Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

What your instructor never taught you. Continuing your education and learning from others. Climbing safety topics and accident/incident discussions.
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PeterHS
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Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by PeterHS » Sat Apr 16, 2016 3:05 pm

Hello all,

The safety of oneself and one's fellow climbers is surely the highest priority whilst climbing. Few other sports and activities risk immense consequences in the event of incident, however caused.

Do you wear a helmet? Always? Sometimes? Never? Or perhaps for trad climbing only but not sport or when bouldering? What if you lead or second? Or belay? Or solo? Do you wear then? Do you insist that your belayer wears a helmet? Let's say that you have driven 3 hours to a crag and when you get there you find you have left your helmet behind (I am sure some here have done that), do you go ahead and climb? Or return home or go and do something different?

It is incumbent on every one of us surely to manage and reduce the risk in order to ensure the highest safety. Helmets save lives (some) - so why not wear every time? Every time. Why knowingly, if you don't wear a helmet or whenever not, compromise the safety of you and potentially others? Is that pragmatic risk management or irresponsibility? What example do you or others set those less able or experienced? And yet, it is rare to see anyone else wear a helmet on the sport routes in and around Cape Town.

I am in and have been in the cycling and canoeing and driving communities. It is very rare nowadays to see a road cyclist without a helmet. Canoeists more likely than not will wear a life jacket and perhaps a helmet too. I drive a car and wear a seat belt - I did when it was voluntary; now it is the law to wear. There's a crucial difference here to climbing too - in that an incident involving myself does not affect others who may be with me in the same way.

What do you think? Free choice? Or 'nanny state' approach to safety? Ultimately, it is a personal and individual choice - nothing forces one to climb with anyone one thinks may be compromising their or your safety.

Where do you draw the line........?

Peter
Last edited by PeterHS on Sat Apr 16, 2016 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Guardian
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by Guardian » Sat Apr 16, 2016 10:28 pm

Need to tell this story here.
Went to climb Mpojwane in the Mweni Drakenberg a while back. It's a two day hike to get to the peak.
The first day was 35deg plus and humid in the berg and we were hauling massive packs. And then during lunchtime I realised I forgot my helmet in the car...
So it was either to take a 10km run back to where we just came from + the normal long first day of Mweni, or to not climb.
So we ran back (my girlfriend joined. ***** girl).

I sometimes wear a helmet depending on the climbing style/rock/route.
I don't cycle 3kms to work with a helmet. I mountainbiked with one (didn't help).
I do think climbing helmets are generally more useful than cycling helmets. Helmets can stop your head being cut open, they can't absorb the impact of a car. Compared to road cycling, climbing is like jumping into a marshmallow pit.
No one wears helmets when driving, yet rally drivers do.
Risk can never be averted in any aspect of life. Just managed. Berg rock is not the same as Rocklands boulders. "Highest safety" is relative. Rather "high enough safety" for me personally... (And then a rock falls on my head tomorrow).
There is nothing more beautiful than a well dressed alpine butterfly.

TheDon
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by TheDon » Mon Apr 18, 2016 11:15 am

I wear a helmet at all times, it's an essential item in my bag, I plan on climing mostly trad but jabs been learning on sport routes, I never see and helmets at the two sport routes I frequent.

I think my brains are important and I also don't Wana ruin my climbing partners day by smashing my skull open

DeanVDM
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by DeanVDM » Mon Apr 18, 2016 11:24 am

This is not from a trad climbing incident but from a sport climbing / abseil incident. This climber's injuries would have been much more severe (fatal?) had a helmet not been worn:
Cracked helmet.jpg
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Johanm
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by Johanm » Mon Apr 18, 2016 11:52 am

Yes always;

My wife climbed at Swinburne on an overhanging route.
She cleaned, I lowered her until about a meter from the ground.
Took my left hand and pulled her towards me to stop her from lowering into a bush.

Pulled the lever on the grigri with my right hand and dropped her for one meter.
Head banging on a sharp rock and putting a substantial dent in her Petzl Meteor helmet.
That would have been a few stitches at least.

So: You never know when Dumbass will strike. Wear the helmet.
:thumright

JessJardimWedepohl
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by JessJardimWedepohl » Mon Apr 18, 2016 1:24 pm

Climbing Magazine published a really good article on this a couple of years ago, Peter - I found it fascinating, I think you might enjoy it too.

http://www.climbing.com/news/no-brainer-helmet/

rocklooney
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by rocklooney » Mon Apr 18, 2016 1:58 pm

Climbing at Chosspile I pulled out at brick-sized block on the second last move and headed south (upside down). Ended up hanging upside down, my head about 500 mm above a spiky pyramid of rock that would have split my head open like a watermelon. Since then I have always worn a helmet regardless of what route I'm on or whether I look like a nerd or not. It's debatable as to whether it would have saved me if there had been contact in that instance but if it had served only to deflect the trajectory of my head with it's smooth rounded surface that would have been enough to prevent it from penetrating my skull. To me it's an absolute no-brainer (excuse the pun). Wear it all the time. You could just as easily slip while you're taking a leak in the bushes and donner your nut on a nearby rock. Arms and legs can be fixed. Brains? Not so easy. The consequences of head injuries range from mild memory loss to blindness and vegetative state. I'd rather be a nerd than a super cool paraplegic dude in a wheelchair.

hh4m
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by hh4m » Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:20 pm

Yes.

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Next question...

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henkg
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by henkg » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:10 pm

When bouldering especially :cyclops:
You may still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not. Cat Stevens

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robertbreyer
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by robertbreyer » Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:22 pm

This guy recently bought a helmet from us.
I asked him to post the pic on climb.co.za but he did not feel comfortable doing so.
He was lead climbing a fairly popular route in Boven. A well-used grip broke off and impacted with his head.
7 stitches later.
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justin
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by justin » Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:34 pm

robertbreyer wrote:.... 7 stitches later.
Only 7 !? :shock:
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NaCl
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by NaCl » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:07 pm

I was there and helped him after the accident.
If I remember correctly it was more something like 7 internal and 11 external. :?
And fortunately the rock missed his belayer.

I'm starting always wearing an helmet while I'm lead climbing, but for some reason still not as constant while on belay.

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justin
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by justin » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:12 pm

NaCl wrote:I'm starting always wearing an helmet while I'm lead climbing, but for some reason still not as constant while on belay.
Probably because of a false sense of security, but mostly I reckon because of the extra strain that you will have on your neck whilst looking up at the person you are belaying.
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Chris F
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by Chris F » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:48 pm

I've had some long and tedious belays on mountain routes (summer and winter) and never noticed any more neck strain from having a helmet on your head. Might be an issue if you are wearing belay glasses though.

PeterHS
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by PeterHS » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:48 pm

My thanks to all who troubled to reply and for being so open about your experiences and practices. I am not surprised to see different habits here. Please keep the discussion going. Thanks

micky
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by micky » Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:59 am

got myself a BD vector helmet which is so comfortable i forget i have it on. Making a point of getting on harder routes with it on so that people dont think that helmets are just for beginners

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emile
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Re: Helmet? Y or N? A Thinkpiece

Post by emile » Tue May 03, 2016 12:42 pm

After spending the weekend in Boven I came to the conclusion that there will be much better uptake of helmet use if the helmets came with suitable holes for "man buns".

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