Yes, safety gear is ALWAYS required. No shortcuts. I'm strapped in from the moment my feet enter the climber until the moment I step out again.
Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.