/ Solo Falls

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Fredt on 12 Nov 2012
It's easy to fall off when roped up and protected, it happens all the time, but if you fall off when soloing then something has gone seriously wrong.

I'm interested to hear your tales of such failures, for that is what they are.
Why did you fall off?
Lessons learned?
Detailed injury descriptions please!
Dervey - on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt: I fell off the first 2m of a VS I had done a few times before, I learned not to be complacent. I bruised both heels landing on pebbles and had to walk on my tiptoes for the rest of the day...
Kevin Woods - on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt: I fell off a short crumbling sea cliff at 11, hit a slab, slid down on my arse while the dislodged boulder came from behind and gave me a whack in the back. I wasn't 'rock climbing' at the time, simply too curious for my own good!
henwardian - on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:
I was mucking about at the bottom of a big chossy roof at a sea cliff, not really going anywhere, just feeling the rock and probably saying something like "hey man, this looks pretty cool, I wonder if a route could be put up here..." to my friend. Rock came off in my hand as I leant backwards to get a better look, I kinda hopped backwards, bruised my heel on landing and fell hard on my back. I learned that chossy sea cliffs are chossy and that if you have a coiled rope on your back (as I did) then it makes an excellent cushion for your spine when you land on your back.
I wasn't really thinking "I'm soloing" at the time, more just investigating/mucking about.

Thats the only one I can remember about.
Jon Stewart - on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

I've fallen off soloing a few grit routes, low down, and bounced down the crag a bit. Usually hitting some heathery ledge and proceeding to roll down hill. Never had more than a bruise.

The only time I hurt myself properly (medial collateral ligament sprain) I had a rope on, and bad gear.
Jonny2vests - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

I tried to solo all the *'d routes below 4b at Stanage. I broke a rib falling off the start of no.33. Managed to soldier on to 86, wheezing as I went, but ran out of daylight somewhere near Christmas Crack. March it seems is not the best time for this.
deacondeacon - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt: Only hurt myself once soloing (touch wood) when I came off the topout on a route at Stone Farm. It was about a 7 metre fall and i landed fairly well but bruised both heels.
I solo a lot, but if it's over 6 metres or has a dodgy landing I stick to easy stuff or routes i've led before.
When leading routes I normally wait for about 6 metres before putting my first bit of gear in as I'm much happier trying to jump back to the ground rather than those tangled falls in a mess of ropes and belayer scraping the floor. I also have partners who will put their first bit of gear in straight from the floor but each to there own.
koolkat - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:
fell 30ft broke both legs 1 very badly pinned n plated not been able to straighten it since ,30 years ago now.
lessons learned hmmm dont solo high , was not the hardest solo i did
also Paul Williams died soloing
we all take our own risks and we all solo just watch what grade you solo at
nniff - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt

There's a truism that states that 'There are no bad solo climbers'.
Old Skooled - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:
Famously Cliff Phillips fell 200ft soloing on the Mot - and made it back to the car under his own steam. I believe he also took a 60-70' soloing fall at Tremadog. I'm not sure he learnt any lessons, he was still soloing when I knew him in the 80s. I've soloed very large amounts, onsight and on multi-pitch, but have only have fallen solooing on grit and then only once or twice.
deacondeacon - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to nniff: sorry off topic -nniff, when are you going to come up for a climb, i still have some of your gear? :)
alanlgm - on 13 Nov 2012
My Mate Joey fell whilst soloing at under 5 metres on the southern sandstone.

broke both wrists needing pins and all that.

Big Lee - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

I remember reading about Charlie Fowler's 400ft fall off the Diamond Face of Long Peak many years ago. His lesson learnt was if you are going to take a massive solo fall then make sure you land in really deep snow.
Trangia - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

Doesn't the saying go "There are no bad solo climbers"?
jkarran - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

My worst barely counts as soloing but I somehow managed to let go at the top of Not To Be Taken Away. I was relaxed, joking with friends then I was lying on the rocks below dazed and sore. I think my feet popped then I missed my mat. I had a few cuts, bruises and sprains but nothing to stop me limping off slowly. The worst thing was I'd hit the sloping rock below and my shoes had briefly stuck to it crushing my toes into the toe box, I had some very sore very black nails and lost one. In the grand scheme of things a non event, if it wasn't for the toenails (I hate toenails!) I'd have pretty much forgotten it.

jk
In reply to nniff:
>
>
> There's a truism that states that 'There are no bad solo climbers'.

Like most 'truisms' it is bo11ocks of course, I have seen some really wobbly soloist sketch their way up stuff, well out of control!


Chris
Monk - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

A long time ago, there was a video on youtube showing Jordan Buys (I think) before he was famous taking a fall off Above and Beyond The Kinaesthetic Barrier. It was an amazing fall, and he seemed pretty much ok afterwards.
tprebs - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

I haven't fallen Soloing (Touch wood) but I have had a few sketchy moments e.g. getting stuck in a knee bar soloing Elvis Who in the Burren.

I have had worse luck decking off routes though. Normally just end up a little bettered and bruised.

Someone I was climbing with forgot they were soloing and got to the crux, turned round and jumped off. Thankfully not too high
pasbury on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

Never been anywhere near a fall soloing. I only solo stuff I KNOW I can do.

I assume that any fall soloing will result in my death.
John_Hat - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

Never fallen whilst soloing, and I solo a lot. Come closer than I would have liked a few times though.
ads.ukclimbing.com
jonnie3430 - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to pasbury:
> (In reply to Fredt)
>
> I only solo stuff I KNOW I can do.
>
A completely unexpected slipping foot hold sent me spinning off a route once onto the most perfect landing. Another time a broken hold (if I go it'll be a broken hold,) sent me pinballing down a chimney. I hopped from side to side the whole way down until spat out at the bottom, still on my feet. My sister was the on call GP for the area and had just started watching as I fell. She complimented me on my style for getting off. I didn't tell her how close it was to her calling herself for help.
alooker - on 13 Nov 2012
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10D_EeXvSYI I don't know the route to be honest, but is it this? (about 1:30)
nniff - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to nniff)
> [...]
>
> Like most 'truisms' it is bo11ocks of course, I have seen some really wobbly soloist sketch their way up stuff, well out of control!
>

True, but fortunately they're not around for long!
nniff - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to deacondeacon:

I'll give you a call. Number still the same?
Sam Beaton on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

Fell off the top of Cow Udder, just where it meets A Climb, at Ilkley about 15 years ago. Landed on my mate Chris and broke his glasses.

Fell off the top of Mitchell's Wall at Hetchell a few weeks later - landed on Chris and broke his new glasses.

Funnily enough, we haven't climbed together on grit for quite a while now
Al Evans on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Sam Beaton: I've fallen off and hit the deck a couple of times , once about 30ft, but with little worse than ripped jeans to report, however a good mate of mine fell off when soloing a route he had soloed down masses of times before, he only went about 10ft and was wearing a helmet, but he died, this was on Windgather a supposedly 'friendly' cliff.
Matt Vigg - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

I slipped out of a crack at the top of the upper tier of Gogarth once, my feet landed on a small ledge and I started to fall backwards but my right hand stayed jammed in the crack because of a small tooth of rock on the back of my hand. No injuries but felt a bit odd for the rest of the day and didn't solo for a while after that. I can still remember the sensation of where the little tooth cut into my hand!
Monk - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to alooker: That's the fall I was thinking of, although there was a fuller version. It might be that I saw it when I was working with someone involved in the video at the time. The viewpoint from above makes the fall look shorter than it really is, I think.
Jimbo C - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

I've been lucky to date (or is it more like good judgement?) and have not fallen from more than about 3m. Usually my harshest falls happen when bouldering and my arse manges to land in the space between 2 mats.
Goucho on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs: So it was you watching me from the scree below Upper Falcon Chris, having a bit a serious wobbler near the top of Dry Gasp - really thought I was going to fall, but just managed to keep it together - never soloed anything above E2 ever since :-)
Jon Stewart - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to nniff)
> [...]
>
> Like most 'truisms' it is bo11ocks of course, I have seen some really wobbly soloist sketch their way up stuff, well out of control!

On stanage? Probably me.

Jon Stewart - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Goucho: snap - just read your post
Martin W on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to nniff:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
> [...]
>
> True, but fortunately they're not around for long!

There used to be a saying: "There are old pilots, and bold pilots, but very few old, bold pilots". I think the same might hold true for solo climbers.

Goucho on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt: Fallen twice soloing.

1) Off the lip of FBD at Stanage (broke my ankle).

It taught me that even when you've soloed it before, and it's in your "showing off and being a cock" repertoire, it can still bite your arse! :-)

2) Grutter Integrale on the Aigulle des Pelerins.

Big jug edge broke off high up the route, and I fell about 15 feet, twisting in the air in the process, and somehow landed on a small ledge below facing outwards. However, the momentum of my fall made me topple forward off the ledge, yet, by pure luck (or miracle) one of the axe loops on my sac, caught on a small spike, and stopped me falling off.

I stood on that ledge for about half an hour, shaking like a leaf, before I managed to compose myself enough to retreat. I got seriously drunk in the Bar Nash that night!!!!!!!!!!

It taught me that I had undoubtedly used up several of my 9 lives in one go, and obviously someone up there was watching over me that day.

Matt Vigg - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to Goucho:

Flippin eck! That's a super extreme version of what happened to me.

Re. soloing stuff twice - I learnt the hard way not to disrespect a solo even if you've done it before, getting to the crux of a route I'd been bouldering along the bottom of and thinking shit how did I end up here! Took me 10 minutes or so to do the crux and get off the route. Although I did go back years later and solo it every day for a week as an experiment....
Dave Garnett - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

I recently fell off near the start of a route I was intending to solo. It was still bouldering height really (but no mat or spotter) but what shook me was that it was so unexpected (my foot slipped out of what I thought was quite a good pocket). And, of course, had the same thing happened at the tricky move at the top instead of the tricky move near the bottom the result would have been very different.

I don't fall off leading, so it was a surprise when happened soloing but the clues were all there. I hadn't climbed much recently and was unfit. I'd soloed the route many times before... but not recently. Up close the rock was damper than I had been expecting and my feet probably weren't completely dry anyway. The moves in question are actually pretty awkward and a bit polished (and for more moves than you think) even in perfect conditions if done the eliminate way I was doing them (it was Slab and Arete at the Roaches).

I was a bit winded but otherwise unhurt and it's a pretty trivial incident compared with most of the stories here. What bothered me was my failure of judgement.

Actually, if I'm honest, I did have a little voice in my head telling me not to do it, but committed anyway. The lesson is, don't ignore your better judgement!
Daniel Heath - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to Goucho:
> (In reply to Fredt) Fallen twice soloing.
>
> 1) Off the lip of FBD at Stanage (broke my ankle).
>
> It taught me that even when you've soloed it before, and it's in your "showing off and being a cock" repertoire, it can still bite your arse! :-)
>

That speaks to me. I've developed a confidence in that route.
Thanks for the warning!
wilkesley - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to Daniel Heath:

I fell off the top of Pulcherrime at Burbage. It was a very hot summer evening and my hands were sweaty (no chalk) and just slid off. I made a nasty mess of my left Calcaneum on a very rounded rock at the base of the route. I know of two other people who have suffered a similar injury by falling off and hitting this rock at the bottom of the route.

I had done the route several times before and went back when I had recovered just to prove to myself I could do it without falling off. Since then I have given it a very wide berth!
myserable old git - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt: I had a bad morning at work and slipped out lunchtime to prepare myself for a particularly crap meeting that afternoon with some soloing. The inevitable happened a 6 metre fall off an easy VS,I staggered back to work tidied myself up and sat through a long boring meeting with seven broken ribs. My boss had expected some meaningful contributions but got sod all and was not amused when told why afterwards. The moral, if you leave your rock shoes at home don't trust Hush Puppies, they are crap on slabs!
Jimbo C - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to wilkesley:

Pulcherrime really lures you in doesn't it? A really nice start allows you to gain enough height to hurt yourself and then things get a bit awkward and slippery.
Michael Gordon - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

Not fallen off whilst soloing but have had some proper scares! Thankfully - don't think I'd have got away with any of those.
mick.h on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

I pulled a hand hold off somewhere near the top of Sgurr Mhic Coinneach, resulting in a fall all of 3 feet, learned to treat all holds as suspect and am still alive.
Fat Bumbly2 - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to mick.h: Off some horrid route at Pontesbury - lessons learned:
Clean your shoes before you go and brambles are really comfy if you fall into them.
Andy Stephenson - on 17 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt: It's many years since I climbed at all seriously, and in those days I used to solo quite a bit, up to E1, but stuck to routes amenable to soloing (or easy routes). Never had the slightest incident.

I do remember taking a friend climbing on Stanage one day, and found myself staring at a guy wobbling and grasping his way solo up various polished and rounded routes of around HVS level.
I've never been so scared watching anything; he looked like you'd imagine a Severe leader on a top rope would be, just getting up these routes by the skin of his teeth.

Eventually we started up a route (Via Media, I think), and I was halfway up leading it when I heard a very alarming "thump" a short distance away. The guy had attempted Easter Rib and failed badly. Thankfully, there were plenty of people around who went to his aid and I wasn't required. We learnt later (from Mountain Rescue) that he had suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured pelvis, but nothing life-threatening.

It didn't put me off soloing, but the "thump" of the body hitting hard ground is something you don't forget. And certainly, if you feel like the next unroped move is a bit of a gamble it's best to back off while you still can.
Jamie B - on 17 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

Only had one fall soloing, and I'm pretty keen to make it the last. Lessons learned:

1. Just because you've soloed something before doesn't make it a forgone conclusion.
2. Soloing on a baltic cold day with an unresponsive body may not be the best way to warm up.
3. Once confidence starts to unravel it does so rapidly.
4. Having to choose between a slap for the top or a difficult reverse move is not a good scenario.
5. Although the landings at Bowden look forgiving, the "grass" is in fact rock-hard.
6. Confidence is good, but should not debar use of mats or some thought about rescue strategy. If my harness and rope had not been 100 yards away my partner might have been able to help me.
7. Spending 6 weeks on crutches and another 4 months building up ankle strength is a complete ballache and not worth any 5 minutes of vicarious thrill-seeking.

I've not done a lot of soloing since, but it hasn't compromised my enjoyment of climbing.
stroppygob - on 17 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt: One day, back in the 80's me and my mate Pete, decided to do some routes solo at The Dewerstone, low grade climbs all, (Colonel's Arete, Needle Arete, Pinnacle Buttress.) I had just finished the last one, and we were thinking of going to the pub, when I decided to try and do a small, (15 foot high) problem in a bay around the back, one which I had been working on for some time. I got maybe 12 foot up it, and was precariously balanced when my foot slipped off a hold, and I fell in a heap to the ground. (In the process giving my shin a nasty barking. I still have the scar.) I was rolling about on the floor, looking for sympathy, when Clarkie came over; I bet youre glad you didnt do that quarter of an hour ago!


Too right I was glad, if I had slipped at that time, Id have been death distance from the ground, not 12 foot up.

The thought of it still makes me feel sick.
c8 on 17 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:
Fell of soloing at Frodsham....dodgy hold broke off....had a short spell in hospital and much longer spell on crutches.
What I learnt??.....bugger all....was doing exactly the same a few months latter!.
Stanners - on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:
my brother may have something to add to this thread tomorrow when he attempts to solo moon raker at berry head.
Darren Jackson - on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt:

I fell off soloing a Mod and broke my pride.
Wonko The Sane - on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt: Not really soloing, but as a teenager started climbing a scree slope in Cornwall which became about 20 degrees steeper two thirds of the way up. Pulled a piece off and fell/slid maybe 7m or so until the slope lessened, then slid the rest of the way down.

I learned to engage my mind, not my bravado when not close to the ground.
Injuries were a twisted ankle and multiple cuts and bruises.

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