Pointers for Beginners on How to Stay Safe

Yes, we all know rock climbing is an inherently dangerous sport. However, there are things that you can do to lower the risks to you and your climbing companions. And, if an injury occurs, there are ways to mitigate it and minimize the time it takes to get the injured person to an appropriate medical facility.

First and foremost, you should learn safe climbing and belaying techniques from a competent, experienced climber—or better yet, a rock climbing instructor/guide—and then practice them until you gain competency before venturing forth on the rock. We are often asked the nature and causes of the accidents that occur in Muir. Aside from preexisting medical conditions, almost all of the climbing/belaying accidents here since its beginning have been due to human error. From time to time, we all screw up, and sometimes in the world of rock climbing, fate is unforgiving.

Here are some basic things you can do to keep yourself and those in your group safer while climbing in Muir Valley:

   •  Make sure that you are mentally and physical up to the challenge of this exciting, but challenging, sport.

   •  Practice all the climbing, belaying, and self rescue skills you will need to climb outdoors on rock before you climb outdoors. Unless you are with a competent instructor, the outdoors is not the place to learn these skills on your own.

   •  Wear a helmet! If we need to explain why, you should not be rock climbing. If you forgot yours and need one, there are helmets that you can borrow for the day at the entry pavilion. The Friends of Muir Valley strongly urge all minors to wear a helmet while climbing and belaying.

   •  Use a stick clip to clip the first bolt on sport routes. If you think this is un-cool and a “send” is not legitimate if you clip the first bolt, then please consider climbing elsewhere in the Gorge.

   •  Be familiar with emergency procedures for Muir Valley should you need to report an incident. Emergency Information Tubes are located throughout the Valley, they contain instructions on what to do in case of an emergency.

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American Mountain Guides Assn. Single Pitch Instructor, Erik Kloeker, training a group of new climbers

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