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Main \\ Outdoor Activities \\ Mountains \\ Mountaineering \\ Training For Mountaineering \\
  Rock Climbing and Risk

Rock climbing tends to be viewed by non-climbers as some 'out there' extreme activity involving some dude, or dudette, with a chronic death wish dangling hundreds of feet above a mortal drop. Opportunities for such activity do abound in rock climbing; although what tends to be overlooked is that in many cases the actual risk is more perceived than real. Managing this risk - by balancing the skills you have against the challenges presented by the climb - is one of the key elements in rock climbing.

The Winter Climber and Risk

There is no question winter climbing is a serious business. Many climbs require the climber to make technical moves far above dubious protection (such as an ice screw in poor ice), which may be difficult to find (because the rock is covered with snow) or awkward to place. This usually means that the winter climber has to deal, psychologically, with long run outs i.e. climbing a long way past gear.

Add into this heady mix variable snow and ice conditions, length of climb, poor weather, avalanche danger, falling ice, stone fall and you can see that the list of objective dangers is very real. Being in this high-risk environment means that the climber can be in a high state of arousal for extended periods of time, or as it is more commonly known - s*******g themselves.

Any aspiring winter climber not only has to develop a strong mental disposition (or 'cajones' of steel), to deal with these risks but also needs to be very aware of the risk and dangers inherent in winter climbing. Self-reliance and self-responsibility are key concepts in winter climbing. By that I mean you make your own judgements about situations based on your experience and technical ability. And you deal with the consequences - with an understanding that if it all goes horribly wrong help may be at best many hours away, or at worse non-existent particularly in very remote areas.

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