American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Appalachian Mountain Club—New York Chapter

  • Club Activities
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1953


Appalachian Mountain Club—New York Chapter: Norton Smithe, chairman of the Rock Climbing Safety Committee, has forwarded a summary of their climbing code. A code of this sort would be useful to adopt generally and it is appended below.

Climber's Code

THE ASCENT — No climb is worth the deliberate risk of life nor should it be judged successful if anyone is foolhardy. A judicious retreat is more admirable than a dangerous victory. Be confident that you can get up and down.

JUDGEMENT — Be alert to your responsibilities to others. Know their abilities and limitations as well as your own. Know the limitations of terrain, weather, and equipment. Good judgement means knowing these limits.

MARGIN OF SAFETY — In the interest of speed, some compromise with safety may be wise, but more is needed than, “I almost didn’t make it.”

COMPANIONS — There must be mutual respect for the leader’s orders to reflect safety. The essence of safe climbing is companionship and cooperation, not competition. NEVER CLIMB SOLO.

EQUIPMENT — Be sure that it is the best both in type and condition. This includes clothing, food, and first aid equipment as well as climbing gear.

BELAYING—Good belaying is the most important skill in safe climbing; a man’s life may pass through your hands. Experience will show the value of dynamic technique and that he protects others best who protects himself.

CONDITION — Physical and mental condition should be adequate to your role as a climber. Hard work requires stamina. If you do not feel you can do it, DON'T. Another day may be better for you.

CLIMBING ABILITY — Know and practice good form. This includes party organization, signals, rope handling, body coordination, rappeling, and all the details of rock, snow, and ice technique which make an expert mountaineer.

LEADERSHIP — Everyone is obligated to exercise leadership by promoting safety and discouraging extremism and spectacularity. Give beginners special attention and suggest they climb with an organized group of conservative tradition.

The life you save will be your own. In mountaineering, pride goes

before a fall.

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