How to remember to do a buddy check

Whether at a climbing wall or out on the rock, good communication between climber and belayer is important. Does it matter what the calls are? Probably not, as long as they are consistent between that climbing party. But as we don't always climb with the same partners, perhaps standardised calls are best.

So, even before leaving the ground, climbing calls start. What is the point if you can just talk to each other? The answer is - we're all human and make mistakes sometimes. So let's use a checklist.

Rocket scientists and brain surgeons use checklists: from the extreme example of NASA, where astronauts don't do anything without going through the checklist even when it has been practiced umpteen times before to surgeons in operating theatres, checklists are followed.

Why not start using the climbing calls as your prompt to do all the parts of a buddy check:

Belayer: CLIMB WHEN READY  - I've checked your harness, your tie-in knot, and my belay device.

Climber: CLIMBING - I've checked the belay device, belayer's tie-in if used and position of the belayer.

Belayer: OK - Erm, yup still concentrating, didn't know how long you'd be until you were ready. Off you go!

It doesn't matter if you are a top-end climbing athlete or it's been 10 months since you put your harness on, complacency, being distracted, absent-mindedness or skills fade can increase the chance of unnecessary errors.

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