Saturday, 17 March 2012

Blaming others for your own stupidity.

Warning. This post is a rant.

I have the pleasure of being a member at Craggy Island Climbing Centre in Guildford, it is a great place to go and climb, there is a fantastic atmosphere in the centre, the staff are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable and, thankfully, there are routes that cater to all abilities. I suppose what I’m trying to say is the place has a great vibe and I love climbing there.

Then, yesterday, while taking a break from housework and admin stuff for the search team I went to the UK Climbing website and had a glance through the forums and I came across a thread about this article –

I have long been opposed to the “compensation culture”. Don’t get me wrong, the right in law to sue someone for compensation when they, through their error, have caused you harm is an important one and if I was to be injured through the action or inaction of another then I’d be all for exercising that right.
However, what I object to, and boy oh boy do I object, is blaming someone for your own damn stupidity and I’m afraid to say that Ms Pinchbeck is guilty of just that. She chose to take part in an activity that is inherently dangerous (don’t look at me like that, the adrenaline is part of why we do it) and she took a decision to jump from a wall and in doing so broke her ankle. I say again Ms Pinchbeck CHOSE to take part. She didn’t HAVE to.

There is no requirement at Craggy to leave your common sense at the door, no locker in which to pop your innate understanding that “if I fall down, I might hurt myself”. There is, of course, the BMC participation statement writ large –

The BMC recognises that climbing and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions.

A version of which you have to sign as part of the registration process before climbing, there is no addendum which states

“That is unless I hurt myself, abrogate my own personal responsibility and decide to blame someone else”

The Telegraph article states that Ms Pinchbeck was a keen runner, I ask her, if you’d slipped from the curb whilst out running and caused the same injury who would you have blamed then?

It enrages me that the judiciary appear unwilling to look at these cases rationally and say “Sorry, you were stupid, you made a mistake and now you’re trying to blame someone else, get out of my court room and stop wasting my time”.

This whole sorry episode is indicative of the blame culture, where personal responsibility appears to be a thing of the past and no one is willing to admit that they may have made a mistake or been a tad stupid. So I say lets have a return to common sense, if you climb there is a likelihood that at some point you’re going to injure yourself and it will be no one’s fault but your own, just as there is risk in any sport which involves physical activity. I recently took part in a session of laser tag, outdoors in the woods; I tripped while jumping a log and cracked some ribs, and it was nobody’s fault but mine. I’m not about to start blaming the owner of the site, or the bloke who chopped the tree down or anyone BUT ME.

The people who bring these ridiculous lawsuits because they cannot face taking responsibility for their own actions are setting a terrible and dangerous precedent. Its time Ms Pinchbeck and her ilk took a long hard look at themselves and realised the error of their ways.

I will continue to climb at Craggy, as will I continue to recommend it to anyone, and if they have to raise their prices to pay their insurance premiums, which will inevitably rise, then I’ll pay the extra because it’s a great place and I love climbing, but when I do I’ll be thinking “Thank you Ms Pinchbeck, for making the experience a little less pleasant.”


  1. In this case I think I absolutely agree with you. A shame the lady can no longer run etc, but at the end of the day it's the risk that makes it fun. Isn't that why we all pursue these activities? Just because you didn't think it's dangerous and nobody told you it could be, doesn't usurp the notion that you'd be able to judge it yourself. If it's a child I think it's different, but surely as an adult you know it's potentially threatening as soon as your head gets higher than 6 feet off the ground (apologies for all those people taller than 6'). Plenty of people die from falling over, so why would she think any differently when she was hanging from a climbing wall. Keep up the blogging. By the way, I know a good lawyer and think we might have a case with your log!

  2. Thanks for your comment Peter, always good to know someone is out there reading this stuff :0)

  3. Great post Col and I Couldn't agree with you more on this! Surely it is obvious that falling or jumping from any height can lead to a potential injury whether your breifed before hand or not? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work that out!

    1. It doesn't take a rocket scientist......until there's a sniff of a payout!!