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post #32 of Old 12-06-2013
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Re: Can You Buy Safety?

[quote=nexttopevent9x;1193442]I am never sure whether a life jacket is more likely to save me than my fear of falling overboard without one is likely to prevent me from doing it.[/quote]

There is a kernel of truth in that.

Over the years I have helped clean up after 4 significant climbing accidents, 2 of them fatal. Back then, no one wore a helmet at the local crags, only ice climbing. Curiously, all 4 victims were wearing helmets, and they didn't do a one bit of good. Yes, I suspect they made the wearer feel a bit more bullet proof.

Helmets are to keep smallish falling rocks and ice from making a dent in your head, same as hard hats in industry. They are not for falls. Similarly, a PFD will keep you from sinking, but it won't help nearly so much if you are solo, in truly bad weather and at night, or in truly cold water. Staying on the boat is what matters.

A final point. Not long ago, a very good friend of mine and a very skilled and experienced climber took a 50 foot ground fall (many fractures). He made a single stupid rigging error on something he had done many thousands of times. The moral: never become complacent and check everything you do when it is serious.


A final note: none of these accidents involved gear failure.

(when asked how he reached the starting holds on a difficult rock climbing problem that clearly favored taller climbers - he was perhaps 5'5")

"Well, I just climb up to them."

by Joe Brown, English rock climber

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