Near-death rock climbing weekend

I’ve come to realize just how dangerous rock climbing can actually be.

Although it’s totally fun and addictive, there’s still NO guarantees that it’s 100% safe, and despite what manufacturers say, sh*t does happen — and people do die.

Behold, our busted carabiner:

All throughout Saturday, we kept on repeating, “I’ve always heard of people dying because of carelessness and human error, but I’ve never heard of people dying because of equipment failing.”

Well, guess what?

Last Saturday, this carabiner failed… and my friend almost died, right before my eyes.

The setting took place in Long Dong, one of the most scenic areas you can ever visit in Taiwan. Situated in the north coast, Long Dong is a famous area for scuba diving, snorkeling and of course, my favorite sport, rock climbing.

Large rocks and debris line up the 20-minute hike path on the way to our rock climbing area. To get to where we were, you’d have to walk across this ultra-thin rock ledge, hoping to God you don’t slip, and fall off into a deep crevice:

It’s dangerous, yes. IF, and this is a big IF, you fall… you will suffer serious injury and may even die. There are no ropes supporting you, and nobody who’ll catch you.

If you fall, you’re dead, period.

But fortunately, we young-in’s have enough grip on our hands, and no, we did not fall. Basically, it’s relatively safe so long as you hold tight, and walk slow.

And yet, despite all the dangerous, we like a lot of climbers, still love to climb at this place. In our minds, yes, we know it’s dangerous but if we take the proper precautions, we’ll still be fine.

First, the landscape is just absolutely fantastic, and I doubt you can find beautiful scenery like this easily in the island:
And secondly, the walls ARE spectacular.
Beat that — that’s at least 10-storeys, baby!

Made up of limestone and rock, Long Dong walls are great to climb on. I’ve always gotten a high with trying out different ledges and positions before I find a great hold. The friction you can have on the rock is unbelievable, and it’s amazing how nature helps you out so much.

Geez, or you can say that despite my risk-averseness, I am quite a danger-junkie myself (well, not really) or am just an addictive climber who gets her high in reaching the top.

That’s how high you can get… my friend took this picture while he’s at the middle of the route, and that’s me belaying below. You can see how small I really am from the top.

Like an ant,” my friend laughed.

Haha, besides, climbers are sexy:

That’s my friend, Top-Climber, unconsciously showing off his muscles and toned body.

JUST HAWT. *thumbs up*

And yes, just in case you’re wondering, we women also develop certain muscles as well, which unfortunately, I will not show. Am still debating whether muscles on a woman is sexy or not. 😉

Anyway, last Saturday, I went with a couple of friends. The fall happened right at the early half of our climb. Here’s Top-Climber preparing for the climb, with Adam looking cool just basking in the sun:

Because most of us were still amateurs, Top-Climber and Adam was teaching us how to lead belay. In this picture, Top-Climber reaches just a little above the third clip when he decides to show us what happens when a climber falls, and how his belayer would have to take:

Ready, Adam?” Top-Climber bellows from the top.

Ready!” Adam replies.

Okay, here goes…!”

The next sound we heard was this simple shrill “DING!”

In almost slow motion, Top-Climber fell, somersaulted upside down, fell 3 to 4 storeys of walls, back slamming on the wall and his head just a meter off the ground and inches from a side boulder.

We were all too shocked to take a picture so just drew this instead (forgive me for its crudeness) to show you what the heck the fall looked like:

We were just too shocked on what happened. Good thing, quick thinking Adam unconsciously took up more slack, thus saving Top-Climber’s life. Adam slammed on the wall as well, and yet thankfully cushioned Top-Climber’s fall, thus resulting in some bloody back rash:

And some bruises on some parts of his body, including his hands (he almost broke his wrist):

We were almost too shaken up after that, and tried to find the culprit. In a few minutes, we saw what happened. That “Ding!” sound was from this busted carabiner, which exploded and catapulted Top-Climber almost to his death:

He was really, REALLY lucky to have been alive.

If there was a little bit more slack, if Adam didn’t react the way he did, if Top-Climber didn’t shout a warning that he was going to fall (hence, Adam couldn’t have gotten that much slack), who knows what could have happened?

Am not writing here to scare you… I still love the sport, and so do all of us. Actually, after the entire adrenalin rush, Top-Climber was inviting me to go climbing with him yesterday (Sunday), so that he can get rid of his new fear of falling or equipment failing. I couldn’t make it cause I had plans, but my point was, we still love it. And you’ll see us again at the gym nearest you.

BUT, what I’d like to say is, there are no guarantees in life.

Sh*t does happen.

As Top-Climber humbly said, “When I heard that “Ding!” I knew I was a goner. It’s true what they say, it’s like your life flashes by your eyes, and I thought I was dead. That was the nearest death experience I’ve ever had, and who could’ve thought — a broken carabiner — which is completely unheard of, to be the one to have caused it.

So you can look at it at both ways:

1) Be afraid, stop doing what you love, and close yourself off to the wonders of what life can offer, or

2) Just continue to be cautious, and relish EVERY SINGLE MOMENT THAT YOU HAVE because you’ll just never know.

As Claude T. Bissel have said: “Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.”

So guys, which one will you choose?

Anyhow, I’ll give you guys more updates on my full weekend later.

My gosh, this weekend was full, full, FULL.

I slept around 2AM to 3AM since Thursday, and am just exhausted. Thankfully, I managed to catch a bit of shut-eye on the bus/taxi/MRT so am still alive. And yet, I would prefer to have a more relaxing weekend in the next succeeding weeks.

Fun weekend yes, but my batteries are almost dead and this bird just need to recuperate a bit.

This Energizer Bunny needs to rest. 🙂

Oh, and now that I’m off my soapbox, how was YOUR weekend (haha, would appreciate if you can leave comments on how your weekends went as well)? 😛

Okay, gotta go now!

So take care you guys, and c’est la vie! 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Near-death rock climbing weekend

  1. What good is a *HAWT* body if it’s a *DEAD* body. 🙂 I’ll stick to toastmastering, thank you. 🙂

  2. Better prepare 2 steel locking karabiners at the protection point if one wishes to demonstrate a fall. Best if the biners are linked to different points, one using long webbings if you don’t have 2 bolts around. Good Luck 😀

  3. Not sure if the quickdraw carabiner used is a proper climbing carabiner. Normally you see the stress loading on the sides of the carabiner (rated for 24kN etc) or at least a reputable brand name, and I don’t see any in the picture. Your friends could have been scammed by the equipment supplier.

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