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 Post subject: Climbing Wall Accident
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 4:03 pm 
I had a call from a father whose son hurt himself (fortunately not too badly) when (according to the father) the top anchor broke. - apparently he fell about 3m, landed on his feet, and couldn't walk for 2 days but there weren't any broken bones. It sounds like the rope was not clipped into the carabiner and only running through the back-up rope, which burnt through after the 3rd person had top-roped it. If it had burnt through earlier, the son might had a longer fall.

The father says that the gym owners weren't too concerned and commented something along the lines of \"well he's ok, so what's the problem?\" In recent times there have been a number of reports of dodgy gear of this gym and the owners don't seem inclined to really do much to change this perception.

The father asked me whether there were any standards which gyms need to adhere to. AFAIK, there aren't any standards in this country.

Should there be standards, and who should drive the process?

Roland


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 4:25 pm 
Well that sounds like a pretty dodgy place

You say it was a top rope climb that had one fixed anchor with a biner and a rope back-up?

So the rope was running through both a rope anchor and a fixed chain / biner anchor

Well if so that explains why the rope burnt through - good rule of thumb is not to run rope over textiles... obvious reason why.

Most gyms that I have been to, have two well bolted top anchors, fixed into the I-Beam and then chain linked.

Not too sure about a standard around climbing gyms, did this place make him sign a waver?


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 5:05 pm 
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There are some stuff on the MDT website for climbing wall operators, but it is not very specific on the techinical side and focus more on the softer side like training, qualifications, etc.

http://www.mdt.za.org/


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 Post subject: Name the gym
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 5:37 pm 
Which gym was this so that I can be careful next time I go there?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 5:43 pm 
Howsit Roland, I'm pretty sure that the gym you are referring to is somewhere in Johannesburg :roll:

I think all gyms make you sign a waiver, as far as I am aware no one can hide behind a waiver if it is the result of \"gross negligence\" which it sounds like to me. Not that its really worth persuing.

I think some body like the MCSA should create a general (and basic) set of rules by which all gyms should comply and then the MCSA and sites like this could list gyms which do comply and those that do not comply (which will hopefully be bad for business).

I think the requirements should be basic (you dont want to make it to expensive otherwise everyone will ignore it and defeat the object) but something like a spot check to see that the equipment is maintained and that ropes are replaced when worn etc.


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 Post subject: Effort and Time
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2006 9:23 am 
Yip, i didn't want to mention the gym name, because the facts and hence the cause hasn't been fully investigated - so i don't think it would be fair for the gym to publicise the name until this has been done.

There are some documents which deal with gym standards - more the technical stuff like the forces anchors must be able to withstand. But i haven't seen much on the actuall daily running of the gym. I did come across a questionnaire by the Climbing Walls Industry Group (CWIG) which dealt more with the checking of a gym on a daily basis by a suitably qualified person and recording the results.

It would be interesting to hear from other climbing gyms what processes they have in place.

If any organisation is to take on setting of standards, and checking gyms, this would obviously involve a fair amount of time and effort.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2006 9:34 am 
I climb at this particular gym pretty regularly - it does rather rely on you looking after yourself and sorting your own safety.

The story in question is slightly more complicated than sheer negligence on the part of the owners. What I have heard, is that some dude rocked up with a casual and was putting a rope up on an unroped route, and despite being told to put it through the bina and the back up rope, only threaded the rope (doh!!!). No surprise that the thing failed...However, an awful lot of beginners do once off stuff at the place for kicks, and they wouldn't have a clue what to look out for.

Once a friend and I were there and bunch of little girls (8 - 10) were running around mostly unsupervised and it was completely scary...We spent the evening getting ready to grab the tail ends of ropes all around us.

However, there isnt much alternative and I still go there cos its training ground. Maybe the owners just need to be sat down and convinced that it is in their best interests to sort their place for safety...Before they are either sued or closed down, or a better place opens up! A concerned and recognised climbing party could draft a stern letter...The risk is that we lose the only gym we currently have easy access to.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2006 10:10 pm 
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This 'gym' sounds completely chaotic! :( If they are the ones running the business and profiting fom people climbing there then they are responsible for the safety of their clients, simple as that. Allowing people to do their own thing without supervision or failing to regularly check the gym floor for safe practice is neglience, simple as that. Given the high level of risk involved in our sport, failing to keep even a basic level of control over what takes place in a public gym borders on criminality. My opinion; sue them, shut the place down. They do not deserve to profit from this great sport. All people wanting to make a business out of climbing need to ensure they are properly qualified and are operating within the clear guidelines* of safety. (The recent accident on Table Mountain involving an unqualified guide merely serves to underline my point). I wish the injured party a speedy recovery.
*There have been clearly formulated guidelines and standards for gym operation as well as guiding in place for many years now.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2006 11:20 pm 
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http://www.thebmc.co.uk/safety/advice/a ... vice_5.htm

This one of many pages I searched on this subject. While,during this search, it becomes clear that legal regulations are lagging sadly behind the fast development of the sport in most countries, it is also abundantly clear that there is a huge amount of interest in developing better standards and bringing these standards into writ of law. What is also blatantly obvious, is that all recommendations on the subject include specific paragraphs relating to supervision of minors by qualified staff and both visual and physical checking of the activities of clients by such staff on an ongoing and constant basis.

Where this leaves us (climbers in general) exactly, as regards the liability and responsibilty of wall operators is something only the lawyers can determine. I do feel however that there is a huge difference between us seeking adventure under our own recognisance (and at our own risk) in the great outdoors, and going to a purpose built artificial facility run by (we hope) responsible people for profit. Do we really have to wait until someone is killed before insisting on a decent and reasonable level of safety at our local gym?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 10:50 am 
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I agree that something should be done before someone seriously hurts themselves at this gym. However, I think simply trying to close it down is overkill - I was there last night and a lot of people have a good time training there - it certainly provides some benefit to have it around. It would be a real pity to miss out on intermediate steps that might have a positive effect on the situation resulting in continued, safer training at the gym. Especially since there aren't any other places that offer anything vastly better at present.

Reasonable solutions preferred.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 11:48 am 
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If this is the gym I'm thinking of, and I don't have any reason to believe otherwise, then shut it down. I'm assuming that this is the same gym that has made promises members, then reneged on these promises and then threatened legal action when confronted about these things (and they stopped returning my emails, of course).

It does nothing for the greater good of climbing with the exception, I suppose, of getting people out on rock more than they would if there was a decent gym around. And now people are getting hurt there? If that happened at any gym in South Africa then the gym should be closed until an investigation has found the source of the incident and it has been corrected. And the MCSA should be spearheading and regulating this process. The fact of the matter is, it's not going to be long until some poor first-timer breaks something serious, and that's going to look really bad for climbing as a whole.

In fact, seeing as we're not mentioning names, and as a result I can't be accused of libel/slander, it should be torn down and everything associated with it sold for scrap with the proceeds going building a proper gym in Joburg. Everything that is too tainted to be sold should be burned in a rubbish bin.

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Last edited by dom on Wed Jan 18, 2006 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 12:14 pm 
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Personally I think that the place should be shut down permanently and the owners and management of the place be banned from opening another gym in future. Before it closed the first time it was already an accident waiting to happen and now it seems even worse than before, thank goodness since it has reopened there has only really been this one minor mishap (I say minor as no one has been killed or crippled).

I feel strongly about mentioning the name of the gym but I wont, not until I see that nothing is being done to raise the level of safety. If it is not I WILL advertise the name and ens ure PUBLIC safety.

Cummon guys, be realistic, people go to gyms for a variety of reasons. Some of us to train up for a project and to get super strong, others for a little bit of activity and to get off the couch, then you have people that have absolutely no idea of what any sort of climbing is about but are tagging along for a party or a team building session.
I do agree that people should take their own safety into their own hands and not rely entirely on some twat at a climbing gym, but this would be impractical to the once off-er.

The BMC has clear guidelines on how a gym should be run and I personally think we should incorporate their regulations into our gyms.

Also, there should be tests or exams that one should take at these gyms to ensure you know what you are doing.
I suggest that a new person to a gym be required to complete a top rope test, belay test, lead test. A card should be issued so that the next time that person returns all he need do is show his card and sign the indemnity form.

Furthermore, I would suggest that a knowledgeable team from MCSA or even an inspector from a rope access company be brought into the gym periodically to inspect the safety of the place.

Something should be done now, before some one does end up in real Sh1t.

ps ....Megawatt, you are right people do go there to have fun, but my idea of fun is not one of lying on the ground with a pool of blood around my head and a fractured skull.

My 2cents,

Use it don’t use it


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 12:21 pm 
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MW wrote:
I climb at this particular gym pretty regularly - it does rather rely on you looking after yourself and sorting your own safety.

...

Once a friend and I were there and bunch of little girls (8 - 10) were running around mostly unsupervised and it was completely scary...We spent the evening getting ready to grab the tail ends of ropes all around us.

However, there isnt much alternative and I still go there cos its training ground. Maybe the owners just need to be sat down and convinced that it is in their best interests to sort their place for safety...Before they are either sued or closed down, or a better place opens up! A concerned and recognised climbing party could draft a stern letter...The risk is that we lose the only gym we currently have easy access to.


I don't want to jump down your throat specifically, MW, but by going to this gym you're tacitly supporting it's current stance on safety etc. Boycotting it would be a start, but something tells me that it probably makes more money from first-timers and kids parties than from real climbers.

Of course, it's owners have shown that they're unwilling to listen to criticism and complaints (does anyone remember the complaints on Rockaddiction last year? Correct me if I'm wrong but it sounds like nothing has been done.)

Why hasn't the MCSA stepped up, in the interests of climbers, and done something? Surely the fact that they're not doing anything either is also tacit support of the safety policy? A laissez-faire safety policy is probably fine when 'experienced' climbers are involved, but who decides what 'experienced' is? Plus, it's a really dangerous policy when there are first-timers and kids around and it probably wouldn't stand up legally.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 12:44 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:33 pm
Posts: 100
Location: Cape Town
Real Name: Riki Lawson
Can someone please contact us to let us know which gym we are talking about?
We would like to invite the owners of the gym to this discussion so we can hear what they have to say about the accusations.
Thanks,
Climb ZA


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 12:56 pm 
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dom,

While the issue of safety in climbing gyms is a very serious one, I think you're being a little idealistic and losing sight of some important facts.

The MCSA is a non-profit volunteer organization which strives to look out for the best intrests of all sectors of the climbing community. However, the club suffers from very real shortage of man[woman]power (volunteers do things for free remember) and financial resources. I think it's a little callous to rant here and pass the buck onto \"the MCSA\", you've already seen how fruitless your attempts to negociate with the \"Gym\" have been.

IANAL, but it seems to me that the owners of said \"Gym\" must have some kind of responsibility towards their clients safety in terms of the Health and Safety Act.

Perhaps if you joined the MCSA and took the onus upon yourself to drive a Gym Safety team, in conjunction with the MDT, we might achieve something.

Until then, get off of your high horse :wink:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 1:19 pm 
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Mmm...Interesting and, as usual around here, heated opinions. Let me join the fray...

Firstly, Majaji, just to let you know I am a staunch individualist and don't believe in creating a society where people can assign their responsibility for their own safety to someone else. The beginners also need to take some responsibility for what they get up to - anything that requires a responsibility waiver to be signed should be thought about twice. Thats probably why I like climbing - it forces you to rely on yourself, and of course on your own faculties in choosing who you climb with, and where. Why stop at requiring a license(that is in effect what you mentioned) to climb at a gym? Why not one for sport climbers, trad climbers, in fact, perhaps before going out for a hike, someone should check that you know how to lift your feet properly? That said, I think the idea of some inspection process is a good one (especially in terms of protecting beginners) - if it is widely publicised, and gyms that don't comply are identified on a public forum such as this, the papers etc. The free market has some wonderful ways of dealing with improper business practice. And if its true, it isnt slander.

Now, it sounds like this gym has a bad track record extending quite a while - which is pretty inexcusable, in the face of my comments above. So why is it still open? Dom, you hit it on the head - lots of people still go there. Why? because its fun. And because, nothing has been done, no alternative has been set up. I will still go there (at least until I split my head open on the floor) - but I will also phone the owners personally and point them at this forum. They may ignore me by the sounds of things, in which case some stuff is coming to them...

By the way, it is an MCSA member who started this forum - the club isnt just a group of committee members. If YOU are an MCSA member, why don't YOU do something about it.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 1:24 pm 
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Beat me to it Odball - sorry to repeat your sentiment on the MCSA (posted around the same minute)

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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 1:36 pm 
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oOdball wrote:
dom,

...

Until then, get off of your high horse :wink:


At no point did I 'pass the buck' onto the MCSA. I merely suggested that, in their position as representatives of climbing in SA, with the objective of promoting "the safety and training of mountaineers" (www.mcsa.org.za), they might be in a better position to do something than individuals. I never said anything along the lines of "The MCSA has failed us blah blah blah" because I really couldn't give a shit anymore both about the gym in question and the MCSA apologists who frequent this board..

I realise that yes, I probably should join the MCSA, I'm sure it does a lot of good, and I have a number of friends who are members, but it seems like everytime someone makes comment about the MCSA, there is a queue of apologists shouting idiotic, unfounded (how did you know i wasn't a member?) comments like you did. Do the various gyms in SA contribute money to the MCSA?

Well, Oddball, why don't *you* start a gym safety committee,if you believe so strongly in one?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 3:09 pm 
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Megawat, I have climbed in many gyms around the world and the system of \"licensing\" as you put it, works extremely well, and in fact the gyms that have employed this practice seemed to be the most popular, successful and festive gyms.

I was not saying that all aspects of climbing should be \"licensed\", you are forgetting that a gym is a business and a service,therefore it should have some controls in place to protect itself and it's patrons. Surely it is in everyone's best interest.

\"licensing\" Provides a safe and comfortable environment for beginners to learn, personally I prefer the way I learnt with a friend in the know-how, on rock and self educating. However I am in the process now of retraining myself now through a rope access company. For my own benefit.

The gym is covered from prosecution( if the equipment and systems are sound) as the affected person/people have had formal training and signed an indemnity. yes accidents do happen, hence\"accident\" and not negligence from either the climber or gym

A little interest and enforcement would do wonders for a gym, and if they were serious business people they would realise they could make a fantastic success and benefit the climbing community and grow it. I just find it sad when people want to milk the public of their hard earned Dinaro and give them an inadequate service!

One rule I stick by and it has kept me alive and well for many years in various extreme sports and it is \"SAFETY FIRST\". do take risks, just calculate them.

Anyway, as I said,...

Use it, don't use it !


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 3:35 pm 
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Location: Cape Town
Real Name: Riki Lawson
The Gym in question has been contacted and they intend responding in due course.
Climb ZA


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 Post subject: ???
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 4:00 pm 
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Everyone has the right to opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:43 pm 
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Oh Yay! I feel like I have finally arrived - someone has at last hurled abuse (as well as maggot Sh*T) at me! Thanks dude, the only thing that would make it betta was if you had the guts to use a name!

My stand is, stop expecting other people to wipe your bum, and sort yourself out for safety. Yes, these guys are charging for their lack of service, but we aren't held at gun point to pay them are we? Im against kiddies getting hurt so would thoroughly endorse more restrictions in terms of how they use a gym, but the rest of us ADULTS should be able to
make better calls as to what we do with our time n money.

I am against people forcibly closing down a business that has as valid a reason to be there as anyone else. If the market is supporting it, despite its reputation for dodgy practices, then INFORM THE MARKET (kinda like whats happening here). Or start your own gym, where it can become as popular as the \"licensing\" gyms the Majaji was talking about.

I may be a complete idiot for going there, and since my contract has run out, may make another plan soon, but my opinion is (and I think its mean that Im only allowed to have one) there are good clean ways of sorting this type of thing out which don't amount to adult babysitting.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:44 pm 
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Oh Yay! I feel like I have finally arrived - someone has at last hurled abuse (as well as maggot Sh*T) at me! Thanks dude, the only thing that would make it betta was if you had the guts to use a name!

My stand is, stop expecting other people to wipe your bum, and sort yourself out for safety. Yes, these guys are charging for their lack of service, but we aren't held at gun point to pay them are we? Im against kiddies getting hurt so would thoroughly endorse more restrictions in terms of how they use a gym, but the rest of us ADULTS should be able to
make better calls as to what we do with our time n money.

I am against people forcibly closing down a business that has as valid a reason to be there as anyone else. If the market is supporting it, despite its reputation for dodgy practices, then INFORM THE MARKET (kinda like whats happening here). Or start your own gym, where it can become as popular as the \"licensing\" gyms the Majaji was talking about.

I may be a complete idiot for going there, and since my contract has run out, may make another plan soon, but my opinion is (and I think its mean that Im only allowed to have one) there are good clean ways of sorting this type of thing out which don't amount to adult babysitting.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 6:16 pm 
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Hay guys, we are waiting for a response from \"the accused\" lets keep this string a little more serious, we want to deal with the issue not attack each other.

Joburg is lacking in good gyms, and I climb at this gym during the week sometimes, I'm keen to hear about the incident and what managment's intentions are with the gym, it seems to be getting more and more run down.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:48 pm 
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I guess I have to own up to the stupid thing I did. I was the guy who put up the rope and caused the accident.

Me and the casual worker that was working there that night put up the rope and it was the first time I top-roped anything. I didnt know + nobody told me + I didnt think about putting the rope through the karabiner and had only put it through the safety rope. I know that I could have killed someone and I am very glad that no-one was seriously injured. I feel bad for being the one to start this whole bunch of negative publicity for the gym as it wasnt their fault.

I would like to see this gym keep on operating as it is a decent place to climb indoors. The only reason I put up that rope was because there was a couple of ropes that wasnt up and I badly wanted to climb a route on one of 'em.

Apologies to everyone. I dont want to see this gym closed down because of me.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 7:39 am 
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dumbass_climber wrote:
I guess I have to own up to the stupid thing I did. I was the guy who put up the rope and caused the accident.

Me and the casual worker that was working there that night put up the rope and it was the first time I top-roped anything. I didnt know + nobody told me + I didnt think about putting the rope through the karabiner and had only put it through the safety rope. I know that I could have killed someone and I am very glad that no-one was seriously injured. I feel bad for being the one to start this whole bunch of negative publicity for the gym as it wasnt their fault.

I would like to see this gym keep on operating as it is a decent place to climb indoors. The only reason I put up that rope was because there was a couple of ropes that wasnt up and I badly wanted to climb a route on one of 'em.

Apologies to everyone. I dont want to see this gym closed down because of me.


So let's get this straight, it was the first time you top-roped at this gym, and this happened while under the supervision of a gym employee? You didn't know to do something that the gym employee should have seen as a serious, and obvious, mistake, and you're trying to take the blame?

The gym employee is as responsible as you are (probably more) because it's up to them to enforce the enforceable safety standards at the gym..

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 10:12 am 
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Everyone has the right to opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 10:54 am 
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Well said Homer J.

dumbass_climber, as Homer said you are not really to blame, it is the responsibility of the gym to ensure that things are done correctly on their premises.

What I would like to know, who the hell is the twat that allowed you to make the error of only using a backup safety rope? Accidents do happen, but this is unacceptable, a fundamental error made by a gym employee/volunteer. All it needed was for the system to be checked. (Or perhaps the twat does not know how to set up a safe system?)

This just proves what I was saying about \"Licensing\", and the gym personnel should also be trained.
As with any business, gyms should be run in a PROFESSIONAL manner.

dumbass_climber, it takes brass balls to fess up the way you did. I hope this experience will not turn you away from climbing, but rather encourage you to seek out climbers in the know-how, self-educate and have lots of safe healthy fun on the way.

Hope to see you cranking at the crags dumbass_climber.


Eagerly awaiting the gyms response…


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 12:15 pm 
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megawat - is that u megan ? if it is ,it would explain plenty
your safety is questionable at the best of times and you go to that gym ha ha ha ha ha the 2 of u deserve each other an accident made in heaven

hey megawat heres a sheet go jump out of a plane and see if you can skydive - goodluck but i dont think so, this is your stand on climbing gyms , shame on u

i agree with the rest of the guys, close it down, rip it apart and sell it off as scrap, salvage what you can and build a new safe gym with trained casuals and management
that place is a death trap. their reputation is already kak and they feel happy to carry on as they do. no wonder they are not as busy as they should be.
when i win my million i'll build a gym, put in a pub( no climbing and drinking), big screen to show climbing dvds etc have music throw social events contact schools so the kids can have an alternative sport have training evenings and even run a charity event from time to time.
the owners are the responsible party and as usual i reckon they will take their usual stance and ignore the critisism,have no comment and wait for it to blow over again until the next time :evil:

afterall there is no such thing as bad publicity
wait till a 9yr old dies then the witch hunt will begin, till then i hope no one else is injured

i urge u all do not support these pallookas


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:06 pm 
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Fat Bastard, u either have the wrong megan or u should wipe your mouth cos that stuff is unhygienic. I dare you to say that to my face next time u think u see me - bring it on baby.

My friends who climb with me regularly know safety is no 1 with me.

Mark has the best solution so far - simple, legal, effective market mechanism - no playing god.

It doesnt take the million to start a business - it takes guts (not balls boys). So where is your gym? Put your money where your mouth is bud, but till we have an alternative it would be good to keep the gym open, albeit with vastly improved safety standards!

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