If none of your friends share your love for giant rocks, then you're gonna need to know how to protect yourself when rock climbing by yourself. The first rule of safely climbing alone is don’t climb alone. Climbing with a buddy helps you navigate difficult cruxes, provides a spotter for falls and means you have an assistant to help you walk out of your climbing area while injured. If you absolutely feel the need to climb by yourself, you can take some basic steps to protect yourself while rock climbing by yourself.
- Boulder only. “Bouldering” is rock climbing laterally along your climbing surface, never venturing higher than you can reach while standing on the ground. Lateral climbing is tricky and can provide satisfying climbing challenges without risking a high fall.
- Check the ground. Beware of areas with rough ground features or protruding rocks. A fall onto sand or flat rock might sting, but the wrong fall on a knob of stone can be deadly. Also avoid climbing on faces where the ground itself is steeply sloped. This can turn a soft landing into a nasty tumble.
- Wear a helmet. A head injury is the worst kind of injury to suffer by yourself. It’s feasible to climb out of any hole on a broken leg, but the impairment of a head injury can leave you stuck. A good climbing helmet will prevent that.
- Bring your cell phone and check for coverage. It seems ridiculous to carry on a face, but if you don’t bring help you need a way to call some in. If your climbing spot is in a dead zone, serious consider moving to a spot with open lines of communication.
- Let somebody know where you’re climbing and when you plan to return. Instruct him to come find you if you’re not back in time. If he doesn’t know the area intimately, draw a map and mark the areas you intend to climb. Don’t stray out of sight of the areas you’ve identified.
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