It is natural to wonder about the safety of rock climbing since it involves climbing rock walls inside and natural formations outside. Rock climbing may be a new sport to you, or maybe you’ve been interested in it for some time. You want to know more about researcher’s thoughts on this subject, but do not know where to begin. Here are some statistics regarding outdoor climbing safety.
Is rock climbing outdoors safe? However, there have been a number of accidents associated with climbing in the past. Several studies have shown that injuries are quite common, and that some are even fatal, but that it is no more or less dangerous than other sports as long as safety precautions are taken. The vast majority of fatal climbing-related injuries occur while ascending, even though minor injuries are often sustained.
Is Outdoor Climbing Safe? A Look at the Statistics
A team of scientists from The Johns Hopkins University’s Preventive Medicine Residency Program analyzed 127 climber injury reports in order to determine if the sport was especially dangerous and how most injuries occurred. Injuries related to falls while ascending made up approximately 75 percent of all injuries. Further, falls on snow or ice were more likely to be fatal than those on rock, and injuries on snow or ice were more likely to be severe and they concluded that better rock safety methods were needed to prevent an increase in injuries as the sport became more popular. Check out the study here.
Numerous studies have been conducted on this particular sport, so there are a lot of statistics to choose from. A study by the St George Sports Injury Clinic in Australia found that “rock climbing, if undertaken safely, should not be considered a high-risk activity.” Most injuries happened during solo climbs or were caused by overuse injuries. Lead climbers sustained a 25% injury percentage compared with both of those statistics being 37.5%. The entire report of this study can be read here.
The Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City used the Grand Teton National Park records to determine climbing injury statistics since all climbers must check-in and all injuries must be reported. With this record, they had access to ten years’ worth of data on 71,655 climbers. Learn more about it here. The following list shows risks for climbing-related serious injuries.
- Climbing as the lead climber
- while ascending steep rock faces
- beyond one’s experience level and making mistakes as a result
- Most fatal accidents involve snow or ice
The vast majority of fatalities and serious injuries happen to male climbers, but statistically, this is probably due to the fact that more men than women participate in the sport. In analyzing climbing injuries over the course of five years in several countries, researchers discovered a 53 percent reduction following the introduction of new safety measures in 1994.
Although rock climbing and bouldering can be dangerous, there are many other sports that are much more hazardous. Swimmers are almost 50% more likely to be seriously injured or killed than rock climbers.
Outside Climbing Dangers
Landing on a boulder
If you don’t dismount from a boulder properly, you can damage your knees and ankles. Most boulderers use a crash pad to catch themselves if they fall and when they dismount to reduce the risk of injury.
Wearing the wrong gear
- Slings, ropes, carabiners, and webbing
- Shoes for climbing
- The right harness
- Packs for bringing climbing equipment
- Tools for ice and snow
Rock wall scrapes
There is always a risk of getting grazed in nature. Due to the sensitivity and vulnerability of skin, it is easy for cuts and scrapes to become infected while climbing. Make sure any wound is treated properly.
The University of Utah Department of Family and Preventive Medicine study we mentioned several sections above looked at weather as a risk factor and found that the real risk was inattention to detail or mistakes made when rushing to avoid the weather. We recommend you read their full conclusion here.
Any climber is capable of falling rocks of any size while ascending or descending a mountain. These incidents are not always forewarned. Keep an eye out for signs of loose rocks.
Incorrect use of equipment
There are certain ways to use your gear that are more effective and safer than others when lead climbing. As an example, back clipping is a potentially dangerous technique. Further information on using your equipment safely can be found in our article here.
When there is a risk of death or serious injury, why do people climb?
Even though rock climbing entails some risk, some people still choose to do it. Extreme sports can help people become more in tune with their own bodies and minds. The only thing to focus on is the next handhold, making it a meditative experience. In addition to the health benefits of being this active, there are many other advantages.
Climbing outdoors is also a way to connect with nature and experience a sense of peace with the universe. The main motivation for many climbers’ pursuit of self-realization and empowerment is to attain something they cannot get in other aspects of their lives.
Extreme sports enthusiasts may climb rocks as a way to get a high from doing something dangerous. Most climbers don’t feel this way since most of them do it for the love of nature or as a means to improve their physical health or mental discipline.
The Best Way to Start Climbing Outdoors if You’re a Beginner
Before you start outdoor climbing, it is important that you fully understand the proper procedures, gear, and climbing forms. When it comes to outdoor climbing, you can find outdoor guides who can help you prepare for the jarringly different natural environment compared with an indoor climb wall. Climbing outdoors solo without being fully prepared, trained, and letting someone know is not recommended.
Starting out with an indoor climbing wall and gradually moving outside is a great way to gain experience. Your grip will be strengthened, and you will learn more about your body. You may also pick up a few tips from other climbers. Starting small also allows you to avoid overstressing your body. Be careful when choosing boulders or rock faces out in the open, make sure the boulders or faces aren’t too challenging.
When climbing, make sure you climb in a region where other climbers or mountaineers frequent. When you are in an area where you can easily access help after an accident, you are more likely to survive. A fundamental aspect of bouldering, the skill of falling safely, is brought up here.
Make sure you have a pad ready to catch you if you fall or when you are ready to land if you are bouldering. In spite of the pad, it can still be dangerous since falling on it can lead to broken bones, sprained ankles, or other bodily harm since it can be missed or only partially hit.
Bouldering has the advantage that you do not need ropes or another person to climb, but it is still a good idea to let someone know where you are going and when you will return. This will help if you have an accident or get injured so that they can find you.
Make sure you are aware of any warnings posted near the area where you will be climbing. You can also be warned about predatory animals that have been spotted nearby or natural spots that can be dangerous. It’s also important to make sure that the spot you choose to climb has already been tried by others before you try to climb it at random. Inexperienced climbers may suffer from fatal injuries when they attempt to ascend an untested rock face.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Why is outdoor climbing dangerous?
There are several reasons why rock climbing can be dangerous. This is true whether the activity takes place indoors or outdoors. It applies to all types of rock climbing. Falling wrong can cause bone breaks, ligament tears and stretches, tendons to snap, and muscles to pull.
Is rock climbing a high risk activity
If you can compare rock climbing with mainstream sports, rock climbing and ice climbing are widely viewed as ‘high-risk’ activities that are associated with a high incidence of severe injury and even death
What is the most dangerous type of climbing?
In addition to being the most dangerous type of climbing, mountaineering also requires a lot of skill to climb a mountain and descend safely. An ascent of rock, snow, or ice is necessary for a mountaineer. He must be aware of all natural hazards, including rockfalls, avalanches, and lightning
How dangerous is alpine climbing?
Rock climbers and traditional mountaineers suffer from many of the same injuries. Most serious injuries occur due to falls while climbing, although chronic and acute musculoskeletal injuries to the hands and extremities also occur frequently.
How many died free climbing?
The average number of deaths per year fluctuates, but we see about 30 on average. By extrapolating 30 climbing-related deaths per 5 million North American climbers to an estimated 25 million climbers around the world every year, we could see around 150 climbing-related deaths each year.