/ ARTICLE/VIDEO: A Fear of Falling - Clip-Drop Technique

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UKC Articles - on 07 May 2009
[Mangui off 'Coses de Nenes' 6c+  Os de Balaguer. Catalunya., 2 kb]

In this popular article from 2009, we look at the Clip Drop Technique.

"There is a wonderful feeling of freedom when you can run it out above gear, climbing as hard as you can, totally consumed by the moves..."

Some of us can do that, but many of us can't. Often it is not because we can't do the moves but it's because we are frightened of falling.

This article and video explore Clip-Drop Technique. It may help you become comfortable with the thought and experience of falling off.

Watch the VIDEO at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=1838
Morgan Woods - on 07 May 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:

good to see a nice dynamic belay from Sally for her much heavier partner ;p

would be good to see people do this more at walls rather than blindly anchoring in to the ground....even when top roping!!
francoisecall - on 07 May 2009
In reply to Morgan Woods: I would have thought better training to fall above the bolt. That is more like a fall. Dropping from a bolt is slower.
Paul Clarke on 08 May 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:
GRIGRI
Self-braking belay device

The GRIGRI's self-braking function helps the belayer catch and hold a climber, making it great for working routes. Works equally well for lead climbing and top roping. Ergonomic design makes for smooth, controllable lowers. Also great for rappelling on single ropes - perfect for setting and cleaning routes.

Self-braking system: if the rope suddenly comes under tension (e.g. in a fall), the cam pivots to pinch the rope, thus helping the belayer stop the climber's fall
Usage is similar to that of conventional belay devices:
- paying out rope is done using both hands
- arresting a fall is done by holding the free end of the rope
- for lowering and rappelling, the rate of descent is controlled by the hand holding the free end of the rope (the rope is released with the handle).
For use with single ropes between 10 and 11 mm in diameter

Bear in mind the last sentence.........

Paul

Michael Ryan - on 08 May 2009
In reply to Paul Clarke:

Yes. You have to use a belay device that is appropriate to the diameter of your rope.

Grigri is 10 - 11m

Edelrid Eddy is 9- 11mm

Petzl Reverso
effective braking on half and twin ropes from 7.5 mm
effective braking on single ropes above 8.9 mm

BD ATC is 7.7-11 mm

DMM Bug 9-11mm

etc
AlH - on 08 May 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> (In reply to Paul Clarke)
>
> Yes. You have to use a belay device that is appropriate to the diameter of your rope.
>
> BD ATC is 7.7-11 mm
>
Have you tried holding a fall on an ATC with skinny ropes? I've held a lead fall from a big chap on a pair of 8.1s and reckon I lost about a metre through the device and struggled to hold it (and I have a good grip and was being very attentive to my patner). I was surprised enough when I read that to go and check Manufacturers website and your spot on Mick. But I for one wouldn't use an ATC on ropes that skinny again.
Al
dirtbag1 - on 08 May 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:
Mick....
You may want to label it 'Clip-drop',
but I know that was actually you trying your hardest to get up Kendal wall clean.
Nice video though.
Drew
vicosink - on 08 May 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:
Didn't any one else read that letter in climb or climber a few months back about someone doing this and ending up with two broken legs because their belayer wasn't quite on the ball at the time ?
Michael Ryan - on 08 May 2009
In reply to AlH:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)
> [...]
>
> But I for one wouldn't use an ATC on ropes that skinny again.
> Al

Kate Phillips agress with you in the article.

" If you are using a 9.1 mm single rope with an ATC there will be a lot of slippage and the leader will get the ultimate dynamic belay – possibly resulting in an unwanted ground fall!."

David Hooper - on 08 May 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
Think you could have been giving the figure for ATC XP in skinny rope mode.
Wingnut - on 08 May 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:
Is there anything specific we have to do to get the video to play? When I click on the ">", all I get is a progress bar and then a black screen.
Paul Clarke on 08 May 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
Your Belay Device
A Gri-gri or Eddy is good, if you know how to use them.


But not with a 9.1
Paul
Michael Ryan - on 08 May 2009
In reply to Paul Clarke:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)
> Your Belay Device
> A Gri-gri or Eddy is good, if you know how to use them.
>
>
> But not with a 9.1

No one is suggesting you use a 9.1 with a Grigri Paul.

Repetition is good though.

"Your belay device should be one that your belayer is used to using and be appropriate to the diameter of your rope."

What did you think of the article/video?

Steve Long - on 08 May 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: This is a useful contribution, and of course a bold step, as advice on belaying and leader falls is always open to misinterpretation in the wrong hands. I have used this technique for coaching for years and practice a variation for myself, which involves climbing the route clean but jumping off from the finishing hold without clipping the lower-off bolt. The idea is to use a "reverse-reward" psychology, where the free-fall becomes the reward for topping out successfully! It works for me anyway and has definitely enabled me to move up a grade already this year on sports routes. I must re-iterate the importance of good communications with your belayer. Any doubts, default to a standard lower-off. Also check for a safe flight; I don't use this method if the fall-line is down a corner or past a "volume" feature. Its useful to try this above overhangs as well, where the last bolt is on the lip: these falls are paricularly hard to psyche up for. Counter-intuitively you need to make sure that there is enough slack in the system so that you fall into space without hitting your head on the overlap. As a coaching strategy it must be emphasized that this is high risk coaching work and is counter-productive if the fall isn't clean. Any injuries will setback confidence rather than build it up, so handle with care. For really nervous leaders, use a "tail-end" belayer until total trust in the belayer has built up. The "tail-ender" may well be the coach.
Paul Clarke on 08 May 2009

Your belay device should be one that your belayer is used to using and be appropriate to your rope. If you are using a 9.1 mm single rope with an ATC there will be a lot of slippage and the leader will get the ultimate dynamic belay – possibly resulting in an unwanted ground fall!. A Gri-gri or Eddy is good, if you know how to use them.

Hi Mick

Article is fine - just the above wording that isnt totally clear in relation to a 9.1 and a grigri - or am I being thick?? Not everyone will read this trail and suspect quite a few people dont know the limits of a grigri or you wouldnt see them being misused on the wall/crag. I think you were there when Mark fell nearly the whole height of Chapel Head? Lucky escape!

Regards
Paul

Michael Ryan - on 08 May 2009
In reply to Paul Clarke:

Cheers Paul. Now updated.

Your belay device should be one that your belayer is used to using and be appropriate to the diameter of your rope. But if you are using a 9.1 mm single rope with an ATC there will be a lot of slippage and the leader will get the ultimate dynamic belay – possibly resulting in an unwanted ground fall!. A Gri-gri (good for 10 - 11m ropes) or Eddy (good for 9- 11mm) is good for Clip-Drop, if you know how to use them.
ClimberEd - on 08 May 2009
In reply to Paul Clarke:

I think you are being a bit thick.

Rgds,

E.
Paul Clarke on 08 May 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Excellent Mick

BTW - now every time I fail to onsight a route I will be claiming that I am just practicing my Clip-Drop (CLIP-CLOP?) technique.

Paul
Paul Clarke on 08 May 2009
In reply to ClimberEd:
That happens a lot - and isn't uncommon on this site.......

P
Michael Ryan - on 08 May 2009
In reply to Paul Clarke:
> (In reply to ClimberEd)
> That happens a lot - and isn't uncommon on this site.......
>

The written word is open to interpretation and people have various levels of comprehension, knowledge and attention span.

You will, in any assemblage of people, have various levels of understanding and comprehension.

So yes, some who post on these forums may think long and hard about what they read and write, others not so.

With this particular article we are aware that some will will just watch the video, some will read a bit of the text, others all the text.

Whilst we worked hard on this article and video, it is only human to have a few mistakes.

The power here is that readers can pick up on these and we can make corrections, which isn't so in the static media.

As Steve Long said, we took a risk with this subject matter, but we thought it important enough to give it a good try.

So thank you, Paul and others.

Mick

ads.ukclimbing.com
Paul Clarke on 08 May 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
Hope you didnt think I was having a go at the article Mick - interesting, I am sure worthwhile and no doubt helpful to many.

Paul
Michael Ryan - on 08 May 2009
In reply to Paul Clarke:

No no not at all.
nikinko - on 08 May 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:

I'm glad the article says 'don't try this on trad kids'.

In my experience thought, There seems to be a missing link between being confident doing clip drop stuff indoors, and not wanting to place unecessary gear every 6 feet on a trad route?
Michael Ryan - on 09 May 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:

See also:

Fall training by Mark Reeves

There have been several articles by Dave Binney in CLIMB magazine on the use of fall training to help overcome the fear of falling. Until a few years ago there was little scientific support for fall training, although a great deal of support from the real world experience of climbers. A few years back Steve Parry investigated one of Dave's protocols in a scienctific fashion, and wrote his thesis on the findings. I was given an overview by Andy Boorman, senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moore University.

The overview gives some support to the fact that fall training can reduce the cognitive anxiety of someone by up to 50%. There is however several things that are worth noting in this research. The research had a small number of participants, so it is hard to see it as having a generalised effect. Similarly the only measure was cognitive anxiety, as the measure of somatic anxiety/physiological arousal failed. The test also only the effects in the very short-term, with individuals only being tested on one or possible two days (the methodology was vague in the overview I read).

As such there are questions as to whether fall training would have lasting effects, over several days, weeks or months? Similarly the use of the STAI as a anxiety measure was good, however the CSAI-2 measures both cognitive and somatic anxiety, as well as confidence, so may well have should some other more interesting results, like would confidence have a moderating effect on anxiety.

The further issue is that if the testing takes place over a short period, then cognitive anxiety is said to deminish short after we start an activity, so would cognitive anxiety naturally reduce over a short time period, therefore effecting the validity of the experiment because it could be hypthesised that cognitive anxiety would decreases anyway fall training or not.

Similarly physiological arousal would also have a ceiling level, as a feedback mechanism that as adrenaline levels reach a certain level in the blood, it effective switches off the release of anymore adrenaline, so the first few falls may max out our systems with adrenaline.

Whatever the case falling off often allows us to rationalise the process of falling off. Where before falling it is very, very scary prospect, but afterwards we realise that the fall isn't as bad as we expect. It is perhaps this reason alone that makes the progressive fall training a great tool to help us come to terms with the fear, becasue at the very least it allows us to experience the somatic influence of adrenaline and to come to terms with how we react to it.

The general thought of the practical side of fall training is to progressive increase the distance of a fall from the rope being clipped into an anchor by your face to eventually below your feet. It is best to start this process inside on bolts, pick a gently overhanging wall, so there are no ledges or large hold to hit. Also the higher up the wall the better as the impact forces will be lower, as there is more rope out.

Finally make sure you trust your belayer, there is some research ongoing at the moment in the belayer/climber trust relationship. I am sure they will find a link between trust in the person holding your ropes and your performance.

Similarly be very careful if attempting fall training outside, as there are far greater risks like protection failing, ledges to hit, etc...

http://climbingcoach.blogspot.com/2009/04/training-for-climbing-fear-of-falling.html
bouldery bits - on 10 May 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article Mick, really useful!
gingerkate - on 10 May 2009
In reply to vicosink:
Didn't read it, but I challenge the mantra that fear of falling (on 'safe' bolted routes) is irrational. It isn't irrational. It's perfectly rational. How many ground falls and near misses have occurred amongst climbers you know due to belayer error? Happens all the time. Belayers f*ck up. Assuming your belayer will never f*ck up, now _that's_ irrational. Climbing's irrational too for that matter... it just also happens to be bloody good fun, so we accept the risks (belayer error included) at the level we choose, minimise them or block them from our minds, and do it anyway.

I did clip-drop the other day, and enjoyed it and feel I learnt something from it ... but I'm not doing it to erode an irrational fear. I'm doing it to subdue a perfectly rational fear that happens to be inconvenient.
gingerkate - on 10 May 2009
ps I should add, that's a minor quibble and it's an excellent article. I particularly like the advice on dynamic belaying ... I do sometimes wonder if the reason there seems to be more fear of falling amongst women than men is not so much to do with gender psychology, and more to do with the fact that females, being so often the lighter member of a climbing partnership, have had the experience of being painfully slammed into the wall.... because a ankle-jarring, tooth-bashing slam, well, it really does put you off.
Martin Davies on 10 May 2009
In reply to UKC Articles: Is taking this many (admittedly small) falls on a rope damaging to the rope? eg. Beal Top Gun II on climbers-shop says "Number of UIAA falls = 11". Not entirely sure what it means by UIAA falls but this could mean using up all the falls in one climb at a big wall like Kendal! M
Ian McNeill - on 10 May 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Recognise when you can fall

All climbing, especially trad climbing, involves a degree of risk. But the risks are not always constant, and many climbs have certain places that you’re just plain better not falling off from, such as the traverse pitch on Main Wall (HS) on Cyrn Las. Reducing the danger and inherent risk with well-honed climbing skills as well as protection is all part of the game.

Don’t flirt with the potential of a ground fall either, since these never end well. And remember that you can still hit the ground from pretty high up on some routes. A good belayer will keep you safe - so long as they don’t doze off – but with rope stretch and slack in the system, you may fall twice as far below your last protection as you were above it.

part of an article I wrote in 2006 ..

This whole article also appeared in Summit : 43 the BMC magazine Autumn 2006 - it can be downloaded in PDF format from ...

http://www.thebmc.co.uk/Pages.aspx?page=78
pigeonjim on 10 May 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

I am starting to really like you Mick!!!

UKC needs more climbing threads and more importantly needs more informed advice and articles to spawn thread like this. Some good advice from users here (lot of experience users in UKC, somewhere) and I hope it doesnt degenerate into another slagging thread.

From a coaching back ground I know that controlled falls can make a big difference. Clients forget about the fall after a while, quest on and surprise themselves. Try the drop and then progress to tapping the next bolt and dropping and then (if safe to do so) drop off while next bolt is as waist hight.
AlH - on 10 May 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> (In reply to AlH)
> [...]
>
> Kate Phillips agress with you in the article.
>
So I saw and for the record I think it is a good article that deals very well with a subject that is difficult to present in a way that isn't open to misinterpretation.

In reply to Dave Hooper: That's what I though but check the BD website, the figures are fo the ATC AND the XP.

Al

jim76 on 10 May 2009 - 5ac8a142.bb.sky.com
In reply to UKC Articles: This is an excellent article. I tried the Clip-Drop Technique at a quiet climbing wall(Swiss Cottage leisure centre) on Saturday with my girlfriend. It improved her confidence when climbing above the clip (still a little bit more work to do) but massively improved my belaying skills (I was really shocking). More articles like this please..
Mark Reeves - on 11 May 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> (In reply to UKC Articles)
>
> See also:
>
> Fall training by Mark Reeves
>
> http://climbingcoach.blogspot.com/2009/04/training-for-climbing-fear-of-falling.html

Cheers for link to my little two pennies worth, Mick.

I am off to the states Wednesday, gonna tear a trail across the desert. What route would you do in Needles if you could only do one?
Michael Ryan - on 11 May 2009
In reply to Mark Reeves:

Thin Ice or Atlantis


Peter Bradwell on 11 May 2009
In reply to UKC Articles: I can see that this is a good method of getting used to falling, but to me it is inherently risky, the problem is that if you jump off just after the belayer has paid out rope for you to clip the next bolt, there is a high risk that they may not get their hand back in the right position for holding a fall before you come onto the rope or God forbid let go of the rope. This has always been seen as a bad time to fall off a route sport or trad.
nikinko - on 12 May 2009
In reply to Peter Bradwell:

why would they have their hand in the wrong place? when lead belaying I pay out rope without moving my hand from behind the plate.

sure, there is sometimes some slack between the brake hand and the plate if I'm mid payout, but not hard to lock off, and the fact that you don't start playing clip drop before the third bolt would account for this.
staceyjg - on 13 May 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:

I attempted the clip drop technique last night with great success, starting off my ensuring that I was clipping at my waist before letting go and dropping off then getting a little higher each time.

After doing a couple of routes in a row using this method, I didn't need to practise falling off, it became far more easy because my arms were worn out. However, once I had done this a couple of times, I attempted some harder routes and found myself climbing them like I had never climbed before because I just imagined that if I was coming off, it was another drop clip so therefore wouldn't bother me. I made moves I would normally back off when leading and climbed a lot more dynamically going for holds that are out of reach.

All in all, the clip drop technique really improved my climbing last night and I plan on encorporating it into every climbing session. Thankyou for the article UKC.

:-)
mwatson - on 17 May 2009
seams a bit tame, your kust falling with gear above your head, do clip and go's if you realy want to fight your fear, dont clip the last (or if its a big wall the second last aswell) quickdraw, pull up all the slack for the lower off, pretend to fumble it and jump off, best done when no one is watching
Wrongfoot on 12 Jul 2009 - client-86-27-96-101.manc.adsl.virgin.net
In reply to UKC Articles:

The big issue is confidence in your belayer.

As a man of 6'2" with a less than ideal climbers build I've been climbing well strong HVS and E1 when still at well over 100kg. Given lots of climbers are around the 85kg mark I used to warn competent belayers that there was a difference in handling the extra 20kg when in motion at speed.

I lost count of the number of times my belayer assured me that all was well and they knew what they were doing only to take a screamer and see them wide eyed and shaken, having struggled to control the fall. Their confidence entirely misplaced because they had no experience of a climber of my mass and belayed slack handed and inattentively neither of which being an issue in their experience so far. The next fall with the same belayer would typically involve gut wrenching force to both of us as they then over-compensated locked up in anticipation and failed to give a dynamic belay. Basically there is less latency when belaying a heavier climber and common practice and attention often isn't good enough.

I didn't really have the luxury of refusing belayers and sticking with particular partners (club environment etc.) and as a result of this I spent years with an often justified fear of the falings of my belayer. My experience as "the big load testing the system" basically convinced me that an unnacceptable %age of climbers can't belay correctly/safely and are only "bailed out" by the trend to small falls that your article intends to challenge. Modern slippy gear and narrow ropes really didn't help either.

The weakest point in the belay system is your belayer, gear is amazingly reliable, you are in "control" of whether you trust your own placements so it's not an irrational fear to consider your belayer a liability. If they frequently couldn't handle a short fall with me then they frequently won't be able to handle a big fall with a lighter climber. I'd suggest that your clip-drop technique is great, but perhaps more so as a tool to gradually introduce your belayer to the mechanics of larger falls. The knowledge that my belayer could handle a large fall would encourage me to risk one far more than simply having experienced a similar clip-drop practice fall with a different belayer at the wall. I'd consider it more useful as belayer training than as head training. Your article presumes a competent belayer a bit (although the verdon chappie does raise the point) and that's a big presumption.

PS. I found some reliable partners and had years of happy climbing with them and valued them all the more as a result. Run-outs when with them weren't scary. I still don't really trust climbing club meets with relative novices holding my ropes and I'm very wary of new belayers even excellent climbers, who often weigh nowt and usually belay their peers. They get caught out too...
philkerswell - on 04 Aug 2009
Amazing. I was just submitting an article about building confidence by SAFE falling... after some experiences which proved that to me personally this is a GREAT thing for helping me over come my fear of falling.

Thanks for this article - I truly believe this is something climbing instructors should put intermediate climbers through.

Well done and congrats
ads.ukclimbing.com
Fraser on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC and UKH:

> No one is suggesting you use a 9.1 with a Grigri Paul.


FYI, the Gri-Gri mark 2 goes down to 8.9mm diam.


Taken from Petzl's own website:
http://www.petzl.com/en/outdoor/belay-devices/grigri

"Belay device with assisted braking for 8.9 to 11 mm rope"

One of the reasons I bought one a few months ago.

Paul B - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to UKC Articles:
Many people (myself included) use the original GriGri on ropes thinner than that recommended by Petzl. IMO a lot of the time its better as there's less need to depress the cam when giving out slack fast although on a brand new skinny rope things can get a little too slick (both myself and my partner weigh next to nothing too).

With regards to the article, recently, doing a lot of low-medium intensity volume (where its important to manage the level of pump you're experiencing and alter it accordingly) you rarely fall off. This leads to a great deal of climbing with no falls at all and a soft head. I've not followed this technique in general but the cure (for me) has been to simply skip clipping the chains and penultimate clip on my warm up set; a bit of air time soon sorts things out.

Its a good point about checking everything on the floor too. I do this but often find I glance down at my knot when the going gets tough.
puppythedog on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to UKC Articles: I started to use Clip Drop a couple of months ago because I became more aware of my fear of falling holding me back. I now clip drop at least one route per session and also use it as rest after a hard pumpy climb.
As a result I grip less tightly and have more strength that lasts, I have practised falling so I know what I need to do in the air and my belayers (read mates that I belay for also) get practise at holding falls.
Dave Mac also recommends falls practice and that it is not something that you finish, you need to keep doing it.

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