.

Who says they have to be a role model? They are just climbers paid to give exposure to kit.
4
planetmarshall on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Who says they have to be a role model? They are just climbers paid to give exposure to kit.

They are whether they like it or not. If they want to do their own thing without any commercial interference then that option is open to them, but I don't think they can have their cake and eat it. However I take Dave's point in that this is largely down to the image that the sponsors wish to project. Perhaps given this latest injury to a high profile athlete they will think about that image more carefully.
3
planetmarshall on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> I don't think guidebook publishers have any such responsibility. If you go down that road then they will be leaving hard, unprotected routes out of future guides altogether. The first priority with photographs is that they should be worth looking at, whether it's because they are exciting, inspiring, unbelievable or just artistically striking.

Yes I was mostly thinking about the BMC, who are in a slightly different position to most guidebook publishers, in being the representative body for climbers in the UK. I think that they have certain responsibilities in that role that other publishers do not.

Greasy Prusiks on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Webster:

Why would it be far more likely for something to fall on you during trad than sport? Surely that's much more to do with rock type and condition?
Wiley Coyote2 - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I avoided helmets for years (decades) because they were so heavy and clunky but now they are so light I always wear one. In fact I've even forgotten to take it off at the end of the day and have started to walk down from the crag still wearing it. I also always wear it for belaying. On Yorks limestone that can be more dangerous than climbing.
yodadave on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

Thanks for putting across your point Marshall.
I would tend to agree with some of those above, in particular Eric, that there are some differences between trad and "some" sport routes.

Rock stability, bolt spacing and directness of the line should all be considered. But for me steepness of the route is the real determining factor.

The red river gorge, Malham, Kaly, thailand etc are generally steep venues meaning that your fall line is more likely to be into free air. ie not impacting the rock. Additionally any rock fall from above is unlikely to hit you.

Other venues like the new river gorge, Potrero Chico, Southern French limestone etc have a more vertical nature where an awkward fall is far more likely to have you impacting the rock OR the have clifftops where a trundled rock could very well hit you.

grade plays into the conversation as at many areas it is safer to fall the harder the grade is.

I just think its a bit more "horses for courses" than you are projecting.

Incidentally I wore a helmet to TR solo a sport route yesterday that I have previously led without a helmet.
La benya - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Greasy Prusiks:

i would have thought the additional several KG of metal bits that are routinely clipped and unclipped from a harness during trad might have something to do with it. not to mention that same gear popping once it has been placed. and the mechanics of it being in the rock, creating a higher chance of bits blowing out and falling....
1
Robert Durran - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> They are whether they like it or not. If they want to do their own thing without any commercial interference then that option is open to them.

If the sponsor put swearing a helmet in their contract and they accept the contract then that is obviously fine, but I really don't think they have any personal responsibility to wear a helmet.
neilh - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to yodadave:

How does that argument about steep rock fit in with Mina being on Rainshadow?

I know a mate of mine who climbs 7c/8a and likes plenty of free air has rethought his approach on helmets.

Its not an easy one to resolve.
Offwidth - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
As I said its taken into account at the BMC all other things being equal but I think as Dave said: photo quality and inspiration take precedence: the education bit is best left elsewhere and they do a good job in that.

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/tech-skills-why-to-wear-a-helmet (note the comment on Horseshoe vs Stanage)

As climbing is a risk activity we choose to be involved with (deliberate acceptance of risk), I think helmet choice is part of the necessary risk assessment. I just wish some people would be a bit more logical in that and certainly much less influenced by fashion. In the BMC guide I worked on most, the front cover and most of then current hardest ascents have climbers with lids and a good number where climbers are pushing their limits on bolder terrain. We also tried to get history in the photographic content and helmet use is rarer. There is also a picture of a climber who simply could not be where she is with a lid on!
Post edited at 12:42
NickK123 - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Thanks for sharing Mina - thoughts are with you. Rgds, N
gethin_allen on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Greasy Prusiks:

> Why would it be far more likely for something to fall on you during trad than sport? Surely that's much more to do with rock type and condition?

I agree here, most of the place I go sport climbing have loose rock everywhere, just take a look at the Llanberis quarries. Many of these places are bolted to avoid having to top out because the tops are so loose.

Maybe the single pitch aspect means that it's less likely you'll have people climbing and dislodging stuff above you?

I can't understand the no helmet thing, maybe I just don't climb hard enough, but they are so light and comfortable these days they they are highly unlikely to get in the way. And even if they only provide a limited amount of protection they're better than nothing.
The cycling community has equally hot debates about helmets, maybe even more so, but they main point there is that helmets do little to stop a truck flattening you which is not an issue for climbers.
minty1984 on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

Personal responsibility is a fair statement and everyone has different levels of acceptable personal safety and risk, but surely the consequences are never just personal? The result of Mina's head injury required a full scale helicopter rescue? This is a huge costly procedure which would have (most probably) been avoided if she was wearing a helmet?

The risks of climbing are always there and I feel that a helmet is a very simple way of reducing the severity of many accidents involving head injuries. For me it is to simple. Helmet equals less likely to sustain a head injury so therefore makes climbing safer

Glad to hear she was OK though
2
Coel Hellier - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to yodadave:

> . . . are generally steep venues meaning that your fall line is more likely to be into free air. ie not impacting the rock.

Isn't it the case than on very steep rock, where you are likely to be quite a bit further out from the rock than your last bolt, you are *more* likely to hit rock through penduluming?

Perhaps the safest is slightly overhanging rock, but not very overhanging rock.
John Clinch (Ampthill) - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Lots of chat about helmets

But to me the message is about harnesses. I think I did all my hardest routes in a harness that was to small. In the few falls I took I often felt like I was tipping backwards. I'm now sure the harness was too small and therefore too low on my hips. I'm a doughnut for not realising and taking action sooner. But if in doubt check with some one who knows about this stuff!
planetmarshall on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to minty1984:

> Personal responsibility is a fair statement and everyone has different levels of acceptable personal safety and risk, but surely the consequences are never just personal? The result of Mina's head injury required a full scale helicopter rescue? This is a huge costly procedure which would have (most probably) been avoided if she was wearing a helmet?

I don't think it's clear cut, no. Certainly if we were discussing someone who had headed up Ben Nevis in shorts and flip flops in the dead of Winter and subsequently had to be rescued, criticism would be near universal regardless of their personal right to take that risk.

Accidents will happen, but if some are easily avoidable I do think we have some responsibility to take reasonable precautions if only to save the time of emergency services who may be needed elsewhere.
DubyaJamesDubya - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to yodadave:

> Rock stability, bolt spacing and directness of the line should all be considered. But for me steepness of the route is the real determining factor.

> The red river gorge, Malham, Kaly, thailand etc are generally steep venues meaning that your fall line is more likely to be into free air. ie not impacting the rock. Additionally any rock fall from above is unlikely to hit you.


> grade plays into the conversation as at many areas it is safer to fall the harder the grade is.

> I just think its a bit more "horses for courses" than you are projecting.


And the incident in question was at Malham.
minty1984 on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

Completely agree with that
In reply to John Clinch (Ampthill):

A few days before Mina's accident, a new harness arrived in the post for me. My previous one - although a decent size when I bought it - was starting to slacken very slightly on wear and I had possibly lost a bit of weight too. The result was my harness/knot being pulled to one side as I climbed, especially when traversing. It unnerved me so much that I got a new one. Fortunately I didn't experience the results of a bad fall (I was often pulling the centre round to the front again, and was just lucky not to have any bad falls), but I had contemplated how I might fall sideways or invert considering the position of the knot and centre of the waistband. I guess it depends on the harness model too, as some may not swivel to the side so easily, but still adjust your centre of gravity and tip you backwards.

This wasn't something that I'd noticed in the past, but keeping an eye on harness fit after weight loss or looking out for any creep in the buckle is something that has probably been overlooked by many climbers.

Best wishes to Mina in her recovery.
DubyaJamesDubya - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to John Clinch (Ampthill):

> Lots of chat about helmets

> But to me the message is about harnesses. I think I did all my hardest routes in a harness that was to small. In the few falls I took I often felt like I was tipping backwards. I'm now sure the harness was too small and therefore too low on my hips. I'm a doughnut for not realising and taking action sooner. But if in doubt check with some one who knows about this stuff!

The point was that something the original writer didn't think was a problem caused a head injury that could have been greatly reduced by wearing a helmet. You say yourself that your harness was potentially dangerous in a similar way but you didn't realise for quite some time.
objock on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Mina, wishing you a speedy recovery.

Thank you for being so candid about the incident. Your honesty and objectivity in your blog is refreshing and informative, showing this is a risky sport where participants (at all skill levels) make their own choices in what and how they do in every part of it. The choices made mean we are willing to accept that risk that something may go wrong or not go 100% right! Be that training, kit buying and wearing, belay partners, climbing or any other part of it. Part of the excitement is the risk!

I understand your initial fear of placing this on social media but people will judge you with or without the facts any way. Even those not in a position to do so. Thank you for taking the decision to do so - I have learned something I did not consider before.

Hey, we all take risks and we don't always get it right. If the risk is measured and acceptable to you then crack on! As one of the country's most accomplished climbers, you are more than aware of that than most.

Keep doing what you choose to do and get back on the horse soon! (With or without a helmet)
Webster - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Greasy Prusiks:

> Why would it be far more likely for something to fall on you during trad than sport? Surely that's much more to do with rock type and condition?

where to start...

rack...
more likely to be other climbers above (ether on the same pitch or another route/pitch). you can start a pitch before the previous team finish on trad, not sport where you lower off.
people walking along the top of the crag.
other climbers at the top of the crag (again you don't top out in sport).
in theory sport crags by their very nature are more compact and therefore 'should' have less loose rubble lying around.
big mountain routes are far more unstable (and we don't have mountain sport in this country thank god...).

should I go on...
8
Webster - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to minty1984:

> Personal responsibility is a fair statement and everyone has different levels of acceptable personal safety and risk, but surely the consequences are never just personal? The result of Mina's head injury required a full scale helicopter rescue? This is a huge costly procedure which would have (most probably) been avoided if she was wearing a helmet?

as she said she was probably far more likely to be involved in an accident while driving to the crag than actually climbing, yet nobody thinks twice about jumping in the car... think of the cost of all the RTA recovery operations every day.

I know you are only raising a valid discussion point rather than unduly criticising, so I am hopefully doing the same!
Wee Davie - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Years ago I belayed someone who inverted after trad gear ripped and they had an 8m fall while not wearing a helmet. They were knocked unconscious as the back of their head was the first thing to hit rock at the end of the fall. I remember thinking initially the climber was dead, and meanwhile the sheer volume of blood from their scalp injury was incredible. In our case we ended up walking out to meet the ambulance crew.
I've generally chosen to wear helmets through my climbing and cycling career. I've not had a serious head injury during climbing activities but have possibly avoided them during one long inverted fall off an icefall and a few other good bumps from falling ice that could have been a lot worse without one on. I've given myself far (potentially) worse bangs to the head while cycling. One or two avoidable (failing to drop off a picnic bench on a mtb and giving myself concussion!) and the most recent one where a dog ran in front of my bike and instant Olympic gymnastics ensued. Without a helmet that one could have been nasty.
As many have said already, when heavy plastic lids were all that were available I can see why people avoided wearing them. These days they're so light and comfy I reckon it's just a matter of time until it's the norm in all climbing situations like it has become for 99% of cyclists.
Fraser on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Here's a shot I took of Mina on Rainshadow back in April. Going by her description in the article, I guess this particular fall was from perhaps just a bit higher.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/70132285@N07/33749442551/in/dateposted-public/

Wishing her a speedy recovery.
Robert Durran - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

> I avoided helmets for years (decades) because they were so heavy and clunky but now they are so light I always wear one.

They may have got lighter, but they are all still horribly uncomfortable. Or maybe I've just got a weird shaped head.
18
planetmarshall on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Webster:

> as she said she was probably far more likely to be involved in an accident while driving to the crag than actually climbing, yet nobody thinks twice about jumping in the car... think of the cost of all the RTA recovery operations every day.

I'm pretty sure this oft-quoted statistic isn't true, at least I've never seen any definitive data in support of it.

RTA stats are easy to come by, not so for rock climbing accidents. The best I could do was mountaineering. In terms of micromorts, that is to have a 1:1000000 chance of death, you'd have to drive for over 700,000 miles before you had the same chance of death as one ascent of the Matterhorn (based on about 200 deaths over 75000 attempts)
1
Sankey - on 31 Aug 2017
On the harness size issue, check the returns policy carefully when buying one, or make sure the size is spot on before parting with cash.

After spending 45 minutes yesterday in a shop trying on various harnesses (but with no hanging point available) I bought one, but after a brief hang in it last night (at home, not actually out climbing), it was too big.

After reading Minas' article, just living with it did not seem a good idea(!) so I was back to exchange it today, but initially met with the line that once it left the shop that was it.

Also told that this shop had removed their harness testing hang point based on health and safety issues.

To their credit, in this case the manager stepped in and was interested in the article, did an exchange and said they should clarify the exchange policy at the point of sale.

This is the second genuine harness exchange I have needed to make to get the correct product, so seems like a tricky issue for both customers and sellers.
Robert Durran - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
> In terms of micromorts, that is to have a 1:1000000 chance of death, you'd have to drive for over 700,000 miles before you had the same chance of death as one ascent of the Matterhorn (based on about 200 deaths over 75000 attempts)

For obvious reasons, climbing the Matterhorn is far, far more dangerous than sport climbing. Imagine the carnage of one death per 375 days of sport climbing - probably multiple weekly deaths in the UK alone - it would probably get banned!

I think sport climbing is a bit like commercial flights; yes accidents can happen and, though rare, are quite rightly analysed and lessons learnt, but they usually result from the bad luck of several factors coinciding. Alpinism is to sport climbing what bat wing proximity flying is to Ryanair.
Post edited at 14:15
sam.sam.sam.ferguson - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Wonder what the hardest sport route climbed with a helmet on is?

You never see pics of people on super hard stuff with helmets on. I think I've seen a pic of someone on Mecca wearing a helmet.
deepsoup - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Sankey:
> To their credit, in this case the manager stepped in and was interested in the article, did an exchange and said they should clarify the exchange policy at the point of sale.

Glad to hear it, but if 'clarifying the exchange policy' just means stressing to the customer that they can't return it, they need to appreciate that it does not relieve them of their duty of care to send the customer away with a product suitable for them to use.

If they've made a conscious decision to take away the facility to try the thing on properly (which definitely does mean weighting the thing imo), then why should they expect you to buy it in their shop rather than save a few quid getting it online?

"Health and Safety" FFS! <spits on floor>

(Touched a wee bit of a nerve there, could you tell?) ;-)
gethin_allen on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Webster:

> where to start...

> rack...
Any reason why carrying a rack would result in you inverting? the weight is around your waist.

> more likely to be other climbers above (ether on the same pitch or another route/pitch). you can start a pitch before the previous team finish on trad, not sport where you lower off.
Yes.
> people walking along the top of the crag.
You get plenty of this at sport crags unless you are on big overhanging routes, try Horseshoe or Dinorwig, both have multiple levels with people wandering around. I once had to stop someone from lobbing a massive block off the top of Malham, although a helmet wouldn't have saved anyone hit by this block.

> other climbers at the top of the crag (again you don't top out in sport).
Your above point repeated.
> in theory sport crags by their very nature are more compact and therefore 'should' have less loose rubble lying around.
> big mountain routes are far more unstable (and we don't have mountain sport in this country thank god...).
Not always true, there are plenty of loose sports crags, especially newly developed places.

> should I go on...

You could try if you like but you'd do better to reassess the points you tried to make above.
If you want to climb without a helmet then that's up to you but I wouldn't try too hard to convince yourself that it's safe because it's sport, it's far more nuanced than that.

2
maxsmith - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I always wear a helmet whether cycling, snowboarding or climbing (regardless of trad/sport/scrambling). I suffered severe concussion in a snowboarding accident and the injury would have been far worse if I hadn't been wearing a lid at the time. For me wearing one is a no brainer (sorry!).

My own experience is that non-helmet wearers will often change their stance after seeing a relative or friend injured when not wearing a helmet. To me it seems a big shame that it takes a serious accident before people will change their approach. Prevention is much better than a cure - but sadly not all head injuries can be cured.

The recent ukc articles on the subject have been brilliant. Even if only a few people start wearing helmets as a result, then that's a very positive thing...

tom_in_edinburgh - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

It's interesting that there is nothing specific to outdoor sport climbing in this accident. The exact same thing could happen with a slightly loose harness, taking a fall off an overhang with no helmet indoors. But pretty much nobody wears a helmet leading indoors and I've not seen anybody seriously push for it.

There are so many people leading indoors without a helmet that a significant risk of head injury from this kind of fall should show up in accident statistics and result in walls encouraging helmet use when leading. But it doesn't seem to have done, so maybe statistically the risk is low. Absolutely no reason not to check harness is tight before setting off though!
planetmarshall on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:
> For obvious reasons, climbing the Matterhorn is far, far more dangerous than sport climbing. Imagine the carnage of one death per 375 days of sport climbing - probably multiple weekly deaths in the UK alone - it would probably get banned!

Well indeed, but the point I was making is that driving is relatively safe and I think the 'you're more likely to have an accident on the way to the crag' trope is trotted out without actually knowing whether it's true or not.

Perhaps a better comparison is skiing, which in terms of risk of death puts 1 day of skiing equivalent to about 175 miles driving. If a day's climbing is a comparable risk, then your drive to the crag would have to be about the same distance as between London and Sheffield.

(Edited for dodgy maths)
Post edited at 14:49
Bogwalloper - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Was winching Mina down to the Beck then down the oposite side of the beck the best option? It's been a few years since I was on The Catwalk but with the numbers available I would have thought a nice steady carry down the path would be quicker than all that rigging?

W
2
minty1984 on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Webster:

Its a valid point. There are many risks to many everyday activities we all undertake. Driving poses huge injury risks if involved in an accident but there are measures in place to reduce the outcome. Seatbelts, airbags, speed limits, driving test etc etc

I see it in climbing that there is a measure available to help reduce head injuries and that is a helmet! I also don't see how a helmet of todays standards could impact on ability or get in the way of any climbing move? This is obviously only my opinion and I do not climb anywhere near the standards of Mina but I just cant see how it would effect any move except a head jam in a big crack!

Coel Hellier - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to deepsoup:

> . . . they need to appreciate that it does not relieve them of their duty of care to send the customer away with a product suitable for them to use.

Do they? Do they really have such a duty legally?
jon on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to minty1984:

> but I just cant see how it would effect any move except a head jam in a big crack!

As you get nearer and nearer (or indeed beyond) your limit, the slightest little thing can make a difference to your performance. Not necessarily the weight or bulk of something like a helmet, but anything that is enough to unsettle you in some way. Just enough to take you out of that perfect place that you need. Psychological maybe but somehow very real.

BigBrother - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to SteveSBlake:
> I've always wondered why there aren't a harnesses with an adjustable rise?

Here you go https://www.metoliusclimbing.com/climbing-harnesses.html Not sure if they are available in the uk though.

Also many years ago Troll tried selling harnesses via a modular approach ie you bought the waist belt and legloops separately so that you could get a good fit on both and I think the belay loop also came separately in different lengths but I may be wrong on that detail.

ps women's harnesses usually have a longer rise
Post edited at 14:59
snomonkee - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I think that article is enough to make me wear a helmet for sport climbing. I think some people will always have the 'it won't happen to me' mentality though.

One thing that got me thinking is, aren't helmet manufactures sponsoring professional climbers? Surely doing so would add some obligation to wear and endorse their helmets?
Kemics - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

a lot of the sport venues near me are crumbly quarries, definitely need a helmet there. I've broke two helmets in the last year. One cycling and one climbing, I assume both if not saved my life, then saved me from a very serious injury.

But it's totally up to people to make their own choice, climbing is pretty silly to start with
minty1984 on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to jon:

That makes sense. I guess at that level the slightest imperfection is the difference between sending the route or not.

I guess it then boils down to if people are willing to take that risk to climb that hard without a helmet to help gain perfection..... and we already know that many many people are willing.

For me training more and getting to used to wearing the helmet would be better action than taking it off to send the route?

Webster - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to gethin_allen:

> Any reason why carrying a rack would result in you inverting? the weight is around your waist.

did you not read my post? the rack is a shit load of things that are more likely to fall on your head (from others) while being clipped/unclipped!

and in response to your other comments. im making generic statements as to why helmets are seen as the norm in trad and not sport, that is plainly obvious! clearly there are always exceptions but generally there is more likely to be loose shit around at a trad crag.
3
deepsoup - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> Do they? Do they really have such a duty legally?

Hard to say. I didn't really intend that post as a technical analysis of the legal situation Coel if I'm honest, I was mostly expressing a certain irritation at the ever present 21st century drip drip of decisions made, rightly or wrongly, for the fear of ambulance chasers being attributed to "Health and Safety". I suppose it would be fair to say I was more addressing the moral aspect of the thing.

That being said a retailer does have a legal duty to sell goods that are fit for purpose. They do. Really.
Not being a lawyer I wouldn't really know exactly how the law applies in a case like this, but I imagine one might argue that a climbing harness isn't wholly 'fit for purpose' for a given individual if it's the wrong f*cking size.
Sankey - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to deepsoup:

Is a tough one, usually if you select the wrong size of a jacket or whatever it doesn't have any safety issue , but ironically a refund in that case is easy to get.

Here, it is a case where the sizing is vital, but at current, at least some shops don't make it easy to find this out, apparently for genuine reasons (I could have gone home and partially severed key parts of the harness I guess, I could have done that in the shop too though...)

It comes down to how will outdoor retailers help us select the correct safety critical products, I don't think it is their imperative to do this, but in the end, taking a hit on a few returns that can't be re-sold might have to be accepted, which could motivate better fitting facilities and advice too.

Manufacturers being pro-active and providing harnesses for the express purpose of checking size, and giving guidelines for shops they supply to would be a start (if they don't already)
Offwidth - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

I'm prettty sure its not far off on driving to UK trad and sport (a lot safer in micromorts than the Matterhorn) and so your numbers are an unfair comparison for UK driving. The approach roads for climbs are more dangerous than average roads and climbers tend to drive much faster than the average in my experience, sometimes way too fast for the road conditions.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micromort

There are a few places with rock climbing micromorts, eg:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=631112

" cb294 - on 20 Dec 2015
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

Can't be arsed to look for the PDF, but the Austrian AC published a study a few years ago that found mountain sports overall to be slightly more risky than driving (normalized per hour of activity).

This effect disappeared when you took out the most common cause of death, i.e. cardiac arrest in middle aged or elderly hikers, counting it as a health related rather than activity related issue.

Sport climbing and even trad climbing was relatively safer than driving, the big killers which are clearly more dangerous than climbing are expedition climbing, alpine ski mountaineering (avalanches), and alpine routes above AD. If you stick to cragging and are not yet coffin dodging, driving to and from the venue indeed seems to be the greater risk.

CB"


http://www.davidcpearson.co.uk/blog.cfm?blogID=293

http://www.noted.co.nz/archive/listener-nz-2013/what-are-the-odds-risk-and-reality/
kevin stephens - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> > Accidents will happen, but if some are easily avoidable I do think we have some responsibility to take reasonable precautions if only to save the time of emergency services who may be needed elsewhere.

But in order to take responsibility, ie do your own personal risk assessment you have to be aware of the risks. Not enough sport climbers are aware of the risk of an inverted fall leading to severe head injury (I had a lucky escape when this happened to me), this can be due to inadvertently getting the rope behind your foot, or hands slipping off with both feet placed high.

Coel Hellier - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to deepsoup:

> That being said a retailer does have a legal duty to sell goods that are fit for purpose. They do. Really.

Agreed.

> [. . . ] I imagine one might argue that a climbing harness isn't wholly 'fit for purpose' for a given individual if it's the wrong f*cking size.

I suspect they don't have any legal duty to ensure that the item is appropriate for a given individual. But I'm open to correction.
gethin_allen on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Webster:

> did you not read my post?

What? the one that simply states "rack..."

Perhaps I didn't understand your post due to the terrible grammar. You seem to enjoy using loads of full stops but haven't yet grasped the idea of capital letters or other punctuation.

Anyhow, as it stands, what's the difference in having someone drop a nut or cam on your head rather than a sport quickdraw?

And regarding generic statements, as I mentioned in my post above, safety matters can't really be generalised.
7
Michael Gordon - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to gethin_allen:

>
> Anyhow, as it stands, what's the difference in having someone drop a nut or cam on your head rather than a sport quickdraw?
>

Now that's just being silly. Quickdraws are used in trad as well, but there is a lot more gear involved overall, so much more likely to drop something.

But other than loose rock, the main glaring reason why you are less likely to get a head injury sport climbing than trad climbing is that there are bolts! Decking out is much less likely. OK it can still happen but with good belaying and the 2nd draw pre-clipped it is unlikely. In trad there could be a bold start, or the gear could be poor, or there could be a runout above the initial good gear etc etc. It's much the same reasons why trad is less safe generally.
3
Robert Durran - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to snomonkee:

> I think some people will always have the 'it won't happen to me' mentality though.

I think everyone knows perfectly well it could happen to them, just like they know they could be in a bad car crash on their way to work. I suspect their is just as strong an argument for wearing a crash hat when driving as when sport climbing, but the culture change would be even greater.

1
AJM - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Isn't it the case than on very steep rock, where you are likely to be quite a bit further out from the rock than your last bolt, you are *more* likely to hit rock through penduluming?

Only if it's getting steeper all the time? A flat angle continuously leaning wall you shouldn't go as far "behind" the bolt on the pendulum as you started "in front of" it when you fell.

I have inverted and cracked the back of my head quite badly coming off the steepest section of a route and swinging in onto the "slabby" wall below. Of course, the "slabby" bit was about 5-10 degrees overhanging, but that just rams home the message that it's all relative...
Pete_Frost on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Very interesting point. Bolt spacing could be the difference: most walls seem to have bolts about a metre or two apart but outside it can be much, much further. So, indoors you may not have the time to fall upside down between clips.

Other people posting on this thread seem not to want to wear helmets and appear to be coming up with all kinds of excuses not to wear them. If you don't like wearing a helmet, at least be honest and say so: you don't need an excuse and no one will make you wear one if you don't want to, but don't invent reasons for other people not to wear them. Helmets do save you from death and injury - mine have on sport, trad, ice, and alpine, both roped and solo. I've had rocks fall on me regardless of whether I'm clipping bolts or placing gear. I've fallen inverted and banged my helmet on trad and sport, and I've even had my leader fall on me in both disciplines too. There are now so many designs of helmet that one is bound to fit, even if you have "an odd shaped head". There are lots of good reasons to wear a helmet and unless you're into squeeze chimneys, there's only one reason not to: you just don't want to.

Much respect to Mina for writing about her accident and discussing her attitude to helmets. I hope she recovers fast and completely both physically and mentally, and then goes on to enjoy crushing her project - whether she decides to wear a lid or not.

3
stp - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
> If climbers want to accept the benefits that come with sponsorship then they should also accept the responsibility that comes with being a role model.

That may or may not be true but what's this to do with Mina? I think she's an excellent role model, helmet or not.

Also what's being on the front of a guidebook to do with it. Anyone can be on the front of a guide. Doesn't make them a role model.
Post edited at 19:39
planetmarshall on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to stp:

> That may or may not be true but what's this to do with Mina? I think she's an excellent role model, helmet or not.

Well, her blog post said that she wanted to 'open a dialogue'. This is a dialogue.
1poundSOCKS - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> I've always been a bit baffled by sport climbers not wearing helmets.

I used to. But stopped on a trip to Siurana. Was struggling with the heat. But it's culture too. If I turned up at Malham and everyone else wore one, I'd probably start to bring one. Like skiing in the 80's and 90's compared to now.
1poundSOCKS - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> There's no particularly rational reason why wearing a helmet is common in Trad and less so in Sport.

Purely based on a my own experience and that of a couple of friends, inverting seems more common in trad. And in sport, I stick clip routes high enough to keep me off the deck. Not easy to guarantee that in trad. So I wear a helmet for trad.
Sean Kelly - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:
Isn't the choice for wearing a helmet similar to the seat-belts in a car. Initially most were averse to using but a change in the law and now it's rare to find anybody not using one. It might not save you from serious injury or death, but most of the time your chances of this happening are much less. I can recall 2 friends both falling on Quietus and hitting their heads on the back wall. Both had no helmets and a broken skull each. And that's on an overhang but they didn't account for swinging in!
Post edited at 20:28
stp - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Well, her blog post said that she wanted to 'open a dialogue'. This is a dialogue.

I rather assume that she wanted to be part of the dialogue too. So posting on here, where she is not, is more akin to talking behind her back. She may or may not see your comment on here. You could have posted your feelings directly to her blog post which has a form at the bottom expressly for that purpose.
8
1poundSOCKS - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

> How does that argument about steep rock fit in with Mina being on Rainshadow?

And most of Malham isn't as steep as Rainshadow. I sprained my ankle falling off The Maximum last year. Falls on the left hand side of the catwalk can be on a slab, like the start of Tremelo, or maybe swing back into the corner on Yosemite Wall.
stp - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Sean Kelly:

The best way to stop people swinging in like that is to give them a softer belay.

I wonder if in Mina's case the helicopter and stretcher was less about the head injury and more about the possibility that she may have damaged her spine. The pins and needles feeling might suggest nerve damages somewhere?
1
1poundSOCKS - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Perhaps the safest is slightly overhanging rock, but not very overhanging rock.

I've found really steep stuff is the best, like RRG or something like Comedy at Kilnsey, just from experience, not the physics.

A good belayer can make either a pleasant experience.
planetmarshall on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to stp:

> I rather assume that she wanted to be part of the dialogue too. So posting on here, where she is not, is more akin to talking behind her back.

What total nonsense. First of all, she reproduced her blog for UKC, which is a public forum. If she didn't want responses, the thread could easily have been locked.

Secondly, I have not criticised Mina at all. I raised a point as to why people tend not to wear helmets on sport routes. I hypothesised that it has less to do with an objective examination of the risks and more to do with what people see their peers and idols doing, hence the guidebook comment.
stewart murray - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Dave Garnett:
Helmets are as much for protection against falling objects as protection in a fall. Stones dislodged by sheep, walkers or other climbers on mountain crags, or even dropped gear from parties above. OK, it doesn't happen often but I reckon anyone climbing on mountain crags for a few years will have come across a situation where they were glad / wished they were wearing a helmet.
paul.quin on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:
Last October on Kalymnos I saw a young woman fall at the lower-off on Infrared Wall. Her leg caught the rope and she flipped upside down and then swung into the wall and smacked her helmet against the rock. It was a sharp crack which we all heard. She had a cut on her head even under the helmet and a broken arm. The rescue team came and stretchered her off the hill. I'm sure that if she hadn't been wearing a helmet she would have been seriously injured or even dead. Wear a a helmet. Head injuries don't look cool.
Post edited at 20:56
1
Sean Kelly - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to stewart murray:

> Helmets are as much for protection against falling objects as protection in a fall. Stones dislodged by sheep, walkers or other climbers on mountain crags, or even dropped gear from parties above. OK, it doesn't happen often but I reckon anyone climbing on mountain crags for a few years will have come across a situation where they were glad / wished they were wearing a helmet.

Whilst climbing at Daddyhole Upper last night I noticed that a fridge and wheely bin were among the rubbish that has been thrown over this cliff. A helmet wouldn't do a lot of good!
John Stainforth - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to paul.quin:

I think any climber who takes part in a climbing rescue involving a head injury will wear a helmet from then on.
1
Mick Ward - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to John Stainforth:

You're almost certainly right, John. Sean Kelly's post above about two of his mates cracking their skulls on the wall below the lip of Quietus really made me think. It never even occurred to me that this was a possibility. Accept stp's point about a soft belay helping but even so...

Food for thought. Re the OP, hope the lady makes a full recovery, both physically and psychologically. Would be great if she ticked the route.

Mick
WVRox - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

It's only a matter of time 'till wearing a helmet becomes the norm, as in skiing, boarding, cycling. Just wear a bloody helmet and stop being so damn vain!
3
Dave Garnett - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to stewart murray:

> Helmets are as much for protection against falling objects as protection in a fall.

Yes, certainly there are places I would wear a helmet for exactly this reason. Especially when eating my lunch.
Frank the Husky - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Has anyone yet pointed out that you've got her name wrong several times?
4
alexspurling - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I find it interesting that Mina claims that 90% of sport climbers in her experience do not wear a helmet. This sounds much higher than my own experience. At sport crags I've been to I would put it at between 50 and 75% DO wear a helmet. I have climbed the most in Portland, Dorset where I'd put the figure at 75%, and Kalymnos where climbers on the steep caves tend to go helmet free I'd say it's still around 60%. It's definitely nothing like 10% that Mina suggests so I wonder where the discrepancy comes from?
1
Robert Durran - on 31 Aug 2017
In reply to Pete_Frost:

> Other people posting on this thread seem not to want to wear helmets and appear to be coming up with all kinds of excuses not to wear them. If you don't like wearing a helmet, at least be honest and say so: you don't need an excuse and no one will make you wear one if you don't want to, but don't invent reasons for other people not to wear them.

Eh? Nobody is being dishonest and nobody is inventing reasons for other people not to wear helmets.
1
summo on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to WVRox:

> It's only a matter of time 'till wearing a helmet becomes the norm, as in skiing, boarding, cycling. Just wear a bloody helmet and stop being so damn vain!

For many many people it is the norm already. I've just realised I own 6 helmets for different sports, 7+ if you count my chainsaw ones. I've worn them for so long you feel vulnerable without them, even when risk is minimal, so it just becomes habit to wear them.
paul__in_sheffield - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Mick Ward:

> You're almost certainly right, John. Sean Kelly's post above about two of his mates cracking their skulls on the wall below the lip of Quietus really made me think. It never even occurred to me that this was a possibility. Accept stp's point about a soft belay helping but even so...

> Food for thought. Re the OP, hope the lady makes a full recovery, both physically and psychologically. Would be great if she ticked the route.

> Mick

Mick, Mina was training on the circuit board at the ClimbingWorks on Wednesday afternoon, so looks like recovering fast.
Paul
DubyaJamesDubya - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> They may have got lighter, but they are all still horribly uncomfortable. Or maybe I've just got a weird shaped head.

Sounds like it. My helmet weighs 200g and I don't notice its on.
Michael Gordon - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to alexspurling:

From what I've seen, 90% would seem a good guess or if anything an underestimate.
Robert Durran - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:
> Sounds like it. My helmet weighs 200g and I don't notice its on.

Helmets have got far lighter, but it seems to me that, if anything, that is partly paid for with an otherwise less comfortable "cradle" for the head. I do tend to forget about my helmet when actually climbing but can't wait to get it off as fast as possible once I stop.
Post edited at 07:45
Robert Durran - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> From what I've seen, 90% would seem a good guess or if anything an underestimate.

Yes, one in ten people wearing a helmet to sport climb seems very high to me.
DubyaJamesDubya - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> It's interesting that there is nothing specific to outdoor sport climbing in this accident. The exact same thing could happen with a slightly loose harness, taking a fall off an overhang with no helmet indoors. But pretty much nobody wears a helmet leading indoors and I've not seen anybody seriously push for it.


In theory yes but aren't bolts generally closer together at walls.
crimpsoplenty - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

As a nurse, and having seen the catastrophic results of cyclists not wearing helmets. I always wear my helmet climbing, usually from the moment I arrive at the crag in my eyes it just isn't worth it no matter how low the risk appears on a route. The unexpected can always happen. I barely notice I have the helmet on. As always it is personal choice and calculating risk, just seems like a no brainer to me
Mick Ward - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> Mick, Mina was training on the circuit board at the ClimbingWorks on Wednesday afternoon, so looks like recovering fast.

Paul, that's great! Thanks.

Mick

planetmarshall on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to crimpsoplenty:

> ...just seems like a no brainer to me

Oh, very good.

1poundSOCKS - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to alexspurling:

> I find it interesting that Mina claims that 90% of sport climbers in her experience do not wear a helmet. This sounds much higher than my own experience.

Climbing mainly at Malham, Kilnsey and recently in Catalunya, I'd say less than 10% wear a helmet.
dkilner - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Thank you for sharing Mina hope you get better soon.

Lot's of knit picking here about when/where and why wear a helmet. Mina required two different response teams to take her off Malham - voluntary services (MRT and CRT) with voluntary personnel.

As well as a helicopter.

Potentially avoided if a helmet had been worn.

You can always wear a helmet in consideration of the volunteers (MRT) who will be called out to come and pick you up in a worst case scenario - sport or trad. It's always more fun walking home of your own accord.

Thanks for highlighting the harness sizing issue. It perhaps was the cause of the invert - but the rock and soft skulls are the main protagonists of the rest of the story.



5
Lion Bakes on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to crimpsoplenty:
> As a nurse, and having seen the catastrophic results of cyclists not wearing helmets. I always wear my helmet climbing, usually from the moment I arrive at the crag in my eyes it just isn't worth it no matter how low the risk appears on a route. The unexpected can always happen. I barely notice I have the helmet on. As always it is personal choice and calculating risk, just seems like a no brainer to me

I wonder if you wear a helmet when out walking or driving and if not why not? Trauma units see far more head injuries from car accidents and slips and trips of pedestrians than cyclists. Our understanding of risk and reactions are not rational even if you think you are.

You also have to look at the limitations of cycle helmets. They are not designed to protect in accidents involving motorised vehicles. 2 tonnes of metal at 30mph vs. An inch of ploystyrene. I dont think so. Fall to the ground yes, and at least height than walking.

The typical road bike crash involves a drop to pavement or tarmac. The important energy in that crash is supplied by gravity, not by forward speed. Although forward speed can contribute some additional energy, the main force is the attraction of gravity, and the impact severity is determined by the height of your head above the pavement when the fall begins. It is gravity that determines how fast your helmet closes with the pavement. Some of the crash energy is often "scrubbed off" by hitting first with other body parts. The typical bicycle crash impact occurs at a force level equating to about 1 meter (3 feet) of drop, or a falling speed of 10 MPH. The rider's forward speed before the crash may be considerably higher than that, but the speed of the head closing with the ground, plus a component of the forward speed, less any energy "scrubbed off" in other ways, normally average out at about 10 MPH.

As Mina says this is about personal choice around risk, and making our own choices. Not prescribing what others should do, based on our own bias rather than the evidence.
Post edited at 09:47
9
Robert Durran - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to dkilner:
> You can always wear a helmet in consideration of the volunteers (MRT) who will be called out to come and pick you up in a worst case scenario.

Superficially, this seems a good argument, but the trouble is that, taken to its logical conclusion, we wouldn't do bold routes, certainly winter routes, remote routes or probably any climbing at all in consideration for the MRT.

The only sensible argument for wearing a helmet is, having decided you are going to climb, to protect your head. And it's a pretty compelling one.
Post edited at 10:00
DubyaJamesDubya - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:



> You also have to look at the limitations of cycle helmets. They are not designed to protect in accidents involving motorised vehicles. 2 tonnes of metal at 30mph vs. An inch of ploystyrene. I dont think so. Fall to the ground yes, and at least height than walking.

> The typical road bike crash involves a drop to pavement or tarmac. The important energy in that crash is supplied by gravity, not by forward speed. Although forward speed can contribute some additional energy, the main force is the attraction of gravity, and the impact severity is determined by the height of your head above the pavement when the fall begins. It is gravity that determines how fast your helmet closes with the pavement. Some of the crash energy is often "scrubbed off" by hitting first with other body parts. The typical bicycle crash impact occurs at a force level equating to about 1 meter (3 feet) of drop, or a falling speed of 10 MPH. The rider's forward speed before the crash may be considerably higher than that, but the speed of the head closing with the ground, plus a component of the forward speed, less any energy "scrubbed off" in other ways, normally average out at about 10 MPH.


I've seen these kind of posts numerous times. Not sure what you seem to to be saying. Don't bother wearing a helmet as it won't save you anyway?
SDM on 01 Sep 2017
AgreedIn reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> Climbing mainly at Malham, Kilnsey and recently in Catalunya, I'd say less than 10% wear a helmet.

Agreed. Anecdotally, it seems that the proportion of climbers who wear a helmet is inversely proportional to the grade they are climbing.

At Malham, the Tor, the Cornice, Bruixes, Santa Linya etc, I expect to be the only person there who wears a helmet and I have been questioned/mocked before for choosing to wear one for sport climbing. If I go to a crag where the average grade climbed is less than 7a, I sometimes find more than half the people are wearing helmets.

I'm not sure how much this has to do with the perceived safety of falling on steeper routes or whether it is down to appearance or trying to save every last gram.
1poundSOCKS - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to SDM:

> I'm not sure how much this has to do with the perceived safety of falling on steeper routes or whether it is down to appearance or trying to save every last gram.

More experienced sport climbers, redpointing and more used to taking 'safe' falls? Helmets give the psychological feeling of safety in addition to providing real protection. Culture is part of it too.
flaneur - on 01 Sep 2017

That is an interesting and thought-provoking read. Good to hear they're back in the saddle.

In reply to: someone brighter than me.

I'm probably being thick as no-one else has questioned this, but I don't quite get how a slighly large harness lead to inverting. Anyone care to explain?
1poundSOCKS - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to flaneur:

> I'm probably being thick as no-one else has questioned this, but I don't quite get how a slighly large harness lead to inverting. Anyone care to explain?

I'm presuming a high waist belt will ensure you get spun upright, if it slips lower down it'll be lower relative to your centre of gravity, and you might get spun upside down.
HeMa on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Should photos of people soloing also be censored?

Obviously...

As should reporting of danger glorifying ascents... namely majority of non-punter British trad routes.

Michael Hood - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to flaneur:

I think it was bit of looseness at the back. As the rope comes tight, there will be some force that tries to rotate the upper body backwards. Tight harness helps stop this. Loose harness doesn't work so well and presumably allowed Mina to get past a tipping point.

That was my basic sort of understanding but it's not at all precisely expressed.
In reply to flaneur:
I think it's also a case of the centre of the band being more likely to shift left or right, which adjusts your centre of gravity and tilts you sideways, which possibly happens more easily and quickly than tilting backwards completely. This is what I was more worried about with my loose harness.

Edit: basically, it seems like you don't need to be as top-heavy with your feet near your head to fall sideways. Generally if you invert backwards it has a lot to do with the position you were in, whereas I've fallen sideways from being in a relatively standard position, just because my harness has moved to the side slightly.
Post edited at 11:51
Tez29 - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Hi Mona, good topic and very sorry to hear about you injury. I was obsessed with climbing, mainly sport as I now live in france. I'll get to the point. Unfortunately last year April time I was climbing with a friend at a relatively unknown crag. I got to the top and went to secure myself and clipped the quickness in the chain and possibly asked for some slack. Unfortunately the rock I was holding came away and I fell about 10m. Fortunately my belated saw me ringing my wife earlier and knew I had a mobile phone in my bag. Luckily he knew the number to ring and a chopper rescued me. They cut me off the rope and helicoptered me to the hospital in Toulouse. About 1.30hrs from my house. The medical treatment was excellent and I was unconscious at the time, they put me in a medically induced coma for a few weeks and after about 3months I was promoted to my 2nd hospital also in Tolouse. Unfortunately the part of my brain hurt effects my short term memory and the last 6years including my marriage is very hard. Luckily my wife and family and friends have been amazing. I won't go into too much detail, but having family clear up after you've been to the toilet at 30 is a bit crap in hindsight. I also broke some bones and buffered up my eye a bit plus bit through my tongue so probably a lot of blood around. I was unconscious immediately after my fall so my belated probably thought I was dead. He lowered me to a ledge but unfortunately I couldn't get to the floor. I have climbed around the world thankfully it happened in a developed country.

Anyway there is a point to all this; please make sure someone in your climbing party has a phone. I would be dead if I didn't have one. Also I would recommend wearing a helmets, it would possibly have helped. Hope that helps. Best wishes.
planetmarshall on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

> I wonder if you wear a helmet when out walking or driving and if not why not? Trauma units see far more head injuries from car accidents and slips and trips of pedestrians than cyclists. Our understanding of risk and reactions are not rational even if you think you are.

Neither is yours based on that assessment.

> As Mina says this is about personal choice around risk, and making our own choices. Not prescribing what others should do, based on our own bias rather than the evidence.

Absolutely, so let's start with your own post. Based on incidence of serious injury, yes indeed more injuries occur to occupants of cars than cyclists. However, what we're interested in is the 'risk' of going for a drive versus cycling, as that would inform our decision of whether or not to wear a helmet in either activity.

That entirely depends on how long you spend driving, or cycling, as the longer you spend doing either activity, your risk accumulates. Based on results from National Statistics (http://bit.ly/294vM8h), the annual casualty rate for being an occupant of a car is about 270 per billion miles. For cyclists, it is about 6000 per billion miles (fairly comparable to motorcyclists).


DubyaJamesDubya - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:



> That entirely depends on how long you spend driving, or cycling, as the longer you spend doing either activity, your risk accumulates. Based on results from National Statistics (http://bit.ly/294vM8h), the annual casualty rate for being an occupant of a car is about 270 per billion miles. For cyclists, it is about 6000 per billion miles (fairly comparable to motorcyclists).

Although you could be better off comparing time spent cycling instead of mileage and then factor in the health benefits and find it's twice as safe as car driving. Not sure what this has got to do with helmet wearing at a crag?
2
Roland.Online on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Amazing read, hope Mina recovers quickly.

I introduced my daughter to climbing when she was about 4 years old - a good fitting harness and helmet were her standard kit. She's always climbed with a helmet on, even indoors (except for auto belays), for the six years she's been climbing.

She insists on wearing one, even when other kids aren't. In fact at the recent BMC YCS competitions, she was one of the few kids who did (that didn't make her feel unusual or put her off).

She's an adventurous kid, practically an adrenalin junkie, she's not risk averse or scared of falling, it's just something she understands will protect her better if she does fall. I've always encouraged her to wear a helmet indoors, but left the choice to her; only ever insisted outdoors. Maybe in adulthood she'll take a different view.

Myself, I always wear one outdoors, whether climbing with her or not. Indoors I tend not to (don't know why).

For sponsored climbers, or just climbers participating in adventure photography, etc. I would argue that both sides (ie. the sponsor/photographer and the climber) have some responsibility to show the route/activity or whatever in the light it deserves, ie. we're happy to accept the climber in a harness and rope, so why not a helmet, where if a fall from the same posed stance might result in a head injury? I accept that free soloing goes without any protection, so I'd not expect Honnold to don a lid just to satisfy this point!

I just don't accept that either gear manufacturers, sponsors or climbers can mitigate their responsibility to show that the activity carries risk and requires appropriate protection - not saying a helmet should always be worn, but where appropriate that it is, it shouldn't be omitted just for aesthetic reasons. Especially so given that these are the role models for our young climbers.

Cheers
minty1984 on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

Far more car accident injuries and general slips trips and fall injuries are seen purely because there are many more people driving or walking at anyone time in comparison to people climbing? I walk every single day and probably drive my car 6 times a week. I am lucky if I climb outdoors once every 2 weeks

JHiley on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

> You also have to look at the limitations of cycle helmets. They are not designed to protect in accidents involving motorised vehicles. 2 tonnes of metal at 30mph vs. An inch of ploystyrene. I dont think so. Fall to the ground yes, and at least height than walking.

If the helmet/ head were held in a metal clamp and the car/ truck was driven at it at 30mph you might have a point. In real life its just woffle.

> The typical road bike crash involves a drop to pavement or tarmac. The important energy in that crash is supplied by gravity, not by forward speed. Although forward speed can contribute some additional energy, the main force is the attraction of gravity, and the impact severity is determined by the height of your head above the pavement when the fall begins. It is gravity that determines how fast your helmet closes with the pavement. Some of the crash energy is often "scrubbed off" by hitting first with other body parts. The typical bicycle crash impact occurs at a force level equating to about 1 meter (3 feet) of drop, or a falling speed of 10 MPH. The rider's forward speed before the crash may be considerably higher than that, but the speed of the head closing with the ground, plus a component of the forward speed, less any energy "scrubbed off" in other ways, normally average out at about 10 MPH.

What if you're going forwards at more than 10mph and you hit a curb, bollard, car, tree, rock, wall, sign, slightly uneven bit of ground etc. Are you still sure forward speed doesn't matter?

This seems like trying to use (knowingly) flawed logic to say that a helmet won't help save in a high speed, heavy traffic collision and isn't necessary for the simplest, most uncomplicated fall possible and there can be nothing in between so helmets are pointless. You really have to want to believe it.

Occasionally someone will come on here and say that "a helmet wont save you from going under the wheels of a tipper truck so there's no point wearing one." That's a bit like saying "its pointless giving soldiers body armour because it won't stop a 125mm tank shell." What about a 15mph collision with a car pulling out on you?


DubyaJamesDubya - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to JHiley:

> Occasionally someone will come on here and say that "a helmet wont save you from going under the wheels of a tipper truck so there's no point wearing one." That's a bit like saying "its pointless giving soldiers body armour because it won't stop a 125mm tank shell." What about a 15mph collision with a car pulling out on you?

I can personally vouch for that.
planetmarshall on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> Although you could be better off comparing time spent cycling instead of mileage and then factor in the health benefits and find it's twice as safe as car driving.

Well 'factoring in' the health benefits is easier said than done, and in any case has no relation to wearing a helmet, unless not wearing one has some mysterious health benefit. Nor do people avoid RTAs due to the health benefits of cycling.

The point is that in order to objectively evaluate risk, you need a basis for comparison. For comparing cycling vs driving, the most sensible basis seems to be miles travelled. If I cycle 1 km to the shops, I probably won't bother wearing a helmet. This is roughly equivalent in terms of risk to driving for 20km. If I go for a 100km cycle at the weekend I most certainly will wear a helmet, however to experience the same level of risk in a car I'd have to drive for 2000km. Not impossible, but it remains unlikely that it will occur to me to wear a helmet in the car.

> Not sure what this has got to do with helmet wearing at a crag?

Nothing. It was a direct response to LionBakes' post.

DubyaJamesDubya - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Well 'factoring in' the health benefits is easier said than done, and in any case has no relation to wearing a helmet, unless not wearing one has some mysterious health benefit. Nor do people avoid RTAs due to the health benefits of cycling.

True but people have done it and the risk of not exercising is a valid risk to factor in. Estimates place this risk as a minimum of 13:1 of Poor health due to low exercise vs injury possibilities.

> The point is that in order to objectively evaluate risk, you need a basis for comparison. For comparing cycling vs driving, the most sensible basis seems to be miles travelled. If I cycle 1 km to the shops, I probably won't bother wearing a helmet. This is roughly equivalent in terms of risk to driving for 20km. If I go for a 100km cycle at the weekend I most certainly will wear a helmet, however to experience the same level of risk in a car I'd have to drive for 2000km. Not impossible, but it remains unlikely that it will occur to me to wear a helmet in the car.

Actually hours spent on the bike is just as valid (or more so actually). I'm prepared to spend up to an hour commuting or a day leisure driving or cycling. The mileage done on the bike is a lot less but the time exposed to risk is the same. You seem to say that five years of cycling should be compared to one year of motoring. It gets even more ludicrous if you do miles travelled by pedestrians by road.

> Nothing. It was a direct response to LionBakes' post.

Fair enough although I'm not sure how it related to that either
True but people have done it and the risk of not exercising is a valid risk to factor in. Estimates place this risk as a minimum of 13:1 of Poor health due to low exercise vs injury possibilities.
Lion Bakes on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to JHiley:

Youe are missing the point, the risk is minscule to start with, the helmet has very limited properties, and in indeed causes injuries where not wearing one they would not occur. But do carry on with your simplistic view, after all we are are talking about the freedom to make personal choices.

6
madmo2991 - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Very glad you are ok and there is no lasting damage, however I can't help but feel that your decisions particularly regarding helmets in the future are selfish, it's your head and you can do what you want with it but it'll be some poor rescue team that has to sort out the mess and doctors and nurses, all because apparently you can't climb the grade you want with 170 grams on your head. This is a choice an you're choosing not to mitigate risk, for what i suspect is purely an aesthetic reason. If you're really grateful to the rescue services and doctors and nurses ask them if they'd prefer you to wear a helmet next time.
10
Lion Bakes on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Yep,cycling is one of the only forms of transport where it increases your life expectancy regardless of helmet wearing or not. All other forms reduce it.

Lion Bakes on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

Try that stats again for head injuries that a cycle helmet would prevent and hours spent on a bike. Plus take out car journeys on motorways which largely skew those numbers and the "apparent" safety of cars. Then see what you come up with.

madmo2991 - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:
> Climbing mainly at Malham, Kilnsey and recently in Catalunya, I'd say less than 10% wear a helmet.

Yeah and having sex pre the 80s nobody wore condoms, we all had AIDs but who wants to be the odd one out
Post edited at 15:13
4
Lion Bakes on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to madmo2991:
> Very glad you are ok and there is no lasting damage, however I can't help but feel that your decisions particularly regarding helmets in the future are selfish, it's your head and you can do what you want with it but it'll be some poor rescue team that has to sort out the mess and doctors and nurses, all because apparently you can't climb the grade you want with 170 grams on your head. This is a choice an you're choosing not to mitigate risk, for what i suspect is purely an aesthetic reason. If you're really grateful to the rescue services and doctors and nurses ask them if they'd prefer you to wear a helmet next time.

Climbing is selfish why not juat ban climbing and mountaineering. Or why not be grown up about it and accept that as adults we are able to make different choices about the risks and choices we make?

Too much self righteous judgement going on here. If it was about someones gender identity im sure itd be different. In both cases its their choice.
Post edited at 15:03
4
madmo2991 - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

I see, so it's a grown up decision if it matches yours?

Would you think it was grown up of me to lob a rock off the top of Malham and just accept my judgement that i thought it was safe to do so?

Fair do's no one needs to take my advice but i think the respectful thing in the situation would be to ask the rescue services if they would want to see her do anything differently, we're lucky in the UK that our rescue services are very passionate about enjoying the outdoors as are our NHS who would rather people had the odd scrape and bump but were leading a healthy lifestyle, if they say they'd be happy for her or anyone else to go out with an ill fitting harness and no helmet then i'll shut my trap. Reckon they will?
2
1poundSOCKS - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to madmo2991:

> but who wants to be the odd one out

Well obviously the few who do wear a helmet.
neilh - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

170 grams for a petzl sirocco helmet..............
1
Lion Bakes on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to madmo2991:
No it is your decision as an adult, thats my point. You tend to get those who want to force helmets on others and the reat of us who are pro choice. Let others weigh the evidence and decide.

Taking planet marshalls stats un amended from the goverment website. I can cycle for 150,000 miles or more and there is a small chance I might be involved in a single road accident in all that time and years. The chance of being a fatality is near enough zero for those miles. Its still near to zero if i somehow managed to cycle 30 million miles. In return i can expect on average to live an extra 9 years and have 20 years more healthy years than a couch potato. In return some want me to wear a somewhat limited helmet for a tiny tiny risk i might hurt my head. Nope happy not wearing a helmet given the odds. Thank you very much.
Post edited at 15:27
4
planetmarshall on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> True but people have done it and the risk of not exercising is a valid risk to factor in. Estimates place this risk as a minimum of 13:1 of Poor health due to low exercise vs injury possibilities.

I don't really see what the health benefits of cycling have to do with those risk factors to be honest. We're talking about people ending up in hospital as a direct result of partaking in those activities, not for chronic risks accumulating over a long period. In any case, how would you show that motor vehicle users have not experienced exactly the same health benefits as cyclists, when all you have to go on is the fact that they were involved in an RTA? Many such as myself do both. Many in this forum will spend the Winter driving a nearly a thousand miles at the weekend accompanied by 6-12 hours of hoofing up Munros with a fully loaded pack.
1
planetmarshall on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

> Try that stats again for head injuries that a cycle helmet would prevent and hours spent on a bike. Plus take out car journeys on motorways which largely skew those numbers and the "apparent" safety of cars. Then see what you come up with.

What, massage the statistics until I come out with an answer you like, you mean?
Lion Bakes on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> What, massage the statistics until I come out with an answer you like, you mean?

All stats are massaged you fool. But you knew that didnt you?
8
madmo2991 - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

Yeah and there are stats to say that drivers are more cautious and give more space to cyclist not wearing a helmet, but ask ask any trauma doctor if they'd prefer you wear a lid they'll say yes and it seems fair to listen to them as they'll be the one stitching you up. And what's the inconvenience, it's not like they're recommending you dress like a knight in a suit of armour, are you too poor, or just too stubborn?
1
planetmarshall on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

> All stats are massaged you fool.

It's unfortunate that you felt that was necessary. I have no further interest in debating this with you.
2
Chris the Tall - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

Massively off-topic but I agree with you, even though I always wear a helmet for cycling

There is a growing perception that not wearing a helmet for cycling is irresponsible and marks you out as dangerous (e.g the prosecution case against Charlie Alliston). Or that you are going to be a drain on medical and rescue services.

Wearing a helmet is already compulsory in some parts of Australia and certain MPs would like the same here. The fact that you are just as much at risk walking or driving is ignored. The fact that it would dramatically reduce the numbers of cycling is ignored - but is the real reason for these calls. Forcing someone to wear a helmet de-normalises the behaviour, it reminds them of the danger they are in and accentuates the fear. And it gives motorists an excuse to blame the victim. There should be no need to wear a helmet whilst riding around a city.

As to climbing, my helmet is always with me, but whether I wear it depends upon an assessment I make on each route. It's a personal decision, weighing up the risks and the benefits - I'd rather not wear it, but it has saved me from serious injury on one occasion.
planetmarshall on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> As to climbing, my helmet is always with me, but whether I wear it depends upon an assessment I make on each route. It's a personal decision, weighing up the risks and the benefits - I'd rather not wear it, but it has saved me from serious injury on one occasion.

It may be a personal decision, but if that decision is wrong then the consequences go wider than the personal sphere. In Mina's case, a full helicopter rescue was called for - thankfully not needed but that could not be known at the time, for an accident that was easily avoidable. You say your helmet saved you from serious injury, who would have been involved in treating that injury, would you have dealt with it yourself, or relied on the emergency services?

It is a matter of weighing up the risk against the benefits - but what exactly are the benefits? Aesthetic appearance for the sake of a photo? A bit of discomfort soon forgotten? I'm afraid I don't buy the cycling arguments - "Reminds them of the danger they are in" - as soon as the helmet goes on it's forgotten about, and that goes for climbing and cycling.

1
JHiley on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

No one is stopping you making the personal choice not to wear a helmet. However if you post present scenarios with ridiculously limited and extreme conditions and try to convince others that making that choice wont impact their safety just to justify your fashion choice then expect to get called out.
Robert Durran - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

> Taking planet marshalls stats un amended from the goverment website. I can cycle for 150,000 miles or more and there is a small chance I might be involved in a single road accident in all that time and years. The chance of being a fatality is near enough zero for those miles. Its still near to zero if i somehow managed to cycle 30 million miles.

Taking Planetmarshalls stats, there are 6000 cycling casualties per billion miles cycled and about one in 200 of those is a fatality. I make that about one fatality per 30 million miles. Assuming a poisson distribution, this give the chances of dying if you cycle 30 million miles as about 63%. This is not near enough zero!

For 150000 miles it is about 0.0045 fatalities, giving about a 0.5% chance of dying. Not really near enough zero.
1
Chris the Tall - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> It may be a personal decision, but if that decision is wrong then the consequences go wider than the personal sphere.

The same goes for climbing generally, but the freedom to take risks is very important. Is publishing a pic of an unhelmeted climber any more irresponsible that one who is leading or soloing ?

> It is a matter of weighing up the risk against the benefits - but what exactly are the benefits? Aesthetic appearance for the sake of a photo? A bit of discomfort soon forgotten?

I would prefer to be photographed with a helmet these days, as I don't wish to be reminded that I have a bald spot. Whilst I frequently have to check that I'm wearing a cycling helmet, my climbing helmet is more noticeable - weight, heat, knocking the rock - sorry but there are times I don't want to wear it.

JHiley on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> There is a growing perception that not wearing a helmet for cycling is irresponsible and marks you out as dangerous (e.g the prosecution case against Charlie Alliston). Or that you are going to be a drain on medical and rescue services.

Wasn't that more to do with him not having any brakes? I didn't even remember the helmet being an issue.

I wouldn't want to demonise non-helmet wearers. I'm quite happy to see people trying to convince others not to wear helmets using dodgy stats, false logic and knowingly unrepresentative thought experiments demonised though.

> The fact that it would dramatically reduce the numbers of cycling is ignored - but is the real reason for these calls.

Do you genuinely believe that? I know there're a lot of people with nasty attitudes towards cyclists but this is a little bit 'tin foil hat'.

> Forcing someone to wear a helmet de-normalises the behaviour, it reminds them of the danger they are in and accentuates the fear. And it gives motorists an excuse to blame the victim. There should be no need to wear a helmet whilst riding around a city.

Like seatbelts presumably? Sorry, a silly comparison but plenty of people on the anti helmet lobby say the opposite: that wearing a helmet makes people more likely to take risks.

Dave Garnett - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to madmo2991:

> Very glad you are ok and there is no lasting damage, however I can't help but feel that your decisions particularly regarding helmets in the future are selfish, it's your head and you can do what you want with it but it'll be some poor rescue team that has to sort out the mess and doctors and nurses, all because apparently you can't climb the grade you want with 170 grams on your head.

Are you really addressing this to Mina? I'm not sure how you get this from what she was honest enough to put into her article where explicitly explains her carefully considered attitude to wearing a helmet in future.

In any case, I don't suppose she now needs you to point out the risks and potential consequences.
1
1poundSOCKS - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> In any case, I don't suppose she now needs you to point out the risks and potential consequences.

And the arguments don't sound any different to those used by angry non climbers who struggle to see how selfish climbers would put rescue teams at risk, helmets or not.
madmo2991 - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Dave Garnett:

doubt she's reading this, i'm sure she's aware of the risks, i just think it's a bit rich to be so grateful for the rescue crews and nhs staff and yet not seek or follow the advice they would give i.e. make sure you have the right kit and use it.
7
JHiley on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

WRT photos I think Mina deserved to be on the front cover of peak limestone north.

I would like to see climbing guidebook publishers/ sponsors to see helmets in photos as a positive and not a negative but don't think excellent photos should be cut for not featuring a helmet.
Fraser on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Taking Planetmarshalls stats, there are 6000 cycling casualties per billion miles cycled and about one in 200 of those is a fatality. I make that about one fatality per 30 million miles. Assuming a poisson distribution, this give the chances of dying if you cycle 30 million miles as about 63%. This is not near enough zero!

Well, it's near enough for me because even at an average speed of 20mph, it would still take you 171 years to cycle 30m miles!
oldie - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Chris the Tall:

>There is a growing perception that not wearing a helmet for cycling is irresponsible and marks you out as dangerous ......a drain on medical and rescue services.
Wearing a helmet is already compulsory in some parts of Australia and certain MPs would like the same here. The fact that you are just as much at risk walking or driving is ignored.<

And there is no logical cut off point. Motor cyclists must wear a helmet and I support that. However it is surely inarguable that helmets must reduce the risk to cyclists, climbers, skateboarders etc and illogically I would hate to see helmets become compulsory for these activities. Indeed logically take things a step further and only permit licensed climbers etc....better still ban leading completely
I agree (illogically) with the OP that wearing a helmet should be a personal decision.

FWIW I wear wear a helmet for climbing (except indoors and sandstone bottom roping) and frequently forget to take it off on the way down. It has certainly saved me from severe injury: once falling directly on my head while leading (no runner, hairline vertebral fracture) and once walking back from a snow climb when I slid a long way and ended up with a hole in the shell (lucky I hadn't taken it off).
Lion Bakes on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:
> Taking Planetmarshalls stats, there are 6000 cycling casualties per billion miles cycled and about one in 200 of those is a fatality. I make that about one fatality per 30 million miles. Assuming a poisson distribution, this give the chances of dying if you cycle 30 million miles as about 63%. This is not near enough zero!

> For 150000 miles it is about 0.0045 fatalities, giving about a 0.5% chance of dying. Not really near enough zero.

No Robert that is 6,000 accidents not fatalities. The figure is 100 fatalities per 3.2 billion miles cycled. So based on your figure thats a 180th so lets say around 0.3% chance after 30 million miles. 80% of those are in a 30 mph zone. So if you mostly cycle outside town the chance drops to 0.06% after 30 million miles of cycling.

Now lets get down to more realistic lifetime cycling miles for a keen cyclist. Say around 10,000 miles of cycling a year. Thats about 200 miles week in, week out year round. Let's say they do that for 50 years. Then we come up with around 500,000 miles of cycling over their lifetime. Thats a lot of cycling, Now thats a 60th of the 30 million , keeping the maths simple. So even if you do all that cycling over all the time, and using your figures, the chance of being a fatality injured is only around 0.005% Again if you mostly cycle outside town which the keen cyclist would, they wouldnt hit that kind of mileage in town. Well we comes down to 0.001% chance after a full and active lifetime of cycling. Do you need to wear a helmet for that kind of risk, a helmet that is far from guaranteed to make a difference in the outcome?

Measure that against a 16% lifetime risk of getting cancer, then you have heart disease, diabetes, stroke with high risk factor as well. All of which you significantly increase if you sedentary and drive a lot. All of which can be significantly reduced if you regularly cycle. I know what I'd be focusing on, rather than worrying about a helmet. Which isn't measurable as changing the outcome of accidents anyway.
Post edited at 20:26
Lion Bakes on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Now looking at pedestrians you have 409 fatalities per 11.4 billion miles. So not that different a chance to cyclists.

Lets say you are a keen walker. So you cover 40 miles a week , week in week out. A reasonable 5.5 miles a day or so. Thats around 2,000 miles a year. So you'll cover about 100,000 miles over the same 50 years at the cyclist. So your lifetime risk of being fatally injured when walking by the road is approx a 1/5 of cyclists risk. So close in fact that if you thought a helmet is a good idea for cycling it must be a good idea for those pedestrians as well. After all the parameters fir testimg cycling helmets is a perfect match for that of a pedestrian.

But no one is saying helmets for pedestrians is common sense or a norm. Why is that do you imagine?
chuffer - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

It's a shame so many replies have focused entirely on the helmet issue. Wasn't the point of Mina's article was to draw attention to the less obvious harness problem? It certainly read that way to me.

I cannot believe that any climber past toddler age is unaware that a helmet probably improves chances of survival in a fall.

On the other hand, I wonder how many people have unknowingly exposed themselves to risks of more serious injury through wearing an ill-fitting harness. I know I have seen a lot of harnesses at UK walls and crags that I would not have been happy with. Thinking about it, a lot of the ones I've noticed could have been sized correctly but were just worn too low. There does seem to be a tendency to wear them very low over the hips (where all of us under 70ish but over 35ish wear our trousers) and there can't be much doubt it will increase the risk of an inversion compared to wearing the harness on the actual waist. Mina's and Nat's experiences suggest that maybe a slightly-too-large harness could also increase this risk. That's news to me and I am thankful to Mina for getting the info out there.

All the arguments for and against helmets are somewhat valid but they're so old and have been had so many times that that's all they are - arguments. Once the rage at someone being "wrong on the internet" has passed what have we gained??As far as I know there hasn't been much discussion of the importance of harness fit and how it might be important. Mina has tried to open a completely new debate and it seems to be going largely unnoticed, at least on UKC.

A bit more focus on the less-well known, and maybe less well understood, problem of harness fitting might be a lot more productive than the tired old helmet debate.

Mina, I hope you get (and feel) better really soon.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

Because I'm unlikely to trip and hit the ground with my head at 20mph when I'm walking. I just can't walk fast enough for my clumsiness to lead to a serious head injury.
1poundSOCKS - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to chuffer:

> As far as I know there hasn't been much discussion of the importance of harness fit and how it might be important.

Maybe cause there isn't any disagreement? Get a harness that fits. The helmet issue leads to disagreement, and hence discussion.
Pete_Frost on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

No one in the UK can prescribe what anyone wears when they are climbing. However, as Robert Durran says: "The only sensible argument for wearing a helmet is, having decided you are going to climb, to protect your head. And it's a pretty compelling one."

Robert Durran - on 01 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:
> No Robert that is 6,000 accidents not fatalities.

Yes I know. Try actually reading what you just quoted back at me.

> The figure is 100 fatalities per 3.2 billion miles cycled. So based on your figure thats a 180th so lets say around 0.3% chance after 30 million miles. 80% of those are in a 30 mph zone. So if you mostly cycle outside town the chance drops to 0.06% after 30 million miles of cycling.

About 100 fatalities per 3 billion miles is about 1 per 30 million miles, so, as I said, about 63% chance of dying (1-exp(-1) using a poisson distribution)

> Now lets get down to more realistic lifetime cycling miles for a keen cyclist. Say around 10,000 miles of cycling a year. Thats about 200 miles week in, week out year round. Let's say they do that for 50 years. Then we come up with around 500,000 miles of cycling over their lifetime. That's a lot of cycling, Now that's a 60th of the 30 million , keeping the maths simple. So even if you do all that cycling over all the time, and using your figures, the chance of being a fatality injured is only around 0.005%.

No idea what you've done to get that answer - no point in keeping the maths "simple" if it's also bollocks. The correct answer is about 1.7% based on the 100 fatalities per 3 billion miles.
Post edited at 22:39
2
Rock to Fakey - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

> I think it's also a case of the centre of the band being more likely to shift left or right, which adjusts your centre of gravity and tilts you sideways, which possibly happens more easily and quickly than tilting backwards completely. This is what I was more worried about with my loose harness.

Could this be an issue with some harness designs which incorporate a floating belt, enabling the belay loop to be easily centred when u put it on + tighten it.... but in falling when weighted can it be pulled left / right via the floatabilty design, .... could this design feature become a design fault?

TobyA on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> Whilst I frequently have to check that I'm wearing a cycling helmet, my climbing helmet is more noticeable - weight, heat, knocking the rock - sorry but there are times I don't want to wear it.

Funny, I was discussing this yesterday with my climbing partner walking back after climbing The Night Watch (VS 4b). We were both saying we've worn helmets for so long, for all climbing, we really don't notice them but I've heard quite a few people here on UKC down the years say one reason they don't like wearing them is they bang their heads on the rock when wearing them - a bit like you're saying here. Could it be that if you are a sort of 50/50 helmet wearer you DO bang your head in it because you are obviously used to climbing without one much of the time?

Actually, yesterday on the The Night Watch is the first time that I can remember where I did actually bash my helmet a bit trying to squirm through the narrower bits of the crack rather than being brave and space walking up, bridging, at the outer edge of the rift - which Dave did far more stylishly seconding! But actually, my approach shoes and packed in its stow pocket-jacket, all clipped to the back of my harness were actually far more to blame for trying to leave me jammed insitu halfway up!
TobyA on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Get well soon Mina! And thanks for a such an honest and introspective description of what you want through.

More generally, this is the second excellent but scary article that UKC has published this year about accidents sport climbing at Malham, that lead to serious head injuries: https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=9367 Toby built on his experience and article to write a follow up just focused on attitudes to helmet use https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=9457 I'm not sure why, to me, that seemed important to this discussion to me, but it does. I might be spotting patterns that aren't really there but it left me feeling the following:

It really seems that there is something very "sticky" for a certain cohort, particularly people climbing at the highest levels, about not wearing a helmet for a lot of UK climbing. I'm sure it's more an anthropological question than anything else. People like Robert above in this thread, and Rupert quoted in Toby's second article (and Mina herself), clearly have a very solid and realistic understandings of what helmets can and can't do, what it's like climbing in them and not in them, how different crags and styles of climbing affect the balance of factors for and against, and so on. And they choose sometimes not to wear one after weighing all that up. I wonder if Toby's experience, and his article here on UKC, changed anyone's behaviour? Not Mina's clearly, and I say that in a completely nonjudgmental way - just a statement of fact although I don't know if Mina and Toby know each other, or if she knew about his accident (or read his article), so perhaps his experience played no part in her decision. But I do wonder in turn whether this article will also change anyone's assessment when they make that decision on whether to wear one or not? If not, it does suggest that all our experiences of our peer groups - i.e. the behaviour of the people around you the most when you climb - seems to be perhaps the dominating factor in all our decision on this issue.
1poundSOCKS - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to TobyA:

> I wonder if Toby's experience, and his article here on UKC, changed anyone's behaviour? Not Mina's clearly

Although they were both head injuries, and a helmet would have helped, the cause of the injury was different, one being a fall low down before a bolt was clipped, the other from high on a steep route, with bolts clipped obviously. So the take away from Toby's accident might be to always use a clipstick, even if you've done the start many times on a relatively easy route.
Luke90 on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to TobyA:

Toby's article certainly changed the way I think about whether or not to wear a helmet. It hasn't made me wear one all the time, or even vastly more often than previously, but it's changed the balance of factors that I consider.

I used to think of the benefits of helmet use more in terms of loose rock or other objects falling on me. Toby's experience made me think more about the possibility of falls, particularly awkward ones. It's not that I was ever daft enough to think I couldn't hit my head in a fall, just that it weighed less heavily in my thinking about whether to wear a helmet than it does now.

For example, before Toby's article I probably wouldn't have worn a helmet for a well-protected route on solid rock, on the basis that even if I fell it shouldn't be far. These days, if that route was anywhere near my limit, I probably would.
Rob Kelly on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to TobyA:

Yes, it has changed mine. I'm a relative newcomer to the sport, having been climbing outside (exlusively sport and bouldering, no trad) for a couple of years now. My first experiences were with climbers vastly more experienced than myself, and generally at crags dominated by stronger climbers (Malham and Kilnsey included). I never saw a helmet and rightly or wrongly assumed there were reasons for this and as such I never wore one myself. To be honest I never even gave it much thought. And if I'm being REALLY honest, the aesthetic issue probably did contribute my decision or lack thereof. The only times I did see people wearing helmets were when I ventured to lower grade venues and, although I'm slightly embarrased to admit it now, I immediately assigned the 'punter' label to these people. Ironic seeing as that label also sums me up to a tee!

This is perhaps all slightly odd seeing as I come from a cycling background where I wouldn't dream of not wearing a helmet and have been saved a couple of times by one from not having what would have been some pretty horrific injuries.

Reading both Mina's and Toby's articles lead to a dinner table discussion with my family and better half about the pros and cons of helmet wearing. I could not find any compelling reason why I should not be wearing a helmet the majority of the time. Indeed, in my head I now think it would be rather selfish of me not to be wearing one. This is of course a personal decision and in no way do I judge anyone elses choices one way or another, the majority of people have far more experience than I do upon which to draw upon. But these stories and articles have certainly influenced the way I think. I'm about to venture to a large outdoor retail shop now to look at the options on offer...
1poundSOCKS - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to Rob Kelly:

> I'm about to venture to a large outdoor retail shop now to look at the options on offer...

Get an expanded polystyrene one, lighter and better vented, and protect against side and rear impacts, which are more likely in an inverted fall. Like a Petzl Sirocco or Meteor.
TobyA on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

From his first article absolutely - not being afraid to have the first bolt pre clipped seemed the central message (although he does mention not wearing a lid), but I guess I was more focusing on his second article that was completely about helmets and the choices some make to not wear one.
TobyA on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to Luke90:

> I used to think of the benefits of helmet use more in terms of loose rock or other objects falling on me. Toby's experience made me think more about the possibility of falls, particularly awkward ones.

That's really interesting. Perhaps I had over estimated how many other climbers share my perception that for rock climbing in the UK I'm wearing a helmet for protection from the rock in a bad or swinging fall and even from the ground and a bad landing - on many micro routes or grit routes where there isn't lots of pro or at least not at the start.

Obviously for Scottish winter climbing it's different to some degree - also I used to ice climb a lot and there the calculation is hugely more towards protecting you from ice coming down. But yeah, for someone who is mainly climbing on single pitch crags, mainly trad but a bit of sport, my sense was my helmet is more likely to be needed when I fall, rather than something falling on me. Although having said that I climbed at Horse Thief Quarry for the first time last week and on such newly developed quarried limestone, having a helmet in case of stuff falling on you seems very sensible!
TobyA on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to Rob Kelly:

Thanks Rob - very interesting and perceptive. I think your experience supports what I was saying about how our climbing peer group has a major impact on our thinking on such things - but then I'm a sociology teacher so I would say that.

If you are about to buy a helmet I wrote this five years ago now https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=4905 which might give you some ideas although most of the models have changed since then. For anyone put off by the price of some lightweight helmets, the Simond foam one from Decathlon is a bit of a bargain and well liked by a couple of mates who have one and use them lots https://www.decathlon.co.uk/calcit-light-ii-helmet-orange-id_8306111.html Not the absolute lightest, but not too far off and only 25 quid!
john arran - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to TobyA:

> Perhaps I had over estimated how many other climbers share my perception that for rock climbing in the UK I'm wearing a helmet for protection from the rock in a bad or swinging fall and even from the ground and a bad landing

It wasn't so long ago (maybe still is?) that the only standard a climbing helmet needed to conform to was one of resistance to objects falling from above. It still would be by far my greatest concern, which is why I only wear one in more adventurous terrain, but then again I've taken rather a lot of falls and don't seem to make a habit of hitting my head on anything. I do acknowledge that it would only be a very small inconvenience to wear a lid while doing any kind of climbing, but for me the risk when sport climbing seems so small that even that inconvenience isn't merited. Horses for courses, obviously.
Ian Parsons - on 02 Sep 2017
I recall some years ago applying myself to the bolted routes at the lefthand end of North Wall at Wintour's Leap and noting with interest the occasional salvoes of stones that rippled through the tree canopy overhead and impacted the ground a short distance out - sometimes uncomfortably short. The miscreants obviously needed advising that this was now a sport climbing sector and that they should confine their activities to the trad areas further south!

My friend Neil - of this parish - has a tale about the time that several of those large and very heavy cylindrical hay bales that are the norm nowadays suddenly started arriving from on high at the base of one of the Portland crags; I forget which one, but presumably one with a field at the top. I don't suppose a helmet would have made much difference in that instance.

Ahhh - the varied delights of British sport climbing!

ADEightyEight - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

> You also have to look at the limitations of cycle helmets. They are not designed to protect in accidents involving motorised vehicles. 2 tonnes of metal at 30mph vs. An inch of ploystyrene. I dont think so. Fall to the ground yes, and at least height than walking.

> The typical road bike crash involves a drop to pavement or tarmac. The important energy in that crash is supplied by gravity, not by forward speed. Although forward speed can contribute some additional energy, the main force is the attraction of gravity, and the impact severity is determined by the height of your head above the pavement when the fall begins. It is gravity that determines how fast your helmet closes with the pavement. Some of the crash energy is often "scrubbed off" by hitting first with other body parts. The typical bicycle crash impact occurs at a force level equating to about 1 meter (3 feet) of drop, or a falling speed of 10 MPH. The rider's forward speed before the crash may be considerably higher than that, but the speed of the head closing with the ground, plus a component of the forward speed, less any energy "scrubbed off" in other ways, normally average out at about 10 MPH.

You may be surprised at how well a Cycle helmet will protect you. Mine saved my life ~7 years ago. That was a head-on RTC with a 4x4 with speeds in excess of 30mph. The first thing to contact the 4x4 was my head. Granted i broke my neck and back in the accident. But undoubtedly it saved my life.

Following is the remnants of the helmet I was wearing - https://www.instagram.com/p/BVc_QCEn624/?taken-by=adeightyeight - as you can see it did its job.

You've gotta give your self every chance you can in things go south quickly, what value do you place on your head? But then again its a personal decision so I'd respect (but not agree with) someones decision to not wear one.
winhill - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> Massively off-topic but I agree with you, even though I always wear a helmet for cycling

> There is a growing perception that not wearing a helmet for cycling is irresponsible and marks you out as dangerous (e.g the prosecution case against Charlie Alliston). Or that you are going to be a drain on medical and rescue services.

This comes up a lot on these helmet threads but Cycling UK (the cycling ClimbBritain!) are against compulsory helmets and even against helmet education programs because the risk is so low in cycling, the health benefits of cycling better and the usefulness of the helmets limited.

So cyclists become detached from the notion of actual risk. But if they think even such a low risk activity requires a helmet, it's no surprise they think that the higher risk in sport climbing would also require one.
JDaniel - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

The principal reason for the helicopter rescue seems to have been the suspicion of a spinal injury (as evidenced by peripheral tingling). If so, whether Mina was wearing a helmet or not is unlikely to have been a relevant factor.

I had my spine fractured in a skiing injury a few years back. I wasn't wearing a helmet at the time. The medics said that it would have made no difference if I had been wearing one - the fracture was between my shoulder blades. I made a full recovery (thankfully).

I do wear a helmet now when I ski. Although I understand that if the same thing happened again, I would probably end up quadriplegic - helmet or no helmet - I now have a general sense of physical fragility which I did not have before. That makes me more willing to forgo the aesthetic benefit of feeling the wind rushing by, in order to avoid the possibly serious consequences of any of the various mishaps from which a helmet really could protect me.

Get well soon, Mina.

In reply to UKC News:
Sorry to learn about this fall, hope Mina Redpoints the route soon

On the subject of harnesses being too big, so getting a bigger one, needing an helmet etc to prevent risk etc, I wondered if the bolt was in the best place? Does another need placing?


andy - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> I've seen these kind of posts numerous times. Not sure what you seem to to be saying. Don't bother wearing a helmet as it won't save you anyway?

No - i think the point is that every time you see an injured cyclist who wasn't wearing a helmet, don't assume that a magic hat would somehow have enabled them to walk away.

I don't wear a helmet skiing - haven't done in 30 years and have never so much as bumped my head (other than on the occasional lift), despite skiing some reasonably tricky stuff very, very badly. I'm interested that those people (generally on skiing sites but also cycling forums) who are very pro-helmet (as oppposed to those who wear one but don't try the "well don't come to me when you're eating through a straw" argument) all seem to have had several near death experiences that would have seen them off had they not worn their helmet. This is something that interests me - why does it seem that folk who are positively pro-helmet wearing tend to have more accidents where their helmet saved their life than those who aren't? Maybe they're all dead?

I've also been riding a bike for between 5-10k miles a year for about 20 years and pretty much always wear a helmet. In all that time I've had one bad-ish fall - i knackered my collarbone (as stated above, on a bike other things tend to hit the floor first) and cracked my helmet without the foam compressing at all (so i think that means it didn't really do anything?). I am pretty confident the outcome would have been exactly the same if I'd not worn a helmet - I'd still have knackered my shoulder.
JDaniel - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to chuffer:
I agree that Mina has pointed out a piece of information about harness fit that many climbers will find new and very probably useful. There have been a few posts exploring why a too-big harness might contribute to inversion in a fall and others looking at various harness design features which might mitigate the chance of this kind of misfit arising. It's all useful, but there doesn't seem to be all that much to be said about it.

The context here is that she had a very nasty accident. The nastiness of the accident comes from (a) the fact that she had an inverted fall due at least in part to harness misfit and (b) the fact that she hit her head when she wasn't wearing a helmet. (There was also the suspicion of neurologic problems which may well have had nothing to do with helmet-wearing).

It's natural when talking about risks that people should explore factors which affect impact (sorry) as well as likelihood. In this case I think that the very obscurity of the cause highlights that it is unwise to rely on mitigating the likelihood of an event - it's not possible to foresee things that well. People want to look at mitigating the impact, too - "just in case".

I fully respect Mina's decision not to wear a helmet, whether before or after the event (if that's what she chooses). It really is a personal decision and I have little sympathy with those posters who take up cudgels on behalf of the MRT and medics - in my (very close and personal) experience, MRT are the last people to point fingers, except in cases of extreme stupidity (of which this isn't one).

However, I think that posters who get onto helmet-wearing are not really getting off-topic here. Discussing mitigation is a legitimate part of discussing the incident as a whole. On the other hand, I could agree if someone said that they were bored by the helmet discussion because nothing new has been said! (except possibly that each time this topic is visited helmets are a little lighter and stronger than the time before.)
Post edited at 19:15
TobyA on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to john arran:

> It wasn't so long ago (maybe still is?) that the only standard a climbing helmet needed to conform to was one of resistance to objects falling from above. It still would be by far my greatest concern, which is why I only wear one in more adventurous terrain,

Yes, see the article/review I linked above about helmets - in 2012 at least there was one test in the CE and UIAA ratings that sort of tested for impact protection but stuff falling on you was still the main thing helmets needed to protect against to pass. Not sure if anything has changed since.

I think that expensive BD helmet didn't pass those ratings BECAUSE they designed to protect in falls not for things landing on you.

IceBun - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

Mmm, negligible risk maybe but you only need it to go wrong once.
2
Robert Durran - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Yes I was mostly thinking about the BMC, who are in a slightly different position to most guidebook publishers, in being the representative body for climbers in the UK. I think that they have certain responsibilities in that role that other publishers do not.

On the contrary, I think the BMC should have a responsibility to, well, represent climbing as it actually is rather than play some big brother censorship role. A private publisher can do as they wish.
2
Robert Durran - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to IceBun:

> Mmm, negligible risk maybe but you only need it to go wrong once.

I only need to be hit by one meteor too, but I'm not really worried about it.
Robert Durran - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to winhill:

> So cyclists become detached from the notion of actual risk. But if they think even such a low risk activity requires a helmet, it's no surprise they think that the higher risk in sport climbing would also require one.

Sports climbing higher risk than cycling? You surprise me. Evidence/stats? My head certainly feels more vulnerable cycling than when sports climbing.
SteveSBlake - on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to BigBrother:

Yes, I had one of those - a major palaver....... What I meant was a belay loop with a thread back buckle.

Steve
TobyA on 02 Sep 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Sports climbing higher risk than cycling? You surprise me.

I think "sports climbing" is very unhelpful term in this context, routes and crags differ wildly. At Horse Thief last week there was a little 'objets d'art', a pile of stones artfully put on top of each other and a big one at the base the size of a laptop that someone had scratched onto "I pulled this off the top of ...so and so route". The ground there is also littered with blocks that the crag developers must have cleaned off, but I'm sure more have come down since it was opened to the general public. Lots of Peak limestone quarries are not beyond suspicion for bits still falling off them but remain popular venues, and it sounds like some of the Dorset climbers were saying similar about Portland. Crags where I used to climb in Finland on the whole were rather reliable in terms of bits not falling off them but on many the bolts could be quite far apart plus the granite not particularly steep, so a tumbling fall was a possibility - again making helmets worth considering.
Robert Durran - on 03 Sep 2017
In reply to TobyA:

> I think "sports climbing" is very unhelpful term in this context, routes and crags differ wildly.

Fair enough. I admit I was really thinking of typically quality steep eurocrags, not the typically shoddy UK stuff.
USBRIT - on 03 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Forget looking cool .. wear a bloody hat and you might save yourself and rescue teams from trouble..
Robert Durran - on 03 Sep 2017
In reply to USBRIT:

> Forget looking cool ......

It's not necessarily about looking "cool"; it's often about literally having a cool head.

7
oldie - on 03 Sep 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I only need to be hit by one meteor too, but I'm not really worried about it.<

I wear a helmet to protect me from just one impact (that might not occur). As I am an anxious old codger please could you let me know what I should be wearing to protect me from a meteor?

Robert Durran - on 03 Sep 2017
In reply to oldie:

> I wear a helmet to protect me from just one impact (that might not occur). As I am an anxious old codger please could you let me know what I should be wearing to protect me from a meteor?

I imagine a climbing helmet might suffice for a small one, just like it does for small terrestrial rocks.
Rock to Fakey - on 03 Sep 2017
In reply to USBRIT:

> Forget looking cool .. wear a bloody hat and you might save yourself and rescue teams from trouble..

I currently wear a skateboarding helmet. It even says "Bell" on both front + back!
Weighs 400g so i'll be upgrading soon.
ericinbristol - on 03 Sep 2017
In reply to oldie:

Petzl Meteor
Lion Bakes on 03 Sep 2017
In reply to ADEightyEight:
Sadly we see these helmet saved my life posts too frequently. In fact the number of helmet saved my life stories far exceeds any cyclist fatalities we saw before helmet wearing became mainstream in the late 90's / early part of this century. Either helmeted cyclists are so reckless that the number of near fatal accidents they are having has increased a hundredfold, or they are assigning their survival to the helmet when its simply not the case.
Post edited at 15:55
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Robert Durran - on 03 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

> Either helmeted cyclists are so reckless that the number of near fatal accidents they are having has increased a hundredfold, or they are assigning their survival to the helmet when its simply not the case.

Or there are more cyclists. Or the roads have become busier and more dangerous. Just two other possible explanations off the top of my head.

oldie - on 03 Sep 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

> Sadly we see these helmet saved my life posts too frequently. In fact the number of helmet saved my life stories far exceeds any cyclist fatalities we saw before helmet wearing became mainstream in the late 90's / early part of this century. Either helmeted cyclists are so reckless that the number of near fatal accidents they are having has increased a hundredfold, or they are assigning their survival to the helmet when its simply not the case.<

Perhaps posts should read: "Helmet probably saved me from injury or worse" as its impossible to prove. Might still make it worth considering using one though.
The picture of the smashed helmet from ADEightyEight is quite impressive. Maybe cyclists should consider using more robust helmets, or maybe their disintegration often reduces the impact force sufficiently?

Michael Gordon - on 03 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Can anyone explain why folk go on about the freedom of personal choice to climb without a helmet, yet have a totally different attitude to knotting the rope when abseiling? The latter if anything is more of a pest, and more risky (you only have to forget to untie a knot once and on a multi pitch abseil you're buggered), while putting a helmet on requires even less effort, has no noticeable disadvantages, and protects your head in circumstances beyond your control.
5
Robert Durran - on 03 Sep 2017
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Can anyone explain why folk go on about the freedom of personal choice to climb without a helmet, yet have a totally different attitude to knotting the rope when abseiling? The latter if anything is more of a pest, and more risky (you only have to forget to untie a knot once and on a multi pitch abseil you're buggered), while putting a helmet on requires even less effort, has no noticeable disadvantages, and protects your head in circumstances beyond your control.

Eh? Are you saying that knotting an abseil rope is not considered just as much a personal choice?
1
Krustythebrown - on 03 Sep 2017
I always wear a helmet these days, belaying too, as an unconscious belayer will most likely mean a ground fall, especially if the climber pulled off the rock that hits them in the midst of a fall. Generally I look around on the floor, if theres rubble, then theres rockfall, this is the biggest danger and reason to wear one.
Had she worn one, she'd have been in the pub an hour later. Personally I think its irresponsible not to wear one, bit like wearing a seatbelt. The more you wear it, the less you notice it.

1
Michael Gordon - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:
No, I just think it strange that freedom of personal choice and an acceptance of risk seems to often come up in discussions about helmet use where there are no real disadvantages in the practice of wearing one, while in other less black and white aspects of climbing it often seems to be implied that doing it one way is good practice, another less so.
Post edited at 07:16
1
Andrew Kin - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I still haven't been able to view the video here but from what I can gather from reading the report, the OP seems to put most of the blame on the harness being a bit loose around the waist. The subsequent pull on the harness and the angle in which it happened meant the lady carried on rotating and inverted.

What I am thinking about is how this may or may not effect kids. Young girls and boys don't have the hips ladies tend to have and getting harnesses which fit correctly must be even more important. I know my daughter was wearing a sit harness from 7yrs old and was leading at that age too (Had a rather unfortunate leg/rope incident at national finals where she ended up upside down for a fraction of a second). No issue and I believe the harness was correct fitting but it could have been.

After this report it made me think about how my daughter wears her harness. It is the correct size for her, without a doubt. But she has always been one to have the waist band done up very tight. That's the way she prefers it. I must admit I have lectured her on it before and questioned the need for it to be so tight (Not any more). Maybe she was more aware of this kind of issue than me

My daughter is now 10yrs old, still hasn't got any hips to speak of and I will be shopping for a new harness in the next few weeks so it would be nice to get information to help ensure we get the correct fit. Tight enough to cut off circulation? Tight enough to fit a couple of fingers between the waist band? What is too loose?
descender8 - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Everyone's got an opinion ! BUT If you choose not to wear a helmet because your role model doesn't that's your choice , if you choose to follow them in jumping off a cliff , that's also your choice , if you do want to wear a helmet that's also fine - it's YOUR choice ! As for the
health and safety police they should stay out of climbing and keep their opinions to themselves ! If you want to wear a helmet do so , just dont try tell me I have to or try to change the sport into a safe predictable ( boring rule bashing nerd club / telling guide book publishers what pictures they can use is laughable ! Wind your necks in and get back to top roping - next you'll want all of Alex honnolds videos banned and helmets for bouldering indoors !
5
David Clover on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Came away from that article quite angry. If you think a lightweight helmet weighs you down/gets in the way on sport or trad, youre only fooling yourself. Get stronger, stop making excuses.
To think of all the air ambulance, mountain rescue and nhs time wasted for a perfectly preventable injury is ridiculous.
To then have the arrogance to request we respect your "experience" and ability to try and justify that decision is also ridiculous.
Its a poor example to the climbing community and lack of responsibilty to yourself and to others.
You cant /wouldnt ride a motor bike without a helmet. Why think its ok to take part in a sport with constant risk of falling or falling loose rock without a helmet. And then expect others to mop up your preventable injury. And then asked not to be judged for your decsions. Ridiculous.
19
andy - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to David Clover: so why do it at all? Or wht trad climb? Or solo? Or do highball problems?

Offwidth - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to andy:

Exactly... its rare even for UKC to see two such ludicrously polarised posts in sequence.
ebdon - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to David Clover:

Attitudes like this always confuse me from climbers - who I thought should have a good understanding of risk, responsibility and there actions.
All climbing is essentially pointless and dangerous and involves actively seeking unnecessary risk. where do you draw the line? am I irresponsible because I solo, or lead where I could top rope? sometimes I get on trad climbs that I find hard and fall off or miss gear as am pumped - is this irresponsible (much more dangerous than the incident Mina was involved in)? by merely venturing out of my front door I am potentially going to be involved in an avoidable incident that may 'waste the MRT's time'. As discussed above when climbing at your absolute limit wearing a hamlet may mean the difference between success or failure and when the risks are so low I can understand peoples decision not to where them. I hope from now on you only top rope indoors to fully minimize your exposure to risk.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to ebdon:
As discussed above when climbing at your absolute limit wearing a hamlet....

is that for smoking at the belay stance on multipitch routes?

if it was single pitch, you could just leave a packet at the top.
Post edited at 16:08
ebdon - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

I was thinking more Shakespearean, its bloody hard work at malham with a thespian with assorted skulls and cloaks strapped to you!



Damm deslexia......
Robert Durran - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to David Clover:

> Came away from that article quite angry.

Came away from your post almost spitting with apoplexy.
You appear to stand for a good bit of what I go climbing to get away from.
Ridiculous.

3
Ian W - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to BigBrother:


> Also many years ago Troll tried selling harnesses via a modular approach ie you bought the waist belt and legloops separately so that you could get a good fit on both and I think the belay loop also came separately in different lengths but I may be wrong on that detail.

Indeed - Troll (and I think also Petzl) sold leg loops and waistbands separately back in the early 80's - if memory serves, they were more for the caving market, but back then, we weren't too fussy.....




Rick Graham on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Ian W:

> Indeed - Troll (and I think also Petzl) sold leg loops and waistbands separately back in the early 80's - if memory serves, they were more for the caving market, but back then, we weren't too fussy.....

IIRC you could mix and match leg loops and belts until the mid to late 90's.

This all stopped when the CE/PPE? regulations came in and most manufacturers tested and sold the harnesses as one unit.
Ian W - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Rick Graham:

Indeed you are correct - now that you mention it they were available into the 90's. Dunno if it was PPE that killed them off or just people were getting more sophisticated in their requirements - i do remember there was a rapid period of development of equipment at the end of the 80's / early 90's, when sport climbing advanced in standard rapidly - Gullich / Bachar / Moffat / Moon / Edlinger etc etc

i still have some ultra lightwieght titanium krabs that were brought over by a Russian Cave Diver in about 88 / 89. Not sure i'd like to drop onto one now, but whwn one was put on the test rig it was found to be mega strong, but when it let go, it let go in a fairly spectacular way. Whatever happened to titanium krabs?
deepsoup - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Rick Graham:
> IIRC you could mix and match leg loops and belts until the mid to late 90's.

Yep. I have a Wild Country belt that I picked up for a fiver from the bargain bucket in the shop at the Foundry, so it must have been mid '90s at the earliest. They'd just been discontinued, and they'd already sold out of leg loops.

It was the one with the little velcro tabs you could use to have a bit of gear you could just rip off the harness without having to unclip. Gunslinger? I think it was made with the same webbing the hilariously outdated kayaker has for a chest-harness in the Alpkit advert here: https://www.alpkit.com/images/headers/202802/multi.jpg
Michael Gordon - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to David Clover:

I'd have thought getting someone off the catwalk was an almost perfect MR training scenario? Easy walk in, bolts to lower the casualty off...

It's funny that your post along with another further up was not only completely over the top ("constant" risk of falling off or falling loose rock?!), it also missed the fact that the accident has clearly made Mina think more carefully about the potential dangers of wrong size harnesses and helmetless climbing!
Dave Stelmach on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

> Last weekend, top sport climber and boulderer Mina Leslie-Wujastyk was involved in an accident at Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales. Mina has written a blog to share her experience and open a discussion on the use of harnesses and helmets in sport climbing, and has kindly agreed to reproduce the piece on UKC.

> Read more

I wish you a speedy recovery! Accidents happen and all climbers accept the risk as part of the adrenaline fix. As an experienced climber, you are fully aware of the risks and consequences, pros and cons involved in such choices as 'wearing a helmet' and other dilemma. Good luck with your choice and I hope you enjoy the sport for many years to come.
flash635 - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Thelittlesthobo:

I am an old-hand climber just getting back into climbing in middle-age. I was brought up on traditional E-grade climbing in the eighties. I have never worn a helmet climbing. Times when I should definitely have worn one - alpine climbing and winter climbing (both of which I stopped doing early on in my career - too dangerous!). In terms of rock climbing, I have only inverted once when I fell off and my rope, which was clipped through two closely spaced bolts (on Think Pink E3 6a at Avon Gorge) caught round the back of my knee and inverted me. I did not make any other significant contact, although I had a bad rope burn behind the knee.

This is an excellent article by Mina (make a speedy recovery!) and has provoked a lot of positive discussion here. This is to be encouraged as it makes people think about the choices they make. However, the instant I read that Mina attributed the inversion to having too large a harness waist size for her waist I was not surprised. I then immediately thought of children climbing. I have scanned the comments and this comment by the Thelittlesthobo was the only one I could see mentioning it.

When my children were young and I was helping them with climbing it was common knowledge to me in the nineties and early naughties that children, up to the at least the age of 10 - 12, should NEVER climb in a waist harness. Until they have developed hips they should only ever climb in a full body harness which includes a chest harness and has much higher attachment point. For this reason I purchased a children's full body harness which my kids used until they were physically too large to fit in it. I still have it, its made by Camp and is an excellent bit of kit. Nobody should be putting children in waist harnesses, because even more than consequence of inversion, they can actually come out of the harness if they go upside down.

The same consideration might apply to Mina. If, like many athletes, you are of very slim build, have little waist compared to your hips and have a loose harness you could, like a child, actually come out of the harness if inverted. In that situation a helmet may not make much difference if you hit the ground head first. I am not aware if any such accident has occurred, I hope not, but it is possibility**. In which case the primary defence for someone like Mina might be to have a lightweight chest harness to link to the waist harness, with a slightly higher attachment point. Two piece waist + chest harnesses were popular with Alpine mountaineers back in my younger days, not sure about availability now.

(**PS I never wear slings around the neck only either, only around the neck and under on armpit. This is because of the risk of falling, hooking up and hanging yourself. Don't believe it could happen? Check out Hamish McInnes book Behind the Ranges...)
Michael Gordon - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to flash635:

>
> (**PS I never wear slings around the neck only either, only around the neck and under on armpit. This is because of the risk of falling, hooking up and hanging yourself. Don't believe it could happen? Check out Hamish McInnes book Behind the Ranges...)

I hope hardly anyone else does this either - certainly has the potential to be dangerous.
john arran - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to flash635:

While what you say makes a lot of sense, it sounds like you may be misinterpreting Mina's point when it comes to an over-sized harness in her case. Unlike for children and those without hips, there doesn't ever seem to have been a risk for Mina of coming out of the harness completely, or even partially. The risk she identified was that, due to the looseness of the waist belt, by the time the back of the harness came to do any work in helping to keep her upright, she already would have been largely inverted. Effectively the leg loops would be playing a bigger role in stopping the fall than would the waist belt.

Always worth making sure your harness fits you well anyway, of course, but it's interesting to see that it isn't just the risk of sliding out of it that's the issue.
johncook - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to flash635:

I never wear slings round my neck at all, after falling off Medusa a Stoney and ending up with the sling, carried round my neck and under my arm, catching on the tree stump (this has now gone). It took some time, pain and trouble to escape, but the gear I had to drop onto held. Shit happens but not this type again!
slab_happy on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Rick Graham:

> IIRC you could mix and match leg loops and belts until the mid to late 90's.

It's not quite the same thing, but I gather you can order the Edelrid Gambit with various combinations of different-sized waistbands and leg loops (thought I'd mention it in case it's useful to anyone struggling to find a good fit).
geoffwhite - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

This is the second time I've seen UKC publish an accident report from someone who decided not to wear a helmet.
Of course I feel compassion for anyone injured while climbing and I am glad Mina is recovering well. But I just can't understand why anyone would work at height without a helmet - what are the compelling reasons?
I've sport climbed and trad climbed a fair bit, and never once considered not wearing a helmet for either activity.
Nikki Hawkins - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to gethin_allen:

> Any reason why carrying a rack would result in you inverting? the weight is around your waist.

Webster didn't mention INVERTING due to a rack. The discussion was about things falling on you, I believe. So no reason to "reassess" that point!

Nikki Hawkins - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I wear a helmet whenever I am climbing outside whether sport or trad because my helmet is so comfortable I barely notice it and I know that it may save me from a head injury. I can't really think of a reason why I would not wear it. As for belaying from the ground, there is always a chance that the climber I am belaying may drop some kit on me or may knock a loose rock onto me. I have certainly had near misses that way. Whatever my climbing partner may drop onto me accidentally, I still have an obligation to him/her to continue to safeguard their life by belaying so I consider it a moral obligation to wear a helmet when belaying. It is quite simple for me: I wear a helmet!
oldie - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to flash635:

> the primary defence for someone like Mina might be to have a lightweight chest harness to link to the waist harness, with a slightly higher attachment point. Two piece waist + chest harnesses were popular with Alpine mountaineers back in my younger days, not sure about availability now.<

I was given a chest harness and a bit of linking tape some years ago by a German friend some years ago because he insisted wearing a sit harness like most Brits left me open to suffocation (similar to the old waist tie). I offended him somewhat by not using it, largely because I don't consider it necessary (as presumably do most of us) but also because I don't like the idea of taking a bad fall with a system where I''m not sure how the impact would affect me. Obviously there are some combinations of sit and chest harnesses OKd by the manufactufacturers
I remember some acquaintances in the 60s and 70s used to lead solely on chest harnesses (Edeldrid/Edelweiss). I also remember there was someone who broke their spine and died in a fall in the Cairngorms using a homemade chest harness (obviously without a sit harness).

> (**PS I never wear slings around the neck only either, only around the neck and under on armpit. This is because of the risk of falling, hooking up and hanging yourself. Don't believe it could happen? Check out Hamish McInnes book Behind the Ranges...) <
I confess I do still wear slings round my neck for convenience when leading. I won't even try and justify the risk. Garrotting, especially with a doubled sling, is a distinct possibility

Robert Durran - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to oldie:

> I confess I do still wear slings round my neck for convenience when leading. I won't even try and justify the risk.

switching a few years ago to never wearing slings round my neck and instead having them twirled and racked on my harness has been a revelation in convenience, comfort and lack of faff, never mind any safety advantage.
oldie - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> switching a few years ago to never wearing slings round my neck and instead having them twirled and racked on my harness has been a revelation in convenience, comfort and lack of faff, never mind any safety advantage.<

Thanks. I really should start using this system.

Michael Gordon - on 08 Sep 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> switching a few years ago to never wearing slings round my neck and instead having them twirled and racked on my harness has been a revelation in convenience, comfort and lack of faff, never mind any safety advantage.

I see it the opposite way. Both more faff to have to do that, and less convenient i.e. harder to access them. With them over one shoulder and under the other arm I can access them one-handed, which would be a struggle when all twizzled up.
flash635 - on 08 Sep 2017
In reply to oldie:
> (**PS I never wear slings around the neck only either, only around the neck and under on armpit. This is because of the risk of falling, hooking up and hanging yourself. Don't believe it could happen? Check out Hamish McInnes book Behind the Ranges...) <

Oldie replied:

> I confess I do still wear slings round my neck for convenience when leading. I won't even try and justify the risk. Garrotting, especially with a doubled sling, is a distinct possibility<

I always carry slings joined by a karabiner over the neck and around the armpit. That way they can be taken off one-handed and there is also no mistake with the krab slipping off. Much easier than taking them over your head.

For those who don't know, Hamish McInnes related a story of going up to rescue someone who had fallen in a Scottish gully. The guy was found hanged from his own slings, worn around the neck only....it really can happen.
Post edited at 09:58

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