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Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: This is a novel auto blocking belay device.  I thi...
Mike, my wife and I both have mellon heads and the petzl ecrin roc fits comfortably on both of us. I can even get a thin hat under mine for cold weather.

I have observed a lot of climbers at N Table in Golden ( mostly sport ) without helmets. It would be a great place to conduct a study considering how much loose rock is on top of that cliff band combined with new climbers and hiker, bikers and dogs which all frequent the top of the mesa.
Rick Blair
From Denver
Joined Oct 16, 2007
368 points
Nov 19, 2010
G8rFtBall wrote:
Even sport climbing I have seen people take small falls get hung up in the rope and have there heads smash against the wall. Again, it just seems crazy that something you don't even have to carry is an issue going up the wall. Not that I am hating on non-helmet wearers, my buddies don't always use them either. I just wouldn't be on the wall without one, 5.8 or 5.12.


Agreed. This same thing happened to me recently. I took a short (15ish feet) sport climbing fall with a decent fall factor (probably just under 0.5) but was flipped upside down due to some small features. I ended up smacking my head very hard on the wall, which resulted in loss of consciousness for probably 30 seconds and a moderate head laceration. Luckily, I was wearing a helmet otherwise the injuries would have been significantly worse. It just goes to show that random stuff can happen even on single pitch sport climbs.

EDIT: Distance fallen more like 15 feet.
Kevin Cossel
From Boulder, CO
Joined Apr 12, 2008
41 points
Nov 19, 2010
Kevin Cossel wrote:
Agreed. This same thing happened to me recently. I took a short (10ish feet) sport climbing fall with a decent fall factor (probably just under 0.5) but was flipped upside down due to some small features. I ended up smacking my head very hard on the wall, which resulted in loss of consciousness for probably 30 seconds and a moderate head laceration. Luckily, I was wearing a helmet otherwise the injuries would have been significantly worse. It just goes to show that random stuff can happen even on single pitch sport climbs.


You guys need to learn how to not backstep. Wear a helmet if you want, but both of these falls sound like examples of backstepping the rope. Don't do that.
mission
Joined Feb 25, 2010
2 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: The Raven - Shelf Road
I won't say I wear it every time, but 90 percent of the time. I don't wear the helmet because I'm worried about my dome impacting the rock, but I do worry about rockfall and the like. I find that people in general are dumb, so I especially where my helmet whenever the non-climbing public has access to the top of the cliff. Chase Roskos
From Golden, CO
Joined Mar 3, 2008
115 points
Nov 19, 2010
mission wrote:
You guys need to learn how to not backstep. Wear a helmet if you want, but both of these falls sound like examples of backstepping the rope. Don't do that.


Actually, I fell completely clear of the rope and when I came tight the rope was in front of me. Observers on the ground saw this as well and confirmed that it wasn't the rope. What happened that my feet hit on a small ledge as I popped off causing me to invert. Also, it's probably not the best idea to make assumptions about a situation that you have no info about ...
Kevin Cossel
From Boulder, CO
Joined Apr 12, 2008
41 points
Nov 19, 2010
+2 on the Grivel. I have had mine over three years now. Not to make this a competition but even with the Grivel I can't wear a hat underneath. At the other helmets I tried were waaay to small. I wear a 7-7/8 to 8 inch ballcap.

The only issue I had with the Grivel was scraping off the elastic band that holds a headlamp to the back. To much crack groveling I guess. It doesn't matter though as the headlamp band fits perfectly between the helmet and fastener strap.

It is a great helmet though, better side protection than all the others, and fits more like a kayaking helmet(on me), so it doesn't wiggle or sit lopsided like my buddies' helmets. I will definitely by another one to replace this helmet when the time comes.
G8rFtBall
Joined Nov 7, 2007
20 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Rrrrr
Mike -- I've used the saly for years; no problems. Buff Johnson
Joined Dec 19, 2005
1,507 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: OMG, I winz!!!
I wear a BD half dome most of the time. Gym climbing and scrambling sessions excepted. I should probably wear it scrambling but I don't. In the gym I try to be careful about keeping my feet clear of the rope. I'm also looking at getting a foam helmet to use sometimes but the half dome hardshell/foam combo seems pretty good for frequent use. When rocks or ice start raining down from above I'm pretty happy I have it on and I don't really notice it the rest of the time. Chris Plesko
From Westminster, CO
Joined Oct 18, 2007
560 points
Nov 19, 2010
I've had a rock fall and break my helmet when it hit me (BD half dome, saved my life but POS broke as well). Ive also had some rocks hit me in the face when I'm wearing a helmet and keeping my head down. I would consider myself a little lucky. Big fan of helmets but to be honest I hate wearing it. If I am cragging most of the time I don't wear my helmet. mtoensing
From Boulder
Joined Feb 25, 2006
826 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Weeping Wall Central Pillar
I've had a Salamander for three years now. Love the thing except for one very annoying problem that has almost become a dealbreaker for me. Whenever I've wearing a hat under the helmet (which is most of the time with that helmet since I use it mostly for ice/alpine) the helmet has a tendency to migrate the hat over my eyes. I wish there was a way to stop this from happening but I have yet to figure it out. As a consequence I find myself taking my Elios almost all the time now. Will probably end up selling the Salamander. Mike Larson
From Los Angeles, CA
Joined May 20, 2006
99 points
Nov 19, 2010
G8rFtBall wrote:
We all carry huge racks up the wall which can and have contributed to my falls as they snag and stick in the cracks.But you wouldn't catch me dead with out a rack.


Strawman. Falling without the rack means almost certain death. Falling without the helmet not so much. First, dunno about you, but I don't carry the entire rack on every pitch unless i'm sure i'll need it. In fact, I typically leave gear at the belay or in the pack if it will only get in the way on the lead. If I can't reach the good holds with the helmet on (common when traversing under a roof) then a fall is much more likely, thus I increase the risk of an upside fall. Such a fall, incidentally is not part of the design for climbing helmets, they aren't tested for it, so any protection they provide in such a case is accidental. To me at any rate, the marginal increase in safety from wearing a helmet does not outweigh the decrease in safety from falling more often.

Again, it just seems crazy that something you don't even have to carry is an issue going up the wall. Not that I am hating on non-helmet wearers, my buddies don't always use them either. I just wouldn't be on the wall without one, 5.8 or 5.12.

I do habitually wear the helmet on multipitch, longer single pitch, areas with a lot of loose rock, or when i'm under another party. But that doesn't represent the majority of my climbing.
Brian Scoggins
From Laramie, WY
Joined Mar 12, 2002
1,220 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: First climb after knee surgery
My biggest issue is the "holier-then- though" attitude taken by both sides, but mostly from the "you must wear a brain bucket" crowd. Not knowing anyone who posted, I won't make generalizations, but I've seen some safety nazi's who were total clusterf%$#'s, and wondered why they haven't taken themselves out of the gene-pool (maybe Darwin wasn't right).

With or without a brain bucket, the biggest asset it what happens between the ears.
chuck claude
From Flagstaff, Az
Joined Jul 24, 2006
269 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Me, of course
I even wear one when I'm out bouldering alone. In general, a fall twice your height or over 12 feet (whichever comes first) is considered to be potentially deadly. Evan S
From Erie, CO
Joined Dec 30, 2007
550 points
Nov 19, 2010
I've never encountered a fall or rockfall where my helmet came in handy, but I have many times been thankful of the helmet because of my own clumsiness...hitting my head on a branch during the approach, being too focused on my feet during a climb and stepping up head-first into a ledge, etc.

I've forgotten my helmet a few times and I'll climb without it, but I try to remember it every time.
Ian Stewart
Joined May 17, 2010
166 points
Nov 19, 2010
Craig Martin wrote:
A friend of mine got lowered off the end of his rope during a TR session. He fell 30' or 40' tumbling down a slab. He had numerous injuries, mostly minor. He was wearing a helmet and it may have saved his life or at least prevented more serious injury. Shit happens. Wearing a helmet might just save your ass some day.


Off topic, but how on earth do you get caught toproping with a rope that's 40ft too short? Kinda sounds like there isn't much there for a helmet to protect...
Ian Stewart
Joined May 17, 2010
166 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: 1234
I do not wear a helmet for most of my climbing, multi pitch trad included.

Absolutely never wear a helmet for skiing.
Phillip Morris
From Flavor Country
Joined Aug 1, 2002
27 points
Administrator
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo: Adam Sanders.
Craig Martin wrote:
A friend of mine got lowered off the end of his rope during a TR session. He fell 30' or 40' tumbling down a slab. He had numerous injuries, mostly minor. He was wearing a helmet and it may have saved his life or at least prevented more serious injury. Shit happens. Wearing a helmet might just save your ass some day.


Great job of making Chuck's point!

Reminds me of the phenomenon of "safer" cars resulting in more dangerous/aggressive driving. Can a helmet contribute to a false sense of security that results in a lowered guard? I know I bonk my head like crazy when I'm wearing a helmet; I assume due to obstructed vision and altered spatial awareness, but perhaps sub-consciously I'm just not paying as much attention.
Monomaniac
From Morrison, CO
Joined Oct 26, 2006
17,741 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Taken at MWV Icefest 2014.
chuck claude wrote:
With or without a brain bucket, the biggest asset it what happens between the ears.


+1

Mark Nelson, in Avi Beacon Usage wrote:
A good question to ask: Turn your beacon off; would you still travel in certain terrain conditions?


Brian in SLC, also in Avi Beacon Usage wrote:
if you think you "need" a beacon for snowy mountaineering gigs, then, maybe what you really need is a better knowledge of avy terrain and ability to access conditions. A beacon is a piece of extra gear and only useful for when you've lost the avy game


I would make the same argument here: if a helmet is your only line of defense against rockfall and bad lead falls, you need to question your decision-making. They make for a good "last line of defense" just like avy beacons, but also like beacons, they are only helpful in particular situations, and certainly do not guard against all the dangers of falling debris and head impacts. So, I sometimes use one as a matter of due course or if a partner wants me to, but if I'm not comfortable doing the route without a helmet, I won't do it with one.
cjdrover
From Watertown, MA
Joined Feb 18, 2009
396 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Axes glistening in the sun
I wear one for alpine rock and ice. The older I get the more I feel like I should wear one all the time; one with a face shield 'cause if I get hit with anything it's usually in my face!!!

The newer, lighter, lower profile helmets I think lend to wearing one all the time. But like soloing & what type of gear you use it's a matter of personal preference.
"H"
From Manitou Springs
Joined Feb 13, 2006
114 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Lamb's Slide
To me, climbing is all about risk management. Anything I can do quickly and easily to increase the margin of safety, I do (e.g. tying stopper knots for rappels, using redundant slings to anchor in, using an autoblock while rappeling, etc.). Wearing a helmet certainly falls into that category. Rocky_Mtn_High
From Arvada, CO
Joined Apr 14, 2010
237 points
Nov 19, 2010
It's odd. I'd never ride my bike without a helmet but you'll rarely catch me with one climbing.

I think alot of has to do with what you're used to, who you climb with and where you climb. I've done lots of stuff in the Sierra, the Captain without a helmet and never thought about it. However, I did wear one on Clyde Minaret, which has looser rock, and will likely wear it on future Sierra climbs. Even though the folks I climb with are really good and conscious about inadvertantly dislodging junk, I just figure why not.

I made the mistake of not wearing one ice climbing but only once. I was dodging so much falling ice from the leader that my arms, knees and shins got lots of nasty hits as I leaned back and forth to protect my head. Never do that again.

I have to agree that it shouldn't be the folks with the less than admirable safety practices who dictate what should or shouldn't be done. Their time would likely be better spent going over their systems to prevent foreseeable errors than relying on a helmet as insurance for their bad practices.
Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Joined Nov 9, 2007
175 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Luxury Liner, Indian Creek
Matt Toensing wrote:
I've had a rock fall and break my helmet when it hit me (BD half dome, saved my life but POS broke as well).


Dude it is supposed to break. It is called single impact for a reason. The breaking of the helmet absorbs the forces of the impact instead of transfering it into your head.
Alex Whitman
Joined Sep 30, 2009
287 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Evans Aprons
I've had a ski helmet and a bike helmet save my life. For climbing I always wear one. It's absorbed a few small impacts by falling rock and protects very well from inadvertant head to rock contact. It seems like I'm always hitting my head on the wall when I climb. rangerdrew
From Loveland
Joined May 18, 2009
34 points
Nov 19, 2010
Monomaniac wrote:
Reminds me of the phenomenon of "safer" cars resulting in more dangerous/aggressive driving.

Accident rates for automobiles have been decreasing as cars have been safer, so there is a net improvement.

Cell phones may change that.
tomtom
Joined Mar 20, 2008
0 points
Nov 19, 2010
I used to only wear it leading sport. Now I wear it all the time including belaying.

I was lead belaying in AR when I thought I heard a rock break. I look up to see it about 15 feet above me. I slide to the right and lock off. The rock crashes down on my rope bag about two feet away from me.

It looked like my bag got hit with a shotgun. It actually melted the nylon in places.

Turns out he was reaching above his head and pulled a hold off. It bounced off his leg first then kept falling. If it wasn't for the rock hitting his leg first I wouldn't have had time to move.

I had just led the climb minutes before him. It was an area that is well climbed. Magoo Rock at HCR.

After that happening...I wear a helmet at all times now.
Rock Climbing Photo: Rock fall at HCR.
Rock fall at HCR.
wankel7
From Indiana
Joined Oct 4, 2010
18 points


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