Group Climbing Handbook from the BMC

The British Mountaineering Council have produced a useful guide to taking groups on outdoor crags – ‘The Green Guide for Groups of Climbers’. It can be found here at:


Can I put a sticker on a helmet?

An oft-asked question. Many people or outdoor centres have stickers on climbing helmets – but should they? What’s the answer?

In general, no you should not put stickers on helmets – but there are caveats to this. Why?

  • Most people will tell you that the glue on stickers is bad for the helmet. In fact, this is possible but not really the major factor. Most glues are OK but of course who knows which ones? Some glues are harmful and it’s hard to know which glue is on your sticker – it’s hardly foremost in your mind! So, glue is a bit of a problem and unless it’s the manufacturer’s own sticker (see below) then assume your glue is not suitable.
  • Stickers make it hard to inspect the helmet as they conceal areas and these could have problems like small cracks.
  • One major factor, almost always overlooked, is that of vibration. Helmets are designed and tested to withstand impacts of objects from above – in principle, falling rocks. The impact is dissipated when the shock waves travel across the helmet – but if these waves are disrupted, the helmet may not be able to withstand the impact. Cracks occur in tests around the edges of stickers. This Information came from a PPE inspcetor’s course and we haven’t been able to find any solid evidence to back it up from manufacturers, but it could be a factor to consider.

So what’s the solution?

Can I write on the helmet with a marker pen? – No, for the same reason as glues.

Some helmet manufacturers have now taken this into account and make helmets with sticker areas, so try one of those if you really want to mark your helmets. Petzl, for example, supply stickers so that you can mark and identify helmets.

If you do need to mark a helmet, for example to identify its serial number in a centre, then choose a non-critical area and write on it with an approved marker pen – or attach a tag of some type like a coloured cable tie with label – this won’t affect anything.



If it could happen, it will one day..

Your Climbing Advisor has been climbing, on and off, for *^% years now, a long time. In this time there are some things which have been mentioned as theoretically possible, but have come under the category of ‘that never really happens….’ – well, sometimes it does!

When climbing a lovely 5.7 bolted route at Indian Cove in Joshua Tree the other day at the start of a climbing trip, I took in the rope for my second and the first runner came out and sailed down the rope. Ordinarily I’d have thought that maybe I’d put in a poor runner (not unheard of!), or that maybe a nut had been unseated by pulling the rope – but it was a bolt!

So clearly the rope, when pulled up, had run in such a way as to cause the gate of the karabiner to be opened against the bolt. Not unimaginable, but the first time I’d seen it – so the moral of the tale is that Murphy’s Law* states that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong – sometime. Thankfully it was in a non-critical situation, but we can all revise our theory so please check out this DMM video – why not?

*Murphy’s Law was named after Captain Edward Murphy, an American engineer who coined the phrase. Follow the link for more info.


A parent’s guide to climbing, walking and mountaineering

The British Mountaineering Council have produced a great leaflet explaining the benefits and the risks of these activities for young children. A great introductory guide for those parents unsure about what is involved – this could help reassure parents of young potential participants.

The leaflet can be ordered or there is a free download. Please see: