FRI NIGHT VID: Helmets - Dropping Rocks on Melons and More

This week's Friday Nighter is Climbing Magazine's 'Unscientific Helmet Test'. We've also thrown in a BMC Helmet video that we featured last summer too.

Climbing with a helmet is, is it a good idea? Well, most likely it will mean that a whack on the head might hurt less!

There is an interesting article on the BMC Website in which Dan Middleton says:

"One reason given by some climbers for not wearing a helmet is that they don't offer any real protection in a fall. This isn't strictly true: helmets offer some protection, which may, or may not be, enough to stave off injury. Many modern helmets do offer better all-round protection than their predecessors, making them more likely to protect against falls. They still won't save you from a headfirst plummet from a great height, but they might make the difference if you clip a ledge, swing into a rib or get flipped upside down by the rope.

Another argument used is that helmets will only protect against minor injuries and don't do any good against really big impacts. Again, this isn't the full story: a study of climbing fatalities concluded that 25% could have been avoided if a helmet had been worn. Although most fall injuries are to the lower limbs, the next most likely place to be injured is the head."

So here is the test - melons, custard pies, rocks, you name it - we liked it!

Also here is the BMC Helmet video, which the BMC introduce thus:

"In our campaign video, we interview climbers at England's most popular crag Stanage Edge, and ask them about their attitudes and thoughts about wearing helmets.

We discuss modern climbing helmets, and we ask climber Neil Bentley why he chose to wear a helmet for the first ascent of the UK's first E10, Equilibrium."


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7 Jul, 2013
I really enjoyed this video. Helps illustrate how you should wear one very well. However, I'm slightly concerned how little they really could take. A 19lb rock? In an alpine setting one of these falling 2000 feet isn't unlikely! Made me question whether its worth wearing one more than anything, however, I shall, simply for cleaning ice!
7 Jul, 2013
I think all UIAA tests should be performed in this manner.
8 Jul, 2013
That's a bloody daft idea. How is that going to help "personal choice"? Let people see the whole truth and make their own minds up. I have never understood why top climbers don't wear helmets, honestly can't understand it for a second in any situation. But they are free to do their own thing. If you didn't show videos/photos of top climbers who don't wear helmets you wouldn't have much footage to show.
9 Jul, 2013
The think I find interesting is that everybody goes about rockfall as a reason to wear a helmet, but the BMC video suggests that rockfall is not a major cause of death/injury, but falling is. Maybe it is a psychological thing - rockfall is out of your control, so it is OK to use it as a justification to wear a helmet. But people either think they don't fall or don't fall dangerously, possibly underestimating the real risk? There is obviously confirmation bias here that most climbers have not killed themselves falling and banging their heads. There is also the indoors/outdoors thing, but I suspect indoor climbing may be safer because there is more control - bolts are closer spaced so you won't fall as far, the walls are flatter and so more predictable (there are not ledges to fall on inconveniently). Or maybe I am just trying to justify my own choice not to wear a helmet indoors... Helmet up! :P