“But climbing isn’t safe!”
How many times have we, as climbers, heard someone pass that comment about the sport we love so much? All climbers know that the reality is very different from public perception of the level of danger associated with our sport. Our sport is relatively safe. It is potentially dangerous if we do not check our equipment, our knots, follow protocols, keep our wits about us or are just downright negligent in one way or another. Yet we must always strive to make the sport even safer, by learning from mistakes made by others, understanding what they did wrong and ensuring that we do not repeat the same errors.
To be able to do this we therefore need to know exactly what kind of accidents or incidents are happening out there on the rock, incidents which have resulted in an accident or injury, or even “near misses”. Although thankfully climbing accidents in Malta are very rare indeed, we do want to know about them and record them. Cases of equipment failure are particularly interesting to hear about as these are even rarer if not unheard of nowadays. As a club, we maintain contact with the Civil Protection Department, ensuring they are aware of known crag locations and providing a point of contact with respect to local climbing.
We wish to compile over time, a database of incidents that happen on Maltese cliffs, but we need your cooperation. Simply, if you experience such an incident, please fill in and submit the online Incident Report form. Once it’s in the database, the report will be discussed and analysed. If there is anything to be learnt from what happened we shall bring this to the attention of the local climbing community, anonymously. The aim is to learn, not to condemn or criticise.
This process is common practise in many other countries. For an example of a typical incident analysis, consider this fairly recent Rock & Ice article on a death resulting from groundfall from an anchor. The American Alpine Club keeps a database of incidents which can be accessed on their publications website.