23 Aug Lessons from climbing: it’s always the little things
Last June I was in Chamonix in the French Alps for a week of rock climbing. Part of that time was spent on the large granite cliffs below Mont Blanc where the level of risk is a couple of notches higher due to additional hazards and greater commitment once the route is started. In response to this there’s a need for a corresponding increase in personal awareness as well as greater teamwork.
One day we chose a hard route of eight ‘pitches’ or rope-lengths amounting to approximately three hundred metres of ascent. The climb was absorbing with difficult moves, sometimes with a significant fall potential. We successfully reached the top, but the return to the glacier by abseil was quite involved as it meant repeatedly pulling the ropes down and reattaching them for the next section.
After meeting the glacier at the foot of the route (not quite terra firma) it was a pleasure to remove my tight rock shoes and cool my hot, swollen feet in the snow before putting on my heavier, more solid mountain boots and crampons for the return across the glacier to the refuge. It was then that I carelessly stepped down and caught my exposed ankle on one of the super-sharp points on my crampons causing a significant cut.
I applied copious amounts of snow to reduce the bleeding (the place looked pretty grim afterwards!) and rendered immediate first aid and walked back with no problems. More importantly though, it did not curtail the climbing activities on subsequent days.
So often it’s not the big items that hurt you, but the minor, supplementary things after the main job is over. Isn’t this always the case in the workplace? We’re so careful with assessing the risks, taking precautions and looking out for each other during significant tasks, that as soon as the perceived danger is gone we drop our guard.
When you’re planning an activity, be sure to consider the supplementary activities and after you’ve finished the main job, take a few moments to reconsider what could still go wrong.