Safety First

Editors Note I: This op-ed contains language that doesn’t necessarily reflect the views and standards of theDIHEDRAL.1

Let’s say there’s a route, a really fun route called Mortiferum.  It has an element of danger involved which adds to the overall excitement of the route.  Let’s say this route has some interesting features as well.  The ascent begins by climbing out of a roof, and then moves up to a headwall that eventually folds into a dihedral.  This route is very easy to start, and anyone can get on it, even beginners, but as mentioned, there is some danger involved.  For example, if you mess up the roof section, decking is a real possibility (decking is falling off the wall all the way to the ground) that could lead to serious injury, or even death. However,  with the right safety measures in place, falling from the roof is actually kind of fun, because you get a chance to swing into the open air while parallel to the adjacent wall.  

Ideally, climbers want to prevent injury and bodily harm, and so find it useful to acquire a certain level of skill, acquire the right type of gear, and climb with people who embrace the same notions of best practices.  Climbing gyms require this base level of knowledge and even offer classes in addition to testing before allowing climbers to attempt more complex and dangerous styles of climbing.  Climbers usually have no problem going along with these regulations because they realize it’s a tide that raises all ships. Safety first and safety last!

Let’s imagine another route on the wall adjacent to Mortiferum.  Let’s call it Vita.  Vita is an absolutely iconic route, a rare and breathtaking line.  A religious person might swear that it was designed graciously by a benevolent Deity.  Climbers work incredibly hard on Vita, it isn’t easy, but it’s manageable with lots of practice and patience.

Now, because of the proximity/closeness between Mortiferum and Vita, it’s ill-advised that both routes be occupied at the same time.  The reason being is that if a climber bites it in the roof section of Mortiferum, they will swing right into the climber on Vita like the lead ball of Newton’s Cradle.  Because of the difficulty and uniqueness of Vita, having a human projectile crash into a climber attempting this route is worrisome.  A collision at the wrong time could cause all sorts of harm, including causing the climber on this exquisite route to deck.

Most climbers in this situation are appropriately respectful and adhere to the unstated yet rational guidelines.  If someone is attempting Vita, then stay off Mortiferum.  Unfortunately, sometimes folks with less experience, or sense, or lack of respect, refuse to yield to convention and claim they have every right to climb when and where they want.  

However, as a reminder of best practices, the climbing community, concerned with the welfare of all participants, may decide to place a simple sign stating that climbing can be dangerous and that climbers should be aware of their surroundings.  This sign doesn’t tell anyone not to climb, it’s just an attempt to mitigate harm.

But suppose our obstinate friends climbing Mortiferum are so adamantly opposed to anyone telling them what to do, that they remove the sign and spend billions of dollars to protect an imagined right put together by a group of shortsighted folks in 1791.

Then imagine that the removal of that sign leads to 21 people including 19 kids getting slaughtered at Ulvade School, because obviously we’re talking about guns.  

These folks are too closed-minded to even talk about the possibility of change. It’s impossible to even begin the conversation unless you try and disguise it in some veiled metaphor.  But when the metaphor drops, and these people are forced to look within, they find it easier to look the other way.  They veer toward greed, or tradition, or some other asset that outweighs the value of human life. 

Foolish politicians who keep pushing their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment as foundational, over and above the right to life, are recreant rats. Their resistance to change and their abnegation of reason makes them culpable for the lives of each and every preventable death throughout their lifetime.

“Thoughts and Prayers” get the fuck outta here.  When it comes to Mortiferum et Vita, our obligation should be to that which is precious and rare!

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but anyone with even a drop of compassion and a hint of reason must understand that the status quo is not working. To do nothing is lazy, gutless, and reprehensible bullshit. To encourage that nothing be done, is tantamount to criminal behavior. It is appreciated that some are trying to slow step to middle ground, but forget them too, because the middle ground isn’t enough when it comes to the losses suffered, and the price paid for the apocryphal “right” to bear arms.


  1. Editor’s Note II: We don’t want there to be any confusion about whether or not the sentiments expressed in this piece reflect the views of theDIHEDRAL. While we may not support certain aspects of the language used, we unapologetically and whole-heartedly support the views expressed here.

19 Replies to “Safety First”

  1. I am married to a cheapskate, but not when it came to our climbing gear, it had to always be top grade regardless of cost. Even though we no longer climb, he was also my favorite lead climber. I always knew I could trust his judgment of rock stability, protection placement and moves. I was not that person. I had a poor judge of rock stability because not all rock is stable as I’m sure you know.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree with this and I like the language. BUT…I’m not sure the folks in 1791 were shortsighted so much as those who choose to read only part of that amendment are self-serving F*&^s and have no interest at all in the history behind that amendment. Switzerland has a well-regulated militia, a high level of gun ownership and, to my knowledge, nothing like mass shootings. Anyway, I’m exhausted and persistently nauseated by our world right now… Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That is such a great way to put it Martha, this one took a few edits, I’m not sure if it’s ever a good idea to write while angry, but the original piece was way more aggressive. I wish more of us were persistently nauseated by the world right now, not sure what that would take? I’d love to think it would show at the ballot boxes, but my confidence in that avenue has been waning. More or less at a loss at the moment. Thank you for your thoughts! – Carrot

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think it’s a good idea to write while angry. It can clear the emotions and focus the mind. Then, you can sleep on it and look at it in what my mom called (but had no direct experience with ha ha) the “clear light of day.”

        I wish it would show at the ballot boxes, too, but there seem to be so many obstacles. I’m seriously despairing at times and trying to hold my s*&^ together, realizing I can only vote.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I only use swear words on the titles of my books so that when I read from those books at the local museum, I have to hide the title. It’s the height of masochistic book promotion…

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I suppose the key thing is that we somehow get by our built-in defenses so that we can do something to protect children (at the very least) which I believe is something that people on both sides want to do. But it’s getting by those defenses that is hard and hopefully analogies and other well-meaning stuff can help!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A long time ago in American history, they had a problem with outlaws organizing riots to loot and burning down buildings. These riots turned out to be more than the police at the time could control. In that context, it made sense for citizens to be armed, because they actually did have to form militias to protect their homes from the very real threat of angry outlaws destroying their houses. But of course, in a more peaceful society, there’s really no reason for people to still be clinging to their guns.

    Except that wasn’t that long ago. It was 2 years ago because I’m referring to the Fentanyl Riots of 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’d be a pretty one-dimensional person, possibly an alien… or a robot…, if you ONLY cared about climbing all the time and never stopped to acknowledge the world around you. We can separate our emotions no easier than Cyrano de Bergerac could “cut off his noses to spite his face.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My Safety 1st priority grew to 4 priorities, that can almost be applied anywhere by anybody, Safety, Security, Prevention and Preparedness.
    Feel free to develop your own strategies within your own environment, not to prove right or wrong, but to better improve your own participation in services & activities of your own choosing.

    Liked by 1 person

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