The following Oh Shit Award is another simple one, namely that you should never skip protection just because the terrain is easy, 3rd class, or ‘scrambling’. Many is the time when I’ve soloed up easy ground, heading for the meat of the pitch, only to find there’s no gear once you’re at said meat, which means you’re free soloing unless you find a bit of humility and down climb and place some gear. But sometimes, climbing back down is not an option…
Last summer I almost killed myself falling off a trad route without putting any protection in. My helmet probably saved my life and certainly prevented serious neurological injury.
We spent a day in June on a seaside cliff climbing easy trad-routes. Being new to trad-climbing we climbed well within our limits, but the climbing was fun and we had a good flow.
To finish off the day we were doing a 5+ Norwegian grade route. It started with easy scrambling leading up to a crack in a corner. Without looking behind, or placing protection, I climbed the scrambling section to the crack in the corner and immediately continued up the corner to a promising first cam-placement - about 2 meters above the scrambling section. Unfortunately, the crack was flaring and I couldn’t find any acceptable placements for any gear. I looked down and realized that I now in effect was 5 to 6 meters of the ground, with no gear in place.
I had a good stance, but fear gripped me...