We try to be all fun and games, as much as we can, because our conventions are primarily about fun. And they are fun. You can have a tremendous amount of fun. So try to keep that in mind, and that we hate having to get down to brass tacks, but there’s not a whole lot of room for nonchalance when it comes to safety.
Wherefore the Requirements
Nothing causes more consternation and misunderstanding than the fact that Homo Climbtastic imposes climbing skill-level requirements for attending its conventions. For the last four years, we’ve taken it from both ends on this issue–and not in a good way–but at least that establishes that it matters to us. On non-HC adventures, the dictators have seen climbers crack their skulls open, they have had friends who died climbing, and they have witnessed close-calls that would have been fatal had time or space been shifted only slightly.
This is why we have never flinched when insisting on the safety requirements. We’ve told a lot of people over the years that they needed more training if they wanted to come, and we were happy to see that many of them took our advice about where to get that training, and became safer climbers eligible to show up. We know that it doesn’t feel good to see a really fun party going on that you can’t go to–so we do everything in our power to make it possible for you to go, in the form of teaching or referrals. But we’ll never suggest that you come if you pose a risk to yourself or anyone else.
So What are the Requirements?
Part of the reason we get hate-mail is because we’re a little vague on this subject, but there’s no sharp black line across which you can leap and become an experienced climber. After years and years of climbing, you’re still discovering new ways to kill yourself. But we’ll try to give you as good an idea as we can:
As a baseline, the people in HC have been lead belaying, lead climbing, and cleaning routes for at least six months to a year (assuming they were climbing twice a month or more), such that lead belaying skills and cleaning are second nature to them. (People who don’t climb outside twice a month or more have climbed longer.) They own all the equipment to lead climb and clean, they know lead belaying, usually with several different devices, they know how to rappel, and they can give a soft catch easily because doing it has become a habit. They’re very familiar with the ethics of maintaining climbing areas and crag etiquette, both in terms of leave no trace principles, and in terms of maintaining access (another set of principles including LNT).
That sounds like a high barrier, and it is. But there’s an exception big enough to drive a truck, or at least, a car of friends through.
The Chaperone Exception
If you bring someone along who is a VERY experienced climber, as in, meets that baseline above and then some, you’re eligible to come with them, but that chaperone has to stay with you when you’re climbing. You’re Whitney Houston and they’re Kevin Costner. And even with the chaperone present, you should only be belaying the people who came with you, not the new faces you meet at the convention, unless you are super mega up-front with them about your experience level, and they agree to it.
Questions about whether someone can serve as a chaperone? Ask us!
For Those Who Are Borderline and Don’t Have a Chaperone
If there is any question as to whether you meet the requirements, or, you want our help in reaching them, we are willing (and have on many occasions) talk to you for hours and hours about how to get there and if the experience you have is enough.
We do it all the time. Seriously. You won’t be the first person asking. So don’t be shy. Use that Contact page link up at the top!
Very rarely, HC bans people from the club and its events in order to protect the membership or the club’s interests. The possible reasons for banning are described on the FAQ page. It is extraordinarily uncommon, but given the size of the group, it is inevitable. We ourselves are quite nutty, so we give people a lot of latitude, but there’s a line across which you can step into… the ban zone. Although we generally notify those who are banned, being kicked out of the Facebook group is notification.
As far as the eligibility requirements go, well, if you’re banned, they’re not relevant any longer, cause yer banned.
If you carpool with someone who is banned, or bring them to the crags where we are climbing, we won’t view it as a cute way of getting your banned buddy in through you–instead you’ll be asked to leave the convention. We only gather in one place, once a year–if your bestie can’t handle not climbing with you in that one place, once a year, you need a new bestie. Not to mention, if you knew what people had gotten away with without getting banned, the fact that they’re banned should be a grave cause for concern. If you’re not sure if someone is banned, as always you can ask us, or if they have a Facebook profile, you can check to see if they’re a member of the Facebook group.
Who Is the Final Authority On This? (“I want to speak to your manager!”)
The convention’s head organizer for that year has the full authority to make decisions regarding everything about the convention. The organizer is subject to having the Dictator board vote to veto the their decisions. Unless and until that vote passes, however, the head organizer prevails–their decisions are not held in limbo in the interim. (HC uses this decision making structure for virtually all of its activities, with different people having different roles.)
I Have Questions! Or I Hate Your Policies!
That’s what that contact page up top is for–we’ll answer all your questions. And respond to your hate for our policies. Because 9 times out of 10, the people who hate our policies either don’t understand them, or wrongly believe that they are not eligible. For whatever reason, all of the words that come out of our mouths are frequently interpreted as, “you can’t come!” when that really isn’t the case. If you contact us well ahead of time, there’s a high possibility that we’ll steer you toward what you need to know to climb with us–and you’ll be way happier and way safer for having learned it.
We fix and defend these standards to safeguard the emotional and physical safety of our events, and we do not deal with these issues lightly. They are important to us because you are important to us.