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falling on trad gear...
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By Rocky_Mtn_High
From Arvada, CO
Aug 1, 2012
Lamb's Slide
Bear, I enjoyed that article -- thanks for posting!

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By JEFFisNOTfunny
Aug 6, 2012
wow... i never expected this thread to bring about such a large debate. Thanks for all the responses and comments. Some good discussion going on here.

I had my first fall on trad gear saturday. I was climbing the route Baby, at the Gunks. There is an offwidth section on the first pitch that I knew I would struggle with. I laced up the first portion of the climb. When I got to the offwidth, I slung a chockstone and had a bomber placement about a foot below. Just above the chockstone, I placed a #5 Dragon Cam (#4 C4 equivalent) which was fairly undercammed. I really wasn't happy with it, but I don't own anything any bigger. I didn't really expect it to hold a take, let alone a fall. But the cam was well backed up very close by and I gave the large crack an attempt at laybacking... I climbed up to the level of my piece and started shaking... The cam was at my mid thigh, with the extendible sling extended and a quick draw on it... giving me about 2 feet of extra length... I couldn't get any further... and I couldn't get down... I shook out and fell.

According to my belayer, there was almost no impact and he knew it was coming (he took his first trad fall at the exact same place... doing the exact same thing...) Before and during the fall I was convinced that I was gonna die... but the fall was clean and safe and the top cam held as I dangled on the end of the rope, my heart pounding out of my chest.

After a minute... I climbed back up to the cam to inspect it. It hadn't moved. I reset the cam anyway... more just to make sure the piece wasn't damaged and asked to be lowered.

On the ground I rested a minute... chalked up... then sent the pitch.

That was the first time I ever leaned on gear... I had never called take or fallen on lead before. As a second, I had never fallen or even leaned on the rope.

I finally have a little faith in these shiny pieces of equipment I carry up a climb now. Thanks again for all the advice and help. For me, this was a huge milestone in my climbing. And I'm most proud that afterwards I completed the pitch.

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By sibylle
From Colorado
Aug 6, 2012
Stone of Ignorance.
I taught my son to place gear and lead on it ....
we walked along the base of a crag and I pointed to a crack, and told him to set up an anchor. Then I had him put a sling on the anchor and jump on it; and then I had him give himself 10 - 20 feet of slack, and run downhill from the gear. Not as much force, perhaps as falling --- BUT this was my teenage son! He pulled some gear this way, and some held, and his gear placements improved. A safe way to test gear, if you can find a crag with good cracks near ground level.

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By blind cantaloupe
Aug 6, 2012
through the crux, which could be convoluted because the hardest part of this climb is hanging on sharp jugs for thirty feet
seems as though you have practiced falling on sport lead. that is def safer than falling on trad lead. so, if youve already learned how to fall it seems thats not the issue. sounds like you dont trust gear very much. try to regularly place bomber pieces of course. but falling on trad gear shouldnt be incredibly intentional. maybe taking a couple smaller falls on good placements if you want to know your #2 bd is working. after that, be redundant always, and work toward new levels of difficulty amicably. trad and sport are 2 different and equally fun methods. i think instinct plays a huge part of course. after evaluating the risks in the particular situation you are in, use good judgement. if you can downclimb, downclimb. any person who calls you a puss for it is asking for trouble. climbing is all about reducing the risk, not stacking it and seeing what happens. gear companies dont make "bad" gear. if they did, they wouldnt be in business. no one wants to see you get hurt. climb safe always

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By Bill Moser
Aug 9, 2012
Boulderers heading home after a day in the Gunks
bearbreeder wrote:
ukclimbing.com/articles/page.p... Firstly, you need to gain enough experience to decide when it is safe to fall, and when it is not. Here I am talking about being scared to fall when really a fall would be safe. The best thing for fear of falling is fall practice. If you are really scared, don't feel embarrassed to start with top rope falls, or even just swinging around on a rope. Climbing in general and hanging in space with air beneath you, is a very unnatural thing for a human to do, therefore you have to force your body and mind to be accustomed to it. Don't feel embarrassed about being scared of falling, because I swear that more than half of the climbing population is. What you should be embarrassed about is a reluctance to do anything about it... That's if, you care enough. Some climbers will accept a fear of falling as part of climbing, do everything to avoid falling and simply get on with it. This is OK if you don't want to push your grade, but progress will be impossible or considerably stagnated if you don't climb at your limit, and climbing at your limit requires a certain comfort with the idea of falling. by a gal who knows a thing or two about trad ;)


I enjoyed the article. Notice that one of the links on that page is to another article, describing a situation in which she decks. So, she might need to heed some of her own advice :) I do take issue with her bullet #7: "I said, take". Maybe I'm missing the point, but I tend not to be a hangdog, and I'm just talking toproping here. I'd rather work a route to the next move (and lower if I fail after that) than to flail my way up on a rope under tension. This way, I learn something new, but don't test the patience of my belayer. I don't think of that as "quitting", I think of it as learning a little bit, and then I use the time on the next belay to watch the climber (from whom I might learn something), and think about the next move.

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By Ian Stewart
Sep 25, 2012
I'm still quite new to trad leading, and just took my first fall on lead this past weekend. I pulled through the crux of a 9-ish section, took a quick break on a good stance, then started moving up above on what should have been 7-ish moves above when POP, my right foot comes off completely unexpectedly (think I might have broken a crystal). I didn't even have time to be scared, and then all of a sudden I was just 15ft lower than I was a few seconds ago, hanging from about a #3 C4 equivalent (forgot what the actual piece was).

The idea of falling on gear had _terrified_ me, but now after that fall I'm a little bit more relaxed and I think it really did do me good. The next day I went out and was climbing more confidently than before. Even if the gear doesn't hold 100% of the time, knowing that in most situations it _will_ hold really helps when you have to climb past it.

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By Sir Wanksalot
From County Jail
Sep 25, 2012
Ian Stewart wrote:
I'm still quite new to trad leading, and just took my first fall on lead this past weekend. I pulled through the crux of a 9-ish section, took a quick break on a good stance, then started moving up above on what should have been 7-ish moves above when POP, my right foot comes off completely unexpectedly (think I might have broken a crystal). I didn't even have time to be scared, and then all of a sudden I was just 15ft lower than I was a few seconds ago, hanging from about a #3 C4 equivalent (forgot what the actual piece was). The idea of falling on gear had _terrified_ me, but now after that fall I'm a little bit more relaxed and I think it really did do me good. The next day I went out and was climbing more confidently than before. Even if the gear doesn't hold 100% of the time, knowing that in most situations it _will_ hold really helps when you have to climb past it.


Pretty sure that's the only valid way to "practice" falling. Climb and fall off unexpectedly. Otherwise your just jacking off. Good job!

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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Sep 25, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.
Randy W. wrote:
Pretty sure that's the only valid way to "practice" falling.

Keep telling yourself that...

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By Sir Wanksalot
From County Jail
Sep 25, 2012
Nick Stayner wrote:
Keep telling yourself that...


I'm not saying don't fall off, I'm saying don't jump off. Do you actually practice falling, or just get on something hard and try til you fall off?

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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Sep 25, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.
I enjoy trying really hard on sport and trad routes, and fall a lot as a byproduct. Certain days, I find the head to be the biggest limiting factor. My remedy for this is to force myself to climb above (good) gear on a tough pitch where the combination of physical & mental stress make a fall likely. Usually after pitching off, I quit overgripping/squeezing jams too tightly and thoroughly loosen up.

I have also climbed up overhanging crack routes and jumped off onto good gear to help teach myself to be comfortable with falling on gear in safe situations. I don't nees this crutch any more, but found it quite useful earlier in my climbing career.

So both, to answer your question.

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By Gunkiemike
Sep 25, 2012
JEFFisNOTfunny wrote:
I had my first fall on trad gear saturday. I was climbing the route Baby, at the Gunks. There is an offwidth section on the first pitch that I knew I would struggle with. I laced up the first portion of the climb. When I got to the offwidth, I slung a chockstone and had a bomber placement about a foot below. Just above the chockstone, I placed a #5 Dragon Cam (#4 C4 equivalent) which was fairly undercammed. I really wasn't happy with it, but I don't own anything any bigger. I didn't really expect it to hold a take, let alone a fall. But the cam was well backed up very close by and I gave the large crack an attempt at laybacking...


Good thing you were laybacking it. A few years ago a shaky leader fell off at that spot, but she was jamming the crack. She fell off. Her foot and ankle stayed in the crack. MAJOR surgery was needed to repair the damage.

More anecdotes to scare you - I know a couple strong, bold leaders who basically "fell their way up through the grades". That is, most of their first 5.8 onsights entailed leader falls. Ditto as they worked through the 9s. And then 10s. By contrast I climb TOO conservatively - few falls, but presumably I have never onsighted close to my limit. Anyway, both these fall guys ended up breaking bones. One was his back.

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By Cultivating Mass
Sep 25, 2012
Leading on the only "fair means" rack.
I once heard a guy fell so hard he broke his belayer's penis.

And that belayer.....

that belayer.....


WAS ME!!!!

(ghost story humor)

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By bearbreeder
Sep 26, 2012
Bill Moser wrote:
I enjoyed the article. Notice that one of the links on that page is to another article, describing a situation in which she decks. So, she might need to heed some of her own advice :) I do take issue with her bullet #7: "I said, take". Maybe I'm missing the point, but I tend not to be a hangdog, and I'm just talking toproping here. I'd rather work a route to the next move (and lower if I fail after that) than to flail my way up on a rope under tension. This way, I learn something new, but don't test the patience of my belayer. I don't think of that as "quitting", I think of it as learning a little bit, and then I use the time on the next belay to watch the climber (from whom I might learn something), and think about the next move.



if yr onsighting at a good grade, the gear is good and the fall is clean .... plug in an extra piece and just go for it ... yr "take" is irrational fear at that point, yr basically afraid of failing so you fail the onsight/flash anyways ...

i see it all the time and am guilty of it myself occasionally still ... now there are climbs that are beyond yr limit that youll likely need to TR to figure out the moves ... but if something i within yr limit and has clean falls and good gear .... taking IS giving up ...

if youre not willing to take a clean fall on good gear, youll never be able to climb at yr limit ... especially on multi where you dont usually have the option of rehearsing moves on TR

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By Ian Stewart
Sep 26, 2012
Gunkiemike wrote:
More anecdotes to scare you - I know a couple strong, bold leaders who basically "fell their way up through the grades". That is, most of their first 5.8 onsights entailed leader falls. Ditto as they worked through the 9s. And then 10s. By contrast I climb TOO conservatively - few falls, but presumably I have never onsighted close to my limit. Anyway, both these fall guys ended up breaking bones. One was his back.


When it comes to "extreme" sports, usually the fastest way to progress is to "be extreme". Climbing might not always fit this rule, but if you look at the top athletes in moutain biking, skiing/boarding, motocross, skateboarding, etc. I think you'll see that almost every single one has broken bones and/or had serious injuries in the past. When the movie 1999 Lives came out in 2007, Travis Pastrana had broken more than 60 bones in addition to many, many other surgeries.

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By Eric D
From Gnarnia
Sep 26, 2012
Born again on the last move of the Red Dihedral, high Sierras.
Leading an a couple of aid pitches is a great way to learn to trust your gear.

If you want to push the trad grades, do what you need to do to become comfortable falling on gear. That is the fastest way to boost your trad climbing ability.

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By JoshuaJones
From Albuquerque
Oct 1, 2012
Rapping from the top.
I am new to trad and am terrified of falling on gear although it sure makes me feel better to get a piece in. This thread has some good advice.

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By MountainManny
From Idaho Springs
Oct 1, 2012
One Trad Ass Motherfucker

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By Dankasaurus
From Lyons, CO
Oct 1, 2012
That's a hen. Excellent meme nonetheless!

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