Common Climbing Gym Accidents – Climbing

Common Climbing Gym Accidents – Climbing

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Cassie was climbing For about six months, mainly on the surface of the ground, but starting to work in the rock cave. Last week she climbed her first V2, and she was impressed. To up the ante, she recently threw herself into a steep V3, which ends with a slightly dynamic, big left-handed bump to the finishing pitcher. Finally, I got to the last step, but with a light pump. I tasted success, so I went for it. But there are no dice. It came from the top of the rock wall, leaning to the side. Her left leg, stiff and extended, hits the carpet first. She broke her leg and sprained her ankle.

Cassie is fictional, but her injury is not. In fact, industry insiders estimate that this exact type of injury — intermediate climbers injuring their legs or ankles while rock climbing — accounts for 40 to 50 percent of all gym accidents.

Fit young woman climbing the wall in the gym.
(Photo: Photodelux/Getty)

Is there such a thing as safe climbing? No, there is not. There are too many variables and opportunities for human error, which is the cause of the vast majority of accidents.

One CEO of a major gym retailer told me that “safe” is a four-letter word. Instead, managers prefer the term “risk management.”

In researching the most common types of gym accidents, I spoke with owners and CEOs of some of the largest gym companies in the United States, and as one might expect, their stories were similar. The following list ranks gym accidents (from highest to lowest, most common to least) as they occur in the three main sections of your gym: rock climbing, rooftop, and lead climbing areas.


Sprains of the ankles or wrists, broken bones and hyperextension of the knees and elbows.

Because of its simplicity and immediacy, many beginner and intermediate climbers start rock climbing. But no one is going to arrive at a gymnastics facility and start doing front flips. The point: True, you can just start rock climbing, but if you’re new to the sport, you ask for it. According to one owner, “These accidents happen when climbers lose ground.”

The stronger the rock, the more you’ll be exposed to movements that knock you sideways or require you to jump or connect your feet to your face. The good news: These accidents are largely preventable. I’ve been rock climbing for 20 years throwing a lot of high balls pretty well, and in that time I’ve only had a sprained ankle, about twelve years ago.

First, learn how to properly place mats, if your gym uses them. Second, do appropriate dynamic stretching exercises for your ankles and lower body for at least 10 minutes. Even if you are already “warm” from advancement or support, the soft tissues and ankle joints are not. Third, take bouldering classes at your gym, and if the trainer doesn’t talk about body awareness, ask about it. The best way to prevent rock injuries is to start falling. Body awareness is crucial, and falling is an art. Unless you explode completely unexpectedly, which is rare, your body has a rumination that a fall is imminent, and when that happens, you should think about how you want to land; That is, it should always be soft. See also the rock tips in “The Stray Spot and the Broken Leg” for a longer treatment of the art of falling.


Knots incorrectly tied by experienced climbers; ATC threads are not suitable.

Injuries caused by incomplete or incorrectly tied knots are usually caused by experienced climbers who have let their guard down. As it stands, new climbers are more strict about using proper protocols (verbal commands such as “climb,” “climb,” etc.) than experienced climbers, who may have become lax. Prevention: Never let your guard down, no matter your skill level. The risks are too high. Whatever commands you use doesn’t matter, what matters is that you communicate with your loved one about what’s happening – before climbing or descending – and that you have scanned each other’s nodes or devices. Good communication should also prevent another common accident: an incorrectly threaded ATC, where the rope is compressed through the device, but not clipped to the carabiner.

The outer rocks aren’t immune either. The majority of climbing accidents are user-initiated: falling off the end of the rope, taking people off the anchor when they shouldn’t be, or just a bad anchor. If everyone tied knots at the ends of their ropes and used proper verbal commands, my gut tells me a significant number of all climbing accidents would disappear overnight.

The second common accident in the toprope area of ​​any gym is related to automatic shutdown. One gym owner told the story of how a frequent auto-clamp user got to the top of the wall before those around him shouted to tell him he wasn’t clipped by anything. Automatic seals sent for maintenance. Fortunately, the climber got down and was safe. “You can’t imagine how often we see that,” the owner said. Now that most car harnesses have a feature (such as a wall-mounted nylon tarp and rope) to prevent individuals from simply climbing in without being reminded of the harness, these incidents are becoming more rare. However, each owner emphasized that these accidents happen, despite safety measures, and that car accidents can be serious.

Lead inhibition

Failed clips, belt breakage, weight discrepancies.

Each gym has its own bullet stabilization protocols, and you must adhere to them. As a lead climber, you should always anticipate falling and never stand directly below the lead climber. When the leader comes up, move your positions to make sure you and the leader are out of each other’s way in case you fall. However, even if you (as the belay) are out of the way, the significant weight difference between the leader and belay holder can have detrimental effects, such as the lead climber bumping into the belay; By all sources, this was the most common type of lead climbing accident. If you are anchoring someone much heavier than you, look for anchor points on the floor (assuming your gym has them), or, when anchoring, beware of additional slack in the system, which could pull you off the ground unnecessarily. When in doubt, ask someone at your gym about official protocols.

A common accident is hitting the roof as a result of hard deceleration. Often times, a novice leader may try to cut too early, biting off up to three loops of rope from an unsafe position. If this is in the second or third clip, the leader can hit the ground running as a result of excessive laxity in the system. Most gym tracks have ‘cut comments’, which means that the track selector places an appropriate hold on the track to be cut from. use them. Instead of making the clip move twice too early, it’s often easier to cut where you’re supposed to, which is often around your waist or a little higher. Don’t attempt cutting unless you are relaxed and confident that you can hold the position for 10 seconds or more.

This article appeared in Rocks and ice Issue No. 251 and updated where appropriate.

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