Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know.

Posted by: whatthegunks

Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/07/12 07:37 PM

The death of Stephanie Prezant is one of the saddest things I can imagine. It is one of a number of tragic events that have occurred in and around the climbing community this spring. I find myself wanting to contribute something positive, something useful to honor Stephanie and others that have died this spring and might somehow help to prevent maybe one accident, even just one life altering or ending incident.

Over the years various guides have offered free clinics during the course of the season and in conjunction with the Mohonk Preserve. There is also a tradition of free clinics on a variety of topics during the Film Fest. Unfortunately, the litigious nature of our society makes it problematic for the Preserve to directly offer clinics, but there is no reason why individual guides can't offer some free advice.

The idea is to provide an opportunity for climbers to get together with a certified guide on Saturday evenings to "learn what you don't know" for free. Spend an hour or two talking about some of the things critical to climbing more safely and debunking wrong headed ideas about what works or doesn't. Topics covered can range from the basics like knots and hitches to more advanced skills.

The goal here is not to take the place of full on professional instruction or other mentoring, rather to help a climber look at their skill set in a critical and objective manner and see the forest despite the trees, to get some reinforcement that they are on track, some tips that fill in some blanks or perhaps a wake up call to the fact that their skills need work.

It is my feeling that it is not just beginner climbers that are time bombs, but that a lot of intermediate climbers who have been at it awhile have significant gaps in their knowledge and are under the false impression that time equals competence, that because they've "always done it that way" and have not had problems means that they've got it down pat. This is just anecdotal but it appears that the preponderance of accidents happen with folks who are more than just beginners, who are starting to lead things, are pushing their limits and yet have not quite filled in gaps in their technique (apparently the climbers that Stephanie was with had some experience and had been at it for at least several years). Climbing is incredibly dangerous and to humbly appraise one's own skills critical.

I have talked with Hank and several other guides and we will have a flier up at Rock and Snow, EMS and The Preserve offering clinics on Saturday at 5pm in the Uberfall. Please contact joe@alpineendeavors.com, Rock and Snow, or EMS to get further details or to let us know that you will be coming out for a clinic. I'll be out on Saturday the 12th, hope to see you then for clinic or just to gab.

Cheers, Joe.
Posted by: climbingbetty

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/07/12 07:51 PM

Joe,
I think this is a fantastic idea! On another thread about this tragic accident, it was suggested that the AMC-certification system be re-instituted. As I read through that thread my thought was along these lines. It's not that there is not access to qualified instruction at the Gunks- we have a top-notch cadre of guides from the various services. But for a college student like Stephanie, these services might not have been affordable (pure speculation on my part. I did not know her or her situation, but I know many college students have no objections to employing a guide, they simply do not have the money to do so.)
Requiring a certification to be obtained from a specific club would I fear restrict access to climbing to a select class of people with the funds to be able to do so. (I know a counter argument is that the fees to access the Preserve plus the cost of equipment to participate in the sport do nearly the same thing. But that's another reason why I feel like a required certification course would be too burdensome for many to pay for on top of these things.) With the current crowds at the cliff, some would probably argue that this a good thing. But this is hypocritical as we all had to be newbies at some point. Denying others the same experience we had is simply unfair.
These free clinics you're suggesting sound like an awesome compromise to help new climbers who are already making an significant investment in our sport, do so safely.

(And for those who still think restricted access for new climbers is a good thing... just remember simple market economics- if it weren't for all those newbies buying new gear each year, we'd all have to pay significantly more of our climbing equipment. And with less of a market for climbing gear, there would be less reason for gear companies to innovate. Think about the old days when there was only one type of hammer to buy. Now you can go to mountain gear and buy no less then 5 different times of hammers... and most climbers no longer use a hammer!)
Posted by: chip

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/07/12 09:16 PM

Hear, hear. Nicely done, Joe and any other guides who are also going to help out.
Posted by: ianmanger

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/07/12 11:39 PM

Originally Posted By: chip
Hear, hear. Nicely done, Joe and any other guides who are also going to help out.


Ok, this is a great idea. I'd kick in some cash if someone has a way to manage it. R&S got a bucket?
Posted by: gunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 12:49 AM

Great idea, Joe. I'll see you at the Uberfall.
Posted by: rg@ofmc

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 03:08 AM

A nice idea Joe. I would urge you to post about it on rockclimbing.com and mountainproject.com. There are a lot of Gunks climbers out there reading those sites who do not show up over here.

I'd also urge you to try to notify the various gyms about it. There a lots of gym climbers who could probably benefit from a discussion with a guide.

As an expert in these matters myself, even if not a guide, I'd be happy to offer my services as well if anyone thinks I could be of some use. I don't want to step on any toes, so I'll leave it at that.

As for certifying climbers, it was a disaster when the AMC tried it, culminating in a "unlimited" leader violating then-current NPS rules, taking an overlarge party on a climb and making just about every mistake in the textbook, resulting in a huge and very dangerous NPS rescue as well as the death by exposure of one of the party members.

In the Gunks, for a time the AMC used its virtual monopoly on "certifications" to dictate climbing styles and practices, invoking "ssfety" to extend its reach far beyond objective safety issues. The Preserve would be out of its mind to even contemplate such a thing, not to mention the nightmare involved in administering some form of restricted access.

Climbing is a more complex and varied activity than scuba diving, where such certifications are employed.

A far better idea would be a voluntary inducement: knock something off the price of day passes and/or annual membership fees for climbers who have taken some kind of "defensive climbing" course. (A potentially nice business for the guide services as well.)

But don't be too surprised if it turns out that the people involved in the recent tragedy had one or more such courses under their belts. Individual qualities matter too.
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 02:13 PM

Ok, RG. I will add this post to those forums. What gyms would you suggest that I contact? I have a flier that I made this morning, send me a note at joe@alpineendeavors.com and I'll send it to you for suggestions.

I could not agree more about some beauracratic system for climber evaluation; bad idea. Climbing is really dangerous and we must be personally responsible for deciding to participate whether we are expert or green horn.

That said, if we can head off an accident with a free clinic or solid mentoring then let's do it.
Posted by: Julie

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 03:39 PM

Hi Joe,

This is a fantastic idea.

Please let me know if I could help in any way with future clinics -- I can't be there this weekend, but would gladly help in any way in future ones.
Posted by: TerrieM

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 04:08 PM

Could you post an image(or link to image) of the flyer?

I'll post it to my ClimbAddict Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages, and suggest others who may blog or have other eMedia pages might also do so.
Posted by: Coppertone

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 04:51 PM

Gyms to contact would probably be
Cliffs in Valhalla NY
The Rock Club - new rochelle
Carabiners in Faifield CT
Inner Wall in New Paltz
Island Rock in Farmingdale NY
Chelsea Pier in Manhattan
Brooklyn boulders

I'm sure that there are number of other gyms that people would suggest getting in touch with

I'll see if I can get a list of links together and send them to you
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 05:18 PM

Terry, email me and I'll send you the flier I made this morning.
Posted by: Julie

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 06:14 PM

Boston Rock Gym Woburn, MA.
Gravity Rock Gym Stow, MA.
Carabiner's Rock Gym New Bedford, MA.
MetroRock Everett & Newburyport, MA.
MIT Outing Club, Boston AMC.
The Rock Spot, Dedham
Central Rock Gym, 299 Barber St., Worcester, MA.
Rhode Island Rock Gym
Posted by: keith

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 08:22 PM

Wonderful idea! Thanks for your efforts.
Here are a few gyms in Jersey

Gravity Vault Upper Saddle River NJ
Gravity Vault Chatham NJ.
NJ Rock Gym
Garden State Rocks
Posted by: wonderwoman

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 08:36 PM

You could also ask the Gunks Climbers Coalition Face Book page to post about it.
Posted by: wivanov

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 08:44 PM

I'm never at the Gunks on the W/E. But, good on you guys for doing this!

Stone Age Rock Gym Manchester, CT
Prime Climb Wallingford, CT
Carabiner's Fairfield CT
Posted by: ianmanger

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 08:50 PM

and
Rockville

Originally Posted By: keith
Wonderful idea! Thanks for your efforts.
Here are a few gyms in Jersey

Gravity Vault Upper Saddle River NJ
Gravity Vault Chatham NJ.
NJ Rock Gym
Garden State Rocks
Posted by: Ralph

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/08/12 10:36 PM

Joe,

The meetup.com climbing groups have been bringing lots of new climbers to the outdoors lately, and I would think they would be appreciative of your clinic offers.
If you could send me the finalized flyer (via messaging here on gunks.com) I could post it to the message boards of the groups I belong to.
I would like to commend you and your fellow guides for offering your hard earned professional skills, free of charge, towards keeping climbers safer.
Posted by: Chas

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/09/12 10:58 AM

For the guides that do it, kudos for offering the public service. any accident is devastating for the families and loved ones, but especially so for an accident that is so driver error.

How about an idea. During the film festival include a raffle, auction, that could help offset it the guides time, since guides by in large don't make much as it is, but it's more of a passion. It's cool that many are willing to volunteer their time, but if it's truly ongoing, I think they skould be offered some compensation by the climbing community at large.
Posted by: SethG

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/09/12 01:47 PM

Joe, if you send me the flier I'll put it up at Brooklyn Boulders and email it to friends who will put it up at the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers. I'll pm you my email address.

I could put a mention on my blog as well, which will distribute your message to at least half a dozen dedicated readers.
Posted by: Jannette

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/11/12 04:19 AM

Originally Posted By: wonderwoman
You could also ask the Gunks Climbers Coalition Face Book page to post about it.


Joe, I sent you an email. I do the social networking for the GCC.

Personally, I think what you're offering is awesome and very generous. If it can prevent just one serious injury or death, it will be well worth the time of everyone involved.

Jannette
Posted by: wivanov

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/13/12 12:07 PM

I thought this was a great idea.

Was wondering how it went last night? Is this going to be weekly? Monthly?
Posted by: JordanF

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/13/12 03:12 PM

I was a good session, Joe gave us some great guidance and helpful beta on a variety of topics, whatever people wanted to know about or get opinions on. Thanks Joe!
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/13/12 11:24 PM

The clinic was fun to do. About fifteen people showed up, five guides, five or six long time locals and five or so new(er) climbers.

I went over what people seemed interested in and was relevant to their experience level. I talked about belaying from above, stance and rope management, strengths and weaknesses of auto-locking or plaquette style devices (ATC Guide, Gi Gi, Reverso) and the Gri Gri.

It was great to see a bunch of friends and familiar faces and to talk about some techniques that can make a leader more efficient and safe.

Thanks a million to Coppertone for sprucing up and printing 100 copies of my flier. While I appreciate everybody's suggestions about gyms that would be good spots to post the flier I have to say that the likelihood of me getting to those places anytime soon is slim to none. So, I am leaving a bunch of copies at Rock and Snow and will look to those of you that are interested to take a flier and put it up at your local gym.

I will post a note every Sunday or so in this forum (RC.com and Mt Project too) with a guide and topic for the following Saturday Night Live clinic. There has been a great response to this idea, to essentially bring back the free clinics that have, at various points, been a common thing.

Next Saturday there will be a couple of guides at the Uberfall at 5:15 to talk about fixed anchors and about rappelling (rope management, tethers, back ups, saddlebags, tag lines, EDK; Awesome!)

See you there.
Posted by: wivanov

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/13/12 11:35 PM

Very cool. Next w/e my wife and I are camping in Harriman. Maybe we'll stop by.

Thanks!
Posted by: Jakeb

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/14/12 01:11 AM

Thank you Joe and thanks again to all the guides for taking the time to do this. I got a lot out of the clinic and will be back again next Saturday.
Posted by: TerrieM

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/14/12 03:50 PM

Yes - it was nice! But we all forgot to bring the Thank You beers....
Posted by: donald perry

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/14/12 11:26 PM

Originally Posted By: whatthegunks
The clinic was fun to do. About fifteen people showed up, five guides, five or six long time locals and five or so new(er) climbers.

I went over what people seemed interested in and was relevant to their experience level. I talked about belaying from above, stance and rope management, strengths and weaknesses of auto-locking or plaquette style devices (ATC Guide, Gi Gi, Reverso) and the Gri Gri.

It was great to see a bunch of friends and familiar faces and to talk about some techniques that can make a leader more efficient and safe.

Thanks a million to Coppertone for sprucing up and printing 100 copies of my flier. While I appreciate everybody's suggestions about gyms that would be good spots to post the flier I have to say that the likelihood of me getting to those places anytime soon is slim to none. So, I am leaving a bunch of copies at Rock and Snow and will look to those of you that are interested to take a flier and put it up at your local gym.

I will post a note every Sunday or so in this forum (RC.com and Mt Project too) with a guide and topic for the following Saturday Night Live clinic. There has been a great response to this idea, to essentially bring back the free clinics that have, at various points, been a common thing.

Next Saturday there will be a couple of guides at the Uberfall at 5:15 to talk about fixed anchors and about rappelling (rope management, tethers, back ups, saddlebags, tag lines, EDK; Awesome!)

See you there.



You guys are awesome! I think you have really found a right thing to do. You really need to be proud of yourselves and keep up this good work. It's because of you guys and what you are doing that now there will be less accidents and lives will be saved. And I am sure that other people would thank you too today if they only could. Thank you very much, and God bless you.
Posted by: donald perry

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/15/12 03:16 AM


Posted by: socialist1

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/15/12 01:34 PM


Hey Joe, how about posting a link to your flier copy? If you did this I would make sure its posted/distributed at Go Vertical in Philly, which is full of Gunks goers with dubious trad skills.
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/15/12 10:53 PM

Here's a link to Ryan Stefiuk's blog which has lots of great things and a post about the clinics and what not. Second is a link to the flier.

http://bigfootmountainguides.com/

http://bigfootmountainguides.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Free-clinic-1.pdf
Posted by: TerrieM

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/18/12 06:29 PM

Bump for the Saturday Night Live Clinics! And afterward (this weekend) head to Rock and Snow, for a slideshow by Russ Clune which begins at 8pm.
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/21/12 12:07 PM

Saturday's clinic on rappelling was off to a good start when a woman came running down the carriage road shouting that someone had fallen. Several of us raced down to the base of Belly Roll to find some people attending to a woman who had rappelled off the end of the rope, the ends of which swayed slightly ten feet above.

The climber was likely not injured too severely and with help from a bunch of people Preserve rangers got her on a backboard, into a litter and out to a waiting ambulance pretty fast.

This incident provided an unfortunate exclamation point for my opening to the clinic; KNOT THE ENDS OF THE ROPE WHEN RAPPELLING.

Thanks to everyone who attended the clinic and especially to Jason Hurwitz from EMS who stayed and talked about anchor building with an interested person after I had to leave (to see my daughter's dance performance). We will be sure to come back to this subject of rappelling safety and efficiency again over the course of this season's clinics.

Saturday the 26th, Matt Shove from Ragged Mt. Guides will be giving the clinic and will cover anchor building. Meet below Ken's Crack in the Uberfall at 5.

Cheers, Joe.
Posted by: donald perry

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/21/12 01:56 PM

Quote:
This incident provided an unfortunate exclamation point for my opening to the clinic; KNOT THE ENDS OF THE ROPE WHEN RAPPELLING.


Many thanks Joe.
Posted by: phlan

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/21/12 03:52 PM

def. and also, did you know this one? when rappeling without a brake device or harness, wear blue jeans!! ; )
Posted by: Mike Rawdon

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/21/12 04:13 PM

Originally Posted By: phlan
def. and also, did you know this one? when rappeling without a brake device or harness, wear blue jeans!! ; )


Nope...wool knickers are the way to go.
Posted by: oenophore

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/21/12 07:23 PM

Lederhosen?
Posted by: tradjunkie

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/21/12 07:39 PM

Now available at Macy's:

Ralph Lauren Mountain Rappel Pants



http://www1.macys.com/shop/product/rlx-ralph-lauren-pants-mountain-rappel-pants?ID=651083

Unfortunately, the boots do not appear to be available in stores.
Posted by: JordanF

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/22/12 01:30 AM

Are you supposed to rack them during the climb, then put them on to rap back down?
Posted by: The Lisa

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/22/12 01:36 AM

Um, how did you come across those pants in the first place??? confused

Seriously, I love hearing about these clinics and am sorry to have missed them so far, but will aim to be there on Saturdays in future. I was privileged to see Joe in action on Sunday at Lost City and very much appreciated the use of his TR setup.
Lisa
Posted by: wivanov

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/22/12 11:02 AM

Thanks for doing this, Joe.

We arrived at Ken's 'exactly' when the woman came running up to report the accident on Belly Roll. It would have been nice to meet you but you were a bit tied up after that and then we headed over to Rock and Snow.
Posted by: SethG

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/22/12 03:26 PM

Anyone have any idea how this happened? I am having trouble wrapping my mind around this. The first pitch of Belly Roll is well short of 100 feet-- more like 70 feet. Was this a short rope? Was the party rapping off the top of the cliff with just one rope? I would think rapping from the top with one rope wouldn't get you to within ten feet of the bottom.
Posted by: jhurwitz

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/22/12 04:09 PM

Most likely reason IMO : As one could clearly see that there was a plastic end on rope end and not the other, perhaps a chopped rope? The ends were right next to each other hanging, perhaps, 12 feet off ground.

I don't believe that a 70 would have come that close to the ground from the ridge. There's also no rap anchor directly above the base of Roddy at the ridge. The rope was in line with the tree on the ledge, though I didn't look to see if it was coming from there.

Other possibility is that it was a 50 meter rope, though I haven't seen or used on in years.

-Jason
Posted by: KathyS

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/22/12 05:03 PM

The rope I found last fall turned out to be a 50m. They're still out there, and in use.
Posted by: Mark Heyman

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/23/12 01:43 AM

I have a couple in my shed. They're old but you wouldn't know it at a glance, and that's not counting the fat eleven, which knowledgeable climbers would recognize as a probable 50.
Posted by: Leppy

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/23/12 05:53 PM

>>Anyone have any idea how this happened? <<

At one point in the rescue, the woman who was injured opined that the rope had (probably) been chopped.

There has been follow up with the individual who was leading her group. He was going to investigate.
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/25/12 11:03 PM

Here's Ryan's latest blog post, it's more about climber safety and relevant to what these clinics are all about.

http://bigfootmountainguides.com/2012/05/23/why-climbers-need-stronger-technical-skills/
Posted by: Jannette

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/26/12 12:03 AM

I have an idea. Perhaps people can take pictures of their anchors or of suspect anchors they see at the Gunks, post them on gunks.com and let the community critique them and learn.

Jannette
Posted by: retroscree

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/26/12 02:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Jannette
I have an idea. Perhaps people can take pictures of their anchors or of suspect anchors they see at the Gunks, post them on gunks.com and let the community critique them and learn.

You might want to take a look and see how well that worked out on rc.com before suggesting the same here.
Just sayin'.
Posted by: cbmd

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/27/12 01:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Jannette
I have an idea. Perhaps people can take pictures of their anchors or of suspect anchors they see at the Gunks, post them on gunks.com and let the community critique them and learn.

Jannette


I'll point out that a couple years ago, inexperienced friends of mine were toproping off a dangerous and unacceptable anchor without any experienced folk in support.

Some Gunks.commers were more than happy to take pics of the anchor and post it up here to criticize and make fun. However, these patrons of civic duty neglected to point out how bad the situation was to the actual climbers. Instead, they chose to talk shit in this forum rather than intervene in a potentially dangerous situation.

I think the free clinics idea is awesome and I have tons of respect for those participating, organizing and donating their expertise. But the last thing we need is "helpful" forum monkeys sneaking around PK and the UF signing up unwitting contestants for "So You Think You Can Build Anchors?" Let's remember that the smell of bullshit too often permeates these threads.
Posted by: Doug

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/27/12 02:12 PM

This one? That was a good read.
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/28/12 11:03 PM

Word is that this past Saturday's clinic went great. Matt Shove from Ragged Mt. Guides ran it and covered anchor building skills for top roping. Approximately sixteen people attended and I ran into an appreciative climber in the Trapps today who said it was great. Thanks Matt.

Next Saturday, June 2nd, I will cover the abbreviated territory from the 16th; rappelling. I'll go over rope management, saddle bags, tethers, backup with fireman's and friction hitches.

I'll also cover using friction hitches to ascend the rope.

Cheers, Joe.
Posted by: Chas

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/29/12 02:49 PM

Originally Posted By: cbmd
Originally Posted By: Jannette
I have an idea. Perhaps people can take pictures of their anchors or of suspect anchors they see at the Gunks, post them on gunks.com and let the community critique them and learn.

Jannette


I'll point out that a couple years ago, inexperienced friends of mine were toproping off a dangerous and unacceptable anchor without any experienced folk in support.

Some Gunks.commers were more than happy to take pics of the anchor and post it up here to criticize and make fun. However, these patrons of civic duty neglected to point out how bad the situation was to the actual climbers. Instead, they chose to talk shit in this forum rather than intervene in a potentially dangerous situation.

I think the free clinics idea is awesome and I have tons of respect for those participating, organizing and donating their expertise. But the last thing we need is "helpful" forum monkeys sneaking around PK and the UF signing up unwitting contestants for "So You Think You Can Build Anchors?" Let's remember that the smell of bullshit too often permeates these threads.


When I was living on the East Coast ( I say that since most of the crags I climb at have ratings starting at 5.10 or 5.11 trad nowadays so most of the people there are fairly experienced) I saw some poor anchors and I would try to give some helpful critiques. Often one of two things happened. Occasionally, people would take the critique in a constructive manner. More often then not, people would become hositle, especially if it was a guy climbing with his girlfriend who was even newer to climbing then they were.
Posted by: Welle

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/29/12 03:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Chas


When I was living on the East Coast ( I say that since most of the crags I climb at have ratings starting at 5.10 or 5.11 trad nowadays so most of the people there are fairly experienced) I saw some poor anchors and I would try to give some helpful critiques. Often one of two things happened. Occasionally, people would take the critique in a constructive manner. More often then not, people would become hositle, especially if it was a guy climbing with his girlfriend who was even newer to climbing then they were.



Chas, don't forget that most of the "experienced" 5.10 or 5.11 trad climbers out West are used to hanging two draws on bolts for anchors. I said hell no to partner up say for the Black Canyon with somebody who learned plugging gear at Indian Creek...

Speaking of bolts, I know I'm opening the can of worms, but maybe in the light of the recent accident the Preserve would reconsider the bolt policy and install bolt anchors say on popular single pitch climbs at Uberfall? I love the idea of gear anchors and am grateful for having learned building gear anchors at the Gunks, but two bolts are fool-proof plus it saves trees and prevents erosion...
Posted by: Julie

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/29/12 04:40 PM

Originally Posted By: cbmd
I'll point out that a couple years ago, inexperienced friends of mine were toproping off a dangerous and unacceptable anchor without any experienced folk in support.

Some Gunks.commers were more than happy to take pics of the anchor and post it up here to criticize and make fun. However, these patrons of civic duty neglected to point out how bad the situation was to the actual climbers. Instead, they chose to talk shit in this forum rather than intervene in a potentially dangerous situation.


Well, it's not as simple as that.

I remember that thread, and I remember there was some social friction coming from the party TRing off the bad anchor. The links were to a "sheclimbs" page, indicating that it was probably an organized group where Someone was In Charge (and thus not receptive to instruction). Your friends later wrote that they even owned Freedom of the Hills (and still made a bad anchor). Seems they were working pretty hard to ignore instruction, while still willing to endanger other people. You should be madder at your friends than anyone in that thread.

Just the other night in the gym, I got in a woman's face after she very clearly took her brake hand off while her partner was climbing. Repetitively. She was doing palm-down, but only holding the brake next to the live strand with her left pinky while she moved her brake hand. When I approached, and said "you just can't do that" she sputtered all kinds of stuff, clearly not receptive to oversight or instruction or even recognizing that something might be wrong. It was just another of the age-old "when do you say something?" "what do you say"? threads and conundrums that have gone on since belaying, I'd imagine.

The sad fact is that climbing is an art largely taught by ... people, who sometimes have trouble interacting with other people in various situations. People are complex.

But it is simple as: better an anonymous post, better a 'snarky' picture, better a free clinic, better anything, than anyone going 'plunk'. Take what you can get, get it any way you can.
Posted by: KathyS

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/29/12 05:05 PM

Sometimes, it's not the message, but the delivery that offends. I could tell a friend, "yes, that dress makes you look fat," or "that dress just doesn't do your figure justice." Either way, I've told my friend the dress is not for her, but the first way is virtually guaranteed to offend, and the second may not. If you "get in someone's face" and say "you just can't do that," you'll automatically put someone of the defense, and they won't hear you, no matter how right you are. Perhaps walk over and say something more like, "I couldn't help but notice you only have the brake strand held by your pinky when you switch hands. If your partner fell at that time, you couldn't possibly catch her. A better way would be blah, blah, blah etc."
Posted by: Dana

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/29/12 05:10 PM

If I notice unsafe belaying at a gym, I tell a staff member.
Posted by: ShakesALot

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/29/12 05:19 PM


Just because advice/criticism isn't well received doesn't mean it's of no value. What everyone's describing is simply a very common gut reaction from most people, sadly.
Posted by: RangerRob

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/29/12 05:38 PM

Kathy, that dress does NOT make my ass look fat! Some friend you are!
Posted by: Julie

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/29/12 05:56 PM

I'm entirely sure that there just is no solution to that situation in general. I'm guessing we've all had it dozens of times. But we all recognize it, and that it's so pervasive, and especially (paradoxically) amongst the less experienced.

My point is, I guess: maybe one skill that Joe et al. could teach at these clinics is the idea that you're never done learning. Everyone, but new climbers especially, should train themselves to be receptive to ANYONE with anything to say. Recognize that your first instinct, your gut reaction, is to be defensive -- then set that aside and listen.

I think more-experienced climbers end up doing this naturally, but newbies go through a period of rigidity (defensiveness, posturing, whatever) that can be dangerous.
Posted by: phlan

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/29/12 07:05 PM

if it's really an imminent case of somebody dying from a mistake, who among us wouldn't yell, loudly! and so I did, once, and out of gut reaction saved a life: he listened, was grateful, fixed his mistake, and lived. how would I live with myself if I had not? listen to your instincts. he could have yelled at me and made me look like an a-h*le, but then I'm used to that.
Posted by: rg@ofmc

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/29/12 07:05 PM

Instruction, mentoring, and unsolicited advice are all things that, one hopes, will lessen accident statistics. But accidents, even the ones that seem especially stupid, can't be eliminated because, to put it as kindly as I can, some people don't get it and aren't going to get it. But I also agree with Shakes, that there are other people who may even react badly but who will eventually think about what was said and change some of their procedures.

I understand Welle's suggestion about bolts at popular top-roping sites, but I'm against it, for several reasons. (1) What it does in the end is actually increase the incompetence of the general population. (2) As a hedge against incompetence, it is destined to fail because incompetent people will find ways to rig a dangerous anchor on the bolts, and then what level of solution will be proposed? (3) As ropes go to 70 meters and 80 meters, the concept of "popular top-roping area" is going to end up being everything. (4) The idea that, because some people cannot take care of themselves, we have to alter the environment to make it safe for them, a concept that is already gaining acceptance in climbing, has to be resisted at every turn if one wants there to be anything left of trad climbing.

I also understand the argument that none of these things seems appropriately weighty in the light of the terrible tragedy that happened to Stephanie Prezant, but frankly, you can't take the risk out of climbing and still have the same activity left.

Stephanie, I suspect, had no idea she was taking any risks, and there, as I have said, lies a moral, if not legal, dilemma for those responsible for her death. But fixing up climbing areas so that incompetent people can't screw up is not the answer, not only because of the effects on climbing itself, but also because incompetent people will find ways to screw up no matter what.
Posted by: Coppertone

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/29/12 08:20 PM

Originally Posted By: Welle
[quote=Chas]
Speaking of bolts, I know I'm opening the can of worms, but maybe in the light of the recent accident the Preserve would reconsider the bolt policy and install bolt anchors say on popular single pitch climbs at Uberfall? I love the idea of gear anchors and am grateful for having learned building gear anchors at the Gunks, but two bolts are fool-proof plus it saves trees and prevents erosion...


Nothing is fool proof and to think other wise is dangerous. I'm all for preserving the environment and saving trees, but as has be stated before here we should not do things to protect people from themselves. Climbing is a dangerous sport and the consequences of a mistake can be significant to say the least. Just about all climbs anchors for climbs at the Gunks can be safely setup with gear. Why should we start turning the Uberfall and other areas into more of a gym. No matter how fool proof you think something is there are those who will always find a way to screw it up. Bolts are for rock that will not take gear and for where there is no other alternatives, don't start placing more bolt anchors because it is convenient and will save someone some time or worse save someone from actually learning something.
Posted by: wivanov

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/29/12 09:50 PM

I'll always say something if I see anything truly dangerous. And I think/hope most of you do, too.

Around here (CT) climbers need to keep a low profile and accidents are not very low profile.

I quietly introduce myself, exchange names. Sometimes they recognize my name, most times they don't and just see some old pervy guy wink ... I'll say something like: "How are ya? My name is ..... That's a great route you're on.... Hey, there's something that's making me nervous. Mind if I make a suggestion?"

I do it quietly to not attract attention - like I'm calling them out or something. Usually, it's a pretty positive response. Sometimes, they'll fix the problem and ask me if I want to tie in with them. But, if it's a bad response, I'll just shrug and say: "Yeah, well, it's gonna screw up my weekend if I have to help carry a body out" as I wander off to climb further down the cliff.

There was one time (not climbing), I approached a woman about her kids. Her hubby/BF flew over and got in my face. After I calmed him down I said: "I just wanted to let you know that vine your kids are trying to swing on is poison ivy root." Just couldn't sit there and not say something.
Posted by: TerrieM

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/30/12 06:43 PM

One thing that some new climbers may come away from the Saturday Night Live Clinics with is that the information and the way it is being presented may be a LOT different that what they are getting from their friends who are showing them the ropes...

When they become aware of the conflict, maybe they will ask themselves "Hmm...which one is right? My friend who started climbing 3 months before me, or this guy who everyone seems to know as a local climber here and who is being paid by a guide service?"

Maybe they will consider having a guide take them out to teach them one-on-one or in a group....


I know that, for a long time, the industry of guiding in the US has been pooh-poohed, but I think - if we care at all about the young people coming up out of the gyms - we old curmudgeons ought to rethink the concept.

To say "guides are too expensive" is SUCH a line of crap. Take a frigging look around! How many Prius' and very new Toyota pickups are in the parking lot? Prana outfits, ATC Guides and double digit priced biners, brand new full racks of cams, fancy snacks....

When I started climbing, I was a bit older than most women when they start. I SO desperately wanted to come climb at the Gunks, but I had no clue how to get out here.

When some people finally did take me along, I instinctively felt it would be wrong of me to expect them to teach me everything, since there was just so much needed to be taught. So I ended up hiring guide a few times - to learn anchor-building, self-rescue and to go on my first two climbing trips.

I can tell you this - I used to make a six-figure salary, but that was then... By the time I started climbing, I was making around $20, tops. Yet I found a way to pay a guide(AND tip them). And while I am surely not thinking I am above making a stupid mistake, I am really, really, glad that I learned the way I did.

The "dirbag" lifestyle being held as a way, by people who get on airplanes to go on trips, rent Zipcars for the weekend, and dine in town after a day of climbing, is ridiculous.

Guiding in the US needs some PR to be rebranded as a frigging cool way to make a buck, helping people have adventures and come a step closer to being self-reliant instead of the hand-holding it currently is perceived as.

The climbing gyms, also, need to frigging MAN UP and take responsibility for what is happening. When I went to the 59th St Gym, they had guides from here come down and give us clinics on occasion. This perk should be STANDARD fare at any climbing gym that is in close enough proximity to outside climbing that they know damned well their clients are taking their gym-taught skills to the outdoors.
Posted by: RangerRob

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/31/12 03:56 PM

Terrie, I think you make an excellent point about the climbing gyms offering some instruction to their dues paying membership. I think they have a responsibility in that area.
Posted by: Mark Heyman

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/31/12 04:12 PM

Is it a good idea for climbing gyms to help their members climb outside? In most respects sure, it's hard to imagine that it wouldn't promote membership too, but responsibility for what happens outside their gym?

If you can say that, then would you say that Preserve has responsibility to help us learn to climb inside at our gyms!
Posted by: Coppertone

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/31/12 05:13 PM

Also many people working in gyms often have little to no outdoor climbing or anchor building experience.
Posted by: wombat

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 05/31/12 05:17 PM

The climber, both "leader" and "follower", are the only ones that have the responsibility. If you cant take steps to safeguard the lives of yourself and your friends, no amount of free clinics and other coddling will change that. Isn't it that simple?

I would suggest that climbing gyms have a responsibility to keep it safe in their gyms but no more. If it helps their business to provide instruction or provides marketing for a guide to do so, great.

But how many gym lessons does it take to gain appreciation of risk? to evaluate a marginal nut placement or the stability of ice?

It takes time, experience, humility, common sense, fear, luck, patience. A tough sell in the Twitter era of instant reward.

Rather than bend over backwards to give people a little knowledge or to put in bolted anchors to make it easier and "safer" - maybe the climbing community should make sure that everyone knows the cost of failure. If you read the story of that poor girl and dont think about whether your "leader" knows that they are doing, why should anyone else take responsibility for you?
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 06/05/12 12:25 PM

Clinic on Saturday, 6/2, will be given by Ryan Stefiuk at the Uberfall at 5:10. He'll be talking about materials, dyneema vs. nylon, when, why, where. He'll also go over rappelling tricks, rope management, etc. See you there.
Posted by: gunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 06/05/12 01:28 PM

Originally Posted By: whatthegunks
Clinic on Saturday, 6/2, will be given by Ryan Stefiuk at the Uberfall at 5:10. He'll be talking about materials, dyneema vs. nylon, when, why, where. He'll also go over rappelling tricks, rope management, etc. See you there.


You mean 6/9?
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 06/05/12 11:45 PM

Yes, I do mean the 9th. Thanks for catch.
Posted by: wombat

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 06/06/12 04:29 PM

thanks GCC facebook page for the interesting link to the fall tests on dyneems and nylon slings in the context of using them as tethers. A good reminder of how quickly forces can build, even in a small fall.
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 06/10/12 02:18 PM

There won't be a clinic this coming Satuday, I am away and in back country for most of week (didn't get a guide for the date). Of course people could get together without a particular guide/topic and discuss whatever, share ideas/tricks. I'll be back on track with a clinic on the 23rd. J.
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 06/13/12 05:48 AM

Pete Guyre will be doing a clinic on this coming Saturday focussed on leading skills. 5:10 at tbe Uberfall. Pete is awesome, don't miss. ~J.
Posted by: whatthegunks

Re: Free Clinics; Learn what you don't know. - 06/29/12 12:34 PM

The clinics have sputtered with a bit of rain and some poor turnout (despite RSVPs). I have not been in front of it for this Saturday but will resume next week, July 7, with a clinic on leading; gear placement tricks, protecting the second, rope management, double ropes vs. single, plus anything that folks want to talk about.

Sorry to the people who have contacted me about this week, we'll be back on track next week with a wildly interesting clinic bound to make you the rope gun you dream of being (RangerRob, I think you should plan on attending).

Once again, please RSVP if you plan to come out and if you RSVP show up, it is no fun for a guide to finish a day of guiding and then hangout waiting only to be stood up; not cool.

joe@alpineendeavors.com

See you soon, Joe.