Given the representation of climbing in films and TV you'd think there were ropes snapping and people falling out the sky all manner of other disasters. Needless to say the reality is climbing is really very safe, but accidents do happen and here's some suggestions to try and mitigate risks, particularly if you've recently moved from indoor to outdoor climbing thanks to the Covid-19.
After a few years most climbers have a few stories of near misses from rockfall, a beer can thrown from the top of a crag or a random piece of wildlife acting lemming.
In Trad climbing helmets are pretty much standard practice, Alpine and Winter deemed essential, but in Sport Climbing they are rarely seen. Now the risk of rockfall on a well travelled Sport route is definitely less than a chossy, rarely climbed Trad route, but it's worth considering the consequences of a rock to the belayer's head below ...
In the past helmets were heavy, unwieldy affairs but these days the high end models are light as a feather. The ultra lightweight Petzl Sirocco weighs in at just 170g, less than three Mars bars, the Black Diamond Vapor is my personal favourite a little bit heavier but sits a bit lower on the head and comes in better colours, I mean who doesn't like green?
Whilst those are the pricier high end models, the technology and styles have trickled down and even entry level helmets - these start at just over £35.
In the past bolting of Sport routes was often a little bit 'exciting' and reaching the first clip could feel like a highball boulder problem in itself, risking an ankle-breaking fall before you're clipped in. These days, fortunately people are a bit more considerate but still it's always nice to have the rope clipped into the first bolt before you head off.
If you go for the extra-long model you could have the indoors experience, outdoors and put the quickdraws in all the way up the route!
Whilst not a necessity, they're definitely nice to have.
Breaking Assist Belay Devices:
Now no manufacturer will suggest that their belay devices are 100% foolproof in case of CBF (Catastrophic Belay Failure!), although the Wild Country Revo is pretty close, once the rope buzzes through the device it locks up nice and securely.
That said across Sport crags the world over the go to device is still the Petzl Grigri now in it's 4th Generation, with a camming action when loaded the GriGri locks up nice and securely, requiring minimal force on the dead rope (grip is still required Petzl say). The downside of the GriGri is an unexperienced belayer may struggle to pay out slack quickly which is a bit unnerving when you're wobbling desperately trying to clip but with training and practice this becomes a non-issue.
For the even more safety conscious, the new GriGri+ has a special anti-panic function which means if the lowering handle is pulled fully the device will lock up and prevent the climber being dropped too quickly.
Finally for a more conventional belay experience the Climbing Technology Click-Up has a secure lock-up but a more familiar belaying experience and the Beal Birdie is a similar device to the Grigri but a more compact design.