Developing new routes is a highly rewarding and often time consuming activity. Motivations for doing it range from from the personal challenge of opening big lines on unclimbed walls to developing your local crag. Personally I have usually decided to open a new route when I am looking for my own challenge rather than the desire to establish routes for others to climb. I really enjoy the excitement of running it out above my gear on unclimbed terrain, not knowing what's coming next. For me this is the most challenging form of climbing where you can put your skills to the test.
A couple of years ago, I sold my business in NZ and more or less became a full time climbing bum. This coincided with becoming a father, and the two combined led me to examine some of my climbing choices and the statistical risks associated with them. I was keen to make sure that I had good habits in place to avoid those once in a lifetime accidents that over a long climbing career might happen.
During a recent trip to the Dolomites in Italy I found myself in a rescue situation with an injured climbing partner. We were climbing as a team of three, and one of the seconders pulled off a large block which fell down onto the third member of our team. I thought sharing a few tips on how to manage the situation and how to haul an injured climber could be useful for someone else who might find themselves in a similar situation.
We are propagating accidents, injuries and deaths. In almost all commercial industries, when multiple near misses or similar accidents occur, they are analysed and methods are instigated to eliminate the causal factors. Even rats in a maze learn not to make the same mistakes multiple times. But it seems the climbing community hasn’t yet learned. All too often I hear of people either dying, being seriously injured, or narrowly avoiding catastrophe due to the same preventable errors.
There is nothing more frustrating than moving slowly on a long multi pitch route. Saving a few minutes on each pitch can often mean the difference between spending an unplanned night out, getting caught by a change in the weather or making it back to camp early with enough time to be rested for the next day of climbing. Learning how to safely increase your efficiency and speed on a multi-pitch route will also open the door to longer challenging climbs.