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Cranbo

Noobs at 38

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I saw these 3 people at Vantage once. A woman walked over to the top of a route, tied a piece of webbing between two bolts of the anchor, hung the rope over the webbing, no biener, and yelled "take and lower" to her belayer.

 

I was on the anchor of the neighbouring route and yelled STOP! I told her that within about 10 meters of lowering her rope would melt the webbing. She said "I've done this before and it's always worked." So I scrambled over the top of the column and threw a sling on their rope and anchor. As she was lowered, the webbing sure enough frayed and gave way; she didn't even notice the slight bump in the rope as my sling caught her rope. I cut the remnants of her "anchor" off and took off my sling and dropped their rope. When I rapped down, she was furious with me. for screwing up her system! Go figure.

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I saw these 3 people at Vantage once. A woman walked over to the top of a route, tied a piece of webbing between two bolts of the anchor, hung the rope over the webbing, no biener, and yelled "take and lower" to her belayer.

 

I was on the anchor of the neighbouring route and yelled STOP! I told her that within about 10 meters of lowering her rope would melt the webbing. She said "I've done this before and it's always worked." So I scrambled over the top of the column and threw a sling on their rope and anchor. As she was lowered, the webbing sure enough frayed and gave way; she didn't even notice the slight bump in the rope as my sling caught her rope. I cut the remnants of her "anchor" off and took off my sling and dropped their rope. When I rapped down, she was furious with me. for screwing up her system! Go figure.

I was not there so please don't take this as an accusation. Delivery is everything. There are too many attitudes on this site and they are prevalent in most macho sports. So when someone comes up to me with an attitude or even the hint of one, I bristle a little. If someone comes up to me with a very friendly tone and offers help, I may STILL bristle a little but be more willing to listen if they are offerig me usolicited advice. Someone who has no idea who you are might have a little trouble accepting that you are right by default. I would have gone to the top to recover my gear and yelled down to her that hers had failed and I was about to take mine out and would she like to come and look at it? I would be firm but try to be very friendly and I would explain to her that if I had not backed up her gear she would have fallen to her death. If she still cops an attitude I would be likely to mess with her head a little.

You may have done all this in which case, I will stfu.

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We all started somewhere. Most of us made stupid mistakes but survived them somehow. It would be great if we could help other new climbers survive those early days too.

 

Thanks to those of you willing to risk being rebuffed by arrogant attitudes of some novices. Maybe they don't want to hear the message, but perhaps, whether they admit it right away or not, they will learn something from you and be less likely to kill themselves another day.

 

How would you feel if you kept silent and then someone died? Probably worse than if that person chewed you out when you gave some unsolicited safety advice.

 

 

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We all started somewhere. Most of us made stupid mistakes but survived them somehow. It would be great if we could help other new climbers survive those early days too.

 

Thanks to those of you willing to risk being rebuffed by arrogant attitudes of some novices. Maybe they don't want to hear the message, but perhaps, whether they admit it right away or not, they will learn something from you and be less likely to kill themselves another day.

 

How would you feel if you kept silent and then someone died? Probably worse than if that person chewed you out when you gave some unsolicited safety advice.

 

 

There is no reason to make some of these stupid mistakes! just a little reading and getting out with someone who is competent is all you need. I know there are gray areas, but some of the stuff cited above is so egregious I can't buy into the idea that it's part of "normal" learning.

 

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There is no reason to make some of these stupid mistakes! just a little reading and getting out with someone who is competent is all you need. I know there are gray areas, but some of the stuff cited above is so egregious I can't buy into the idea that it's part of "normal" learning.

 

OK, so you really are superior. Congratulations.

 

Don't you still have some responsibility to try, in some small ways, to help keep other people from being killed by their stupidity regardless of what their learning may or may not have been? Or, better yet, volunteer to mentor/teach newbies so they won't make these mistakes.

 

I guess you could just do nothing and whine on the internet...

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There is no reason to make some of these stupid mistakes! just a little reading and getting out with someone who is competent is all you need. I know there are gray areas, but some of the stuff cited above is so egregious I can't buy into the idea that it's part of "normal" learning.

 

OK, so you really are superior. Congratulations.

 

Don't you still have some responsibility to try, in some small ways, to help keep other people from being killed by their stupidity regardless of what their learning may or may not have been? Or, better yet, volunteer to mentor/teach newbies so they won't make these mistakes.

 

I guess you could just do nothing and whine on the internet...

 

Bullshit dude. First of all I do help newbies - read my recent R&D trip report, and secondly I am not expressing "superiority". I simply can not fathom how somebody would go out climbing and try to, say, rappel without reading and practicing how to do it first.

 

 

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There is no reason to make some of these stupid mistakes! just a little reading and getting out with someone who is competent is all you need. I know there are gray areas, but some of the stuff cited above is so egregious I can't buy into the idea that it's part of "normal" learning.

 

OK, so you really are superior. Congratulations.

 

Don't you still have some responsibility to try, in some small ways, to help keep other people from being killed by their stupidity regardless of what their learning may or may not have been? Or, better yet, volunteer to mentor/teach newbies so they won't make these mistakes.

 

I guess you could just do nothing and whine on the internet...

 

I think he was responding to some here who have said crazy dangerous stuff is a normal part of learning to climb. I didn't get the sense that his post promoted ignoring people who were about to do something fatal. In fact, I don't think his post addressed that at all. It was about what's inside and outside of the normal boundaries of the process to learn climbing.

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Not everybody approaches the sport the way you do, KK. Mr. Rambo at Exit 38 may not be someone you want to climb with but I can assure you that plenty of people go out and try rappelling without going through a "basic crag" course or asking an "expert" to show them how.

 

I could be wrong, and I may be called names for suggesting this, but my general impression over 35 years of climbing is that newbies who learn on their own are not necessarily more likely to get in accidents than those who carefully read up or take lessons before going out on their own.

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Not everybody approaches the sport the way you do, KK. Mr. Rambo at Exit 38 may not be someone you want to climb with but I can assure you that plenty of people go out and try rappelling without going through a "basic crag" course or asking an "expert" to show them how.

 

I could be wrong, and I may be called names for suggesting this, but my general impression over 35 years of climbing is that newbies who learn on their own are not necessarily more likely to get in accidents than those who carefully read up or take lessons before going out on their own.

 

You're swinging the pendulum way to far there, Matt, and making huge assumptions about what I supposedly believe or am stating. Just how long does it take to "learn" to rappel correctly? If you don't "read" up on it, well, shit, I'd say one day with a more experienced person - more experienced, not *expert*. Not too tough. How many falls does it take to fucking die? One? That's a stupid way to learn, IMO. Sorry.

 

 

 

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All I assumed, KK, was that you meant what you said when you said you couldn't fathom how "somebody would go out climbing and try to, say, rappel without reading and practicing how to do it first."

 

I'm not advocating anybody fail to learn about or practice what they are doing. It has been my observation, though, that some people are careful to read about or practice everything before trusting themselves to the "real thing" whereas others take a different approach, diving into things and then deciding that it might be a good idea to learn more. You may employ a combination of these approaches. I don't know.

Edited by mattp

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All I assumed, KK, was that you meant what you said when you said you couldn't fathom someone going out and rapelling without reading about it first.

 

Without reading or having someone who knew about it first show them. Preferable the latter or both.

 

Fuck, I'd like to learn to SCUBA dive/hang-glide/white-river kayak, etc - any other newbies out there like to go out with me? No need to read about it or have someone who has some experience show us what to do - let's just try it out!

 

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I've always had folks around who would allow me to make mistakes to learn from and stop me if those mistakes could turn deadly. Seems Jason's friends were on the shitheaded side.

 

While living in Canada ice climbing in the Rockies there were numerous opportunities to see some scary shit, ironically enough the worst of it came from a group from Oregon at Haffner.

 

It seems to me to be a good course of action to kindly and calmly let people know that you noticed something in their actions that could end up getting someone hurt, or worse, give them a false sense of competence. I've found most folks respond well when you offer help, not derision. I'd rather help someone learn than keep quiet and mock them then need to cut my trip short to help evac them after some dipshit maneuver.

If they don't want to listen, then fuck 'em and let 'em deal with the consequences.

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Not everybody approaches the sport the way you do, KK. Mr. Rambo at Exit 38 may not be someone you want to climb with but I can assure you that plenty of people go out and try rappelling without going through a "basic crag" course or asking an "expert" to show them how.

 

I could be wrong, and I may be called names for suggesting this, but my general impression over 35 years of climbing is that newbies who learn on their own are not necessarily more likely to get in accidents than those who carefully read up or take lessons before going out on their own.

 

Matt - I've always enjoyed your perspective and I agree with you whole heartedly again. Have a great day

:yoda:

 

 

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KK, glad to hear you are helping where you can. I agree with you that some people's 'training' is woefully inadequate. However, I feel that doesn't justify withholding potentially life-saving information from them. Quite the opposite.

 

To add to Matt's comment, I have seen plenty of newbies who are VERY safe and responsible. I've also seen experienced climbers do things that I perceived to be irresponsible (brake hand off lead rope, setting up squirrely anchors, unclipping at belays on exposed multipitch routes etc). This latter group is more problematic than newbies IMHO. At least the newbies can plead ignorance and may change their bad habits. The 'experts' are generally less likely to acknowledge mistakes and change their practices.

 

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I used to wear a helmet to protect me from my mentor's slaps on the back of the head.

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KK, glad to hear you are helping where you can. I agree with you that some people's 'training' is woefully inadequate. However, I feel that doesn't justify withholding potentially life-saving information from them. Quite the opposite.

 

To add to Matt's comment, I have seen plenty of newbies who are VERY safe and responsible. I've also seen experienced climbers do things that I perceived to be irresponsible (brake hand off lead rope, setting up squirrely anchors, unclipping at belays on exposed multipitch routes etc). This latter group is more problematic than newbies IMHO. At least the newbies can plead ignorance and may change their bad habits. The 'experts' are generally less likely to acknowledge mistakes and change their practices.

 

I think we are in agreement! Regarding the latter I think it is a good argument for being "promiscuous" in your peer-level climbing partners so you don't get stuck in a rut. I always ask my partners to point out any issues with my pro placements or anchors and offer feedback. This can be most useful when it's a new climbing partner.

 

 

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I've also seen experienced climbers do things that I perceived to be irresponsible (brake hand off lead rope, setting up squirrely anchors, unclipping at belays on exposed multipitch routes etc). This latter group is more problematic than newbies IMHO. At least the newbies can plead ignorance and may change their bad habits. The 'experts' are generally less likely to acknowledge mistakes and change their practices.

 

Then you probably don't want to climb with me, Rad, because I will do all of those things at one time or another. Reading this, I think back to the partners who have scared me the most in the last couple of years and it has not been because they took their breaking hand off the belay at some point, but because they just showed bad judgment or were clumsy. Stopping to belay and taking a long time to get a fully equalized triple anchor in a rockfall prone location, choosing routes or evaluating avalanche hazard or making route-finding decisions based only upon guidebook or cc.com information rather than using one's own eyes, or failing to back up the pro when the single piece they have employed sits behind a loose block is a lot more scary (to me) than the things you describe.

 

Again: I'm not advocating unsafe practices. I'm simply saying that different people focus on different matters and hard and fast rules are not as important as good judgment and a willingness to receive and employ information.

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When you see something scary, all you can do is to offer some advice or assistance. Sometimes they will take you up on such an offer and sometimes not.

 

I agree with this 100%!

 

The first and only time I have been fortunate enough to meet mattp was when he was giving my partner and I some very friendly advice while we were causing a dangerous clusterfuck on a crowded route at Index. This happened about 3 years ago. We were both fairly experienced needed to put our ego's aside. We definitely took his advice and made some changes on how we conducted ourselves at popular crags.

Thank you MattP!

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lol.....No, we were the idots who dropped the cam while falling off the third pitch of GM while your party was climbing Heart of the Country. You basically told us that it would be safer wait a bit until the area was less crowded to climb and it's wiser to avoid crowded climbs altogether. There were about five parties on the route. We always knew this but it wasn't until you brought this up that we really understood. We just don't climb on crowded routes anymore because we don't want to be endangered or endanger other climbers. Thanks again!

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I'm always glad to help but it doesn't sound like I took my own advice. I not uncommonly climb popular routes with other parties and sometimes it works out; sometimes it doesn't. Usually more important in this regard than the actual skills (assuming somebody isn't totally out of their league) seems to be a willingness to communicate and look out for each other. Experience, and especially experience with being on routes clogged by multiple parties, helps people to more safely and efficiently share belay anchors or climb around or pass each other, though.

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I'm always glad to help but it doesn't sound like I took my own advice.

Well, we knew you probably wouldn't, matt, since you already told Rad you don't follow "The Rulez." :grin::wave:

 

Just to be clear to everyone, a friendly warning or advice offerred in the right spirit will almost always work better than down-shouting someone for what appears to you to be a stupid mistake. Matt has the right approach. Oh, and I break "The Rulez" rather occasionally myself, so mebbe a lot of you don' wanna climb wit' me neither.

 

It's all about experience. You know, that stuff that comes from exercising good judgment. Which is, in turn, that stuff you gain by surviving bad judgment...

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Well, we knew you probably wouldn't, matt, since you already told Rad you don't follow "The Rulez." :grin::wave:

 

Just to be clear, a friendly warning or advice offerred in the right spirit will almost always be better then down-shouting someone. Matt has the right approach. Oh, and I break "The Rulez" rather occasionally myself. It's all about good judgment.

You know, that stuff you gain by surviving bad judgment?

 

Rules are really guidelines and should never be followed 100%. Your brain is your best tool. :tup:

 

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