The lure of big air spring flying is very strong just about now. Many have been waiting for opportunity to fly and each "Good Day" seems like a unique opportunity that must not be missed. - Add to this the amazing flights we hear about and think - "if only I could have been there......".
Right about now the temptations are maxed out and the corresponding risk is as well. I haven't been around long enough to have correlative data but I must assume that spring is the most dangerous time in the air sport year.
Today I was reminded of a very valuable Rule/Lesson I last employed on Disappointment Cleaver on one of my last climbs on Rainer.
That day had temptations like spring flying:
I was lead with a friend whom I had promised I would "get to the top." I made the promise when we made the decision not to tempt weather and cold on a previous climb instead deciding to return down to camp. -
On the day in question we were climbing in chain with a large group of climbers forcing our speed to be faster than I was able to maintain. After 3 or 4 hours of fast pace climbing I was getting dehydrated and facing mild exhaustion. It was then that my mind began to fritz and I knew it. I couldn't tell if it was early signs of cerebral edema or just hyper exhaustion and dehydration.
The thing that saved me/us that day was remembering a rule given me by a very wise climbing buddy about making go/no go decisions during or prior to a climb.
Here is the Rule:
You can break a single rule some times if you understand the risk involved. - You may break a second rule and continue to climb if you must but you are now on very thin ice - YOU MUST NEVER break three rules at the same time during ANY climb.
Rule one: Climb with two rope teams: BROKEN
Rule two: Climb within your physical limits: BROKEN
Rule three: If your not thinking clearly don't go any higher: ALMOST BROKEN we went down.
This Rule of Three works for Paragliding as well and I found myself using it on Baldy today.
Rule one: Never fly Alone: - to be broken
Rule two: Fly only when you are feeling up to it and strong: I WAS TIRED
Rule three: Fly skies and conditions you know and are comfortable with: It looked prefrontal and winds were forecasted to increase in the afternoon. I didn't like the look of the sky, it was changing too fast.
I had three rules in front of me, and was thinking about breaking them until I remembered the RULE OF THREE. - NEVER! - I didn't - and thanks old friend for returning the call.