*This is a list of suggestions as a useful reference. Not intended to be professional advice or a complete list of instructions. If you have any input or feedback, please Contact Us : )
Yosemite Ranger John Dill’s Accident Report and Safety Tips.
Climbing in General
1. Check harness double-backed and fit above the hip bone. Don’t climb with people who wear their harness like a low-cut Levis. It’s natural selection.
2. Check knots, tie-in through both loops, carabiners locked, etc.
3. Buy the best helmet you can find. Wear it as soon as you are at the wall. Things fall.
4. Everytime before you climb, clarify and confirm all communications and do a rundown of what you guys will do. You’ll be surprised by how many different ways and accents there can be. Clarification and asking questions are real politeness.
5. Never assume your climbing partner’s ability and style of doing things if you haven’t climbed with him/her before.
6. Don’t belay directly below any climbers. Things fall.
7. If you hear “Rock”, look down and run away from the shadow.
8. If you feel uncomfortable, say NO.
Multi-pitch (on top of everything in “Climbing in General”)
Before the climb:
1. Have enough sleep. You can’t cheat your body. You’ll always have to pay back during the climb.
2. Learn how to tie basic knots: munter hitch, munter mule, 1 hand clove hitch, figure eight on a bight, alpine butterfly, bow-line, double-fisherman, water knot, girth hitch, climber’s hitch, prussic, bowline on a bight or double figure eight (bunny’s ear), how to tie the cordelette into an emergency etrier, etc. Don’t simply count on search and rescue. Hanging on the wall at a thunderstorm in short sleeves T shirt and shorts can be deadly.
3. Leave a plan to someone trustworthy and have the emergency descent route planned out.
4. Each person should have a cell-phone. If there’s no cell-phone reception, bring radios. You can’t hear each other when it’s windy, when there’re millions of people around you shouting “off belay” at the same time, when the pitch is too long, etc. You can use rope tug, but good luck.
5. Check the weather before you go.
During the climb:
1. Drink water and eat some light snacks e.g. chocolate, nuts, etc. regularly.
2. Don’t shout anything e.g. hold on, wait, excuse me, thank you, oh, etc. other than the climbing commands. It only makes it more confusing. If you have anything else to say, use a cell-phone or radio.
3. DON’T FALL! It works amazing no matter you are secured or not secured.
4. Always visually AND physically (by your EYES) make sure you are secured e.g. by the rope, by the leash to the anchor, etc. Never assume.
5. When you arrive as a second to the belay station, look and check you are secure before leaning back or letting your leader take you off belay.
6. When leading on a route, break it down into sections between pros. Before moving to the next pro, check out and rote-memorize the moves and how to downclimb in case you have to. If it’s a run out, think EXTREMELY carefully before you commit. When you commit, the rest of the story will either be bold or epic.
7. When leading on sport route, generally don’t go more than 3feet left or right of the line of bolts (if the bolts are going straight up vertically.
8. When leading, DON’T go off-route.
9. When leading a traverse, protect the second well.
10. When following a traverse, check out the moves to the next pro before removing the pro. Following a traverse can be harder than leading it.
11. When rappelling, use a prussic as third hand, tie knots at both ends of the rope.
12. When climbing multi-pitch, beware of rock fall from the parties above and beware of kicking rocks onto the parties below.
13. If the multi-pitch climb is over your limit, it’s no shame to stop and come down. The mountain will always be there for you to climb it again.
14. If you need to leave gear behind to rap down or descent, be generous since your life is worth more than a few thousand dollars. Try to ask your trust-worthy friend to climb it the next day or as soon as possible to take the gear back. If nobody’s available, post on the websites and forums as a last resort.
15. When conditions turn adverse e.g. raining, too hot, too cold, take extra time to double-check things and safety. Mistakes are more prone to happen when you are shivering, struggling, etc.
16. Make sure you untie the knots before pulling down the rope.
After the climb:
1. The hike down is the second hardest part of the climb! Hike slowly and well within your capacity to prevent a sprained ankle.
2. The drive home is the hardest part of the climb! You climb hard and didn’t eat for the whole day. You celebrate the climb with a big meal. All the blood in your body goes to your stomach and now you are driving. If possible, eat something light, drive back to Vancouver and then celebrate. If not, always have 1 person beside you talking to you, slapping you in the face, etc.
1. If you are climbing and there’s a slower party in front of you. Gently ask them if you can pass them in a mutually-decided safe spot. It might or might not be possible depending on the climb and the personalities of those climbers. Don’t draw out the knife till dinner time. Likewise, if there’s a faster party behind you and the leader is stepping on your toes already, gently ask them if they want to pass in a mutually-decided safe spot. Safety is ALWAYS NO. 1 PRIORITY. If it couldn’t be done safely, there’s nothing you/they can do. According to existing informal rule, the climbers above have the right of way. But real life is not so black and white.
Cragging in General
1. Be mindful of other climbers who are leading a scary run-out lead of their life-time with big fall potential where mental concentration is much needed. Tune down volume of happiness and craziness according to circumstances.
2. If you arrive in Everest army troop style e.g. 10+ person-group, be ultra-sensitive and respectful. Put your bags and gear in an area that won’t take up valuable belay and seating spots. Don’t dominate the wall. Don’t bring stereo. Don’t kill people.
3. If you set up a top rope and there’re other climbers around, climb it and do not leave it unclimbed for an extended period of time e.g. more than 5 minutes, unless your group is the only climbers at that area. Don’t dominate the route. Climb it a few times and gently ask the other climbers if they want to climb it. If they want to, offer to pull your rope or (if both you and them are willing) offer them to top rope on your top rope. If they don’t want to, keep climbing ad enjoy.
1. In Squamish, generally climbers don’t like seeing people free-soloing a route. If you want to free-solo, do it when there’s nobody around. If you see someone free-soloing, climbing shoe-less or whatever to impress their boy/girlfriend, teach them a lesson and tell them to grow up. If you see someone doing something incredibly unsafe, leave or talk to them. It’s better to be sorry and awkward than regretting not saying anything after the accident.
Teaching climbing skills
1. If someone isn’t comfortable climbing a certain route and trying something that they don’t know, you have no obligation to teach. At the same time, if you want to share your knowledge/experience with a particular person, this is awesome and you are being very virtuous and admirable. Just be mindful of the breadth and limitations of your sharing/teaching and your increased responsibility/liability. For example, I have seen a person teaching his friend lead belay in 5min and the friend’s lead belaying right afterwards (which is way too short for the amount of knowledge and practice needed). Sometimes it’s better to teach everything or not to teach at all. On top of that, It’s always good to refer them to resources e.g. Squamish Rock Guide, Canada West Mountain School, West Coast Mountaineers, etc.
1. If you found any lost gear, be mindful of how many hours the owner have starved in order to afford the gear and so virtuously post on the board (the physical board at the climbing area e.g. if you are climbing in smoke bluffs, there’s a board at the parking lot) and post on squamishclimbing.com, rockclimbing.com, cascadeclimbing.com, etc. If nobody claims it, it’s yours. Karma will reward you next time you lose your gear.