Climbing, storms and safety
Summertime gets us thinking about one of our favorite warm-weather activities — climbing — and one of our least-favorite weather events: hail. Combine the two and a pleasurable late-afternoon climb can turn into a stormy nightmare.
We at CWRAG put safety above all else. Here are some tips about climbing safely to avoid summer storms and what to do if you get caught out in the rain:
– Afternoon thunderstorms are common in Colorado, so be aware of that when climbing long routes later in the day. It is recommended to climb multi-pitch routes (like the Flatirons) earlier in the day when the weather is most stable.
– Always know your escape route and descent routes before you begin climbing in case the weather changes suddenly. Prevention and preparation are the best defense.
– Just as a good plan is the right attitude. Be willing to turn around when the weather looks stable instead of waiting until it is unfavorable. Remember: The summit is optional. Getting down safely should be priority number one.
If you do find yourself climbing in unstable weather, moving quickly but efficiently is paramount to safety.
– Try to get to a location that could promote descent as soon as possible.
– Make sure your location on the route is not going to be in an area of runoff if it rains, as this will cause hypothermia.
– Finally, do everything you can to maintain your body temperature, keeping you alert enough to make your descent.
When it comes to climbing, always keep the words of American mountaineer Ed Viesturs in mind:
“Just because you love the mountain does not mean the mountain loves you.”