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By Legion
Nov 19, 2010

Not sure if this has already been discussed and I'm a bit afraid where this might lead, but who here wears a helmet while climbing? Who doesn't? Of more interest, why?

I'm just curious since it seems the majority don't, but in full disclosure I'm a chronic helmet-wearer and maybe this discussion will win some folks over to this side!

To each his/her own, but whether I'm at the sharp end of a long trad route or toproping or even belaying at a small crag, I've never felt comfortable without a helmet. Things happen.

And I've always wondered why some of our best climbers (in all disciplines) don't wear helmets. Yeah, I know they're good and gotta look cool for the sponsors, but they're also the ones pushing the limits, taking the big whippers, on the rocks the most, going into uncharted territory.

Enlighten me please!


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By Brent Butcher
Nov 19, 2010
route photo

I wear a helmet when I know the area has loose rock(I hate rock fall). I normally wear a helmet when ice/trad/multi-pitch climbing. I hardly wear a helmet when sport climbing.

The reasons differ; it is self explanatory when there is loose rock in the area. I wear a helmet on trad in case a piece of rock falls off, a piece or two of pro pops out(thus having a weird fall), and/or if my partner drops a piece of gear. I feel safe not wearing a helmet on sport climbs, this reason I can't explain, i just feel safe and confident.

Now, for those who push the trad climbing door, I cannot understand why they do not wear a helmet. I suggest you do whatever makes you feel comfortable. I'd rather you feel safe and secure in your helmet (which helps give you a level head when climbing) then to not wear one. Who cares what people will say, and screw them if they do look at you weird, it is your life and you only have 1 shot at it.


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By mark felber
From Wheat Ridge, CO
Nov 19, 2010

I wear a helmet if I think there's a decent possibility of rockfall.


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By Kilroywashere!
From Harrisonburg, Virginia
Nov 19, 2010
Kilroy

any trad, multipitch yes, sport only when im going to rappel, or if its ledgy. def when its slab, im very glad i had one on last sunday, took a low angle fall and it could've been pretty bad.

if im just following or toproping, forget about it.
but yeah if the situation is going to lead to a possibly dangerous fall, i'll have the helmet on.


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By Evan1984
Nov 19, 2010

I'm a helmet on everything type guy.

In the group of people I climb with, a helmet is standard equipment. But I'm mainly a trad climber.

Evan


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By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Nov 19, 2010
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.

I wear a helmet whenever something might fall on me, or whenever I'm in a position where an unexpected fall could generate enough force to crack my skull.

The only climbs worth doing require a helmet.


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By Dusty
From Fort Collins
Nov 19, 2010
just teasin' the sharks...

All-around-bad-ass Kelly Cordes wrote an entertaining blog post about getting bit by the rock on an overhanging sport whipper:

kellycordes.wordpress.com/


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Nov 19, 2010
Stabby

Back in the 80's almost no one did, even w/ trad. Since then there has been a constant upswing of people using them. It would be anybody's guess, but no doubt numerous lives have been saved due to the increased awareness, which clearly puts non-users in the chance-taking side of the equation.
That said, I have a giant melon and any helmet I wear sits really high up; so put me in the stupid category.
As for sport climbing, hang out at Wienie Way at Penetente some weekend and watch people fall off the crux and rap the back of their head on the wall. A good friend of mine flipped backwards on a different route there and got a good bonk too, since then he's been an avid helmet guy.


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By Sam Feuerborn
From Durango, CO
Nov 19, 2010
Castle Wood Canyon, May '09

I wear one for ice or multi pitch or when in an institutional setting but for cragging I rarely do.


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By Garrett Soper
From Duluth, Minnesota
Nov 19, 2010
Leading at DL

I wear a helmet when I'm ice climbing every time. When I climb trad I sometimes wear one depending on the area and what I'm doing. I don't think I've ever worn a helmet sport climbing.


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By chuck claude
From Flagstaff, Az
Nov 19, 2010
First climb after knee surgery <br />

This has been beaten to death on many forums. Each side ends up taking their own sides based on the level of risk acceptance/aversion that everyone experiences.

My attitude is its more important on what goes on between the ears as compared to what goes over it. I've seen people who where walking clusterf#%^ and putting a helmet on their head isn't going to do them any good. Remember, hitting the ground above 25ft, the risk of death increases exponentially, and its not only head injuries but also things like aortic dissections (if you rapidly decelerate or stop when the contraction of the heart has completely filled the aorta, the mass of the blood in rapid develeration rips it from the heart).

Myself, I predominately climb trad and ice and rarely sport climb. When I ice climb I always do since shist is always coming down. When I trad climb, (ok, I have to say I am an absolute #$$hole) I mostly climb fairly hard stuff (this year I haven't climbed anything easier then 5.10c and 75% of the climbs have been 5.12 or harder, which tends to be steeper with less ledges on them) and the falls are clean. If I was climbing something where I could be flipped on, was ledgey and such, then I'd consider it.

Is there a reason not to wear a helmet. With modern helmets not really but I just don't like to wear them (except ice climbing, and then they keep my head that much warmer).


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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Nov 19, 2010
My navigator keeps me from getting lost

I always wear one when ice or alpine climbing. I wear one when trad climbing or when sport climbing somewhere w/higher than normal rockfall potential (as long as I don't forget to bring it in either of those cases).

I can't recall ever having it and wishing I hadn't brought it along. But, there have been several times when I didn't have it and wished I did.


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By chuck claude
From Flagstaff, Az
Nov 19, 2010
First climb after knee surgery <br />

Crag Dweller wrote:
I always wear one when ice or alpine climbing. I wear one when trad climbing or when sport climbing somewhere w/higher than normal rockfall potential (as long as I don't forget to bring it in either of those cases). I can't recall ever having it and wishing I hadn't brought it along. But, there have been several times when I didn't have it and wished I did.


Mike (a chronic helmet user) who had to take his helmet off (as shown below the overhang) since you end up plastering your head against the opposing wall, and the helmet prevented him from smearing against the wall so he ditched the helmet.

www.mountainproject.com/v/arizona/oak_creek_canyon/the_water>>>


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By Legs Magillicutty
From Littleton
Nov 19, 2010
Function over fashion.  My newest pair of climbing shoes.

I wear a helmet on routes that require a head jam. Is that like wearing tape?


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By Erik W
From Bay Area, CA
Nov 19, 2010
North face of Ama Dablam - taken on approach to Kongma La.

Always wear it, for any climb outdoors.

While the helmets I've used definitely meet the requirements for protection from falling rock/ice, I wish they offered better coverage for the instances of me falling and banging my head on the rock. I know styrofoam helmets are meant to do this (better relative to the hard shell), but the coverage is still pretty sparse on the sides and back of the head when thinking about the inverted falls we sometimes take (or tumblers in the alpine terrain). Compare the coverage we have on climbing helmets to that of hardshell skate helmets or BMX helmets (i.e., ProTec and such). They have foam coverage on the sides and back (under a hardshell) that extends way farther than climbing helmets. Now skate helmets aren't designed for high impact forces, but BMX ones are, and for off-axis hits as well. I think their impact cert is pretty legit. Of course they don't have a penetration test anywhere close to what the CE and UIAA tests climbing helmets for, but I wonder how different their hardshell would behave in such a test relative to our hardshells.


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By Brian Scoggins
From Eugene, OR
Nov 19, 2010

Legs Magillicutty wrote:
I wear a helmet on routes that require a head jam. Is that like wearing tape?


I actually specifically avoid helmets if I expect my head to contact the rock as a matter of course. That is, I have a pretty clear idea of where my head ends and find that having the helmet catch, jam, or otherwise interfere unexpectedly can contribute to a fall, as well as keeping me from getting into the best positions sometimes. My theory is that if wearing a helmet noticeably increases the odds that I fall, then the safety benefits of wearing one (outside of rock fall) are mitigated. If seat belts interfered with my ability to avoid crashes, I would similarly put that on balance with the safety gains. Even so, I wear a helmet constantly, with the one exception being my home area since there are so many offwidths there.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Nov 19, 2010
Stabby

Legs Magillicutty wrote:
I wear a helmet on routes that require a head jam. Is that like wearing tape?

Cheater!


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By Woodchuck ATC
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Being an ice climber, I'm a helmet person most all the time. Got my old orange 'Joe Brown' helmet from the late 70's that held up until I bought a Rock Star' helmet about 10 years ago. Modern ones are soo light you just can't complain.


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By Garrett Soper
From Duluth, Minnesota
Nov 19, 2010
Leading at DL

Erik W wrote:
Always wear it, for any climb outdoors. While the helmets I've used definitely meet the requirements for protection from falling rock/ice, I wish they offered better coverage for the instances of me falling and banging my head on the rock. I know styrofoam helmets are meant to do this (better relative to the hard shell), but the coverage is still pretty sparse on the sides and back of the head when thinking about the inverted falls we sometimes take (or tumblers in the alpine terrain). Compare the coverage we have on climbing helmets to that of hardshell skate helmets or BMX helmets (i.e., ProTec and such). They have foam coverage on the sides and back (under a hardshell) that extends way farther than climbing helmets. Now skate helmets aren't designed for high impact forces, but BMX ones are, and for off-axis hits as well. I think their impact cert is pretty legit. Of course they don't have a penetration test anywhere close to what the CE and UIAA tests climbing helmets for, but I wonder how different their hardshell would behave in such a test relative to our hardshells.


This is one of the problems I always had. Even when I wore a helmet I didn't feel like it was protecting me because it sits so high on the top of my head and only covers the top of my head. Add to that the fact that it wobbled around, and it really sucked. The tighter I clicked it the higher it would sit on my head and the more it would wobble.

I realized that the in my opinion the ideal helmet is like a pro-tec helmet, which has a tight fit all around and on top of your head. I ended up getting a Grivel Salamander, which fits better and protects better IMO than the ones I had used in the past, the Petzl Elios and BD halfdome. I feel like I'm actually wearing a helmet instead of having a shell sit on the very top of my head.


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By D Winger
Nov 19, 2010
A labor of love -- our favorite Joshua Tree climbs from 5.5 to 5.9

I always wear a helmet.

Beth Rodden seems to be changing her mind about helmets:

www.petzl.com/us/outdoor/news-2/2010/11/11/beth-roddens-long>>>


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By Brian Adzima
From the Paris of Appalachia
Nov 19, 2010
somewhere in WV

Helmets are PPE, i.e. they are the best solution when the problem cannot otherwise be avoided or negated. I don't wear a helmet and I don't climb in places with loose rock when there are people around to dislodge it.


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By Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Nov 19, 2010
RMNP skiing. Photo by Nodin de Saillan

After recently suffering a pretty bad injury while biking,(my front wheel unattached from the rest of my bike) I've started to be a lot more conscious of the vulnerability of my head.

It's pretty exposed up there, and you've only got one.
--- Invalid image id: 106895209 ---


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Nov 19, 2010
Stabby

Garrett Soper wrote:
I ended up getting a Grivel Salamander,

I just found out the Grivel comes in an XL size, which has me interested. One review I saw though said the back strap broke after a dozen outings. Who else has experience with these?


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By G8rFtBall
Nov 19, 2010

I never understood why people don't wear helmets. I wear one all the time. There is mention of falling rock here, there is also a good chance that a water bottle, cam, or anything else attached to someone above you will come whipping down on your noggin. For me the scarier thought isn't of me being knocked out, but instead my belayer getting knocked out.

This thought of nothing should happen seems like the equivalent of free soling a route because you don't expect to fall. We all carry huge racks up the wall which can and have contributed to my falls as they snag and stick in the cracks.But you wouldn't catch me dead with out a rack. Or maybe you would.

Even sport climbing I have seen people take small falls get hung up in the rope and have there heads smash against the wall.

Again, it just seems crazy that something you don't even have to carry is an issue going up the wall. Not that I am hating on non-helmet wearers, my buddies don't always use them either. I just wouldn't be on the wall without one, 5.8 or 5.12.


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By Phill T
Nov 19, 2010

Mike Lane wrote:
I just found out the Grivel comes in an XL size, which has me interested. One review I saw though said the back strap broke after a dozen outings. Who else has experience with these?


Hey mike,

I also have a huge freaking melon, the Salamander was the only helmet I could find that fit. no problem with the back strap or anything else on it over 2 years or so.

As for the issue, trad, always. sport, if I'm leading I'll always wear it, TR usually not.


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By Garrett Soper
From Duluth, Minnesota
Nov 19, 2010
Leading at DL

Mike Lane wrote:
I just found out the Grivel comes in an XL size, which has me interested. One review I saw though said the back strap broke after a dozen outings. Who else has experience with these?


I've only had mine for about a year, but I've used it quite a bit and haven't had any problems with its durability.


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