Whistle as means of communication?


Original Post
Adrienne DiRosario · · Troy, NY · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0

This weekend at the Gunks the party next to us used a whistle to communicate on and off belay (it sounded like one of those plastic whistles referees use). There were 5 people in their party on a 3 pitch so you can imagine the amount of whistling going on. It's not something I've encountered before and seemed quite obnoxious. Maybe I'm overreacting but it drove us crazy so we finished our climb and moved on. Before you get on me for not speaking up at the time and then venting on the internet they didn't speak English.

Is this common and accepted practice or am I overreacting?

Alicia Sokolowski · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 345

Sounds annoying to me. Limited in function as well. Rope tugs would probably work better anyway. 

Chuck Parks · · Atlanta, GA · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 1,886

This definitely not normal, or good. I say you one-up them though. Start toting a bugle up there and sound reveille whenever someone starts climbing. You'll be the talk of the town!

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 15

I think I will start using one of these:

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500

I've encountered it before with a few Europeans. Can be annoying, but what are you going to do? 

Pnelson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 60

All the best climbers use whistles right after they check their safety.

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 165
John Wilder wrote:

I've encountered it before with a few Europeans. Can be annoying, but what are you going to do? 

Make sure you keep a whistle on your harness and start randomly blowing it if a group is doing it. That way there is so many whistles going off that they have no clue who is who and they will have to stop. I grew up refing soccer so there are alot of different types of whistles that make different types of sounds but still it is limited if everyone at a crag started using it than it would become worthless and really annoying.

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 888
  1. Determine what language they are speaking. 
  2. Use the translator on your phone to learn the phrase; "Whistles are illegal here and the police are coming to arrest you."

;)

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
ViperScale wrote:

Make sure you keep a whistle on your harness and start randomly blowing it if a group is doing it. That way there is so many whistles going off that they have no clue who is who and they will have to stop. I grew up refing soccer so there are alot of different types of whistles that make different types of sounds but still it is limited if everyone at a crag started using it than it would become worthless and really annoying.

It never occurred to me to try and confuse people by messing with their means of communication while on a route. That seems like a dick move.

Adam Blaylock · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0

I don't know how whistles are any more or less bothersome than people shouting, but I haven't experienced it personally. Personally, if it's safer and not disruptive to others, go for it. Even if it is more disruptive... my safety comes before your convenience, within the scope of the location's ethics. 

BigB · · Red Rock, NV · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 5

since were transitioning into safe "sport": climbs for everyone, maybe we should consider intercom systems at the belays ....

Adam Blaylock · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0
BigB wrote:

since were transitioning into safe "sport": climbs for everyone, maybe we should consider intercom systems at the belays ....

Good luck with that one within the local ethics. 

We did have one person in the thread suggest actively undermining another group's communication system. That's really in the climbing spirit. 

Again, I haven't seen this personally, but I don't see how it's any more disruptive than yelling.

Adrienne DiRosario · · Troy, NY · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0

Yelling is somewhat expected. The first whistle startled my leader which could be risky. After the first one it wasn't dangerous just annoying. 

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 165
John Wilder wrote:

It never occurred to me to try and confuse people by messing with their means of communication while on a route. That seems like a dick move.

I would consider it no more of a dick move than blowing a whistle at a crag. Sure you could say yelling is a disturbance but in today's world it is common place and voices will not carry as far as a whistle which is designed to be a disturbance and get your attention. If anything a whistle could cause someone fear with being unexpected making them fall and get hurt. A voice of someone yelling isn't unexpected and less likely to cause this. 

That being said I would almost consider a whistle a danger at a crag, heck I have almost fallen off a cliff from unexpected birds flying right under me. I almost grabed a jug at the end of a V4 boulder problem's crux that had a frog in it and it jump off which caused me to almost fall and I was still shaking from it when I finally topped out the easy top part of the problem.

David Tennant · · Denver, CO · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 1,923

I'm fairly certain any more than one party using a whistle would make it pretty confusing, just like yelling "off belay" without saying the name of your partner. You'd have plenty of potential to mix up who said what. You could get into alternative whistling sounds though, like a slide whistle, which would be pretty interesting.

Alexey Dynkin · · Boulder, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

The problem isn't that it's annoying, but that it's very misleading...whistles are generally recognized as a distress call (especially in the backcountry). 

Michael Schneider · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 85
Alexey Dynkin wrote:

The problem isn't that it's annoying, but that it's very misleading...whistles are generally recognized as a distress call (especially in the backcountry). 

I have always carried at least one whistle in my pack. Now some of the newer fastex buckles have one built in, so then, I often have as many as 4 with me. 

Big B · · Sin City, NV · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

Think of all the lost hikers that won't be found.... #hikerlivesmatter

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 165

I always take my shotgun up when climbing and I shoot anything that whistles when I get to the top, I shoot anything that spins after that, and lastly I shoot the stuff that flaps.

Muscrat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 3,040
ViperScale wrote:

I always take my shotgun up when climbing and I shoot anything that whistles when I get to the top, I shoot anything that spins after that, and lastly I shoot the stuff that flaps.

Whistle, Spin and Flap, Attorneys at Law

Scott Phil · · NC · Joined May 2010 · Points: 191

Whistles are problematic for the reasons mentioned above.  Bicycle horns would allow a full range of climbing commands and are potentially hands free. Garden gnomes and band are optional.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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