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How many trad lead falls have you taken?
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Knyte260


Nov 8, 2009, 10:54 PM
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How many trad lead falls have you taken?
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I have a question for some of the more experienced trad leaders on this board. I have been leading trad as often as possible in the last 6 months and have climbed on the lead end around 8000 feet in total. I have yet to take my first fall of any sort, and am curious if this is a normal experience.

My expectations were far different, I guess from watching too many DVDs and such, I just figured falling was going to be a regular occurrence on a long route.

I have been leading in the 5.6 to 5.8 range, and have been having a great time on all the routes. Is staying at a difficulty level where I am quite unlikely to fall a good general strategy? I'd like to know other trad leaders opinions on this. I lead 5.11 in the gym but it is an environment where the risks are minimized.

I'm also curious to see what the average result is on a "typical" lead fall. I know this is a ridiculous question because all circumstances can be different, but maybe some of you have interesting stories to tell about some of your most memorable slip ups.


evanwish


Nov 9, 2009, 12:09 AM
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Re: [Knyte260] How many trad lead falls have you taken? [In reply to]
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i pretty much only lead, and its usually in the 5.6-5.10c range, I'm not too much of a fan of falling so i haven't fallen much, i think in my tens of thousands of accumulated vertical feet, probably only 3 or 4 falls.

yeah thats not really pushing myself, but i had a BAD fall a few years ago that destroyed my ankle so I kinda go by the motto of "leader must not fall" which actually works great for my two favorite types of climbing: Alpine Climbing, and Offwidth climbing where falling usually does not end up pretty Pirate


shimanilami


Nov 9, 2009, 12:25 AM
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Re: [Knyte260] How many trad lead falls have you taken? [In reply to]
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My first rock climbs were alpine climbs - i.e. 5.6-5.8 range, low angle, remote locations, etc. I put in a lot of miles, took on gear when I needed a rest, and learned how to avoid falling. Of course, I wasn't pushing myself to my limits. I wasn't at that point yet, and I was typically in places where injuries could have been a real problem.

I didn't take any real falls until I started trad cragging and sport climbing. My very first trad falls were planned (Surrealistic Pillar Direct) where I could set bomber gear and take a very safe fall. Seeing how gear performed in controlled falls helped me to gain some trust in it. I still avoided falling on gear, though, and would take if I doubted I could pull a move.

It wasn't until I started aid climbing that I gained complete trust in my gear. Relying upon gear continuously, taking huge falls, and having partners who would do the same allowed me to "turn the corner" with falling on gear. Now, falling isn't a big deal to me, whether on bolts or gear. (Ice is a different matter entirely.)

You've only been leading trad for six months, and you're climbing relatively easy stuff. I'd suggest you continue with the "leader does not fall" approach for a while longer. When you feel like you need to get comfortable with falling in order to take yourself to the next level, then there a many resources (e.g. the Search function here) that can suggest safe ways of going about it.


havard


Nov 9, 2009, 1:09 AM
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Many say "the leader must not fall" when talking trad. This is the smart, and safe approach. And when you're starting off, that is the right approach. You need to get your placement skills dialed, and then you can start pushing the grades. And when pushing the grades, falls will occure.

I've been told, or read, I don't remember, that there are three skills in trad climbing. It's the mental aspect, the gear placement, and the physical climbing. Only one aspect should be pushed at the time. I think that is a good advice.

When you feel confident about your skills placing gear, you may start pushing. However, when facing a difficult section where you might fall off, you must never ever forget to think things through. Is the gear good? Is the fall clean? Where is the next placement, and will the fall be clean all the way up to that placement? If the answer to any of these questions are no, then you are free soloing. If you can say yes to all of them, then I would go for it. But then again, I'm a crazy norwegian dude, and I'm probably going to die.


currupt4130


Nov 9, 2009, 4:46 AM
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I've been climbing on gear for about a year now, climbing on a rope period for less than two years I guess. Feels like it's been longer than that.

I try not to fall on my gear. I've taken good falls on it but it's not my favorite thing to do. I do have total confidence in my gear though. In the past year I've probably taken ten or fifteen "falls" on my gear, ranging from a measly five feet to the average 15-20 foot fall.

I was climbing a mixed route yesterday and was talking to my partner about my aliens. He had never seen them and asked about them. I basically told him that trusting my aliens was a huge choice after all the goings on with CCH. I said "It's about as big of a choice as choosing to suck dick." He thought it was funny. I didn't send.


Partner angry


Nov 9, 2009, 4:52 AM
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Re: [Knyte260] How many trad lead falls have you taken? [In reply to]
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You shouldn't fall on 5.6- to 5.8 anyway, you'll hurt yourself.

When things get steeper and harder, assuming that the gear is good and you won't smack stuff on the way down, it is as safe as sport to fall.

That said, hundreds of falls. None of them bad enough to do more than make me a little slow for a few days.


johnwesely


Nov 9, 2009, 4:58 AM
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Around 8, I am not really sure.


king_rat


Nov 9, 2009, 5:04 AM
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Re: [Knyte260] How many trad lead falls have you taken? [In reply to]
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Hi, I have been climbing on and off for around 15 years, so I could not tell you exactly how many falls I have taken, but I probably take one or two small falls(like under 10 foot) a week. anything longer then that is a rarity.

I don't subscribe to the idea that the leader must never fall, half the fun of climbing for me is to push myself, and it is inevitable that if I am pushing myself I will fall at some point. I do believe that it is important to be able to judge when it is safe to push your limits and when it is not. So its probably better to become confident in your abilities before you start pushing your grades.

Falling safely is not just about learning to place good gear, but also learning to take into consideration the wider issues. For instance is the climb well protected, If you do fall will the gear hold, is there anything that you may hit while fall, if you do fall where are you likely to end up, are you somewhere where if everything goes wrong, you can get assistance, or you(and your climbing partner) are equipped to rescue yourselves.


sungam


Nov 9, 2009, 5:18 AM
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Re: [angry] How many trad lead falls have you taken? [In reply to]
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angry wrote:
You shouldn't fall on 5.6- to 5.8 anyway, you'll hurt yourself.

When things get steeper and harder, assuming that the gear is good and you won't smack stuff on the way down, it is as safe as sport to fall.

That said, hundreds of falls. None of them bad enough to do more than make me a little slow for a few days.
The only fall I've had that hurt for more then a few days was this one time in Colorado, but that was on toprope, so I dunno if it counts here.
Some people just can't use grigri's *sigh*


Partner epoch
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Nov 9, 2009, 5:42 AM
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Re: [Knyte260] How many trad lead falls have you taken? [In reply to]
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Knyte260 wrote:
I have a question for some of the more experienced trad leaders on this board. I have been leading trad as often as possible in the last 6 months and have climbed on the lead end around 8000 feet in total. I have yet to take my first fall of any sort, and am curious if this is a normal experience.

My expectations were far different, I guess from watching too many DVDs and such, I just figured falling was going to be a regular occurrence on a long route.

I have been leading in the 5.6 to 5.8 range, and have been having a great time on all the routes. Is staying at a difficulty level where I am quite unlikely to fall a good general strategy? I'd like to know other trad leaders opinions on this. I lead 5.11 in the gym but it is an environment where the risks are minimized.

I'm also curious to see what the average result is on a "typical" lead fall. I know this is a ridiculous question because all circumstances can be different, but maybe some of you have interesting stories to tell about some of your most memorable slip ups.

Well, as mentioned before milage is your friend right now. It isn't necessarily a bad thing that you haven't taken any falls. It's that you are not pusing yourself and doing routes that are within your onsite abilities. When you start pushing yourself you will start to take falls.

I've taken too many falls on gear to count. I have had memorable ones and I don't think a single fall has been 'typical' in one way or another. I've ripped marginal placements, small gear, and broken wires on the way down. In contrast, I have also taken some real wingers on solid gear.

You're starting out and milage is your friend for getting that eye for placements.


lostlazy


Nov 9, 2009, 5:49 AM
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Re: [havard] How many trad lead falls have you taken? [In reply to]
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havard wrote:
Many say "the leader must not fall" when talking trad. This is the smart, and safe approach. And when you're starting off, that is the right approach. You need to get your placement skills dialed, and then you can start pushing the grades. And when pushing the grades, falls will occure.

I've been told, or read, I don't remember, that there are three skills in trad climbing. It's the mental aspect, the gear placement, and the physical climbing. Only one aspect should be pushed at the time. I think that is a good advice.

When you feel confident about your skills placing gear, you may start pushing. However, when facing a difficult section where you might fall off, you must never ever forget to think things through. Is the gear good? Is the fall clean? Where is the next placement, and will the fall be clean all the way up to that placement? If the answer to any of these questions are no, then you are free soloing. If you can say yes to all of them, then I would go for it. But then again, I'm a crazy norwegian dude, and I'm probably going to die.

Words to live by, especially for the beginner.


healyje


Nov 9, 2009, 7:04 AM
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Re: [lostlazy] How many trad lead falls have you taken? [In reply to]
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lostlazy wrote:
Words to live by, especially for the beginner.

They are definitely words to live by for beginners. But folks escaping a lingering intermediate status might want to consider pushing 2 out of 3 on occasion and climbers at the top of the game sometimes push all three. I have a pretty hard time with generalized rules such as this, and in particular the entirely misdirected "must not fall" mantra which I've never understood except in certain alpine and ice settings.

P.S. Oh, and short of a hold breaking, 99 times out of a 100 falling is just an outward symptom of you jumping off the rock at your emotional, rather than physical, limit.


(This post was edited by healyje on Nov 9, 2009, 7:16 AM)


billl7


Nov 9, 2009, 7:04 AM
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Re: [Knyte260] How many trad lead falls have you taken? [In reply to]
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Above, lots of good replies.

I have been traditioinally leading for about 4 1/2 years on a "weekend warrior" basis. As one more comparison to yourself , my first fall on gear was after roughly 1 1/2 years into that period. That fall and subsequent outings with falls (a dozen?, more if counting multiple falls at same crux) have only been on 5.8s and above and with high confidence in my protection.

Nothing glorious about falling on trad gear. I feel it is generally to be avoided on traditional leads. Banged a knee and tweaked an elbow on one. Bruised a heel on another. Besides the pain or worse, rescuing victims from climbing accidents is usually slow, slow, and slow.

Bill L


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Nov 9, 2009, 10:28 AM
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I am a new trad leader. I have been leading on gear for a little over a year, but I don't have many chances to do so.

My best onsight on gear is 5.9. My hardest lead on gear was 5.11d. (my best sport redpoint is 5.12b, for comparison)

I had one occasion of a 'take', and two real falls. One of them was small and kind-of expected, with good gear, and one was biggish and unexpected, on a piece of gear that I did not think would hold (I actually clipped it to the rope because I did not want it to fall out onto the belayer, and did not want to spend time trying to get it out). The piece below it was solid, and I was not in groundfall territory, but the shitty piece held for some reason.

The small fall with good gear was on .11d. The big fall with shitty gear was on 5.9...

It is probably better to stay in the safe and comfortable zone of "I am confident I won't fall" until you get a lot of mileage. But sometimes things work out differently despite our best intentions.


ryanb


Nov 9, 2009, 11:52 AM
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I don't think I really started falling until I started pushing into the 5.11's on gear. I'd certainly hung on gear, and even slipped off of delicate friction moves few times before that but now I fall fairly frequently... like I don't feel that I can climb truly well unless I get a fall in early in the weekend to remove the lead jitters.

I think this is a fairly common experience for a developing trad leader...I know a fair number of people who thought they were invincible on the rock because they were able to start leading 10's without ever falling (a few of them even started soloing big stuff because of it) but pretty much everyone starts to fall if they are trying to onsite in the 10+ 11- range.

Its really important to make sure your gear placement skills are really solid before you start doing this... there are too many stories of new leaders zippering gear these days. This is a topic for a another thread but, mileage alone is not enough as it can just reinforce bad habits... especially if the mileage is under the tutelage of an "experienced" leader who hasn't actually taken a lot of falls... a sure sign of this is if they regularly get there ankle behind the rope.

In terms of sheer number of actual falls I am not sure... I find most routes can be well protected at the hard bits (ie gear above your knees when you fall) and i've fallen or hung numerous times in this situation. These falls can still seem serious due to rope stretch but aren't really that bad. I will also occasionally try to lead routes with mandatory run outs and I'd say I have taken 10-20 proper falls with my feet above gear (usually because the crack pinches down or flares out for a body length or two).

My most recent properly exciting fall happened while attempting to flash the delicate upper stem box on Shirley (11c) at index, wa...I fell about 10-15 feet with rope stretch onto a grey 00 master cam backed up with a yellow alien a bit below.


havard


Nov 9, 2009, 11:56 AM
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Re: [healyje] How many trad lead falls have you taken? [In reply to]
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healyje wrote:
lostlazy wrote:
Words to live by, especially for the beginner.

They are definitely words to live by for beginners. But folks escaping a lingering intermediate status might want to consider pushing 2 out of 3 on occasion and climbers at the top of the game sometimes push all three. I have a pretty hard time with generalized rules such as this, and in particular the entirely misdirected "must not fall" mantra which I've never understood except in certain alpine and ice settings.

P.S. Oh, and short of a hold breaking, 99 times out of a 100 falling is just an outward symptom of you jumping off the rock at your emotional, rather than physical, limit.

healyje, I belive you are right, after giving it some thought. Pushing two out of three might feel fine. When I read your statemet of this the first time, I tought "hmm.. not good" and then I realized that I did just this earlier his fall. A 5 pitch route that are a bit above my normal onsight level, and allso way out of my mental comfort zone.

To the OP: Falling will come naturally. Don't worry about it. Not until you find yourself limited with fear of falling. Then it's time to let your belayer practice holding falls. This season I've done some fall practice, and that helped my confidence a lot. Now it's to cold to lead trad in Norway, and this means solo aid season is starting. Oh, good times! :)

Number of falls? I have no idea. But I fell twice on the crux of my first gear lead. And I've been continuing to push my limits on gear ever since. This season is the first of four that I have my personal hardest route on bolts..


boadman


Nov 9, 2009, 12:46 PM
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Re: [healyje] How many trad lead falls have you taken? [In reply to]
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healyje wrote:
lostlazy wrote:
Words to live by, especially for the beginner.


P.S. Oh, and short of a hold breaking, 99 times out of a 100 falling is just an outward symptom of you jumping off the rock at your emotional, rather than physical, limit.

Wow, you actually posted something pertinent & concise.

I've fallen on gear a lot. I didn't really start falling until I was leading stuff in the 10+ range though, for the same reasons stated previously.


zealotnoob


Nov 9, 2009, 1:23 PM
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Have never fallen on 5.9 and below. Have rarely fallen on 5.10. Am now learning to embrace falling as part of the progression as I break into 11s.

Generally speaking, given that there's usually a lot to hit on the easy stuff, best not to fall below 5.9.


kylekienitz


Nov 9, 2009, 1:36 PM
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Sadly I haven't pushed myself on gear too much. I have fallen a couple of times on some 5.10s. I haven't climbed anything harder than that on gear though. Hopefully soon I'll push into the 11 range with trad.

I remember my first fall I was so nervous that the small nut was going to pull. It was a clean fall, and the nut held.


bennydh


Nov 9, 2009, 1:39 PM
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boadman wrote:
healyje wrote:
lostlazy wrote:
Words to live by, especially for the beginner.


P.S. Oh, and short of a hold breaking, 99 times out of a 100 falling is just an outward symptom of you jumping off the rock at your emotional, rather than physical, limit.

Wow, you actually posted something pertinent & concise.

I've fallen on gear a lot. I didn't really start falling until I was leading stuff in the 10+ range though, for the same reasons stated previously.

I trad lead within a few letter grades of my non-leading ability. When that grade started getting higher and that gap smaller, I started taking many more falls. On a regular day of trad climbing, it isn't abnormal to fall 3 or 4 times per hard route with normal falls in the length of 10 to 20 feet.

As far as that 99 out 100 emotional thingy, I'd disagree. I won't call it BS, but that certainly has not been my experience.


boadman


Nov 9, 2009, 1:46 PM
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I have to admit that I often let go because I'm scared to go any higher above my gear, rather than falling because I can't hold on any longer.


healyje


Nov 9, 2009, 1:48 PM
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bennydh wrote:
As far as that 99 out 100 emotional thingy, I'd disagree. I won't call it BS, but that certainly has not been my experience.

Well, that is exactly what I'd expect most climbers to say - it's not an easy idea to digest and accept - but then, embracing that umpleasant truth might just set your climbing free...


TarHeelEMT


Nov 9, 2009, 1:50 PM
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healyje wrote:
bennydh wrote:
As far as that 99 out 100 emotional thingy, I'd disagree. I won't call it BS, but that certainly has not been my experience.

Well, that is exactly what I'd expect most climbers to say - it's not an easy idea to digest and accept - but then, embracing that umpleasant truth might just set your climbing free...

There is no spoon


blueeyedclimber


Nov 9, 2009, 7:13 PM
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Lead falls? Lots. I don't know how many. I don't fall as often as I could. It depends on who I am climbing with. It generally has to do with the strength of my partner. If I have a strong partner, then I am more likely to get on stuff that I will fall on.

As far as the falls themselves, I have taken numerous short falls. but only a couple long ones. And by long, I mean 20-25 feet. The first one was my first lead fall and the second was when I was working a climb at my limit and had good gear and a lot of air beneath me. To save some energy, I ran it out a bit.

Josh


camhead


Nov 9, 2009, 7:19 PM
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I've fallen a lot on trad routes.

I've only taken one fall in a "don't fall" situation, however.

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