A swinging sport

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Re "Man dies after 200-foot fall in canyon near Moab" (Tribune, May 6):

The first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1965 resulted in tragedy. On descent, four of the seven climbers fell to their death.

The crude safety standards of the day were a subject of a great debate that led to higher safety standards for mountaineering. For example, modern mountaineers avoid weighting the rope except where necessary, like rappelling, and then only extremely carefully.

The new sport of hurtling yourself off of an arch formation while slung by a rope relies entirely on the equipment. In one case, the length of the rope was misjudged and it led to a death. Anchors and the arc of the swing may be dangerous.

Swinging is clearly a sport in its early evolution, and it's a sport without a full safety regime. The temptation is to condemn or stop swinging by law. But general outlawing is not a good idea.

Like mountaineering, swinging needs to evolve its own safety standards. Accidents, of course, will still happen. But let's not reject those things in life that add greatly to the quality of experience.

Instead, good sense and careful execution is the solution.

Ted Wilson

Salt Lake City