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Indoor Weekly: Helmets for Gym Lead Climbers?

Climbing gyms are pumping out “lead” climbers like never before and those climbers are often under the false assumption that leading indoors is like leading outdoors.

Not only that, but indoor lead climbers aren’t protecting their heads.

And wearing a helmet indoors for lead climbing might seem strange now, but it’s only a matter of time before they’re commonplace.

If you go to any climbing gym during peak hours you’ll see climbers whipping left, right and centre.

The first thing about lead climbing outdoors on rock, especially if you’re a new climber, is that you wear a helmet.

Many gym-only lead climbers are competent and strong all-round climbers. However, many are not.

And issues like Z-clipping, back-clipping and flipping from having the rope behind your leg are the causes of countless serious rock climbing accidents in North America every year.

Having the rope go behind your leg is very common outdoors and knowing how to avoid it is one of the most important tools in your lead kit.

If you fall with the rope behind your leg then you’re going to flip and possibly hit your head.

And it’s not uncommon to see a lead climber in a gym flip because the rope is behind their leg.

If a climber’s only real training is a one-hour lead course at their local gym, it might be time for gyms to teach climbers how to be real rock lead climbers, not just indoor lead climbers.

The first lesson of real rock lead climbing is to wear a helmet.

It’s recommended that for all of you gym climbers out there to take a lead climbing course with a local guide or the Alpine Club of Canada to ensure that you can transition your indoor skills to outdoors.

Climb safe this year!