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 To wear the helmet or not... 
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Fat Boy Rogue
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Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:58 pm
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Post To wear the helmet or not...
Ah, the age old proverbial dilemma that plagues the rogue wilderness climber the world around. Many feel that if you are on rope, you have a helmet, gloves and safety glasses. Some feel that is a personal decision and the climb dictates the safety protocols.

My own personal philosophy is when wilderness climbing, a helmet is optional depending on the situation. it also depends on who i am climbing with. There are some people when climbing with, it is a must, ehm Wiley and Clarence,, but that is my preference and choice. However if I am at any point with a saw or removing wood or even removing a weather balloon from a tree, I am in my helmet no question.

When climbing at an organized or facilitated climb or at an organized event, out of respect for the organizer or facilitator I will always wear my helmet even if it is not asked.

Now, I am by far not the helmet police, but when I drive through. My neighborhood and see a tree service company bringing down a pine tree and their climber is hanging out at 30 feet on spikes and a flip line at the top of the topped trunk, with no limbs a chainsaw hanging, I just can't help but think that guy has some major guts, then it strikes me, he may just not have any sense.

This of course concerned me greatly as I thought that there were some regulations regarding that. I of course then became the typical metro suburban pain in the a** and make a call to the company out of concern. I expressed concern to the person on the phone and his response was that safety gear was optional for their climbers and they wear whatever they feel comfortable with. He said if anything happened it was on them. He said he even cut off his finger the other day on a log splitter and that it was his on fault and he made the mistake. I must say that I feel that Darwin's theory has a way of dealing with folks like that way more than OSHA ever can so I am ending with that.

I just felt that this could maybe spur some philosophical discussion on when a helmet is appropriate and when it is not.

This being said, I would love to hear some close calls or maybe not so close calls where the helmet was a factor in preventing an injury when climbing solo or with others on a recreational only climb, no work climbing. I personally have bumped into the top of a limb with my helmet, but even without a helmet, it would have just been a little bump about as bad as hitting my head getting in my car.

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Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:44 pm
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Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:11 am
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Location: Dawsonville, USA (north of Atlanta)
Post Re: To wear the helmet or not...
Good thoughts Glenn. Like you, I usually only wear a helmet during personal or wild climbs when the situation calls for it. Most of the time I just wear a baseball-style hat because the cloth seems to adequately protect my head from the minor scrapes against limbs or twigs, because here in the South it's often waa-ay too hot for helmets during three of the four seasons, and because the person who most needs a helmet is the one on the ground beneath the tree. I am aware of the risks I'm taking, and I take personal responsibility for my actions/decisions. In fact, I typically climb safer without a helmet because I am usually more cautious.

Having stated all of this, I always wear a helmet when climbing with kids and their parents -- if for no other reason than because it encourages them to do the same. Besides, I like to tell them that the reason everybody wears helmets is to protect the tree from their hard heads...! That gets their attention every time.

However, I think a commercial tree worker needs to use his/her helmet all the time and wear other protective gear when necessary, because they're dealing with situations that adventure, research and educational climbers rarely or never encounter.

Look at the statistics -- the accident rate is zero for trained recreational climbers (the three lost-time accidents that I know of have been for climbers who did not have any formal training), while commercial climbers have five to six fatal accidents a month in North America.

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Mon Nov 11, 2013 7:44 pm
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Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:25 am
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Location: Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
Post Re: To wear the helmet or not...
I was in a tree with two other climbers. One of the climbers was throwing a 16 oz bag to advance his rope. He announced he was throwing, I saw him throwing, the bag went up and deflected off a limb coming down hitting me directly on the top of my helmet. 16 oz packs a punch. I was slightly stunned but was fine. My neck was sore for a couple hours after. If I didn't have a helmet on likely would've been knocked out. For me the biggest hazard in a tree is other climbers above me. I've had an amazing array of climber gear dropped on me. In conifers it is guaranteed that a climber above me will kick out deadwood on me unintentionally, usually small stuff but sometimes wood bits that I don't want hitting my bare skull. Two days ago a friend I was climbing with twice caused deadwood to fall out of a pin oak while he was fiddling with his throwline. I was paying attention and got out of the way. On a wilderness conifer climb another climber dislodged a limb large enough to easily kill me when he was trying pull out a stuck throw bag. We were on steep slope, heard the loud crack and the shout "Headache!", I didn't have time (nor did I want to) look up, I did not have any kind of escape I was obstructed by rock, I dove away from the tree into the foot of the rock outcropping, the limb hit right behind me. A helmet wouldn't have saved me but if I was grazed for example by the lighter end of it the helmet could make a difference.

I don't demand that any experienced climber with me on a climb wear a helmet. I usually wear a helmet, sometimes not. I like to have a hardhat on during throwing operations and when climbers are above me, especially climbing conifers.
-AJ


Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:16 am
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Curmudgeonly Rogue
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Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:53 pm
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Post Re: To wear the helmet or not...
Just watching the Weather Channel and they were doing a feature on leaf watching and autumn colors. The feature was done at some facility with ziplining and a challenge course. Nobody on the ziplines or the rope course was wearing a helmet. I guess being a TV personality allows you to do this.

While climbing on my own, I almost never wear a helmet. I do not like having things on my head, not even an ordinary hat, ever. I will wear one when there is a clearly obvious danger, but rarely otherwise. I am bothered by the current idea that any activity involving adventure should require one to wear a helmet. I am amused by those who seem to think that having a helmet on the head absolves one of any obligation to be careful.

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Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:25 am
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Post Re: To wear the helmet or not...
My waxed canvas hat is pretty good for rogue climbs!


Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:49 pm
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Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 1:48 pm
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Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: To wear the helmet or not...
I'd rather wear it and not need it, than need it and not have it. It's rare for me to climb without bumping my head on something, all by myself, at least once.


Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:23 pm
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Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:35 pm
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Location: North Georgia USA
Post Re: To wear the helmet or not...
I do keep the headgear on when climbing, although I don't care for the added heat at all.

The primary reasons for a helmet for me are the funny trajectories the throwbag can take -- especially when using a launcher, the debris ejected from the tree while working the throwbag, and finally, my occasional head butt on the lower side of a limb while climbing. There is no excuse for the latter and I'm trying to be more careful!

Anyway, having fun with the helmet on...
Bob


Fri Nov 29, 2013 10:52 pm
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Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:23 pm
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Post Re: To wear the helmet or not...
[quote]Now, I am by far not the helmet police, but when I drive through. My neighborhood and see a tree service company bringing down a pine tree and their climber is hanging out at 30 feet on spikes and a flip line at the top of the topped trunk, with no limbs a chainsaw hanging, I just can't help but think that guy has some major guts, then it strikes me, he may just not have any sense.

This of course concerned me greatly as I thought that there were some regulations regarding that. I of course then became the typical metro suburban pain in the a** and make a call to the company out of concern. I expressed concern to the person on the phone and his response was that safety gear was optional for their climbers and they wear whatever they feel comfortable with. He said if anything happened it was on them. He said he even cut off his finger the other day on a log splitter and that it was his on fault and he made the mistake. I must say that I feel that Darwin's theory has a way of dealing with folks like that way more than OSHA ever can so I am ending with that. [/quote]

This is exactly what the helmet police do. Let others wear them or not, if it's not your head, your company, your insured, your employee or your tree what concern is it to you?

PS: I wear my helmet on every climb even recreational ones, but that's because I like my head intact. Others may not agree with that and that's great. Being able to make bad decisions is one of the best things about freedom.


Tue Nov 08, 2016 1:25 pm
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