The Nelson Rocks Preserve in West Virginia, USA, is a privately-run recreation area much visited by walkers and climbers, many of whom use its via ferrata - climbing routes with steel handrails already installed, a sort of "mountaineering-lite" for novices and fat people.
The Disclaimer issued by the Nelson Rocks management to all visitors has become justly famous and much copied. We've checked to the best of our ability and this seems to be a genuine document, not a spoof …
Nature is unpredictable and unsafe. Mountains are dangerous. Many books have been written about these dangers, and there's no way we can list them all here. Read the books.
Nelson Rocks Preserve is covered in steep terrain with loose, slippery and unstable footing. The weather can make matters worse. Sheer drops are everywhere. You may fall, be injured or die. There are hidden holes. You could break your leg. There are wild animals, which may be vicious, poisonous or carriers of dread diseases. These include poisonous snakes and insects. Plants can be poisonous as well. We don't do anything to protect you from any of this. We do not inspect, supervise or maintain the grounds, rocks, cliffs or other features, natural or otherwise.
Real dangers are present even on trails. Trails are not sidewalks. They can be, and are, steep, slippery and dangerous. Trail features made or enhanced by humans, such as steps, walls and railings (if any) can break, collapse, or otherwise fail catastrophically at any time. We don't promise to inspect, supervise or maintain them in any way. They may be negligently constructed or repaired. They are unsafe, period. Live with it or stay away.
Stay on the trails whenever possible. The terrain, in addition to being dangerous, is surprisingly complex. You may get lost. Carry food, water and first aid supplies at all times.
Rocks and other objects can fall from the cliffs. They can tumble down slopes. This can happen naturally, or be caused by people above you, such as climbers. Rocks of all sizes, including huge boulders, can shift, move or fall with no warning. Use of helmets (available at entrance station) is advised for anyone approaching the rock formations. They won't save you if you get hit by something big or on another part of your body. A whole rock formation might collapse on you and squash you like a bug. Don't think it can't happen.
Weather can be dangerous, regardless of the forecast. Be prepared with extra clothing, including rain gear. Hypothermia, heat stroke, lightning, ice and snow, etc. can kill you. Rain can turn easy terrain into a deathtrap.
If you scramble in high places (scrambling is moving over terrain steep enough to use your hands) without proper experience, training and equipment, or allow children to do so, you are making a terrible mistake. Even if you know what you're doing, lots of things can go wrong and you may be injured or die. It happens all the time.
The Preserve does not provide rangers or security personnel. The other people in the preserve, including other visitors, our employees, agents, and guests, and anyone else who might sneak in, may be stupid, reckless, or otherwise dangerous. They may be mentally ill, criminally insane, drunk, using illegal drugs and/or armed with deadly weapons and ready to use them. We aren't necessarily going to do anything about it. We refuse to take responsibility.
If you climb, you may die or be seriously injured. This is true whether you are experienced or not, trained or not, equipped or not, though training and equipment may help. It's a fact, climbing is extremely dangerous. If you don't like it, stay at home. You really shouldn't be doing it anyway. We do not provide supervision or instruction. We are not responsible for, and do not inspect or maintain, climbing anchors (including bolts, pitons, slings, trees, etc.) As far as we know, any of them can and will fail and send you plunging to your death. There are countless tons of loose rock ready to be dislodged and fall on you or someone else. There are any number of extremely and unusually dangerous conditions existing on and around the rocks, and elsewhere on the property. We may or may not know about any specific hazard, but even if we do, don't expect us to try to warn you. You're on your own.
Rescue services are not provided by the Preserve, and may not be available quickly or at all. Local rescue squads may not be equipped for or trained in mountain rescue. If you are lucky enough to have somebody try to rescue you or treat your injuries, they may be incompetent or worse. This includes doctors and hospitals. We assume no responsibility. Also, if you decide to participate in a rescue of some other unfortunate, that's your choice. Don't do it unless you are willing to assume all risks.
By entering the Preserve, you are agreeing that we owe you no duty of care or any other duty. We promise you nothing. We do not and will not even try to keep the premises safe for any purpose. The premises are not safe for any purpose. This is no joke. We won't even try to warn you about any dangerous or hazardous condition, whether we know about it or not. If we do decide to warn you about something, that doesn't mean we will try to warn you about anything else. If we do make an effort to fix an unsafe condition, we may not try to correct any others, and we may make matters worse! We and our employees or agents may do things that are unwise and dangerous. Sorry, we're not responsible. We may give you bad advice. Don't listen to us. In short, ENTER AND USE THE PRESERVE AT YOUR OWN RISK. And have fun!
The management require all visitors to sign a Release Form which ends with the words …
I promise I won't sue NRP or everyone connected with NRP, and I don't want anyone else suing them no matter what happens. I really, truly mean this.
The GOS says: Sadly, even this inspired and pithy bit of writing hasn't been enough to save Nelson Rocks Preserve from the mighty American litigious society. Worried about the increasing number of visitors and of dangerous incidents and the possible legal repercussions, the Preserve closed in 2005 to climbers and walkers, though the facilities for fat people remained open. However there was even a fatality on the via ferrata in September 2006. There are several videos of Nelson Rocks on YouTube. Nelson Rocks Preserve is currently open so far as we have been able to determine, but is also for sale for only $750,000 (property's generally cheap in West Virginia - I checked).
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2007 The GOS
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