It is usually bad news when they meet.
Consider these stats:
- In the United States, every 21 seconds someone sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and over 50,000 people die from these injuries every year while 235,000 are hospitalized.
- The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that 21% of traumatic head injuries occur in sports and recreation.
- Males are twice as likely as females to be injured.
- In one study, wearing a helmet while climbing may have made a difference in 25% of the critical trauma fatalities.
- Helmets also protect against fractures, concussions, and lacerations.
In the month of July my friend, Chris Rost, climbed to the true summit of Heavy Runner and to the summit of Pollock Mountain.
While neither of these climbs, in and of themselves, was particularly notable Chris was involved in two incidents that further stress the importance of wearing a climbing helmet. Chris is a medical provider and knows a thing or two about keeping his head protected.
Wearing a climbing helmet is a great idea anytime you are around places where there is potential for rock fall or there is a risk of falling.
Helmets are also quite handy for protecting your head if you stand up too tall while ascending a cliff or cleft.
Example #1: Wear a helmet whenever there is potential for loose rock.
While rappelling from the true summit of Heavy Runner Mountain Chris’s helmet prevented him from getting injured. The video is courtesy of Chris Rost.
Chris told me that the rock was about the size of his hand and is he convinced that he would have got at a minimum a nice cut on his head if not some more serious injury.
Example #2: Wearing a helmet prevents injury to your head.
In this example a climber was ascending the Great Cleft route to reach the summit of Pollock Mountain. Chris Rost was in the area when this climber was injured and got permission to take the photos. We have intentionally not revealed the climber’s name.
Helmets protect your head if you stand up too tall.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been surprised that when I stand up I hit my head on a rock. Most of the time I have a helmet on and it is just a surprise.
Here are a few recommendations:
- The best helmet fits well, is comfortable, and is in your price range. Purchase one that meets these criteria. Climbing stores, like Rocky Mountain Outfitter, can help you with this.
Make sure you watch the video. Jandy Cox from Rocky Mountain Outfitter shares his knowledge about different types of climbing helmets as well as how to get the proper fit for your climbing helmet.
- Carry it until you need it. There is no need to wear a helmet until starting the challenging portion of the route. Wear it when you need it, take it off when you don’t.
- Hang on to it. There is an orange Black Diamond helmet on the slopes of Mount Cannon after it slipped out of my sweaty hands while adjusting the fit.
- Carefully inspect your helmet if you drop it. Be careful when you lay down your pack.
- Falling = replacement. If you need to replace your helmet that means your old one worked.
- It only works if you wear it!
Thanks Chris Rost for this reminder.
No rocks were injured in the production of this video and photos.
You obviously can see the benefits of purchasing and wearing a climbing helmet.
Be safe out there and climb smart.
© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015