5 Things to CHECK Before Climbing
Through the Eyes of Base Camp
Northern Star Council's resident climbing expert stopped by to ensure that while you are being adventurous, you stay safe in the process. Here are Zack's tips to have a incident free climbing experience.
is something that seems dangerous, but when done properly, is remarkably safe. Here at Base Camp, we’ve safely guided more than 50,000 people through a rewarding climbing experience since we opened in 2010. Climbing has many moving parts, so to keep our staff and participants safe, we always make sure to CHECK before we climb. If you get the chance to climb outside of Base Camp, here are the five things you should check to ensure you have a safe climb.
A lot of climbing accidents happen because baggy clothing or loose hair gets caught in a belay device or on the climbing wall. To make sure you don’t get stuck, remove extra clothing and tuck your shirt into your harness. If you have long hair, tie it up inside your helmet or tuck it down the back of your shirt. Lastly, don’t forget to check your pockets! Cell phones or keys in your pockets can be very uncomfortable while climbing; but more important, they can easily fall out, quickly becoming a dangerous projectile for those on the ground.
Harnesses and Helmets
Another major cause of climbing accidents is improperly fitted harnesses and helmets. A loose fitting harness may feel comfortable on the ground, but if you take a fall while climbing, it can be one of the most jarring experiences of your life! To stay safe and comfortable as you climb, it’s much better to have a snug harness. It’s also essential to check that the harness is put on correctly. Since harnesses aren’t easiest things to put on, it’s always best to double or triple check that the harness is properly tightened before climbing.
Severe weather is an obvious danger when climbing outside, but even a light rain can make the climbing wall dangerously slick. At Base Camp we check the weather before climbing outside so no one gets caught climbing in the rain. If you’re climbing on natural routes like at Taylors Falls, you’ll also need to check the route for loose rocks or other hazards before climbing.
There’s a saying among experienced climbers that carabiners should be locked and “screwed down so you don’t screw up!” Before each climb, the climber and belayer should check each other’s connections to make sure they won’t accidently come open during a climb. Carabiners can hold more than 5,000 pounds when locked and used correctly, but they have a chance of failing if they are cross-loaded or have the gate open. Cross loading is when the carabiner has pressure from side to side instead of top to bottom.
If you have misgivings about trusting a rope or knot to hold you up, rest assured knowing our climbing ropes can hold more than 5,000 pounds! Even though we have hundreds of climbs every day, we still inspect the “Super-8” knots that are attached to the climbers before each climb. Sometimes people fidget with the knots while waiting to climb, so by inspecting the knots before every climb, we make sure the climbing knots are still tied and dressed correctly. Once you check your knots, then you’re ready to climb!
Thanks Zack! I will be sure to keep CHECK in mind for all my future climbs!