Lately a few things have happened to me that have reinforced how important good and open communication is.
To illustrate the point I was at Swanage a few weekends ago to get some milage in with a climbing partner. We headed to subliminal area as my friend is getting back into it after injuring himself a while back and wanted some easy climbing, which subliminal provides aplenty. When we get there around 11:00 it’s already packed with lots of climbers, the majority we later found out from Southampton climbing club. All the ab lines were already set up so Russ and I through on our harness’, I racked up and down we went.
After a climb each we top out and sit down to have a bit to eat. We notice a slightly different vibe at the top with people milling about and seemingly worried about something. After 10 minutes one of the girls from the Southhampton climbing club comes up to us and asks us about our radios. I said that for many years now I’ve always carried radios with me, even to single pitch climbs that you get at subliminal as I think being able to communicate is a massive concern whilst climbing. It can be surprisingly hard for one to hear a yell of ‘take’ or ‘climbing’ when the wind is howling and the sea is crashing all around!
After a quick chat she asks if she can barrow them as one of their group abseiled in to do a climb but whilst at the bottom of the sea cliff he dislocated his shoulder and now couldn’t climb out but they don’t truly know how serious it is as they had to way to easily and clearly have a conversation with the guys/girls at the bottom of the cliff, hence what she required our radios for. In the end they had to call out the RNLI who sent two lifeboats, a helicopter, ambulances along with about 25 people. He was sinched out and was OK in the end.
Another thing that happened on our last climb of the day for Russ and I was again entirely avoidable or at least could have been a far less sever a situation if good communication was available.
Russ and I abseiled in to do one last easy milage climb however at the bottom we find a girl, clearly a complete novice at climbing, trying to get off the ground and begin a relatively simple climb. The problem was that she was struggling so much and beginning to panic, verbally telling me that ‘she wasn’t going to get out of here’. What made the situation dangerous was that her ‘experienced’ climbing partner couldn’t communicate with her as the route he chose put him out of site and ear. What Russ and I were able to do was to set up a communication line and ferry messages by shouting between us and then up to the guy belaying. We eventaully got the girl started on the climb and half way up to where another experienced climber was waiting on the ab line to help her finish the climb.
The panic of the girl could have been entirely avoided or massively lessened had the guy chosen a route where he could maintain line of site and communication or if he had a pair of radios. It still wouldn’t have been very nice for the inexperienced girl however it would have soothed her enough to stay calm. If Russ and I hadn’t have happened to ab down to do a climb near her she couldn’t have been stuck down there a lot longer!
On the drive home I got thinking how the entire day was an example of how critical good communication is and I took from it the necessity to continue to use good communication not just when i’m climbing but throughout my day job of being a developer as well, especially since our clients have direct access to me as their developer, and I them.
So remember dear reader, communicate.