I cannot stress enough, the importance of having a mentor for the sport of rock climbing. With the explosion of climbing and the increased risks of accidents, injuries and even fatalities, a weekend trip out with a guide is not enough to consistently practice and dial-in skills and practices that are mastered over the years.
The benefit of the climbing mentor for basic instruction notwithstanding, it is inevitable that the more climbers get a taste for it, the bigger and more remote their desire will become. Climbing does not solely relate to the ability to climb a route. Situational awareness: A skill developed through planning, route finding and research, are critical components, especially on multi-pitch routes. Once you start to lower on that rappel to nowhere, what will you do when you reach your stopper knots? How can you climb the rope without the use of an ascender? Do you have enough gear to set something like that up if necessary? Did all the words in this paragraph make sense?
In the modern world, we often utilize our attention in spurts. Holding attention ensures safety and conscious attendance to the reality of living in the vertical world. Overlook any, seemingly minor details can have fatal consequences. Do you spend as much time thinking about your clove hitch or your rappel setup, as you do with your Instagram feed and photos or filters?
In learning, lose your ego. No one knows everything, and learning is a constant. In climbing and in life. After noticing a nascent climbers belay device clipped to his harnesses hard points belaying his friend. This is known as tri-axial loading. Modern carabiners are designed to have the force of weight pulled along the spine of the carabiner. Triaxial loading reduces the strength of the carabiner by 20%. Instead of heeding my warning, the new climber responded, “we like belaying this way.” I realized prior to engaging him, there would be no way to tell him in front of 2 of his friends that he was belaying in a manner that could stress his gear, but other hardware was getting the best of him. I looked at him like a disappointed father, and he relented. Thankfully, he listened to my advice and his friends thanked me.
Learn from a variety of people. Learn as much as you can. Keep an open mind. Get outside and practice and bring that person along with you. Buy them a beer for teaching you all the important techniques and crafty ways to keep yourself and your friends safe while on the wall. Your life depends on it.