Five Reasons to Wear a Climbing Helmet

Over the past few months, there’s been a number of serious injuries and deaths from climbing accidents.

Recently, a high-profile one involving top British climber Mina Leslie Wujastyk has left many climbers thinking about safety.

Mina took a whipper sport climbing in the Malham Cove area, flipped upside down and hit her head. She was rescued and will make a full recovery.

Mina always wears a helmet on dangerous traditional climbs, but never felt the need while sport climbing. In this case, she flipped because her harness was slightly too big, not because the rope was behind her leg. Read about her accident here.

Climbing will always be dangerous, but there’s ways to eliminate some of the risk. When it comes right down to it, you have the last say about how protected you want to be.

But in light of the countless accidents this summer, here are five reasons to wear a climbing helmet.

1. Outdoors is not indoors: These days most climbers get their start indoors and transition outdoors. You don’t have to wear a helmet indoors (something that might change) because there are foam floors, bolts are not far apart, holds are bolted to the wall and everyone is looking out for everyone.

But outdoors, bolt distances vary, hitting the ground is a possibility, routes meander and create rope management nightmares, holds can break and things can fall from above. There are far more hazards at a sport crag than at your local gym.

2. Proven to work: Helmets have saved countless lives, whether the climber was sport or ice climbing doesn’t matter.

Even boulderer John “Verm” Shermann, who came up with the V grade started wearing one after getting too many concussions from climbing.

“These days, if I can’t find a legitimate reason not to wear a helmet, I wear one. Which is 98 per cent of the time,” he said.

3. Technology is improving: For a long time, climbers didn’t wear helmets, not even in the alpine, because they were big and uncomfortable. Not only that, but they didn’t aim to protect your head during a fall, only from falling objects.

Over the past few years, even the “old schoolers” have started to wear helmets because of the lighter and better ventilated designs.

In terms of technology, standards for side, back and front impact are improving with big changes to come in the next few years.

One only needs to look at the new Petzl Boreo which will be out in spring 2018. It beefs up protection on the back and sides for fall impacts.

4. Risks: Knowing the risks can help you make better decisions. New climbers don’t always know all of the risks, so be sure to share your wisdom at the crag.

Some risks include falling and flipping from a rope behind your leg, flipping from wearing the wrong sized harness, falling and hitting the ground before clipping gear and having something fall on your head.

You can recover from a pulled tendon, but you might never recover from a head injury.

5. The obvious: Climbing isn’t worth dying for. Anyone who’s been climbing long enough knows someone who’s had a life-changing incident or died from their injuries.

Helmets aren’t about invincibility, they’re about upping your chances of walking away from a head-related accident.

Visit Petzl’s #HelmetsMatter page here to read stories about helmets saving lives.

If you have a story about a helmet saving you in any way, let us know at

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Duncan Hutchison Sends New 5.12 Ontario Finger Crack

Duncan Hutchison has been climbing for about 15 years and is based in Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario. He’s know for difficult off-the-couch sends from Ontario to Mexico and up to Squamish.

In 2009, he climbed and cleaned a crack at Claghorn, about an hour north from Thunder Bay, with Kyle Brooks and Adam O’Connor. They never free-climbed the traditional line.

Some of the kilometres-long Claghorn. Photo Nick Rochacewich

Thunder Bay is known for two styles of climbing: ice and hard trad. The hard trad climbs often follow vertical splitters or discontinuous horizontal lines like Back of the Lake in Alberta.

There are countless cracks at the kilometres-long Claghorn, which some say resembles a basalt Indian Creek, many of which are unclimbed.

Hutchison put his crack climbing hat on and put down his nearly decade-old project before the snow fell. It’s called Tips Crack 5.12a.

Local climber Paul Desaulniers was on hand to take a photo of Hutchinson. He said, “It’s a bout 20 metres. A splitter tips crack in an almost featureless open book corner. Super sustained. Doubles in grey Metolius TCU up to yellow TCU.”

The project was noted in Aric Fishman’s climbing guidebook Thunder Bay Climbing, which you can find more on here.

Hutchison has opened a number of fun gear routes in the Thunder Bay area, including the two-pitch Death as an Advisor 5.10c, the two-pitch Toss it Up 5.10a and the sustained Autochone O-tak-thone 5.10+.

Duncan Hutchison on TIps Crack 5.12a at Claghorn. Photo Paul Desaulniers

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Watch a 5.14b Multi-Pitch First Ascent by Mich Kemeter

In the summer of 2016, Mich Kemeter completed his 280-metre 5.14b on the southwest face of Shcartenspitze in Austria.

His route Tortour is an eight-pitch steep and technical line he established ground-up with Stefan Lieb in nine big pushes.

The pitches break down to 5.10, 5.12, 5.12, 5.14a, 5.14b, 5.13, 5.10 and 5.12. The first free ascent was in 2017 by Kemeter and Paul Kiefer

Kemeter noted after his send, “Completing my climb up the southwest face of Schartenspitze transformed into a Tortour.

“Keeping focused for so many years, in order to find my way past the razor sharp boulder cruxes, up the steep weathered rock and through the repelling roof with its shallow pockets, turned out to be a highly rewarding experience.

“Six years ago I came up with the idea of devoting myself fully to a route I’d only manage to climb free after specific, long-term training. “It was my first experience at bolting a new route ground-up: tough physically and mentally at my limit.”

Tortour from Mich Kemeter on Vimeo.

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200 years of the conquest of the Maladeta

Alberto Martínez Embid
– Friday, September 29, 2017 – Updated at 09:00

When the doctor
Russian-German Johan Jacob Wilhelm Friedrich Parrot arrived in 1817 in the Pyrenees,
was already a reputed scientist thanks to his work of registering altitudes
in the Alps and in the Caucasus that he carried out with a thermo-barometer of his

He came to the central Pyrenees with the intention of climbing the Midi
d'Ossau, but did not succeed, and also had to give up reaching the top of the
Vignemale and Monte Perdido by its north face, being satisfied to climb to
this last summit from Góriz. He soon came to join Luchon, interested in Maladeta.

Parrot left for the
then it was believed to be the "roof" of the mountain range on September 28, accompanied by
a hunter, carpenter and local guide of sixty-one years, Pierre Barrau,
Pierrine, who had already participated in previous attempts to the mountain nicknamed
the "Bad of Aragon."

"A little wine from Spain and lots of
of bread and cheese "

By the port of Benasque, the two men crossed to
the Renclusa, in whose cave Turmaou bivouac. Parrot, I always look at your
food, would replenish forces with "a little wine from Spain and great quantity
bread and cheese ".

In the book he published in 1823 on this adventure reflected
his emotions on the eve of the climb: "The Moon came out, illuminating the
imposing and majestic mole of the snows of the Maladeta, at the foot of which I
I found, discovering every gorge, every ridge, to the highest summit.
distant my soul was full of hope, hoping that the next day the
ascension would not be in vain. "

About five in the morning, the couple addressed
to the Maladeta glacier, that year very cracked and with a thin layer of
snow. They would not follow the route of the Portillones crest where they had
starred most of the efforts of his predecessors. Once forward
to the glacier, they put on some rustic crampons and they went up by the ice until
standing in front of the Great Rimaya, a huge gap between the end
of the ice and the wall under the Neck of the Maladeta.

At that time, between both
there was a heated debate to see where they would attack the wall. For
to avoid the crack, the doctor attempted to climb directly over the
Maladeta; but faced with the difficulties of the wall would be forced to
to return to the Great Rimaya, where his veteran companion awaited him.

they decided to cross the crack by a delicate snow bridge, but Barrau
stopped when they reached the unstable blocks. This decision did not surprise
Parrot, who started climbing a fireplace alone. The luchonés
thought better and, although his interest for the summit was relative, finished
reaching your client in time to help you overcome the most complicated part
of the wall by a step of shoulders.

It was nine o'clock in the morning of September 29, 1817

Supporting each other, ended
in the northwest corner, from where they won without major problems the summit of
the mountain. It was nine o'clock on the morning of September 29, 1817 . Parrot
showed "comforted by that pure and pure air, by the pleasant
sense of victory that rewarded the efforts, the success of a
beautiful project ".

From this eastern peak of Maladeta studied the nearby
Aneto still inescalado and considered it like the real "cusp" of the mountain range, and
even pointed to the most obvious route, which coincides with the current route
normal. The two companions would remain for an hour on the top rocks before
to start the descent that almost ends in tragedy.

While Barrau was coming down with
slowness towards the obvious gendarme of the edge, who would later receive the
name the Two Men, Parrot chose a descent that was closer to the
itinerary of rise, by the edge of a language of snow where it slipped. The
fall almost throws it inside the Great Rimaya, avoiding it at the last moment
thanks to the staff he carried: "In the absence of this," he wrote, "just a hop
boldly above the crack would have kept me from rushing in. "

he could suspect that this was the tragic fate that awaited his own
Pierre Barrau, seven years later in the same rimaya. Without further embarrassment,
Friedrich Parrot and Pierre Barrau descended the Maladeta glacier,
descended to what is now the Besurta and passed through France to the port of
Picada arriving at Luchon at eight o'clock in the afternoon; Pierrine riding a mule
which he had left in the Renclusa and Parrau walking, as was his custom.

proeza was very commented in the beach resort, since the mountaineers of the zone
they maintained that it was in the Montes Malditos that the
high and difficult of the Pyrenees.

Parrot would say goodbye to his mountain from another
the watchtowers chosen to study the Pyrenean relief: the Gallinero, where
traced a beautiful drawing of the Maladeta and its neighboring peaks. Russian-German
would end the crossing of the Pyrenees from coast to coast in twenty-two
March. Without a doubt, he was a Pyrenean as ephemeral as he was brilliant.

The mystery of the name

Where did the name Maladeta come from? It is not known very well.
An explanation that is taking weight says that it comes from Eta Mall, which
would mean "the highest" or "high summit".

It was supposed to be what they called it
the Benasqueses to these mountains, but this matter is not entirely clear in
the writings of the Gallic scholars who, from Reboul to the late Le
Bondidier, investigated the subject. What is verifiable is that the voice
Benasquesa Mall, or Malh in Occitan (the language on the other side of the border),
appears frequently in summits of the zone: Mall Pintrat, Malh Pllanèr …

It is possible that the denomination Montes Malditos derives from this
extended legend that speaks of Christ disguised as a beggar who punishes the
lack of generosity of pastoralists in the area turning their cattle into rocks
and the prairies on ice.

Until recently, "Maladetas" were all the
points that form the crest of two kilometers that goes from the hill of Alba
to the Cursed Peak. Now it is only called the 3,308 quota (3,311 in the IGN). To the
rest have been assigned names of guides and renowned pirineístas: Delmás,
Mir, Sayó, Cordier, Abadías. Curiously, neither is called Parrot or Barrau.

All roads to Maladeta

While at the top of the Aneto can be met
a weekend of spring or summer several hundred mountaineers, in the
top of the Maladeta it is possible that there is one or none. Are the things that
has to be a famous neighbor's. And that the two normal routes to the Maladeta
are varied, easy and considerably shorter than that of the Aneto, and that the views
from the summit they have nothing to envy to those that offers, including
the one of the romería that crosses the glacier of the Aneto and that, from its three thousand three hundred
long meters, will remind us of the rows of ants that traverse
the ways.

The first of the normal routes is approximately the one that
they used the pioneers; but from the middle of June (depending on the year)
and until the glacier has completely covered with the winter snowfalls,
is not usually used because the rimaya that forms between the mountain and the
glacier is so wide that it is very difficult to save it. The "summer" alternative is
somewhat longer and coincides with the route of the Aneto until the first part of the

  • ROUTE 1: For the glacier of the Maladeta
    Raise : 1.408 m.
    Time : 9h 45
    Difficulty : medium-high.
    Route through high mountain areas with landmarks
    stone: rocks, glacier and edge, with some steps of IIº inf.
    Level: For
    mountaineers with experience.
    Material : crampons and ice ax. Helmet recommended.

    Cartography : Maladeta-Aneto. Editorial Alpina. 1 / 25,000.
  • Ascension begins
    in the parking lot of La Besurta. It should be borne in mind that from 1 July to
    September 11, the track that reaches here closes and you have to leave the
    car in Benasque or in the parking lot of Llanos del Hospital and use a

    The first leaves Benasque at four thirty in the morning and is
    known as the bus to Aneto, designed for those who are going to carry out
    ascents of peaks of more than three thousand meters. If we do not want to get up early enough
    we can spend the night in the shelter of the Renclusa, which is reached by walking in 45
    minutes from the Besurta by a path well marked and with abundant posters.

    If we decide to do it this way, it is imperative to book a lot
    in advance the place in the refuge, one of the most "requested" of the Pyrenees.

    From the Renclusa it is necessary to descend until the plain and to cross its streams with
    up the various terraces to the southwest,
    numerous milestones that mark the ascent towards the Aneto, route with which it coincides
    to the vertical of the Upper Portillón.

    At first we will find areas
    grassy but as we gain height, the stones will be the
    protagonists, making the ascent more and more uncomfortable. Be attentive
    so as not to pass the moment when the route of the Maladeta separates from that of the
    Aneto to avoid having to go back.

    While the route of the Aneto is directed towards the Upper Portillón, the
    that we are interested here insists on the southwest direction, pointing to the glacier of
    the Maladeta. We overcome the lower moraines until we reach the glacier
    in which, most likely, we will find the mark. Progress
    may require the use of ice axes and crampons, and even the
    stringing. In the shadow of the impressive Crencha de los Portillones, the
    footprint gains height taking as reference the gendarme of the Two Men, who
    is visibly cut over the ridge.

    We will avoid going to the neck of the
    Rimaya, that opens in the wall of the cord of the Maladeta to the right of the
    said gendarme, to go towards a visible oblique corridor. You have to pay
    much attention to the crossing of the rimaya that separates the snow from the rock. In fact,
    if the month of June is advanced, it is a good idea to ask in La Renclusa if
    you can still cross.

    Once on the gravel and granite ramps of the
    flank north of the Maladeta, we climbed by the strong steepness of the channel
    being very careful not to detach the rocks very hit by the ice
    until leaving to the ridge: the Maladeta is to the left, and to the right the
    gendarme of the Two Men who remembers to Cordier and Barrau, pointing the vertical
    of the point where they stopped in their attempt of 1802.

    Turning your back on
    monolith, we move towards the southeast by an edge that leads without large
    difficulties to the summit. This summit, which is sometimes "surnamed" like this u
    To distinguish it from the four western summits, constitutes a
    balcony of the first order, surrounded as it is by a territory of glaciers
    which inevitably diminish year after year and are a pale reflection
    of those glaciers that fascinated Parrot and Barrau two hundred years ago.

  • ROUTE 2: Through the Pico Abbey

    Time : 11 h.
    Difficulty :
    High average.
    Route by areas of high mountain with passage by glacier and edge,
    with some steps of IIº inf and a quite aerial section between the Pico Abadías and
    the hill that separates it from the Maladeta.
    Level: For experienced mountaineers.

    Material : crampons and ice ax. Helmet recommended.
    Cartography : Maladeta-Aneto.
    Editorial Alpina. 1 / 25,000.
  • In summer, the rimaya of the glacier of the
    Maladeta can be so wide that there is no way to get to the rock. But no
    this should not make us give up reaching the top. As almost all
    mountains, the Maladeta can be approached by several routes, and after the
    rimaya, that passes by the hill Cursed and the Pico Abadías is the most

    This route is common to that of the Aneto until the first part of the
    glacier of the Aneto. That is, instead of heading towards the glacier of the
    Maladeta, we have to continue towards the Upper Portillón, cross it to
    into the Aneto glacier and follow the trail until we reach
    practically in the vertical of the Pico Abadías (approximately in the quota
    3.050), when it is necessary to separate and begin to gain height without
    consideration towards the Cursed hill.

    On the other side we expect a very sight
    of Lake of Cregüeña. A fun rocky ridge on which there will be
    use your hands (eye with loose blocks and stones) will transport us
    until the Pico Abadías, a tresmil little important but three thousand in the end.
    It owes its name to Antonio Abadias, known with the nickname of El León del
    Aneto and person in charge of Refúgio de la Renclusa after the death of his father-in-law José
    Sayó. Then you have to lose about twenty meters before facing the south ridge
    of the Maladeta, which starts being quite aerial to lose
    verticality progressively until it reaches the highest point.


    How to cross the Pyrenean high mountain


    Pyrenean crests. Central Pyrenees Vol. II

    by Pako Sánchez

    34 selected itineraries cross the Pyrenean high mountain, passing by the most important summits of the Pre-Pyrenees, the National Park of Aigüestortes and SantMaurici, the Ribagorza headland, the Maladeta or Turbón massif, that solitary watchtower, and ends the periplo of crests in the undisputed king, the Aneto, with the unequaled crest Margarida-Tempestats-Aneto.

    See Pyrenean crests. Pyrénées Oriental Vol. I


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    David Baar is 54 and Sends Lee Harvey Oz Wall 5.13+ in Strathcona

    On Sept. 16, David Baar redpointed the route Lee Harvey Oz Wall at Crest Creek Crags in Strathcona Park, B.C. after many attempts this season.

    “Current opinion is that route is about 5.13c/d and it is presently the hardest route at Crest,” said 54-year-old Baar.

    Baar, who has been in the area for five years, said some long-time local developers are, “The Heathens Club members: Chris Barner, Ahren Rankin, Paul Rydeen, James Rode, Garner Bergeron and others.

    Lee Harvey Oz Wall 5.13 c/d. Photo David Baar

    “It hasn’t had many ascents since the first ones by Chris Fawbert and Rick Higgins in 1998, partly because the holds are so sharp and it has a particularly tough, bouldery seven-move crux on thin feet at the very top.”

    Baar went on to say that the 15-metre climb is “hard to do more than a few tries on in a session due to fingertip wear.”

    Crest Creek Crags in Strathcona Park has about 75 climbs, with most settling in around 5.10 and 5.11. The rock sits adjacent to highway 28 near the western boundary of Strathcona Park, about an hours’ drive from Campbell River.

    The crags are about a 10-minute walk from the road and rise above a logging road and some powerlines. The rock is basalt and cracks tend to be discontinuous, which is why the routes are mostly bolted.

    Watch this short video from Alex Ratson of some aid climbing at Crest Creek.

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    Video: Legend Jacky Godoffe Talks Route Setting 2017

    French climber Jacky Godoffe is a legendary boulderer and route setter who’s been setting for 25 years. Heading into his 60s, Godoffe has long been an influential climber at his home “crag” of Fountainebleau.

    In an interview with, Godoffe said about his setting: “Three different elements came directly from my experience in rock climbing: Doubt, complexity and personal adaptation to a situation that can have several different answers (depending on the size and strengths).

    “A rock climbing line never climbed is a question nobody has any answer to. The main difference indoors is the time allowed; in an open project outside everyone has all the time he wants.

    “In competition the time is limited. I learned year after year how to introduce a bit of each element to make climbing more understandable to neophytes. I also tried to create a common language for a route-setting session with people from different countries and experiences.

    “Together with some friends I have developed a route-setter way to grade the boulder or a route instead of the basic grade that is useless in competition. We noticed that it was possible for the best climbers to fall on a Font 7a (V6) and also to flash a Font 8a+ (V12) as they depend on many factors.”

    Godoffe recently wrote a book called My Keys To Route Setting, see more about it here.

    “We came up with a new idea of the RIC scale that is in fact three different dimensions: Risk, complexity and intensity. Playing with these three dimensions, mixing a bit like a DJ, it was possible to speak about it with an understandable language without discussing the grade for long.

    “Now should this way of doing it be a basic standard of route setting? Even if it’s not formal, it always somewhere in our mind. In this video, he talks about his philosophy in 2017.

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