Risk Ex­po­sure, Ac­cess and Booty

Gripped - - CONTENTS - Bran­don Pul­lan

Un­less you’re free-solo­ing or boul­der­ing, your climbs will be com­pleted or at­tempted with a part­ner. That means there are at least two climbers, one on ei­ther end of the rope, trust­ing the other. Some­times, one of those climbers gets scared or un­com­fort­able. There are many rea­sons why, in­clud­ing ex­po­sure, height, health and re­la­tion­ship sta­tus, but the one I’ve seen the most is ex­pe­ri­ence. One climber will al­ways be more ex­pe­ri­enced than the other, which means their risk man­age­ment and tol­er­ance will be dif­fer­ent from the lesser ex­pe­ri­enced.

While leav­ing your com­fort zone is a big part of rock climb­ing, be­ing pushed out is com­pletely dif­fer­ent. If you’re new to climb­ing, don’t let oth­ers con­vince you to at­tempt some­thing that you don’t think is safe. Ma­tu­rity in climb­ing comes with time and brings clar­ity about risk man­age­ment, so if in doubt seek the ad­vice of some­one more ex­pe­ri­enced, like a guide. Sea­soned climbers need to con­nect with new-to-climb­ing part­ners in an ed­u­ca­tional way to teach them about risk tol­er­ance and vul­ner­a­bly in the moun­tains. There are a lot of fac­tors that play into safety, so take your time to un­der­stand risk man­age­ment and con­se­quences.

Ac­cess has been an is­sue for decades, and with more climbers than ever head­ing to the crags, it will con­tinue to be a fo­cus. There are ac­cess groups for nearly ev­ery climb­ing area in North Amer­ica, so fa­mil­iar­ize your­self with your lo­cal group. Ac­cess ends at the climb, but starts when you leave your house and deals with roads, park­ing, trails, parks and cliffs. More than once, a small group of climbers has caused land own­ers to close a crag to ev­ery­one due to their ac­tions, so fol­low the rules of the land, be quiet and teach oth­ers to re­spect prop­erty. In Canada, there are cur­rently ac­cess is­sues in B.C., Al­berta, On­tario, Que­bec and in the At­lantic prov­inces.

One of the big­gest is­sues at crags and in the alpine is hu­man waste. The best meth­ods for hu­man waste dis­posal vary de­pend­ing on what kind of en­vi­ron­ment you’re in. You pack it out on a big wall and, in the for­est, you bury it. Do some re­search be­fore you go.

A long time ago, find­ing gear on a route meant that it was yours. Booty, from cams to quick­draws, was ev­ery­where and it was fun to find. Nowa­days, the po­lite thing to do is ad­ver­tise that you found gear on­line to let the folks who bailed, or got it stuck, to get it back. If it’s your gear that you want re­turned, then of­fer a six-pack or din­ner. That way, it’s win-win for the booty leaver and the booty finder.

Climb­ing is a big sport with count­less peo­ple and is­sues, but at the end of the day it’s about be­ing safe and hav­ing fun, so be a good men­tor or protégé to keep ev­ery­one com­fort­able and stoked.

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