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2002-03-18 17:40:38 ]


worth saving

------- start of forwarded message -------
From: "Guido" <west@ghunter.mv.com>
Newsgroups: rec.climbing
Subject: Re: More fuel for the old helmet debate...
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 17:33:21 -0500
Organization: MV Communications, Inc.
Message-ID: <a75pt9$iob$1@pyrite.mv.net>

Christopher Brian Colohan may have spoken for many when he penned:

> > I think people that lead without helmets are total fools.....

We need to judge such madness within the context of history, the spirit of
the day, and the skillset of safety.

I like to think that folks who are growing, cultures which are emerging, and
sports which are developing  --- all provide one similar pattern.: the
oldsters in each of these groups appear neanderthal when viewed through a
modern lens.  It's as though the previous age's golden boys were clueless
when evaluated with the perspective of today's today.

It wasn't long ago, for example, that NHL hockey players wore no headgear,
that NBA basketball players wore no mouth protectors, and that few
rockclimbers wore helmets.  Those folks weren't fools; theirs was just the
dress and hardware which enjoyed currency in its day, an expression of
accepted practice.

As the management of risk has grown and each sport matured, players have
grown to better understand the risks and the tools at hand to ensure
longevity.  But this is an emergence, a morph'ing of the culture of
climbing, and a hard-fought acknowledgement of the obvious which only
hindsight affords.

Still, many older climbers continue to dismiss the need for a helmet,
choosing to mitigate the risks of rockfall and leader falls with:

    *  making early starts
    *  choosing ridgeline ascents over open faces
    *  never climbing below others
    *  climbing within their abilities
    *  avoiding freeze-thaw cycle days
    *  moving quickly through likely rockfall zones
    *  seeking protected belays
    *  moving fast

These methods mitigate risk regardless of helmet usage but have remained the
hallmark of oldsters who continue to climb without head protection.
Obviously, they should appeal to the helmeted climber as well.

The game is not just to climb.  It's to climb safely; ergo, it's to manage

Guides, the posterchildren of moderation, have long worn helmets as have
their clients, not just to mitigate liability issues or to reduce risk, but
to demonstrate commitment to the safest of standards.  Were guides perhaps
leading the movement, ahead of the curve?

If so, then those who elect helmets may do well to continue their study of
safety by embracing modern rescue methods, again following the lead of
guides.  That a helmet has spared your partner more serious injury from a
fall doesn't ensure that one's inability to manage the rescue may not do him
further damage.  If Hippocrates was still climbing, he might admonish:
"Partner, do no further harm."

I wonder if those same safety-conscious, helmeted climbers who preach the
benefits of such safety would be able to escape the belay to assist an
injured leader, reach and secure an injured climber who is more than
half-rope out, or stabilize and rappel with an injured partner?

It's all one, very sophisticated complex of skills and decision-making
which, in the end, promote and perhaps, in some minor way, ensure safety.
While the helmet may be a fine addition, its inclusion is likely
begrudgingly necessary, but not sufficient, to ensure bragging rights back
in town.


------- end of forwarded message -------
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