One other Harmful Climbing Story: Dad May Have Killed Mother


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We saw a family of four at Elephant Rock in City of Rocks, Idaho. You top rope Rye Crisp (5.8), one of the most popular routes in town. We climbed a couple of adjacent routes and chatted with dad. At first glance he seemed quite competent. He said he’s been rock climbing in the city for over 30 years, which his slinging witches and frayed wires seemed to support. The kids spun around at the end of the route until they were satisfied, then lowered themselves back to the ground. When mom went climbing I noticed they used two ropes tied together to make the top rope easier. The knot came into play when Mom was about halfway up. As the knot neared the belay device, Dad called out, “Get a good footing, I need to change ropes.” Mom sounded panicked, “What do you mean? What should I do? You have me?” The daughter interjected that she would be hedging 60ft off the ground as if that was a custom on her family outings. Without tying on any kind of belay, Dad fetches Mom from the belay, fumbles with the rope and tries to reload his brake assist. At least a full minute passed before it was secured again. Mom held the flake tight and trembled with fear throughout the ordeal. – Nick, via email

LESSON: At no point should there be a fatal fall during a casual day of toproping with the family. Situations like these are easy to avoid with a little common sense. Let’s think it through together: First, we are dad. We are at the rock with our family. Our woman overcomes a long route that requires two ropes. We secure our wife. The knot connecting the two ropes reaches our belay device. In order for our dear lady to continue climbing, we have to move the belay device over the knot. We love our wife, so we don’t want to take her off the stand. We also don’t want our kids watching their mother deck from 60 feet because we’re a good dad. That’s not what good, cool climbing dads do. So how do we solve this problem? How do we get a belay device over the node? Do we have another belay device? If so we can just set it up and secure them over the knot and then release the first belay device. We’ll get our kid (or another climber) to do it so we don’t have to take our hand off the brake line. Seamless! If we don’t have another belay device, we need a way to hold the rope while we disconnect the belay device we’re using. Let’s tie a figure eight to a bay and attach it to our belay loop (with a locker!). Our harness holds the rope. We can now have our hands free to detach the belay device and reattach it over the knot. Once our wife is safely secured again we can remove the knot and she can continue climbing. Now we can congratulate ourselves for being a good, cool and safe climbing dad. We are so cool that our family loves us very much and our kids will never go through a rebellious phase in their teenage years. High five, us. (End fantasy.)

Those are just two ways this problem can be solved. Neither adds much time or effort to the process, and both methods increase security dramatically. My point isn’t that those are the only two ways to switch over a fuse. My point is that there are usually many solutions to any technical climbing challenge. Sure, you could get away with briefly picking someone off the stand when they’re 60 feet off the ground, but why do it if you don’t have to? Take a second to think critically about your situation. No one should ever risk their life to prop a 5.8.

Another dangerous fuse that’s hard to believe


Parents secure family with Bolt Hanger

Saw someone else’s rope

Climb Pappy’s boat rope

Smoke brick weed and go rock climbing

Secure your gear loop

Clean your pro on a leash

Secure with a knife in hand

Loosen and hold the chains!

The six craziest, most dangerous, and irresponsible climbers we’ve heard of (so far).