Reiterating what almost every guidebook ever published says “Climbing is an inherently dangerous sport.” That being said, there are plenty of ways to mitigate that risk and significantly reduce it. I believe climbing can be as safe or as dangerous as you make it.
Knowledge is power.
– Know your gear and how to properly use it. If you don’t know, go with someone who does. Whether that means tagging along with a more experienced friend or hiring a qualified guide to take you out and show you the ropes. Your equipment is only as good as the person using it.
– Know your partner. A bad partner can be as bad as no partner as all. You’re entrusting this person with your life, they had better know what they are doing.
– When in doubt, call it out. Communication people! Miscommunication or lack of communication in general is a huge factor in many accidents. Know the commands of climbing and use them. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page before you ever leave the ground.
– Also, speak up if you don’t know how to do something or you don’t feel comfortable with something. Staying quiet because you’re embarrassed of something doesn’t do anyone any favors.
Don’t be stupid.
– Don’t disappear without telling anyone where you are going and when you’re planning on coming back. Even with the technology these days, climbers typically venture into places where cell phones are useless. If something were to happen to you and your partner in some remote location, how long would you want to wait around for someone to find you?
Preparation is key.
– Check the weather before you head out. Whether you are just cragging or heading off for some bigger adventure, weather can make or break your trip. Bad weather can straight up ruin your day and if you are ill prepared, it can be downright dangerous. Know before you go; heat stroke and hypothermia are both real and I’m guessing they aren’t a ton of fun.
– Be attentive and aware of your surroundings. Watch your partner as they’re climbing, not the hot climber on the route next to you. Pay attention to your environment, watch for loose rock or other hazards. And on that same note – Wear a helmet. Safety first!
Don’t get complacent.
– No matter how long you’ve been climbing or how much you think you know – Stay focused. Check and double check yourself and your partner and your system every time. All it takes is one easily avoided mistake for things to go very wrong.