Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Learning from Mistakes of Others: Causes of Climbing Accidents in Boulder, Colorado

The Rocky Mountain Rescue Group is the premier rescue organization in Boulder County. They do dozens of rescues in Eldorado Canyon, Boulder Canyon, and in the Flatirons every year.

In 2012, the team wrote a research paper on the types of accidents that they respond to. Additionally, they put together a presentation for the general public on they types of rescues they participate in. The presentation -- run by Rocky Mountain Rescue Members Dan Lack and Alison Sheets -- is incredibly informative and should be a required watch for every climber. It addresses all the things that you should and should not do to avoid an accident.

Check out the presentation below:

One of the most shocking parts of the team's presentation is that sixty-percent of the rescues they respond to every year could have been prevented. Following is a breakdown of some of the common accidents that the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group has dealt with over the years that could have been avoided:

The preceding items seem like common sense, but the reality is that these are the things that lead to the most rescues and recoveries. Saying that things are common sense is different than actually using common sense. Nobody wants to be the one who had to call for a rescue because they did something stupid...

Another point that is made during this presentation is that they don't charge for rescue. This is true in most places throughout the United States. If you think you need a rescue, call for a rescue. It's better to call and change your mind, than not to call and then need it. Mountain rescue units take a long time to deploy. And so, if you wait to call, the response time will be longer.

Finally, remember that your local SAR or mountain rescue unit likely operates on a combination of donations and volunteers. You may not ever need them, but it's really good that they're there. Consider making a donation to your local unit, or even better, consider volunteering. Money is a good way to give back, but time is even better.

--Jason D. Martin

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