|By JSH |
Jul 5, 2012
As I said above, the weakest link in climbing is the climber. Thus - the best thing the climbing community can do to reduce accidents is to focus on the climbers, not the relative difference in cams pulling versus nuts pulling.
Here's an idea: checklists.
The use of checklists is well ingrained in flights, and has made a big difference in health care -- for instance in reducing infections acquired during a hospital stay. Surgeons do a "timeout" to verify patient identity and the surgical plan immediately before surgery.
We climbers use already use a checklist: we check buckles, check the lock on a belay caribiner, and we have the verbal "on belay?" exchange. This checklist undoubtedly reduces accidents from incorrect tie-ins and from "well I thought I was on belay ..."
Given the distribution of accidents, which is heavily weighted towards errors during belayed descent, we should add one word to this pre-flight check: "Descent". What is the descent plan? Have we verified the length of the descent (is a 70m required)?
"Locked? Tied in? On belay? Descent?"
This won't prevent all errors or solve every situation -- nothing will -- but the simple act of calling deliberate attention to the issues of descent could make a big difference.