Mesa County Search and Rescue talks climbing and rappelling safety
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - As the warmer months grow nearer, more rock climbers and rappelers will make their way outdoors and the Mesa County Search and Rescue team is urging everyone to be safe.
Jose Iglesias, director of the technical rescue team, says that the majority of problems climbers run into aren’t due to equipment malfunctions but rather human error.
“All the equipment that we use in climbing has been tested and tested,” said Iglesias. “If you treat it well, it’s going to be okay. If it’s damaged because you used it too much just replace it. Just replace it. It’s worth it to throw away a piece that’s like 20, 30, 40 dollars.”
Iglesias has been climbing all over the world for more than 20 years. He says that people need to have the proper equipment and know how to use that equipment properly. Climbers and rappelers also need to know their skill set.
“Big mistakes are doing more than you’re supposed to do,” said Iglesias. “You need to know your limits. You need to know how far you can go. If you are to a point you think it’s too much for you, come down.”
Iglesias said it’s not uncommon for climbers and rappelers to pass out from exhaustion, or a rock may fall on their head and knock them unconscious. When that happens, according to Iglesias, the person will often fall down the rope.
One of the biggest keys to climbing is communication, Iglesias said. He said while climbing, the partner on the ground will often be in position where they do not have the climber in their view. Telling the partner how much slack you need in the rope, or how tight to make it, as well as letting them know when you’re rappelling down the rock face will help give you some added safety so you and your partner are in sync.
“Sometimes, if you keep giving rope to your partner then you have an extra 20 feet of rope,” said Iglesias. “If your friend at that point fell for some reason, all that slack is going to give you a really big big ride. So there has to be communication.”
When you do go out climbing, Iglesias says to make sure your equipment itself is in proper working order.
“Another thing to do is always always always check your equipment,” said Iglesias. “So before you are rappelling down, or you are climbing, make sure the rope is tied, make sure your repelling device is where it’s supposed to be. Just test it before you go.”
If you are interested in learning to rock climb, Iglesias recommends to start at a climbing gym as well as taking classes from a certified instructor.
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