I realize its been awhile since someone has posted here, but I feel i need to post up something that happened to me a few years back. I was rock climbing down near Columbus, Ohio with two close climbing friends. We were climbing a 60 foot freestanding rock column on a hillside. Since there was no way to toss up a rope and ascend it, one of us had to free climb the easy side trailing up a line. Myself being the most experienced of us, I volunteered to do it. When i reached the top, I stood on a ledge about 3 feet below the top of the column in order to rig up some anchor points for the others to use. I had stood there many times before, so I didnt bother clipping into anything. As i turned around to look down at them, i felt my balance shifting a bit. i looked back at the rock and found i was falling backwards. At the last possible second I reached out and grabbed the anchor I had just rigged. I barely escaped a 60 foot fall onto stone littered forest floor.
Lesson learned the hard way! Now whenever I am more than 4 or 5 feet off the ground, regardless of the situation, i am securely tethered to something. Lanyard, flipline, climbing line, or an anchor point. That was and continues to be the only major scare or close call I have had in 13 years of rigging and climbing, and God willing, it will be the only one. A bit long of a story, but it was a huge wake up call for me to examine my climbing practices. And it has made me aware of my own shortcomings when it comes to any kind of climbing. Nobody's perfect, just lucky! Anyways, be safe up there.
The vertical arena is a risky place. When ever you are off the ground be it rock, tree, cave drops, towers, etc.- you add extraordinary risk to your life.
The stimulation of \"being on the edge\" is always an attraction which I personally have had all my life. My closest call was my first year as a tree cutter. I was self taught (not the best of choices in the arboriculture business). I had a 50 foot dead treetop tied off ready for pulling down. My notch was already cut and I was in the process of cutting my final back cut when luckily I saw my ground man doing jumping jacks. With irritation, I cut off my saw and asked him why he was yelling at me.
\"Don't you want to untie out of the top before you drop it?\" I looked up and saw to my horror I was about to be pulled 50 feet down along with 2000 pounds of wood and branches! I was literally 2 seconds away from my own demise: and all for a small simple oversight to a detail.
I've kept that visual snapshot with me. The memory has kept me safer for the 25 years I was a top arborist climber.
You appear to be a younger man. You were lucky as I was. Keep the shocking experience with you while climbing and you too will live much longer in the vertical world.
My closest vertical call was years ago free climbing a small (15 foot) ledge in old sandstone in SW Wisconsin. The rock I was hanging on began to move away from the cliff. Without thinking about it much, I pushed away, hit the ground (fortunately relatively soft right there), and rolled. The rock - a one-ton slab of sandstone - hit the place where I'd hit the ground 1 1/2 seconds before and buried itself a foot or so into the soil, but I was 7 feet away by then. Survived by a combination of a small helping of the quick reflexes of a 25 year old, and a huge helping of luck.
Since then, this has made me: a) disinclined to clamber around much on soft rock, and b) VERY picky about the tie-in points I choose for tree climbing.
Mindfulness. A good practice anywhere, and a critical practice in the vertical world.