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CMC / Denver Group



Safety is our number one concern. But I want to emphasize that we need to be casting our safety net wide and we need to be sure that safety net has fine mesh. We don't want a safety issue to arise at the edge of our peripheral vision and we don't want safety issues to slip through our net. We don't want to confine our safety concerns to the most obvious elements, such as 'don't fall off the cliff, Johnny'. We want to have our safety radar running every second of every minute and running from the time we meet in the parking lot until the time we return to the parking lot. We want to be at constant high alert and we want to tell our stduents to be at constant high alert. Everybody watch out for everybody. And everybody watch out for the potential for danger.

We don't want to wait until an accident happens and only then adopt measures that make that accident less likely to happen in the future. We want to take steps now to make sure that accident never happens in the first place.

And we are not just looking out for big, life-threatening accident possibilities. We are watching for every potential harm: fractures, sprains, lacerations, blisters, snow blindness, sunburn (skin, under the nose, roof of the mouth, etc), dehydration, hypothermia, bonking, rope burn, allergic reactions, heart problems, circulation problems, nervous system problems, etc.

Students should know that this is why we ask them to do things in a certain way. It is more than teaching a precise series of steps, though; it is also the environment. Have you, as instructors, made the environment a safe classroom? Are the Anchors solid and redundant? Are the snow conditions safe? Are the roads safe? Do the students have clothing (especially boots and gloves) to keep them warm?

If you could boil down student safety to one simple principle, it might be 'what is the stance of the student'? Always be aware of where the student is standing or is about to stand. They should never get closer than a body length to the edge of a cliff without being safetied to an anchor. They should never remove their safety leash on rappel without applying a solid brake hand. Do they have a solid three-point stance on a steep snow slope? Are their boot laces tied so as not to cause them to trip? Do they have micro-spikes for that icy trail? Are they being careful enough on that downward sloping trail that their foot don't scoot out from under them? Are they watching for rattlesnakes?

Safe Conduct

You have all heard about creating 'safe spaces' for folks. We want to be sure we don't create spaces in which students do not feel safe, especially in regard to issues that relate to gender and gender identity, race, religion, politics, etc. Everyone needs to watch their mouth and instructors need to keep an eye and ear open for students who threaten those safe spaces and shut it down fast and firm.