How to Avoid Lightning When Rock Climbing
by Matt Samet
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4 ways to keep your cool when a storm threatens
It happens to the best (and even the fastest) of us. Hundreds of feet off the deck, you suddenly find yourself trapped, pinned down by an ugly beast spitting white-hot lightning and drowning the rock. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when dealing with objective hazards like lightning but here are a few ways to decrease the potency of your epic.
3. Move quickly but safely. If you decide to rappel, do it quickly and decisively. Donít hem and haw over leaving your favorite cam as part of an anchor, fiddling with less-precious nuts when itís obvious the cam is safer. No piece of climbing gear is worth more than your life, or your partnerís!
If you decide to go up, donít muck about trying to keep your ascent all-free if the rock is wet. Place solid gear and pull on it, hang on it, or stand in it (you can jury-rig ďaidersĒ with shoulder or prusik slings or a cordelette) to make upward progress. Itís faster to free climb (when safely possible), but itís also easy to slip on wet rock and a broken bone will quickly complicate your epic.
Always carry prusiks and know how to use them. With the rock soaked and not free climbable, itís much more efficient to second a pitch with prusiks than by aiding.
4. Pray. It canít hurt, can it? Iím not necessarily a religious man but Iíve found myself pleading with God a few times while rappelling in thunderstorms. Having a mantra, be it prayer or otherwise, will allow you to focus and keep your head. Even the lyrics from a favorite song might help. Something from the Doors comes to mind ...
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