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shaoleung

Cover Your Bean!

Helmet or no?  

384 members have voted

  1. 1. Helmet or no?

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for what its worth: working with mountain-rescue groups, both volunteer & professional, for forty years, in five states, I have yet to come across a head-trauma case that was caused by an object falling on a climber. On the other hand, I have attended numerous cases of head-trauma resulting from falling climbers hitting their heads.

I learned decades ago,in Wyoming, from a Spanish alpinist famous in the Pyrenees as "the Snake", that the safest thing to do when you hear the cry "Rock!!!" is to immediately LOOK UP! Fernando simply pointed out that you can't dodge what you don't see... and he never wore a helmet...

So I guess my point is that my experience suggests you're far more likely to sustain head-trauma in a fall than from some falling object striking you... going without a helmet is probably reasonable behavior for those who never fall...

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I only wear helmets I am unable to rip in half with my bare hands.

 

I had a large dirt clump, a jacket, and a North Wall hammer tossed at me yesterday. When the clump came down, I looked up at the last second and thought it was a huge rock, then dipped my head down to take the blow. Dirt to the head. When the jacket came down, I thought it was a rock as well, and freaked for a second. The hammer was a hammer but I had to run to get out from under that one.

 

Point is, helmets rule. One season on the ice trains you up quick to look up towards your impending death then shrug your shoulders and take whatever it is on the top of your noggin. Any rationale for not wearing one hearkens back to the excuses offered to rationalize the continued use of Aliens. Whatever. Shit happens. Best to be safe.

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While it seems like an illogical reason in retrospect I think it is pertinent to point out given that so many say they don't wear a helmet belaying...

 

When I first started climbing, one of my mentors said that he sport-led sans nut-cover, but he insisted that his belayer wore his. The idea was that if he created any rock fall, his belayer had to look out for the both of them.

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My helmet is purple and has a Ride Me logo

That's 'cause you're a fuckhead.

 

 

 

I had a large dirt clump, a jacket, and a North Wall hammer tossed at me yesterday. When the clump came down, I looked up at the last second and thought it was a huge rock, then dipped my head down to take the blow. Dirt to the head. When the jacket came down, I thought it was a rock as well, and freaked for a second. The hammer was a hammer but I had to run to get out from under that one.

 

yeah, I had a girlfriend like that, too.

 

 

 

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...going without a helmet is probably reasonable behavior for those who never fall...

I do, and have always, fallen a lot. That' said, I know someone who fell five feet to where their body was under an overhang and the side of their head wasn't and they ended up in a nursing home for life. It's a choice, bad things happen; a helmet may help, it may not, depends. I would say the bigger danger in today's climbing world by far is getting dropped.

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for what its worth:

I learned decades ago,in Wyoming, from a Spanish alpinist famous in the Pyrenees as "the Snake", that the safest thing to do when you hear the cry "Rock!!!" is to immediately LOOK UP! Fernando simply pointed out that you can't dodge what you don't see... and he never wore a helmet...

 

There was a famous Russian fatality on Khan Tengri, I think, in the 70s where the lead climber knocked off a huge dinner-plate directly at his belayer and yelled "Ice". Belayer looked up, took it in the face, killed instantly. It's in Shataev's book.

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I often don't wear a helmet because I love the feeling of being.. free. I ride my bike w/o a helmet sometimes, too. It just feels good.

 

 

From experience it only takes an 8 foot fall on your head to seriously mess you up. In my case 6 weeks in the hospital then release to a monitored life. Past that over a year to return to driving and more than that to ski or climb again. Many people don't even get that lucky.

 

Wear your helmet!

 

 

Good enough. I usually do wear a helmet. I just meant to say that when I don't (particularly biking), it's not because I'm trying to look cool or because of weight (as Shaolung implied), but rather because it feels good.

 

In '04 I got nailed by a 4" x 2" stob that snapped out of a snag. Hit me square on the temple/side of my hard hat. Lid went down the hill, I got dizzy, and took a knee. If I hadn't had my helmet on, it would have hit me square between the eyes and ears.

 

I'm a fan of head protection. I guess you could also say I'm not always rational.

 

 

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for what its worth:

I learned decades ago,in Wyoming, from a Spanish alpinist famous in the Pyrenees as "the Snake", that the safest thing to do when you hear the cry "Rock!!!" is to immediately LOOK UP! Fernando simply pointed out that you can't dodge what you don't see... and he never wore a helmet...

 

There was a famous Russian fatality on Khan Tengri, I think, in the 70s where the lead climber knocked off a huge dinner-plate directly at his belayer and yelled "Ice". Belayer looked up, took it in the face, killed instantly. It's in Shataev's book.

A friend through a frisbee at me while I was walking away from him. He yelled my name, as a warning I guess, so I turned around just in time to take it right on the nose. I've never been the same since.

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You weren't the same then.

 

Don't be fooled by rocks. They are smart.

A friend and I were working a project on a large formation in Blodgett when he dropped a rock. It was a hot day and we were getting baked on a southern exposure. We were parched and all our water was gone. The only water even reasonably close was in a one gallon jug about 40 feet from the base of the climb 600 ft below.

The rock fell 100 ft and hit a ledge. That bounced it right. It fell another 200 ft and hit a corner. That bounced it left. It then hit a slab three or four times and finally hit the gallon jug dead center. "Water, water everywhere but nary a drop to drink...."

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Dammit Keith, it was that MLB that you left next to the jug. That rock homed right in on it. Don't you know that you're only s'posed to use MLBs on the Mountain of Doom?? Yeesh! :rolleyes:

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We actually did worse than that. The jug was filled with untreated water from Blodgett creek.

You could see the colonies of giardia searching for an intestine to invade. Somebody forgot the iodine tablets.

So in truth, the falling rock saved our lives.

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Sobo mentions a couple of incidents were a helmet would have helped. But worth noting there were two of us on Castle that day and neither of us wore helmets :) Shit went bad that day but it had nothing to do with wearing or not wearing a helmet.

 

Helmet might well have prevented some injury but not climbing would have negated any injury.

 

"Biking, kayaking, skateboarding, football... they've all figured it out. If you don't cover your bean, your chances for death are significantly higher."

 

No question if you are doing sports where the chance or in some case CERTAINTY of getting hit in the head a helmet is required.

Things go wrong or even right while biking, kayaking, skateboarding or football and you'll need a helmet.

 

Climbing not so much. Do you need a helmet on DC/Rainier? Do you need a helmet in Yosemite? Do you need a helmet ice climbing? How about Vantage? Leavenworth? Canadian Rockies or the Alps? The local climbing gym? Seems by some of the comments the GYM is a likely candidate for wearing a helmet.

Shit happens climbing, right? Better put one on in the gym as well. See just how silly it all sounds now?

 

Lot of climbing I do I use a helmet. A good percentage I don't.

 

But I always make that judgement call and try not to climb in dangerious areas of known rock or ice fall.

 

Newest helmets are awesome, easy to wear and forget about. But I also climb without a rope on occassion or climb together with a skilled partner. With a swami instead of a harness and without a a belay device when it occurs to me. Helmets are simply another part of the safety gear we use climbing. I seldom use every safety device I own on every climbing trip. I have no arguement with someone who wants to wear a helmet everytime they climb and none with the climber who picks and chooses when it is appropriate to wear a helmet.

 

The most important part of that choice is to actually make a choice and KNOW why you choose to or choose not to wear a helmet.

Hopefully you can live with that choice.

 

I am more leery of climbing with a partner who ALWAYS wears a helmet but is unaware of the actual climbing dangers than the guy who chooses to wear a helmet when he knows it is dangerious or better yet chooses not to climb when it is dangerious....like Vantage on a early spring weekend.

 

I get the felling that a good percentage here don't know when the risk is acceptable and when it is not. That is OK right up till we all have to wear helmets in the gym.

 

Looking up? No question you can't dodge what you can't see. I have used just about every technique known to man to avoid being hit by rock and ice. Looking up, wearing a helmet, a protected stance and the best, not being there, all help at the right time and the right place.

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Knowledge is power no doubt and experience gives you plenty of fodder to make decisions on whether or not a helmet is important given specific dangers (ignoring objective hazards in this case).

 

So, then what are good reasons NOT to wear a helmet. So far it's a feeling of being free thing. But are there any better reasons?

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I think Dane's point is that there's a broad spectrum of situations in climbing where the risk of something hitting you on the head varies from zero to extreme.

 

For me, the situations where I consider the risk to be zero are: any time top-roping or TR belaying (or bouldering) when there's no one above us that's likely to drop/trundle stuff (obviously, climbing in a gym falls into this category.

 

Then there are the situations where the risk is not zero, but it's very low [e.g. leading routes I've done several times, etc.], where I take other things into account as well: is it extra hot out? are there cute girls around? will I mess up my hair?

 

And then for the situations where I consider the risk to be high (alpine, leading at/near my limit, or belaying someone who's placing gear and likely to drop stuff), I'll generally always wear it, even if I don't expect to need it.

 

Of course, that same sort of spectrum exists for the other activities mentioned as well. Class 3 kayaking is different than class 5, etc.

Road cyclists don't wear a helmet because they expect to ever have to use it.

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You weren't the same then.

 

Don't be fooled by rocks. They are smart.

A friend and I were working a project on a large formation in Blodgett when he dropped a rock. It was a hot day and we were getting baked on a southern exposure. We were parched and all our water was gone. The only water even reasonably close was in a one gallon jug about 40 feet from the base of the climb 600 ft below.

The rock fell 100 ft and hit a ledge. That bounced it right. It fell another 200 ft and hit a corner. That bounced it left. It then hit a slab three or four times and finally hit the gallon jug dead center. "Water, water everywhere but nary a drop to drink...."

 

One time on mountainbike ride down in Moab we stopped at the edge of a cliff and threw some rocks off and they came zinging right back up at us!!! It was either angry Anasazi spirits or the wind.

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So, then what are good reasons NOT to wear a helmet. So far it's a feeling of being free thing. But are there any better reasons?

 

Some climbs you are going to get up with a helmet on or you are going to expend more energy to do different moves to accomodate one. The route I'm currently working on is an overhanging, A-frame flared chimney through a big roof; you start out too wide to chimney and at the top it narrows to nothing forcing you out of it. With a helmet on you have to exit it sooner (lower) and that takes consider energy to compensate for. Given the pitch up to and including the roof is R/X rated I wore a helmet the first few goes, but the moves out at the apex of the flared chimney at the lip of the roof is just not doable with a helmet by me. My partner manages, but I know he's churning considerable extra energy to do it. Maybe once the roof goes I'll consider it again; but since the climbing up to the roof is now at least doable I've made the call to abandon the helmet and it's very much the right call in my case.

 

As climbers we have a small set of ironclad "You should always..." rules - wearing a helmet isn't one of them and never will be for me. But recent generations of climbers are different, they obsess about and overcompensate for many things, often the wrong ones. Better 'rules' to harp on for today's [social] climbers would be "STFU and belay" and "don't dog on trad gear"...

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i like how you don't care about your head, but got the gloves on to protect the manicure :laf:

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You weren't the same then.

 

Don't be fooled by rocks. They are smart.

A friend and I were working a project on a large formation in Blodgett when he dropped a rock. It was a hot day and we were getting baked on a southern exposure. We were parched and all our water was gone. The only water even reasonably close was in a one gallon jug about 40 feet from the base of the climb 600 ft below.

The rock fell 100 ft and hit a ledge. That bounced it right. It fell another 200 ft and hit a corner. That bounced it left. It then hit a slab three or four times and finally hit the gallon jug dead center. "Water, water everywhere but nary a drop to drink...."

 

One time on mountainbike ride down in Moab we stopped at the edge of a cliff and threw some rocks off and they came zinging right back up at us!!! It was either angry Anasazi spirits or the wind.

My story is true.

Yours is patently false and designed to incite apathy.

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I think Dane's point is that there's a broad spectrum of situations in climbing where the risk of something hitting you on the head varies from zero to extreme.

 

For me, the situations where I consider the risk to be zero are: any time top-roping or TR belaying (or bouldering) when there's no one above us that's likely to drop/trundle stuff (obviously, climbing in a gym falls into this category.

 

Then there are the situations where the risk is not zero, but it's very low [e.g. leading routes I've done several times, etc.], where I take other things into account as well: is it extra hot out? are there cute girls around? will I mess up my hair?

 

And then for the situations where I consider the risk to be high (alpine, leading at/near my limit, or belaying someone who's placing gear and likely to drop stuff), I'll generally always wear it, even if I don't expect to need it.

 

Of course, that same sort of spectrum exists for the other activities mentioned as well. Class 3 kayaking is different than class 5, etc.

Road cyclists don't wear a helmet because they expect to ever have to use it.

 

These days showing up at the river without a helmet would go over about as well as rolling up to the first tee at a golf-course with no pants. Just isn't done.

 

Back to climbing and helmets, though, I'm surprised that no one has mentioned some of the many other potential uses that helmets have in addition to protecting your head. Shovel, seat, the applications are endless.

 

I remember getting worked so badly on a slightly overhanging OW called "Quivering Quill" at Turkey Rocks that I attempted to "place" my helmet in a constriction to cop a rest. Very bad idea - and in hindsight I was glad that my brief foray into the realm of "helmet aid" was a very short-lived failure.

 

Also - going to cast a vote against the "look-up" strategy as a default when you hear rockfall and/or "Rock!"

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