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Author Topic: Acceptable risk and soloing  (Read 2392 times)

ridgerunner

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Acceptable risk and soloing
« on: March 23, 2013, 01:19:44 PM »

Hmmmm, another thread has pulled me into this one...arghh...ok I probably shouldn’t but here I go, to broaden the discussion on what is “acceptable” risk.

First, a definition: risk = (the probability of occurrence) times (the gravity of the consequence).

Put soloing under the light of that equation : to each his own, really, BUT having kids is often a game changer : you are then  involving other people  in your risk taking decision, like it or not. Soloing a grade 3 or 4 if you are a grade 5 climber is probably ok (as in probabilistically)... until something goes awfully wrong. And when it does, it is sad to see the tender half/and or friends beg on the net to raise money for a fund to put the kids through college (we have seen this too often). We climbers are supposed to take responsibility for our own actions, right? So IMHO, when one starts to raise a family , I have nothing against that person soloing  if that person has  a mothaload of money in the bank or an excellent life insurance that covers climbing. Freedom is great, as long as you don’t restrain other people’s freedom by your actions, be it financially or otherwise.  The consequence can be to put your family in a very akward situation - think mortgaging your children’s future. What I am saying is that having kids to support increases the weight of the second term of the risk equation immensely…
Now I don’t expect everybody to agree but this is what I did and I am curious to hear what others think of the subject, with or withour kids.
Just my two dollars.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 02:38:34 PM by ridgerunner »
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DGoguen

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2013, 01:49:04 PM »

I know that you specifically asked about soloing but I might throw "serious alpinism" into that mix above considering the objective danger.
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strandman

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2013, 01:58:24 PM »

I wonder haw things compare with climbing deaths   soloing vs roped climbing ??? i assume that way more people die in roped accidents, but the percentage is higher for soloing ??

Example - i have had 6 pretty good friends die climbing

one soloing
4 rappelling
one in a roped fall
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 02:00:09 PM by strandman »
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kenreville

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2013, 03:58:21 PM »

I agree 100% with you Ridgerunner. I love my daughters too much to check out now. But I still take risks. And my level of risk taking at this point in my life doesn't have to be, nor should be, the same as the next guy. Who am I to know where he's at? For sure though, my risk envelope is much smaller than it once was because of my family.
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darwined

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2013, 04:21:00 PM »

Despite my best efforts to be honest with myself about my abilities,  there are still climbs I'm surprised by.  I don't want one of those surprises to come when I'm not roped.  For this reason, I only solo easy stuff 2's, the occasional 3, and 5.5 maximum.  It's not so much the financial quotient of it all, my family would be all set.  I'd just rather be around to see them through.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 04:50:02 PM by darwined »
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strandman

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2013, 04:55:13 PM »

I'm not sure the difficulty has much to do with anything

John Bachar died on an 11a that he had done over 200 times and was well within his scope
Jimmy Jewel in Wales was on a 5.5
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darwined

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2013, 05:24:20 PM »

I'm not sure the difficulty has much to do with anything

John Bachar died on an 11a that he had done over 200 times and was well within his scope
Jimmy Jewel in Wales was on a 5.5

You're absolutely right.  I'm just able to reconcile that with myself somehow. 
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kenreville

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2013, 06:19:14 PM »

My family has taken un-roped climbing off the table for me. I get my thrills in other ways these days.
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sneoh

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2013, 07:12:55 PM »

Yup, with a young daughter, whom I like to see for  at least the next 15 or 20 years, soloing is definitely out of the question for me.
John, your last two posts are spot on.  So many have died rappelling.  It almost happened to someone I know 2.5 years ago.  He recovered fully physically only by the most amazing stroke of luck.  I remind myself of the statistics every time I set up to rappel.  Like not tying a good knot, it only takes one time and a little bit of "bad luck" to make one check out for good.
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DLottmann

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2013, 07:47:03 PM »

I have a 1.5 yr old... I will still solo “easy grade 3” as that is often safer than leading hard grade 4...

Falling while leading grade 4 or less ice is worse than soloing... despite “Fall From Grace” type recaps...

The standard of soloing 2 full grades below what you feel comfortable leading could be a good starting point for “acceptable risk”, but labeling someone as risky for soloing without knowing their background/experience is fallacy.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 07:48:46 PM by DMan »
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tradmanclimbz

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2013, 08:33:52 PM »

I have been in Far, far more danger leading than anything I have soloed in the last decade. I probobly solo about the same if nor more # of days per year that I rope up for.
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tradmanclimbz

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2013, 08:50:20 PM »

Today was a perfect example.  I led Committed 3+ 4-? at holts. I soloed it earlier this winter in hero conditions 400% solid. I led it today.  Funky hollow on the first 30ft good in the middle and baked for the top out. It was an attention getter and i felt reasonably safe but aware that it could go to shit in hurry with any little mistake. I would not have soloed this today yet I would lead it with a rope but that entailed some solo mindset climbing.

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hobbsj

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2013, 09:26:22 PM »

So, multi-facited (sp?) question.  First off, what example do you want to set for your kids and how does climbing play in to that.  I made it very clear to my wife once we found out she had a baby in her that I plan on volunteering for any deployment I can to Afghaniland.  Its a message, even if I get killed, that i want to send to my kid.  Same goes for climbing.  There was an article a year or two ago about a climber who died and his daughter thought he was living life and was proud of him.  Its not only a matter of risk, but the reason for taking it, who you are, how you manage the risk, and what it means.  To say "having a kid means soloing is out" is narrow-minded and ignorant. That stance just shows your lack of an ability to deal with risk and teach about consequences.  If its your personal choice for that stance rather than a blanket statement, that's very different (I hope my explanation sufficiently gets across the point I'm trying to make).

For me, soloing is an option based on the information I can gather about certain climbs when I look at it.  I've left top-rope climbs undone because of the conditions.  plus, there's good ol' mother nature that can kick you in the Jimmy when you think you have a handle on things.  Some climbs I've solo'ed are safer than leads I've done. I also have no qualms asking for opinions  of my party about a decision.  Humility and being humble are key traits, IMHO, when assessing risk with high consequences.  If setting a standard of no soloing helps you mitigate risk, then so be it.  Its good that you have a personal standard.  But, realize that is just that, a personal standard and it means nothing if you can't analyze a situation when there's a rope involved.

 A rope, anchor, and belayer don't necessarily make you safer if you can't analyze a situation.  They just mean you won't die alone.
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DLottmann

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2013, 09:36:35 PM »

...
 A rope, anchor, and belayer don't necessarily make you safer if you can't analyze a situation.  They just mean you won't die alone.

this part of your post is pure awesome
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 10:01:41 PM by DMan »
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kenreville

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Re: Acceptable risk and soloing
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2013, 09:43:31 PM »

Like I said hobbs- you're acceptance of risk is all you. Just because I say it's off the table for me, doesn't mean I think any less of you for having a family and still soloing.

Hell man, I paraglided off Whitehorse and Webster for years while my girls were young(er). Soloing isn't something that interests me at this point in life so I don't do it. Having my family just kinda drives it home. Again, in my mind. If in your mind you're managing the risk of soloing with a family, I think that's cool.
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