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Partner lagarita


Jul 18, 2009, 7:06 AM
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Falling or not to fall???
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I feel like I'm a little stuck at my current level of leading. I can't seem to break myself of leading anything higher than a 5.6. I've seen discussions of people finding routes were a fall would be clean and just DOING IT. (fall) Starting slowly; first falling at your last piece then a couple feet higher and so on and so fourth.

Now I also don't want to put any unnecessary stress on my gear. (I suppose falling on nuts and tr-cams wouldn't be bad seeing as they are the least expensive.)

So I guess what I'm asking is how do I break through to higher grades, is falling the only way?


Background: I've been climbing for about 6 seasons and leading for three. I've never fallen on lead (cause I'm not pushing myself enough). I climb 5.8/.9

thanx,

Sean


(This post was edited by lagarita on Jul 18, 2009, 7:07 AM)


macblaze


Jul 18, 2009, 8:01 AM
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Re: [lagarita] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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lagarita wrote:
I feel like I'm a little stuck at my current level of leading. I can't seem to break myself of leading anything higher than a 5.6. I've seen discussions of people finding routes were a fall would be clean and just DOING IT. (fall) Starting slowly; first falling at your last piece then a couple feet higher and so on and so fourth.

Now I also don't want to put any unnecessary stress on my gear. (I suppose falling on nuts and tr-cams wouldn't be bad seeing as they are the least expensive.)

So I guess what I'm asking is how do I break through to higher grades, is falling the only way?


Background: I've been climbing for about 6 seasons and leading for three. I've never fallen on lead (cause I'm not pushing myself enough). I climb 5.8/.9

thanx,

Sean

Is it falling or falling on gear that's the problem. I've been climbing roughly the same a mount of time as you but only for the last 2 years on gear. I got a lot of falls out of the way sport climbing.

I've yet to fall on gear but my confidence level is definitely higher. Just a thought...


camhead


Jul 18, 2009, 8:20 AM
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Re: [macblaze] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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For the original poster, go to the gym, toprope a LOT, and get stronger.

You do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, have to start taking falls on 5.6's as a way of "progressing."

A strong head, and willingness to fall and take calculated risks are essential, but part of having a strong head is judgement. For the most part, the lower a climb's grade is, the more likely you are to hit something as you fall. I know that you probably climb at the Gunks primarily, and that area is famous for steep easy routes, but even at the Gunks, most of the easy climbs have plenty of places you can break your ankles.

Ideally, AFTER you have gotten stronger physically, you should be able to push yourself on 5.9-ish, G-rated routes with less ledge fall potential. Think overhanging handcracks. But don't rush it. Falls will come naturally.

Oh, and forget the whole "should I fall on nuts or cams?" question. You should be equally willing and prepared to fall on both, provided they are good placements.


sspssp


Jul 18, 2009, 4:16 PM
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Re: [lagarita] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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lagarita wrote:
Now I also don't want to put any unnecessary stress on my gear. (I suppose falling on nuts and tr-cams wouldn't be bad seeing as they are the least expensive.)

So I guess what I'm asking is how do I break through to higher grades, is falling the only way?

You can get better without falling (that's how the "old school" mostly got better), but it takes longer.

If you can, find cracks that you can sew up. You should be able to lead 5.8/5.9 by putting a piece in every ~4 feet. You might pump out and turn into a hang dog/yard fest--so what. Keep coming back to the route and try leading a little higher above the gear each time.

A fall on a well placed cam shouldn't stress it.

And yes, intentionally falling can help build trust and get over the fear of leading above your gear.

Finally, get a copy of the Rock Warrior's Way


harpo_the_climber


Jul 18, 2009, 4:29 PM
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Re: [lagarita] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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I have seen two published references to intentionally falling to get over your fear of falling. One was in a climbing magazine and described taking clean falls on bolts on sport routes. The other was a video about intentionally falling on lead in the gym. Neither reccomended delibertaly falling on trad gear to get over your fear of falling, I think because they didn't want to damage gear or risk it pulling (judging the chances of your trad gear holding if you fall is one thing, but deliberatley falling on it is another.)


bill413


Jul 18, 2009, 6:53 PM
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Re: [harpo_the_climber] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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If you do fall on gear, don't just blindly assume it will hold another fall in the same place. Check the placement after each fall.

As you noticed, a significant number of those advocating "just fall" are doing so on bolts, outdoors or indoors. Falling on gear is a little less safe because of all the variables in placements. But - if you want ot progress leading (or even lead in a rational manner) you MUST TRUST YOUR GEAR. It's hard to develop that trust at an emotional level, but that's what's needed.


rtwilli4


Jul 18, 2009, 7:08 PM
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Re: [lagarita] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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I am in the same boat. Won't push myself to my climbing limit because I don't want to fall on gear. I climb .11 and sometimes .12 sport and fall all the time, but on gear I only climb about 5.8, sometimes .9. I still have a lot to learn about selecting and placing gear quickly, but I think I could be a .10 trad climber right now if I wasn't worried about the gear popping. I know I place good gear, it's just a mental thing I guess.

That said, I'm certainly not going to go falling on purpose. That just doesn't seam smart. I'm sure it will happen when the time is right. Until then I'll just be my normal wimpy self.


Hennessey


Jul 18, 2009, 7:14 PM
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Re: [lagarita] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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   If your fear is falling in general than fall on bolts. Fall at the bolt, then a foot or two higher then a little higher each time until you are comfortable. A little more of a controlled enviorment like a gym might ease your fears a little too.

If you fear is falling on gear than, set up a toprope being belayed by one belayer and a have lead rope being belayed by another belayer. Climb up to a decent height and place a couple of pieces clipping your lead rope through each piece. Climb up to your last piece placed. Once comfortable with your placements have your toprope belayer give you some slack and fall on your gear. This way if your last placement fails than the toprope will catch your fall. This could help you work on your placements and get over the fear of falling on them at the same time.


vegastradguy


Jul 18, 2009, 9:32 PM
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Re: [lagarita] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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lagarita wrote:
Now I also don't want to put any unnecessary stress on my gear. (I suppose falling on nuts and tr-cams wouldn't be bad seeing as they are the least expensive.)

while you might occasionally mangle a piece of gear because you didnt place it or sling it correctly, or maybe that was the only pro you were going to get, through general use and holding falls, trad gear is not going to get damaged at all. so, dont worry so much about that.

in terms of progressing...if you've been climbing for 6 years and you cant lead above 5.6, you've most likely got a head thing going on, not so much a strength thing. that said, a little more strength can go a long way for your head- knowing that you have the strength to climb 5.10 can make climbing 5.7s on lead alot easier when you're new.

i'll second camhead's advice- go to the gym, especially if you're climbing at the gunks. man, that place...you need strength and a solid lead head- i remember the one trip i took there when i was climbing some 5.6's thinking these routes required alot more attention than 5.6s anywhere else...


bradley3297


Jul 18, 2009, 9:45 PM
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Re: [lagarita] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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This is some of the worst bullshit posts ive ever read.... wtf guys. top roping in the gym is going to cull your fear of falling. give me a break. thats bullshit. lead climbing is the only way to get over the fear. just stay on well protected routes until you are comfortable at a grade. You have to put yourself out there on the line to get better. assess obvious hazards as you climb and protect accordingly to minimize those hazards.


vegastradguy


Jul 18, 2009, 9:48 PM
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Re: [bradley3297] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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bradley3297 wrote:
This is some of the worst bullshit posts ive ever read.... wtf guys. top roping in the gym is going to cull your fear of falling. give me a break. thats bullshit. lead climbing is the only way to get over the fear. just stay on well protected routes until you are comfortable at a grade. You have to put yourself out there on the line to get better. assess obvious hazards as you climb and protect accordingly to minimize those hazards.

top roping in a gym wont cull your fear of falling so much in and of itself, but instead builds your strength, and as a result, can improve your lead head just because you know that you can hang on to that jug for a long time. this isnt true for everyone, but it was for me. gaining strength in the gym went a long way when i made the jump to leading .10 on gear...

that said, of course it isnt the total solution in and of itself, there's alot more to it and you give some great advice for when you're out on the rock.


(This post was edited by vegastradguy on Jul 18, 2009, 9:49 PM)


karmiclimber


Jul 18, 2009, 10:13 PM
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I don't know if this is pertinent coming from a sport climber or not. I've taken controlled falls on lead...to help get over the fear. It didn't really help me, lol, it might be a control issue...but the scariest falls are the ones you aren't prepared for. Not that there is more risk, but if you know you are going to fall...wheres the thrill in that.
From someone who has seconded many trad routes and lead one...I see where you are coming from...sounds like an issue of learning to trust your placement? It might give you more confidence to climb with a more experienced tradder...which will allow you to break that mental barrier of insecurity.


shockabuku


Jul 19, 2009, 9:46 AM
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vegastradguy wrote:
while you might occasionally mangle a piece of gear because you didnt place it or sling it correctly, or maybe that was the only pro you were going to get, through general use and holding falls, trad gear is not going to get damaged at all. so, dont worry so much about that.

I can't believe it took this many posts for someone to say this.Unimpressed


camhead


Jul 19, 2009, 10:38 AM
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shockabuku wrote:
vegastradguy wrote:
while you might occasionally mangle a piece of gear because you didnt place it or sling it correctly, or maybe that was the only pro you were going to get, through general use and holding falls, trad gear is not going to get damaged at all. so, dont worry so much about that.

I can't believe it took this many posts for someone to say this.Unimpressed

once again, the idiosyncrasies of the Gunks (where I assumethe OP climbs) come into play. Most of the placements there are horizontal. It is much easier to damage a horizontally placed cam than one in a vertical crack.


thegrassr00ts


Jul 19, 2009, 2:13 PM
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I'm an 11+/12 sport climber who just this year started delving into trad. The appeal of massive multipitch walls and exposure was too great to ignore. Let me first say I have taken too many falls on bolts and have become kind of numb to them, yet falling on gear still scares the crap out of me. I climb at a much lower grade when climbing trad than when climbing sport. I'm talking like 5.7/5.8. I think there are a few key points to take from this thread though. Falling on bolts, toprope, or gear in no way prepares for you for climbing or makes you more comfortable at it. If you have been climbing for six years then you know that you reach a point where there are only a few situations you are going to fall at so look at those situations. The first situation you fall is if you get pumped out. As a trad climber you have to know your limits and see this coming so if you are about to hit the crux and aren't feeling super strong, maybe it would be best to hang for a minute. The only way to alleviate the fear of falling from a pump to is climb smart and confident. Second, the unexpected fall. For example, a hold breaks, foot slips, reach for a non-existent hold, etc. Nothing will prepare you for these falls because even simulated falls have the element of control. The good news about these is that they are typically over before you realize they began. The only thing to do to alleviate this fear is to trust your gear. Finally, there is the fall when you are facing a difficult move that you are unsure if you are going to be able to stick and move off of. This sounds like your biggest fear. You want to make the move, think you can do it, but the possibility of falling on your own gear makes you hesitate and turn back. This is where training comes in. I learned (and continue to learn) trad from a way old school climber and he has taught me a couple of valuable things. He has an incredibly politically incorrect way of describing his view of trad climbing but I think it may help you. He always says that the protection you place is an abortion, and you, the climber, are the prophylactic. When your trad climbing, not falling, being confident in your abilities, and making good decisions are your primary protection. You should only rely on gear if all else fails. He also believes in minimal gear placements. If the climbing is coming easily to you, there is no need to place gear. Training and running out easy routes really helped me get over my fear of falling on trad. Training gives you the confidence your not going to fall and running out easy routes makes you more comfortable feeling unsafe. I guess my point is, instead of being scared of falling on your own gear, be confident your not going to fall.


vegastradguy


Jul 19, 2009, 2:38 PM
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thegrassr00ts wrote:
He also believes in minimal gear placements. If the climbing is coming easily to you, there is no need to place gear. Training and running out easy routes really helped me get over my fear of falling on trad. Training gives you the confidence your not going to fall and running out easy routes makes you more comfortable feeling unsafe. I guess my point is, instead of being scared of falling on your own gear, be confident your not going to fall.

i would argue that this is advice for folks who are well above the 5.6 mark in their trad leading, regardless of experience- as it is a purely mental game that is also purely optional, depending on your goals as a climber.

i would also argue that running out easy routes can backfire on you, especially if a hold breaks or some other unforseen event happens- now instead of a 15' fall, you're looking at a 50' fall over low-angle/ledge filled terrain. (of course, this is like the pot calling the kettle black, as i am the king of running it out on easy terrain in red rock.)

i liked the politically incorrect advice, though- thats totally inappropriate, but very true in a nasty kind of way.


Partner rgold


Jul 19, 2009, 7:29 PM
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You might find these comments I made in another thread of some use.

In addition, I honestly think the whole idea, "get used to falling so you can lead harder," which makes sense when the time comes to break into some of the higher trad grades, is completely wrong-headed for a mid-fifth-class leader.

You do not want to be more comfortable about falling, you want to be more sure you won't fall, if for no other reason that falling on medium fifth-class trad is often a very bad idea, and some completely irrelevant exercise in air time in a gym or on a sport climb can at best desensitize you to genuine dangers.

It is, of course, essential to top-rope, boulder, and gym-climb to build strength and endurance, learn new moves, and redefine the level of insecurity you can tolerate. But do these things with an eye to trad leading, so that you (1) increase your awareness of when you are marginal (rather than training yourself to ignore it and forge on), and (2) learn something useful about your "half-way point" in endurance.

If you are top-roping outdoors, make a resolution to downclimb everything you climb up. You will climb differently if you have to keep a line of mental "bread crumbs" for the descent, and the mentality involved with help you to extract yourself from trouble before it bites you when you are on the lead. Part of being realistically confident is feeling that you can get out of trouble when it starts. The gym and sport climbing teach you to move up, but the demands of trad below the highest grades are to move down.

Finally, learn to be yourself and enjoy what you can enjoy. Don't let anyone else tell you what grade you should be climbing, and then prescribe dangerous and irrelevant exercises to get you there. Ask yourself why exactly you think you are "stuck" where you are. In my experience, everyone who keeps climbing gets better, and the people who keep climbing do it because they get pleasure from the experience. Don't let anyone take that away from you, and don't take it away from yourself in the pursuit of a few silly numbers.


verticon


Jul 20, 2009, 5:15 AM
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There's an article about learning how to fall in the "Articles" section:
http://www.rockclimbing.com/...ow_to_Learn_785.html
This technique helped me a lot to overcome the fear of falling.


granite_grrl


Jul 20, 2009, 5:50 AM
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I think there are two parts in leading gear climbs that are hard for you.

1) confidence in your gear
2) confidence in yourself

I don't think you need to practice falling on gear for #1, experience goes a long way for this. #2 is, in a lot of ways, is harder to build up though. If you're not confident in yourself and your climbing you'll never climb into the unknown when onsighting, you'll have that nagging self doubt which has no place in trad climbing.

That said, if you're only climbing 5.8-5.9 maybe 5.6 isn't a bad grade for you to sit at. I think the idea of spending some time increasing the grade you climb at will do quite a bit for you. If your technique isn't consolidated, #2 is obviously not going to be there.


hansundfritz


Jul 20, 2009, 6:27 AM
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I'll just second what some folks are saying: get super confident at doing moves a few grades higher than your lead goal. This is the best thing to do for your lead head. I've sometimes get a little spooked on easy stuff -- and regain my composure by recalling the fact that I can top-rope stuff that is much harder.

That is the beauty of the guidebook. "Williams calls this a 6. I can do that; I've led lots of 6s here.... Now where's that next hand-hold. Ah, there it is. Phew."

There are some guys who lead at or very near their limit (Dave McLeod), but they're the exception. Most of us would be wise to lead at least two grades below our outdoor top-rope max. As someone up-thread stated, our ability to do the moves is our primary source of safety.

Although not really what the OP was after, I also will second the idea of NOT running it out on easy stuff, especially early on in the pitch. You never know about nature. I nearly decked on the first pitch of Hawk after coming nose-to-nose with a copperhead. Stupid.

And, lastly, just enjoy climbing. Pushing grades is fun, but climbing is more fun. As an older climber, my only regret is not climbing more when I was younger and had greater freedom. I do not think about grades (much).


hendo


Jul 20, 2009, 9:47 AM
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rgold wrote:

Finally, learn to be yourself and enjoy what you can enjoy. Don't let anyone else tell you what grade you should be climbing, and then prescribe dangerous and irrelevant exercises to get you there. Ask yourself why exactly you think you are "stuck" where you are. In my experience, everyone who keeps climbing gets better, and the people who keep climbing do it because they get pleasure from the experience. Don't let anyone take that away from you, and don't take it away from yourself in the pursuit of a few silly numbers.

I'll expand on this. (Or you can read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers for a long explication.)

To become competent at something, you have to put in the miles, lots of them. It's as simple (and hard) as that. It's been recognized in sports and music that you have to practise for 10,000 hours to gain a thorough competence in your specialty.

Here's a theoretical approach for the OP. Go through the Gunks guidebook with a highlighter pen and mark every route 5.6 and under. Then spend the next five years climbing those and nothing but those. Do them all, over and over. Don't, even for a moment, consider any route graded above 5.6. Climb eight hours a day, seven days a week, for five years.

Then ... you'll find you can handle 5.7s.

If you can't dedicate that sort of time, then it's reasonable to expect "progress" to take longer.

I see similarities between climbers who are pushing really quickly and musicians who push really quickly. Someone can get to Grade 3 on piano and then pick up Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and feel he should be working on it. Yes, he'll slowly make his way through it over the years but it will be a struggle. The same with a climber who's thinking only of the gymnastic grade and not all the other skills required in trad climbing. If it's a constant struggle, then you're probably pushing too quickly.


billcoe_


Jul 20, 2009, 9:58 AM
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rgold wrote:

Finally, learn to be yourself and enjoy what you can enjoy. Don't let anyone else tell you what grade you should be climbing, and then prescribe dangerous and irrelevant exercises to get you there. Ask yourself why exactly you think you are "stuck" where you are. In my experience, everyone who keeps climbing gets better, and the people who keep climbing do it because they get pleasure from the experience. Don't let anyone take that away from you, and don't take it away from yourself in the pursuit of a few silly numbers.

rgold wrote:
The most important principle for using trad protection, especiallly but not exclusively if you are just learning, is redundancy. The idea is to develop a system you trust while maintaining a healthy scepticism about the reliability of any one piece. Try not to put yourself in the position of having a single piece, no matter how "bombproof," between you and disaster.

Placing more than gear than seems to be essential requires discipline and endurance, marks of a good trad climber. Failing safely is a better longevity option than betting the farm on a single piece.

Nonetheless, all climbing to some extent, but trad climbing intrinsically, involves risk. A lot of climbs have places you better not fall from, and this is part of the essence of trad climbing---performing in a cool and controlled manner when confronting a risky situation. Neutralizing danger, not just by protection skills, but also by climbing skills, is part of the game. (Unaulterated difficulty unencumbered by concerns of mortality is the province of sport climbing.)

Arguments about whether or not falling is a good idea always have these provisions: "if the gear is bomber, go for it," which is fair enough, but such pronouncements avoid the real problem by defining it out of existence. Many accidents happen when the bomber gear turns out not to be bomber. The climber (1) misjudged the pro (something that is quite possible for experts, let alone beginners), (2) failed to build sufficient redundancy into the system, and then (3) misjudged their ability and went for it in a situation when they were not well protected.

As for judging pro, I concur with the posters who recommend aid climbing. Redundancy is a state of mind combined with the will to carry it out. The most difficult issue is how to climb without falling when falling is a bad idea. (For example, if there is one piece between you and the ground and you can't back it up, then falling is a bad idea.) Here I think modern trends can inculcate bad habits. Gym climbing, sport climbing, and bouldering all emphasize moving up in the most marginal of situations. There is a risk of developing a tunnel-vision mentality that, first of all, accepts marginal moves even though the consequences of failure are catastrophic, perhaps not even noticing that the climber has gone from control to high risk status, and secondly, that blinds the climber to both the need and the opportunity to climb down to rest, regroup, and yes, in some cases, to retreat. Mental discipline is the primary tool for avoiding these situations, but this discipline is not something acquired in the gym or on sport climbs.

Here are some exercises that may be of some use:

(1) When climbing in the gym or on sport routes, try to be conscious of how marginal you are. (This does not mean reducing the difficulty level, just striving for heightened awareness.) From a trad perspective, falling may be ok, but an unexpected fall is not good. Know when you are on the edge.

(2) A lot of falls on steep ground happen when the leader runs out of gas. Try to develop a sense of your "half-way point," because this is one of the moments when you have to decide whether to move up or down. For example, a gym exercise is to select a challenging route and then see how high on it you can get and still climb all the way back down without falling.

(3) Develop the mental habit of filing away "retreat data." This can make the difference between stepping down and falling. (For example, when you step over a small roof, the holds underneath disappear. Did you make a mental note of features above the roof that will help you locate the holds underneath?)

(4) Don't neglect the building of a base of climbing below your limit, climbing in which you are relatively comfortable but are also frequently in the "must not fall" zone. A steady diet of well-protected hard climbing at or near your limit, while essential for raising your climbing level, may shortchange you on control and calmness when things get dicey, as they will, sooner or later...

Not a hell of a lot to add to any of those typical Rich Goldstone 10 star posts. I will point out, that falling on a 5.6 is often much much worse than falling on a 5.11. Looking specifically at the possible falls of each route, especially above you before you get there or perhaps even leave the ground and crafting a protection, resting, climbing and a comprehensive contingency (if it goes bad and you fall, get hurt or just need to bail) strategy is what it's all about.

Given the multitude of possible scenarios you will be encountering, this is not something which is learned quickly. It can be learned though.

Good luck


jt512


Jul 20, 2009, 10:55 AM
Post #23 of 55 (4874 views)
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Re: [hansundfritz] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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hansundfritz wrote:
There are some guys who lead at or very near their limit (Dave McLeod), but they're the exception.

That's just plain wrong.

In reply to:
Most of us would be wise to lead at least two grades below our outdoor top-rope max.

What?! Maybe for your first few months of leading.

In reply to:
As someone up-thread stated, our ability to do the moves is our primary source of safety.

So is your ability to judge the protectability of the route and your ability to place reliable pro. When the route has good pro, once you know what you're doing, by all means, lead at your limit.

Jay


sspssp


Jul 20, 2009, 11:24 AM
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Re: [shockabuku] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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shockabuku wrote:
vegastradguy wrote:
while you might occasionally mangle a piece of gear because you didnt place it or sling it correctly, or maybe that was the only pro you were going to get, through general use and holding falls, trad gear is not going to get damaged at all. so, dont worry so much about that.

I can't believe it took this many posts for someone to say this.Unimpressed

Welll, there was this previous post:
sspssp wrote:

A fall on a well placed cam shouldn't stress it.
Wink


sspssp


Jul 20, 2009, 11:25 AM
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Re: [sspssp] Falling or not to fall??? [In reply to]
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But if you have problems trusting your placements, doing some aid climbing is a great way to get better and learn what does and does not hold.

Unfortunately, aid climbing does tend to mangle gear.

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