Home > Rock Climbing > Always do safety checks

Always do safety checks

Well dear readers, it’s time to ‘fess up and swallow my pride.  Again.  I often joke with my friends that my knack for having  if-something-could-go-wrong-will-go-wrong life experiences certainly gives me plenty to write about.  No, there are not too many dull moments around here.

So I guess I will share my first and last experience with not double-backing my harness.  I can hear the groaning and hissing now, “Amateur”!  I know, I know.  It was stupid and my own fault, and taught me a very valuable lesson.

I was at the gym during the holiday season.  I had just arrived straight from my retail job and was feeling stressed and frazzled (anyone who ever worked in retail during the holidays can feel me on this point).  As I was getting ready I was checking my voicemail, texting, talking, blah blah blah.  I knew my head wasn’t right so I volunteered to climb last in our group of three so I could breathe, and try to get my head clear.

Damn good thing I did that.  And damn good thing I sent the climb.  I was breathing, focusing and present in the moment.  When I finished and sat back to be lowered down, I knew immediately something was wrong with my harness.  I looked at it and saw the webbing that feeds through the buckle around my waist was loosening itself and breaking away.  I quickly grabbed the webbing and my figure-eight knot and pulled hard.  I could see I secured myself so I held on as I was being lowered.  I never screamed or panicked, just calmly reacted.

When my feet touched the ground I looked at my belayer and said, “Oh my God, look at this.”  She was horrified and couldn’t believe I didn’t even yell down to her.  I told her once I had it secured I knew it was fine.  It was just a damn good thing I took the time to be focused so I could catch my terrible mistake.

Since that day we are possibly overly protective about checking our knots and harnesses.  But, probably not.  Probably can’t be too safe when it comes to safety checks.

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