GYM TO CRAG
Climbing outdoors is spectacularly different than in the gym. I learned how to climb outside in Moab, Utah surrounded by desert rat locals who became my trusted climbing partners. After I got more experience climbing, began working at a climbing gym, and listened and learned from my more adept peers, I realized that not all of the things I learned as a beginner were exactly the "best practices". I’m not saying you have to learn outside and I’m not saying you have to work in a gym in order to be an expert. I’m also not saying that by any means I am an expert. The main thing I would like to impress upon any new climber is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and you can easily find yourself in scary and dangerous situations. I have been in some precarious places out on the rock and it was because of my inexperience and poor judgement. I’m all for jumping in head first and pushing your limits, but know your risks before you commit. When it’s a close a call, it’s a REALLY close call. Many fatal climbing accidents happen because of simple, human-error mistakes.
Here are some of my tips for going from the gym to the crag:
1. Check yourself. Check your partner. Twice. Three times. Double and triple check your systems.
2. When rappelling, weight the rope before taking your personal protection off the anchor. People have died because they do not do this.
3. Tie knots at the end of your rope when rappelling.
4. Check the weather report. Even if you are climbing in the desert in July. Storms are fast and unforgiving.
5. Plan your climb. Make sure you have enough time for the ascent and descent. Know how to get down and how long it will take. Rappelling takes time. I learned this the hard way. Twice.
6. NEVER take your hand off the brake. I hope you don’t need this reminder.
7. NEVER take your eyes off your climber. Be an attentive and aware belayer.
8. Know how to give a dynamic belay.
9. Assess potential fall zones on a climb.
10. Take your ego and boombox out of the equation.