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Safety and Injury Prevention

Understand and manage the dangers of rock climbing.

Look Out Below!

Even when top roping, consider objects below that could hurt to fall on. The stretch of the climbing rope can let a climber fall far enough to hit something on the way down. 

Watch out for falling rocks! The belayer should be wearing a helmet, and the climber needs to warn him if he dislodges any blocks from the wall by yelling “ROCK!”

Climber sees rocks and warns the belayer by yelling “Rock!” 

Mind the Swing.

Try to climb directly underneath the anchor. If you fall while climbing to the side of the anchor, you will swing down like a pendulum and possibly hit the wall or another object.

Climber falls while climbing to the side of the anchor and swings like a pendulum and may hit the wall or object in result. 

“Crimp” Only When Necessary.

“Crimping” is a technique used to grip small holds powerfully. Although it can help for certain holds, crimping can damage the tendons and pulleys in the hand. On the left and first image is an example of crimping; on the right and bottom is a general open-handed hold. Sharp bends in the tendon increase the force on the pulleys. This can irritate or tear the pulleys.

Crimp example: Crimping relies only on over-extending the fingertips for support to hold, which stresses the tendons and pulleys in the hand if used too often. 
Open handed holds are looser, open and places less pressure on the pulleys and tendons in the hand. 

Tendons and Pulleys

  • Tendon:  A type of body tissue that connects muscles to a bone.
  • Pulley: A piece of tissue that holds the tendons in the fingers close to the finger, instead of letting them “bowstring”out between the fingertip and the palm.
Figure 51: Diagram of tendon and pulley inside the human finger.
Tendons in the finger align along the bone and the pulleys holds the tendons in place. 

Tendons and pulleys gain strength much more slowly than muscles do, so climbers can easily become strong enough to injure their tendons and pulleys while crimping. 

Inspect Used Gear.

All your equipment must be in good condition in order to be used safely. Check all your carabiners for sharp edges, and inspect soft goods for signs of wear and sun fading. The cost of new gear is small when your life depends on it!


Knowing the belay commands and communicating properly with your partner can prevent the majority of climbing accidents.

On Belay?
Belay on.
Climb on!