UKC

The danger of wrong body position when clipping the second quickdraw

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On a sport route, do you ever think about your body position when clipping the second quickdraw?
Do you clip when it's right in front of your face? Around chest height? Above your head? You don't even think about it?
Right here lies one of the biggest dangers that I often see climbers completely overlook.

What if I told you that the safest position to clip from is when (the bottom carabiner of) the second quickdraw is right above your waist?

I certainly did not understand this when a friend first tried explaining it on the wall, so I made this incredibly accurate drawing to better illustrate the idea [https://imgur.com/a/hhTGIjP]

In the first example on the left, you see the climber (a sort of alien with big and disproportionate claw-feet) clipping when the 2nd QD is right by their face. To do this, they'd have to pull up quite a bit of rope which will result in extra slack. If they fell unexpectedly right at the moment of clipping, they would likely hit the ground.

On the right side of the image you see the climber clipping when the QD is at their waist level. This requires them to pull much less rope, reducing the fall distance by about 1/5th (according to my very accurate illustration).

yeah


52
 deacondeacon 29 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

This is common knowledge.

7
 GrahamD 29 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

It rather depends how good the holds are.  It's not like outdoors is a climbing wall.

Well maybe it is common knowledge! That's great. I didn't know about it and when I searched online I couldn't find any explanation. If this can reach a single person and make them aware of it, I'm happy

7
 DaveR 29 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

One minor correction i think, the fall distance is the same in both scenarios. The difference is that in the second scenario you start the fall higher so finish higher.

11
 JimR 29 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

At most climbing walls I suspect it doesn’t matter how you attempt to clip the second bolt, if you fall whilst attempting and failing  to clip, you are going to end up on the deck unless you have an absolutely ace belayer, in fact it can be a close thing even on the h tt hird clip. Surely the real lesson is to clip from a stable position on a good hold.., whether it is waist or overhead.

In reply to JimR:

>....... in fact it can be a close thing even on the h tt hird clip.

Even the fourth bolt if you're not careful. Clipping the fourth with your waist at the 3rd puts you at the first bolt on rope-taken-out alone. A bit of extra slack, rope stretch and a slight miscalculation by the belayer (or a significant weight difference etc etc) will put you very near to the ground 

 john arran 30 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

Though no doubt well-intended, your reasoning is some way off the mark.

Let's say the distance between your waist and your hand above your head is 1m and the bolts are 1m apart, which means that if the last clip is by your waist you need to pull out 2m of rope to clip the next one from the same position.

Case A is pulling out that 2m of rope and falling before clipping. The last clip is by your waist but you have 2m of rope out, so you fall 2m (let's ignore stretch.)

Case B is climbing 1m until your waist is by the next clip, but falling before clipping it. You then have no slack out but you're 1m above the last bolt, so you fall 2 x 1m = 2m.

The only significant difference is that in case B your fall starts - and therefore ends - 1m higher than in case A, which can be a critical factor when clipping a very low bolt like the 2nd.

But even this does not mean you should always clip by your waist. What is by far the more important factor is that you seek to reduce the likelihood of falling while clipping, which means clipping from the most secure position, regardless of where that may be.

In reply to edodai:

If you are talking of a scenario where you miss the clip this is not strictly true.  You fall the same distance but end up lower down because you are starting the fall from a lower position when clipping above the head. There is the same amount of rope out between the climber and the previous bolt in both scenarios. This IS important when near to the ground as it could be the difference between decking or not. You do not however fall a greater distance.

You could actually claim that a shorter fall could result by clipping above the head because an alert belayer could take up the available slack which is unavailable when clipping from the waist. Well in theory at least

Oops just noticed I'm repeating what's been said above but at least it's confirmation.

Post edited at 08:01
 jack_44 30 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

Clip the second from the ground and away you go!

3
 jon 30 Jul 2022
In reply to jack_44:

> Clip the second from the ground and away you go!

Absolutely, this is sport climbing, not adventure/ trad climbing.

1
 Mick Ward 30 Jul 2022
In reply to JimR:

> Surely the real lesson is to clip from a stable position on a good hold.., whether it is waist or overhead.

Totally agree. 

These days there are so many videos of people suddenly popping off routes. In the bad old times, with shit pro, most would have been seriously injured - or died. 

Steadiness. Stable positions. No fumble clipping. Once you go to clip, no messing around - do it. 

Mick 

P.S. Sorry, I know you know all this stuff backwards. The comments are for others. I only have to wander just over a mile down the road to see horror clips/belaying. Shudder! 

1
In reply to deacondeacon:

It's "common knowledge" and 41 likes?  That's a lot of mis-informed people

8
 Offwidth 30 Jul 2022
In reply to john arran:

Watching the less experienced, a bit out of their depth, struggling to pull up the rope and clip overhead on the second and third bolts can be worrying. I wish such people would use clipsticks or get someone else to clip the first few bolts. I'd even argue that it's bad setting on the lower grade lead routes to leave insecure clips at the waist on low bolts (where there is a significant risk of decking out). 

Post edited at 10:18
1
 Offwidth 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

It's a form of Muphry's law! I'd say given the real-world mechanics of overhead clips the climber will normally fall further, except, ironically, when they deck as the fall distance will be stopped shorter.

 jimtitt 30 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

This is not a problem in the Frankenjura

1
 neilh 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

Gets quite exiting watching and along with the disco legs very nerve wracking

In reply to Offwidth:

I thought John Arran's example and Ben Bransby's video were "real-world mechanics".  If you are thinking about rope stretch, reaction times etc. etc. they are variables that apply to all situations and difficult to factor in.  The mathematics says you fall the same distance and contradicts the argument that many use that there is more slack in the system therefore you fall further.  This is patently and demonstrably untrue.

So what are these "real-world mechanics" ? 

Post edited at 12:08
In reply to edodai:

Genuine comment, if this is news to you, you should buddy up with some experienced climbers. You’ll learn loads!

As John Arran expertly describes, there is more to it than just the height of the clip in relation to your waist. Happy climbing

 john arran 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> So what are these "real-world mechanics" ? 

To be fair, when theory meets practice they never mesh perfectly.

In practice, many leaders (particularly inexperienced ones) will pull up more slack than they need to clip, as they've yet to develop a good feel for how much is needed. And on the other side, clipping the moment the clip is at waist height is often inconvenient, so moving up a short distance higher is often better. None of it makes the theory any less relevant, but it does highlight that there are more factors to take into account than theoretical fall distances.

 The Pylon King 30 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

Double ropes. Sorted.

8
In reply to john arran:

I agree and would not dream of suggesting otherwise.  But there is no denying there is a misconception about this as a theory even amongst experienced climbers.

To the Pylon King: I find climbing sport climbs with  double ropes very frustrating I'm afraid.

Post edited at 12:58
 pec 30 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

The biggest risk when clipping the 2nd bolt isn't usually where you clip it from, it's that so often the 2nd bolt is the same height above the first as the first is above the ground.

If the first bolt is at 5m and the 2nd at 10m you're going to deck if you fall off whilst clipping whatever you do.

I've always wondered why the 1st to 2nd bolt spacing isn't much smaller. Cost and effort by the bolter I suppose?

1
 TheGeneralist 30 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

Your picture and description are utterly incomprehensible to me.

However I agree with the poster above who said it's obvious that you fall further if ypu fall whilst clipping the second bolt from lower down

BUT, as I'm sure someonevhas already replied, that's not the whole issue. In many cases you would deck if you fell from just below the second bolt even if you weren't clipping.

It totally depends where the hard move is.  If it's just by the bolt then clip from below it.  If it's below then vice versa 

Think of the number of times you've fallen whilst clipping. Versus the number of times you’ve fallen

1
 wercat 30 Jul 2022
In reply to deacondeacon:

> This is common knowledge.

butt possibly often forgotten or not given thought at the time of clipping so perhaps worth the reminder.  After all we should all be constantly striving to improve.  It's always worth considering the implications of the way we do things

Post edited at 13:18
2
 TheGeneralist 30 Jul 2022
In reply to jimtitt:

> This is not a problem in the Frankenjura

Yep. I was going to say exactly that.  With the useless minimalist bolting on many of the routes there, you'd hit the deck regardless of where you fell.

1
 AlanLittle 30 Jul 2022
In reply to TheGeneralist:

> However I agree with the poster above who said it's obvious that you fall further if ypu fall whilst clipping the second bolt from lower down

Then you're both mistaken and clearly haven't read or haven't understood all the other comments. You don't fall FURTHER, you fall the same distance (plus or minus extra slack) but starting LOWER

In reply to TheGeneralist:

> However I agree with the poster above who said it's obvious that you fall further if ypu fall whilst clipping the second bolt from lower down

Why is it obvious?  Perhaps it's the semantics that are confusing.  You fall the same distance but end up lower down (would you agree with that statement?). That is not "falling further" to my mind. "Falling further" suggests to me falling a greater distance.

 ExiledScot 30 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

Far too much over thinking going on. If you're comfy then get a good armful of slack reach up and clip (get proficient at clipping first time, every time, dextrous fingers rotating the krab etc.). If you're off balance, bit of a stress position, then move up nearer and you'll clip quicker, easier and likely be in a more balanced position. There are no hard and fast rules, the optimum will vary on every route you ever do. If these basics prove a problem, then drop down a grade, climb with more experienced people and get some mileage in. 

In reply to pec:

As a cowardly trad climber I sometimes put a long sling on an overhead runner. Then clip that at about waist level and then clip extender or direct to the pro as I pass that (can have long sling ready on rope in advancewith extender to the second krab ready to use). Eliminates any risk of falling while pulling up a rope to clip. I think this is used by sport climbers (called swooning ?).

In reply to ExiledScot:

Some overthinking is required when putting to rest a popularly held misconception.  To my mind that is debate and surely what UKC should be all about.

 Petrafied 30 Jul 2022
In reply to oldie:

> As a cowardly trad climber I sometimes put a long sling on an overhead runner. Then clip that at about waist level and then clip extender or direct to the pro as I pass that (can have long sling ready on rope in advancewith extender to the second krab ready to use). Eliminates any risk of falling while pulling up a rope to clip. I think this is used by sport climbers (called swooning ?).

Eh?

4
 pec 30 Jul 2022
In reply to oldie:

A mate of mine has a 'hand of god' extender. It's a really long extender with a rigid tape section so you can clip out of reach bolts well before you get to them to avoid scary clips or avoid pulling too much slack through. You can replace it with a normal extender as you pass if it's convenient to do so.

In reply to The Pylon King:

> Double ropes. Sorted.

When I started doing some sport climbing about 30 years ago I used doubles because I didn't have a single. It took me quite a while to get used to the extra grip factor clipping of using a single when I switched. It is simpler though, especially for the belayer.

1
In reply to Petrafied:

> Eh?

Presumably you mean I'm incomprehensible. Sorry. If I clip a long sling to a bolt above me and clip that at waist level then  I can't fall any distance. I can then pull up rope to clip a short quickdraw on the same bolt (or clip it as I move past) with no danger of a long fall.

 jon 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Mick Ward:

Everyone's so focused on the maths that they completely missing the point. If you have to climb till the bolt's at waist level, it means the route is badly bolted. It's that simple. 99.99...% of the thousands of routes where I live are bolted so you clip with the bolt at head or above height and from good holds. Try that waist level nonsense here and you'll likely find yourself in the middle of the crux.

3
In reply to jon:

Climbing up to be able to clip the bolt at waist level seems a little contrived and unnatural to me and in most instances for no good reason. It almost feels like clipping from above. I suspect that most clips take place at around shoulder/head height but that's just anecdotal.

Post edited at 14:38
In reply to oldie:

> Presumably you mean I'm incomprehensible. Sorry. If I clip a long sling to a bolt above me and clip that at waist level then  I can't fall any distance. I can then pull up rope to clip a short quickdraw on the same bolt (or clip it as I move past) with no danger of a long fall.

Why not simply clip the short QD while you are already there?

7
In reply to Gastonrubberpants

Absolutely. Possibility of slight longer fall if occurs while pulling up rope cc clipping at waist while moving past, but could be from easier position.

Post edited at 15:05
 Mike Stretford 30 Jul 2022
In reply to jon:

> Everyone's so focused on the maths that they completely missing the point. If you have to climb till the bolt's at waist level, it means the route is badly bolted. It's that simple. 99.99...% of the thousands of routes where I live are bolted so you clip with the bolt at head or above height and from good holds. Try that waist level nonsense here and you'll likely find yourself in the middle of the crux.

I don't agree with this, for a start height and reach difference between climbers mean this could never be applied consistently. Besides, there's more to bolt placement than just considering climber position, sometimes the ideal in terms of body position just isn't an option.

Climbs aren't always clip/crux/clip crux as you imply.... a sustained hard section can completely overlap one bolt, it may be better to go for the quicker clip when the bolt is closer to harness, and IME that will vary from climber to climber (height/reach/strengths). Sometimes on easier ground I find 'the flow' is less interrupted by doing the same.

Ben nails it in the video posted earlier (as you'd expect)..... it depends on the circumstance. I'd say in general people don't get wedded to trying to clip at waist height, it's just an option..... but nervous climbers can can get stuck in the habit of always trying to clip above head height.

Post edited at 15:59
2
 morpcat 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Petrafied:

> Eh?

See 0:50 to 1:20 in this: youtube.com/watch?v=_UA0AfWatEI&

(Johnny Dawes on Quarryman)

1
In reply to morpcat:

But that's clipping a sling that is already in place so not really the same.

3
 Offwidth 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

Pulling up too much slack clipping above vs a 'weighted' rope clipping at waist.

Post edited at 16:50
In reply to The Pylon King:

> Double ropes. Sorted.

or a bigger stick

 Misha 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Not to mention being able to use a grigri or equivalent. 

1
 jon 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Mike Stretford:

>> 99.99...%

> I don't agree with this

You're right. Make that 99.98%...

2
 Michael Gordon 30 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

Quite a few folk getting bogged down with semantics on this thread.

(1) OK so strictly speaking maybe you don't necessarily fall further. But you end up lower which could easily mean the difference between hanging 1m up and hitting the deck. Seems like quite a big difference to me.

(2) It's far quicker and easier to clip something at waist level than make a long reach to clip. So, all other things being equal (quality of holds), you're less likely to fall off in the process.

3
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Quite a few folk getting bogged down with semantics on this thread.

> (1) OK so strictly speaking maybe you don't necessarily fall further. But you end up lower which could easily mean the difference between hanging 1m up and hitting the deck. Seems like quite a big difference to me.

No one is getting bogged down, it's a discussion about an important principle. and no one has suggested otherwise and have acknowledged that it is important when near to the ground.

> (2) It's far quicker and easier to clip something at waist level than make a long reach to clip. So, all other things being equal (quality of holds), you're less likely to fall off in the process.

I disagree.  I would suggest that the most common position to clip from is between the chest and the head.  Clipping at waist height almost feels like clipping from above. I do agree that the best thing is to clip from a position of comfort and that includes phsychological as well as physical.

1
 john arran 30 Jul 2022
In reply to jon:

> If you have to climb till the bolt's at waist level, it means the route is badly bolted. It's that simple. 99.99...% of the thousands of routes where I live are bolted so you clip with the bolt at head or above height and from good holds. Try that waist level nonsense here and you'll likely find yourself in the middle of the crux.

I can't help thinking you're referring to that Olde Worlde style of climbing that takes place in the 'wild' outdoors on ... what was the word people used to use? ... ah, yes, crags. 

 Cobra_Head 30 Jul 2022
In reply to JimR:

> At most climbing walls I suspect it doesn’t matter how you attempt to clip the second bolt, if you fall whilst attempting and failing  to clip, you are going to end up on the deck unless you have an absolutely ace belayer, in fact it can be a close thing even on the h tt hird clip. Surely the real lesson is to clip from a stable position on a good hold.., whether it is waist or overhead.

Nope, I've been caught, and caught other, before they've clipped the second bolt.

Agree about clipping where you are comfortable though, no point climbing high to clip at waist height, from shitty holds when you could clip above your head on jugs and good foot holds.

 wbo2 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> Nope, I've been caught, and caught other, before they've clipped the second bolt.

With rope out and trying to clip? How high are your first bolts?

 morpcat 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

Sorry I don't have a time machine to go back and get it re-recorded for you

 jezb1 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> (2) It's far quicker and easier to clip something at waist level than make a long reach to clip. So, all other things being equal (quality of holds), you're less likely to fall off in the process.

Is it really though?

For me waist always feels a little low and awkward. I much prefer chest to head as the sweet spot, but high clipping is dead easy.

We're all different but I think clipping from a comfy position takes precedence.

 Michael Gordon 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> I disagree.  I would suggest that the most common position to clip from is between the chest and the head. 

Yes, perhaps. Like the OP, I was comparing to reaching a long way above the head.

In reply to wbo2:

> With rope out and trying to clip? How high are your first bolts?

I have no idea what you are getting at, can you explain please?

 Fiona Reid 30 Jul 2022
In reply to jon:

Someone needs to educate the bolters in the Valais of this concept. I refused to continue on one pitch 2 weeks back as being a short arse I'd have been doing the crux moves before getting anywhere near the bolt. Sent my somewhat taller other half up instead. Other half could clip safely before doing anything scary. 

Post edited at 21:52
 montyjohn 30 Jul 2022
In reply to oldie:

> As a cowardly trad climber

I'm even more cowardly and find myself having to place gear when the first couple of bolts are way too high for my nerves.

Often find if there's no decent gear placements, move on to the next route.

4
 wbo2 30 Jul 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants: I'll explain.... discussion is re. clipping the second bolt... falling of mid clip hear doesn't tend to end well.  

A comment is made ... ' 

> Nope, I've been caught, and caught other, before they've clipped the second bolt.

And I commented

With rope out and trying to clip? How high are your first bolts?

Because I've been caught between 1 and 2 before... and that's doable with care ... however that's not the same as stuffing up the clip at 2.  Now that would be possible if bolt 1 was very high , as you need to the vertical space to 'absorb' the slack.

Make sense?

As an anecdote the last time I saw someone deck was because the folllowed the 'rules', didn't clip 2 above their head from the comfortable ledge  and fell off trying to clip at waist height mid crux....

 Misha 31 Jul 2022
In reply to montyjohn:

Buy a clipstick?

In reply to wbo2:

Typically a direct response to an individual is to agree or disagree with a comment that individual has made.  Your response, directly to me, for points I was neither following or making threw me as I was not up to speed with the context. To the best of my knowledge all of my comments have been to counter the argument made by the OP that more slack meant longer fall.

Does that make sense?

Post edited at 08:48
4
 Mick Ward 31 Jul 2022
In reply to Fiona Reid:

> Someone needs to educate the bolters in the Valais of this concept. I refused to continue on one pitch 2 weeks back as being a short arse I'd have been doing the crux moves before getting anywhere near the bolt. Sent my somewhat taller other half up instead. Other half could clip safely before doing anything scary. 

I think it comes down to the care you take in bolting. Yesterday afternoon I spent ages faffing around trying to work out the optimal positions for bolt placements on a new route. There were several competing factors involved. I was knackered and just wanted to finish and go home. And one might argue that, as the route's on a relatively unpopular sector of sea-cliff, it wouldn't be done much anyway (so finish and go home).

But that's not the point. You simply have to do the best job you can, no matter how long it takes. Equipping is a daily encounter with the imperfections of life (particularly rock architecture) and human fallibility. 

Nobody said it was easy...

Mick 

2
 jon 31 Jul 2022
In reply to Fiona Reid:

> Someone needs to educate the bolters in the Valais of this concept. 

Yes sadly, along with boy racers with mullets, things are slow to change down there

 montyjohn 31 Jul 2022
In reply to Misha:

> Buy a clipstick?

In Bulgaria I would have needed a crane.

The limestone was as slippy as ice so really high risk also (for me anyway)

Some far braver climbers than me out there.

Post edited at 10:44
2
 mrjonathanr 31 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

Despite all the (technically accurate) maths talk about fall distance and rope out, I rather think you have a point, if not about clipping at your waist, then certainly about how much slack you have in your hand when clipping.

The priority has to be clipping from the best position for you, where you are least likely to fall, wherever that may be in relation to the bolt. However, falling with an armful of slack is well worth avoiding.

How big that armful is will be influenced by how much of a stretch the clip is for you. People don’t calculate the exact centimetres of slack needed when clipping, they just pull up plenty. Even a very experienced climber will pull up some excess. Likewise the belayer will pay out the exact length of rope needed, plus a bit more, for the climber, and a bit more to avoid short roping.

That is two people’s combined spare slack to throw into the mix, along with a fall starting at a lower point the further above your head the clip is; a consideration when the ground is not so far away.

My point is that stretching to clip above your head can be risky, because of the combined excess slack out, if the clip is difficult.

2
 wbo2 31 Jul 2022
In reply to mrjonathanr:

But in that situation you're clipping from the wrong place, or it's badly bolted. 

Common sense is helpful

 Misha 31 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

As others have said, clipping off a good hold / secure position is what really matters. I think the best clipping position is above your head, off a good hold with secure feet.

1
 Misha 31 Jul 2022
In reply to mrjonathanr:

It’s a good point about double excess slack. Clipping at the waist is also quicker and hence less tiring, although it’s a less natural position so can feel a bit weird. People don’t tend to do it though, because most routes aren’t set / bolted for it. The main reason is psychological I think - if you’re clipping at the waist, you’re always above the bolts. 

 Rick Graham 31 Jul 2022
In reply to Misha:

> As others have said, clipping off a good hold / secure position is what really matters. I think the best clipping position is above your head, off a good hold with secure feet.

Adding to that , clipping at a height where you don't have hold the rope in your teeth to get enough slack to reach the clip.

Reach down , grap some rope , lift it to clip is the ideal for me, off a good hold with secure feet.

 Holdtickler 31 Jul 2022
In reply to edodai:

I think the thing is that many of us get this stuff while we're calmly thinking about this stuff on the ground but once we're pumped out and scared we sometimes don't think about things in the same way. This might be BS (and I'm sure you'll tell me!) but I think maybe when we are really scared, there's a part of your brain that's just trying to get you back to safety. My monkey brain might be thinking, I'll be safe again once I clip the next bolt but otherwise you'll fall and die and that's the dangerous illusion right there isn't it. My primitive scared brain isn't thinking about how rope systems work necessarily. I think sometimes we are more inclined to take action to try and save ourselves (even if it is sometimes a poor choice, like a high clip low down can be), than to not take any action even when that might have been the wiser option.  If that makes sense... Of course we need to train that monkey and learn to make rational decisions at stressful times.

All this is a good reason to bring this stuff to people's attention whether they knew it already or not so ignore all the dislikers who presumably think that a climbing forum is a poor place for people to discuss important climbing issues...

 GrahamD 31 Jul 2022
In reply to wbo2:

"Badly bolted" is a bit emotive.   It's not always possible to drop a bolt in the climbing wall perfectct place 

 Steve Clegg 06 Aug 2022
In reply to Rick Graham:

lift it to clip is the ideal for me,

... unless Ted's belaying, as he always holds back the last 6"!!

Steve

1
In reply to Steve Clegg:

> lift it to clip is the ideal for me,

> ... unless Ted's belaying, as he always holds back the last 6"!!

> Steve

ooh err missis. 

 wbo2 07 Aug 2022
In reply to GrahamD:you think this is just an indoors problem?

 GrahamD 07 Aug 2022
In reply to wbo2:

> you think this is just an indoors problem?

The opposite: route 'setters' outdoors don't have the luxury of putting bolts next to big holds, either because there aren't convenient big holds or because the rock isn't sound enough. 


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