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/ Fear of falling while clipping

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Conor1 - on 24 Jan 2018

One of the main things holding back my sport climbing is a fear of falling while clipping. When I get to a bolt and I'm feeling pumped I'll often faff about, grab a draw, or downclimb to the last bolt - even though I could almost certainly have made the clip and kept going. I don't actually mind falling that much, but I'm terrified of falling while clipping.

My worry is partly based on the extra slack in the system while clipping, and partly on the idea that, with the belayer paying out slack, they are more likely to drop me if I fall.  I'm not entirely sure to what extent the latter is a rational vs irrational fear.

I've done some practice falling to fix a more general fear of falling, and it really helped. My question is, is it advisable to practice falling while clipping? How real is the risk of belayer failure in this scenario (using a standard ATC belay device, not a gri-gri)? Is this an irrational fear that should be overcome through repeated experience? Or is it a rational/semi-rational fear and it's not a great idea to deliberately take the risk of falling while the belayer is paying out slack?

I should probably do some boulder circuits involving lengthy one-harm hangs to get more confident in my ability to make the clip. And I imagine just getting slicker at clipping in general, and clipping from the optimal position would also improve things, but I'm primarily interested in the question whether it's a good idea to practice falling while clipping.

Thanks

Big Lee - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

I've had similar problems in the past, partly because I'm missing a couple of digits on one hand and sometimes don't trust it on weird holds. Personally my answer was to just clip from better positions rather than practice falling whilst clipping. The closer you are when you clip the more efficient you'll be and less extra slack your belayer will need to put into the system to ensure you get a clean clip. If you're close to level with the clip then your belayer isn't going to need to give you any momentary extra slack. It's perfectly normal to practice what you propose though. I know a couple of people who have practiced this in the past. 

HeMa on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

Climb indoors... lot's, after all the standard spacing on climbing walls is like 120cm, which is a lot tighter than generally outside. Sometimes (when I rarely) climb with a rope indoors, it feels more like a clipping exersice than a climbing one climbing.

Jon Greengrass on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

Are you afraid of falling or of hitting the ground?

1
Ciro - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

> My worry is partly based on the extra slack in the system while clipping, and partly on the idea that, with the belayer paying out slack, they are more likely to drop me if I fall.  I'm not entirely sure to what extent the latter is a rational vs irrational fear.

Assuming we're not talking about the second or third clip, and the fall is clean, then if it's not irrational you need to upgrade your belayers ;)

> I've done some practice falling to fix a more general fear of falling, and it really helped. My question is, is it advisable to practice falling while clipping?

Absolutely. Once you can climb to the clip, yard more slack than you need and let go, you'll have faith in the entire system.

> How real is the risk of belayer failure in this scenario (using a standard ATC belay device, not a gri-gri)? Is this an irrational fear that should be overcome through repeated experience? Or is it a rational/semi-rational fear and it's not a great idea to deliberately take the risk of falling while the belayer is paying out slack?

Only you can assess the standard of your belayers, but if they are competent it should be absolutely fine. Objective dangers aside (and there are times when you do have to assess whether it's safe to fall from a particular bolt) it's their job to catch you whether they're paying out or not. It's no different to catching an unexpected slip as you're paying out slowly while the climber progresses upwards - you might be  throwing out slack quicker, but the mechanics should be the same.

> I should probably do some boulder circuits involving lengthy one-harm hangs to get more confident in my ability to make the clip. And I imagine just getting slicker at clipping in general, and clipping from the optimal position would also improve things, 

That's looking at the problem upside down - increasing your ability to hang will simply push the problem onto harder routes and clipping positions.

> but I'm primarily interested in the question whether it's a good idea to practice falling while clipping.

That's looking at it the right way up. Never stop assessing the objective dangers of any particular situation, but only practice will teach your subconscious that your belayers know what they're doing.

 

1
deacondeacon - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:obviously there are exceptions but usually when people are scared of clipping they are almost always clipping early, particularly indoors. Next time you climb try clipping one move later. Ideally at waste height but never above your head.

ibviously this isn't always the case Particularly outdoors. But I'd say only 1 in 10 clips should be above your head.

 

2
GridNorth - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to deacondeacon:

There is no problem clipping above your head when you are well above the ground or ledges . There is a common misconception, held by many climbers even very experienced ones, that because there is more slack in the system you fall further than if you clipped at waist height.  You don't, you fall exactly the same distance but because you started the fall lower down you end up nearer the ground.

I agree with you that clipping a move later is a good habit to get into but only 1 in 10 above the head seems a little OTT.

Al

14
islandlynx - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to deacondeacon:

I usually find outdoors that most of my clips are near/above my head, I assumed this was because the person who bolted the route placed them suitably high from a good hold. 

SuperLee1985 - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

While you are technically correct, the more important factor surely is how close to the ground you end up after a fall, the total distance fallen is somewhat irrelevant.

It is (in general) more dangerous to fall when clipping at full stretch because you will end up closer to the ground/ledge after a fall.  

Telling people they will fall the same distance regardless gives the impression that both practices are equally safe, which they are not.

1
GridNorth - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to SuperLee1985:

You are of course free to express your opinion but personally I disagree.  I stated the precise facts caveats and all. 

Al

1
A Longleat Boulderer - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

As above. Surely just avoid clipping until you're hip level with the bolt? Very little slack required, probably more a meter less slack in the system than if you were clipping with the bolt above your head. You are caught a meter higher above the ground.

Teaches you composure too. So many people seem to want to clip every bolt at the first possible opportunity off the tiniest crimp, on tiptoes, pumped to living shit and sometimes risking a ground fall. Just keep climbing and you'll be fine .

Also, personally I wouldn't recommend big clipping fall practise. Seems like a recipe to get close to the ground or the rope behind your leg and injure yourself.

Post edited at 14:29
Big Lee - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

You technically fall the same distance with simple mathematical models I know.  Practically speaking, I for one often find myself giving out a lot more momentary extra slack for a reachy clip when belaying because as the lengths get bigger it gets harder to judge how much rope the climber actually needs. Short clips are much easier to judge for me as a belayer, meaning less surplus rope and a shorter fall. 

1
GridNorth - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

Why are people restating what I have already said?  If I had just said it doesn't make any difference I could understand the confusion.  But I didn't, I stated ALL the facts including that it is inadvisable near the ground.  Sometimes I despair of this forum.

7
A Longleat Boulderer - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

What is causing you to worry? As far as I see it you stated a fact in an ideal controlled scenario. Others have detailed how clipping above your head in the real world incurs other factors that are likely to increase fall length. Some have been done already, some not:

1) the belayer having to pay out more slack quickly is likely to a) pay out too much leading to an increased chance of longer fall b) pay out too little leading to a jerky clip increasing the chances of falling while clipping c) override the auto lock of devices like the Gri-Gri in order to avoid it locking while armfuls of slack come out thus increasing chances of loss of control and ground fall

2) extra rope in the system leads to extra rope stretch

You are correct in that if both ropes were static and if both belayers had let out just enough slack then you'd fall the same distance. But for reasons above... it's likely in the real world you'll fall further clipping above your head.

You could of course argue that this is a good thing so long as you're well above the ground...dynamic belay etc etc. But that's not what we're talking about here. 

But don't worry, nobody is having a go at you. We're just exchanging ideas to help the OP get over his fear of falling while clipping. I suggest he try clipping at the waist to help his composure and to increase his real world safety.

Post edited at 15:02
oldie - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

I hardly ever sports climb. I occasionally clip a long sling from the rope to a runner ie immediate protection at waist height: less distance (four feet?) to fall and the belayer hasn't had to pay out much, if any, slack.  You can leave a normal quickdraw on the top krab and also clip into that as you pass and then possibly unclip lower krab. Cheating?

This might mean you never got used to normal clipping in. Alternatively the faff of extra gear and number of clips might mean you used it only occasionally or became so exasperated  that the regular way was preferable.

jezb1 - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

I love all this never clip above your head stuff. I think it’s far more important to clip where you’re in a stable clipping position. Sometimes this’ll be in the sweet spot, other times above your head, sometimes below your waist, there may even be an odd occasion you skip a clip. That’ll be dictated by the route.

As to how to solve your fear, there’s actually shed loads to this. 

Do you trust your belayer, do you practice falling with that person, do you practice falling with an arm full of slack, do you practice slick clipping or are you a fumbler, do you know different clipping methods, do you clip from stable positions, is your breathing sorted out, do clip off bent arms, do you read the route to know the positions before you get there, do you ever work routes, do you do effective performance preparation, do you train so you can hang/ rest for longer... I’m waffling Now and will have missed loads of stuff...

Post edited at 15:31
Paul Sagar - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

Try reversing the psychology, in addition to the sensible stuff you've already suggest (practice falls) and that others suggest too (clipping from the most stable position you can find, even if that means climbing up an extra move or two).

By this I mean:

You already understand the physics of a fall, and say that you are comfortable taking lead falls. Assuming that the clips you are getting scared of making are sufficiently far from the ground such that falling with extra slack out would not generate a ground fall, or a fall onto an object/ledge below, then increased slack is, if anything, good for you. It will result in a softer catch, meaning less impact in your waist from the harness holding you, as well as reducing the fall factor and thus preserving the life of your rope. As you can simply dog back up the rope to the last draw you clipped, you won't need to reclaim any conquered sections. If you're trying to redpoint, you've blown it anyway, so it doesn't matter.

It may not be easy to believe this, but actually more slack (assuming no ground fall etc) is safer than less. Of course, if climbing outside, then this isn't *necessarily* true - as you'll need to assess objective dangers like ledges, ground falls, etc. But to get over this, practice on well bolted and overhanging routes, so that once the second clip is in you literally cannot hit anything assuming your belayer is paying attention. Likewise, practice on overhanging indoor routes until you are confident. Try never clipping the belay if your gym permits controlled deliberate falls, and build up to falling at the belay with the rope in your hand next to the final karabiner, but not clipping it.

Your fear of the belayer dropping you may be a little irrational, in part an attempt by you to psychologically self-justify your fear of clipping. If you're cool with your belayer at all other times, why would it be specifically in the act of clipping that you are worried about them? If using correct technique, they should still have a hand one the dead-rope, so you cannot be dropped.

It may be that you are fixating on the belayer dropping you as a way to process an otherwise irrational fear - in which case, realising what is going on may help you overcome it.

But to really help you overcome it, do what I did: insist that your belayers use an assisted breaking device. This is a good idea not so much in case they screw up when you are clipping (unlikely) but in case you knock a rock off and it hits them on the head; they have a heart attack; a child/dog/zombie runs into them; they panic for no good reason and grab the live rope with both hands [i've seen this, and it had nothing to do with the lead climber clipping], etc.

An assisted device like a Mammut Smart, a GriGri, or a ClickUp (my personal preference, as it requires very little new technique for anyone who can use a standard plate device) basically means it's impossible for your belayer to drop you even if they do screw up, whether you are at the clip or not. Making this change may give you the extra confidence you need - especially when you remember that rope slack is your friend (again with the caveat about ledges etc; but that is about good judgement calls, not a general clipping anxiety).

Conor1 - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to oldie:

Nice idea, thanks, had never thought of that. Can imagine this might come in handy in certain trad scenarios - will try it out.

Conor1 - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Ciro:

Thanks, v useful!

Jon Greengrass on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to LuapRagas:

>  falling with extra slack out would not generate a ground fall, or a fall onto an object/ledge below, then increased slack is, if anything, good for you. It will result in a softer catch, meaning less impact in your waist from the harness holding you, as well as reducing the fall factor and thus preserving the life of your rope.  It may not be easy to believe this, but actually more slack (assuming no ground fall etc) is safer than less. 

This is a common misconception, extra slack increases the fall factor.

 

 

 

 

Post edited at 16:26
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jezb1 - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

> >  falling with extra slack out would not generate a ground fall, or a fall onto an object/ledge below, then increased slack> This is a common misconception, extra slack increases the fall factor.

In sport though it’s pretty irrelevant. More slack equal softer catch.

Jon Greengrass on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to jezb1:

No it doesn't, I didn't believe it either until I did the math

Kat132 on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

I am reading the responses to this query with interest. I wonder if clipping above your head can feel more nerve wracking because you’re acutely aware of the slack rope, having just pulled it up? However, I often find I am most comfortable clipping above my head as I find if I climb to the clip so that the clip is waist height then have to climb past the clip to find a secure clipping position, the action of reaching down to clip sometimes unbalances me which, I guess, increases the likelihood of a fall. 

I wonder if repeatedly leading routes way below your ‘usual’ lead grade might help, so that you can concentrate purely on the action of clipping? I know that for me, once I start fumbling with the rope and clip a fall is more likely (as I guess is the case for many people) both from the physical and psychological perspective! 

1
jezb1 - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

Not sure it really needs maths, but it does lead to a softer catch. There’s a really good video out there somewhere that explains it all in great detail.

ive been slammed enough times with not much slack to know I prefer a decent amount of slack with a jump as well.

jkarran - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

The fear of falling while clipping and getting dropped while your belayer pays out slack is rational, it shouldn't happen but if it's going to that's when especially if the belayer is a bit green or complacent. I once fell clipping the chains after a little run out; with clipping slack, rope straightening, stretch and the belayer eventually taking flight I went most of the height of the crag! I was very lucky not to have had a bad day.

I'd suggest getting a GriGri, building some trust with your partner, working on techniques for rapid paying-out/taking-in like moving in and out from the wall and also getting into the habit of climbing to the bolt, not just within reach of it, it's not always practical but longer draws for redpointing can help put the clip at a jug/positive hold. Also stick clip the sketchier lower bolts.

jk

Post edited at 16:44
GridNorth - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

After giving this some thought, I've concluded that I probably make most of my clips at about chest height.  I will clip above my head if a) I 'm far enough above the ground/ledge and b) I can do so in relative comfort and not having to stretch.  Clipping when the bolt is at my waist feels a little awkward to me.

Al

LeeWood - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to A Longleat Boulderer:

Clipping from where it makes best sense - I can agree with; but this is not necessarily level or below ... but perhaps above. You have to 'read' the equippers intentions and identify the right holds - with final foot manouevrs at given level for max advantage in resting / rope manip. I often rest and recover while making this judgment - usually works.

Otherwise there is no substitute for judging the energy needed in a clip; if you haven't got it - better to announce the fall under controlled conditions than risk falling while pulling.

 

Post edited at 16:57
A Longleat Boulderer - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to LeeWood:

I mean... yes... of course. I was certainly not saying that you'd always clip at waist level. Frankly I can't remember the last time I actually did that. It's either clip when you can (almost always above head) or just skip it if it's tricky and you're high enough. However the OP specifically said he has a fear of falling while clipping. I suggested practising waist level clipping will help. It teaches composure, teaches you to resist the urge to clip at all costs as early as poss and is probably safer lower down where it seems to me the OP tends to have issue (mentions backing off when he can't clip).

1
Paul Sagar - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

No, you're wrong. More slack = lower fall factor. Let's do the maths to prove it.

Fall factor is determined by:

The distance of the fall, divided by the amount of rope that catches it.

So let's say the fall is 5 meters, and there is 20 meters of rope out. 5/20 = 0.25

Now let's say that the fall is still 5 meters (because the climber is falling from the same spot) but there are now 22 meters of rope out (because they have taken out slack to clip). 5/22 = 0.2272727273

0.2272727273 is less than 0.25.

So, having more slack out decreases fall factor. 

Post edited at 17:33
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A Longleat Boulderer - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to jezb1:

> I love all this never clip above your head stuff. I think it’s far more important to clip where you’re in a stable clipping position.

I think maybe you misread the OP. His issue isn't that he's struggling to find a stable position, it's that he worried about the extra slack and he's worried about the belayer dropping him while dealing with the slack. He says he could "almost certainly have made the clip and kept going". 

The obvious solution is just to climb level with the bolt and clip. Obviously this requires hardly any (if any at all) extra slack and removes both his worries.

1
A Longleat Boulderer - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to LuapRagas:

> So, having more slack out decreases fall factor. 

Yes, or in simple terms... the fall length is the same but there is extra rope in the system giving more stretch.

2
jezb1 - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to A Longleat Boulderer:

> I think maybe you misread the OP. 

 

It it was more aimed at other people, plus from experience, I would expect the problem is deeper than having a little extra slack out.

LeeWood - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to A Longleat Boulderer:

> The obvious solution is just to climb level with the bolt and clip. Obviously this requires hardly any (if any at all) extra slack and removes both his worries.

 

this assertion is correct for a wall where angle does not change and holds of a similar size are available at all levels - but this is rarely the case

john arran - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to LuapRagas:

Nice try, but a 5m fall with 2m of extra slack would become a 7m fall.

1
A Longleat Boulderer - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to LeeWood:

> this assertion is correct for a wall where angle does not change and holds of a similar size are available at all levels - but this is rarely the case

Why? You can clip a bolt generally wherever you can reach if you're strong enough. You don't need similarly sized holds?! If your worry is psychological and revolves around slack (as per the OP) then clip later. Yes sometimes it may be harder, sometimes it may be easier. But it will almost always be possible.

A Longleat Boulderer - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to john arran:

In this context I'm afraid you're (unusually) incorrect, John. Really think about it. Falling with your harness level with an unclipped clip is an identical length fall (stretch and belay slack aside) to falling from one meter below the clip but with slack level with the clip. The only difference is you're starting a meter lower and so you'll end a meter lower.

3
A Longleat Boulderer - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to jezb1:

> It it was more aimed at other people, plus from experience, I would expect the problem is deeper than having a little extra slack out.

The OP wouldn't be the first person in history to be concerned about dropping it while holding out an armful of slack...

jezb1 - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to A Longleat Boulderer:

> The OP wouldn't be the first person in history to be concerned about dropping it while holding out an armful of slack...

Perhaps not but he’d be one of the first to be cured simply by climbing higher... which isn’t always possible anyway, some holds just aren’t good enough to clip from if you’re at your limit, whether that’s 6a, 7a, 8a or whatever.

 

A Longleat Boulderer - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to jezb1:

I don't quite get why everyone is so hung up on whether it's going to be possible to clip at your waist. I've bolted plenty of routes and been instrumental in many more. Rarely does anyone place the bolts simply because they're easy to clip. Sometimes it's a consideration, but often when bolting a line you're doing so to work it... and as such have no idea where the easy positions to clip will be. Even if you try to work it out you'll probably find a better sequence that makes the clip nails... Do you think each person who puts up a line of bolts only puts a bolt in once they've got the sequence for that section dialled on TR? Have you never come across a bolt that has to be skipped on redpoint?

1
LeeWood - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to A Longleat Boulderer:

>  if you're strong enough.

Impossible to isolate. Fear of falling relates to available strength.

 

GridNorth - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to john arran:

Not so. The extra 2 metres of slack are compensated for by the fact that you start your fall from a lower position.  So the 2 meters is accounted for either by climbing higher or pulling it through, either way it's still about 2 metres. 

Al

3
A Longleat Boulderer - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to LeeWood:

I just don't follow where you're coming from. The OP can't clip because he doesn't want to draw out slack and feels vulnerable when he does. He has the strength but doesn't trust himself or his belayer with the slack. So remove the need to draw out slack. If he can clip, problem solved. If he still can't clip then his problem isn't slack... it's falling. And if the problem is falling then that's simple to solve but requires a slightly different approach.

People suggesting he practise falling while clipping are going to turn him in to a lifelong toproper... and I don't see any other suggestions aside from using an assisted braking device like a Gri-Gri... but that in turn brings the feed out issue and will probably make things worse. It sounds to me even with the best belayer in the world the problem isn't going to go away until the OP has clipped a lot more bolts.

Post edited at 19:13
1
john arran - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to A Longleat Boulderer:

I completely agree with both your reasoning and your conclusion; in fact I've argued the same on several occasions on here. The only problem is that it applies to a different situation to the one I was replying to.

john arran - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

As with Longleat, you're assuming a different situation than the one described, which had the climber falling from "the same spot" but with additional rope out.

stp - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to A Longleat Boulderer:

> Surely just avoid clipping until you're hip level with the bolt?

Well it might sound logical but in reality what happens if you can't clip from that higher position? On routes where you are pumped there might only be one position where you can clip from and if all the holds are around the same size it might not be obvious where that is. If you climb past the only position to clip from then usually, especially on steep routes, there's no going back.

This is a mistake I've made fairly often and it usually results in coming off. Now, if there's not an obvious hold to clip from, I tend to clip at the first opportunity I get.

1
GridNorth - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to john arran:

OK.  On line media is never very good for communication like this is it?  I'm becoming increasingly reluctant to contributing because of misunderstandings like this. As I was the first to point out the misconception held by many I assumed, wrongly, that we were continuing on that theme.

To be clear I was describing the difference or should I say lack of between clipping when the bolt is at lets say waist height and when the bolt is above the head.

Al

stp - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to A Longleat Boulderer:

> Rarely does anyone place the bolts simply because they're easy to clip.

Well that's just bad bolting then. In my and many others opinions bolts should be placed at the best clipping positions. It shouldn't be that hard to work those out on abseil. The exception is very steep routes where you can't get into the rock in which case some bolts become dogging bolts and other bolts are placed after in the right place.

I found the best way to really get the hang of good bolting is to climb abroad - somewhere like France - where they really know exactly what they're doing.

 

JimR - on 24 Jan 2018

I'm sure others have said it, but one answer is to carry a long sling or build a chain of draws for awkward clips. Once clipped and more relaxed the clip draw structure can be rationalised ;-)

 

john arran - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to stp:

> Well that's just bad bolting then. In my and many others opinions bolts should be placed at the best clipping positions.

Absolutely. There's a big difference between indoors and outdoors in that respect. Indoors, the bolts spacing is fixed regardless of where the hard moves or the big holds might be, so you may well find that the easiest place to clip from is right next to a bolt. Outdoors, the bolts are usually placed, wherever possible, so that they can be clipped from good holds before starting a hard sequence, which often will mean clipping above your head. Continuing until such bolts are by your waist will usually mean they're much harder to clip.

 

 

keith sanders - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to stp:

The French knows how to bolt you say if you have traveled France you should know that the differences from department to department of the distance the bolts are set are quite different in spacing not that’s a bad thing just that you have to go with it. 

keith s

stp - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

 

> My question is, is it advisable to practice falling while clipping? How real is the risk of belayer failure in this scenario (using a standard ATC belay device, not a gri-gri)? Is this an irrational fear that should be overcome through repeated experience?

There are two things that practice might be useful for. One is the psychological fear of you the climber. And the other is the simple practicality for your belayer.

For practice you could choose a route where a clip is really hard for you, if you can find one. You can let your belayer know that  the x bolt is a really hard clip and you might fall pulling up rope there.

 

> Or is it a rational/semi-rational fear and it's not a great idea to deliberately take the risk of falling while the belayer is paying out slack?

On many routes at the third or sometimes even the fourth bolt I think it's potentially dangerous. Slack and rope stretch usually means you fall further than expected and, depending on how the bolts are spaced, you could risk a ground fall. So you need to keep that in mind and make sure you're absolutely solid when pulling up the rope in such situations.

However higher up it should be perfectly safe and your belayer should be prepared and able to hold you if you fall off pulling up slack. If they're watching you they will see when you fall and so be ready to hold you well before the rope goes tight.

 

> I should probably do some boulder circuits involving lengthy one-harm hangs to get more confident in my ability to make the clip. And I imagine just getting slicker at clipping in general, and clipping from the optimal position would also improve things, but I'm primarily interested in the question whether it's a good idea to practice falling while clipping.

Getting really good at clipping bolts is definitely a good idea. Not sure about the one arm hangs though as things feel different when your completely pumped on a route. It can be hard to gauge how long you can hang on to clip. It's also worth practising hard clips when working routes prior to redpointing. Sometimes the clip can be the hardest part of the route.

 

Paul Sagar - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to john arran:

> Nice try, but a 5m fall with 2m of extra slack would become a 7m fall.

And....I have to admit...that you're right.

Duh. Didn't think about the obvious.

Still, it will be a softer catch! Albeit, not as good for your rope (although the difference is likely to be very marginal, having now done the maths properly).

MAN ON INTERNET ADMITS HE WAS WRONG SHOCKER

Post edited at 22:08
Paul Sagar - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

Also owe an apology to you, sir - you were quite correct! A common misconception indeed, in my case caused by being bad at altering my variables...

Ciro - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

> No it doesn't, I didn't believe it either until I did the math

Were you calculating total forces, or the horizontal component of the climber's velocity at the point of impact on the wall (which is the important factor in determing the hardness of a catch in a normal sport climbing scenario)?

I wouldn't like to try and do the calculations, but these guys have done a pretty good job of analysing it in the real world

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOhojbsLfRg&t=5s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0GGsBgPic4

nutme - on 24 Jan 2018

That is how I broke an ankle over a year ago.

But never blamed the clip, it was a ledge and my stupidity. Wet rock, run out, and awkward position clipping. Should have positioned better or skipped the bolt all together. As result got a problem with ledges now - nowadays always looking for overhanging routes. But clipping - it's cool.

Ciro - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to stp:

> Well it might sound logical but in reality what happens if you can't clip from that higher position? On routes where you are pumped there might only be one position where you can clip from and if all the holds are around the same size it might not be obvious where that is. If you climb past the only position to clip from then usually, especially on steep routes, there's no going back.

> This is a mistake I've made fairly often and it usually results in coming off. Now, if there's not an obvious hold to clip from, I tend to clip at the first opportunity I get.

OTOH, on a steep routes in particular clipping above your head can be quite strenuous - holding a strong body position while you gather slack and reach up - which may be the difference between having the gas in the tank for the rest of the moves to the next rest, or not. Assuming I'm not in groundfall territory, and not at an actual rest, I'd always wait to clip - you can always motor past it and go for the next one if there's really no hold for a quick waist height clip, but more often than not there will be something that allows you to take one hand off for the short time it takes to clip there and conserve energy.

Post edited at 22:54
purplemonkeyelephant - on 24 Jan 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

That makes no sense. If the bolts are spaced 2m apart and I've had to pull out 3m of rope to clip it from midway then I'm falling 3m as opposed to 2m. Yes I am falling from lower, but I'm still falling further - thus a bigger fall...

LeeWood - on 25 Jan 2018
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

> That makes no sense. If the bolts are spaced 2m apart and I've had to pull out 3m of rope to clip it from midway then I'm falling 3m as opposed to 2m. Yes I am falling from lower, but I'm still falling further - thus a bigger fall...


when push comes to shove ... non of this mathematical bollocks counts actually - no-one pauses to do the calcs !

1
john arran - on 25 Jan 2018
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

> That makes no sense. If the bolts are spaced 2m apart and I've had to pull out 3m of rope to clip it from midway then I'm falling 3m as opposed to 2m. Yes I am falling from lower, but I'm still falling further - thus a bigger fall...

If you're clipping from by the bolt, you'll fall 2m to the last bolt plus 2m again in rope out. If you're clipping from midway, you're only 1m from the bolt, so you'll fall 1m to the last bolt plus 3m more in rope out. 4m either way, in its most simplified form.

A Longleat Boulderer - on 25 Jan 2018
In reply to stp:

> Well that's just bad bolting then. In my and many others opinions bolts should be placed at the best clipping positions. It shouldn't be that hard to work those out on abseil. The exception is very steep routes where you can't get into the rock in which case some bolts become dogging bolts and other bolts are placed after in the right place.

Of course, you try to place them where you think is best. Next to a jug tends to be fairly sensible. What if there are no jugs? You place them where you think will work. Often it transpires it would have been better 50cm higher or 50cm lower. It's just the way it is. But you make it work.

> I found the best way to really get the hang of good bolting is to climb abroad - somewhere like France - where they really know exactly what they're doing.

So you mean spacing the bolts fairly widely and only placing a bolt when there is basically a jug? Or putting them so close together you're basically toproping as per a few of the coastal crags. French bolting is anything but uniform.

The best way to get the hang of bolting is to go with someone who has plenty of experience and whose routes feel 'right' to you. 

 

 

Post edited at 09:08
A Longleat Boulderer - on 25 Jan 2018
In reply to john arran:

> Outdoors, the bolts are usually placed, wherever possible, so that they can be clipped from good holds before starting a hard sequence, which often will mean clipping above your head. Continuing until such bolts are by your waist will usually mean they're much harder to clip.

Sometimes. Far from always John. It is never that simple. Furthermore it's not unusual to place a bolt straight after a crux. The idea is to encourage pressing on rather than expending power clipping. The larger fall being preferable to powering out. It's not my favourite approach but it's done fairly regularly.

EDIT: There are also safety considerations about where you'll end up in a fall, there are rope care considerations about the line of the rope and edges. It's not just where is easiest to clip.

Post edited at 09:12
GridNorth - on 25 Jan 2018
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

All I can suggest is that you draw it out on paper or use a piece of string.  I can assure you that contrary to instinct it is correct.

Al

jalien on 25 Jan 2018
In reply to Conor1:

something that I don't think has been mentioned yet is overgripping - I find that when I concentrate on clipping, my "hold" hand tenses up subconsciously, and I can end up too pumped to clip. As soon as I've clipped, my hand relaxes and I can hang around longer.

 

I'm not sure of the best way to address this - even when I'm conscious of it, I still find it very difficult to avoid. Maybe try looking at the "hold" hand rather than the clipping hand? You'll have to develop smooth technique to clip without looking!

purplemonkeyelephant - on 25 Jan 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

Damn, you're right. Best thought of as an equation (H= height, S= slack, F= total falling distance).

H2 + S2 = F4

H1 + S3 = F4

With the notable difference of you landing lower down on the second equation due to you beginning the 4 metre fall from lower down, which could have big implications if climbing featured rock.

GridNorth - on 25 Jan 2018
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

Thank you.  You don't get that very often on here.  The flaw in the theory, and one that I accept is that by clipping above the belayer is positively and perhaps rigorously paying out which could introducing slightly more slack than if clipping next to the bolt.

Al

john arran - on 25 Jan 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

Very true. It takes some judgement, based on experience, to gauge accurately how much slack to take (if you're clipping) or to give (if you're belaying) and very often people will massively overdo it. I've often seen people pull up 3 armfulls of slack for a clip just above the head, or pay out 3 armfulls of slack when the climber goes to clip. It's also something I don't ever remember reading about in terms of good clipping or belaying technique, so maybe worth highlighting more often.

Jon Greengrass on 25 Jan 2018
In reply to john arran:

How do they get 3 armfuls of useable slack without holding the rope in their teeth?

Somerset swede basher - on 25 Jan 2018
In reply to deacondeacon:

I find that although you are correct in principle that almost always goes out of the window in practise.  On routes that are well within my grade I always yard up slack to clip the first bolt from low down then clip at waist height after that i.e. what you are suggesting works well.  However, generally I'm closer to my limit and need to clip from a position that is as close to a rest as it gets.  When onsighting I find I clip from lower than waist height as I don't know if I'll get a position where I can take a hand off higher up so I make use of a stable position even though higher would be better.  When redpointing I know where the good holds are and clip from the least strenuous position extending as necessary to make that possible.

 

As an aside, I have a fear of falling past a bolt rather than falling a long way.  I can run it out on a horizontal roof without getting too scared but as soon as I turn the lip and get back to a more sensible angle I get scared again.  Weird.

Ciro - on 25 Jan 2018
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

> How do they get 3 armfuls of useable slack without holding the rope in their teeth?

Well, you can sometimes trap the rope over your leg with friction, but most of us just put the rope in our teeth.

Of course, predominantly clipping between waist and shoulder height is the simplest way to get rid of the the prospect of pulling too much slack and that of falling with rope in your mouth. If you only ever clip early from a full on rest position, there's not much danger in using your mouth in that scenario.


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