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LESSON: The first sign that this is a bad idea is that the Amazon description of the grappling hook clearly states "not recommended for climbing." A further glance at some of the reviews reveals several people reporting the metal hooks bending or breaking under small loads. The climbers in question may be beyond the help of this article, since it seems they've made a conscious choice to disregard their own safety, but this is a great opportunity to talk about why it's important to use climbing gear that's designed for climbing.
Most climbing gear features one or two certification labels: UIAA and CE. The UIAA is the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation. CE is a set of standards for all products (climbing and non-climbing) sold in the European Union. If your equipment holds the UIAA label, it means that it has been tested and meets the safety requirements laid out by the UIAA, and you can trust that the equipment is fully safe to use, as long as climbing is listed as one of the recommended uses. Uncertified products are all over the map: Some might be totally safe for use, while others might be homemade in someone's garage and will break under a 10-lb. load. Look for UIAA and/or CE certifications on your gear to KNOW that it's safe for climbing use.
So will a $20 grappling hook from Amazon get you up a cliff? Maybe, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. Nothing in the system is designed for climbing or tested for climbing. So if (when) it fails, that's on you. Also, climbing up a grappling hook is a good way to pull a rock down on your head.
Thanks to photographer Nathan Welton for this absurd story.
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