I watched a girl about three weeks ago crush a vertabrae on the big fluffy floor. I also think knowing how to fall plays a big part in getting hurt with or without a spotter. I like the towel idea...I never ask for a spotter inside, but outside I rarely have trust in my spotters, although admitedly I`m not the best spotter either.
Does a spotter help or hurt the falling climber? Has this really been tested?
People are very heavy masses.
So, unless a spotter can put his or her hands just a few inches from the climber's shoulder, or if the climber is much, much lighter than the spotter, can a spotter really do much to slow a part of a falling body?
I mean, if someone dropped a 100-lb bag of sand from 4-feet above you, do you think you could actually divert it's fall? I couldn't. Most climbers are heavier than 100 lbs.
Or does a spotter tend to make the falling climber less likely to flail his or her limbs to reorient before crashing? Or could the spotter's hit to the shoulder cause whiplash? It could be that in many cases, the spotter makes things worse.
Anyway, I've wondered about this.
I like the idea of putting down a towel, and I agree that pea gravel is better than foam for landing feet down. For landing flat on my back, I might prefer foam though.
The best strategy for a climber might be to practice landings.
Jon, you have to take into consideration the overall size of the object/person falling. A 100 lb bag of sand is going to be a lot more dense than a 100 lb climber. In the case of a falling person, you aren't trying to change the path of their entire body. It should be totally possible to divert someone's head or shoulders towards a pad.