Are Indoor Wall eroding mountain sense?

I have to say I am a big fan of indoor climbing walls, maybe that is because I live in a place where it rains, a lot! I also used to work in one and have had many hours of joy climbing with a how host of friends and acquaintances. Yet I read a piece today from Rock and Ice which made me ask myself this question.

The article was called ‘Climbing’s Big Mistake‘, I see parallels between the author and my own introduction to the sport as down south there simply weren’t many indoor walls and instead we went outside to learn. Whilst the article is uses Tito tragic accident as a launching pad the questions then asked are very real.

This week I was out on the Plexus Buttress of Dinas Mot and when I walked down a climber was in the throws of being rescues with a badly broken leg. I walked down with another friend who had witness what had happened. The Climber had managed to get off route on a HVS and onto an E1. My friend had pointed this out and also that where is was going there was little gear. The climber already shaking then carried on upwards and eventually took a very nasty fall and all the chaos that followed.

One thing I try to distill into my clients is if it doubt don’t run it out. As that is a game for mugs. Unlike a climbing you won’t necessary find another bolt, gear placement or jug. Instead essentially climb yourself into a worse position. Whether you call this mountain or crag sense, I don’t know its something that I have learnt and try to teach in other.

Don’t get me wrong, Climbing walls have pushed up the grade of beginners. It is not uncommon for me to have beginners who have climbed inside a lot leading VS by the end of a week course. I try to again instill that it is all well and good leading this grade with me their guardian angel on there shoulder, but it is another thing altogether to do it on your own. Leading is a lonely ride, where you can doubt every judgement, placement and route ¬†finding decision you make, leading to you becoming a jibbering wreck.

Anyway I suggest you read the article and question whether you think the Indoor Wall is eroding mountain sense. As it offers a short cut to climbing, whereby climbers are missing out on making small mistakes on easier routes that are far more forgiving.

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