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Review of "Make or Break: Don't Let Climbing Injuries Dictate Your Success" by Dave MacLeod

Photo of the front cover of 'Make or Break'

Review of the recently published book by Dave MacLeod: "Make or Break". It is specialised on the injuries commonly seen among climbers — what they are like, how to prevent, treat, mitigate, and rehabilitate.

Is climbing a sport?

It used to be not in the old days. It wasn't sophisticated like modern sports. Climbing is at its heart an adventure. Training? What's that? Men just go out climbing as often as they can! What else would you need?

Things have changed since. Or at least, if you want to be good at climbing, that is not the case any more. Why? Because…

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Equipment to start Scottish winter-climbing

Photos of winter gear

Now, you want to start winter climbing in Scotland (or North Wales or Lake District when the conditions are suitable). What do you need for the equipment? Here is a list for a day Scottish winter-climbing. Mind you, it is just a brief summary — I could write an entire post per item… But hopefully this would give you an idea of what you would need, as a starting point.

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Risk by Dan Gardner

Simon Perry casually posing on a steep cliff

We are all wired to be a stone-age human!
So we react to the risk as wired as our ancestors who run on the savannah in Africa, fleeing away from predator beasts, avoiding poisonous or harmful things like particular plants and something polluted to maximise the chance of survival.

It might be all good as long as one lives such a life alone, relying thoroughly on their instinct, or so called Gut. But we don't. Modern lives are far more complicated.

In this post I summarise, from a climber's perspective, some interesting facts taken from the brilliant book: Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear by Dan Gardner (2009).

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Required strength of belay anchors

A rigging example by Nick Bullock [©Will Sim (2014)]

There was a fatal accident in Yosemite — the circumstantial evidence implies the party placed 4 pieces of gear for the belay, then the leader took a factor-2 fall on the belay, all the gear of which ripped, and as a result the entire party was perished. In that particular case, clearly the belay was not strong enough despite 4 pieces of gear…

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Force and gravity

Ruler.  (Cropped from the original image by Ejay in http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Steel_ruler_closeup.jpg . License: CC Share Alike 3.0)

In this world, the unit is often the source of confusion. Climbing is no exception. As an example, here is an extract from Andy Kirkpatrick's solo attempt in Troll Wall, where he had a hard time as vividly described in his own words:

[After hand-drilling a hole to place a bolt:]

I slid the bolt onto the hanger, then pushed it into the hole, but found it was a little too big to fit easily, so tapped it in with my hammer. I felt it trying to resist, but eventually felt it begin to give way. Then, after only a centimetre, it started to bend.

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