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Aussie man dies when hit by falling rock
9:40:54 AM
Not completey climbing related but...

From the Age this morning

An Aussie adventurer was killed by a 135kg rock that hit him in the head while decending on ropes as part of a 10 day adventure race. It says that he was not wearing a helmet (only the cycle leg of the race required a helmet).

What would a helmet do for you if a 135kg rock hit you in the head? Would it have made any difference? What level of protection do people expect from a helmet while climbing? I dont wear a helmet myself but maybe I should be rethinking my decision.
10:03:08 AM
I think you will find mate that you could be wearing 10 helmets and still die if a rock that big hit you in the head. I guess it may depend on what hight the rock has fallen but it would not have to be far.

Basically climbing helmets are designed to protect your head from small falling rocks, that is about it.

Sorry I haven't got anything thing to back any of this up so I guess you may as well just ignore it.

10:31:19 AM
Having just read The Totem Pole by Paul Pritchard, a statement in this book may help answers. For thise that dotn know he was hit oin the head while jumaring up the totem pole to belay ledge, by a large falling rock. He suffered major head trauma and wasnt wearing a helmet, loosing alot of function of the body down one side. the question was asked about wether a helmet would have helped and it was stated by in the book that with the size of the rock it is more likely that the force of the the blow onto the helmet would have pased the blow down through his neck, snapping it, with more than likely outcome he would actually have become a quadriplegic, loosing fuinction from the neck down.

Its a very inspiring book, and makes you think about why you climb etc, but in reference to this post in summary, if the rock big enough nothings gonna help you. Im not advocating not waering a helmet, but much the same as if you wear wearing a seatbelt, and you car got run over by a truck, said seatbelt wouldnt be much use to you.

11:32:45 AM
My condolences to all involved. At the risk of starting a helmet debate...

On 23/09/2004 rodw wrote:
> ...if the rock big enough nothings gonna help you

The odds of getting a TV sized block to the noggin I would imagine are far less than those of being sconned by the loose flakes your leader is kicking off while scaping his way to glory. To me it makes to sense to protect yourself from the more likely of mishaps. Even being beaned by a penny sized chunk is going to hurt like all hell especially if it gains speed. Also consider a leader fall from a layback position or with the rope behind your leg, or protuding sections of rock to hit on the way down. Head butting the cliff is a real possibility. Personally I wear my helmet almost all the time while climbing. I even put it on the other day to walk down the Asses Ears approach track.

1:16:42 PM
Every now and then something happens that really makes you stop and think. I went to school with this guy, the last time I saw him was in 1999 at the Australian Ironman Triathlon. It sure looks like he had a lot of fun in all those races, and the places they take you to, and the people you meet through them. It's always sad when someone dies, but some people seemed to have missed out on living as well..though that doesn't appear the case here. You can't help plain bad luck.

I really don't know what to say...
2:22:43 PM
My condolences go out to his family and friends.

The Ironman and Multisport world is quite a small community. Though I didn't know him personally, a few of my friends knew him well. Very sad news indeed.

2:51:48 PM
Put "helmet" into the search on the forums list page and you'll find a couple of discussions about the pros and cons of helmets.

Nick Kaz
3:25:38 PM
On 23/09/2004 craig wrote:
>An Aussie adventurer was killed by a 135kg rock that hit him in the head
>while decending on ropes as part of a 10 day adventure race. It says that
>he was not wearing a helmet (only the cycle leg of the race required a

>What level of protection do people expectfrom a helmet while climbing?

Thats a terible thing to hear, I guess there is nothing you can do about fridge sized blocks. I expect my helmet to stop smallish rocks, maybe deflect things upto fist size.

>What would a helmet do for you if a 135kg rock hit you in the head? Would
>it have made any difference?

Smash, No difference, except maby to point out to some people that just having gear wont make you safe.

>I dont wear a helmet myself but maybe I should be rethinking my decision.

I often don't wear a helmet, and if I do its usualy only whilst belaying or on seconding on crap rock. However this long weekend is Bungles weekend and I will definitly be taking a helmet even on lead.
4:01:35 PM
I think my new priority for the weekend is to buy a helmet. Thanks for the advise.

12:58:03 PM
In 3-4 years of climbing (say once a month) I've probably had two rocks fly past, and one piece of gear dropped by a leader. I know I'd rather have my belayer wear a helmet, so they don't become unconsciousand and let go of the rope while I am on the sharp end!
1:30:26 PM
Iím a big fan of my helmet even thou I donít always where it I find itís a good thing to have on when I forget thereís a ledge above me or some one drops a nut (no not that nut Iím talking gear) or when the trees hit me on the walk offs but as it always is it only happens if youíre got it on.


3:03:34 PM
I met Nigel at a mutual friend's wedding a couple of months back. Very nice guy, This is a huge loss, a memorial service is being held next Tuesday. For the record, Nigel was a World Champion rogainer in 1998 (Calgary), and no-one saw the rock actually hit him - I spoke briefly with the guy who accidentally dislodged the fateful rock and who suffered lacerations in his achilles himself who confirmed this - so it's impossible to say whether a helmet would have helped (a glancing blow for example may not have been fatal with a helmet). Speculation doesn't help. There are numerous tributes to Nigel by closer friends than I on and He will be sorely missed by the whole multi-sport community.

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