I was that kid, the kid everyone hated. I was the tattletale. In my defense, I'd like to think that it wasn't from an inherent need to be right, or at least not only because of that. It really has more to do with the fact that there are rules! That are being broken! GAH!
This rule following thing is something that I blame on my German heritage. When I do, people usually nod and act like my entire personality now makes sense to them. I'll take it, if it makes them a little less annoyed with me. Because, I admit it, I am still that kid. Perhaps that's why I like my job; I can tell people what rules to follow to get better. In my climbing group, I have the reputation of being (according to the nice ones) "detail oriented." That is to say if you are breaking the rules a little, or compromising them in any way, I will call you on it.
In most areas of my life, I have learned that it's not always the right thing to point out when someone is obviously wrong. I do not run up to people in the gym to correct their mechanics, no matter how badly I want to. (Seriously, though, if your back is really moving while you do biceps curls, quit trying to show off and cut the weight a little bit! You're not really making the guns any bigger, and you are going to hurt your back eventually!) In many areas of life, I have started to learn to keep my mouth shut. However, in climbing, I let this character trait come out in full force, and most people don't mind. It keeps us on our toes, and (I'd like to think) keeps us a little safer. Luckily, a lot of the people I climb with also like to cross all t's and dot all i's in the climbing arena.
However, when we were out on the rock the other day, a group came up and set up next to us. Not only did they not follow the rules, I don't know that they had any rules in the first place! A couple of them did just fine getting up the rock (better than me and my climbing partner, actually), but their safety was atrocious! I still haven't figured out if they were woefully ignorant or egregiously negligent, although I have to assume that it was some combination of both. Let's just say that when I saw the set up they were using, I started to run scenarios in my mind of what I would have to do in case they fell off the rock.
Here's the thing, if the bottom of the climb is on a ledge, anchor yourself in. That shouldn't be too hard to figure out, people! Even if you're on the ground, you should be anchored in if you're belaying someone heavier than you. Here's the other thing, when one person climbs up anchor the rope at the top so other people can do that climb, there are certain things that anchor should have. Things like carabiners that lock, so the anchor doesn't come out of the bolts at the top, and so that the rope doesn't come out of the anchor.
When we were taught some basic anchors, we learned that you should check every part of than anchor to make sure that if one part failed, there would be another part to back it up. They actually had us imagine cutting each part of the anchor to see where the rest would hold it. If it didn't pass the redundancy test, we don't climb on it. The people next to us? Their anchor could have failed in 3 places, they didn't have locking carabiners, and if it would have failed in any of those places, it would have been all over. And when the fell? They'd be taking their belayer down, too, because the belayer wasn't anchored, remember?
Dang! I know rock climbing can still be dangerous when you do it all right, but why the heck would you get out there when you're doing the whole thing wrong?!
After watching them, I am a little traumatized. They had some older, more experienced people in the group (which means they'd been climbing longer than me, but kudos to them for not breaking their necks sooner.) Because of that, I didn't jump in to tell them everything they were doing wrong, but now I wonder if I should have maybe tried to find a tactful way to say something.
My takeaways from all this:
1) Just because someone tells me they've been climbing doesn't mean that they're someone I'd climb with.
2) I'm even more grateful for the really good, really safe instructors that volunteered so much time to teach us so much stuff.