Stopping a climbing fall : mastering rock climbing techniques
Stopping a climbing fall. The arrest of a fall is a brief but essential moment in the trust relationship between climber and belayer.
Stopping a climbing fall. Mastering these techniques requires specific training. Work with a professional to confirm your ability to perform these techniques safely and independently before attempting them unsupervised.
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In case of a fall, hold the brake-side rope firmly, while pulling it downward. Whatever the device used, the act of gripping the brake-side rope with your hand increases the rope friction in the device, allowing the fall to be stopped.
Warning: do not grip the climber-side rope! Never let go of the the brake-side rope.
Train yourself to stop falls in different situations, or get professional training. For a dynamic belay, do a small jump or take a step forward to reduce the impact force on the climber.
A good belayer is able to do much more than stop a fall: s/he knows when to do a dynamic belay and when to stop a fall more abruptly if necessary to prevent the climber from hitting an obstacle (ground, ledge, other climber…). At the moment of a fall, there is no time to decide whether to use a dynamic belay or not. So one must always be prepared for the possibility of a fall and be ready to stop it.
Stopping a climbing fall : the essential points to consider (non-exhaustive list)
- potential fall height and fall severity (if the climber is far from the last point of protection or offset from the axis of the protection…)
- risk of hitting an obstacle during the fall and available space for giving a dynamic belay.
- issue of a long fall on an overhang, if the climber needs to regain the rock to continue the route
- space for the belayer if giving a dynamic belay: he/she will be pulled against the wall and thus must have a clean area, not be barefoot, have no knots in the rope…