Surprise! - Actual Risk vs. Perceived Risk

I knew that rock climbing was dangerous, but decided to see if any injury rate studies had been done on indoor climbing. I was surprised to discover there was a huge gap between my perceived risk vs. the actualrisk.

I found a massive study in progress at a large climbing gym in Germany. This study tracked 515,337 climbers over five years (2007-2011). Ages ranged from 8 to 80. 

A total of 30 injuries were recorded (all forms of climbing); 6 while bouldering, 16 lead climbing injuries, 7 top-rope climbing injuries and one non-climbing injury. No fatalities were recorded. Climbing time was accurately monitored by an electronic entry and exit system.

Studies on sport safety are shown as numbers of injuries per 1,000 participation hours. This study showed 0.02 injuries per 1,000 hours of climbing time, which is less than one percent of other sports/activities: 

Injury rate comparisons (this study):    Injuries per 1,000 hours:
  • Basketball - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 14
  • Running - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 11
  • Dance Classes  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 5
  • Treadmill  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 6 
  • Tennis  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 5 
  • Bicycling - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3.5
  • Stationary cycle exercise  - - - - - - - - - - -  2
  • Stair Climbing - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2
  • Indoor Climbing (all disciplines) - - - - -  0.02
  • Indoor Climbing (top-rope only)  - - - -  0.005
As I compared injury rates I realized my concerns exceeded reality. I've done all of those activities and their injury rates look terrible compared to the results of this long-term study. 

I also noticed top-rope climbing's injury rate was only one-fourth of indoor climbing's overall injury rate. I remembered my first experience at top-rope climbing with my granddaughters and decided to find out if there were any indoor climbing facilities in or near Des Moines.