When I first started climbing outdoors, I bought the starter gear everyone gets, a harness, shoes, a couple beaners and slings and a helmet.
I surely brought my helmet to the crag just about every time…..but for DECORATION because I never wore it. Every time I put my pack in the trunk of my car, I would say “oh there’s my helmet and I forgot, next time I will wear it”….how shameful! And when I climb trad or multi-pitch, I never miss that helmet, it is on my head no matter what!
With that in mind, I decided to write up a blog post on the need to wear a helmet whilst climbing rather than just adorn your crag pack (like I always did!). Why? Well I know this is so simple, but really…lets meditate on this thought…helmets protect our heads.
Over 21% of traumatic brain injuries occur whilst engaged in sports and recreation (note this is not exclusive to climbing).
When we climb, we want to have fun, get a great workout, achieve new heights, rise above challenges and fears and so on.
But despite all the wonderful things we gain from climbing, it is dangerous. There are many things we can do to stay safe while climbing and one of many important climbing safety tips is wearing a helmet. We are in areas where rocks can fall and potentially hit our heads and whether we are top roping or leading, or a super duper advanced climber, it is hard to predict running or slamming into rock when we fall.
So why write this now? I just climbed in Utah and was leading a warm-up with my helmet on. I was unusually tired from the altitude, so I down climbed and took a small fall. I was a gymnast and known for taking the most calculated, safe lead falls. But even this Cirque de Soleil acrobatic climber under calculated the length of my fall and swung under a roof and bang, the top of my head just hit the edge. I was fortunate….I was wearing a helmet….because for certain, given the impact, I would not be here writing this post, promise me, with two trauma surgeons in our presence (one belaying me), when I came down, we all agreed it was a blessing I had a helmet on.
My personal affirmation after the Utah trip was…….I will always wear my helmet, even if it gives me a not so cute helmet head hairdo, even though it makes me hot and sweaty in the head, even though it sometimes feels like more weight and in the way and less free….whatever the ‘inconvenience’, I chose to keep my head intact and healthy, at least try!
Share this simple thought with your climbing friends and just that much more we will be a united safe climbing community!