The season is here and most climbers are seeing what their indoor training is translating to outdoors. Lots of new climbers are getting out to the Gunks and other playgrounds to enjoy the short but sweet climbing season.
It’s important to remember the basics and of course to be safe, as well as to be respectful to the areas.
A few things to keep in mind:
– Be safe, bring adequate protection, be it ropes or crash pads.
– Clean up after yourself, leave the area the same as when you got to it, or cleaner then when you did. It’s a privilege to climb in many areas and if it’s deemed bad or damaging to the environment then we can actually lose access to the Crag.
– Go with experienced climbers. Tell people where you are or are going.
– Be mindful of crash pad placement and gaps between the pads, move the pads to adjust for the climber as he or she progresses through the problem.
-Always spot climbers. It’s important to try to break the fall of the climber and to protect their head and back as best as possible.
-Be mindful of trees and rocks while spotting; bad landing areas can be hazardous to not only the climber, but the spotter as well. If necessary you can use a sling around a tree attached to a carabiner to hold onto to protect yourself from falling down a hill when a climber tumbles down.
-Also be extra careful to not get hit by the climber ( I once had my eye scratched badly while spotting one “Mafia” when she spun off and got me good)
-If you need to use tick marks (chalk marks to help see holds) make them small instead of making the rock look like a treasure map, and brush them away when you leave the climb. Areas aren’t only used by climbers and locals look down upon chalk graffiti.
-Dogs are great companions, but they make for poor crash pads, be careful of where your doggie goes if you have ’em tag along.
– Check your equipment before and during climbing. This means ropes, harnesses, carabiners, slings, belaying devices, protection (trad) etc.
– Always be redundant with anchors (two points min) and double check before proceeding.
– Top ropers: always use at least a two point anchor and be sure to not have any rope drag on the anchor as this can cut your rope.
-Use rope protection on sharp edges!!! Garden hose works well, as do old denim jeans, protect your rope and cordlette, as it protects you! I’ve seen cored cordlette anchors after a day of climbing, its quite scary.
– If leading, climb within your ability and start off on easy routes with good spots to place gear, avoid runouts (distances between protection, leading to possibility of decking) and always spot in the beginning of the climb.
-Consider using a helmet as hikers/ climbers on top have a tendency of knocking rocks off the cliff and sometimes holds break off.
-When rappelling use a Prussik knot as a back up just in case ( my friend’s life was saved by one when he let go of his break-line because he got hit in the shoulder by a rock from the top).
The list goes on and on and you can always learn more.
The bottom line is to have fun, be safe and clean up after yourself.
– Jeff the Monkey-boy