A fellow climber warned us about a sketchy dude at Smith Rock, Oregon. Mr. Sketch had offered him a belay, and when he was three-quarters up a route, he looked down and noticed something chilling. The belayer was gone. The rope hung loosely from his harness to the ground. He rapped down and found the sketchy dude flirting with some girls a ways down the crag. Sketch said, “What? You looked like you were doing fine!”—Submitted by Jason D. Martin, via Climbing.com
LESSON: When you allow someone to belay you, you’re literally placing your life in his hands. Only climb with people you know you can trust. Clearly, Mr. Sketch wasn’t trustworthy and put your life in grave danger (“Grave danger?” “Is there any other kind?”—A Few Good Men). It’s tough when you are itching to climb and someone offers a catch. It seems impolite to turn down a generous offer, but don’t feel obligated to accept. Ask questions. Where has the person climbed, with whom, how long have they been leading, what grade can they lead? Pepper ’em with queries. If they get upset or antsy, just say no thanks. The actions of Sketch are inexcusable, and he should be banned from climbing, if there was such as thing as a climbing ban. Since there isn’t, just continue to spread the word about him and beware.