Category Archives: risk management

Words elude me…

Boy Scout dies in zipline accident

According to the CEO of the local Boy Scout council, the scout leaders who owned the property were “trained to perform ziplining activities.”

Absolutely did not have to happen.



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You do what?


“Dave… WHY do you have to do such crazy things?”

I can still hear my dad’s voice as I described my most recent vertical endeavor. I knew he was proud, but I also got the distinct impression that he thought I was nuts.

All you ropes course folks reading this, how many times have you heard, “that’s crazy!” when describing what you do?

My career choice would seem pretty dangerous to many. I might be running a 250′ rappel off a hotel for charity, guiding a 900′ zipline, or working 40′ off the ground, cutting old hardware off my ropes course with an angle grinder.

Most people: “HOLY _________! I could never do that!”

Me: “Meh.”

Don’t mistake my response for recklessness or indifference. I am keenly aware of the fact that if I start taking things for granted, my job could kill me and/or others. Regarding the course maintenance example above, it might have only taken me 15 minutes to climb that pole, crawl out on that cable, and cut the old metal links off, but you’re not privy to the 45 minutes of planning, staging equipment, ensuring my ability to self-rescue if my primary equipment goes wonky (which it shouldn’t due to my gear inspection and function check prior to taking a step off the ground, but just in case…) What goes up has to come down, and I’d rather it be on my terms.

The ropes challenge course industry enjoys a phenomenal safety record with millions of participant hours annually, but sustaining that record brings with it a sobering responsibility. As the director of our facility’s ropes challenge courses, I have to be the expert, not only for myself, but for the instructors I’ve trained, the participants we serve, and the facility itself. An incident on my watch could have far-reaching consequences.

I love what I do. What may come off as “just another day at the office” is the result of untold hours studying this industry, the activities we operate, training for myself & my staff, the equipment we use, etc.

Be safe!


Busy working on a risk management presentation I’m delivering in March and I came across a great quote in an essay by Dr. Jasper Hunt (“Ethically Tolerable Accidents,” 1998.)
“I think the accident that is not discussed, not learned from, not held out as a case study for practitioners to examine, is an accident that is in its very nature unacceptable.”
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Gear Review – Qalo Silicone Rings

Hey all, what better way to kick off my professional blog than with a gear review. As a wilderness first aid instructor, I’m very aware of the injuries associated with wearing rings around climbing activities (Google “degloved finger”, not for the weak of stomach!) I like wearing my wedding band, but the options have been to risk injury, risk loss wearing it on a breakaway neck lanyard, or forego wearing it altogether.

Well, peeps, I found out about Qalo’s rings ( on a climbing forum and just had to give it a try. It’s sized like a regular ring, conforms to surfaces when climbing and if snagged mid-fall, will fail before your finger does (have you searched “degloved finger” yet?)

At $20, it’ll spare your wedding band scuffs & scrapes, plus it’s cheaper than the Emergency Room co-pay!

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