Expect the unexpected

If instructing climbing courses has taught me one thing, it is to expect the unexpected – on a number of levels.

For one thing, working with people new to an activity opens your eyes to how they perceive it. Sometimes a beginner’s eyes will see things hidden from an expert, leading to interesting questions. “Why can’t we do this like this?” “Umm, dunno, good question”. Working through such questions I find helpful to identify problem solving-approaches, explain a rationale, and to remain humble, because for all I know the suggestion being made may be totally viable.

And then there are clusters. One thing that happened a number of times during this last course which frankly I found pretty terrifying, was that two people moved the adjuster of their lanyard from the side D to the DMM Vault behind it where you would normally store the end of the lanyard. When I queried them on why they were doing it they said that it reduced clutter for them – but I am absolutely adamant that if this were to become a habit it is an accident waiting to happen: the likelihood of removing the end of the lanyard from the Vault, clipping it to the D-ring on the other side and then forgetting to move the adjuster from the Vault into the correct position on the D-ring is simply too high. So I nipped that one in the bud.

Then also these two situations. The image on the left occurred whilst discussing placing of redirects. Anticipating the trajectory the connector is going to take during the planned movement is a core aspect of setting a redirect. In this instance the contact between the gate and the structure obviously was an issue.

The image on the right made me smile. Just when you think that something is intuitive, along comes someone to prove you are wrong. In this instance it was the kid on the course who seemed to already know quite a bit – and made sure we knew about it too. Needless to say, the pulleySAVER did not retrieve in this configuration.

Yes, certainly, if teaching teaches you one thing, it is to expect the unexpected, trying to anticipate what might go wrong and to express yourself in the most unambiguous way possible.

Event in Italy

Below is an interview I gave during an event in Erba, in the Como area of Italy with our friends from Formazione 3T.

It is always enjoyable doing this kind of thing when someone actually comes up with interesting questions, and I felt the one regarding advice to arborists at the start of their career was highly relevant – maybe now even more so than at other points in time.

Other than that it was great having the opportunity to meet up with old friends and meet new people during this event, so a big thank you to Ezio, Gabri and the whole crew at Formazione 3T.

Getting things right

Getting things right does not seem to be on the top of everybody’s priority list.

I never cease to be surprised how people and companies often are blissfully ignorant or do not seem to care about the quality of the imagery they use for advertising purposes or otherwise associate with their names. How hard can it be to just check whether the image you plan to use in your ad actually depicts best practise? No, actually that is setting the bar high, I would even settle for minimum acceptable standards. Surely even creatives should get that, let alone soi-disant professionals.

Yet time and again… fail after fail.

No prizes for spotting the glaringly obvious in the image above. Poor chap, did it not occur to anyone to point out before he posed for the Stihl photo shoot that his leg loops were open?! Really?!

An image I loved but sadly seem to have lost in the electronic wilderness that is my laptop’s SSD, is an image used by a UK rope manufacturer, the headline of the ad was “Technical Competence” – yet there, right in the centre of the image, in the focal point, was a climber attached to a line by a cross-loaded connector. Umm, yes, I suppose.

Then this one, which I have discussed before, but remain frustrated by…

Berner Kraftwerke, a Swiss utility company ran a series of ads a while ago portraying their employees. What I like about the image is as opposed to using a scantily- or inappropriately-clad woman to promote a totally unrelated product, this shot actually shows one of BKW’s female apprentices professionally kitted out, I have no issues with that. But did no one realise that the leg loops on her harness were twisted? And that the upper assembly was not attached correctly? Or that the screw gate karabiner was not screwed shut?


So there you go, that sort of stuff irritates me. But then again, if everybody got it right all the time, what would be left to irritate me?!