My wish is to start a conversation about general safety issues regarding climbing in the Volda/Ørsta area.
I am strongly against Tore Lundbergs last post on fixed ropes, and here I want to make clear my viewpoints on it and on some other related issues at hand;
A. Fixed ropes on the crags.
B. Homemade non CE- approved bolt hangers.
C. General culture concerning safety in outdoor climbing.
A. Fixed ropes on the cliffs is a great safety risk, and it puts climbers using them under unnecessary dangers. This tradition should be put to an end asap!
1. Weather and UV-radiation damages ropes and reduces the strength of them. This is a common fact. Ropes on Toskefloget and Norangsdalen have been hanging there for … how long? Actually in my 8 years climbing in Volda I have never seen Toskefloget without fixed ropes hanging from it, usually 3-5 different ropes, all year around, I wonder how often they are changed and who keeps a clear record on it?
2. Fixed ropes can be damaged by rockfall or abrasion over sharp edges by wind movement. (Climbers should always be skeptical to fixed gear, just like we don’t automatically trust rappel slings on the mountains without an inspection)
3. As a rule, climbers should never trust other’s gear, for example, a rope that someone else has been put hanging days/weeks/years before. That is just common sense.
4. Advocating someone to use your fixed ropes is irresponsible and plain stupid! Instead we should encourage other climbers to lead or to fix their own ropes themselves (and remove it after use), so they themselves can be sure about the safety of the anchor and knots etc. We should rather teach new outdoor climbers skills and how to use gear safely, so they can evolve and gain independence as climbers.
5. How can we be sure that the rope hanging is the rope that is fixed for clogging, instead of a rope that has been stuck on rappelling and left hanging? Is that an acceptable risk we are willing to take? The fact is that you can never know for sure unless you put it the yourself. And it is easy for Tore to say that he knows his ropes. But think how chaotic it would be if we would all do the same! Should there be a certain authority who can fix ropes and others who can’t, and where do we draw the line for who is allowed to?
6. This tradition visually plain ugly. And it is unknown on any other climbing area, anywhere in the known universe as far as I know! The only exception is a rope hanging while making a new route.
B. Homemade bolt hangers may be dangerous and are completely unnecessary.
1. They are not CE-proven.
2. They have sharp edges that can possibly cut the rope on a lead fall.
3. SKK pays for bolts and hangers for the climber who drill new routes, so there is no need for saving money by making the hangers yourself.
4. Homemade hangers on existing routes should be changed to CE-proved bolt hangers. These routes will now get more visits by the effect of having a new topo-book. Visiting climbers from outside Sunnmøre are expecting standard safety levels as in any other known climbing area in Norway and we should be able to provide it.
C. General culture concerning safety in outdoor climbing
A climber should be able to climb as dangerously as he or she wishes, and that is of little concern to others. It is a completely different thing when a single climber or teams choose their own risks, than when exposing someone else to it.
The moment we expose others to risks, we become responsible for their wellbeing. We should decide together on safety level we want to have here in our local corner. My wish is that we could market Volda/Ørsta area as safe and clean climbing destination.
We should always keep in mind the responsibility of what we pass on to new climbers, especially since this area sees comparably many fresh climbers. We should be aware of what we pass on both consciously and subconsciously; skills, habits, ethics etc. Both for the sake of the safety and development of the individual climber, but also for the climbing community as a whole.
In the end, if any accidents happen, the responsibility will be laid on the local climbing club’s shoulders, and that is all of us.
So let’s make climbing in Sunnmøre safe again 😉