Every so often a climbing adventure takes an unexpected turn. It may be a loose rock, a misstep, a carabiner not locked, or a volcanic eruption. The point is that each climber should be prepared to deal with injuries and accidents that occur while out in the wilderness. One must remember that help is often not just a phone call away, and the immediate actions of you and your partner can have a dramatic impact on the outcome of the situation. Iâ€™d like to focus on a couple scenarios that could arise and give some general guidelines for safety and response.
Scenario 1: You and your partner have just completed a tenpitch route in which you were forced to lead 8 of the pitches because your partner Sallyâ€™d out through the crux. You are walking off the back, and in the third class scramble, your partner loses his balance and drops your Nalgene down the gully a few hundred feet. Within minutes, youâ€™ve recovered the Nalgene, and though itâ€™s supposed to be indestructible, it is leaking water slowly through a crack on its side. Knowing you have but minutes to save the Nalgene, what do you do? If you are prepared, you pull out your emergency first aid kit and grab the duct tape to patch up the crack and save the water. Tragedy avoided! You also kick your partner for good measure and lecture him like a little child on the importance of safety practices.
Scenario 2: To access a beautiful splitter crack across the valley that is begging for a first ascent, you and your buddy must cross a narrow but deep river with a swift moving current. Two other variables weigh on your decision. First, the river is a brisk 37 degrees due to the fact that global warming is a myth and El NiÃ±o is still playing havoc with the world. Secondly, and with no scientific explanation why, there are millions of little piranhas chomping in the water. The decision has to be made. Do you take unnecessary risks for the pursuit of the sport or does one make an educated decision based on the factors and risks involved? Of course, you go for it. Using a #7 Tri cam as a war hammer, you bludgeon your way through the piranha to the other side. Hypothermia must be offset by wearing a Gortex waterproof vest with pit zips. With this, you simply need to lash together two big bros with a cordelette and float them like a raft across the river. Once across, the first ascent is certainly yours for the taking.
In conclusion, these situations, though extremely common and elementary, highlight the consciousness necessary to pursue climbing as safely as humanly possible. In the immortal words of MacGyver, â€œgimme a toothpick, a bubble gum wrapper, and some belly lint, and Iâ€™ll build you a bomb.â€ Because given the unpredictability of climbing accidents, that just might be what you need. Climb hard, climb safe.