Why won't people learn? Safety is important, even in China!!
First, a disclaimer: I’m no expert. There, that’s all. Several months ago, a popular outdoor rock climbing wall in Ritan Park here in Beijing had an accident - or should I say, one of the climbers had an accident. From what I have heard, someone (happened to be a foreigner, although this isn’t really relevant to this story) was near the top and on his way down when, and again, from what I heard, his Belayer kind of, sort of, let go. Yes, let go. Apparently there was no equipment malfunction - but who knows… Information doesn’t exactly flow on trees here. Any way, as I wasn’t there to witness this, I do, however, suspect this: the victim’s belayer was a foreign girl, probably chatting with her friends and not paying attention to the climber when she needed to most. Guilt on her. But this post isn’t about her. I can only hope she learned her lesson and will never ever step foot in a situation that requires her 100% focus where people’s lives depend on her. So, the victim fell quite a ways down. From what a witness told me, his body hit the padding but his head smacked on the hard surface of the ground. Ok, so there was padding in front of the wall, but it really was a sorry excuse for padding - nowhere near enough. If there was “enough” padding (I am purposely leaving that nice and vague), should someone fall on it, the chances of survival would be increased quite a bit. From zero. The climbing wall was closed down for a couple of months. Why? Who knows. Fast forward to last weekend. The climbing wall has been opened for a couple of weeks and I have friends who brave it each week. To my shock, the padding was still crappy. One of my friends told me they doubled the amount of padding.
Here are some photos I took:
Look at the padding above. This is “double what it used to be”. Unbelievable…
And the paddings aren’t even snuggly fitted - there’s a real nice gap there!
It’s a good thing the belayer has this under control - otherwise “KERSPLAT!” Alright. So, there STILL isn’t nearly enough padding around this wall. What are these guys thinking!?!?! Is one death not enough to warrant more padding? Will another accident that results in a death make them realize they should do more to improve safety? I hope it doesn’t have to come to that… In the climbing wall management’s defense (if they deserve any), I was told also by my friend who frequents the wall that the management did considerably improve their oversight of the activities - specifically focusing more on the under-trained belayers. Let’s hope that’s enough to prevent any further accidents. But, things happen… you know?