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Tell us about your whipper...


Original Post
Orphaned · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 11,870

There have probably already been many threads like this, but I don't care; it will be fun. Maybe people have some new stories they'd like to share about their whippers.

Took my first whipper yesterday of about 18 feet. Almost decked. I have a bad bruise on my heal where it hit the ground. I'm very thankful that my belayer came through for me.

Mistakes:
1) I was trying to sport lead a climb that I had no business trying to climb. (I later tried top-roping it, and couldn't even do it on top-rope.)
2) I tried to clip too soon.
3) I tried to clip in a bad stance.
4) I didn't warn my belayer that I was way into the pump zone.

I'm sure there are more. Anyhow, what happened is that I came to be just below the 4th bolt on Hollow Man (5.9) and, being pumped and ready to pop off, I decided to try for the clip, afraid of whipping at my current fall-factor. What I ended up doing is increasing my fall-factor dramatically by attempting and failing to clip the next bolt. I was soooo close too! I had the draw clipped and was pulling rope up. I had the rope touching the carabiner almost to the gate, just straining to clip that thing, and that's when I popped off! I can still remember looking down at that moment and then watching the ground rush toward me in less than another moment. My belayer (Al B.) said it was about 18 feet. He also said that it's important to come away from something like this in a positive way. If you let the fear get to you, then it may hinder your climbing career. But fear, I think, can also be a good thing. I think that fear is going to keep me off of anything bigger than 5.7 unless it's on top-rope. I feel pretty stupid, but mostly lucky I didn't break anything.

Ryan Kelly · · work. · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 2,980
spencerparkin wrote:There have probably already been many threads like this, but I don't care; it will be fun. Maybe people have some new stories they'd like to share about their whippers. Took my first whipper yesterday of about 18 feet. Almost decked. I have a bad bruise on my heal where it hit the ground. I'm very thankful that my belayer came through for me. Mistakes: 1) I was trying to sport lead a climb that I had no business trying to climb. (I later tried top-roping it, and couldn't even do it on top-rope.) 2) I tried to clip too soon. 3) I tried to clip in a bad stance. 4) I didn't warn my belayer that I was way into the pump zone. I'm sure there are more. Anyhow, what happened is that I came to be just below the 4th bolt on Hollow Man (5.9) and, being pumped and ready to pop off, I decided to try for the clip, afraid of whipping at my current fall-factor. What I ended up doing is increasing my fall-factor dramatically by attempted and failing to clip the next bolt. I was soooo close too! I had the draw clipped and was pulling rope up. I had the rope touching the carabiner almost to the gate, just straining to clip that thing, and that's when I popped off! I can still remember looking down at that moment and then watching the ground rush toward me in less than another moment. My belayer (Al B.) said it was about 18 feet. He also said that it's important to come away from something like this in a positive way. If you let the fear get to you, then it may hinder your climbing career. But fear, I think, can also be a good thing. I think that fear is going to keep me off of anything bigger than 5.7 unless it's on top-rope. I feel pretty stupid, but mostly lucky I didn't break anything.
Hopefully you learned from your experience not to clip high from a bad stance; other than that, I think you're taking away some negative lessons from this as-well.

Getting in over your head on a single pitch sport climb? Nonsense. That's what sport climbing is for.
Clipping high is a common sight seen for new leaders, but it isn't always bad. Clip from the best stance, it's a fundamental part of sport climbing. You're better off at your waist because as you learned clipping high can lead to long falls. But if you're on a huge jug, you're not risking decking, and you can reach up and clip the next bolt so you can move through the next sequence without pausing - go for it.
Warning your belayer is smart if you think you're going to pop, but usually the belayer can tell if you're struggling. A warning will get you a bit tighter belay if decking out on something is an issue, but if you're close to the ground your belayer should be paying attention anyway. Taking an 18 footer when you're only 20-ish feet off the ground - I guess I won't comment without having seen what happened.
Fall Factor - has no place in the discussion on single-pitch sport climbing.

Just my $0.02
Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 266
spencerparkin wrote:1) I was trying to sport lead a climb that I had no business trying to climb. (I later tried top-roping it, and couldn't even do it on top-rope.)
At least you didn't call it a day :-)

When you get more rope out in your situation, you add more length for the rope to stretch so fall factor is not an issue.
Ryan Lauck · · Farmington, UT · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 305

I still think 5.9 is pretty tough too, but I've seen you climb and I know you have the technical skills. Its just a matter of finding all the rests and taking time to relax and shake out. Don't let the fear hang around. Go lead some easier routes that maybe you have done before and find the fun in climbing again - then come back to that climb with a positive mindset to enjoy the climb and send it!

Joel Andersen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 10
Ryan Kelly wrote: You're better off at your waist because as you learned clipping high can lead to long falls.
Common misconception. Fall distance is the same, you only fall closer to the ground (in this case it apparently mattered).
Ryan Kelly · · work. · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 2,980
Joel Andersen wrote: Common misconception. Fall distance is the same, you only fall closer to the ground (in this case it apparently mattered).
Sorry, I was trying to be succinct but it was poor word choice on my part; you're right. I often hear that clipping high is a terrible thing, and I was just trying to point out that it isn't always. It's more important to choose the best point, considering the fall, hazards, holds, pump, etc.
Josh Olson · · Durango, CO · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 255

fall distance is different with a high clip then one at your waist. you have to pull the rope up, meaning you have to pull an extra three feet or so of slack. The rope goes up to the krab and back down to you, whereas if you are slightly above the krab when you clip, the rope just goes up to the clip and then up to you. make sense?

W.S. · · Montana · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 65

Biggest whipper I ever took was on the second pitch of "L'Arête Ouest", in La Jonte, France. It's a bolted climb on steep dolomite, sandbagged and pretty run out, for being a sport climb. I was most of the way up the pitch, pumped and useless and about five meters above the last bolt. The next bolt was just beyond my reach, but I didn't think I could make it. So I screamed to my belayer, forty meters down, "Je vais voler!" (I'm going to whip!). A few seconds later I peeled off, and the combination of my height above the last bolt, the slack in the rope, and the fact that I was climbing on stretchy doubles and had only clipped one strand made the fall about 45 feet. The route was dead vertical and I wasn't hurt. When I talked to my belayer afterwards, she told me that when I had screamed that I was going to fall she thought I had said "Je suis vaché!", which means "Off Belay!", but had waited a few seconds more to make sure.

Lesson learned: fall in silence, and don't get cocky just because there are bolts.

Ryan Kelly · · work. · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 2,980
JASON A. wrote: Nope, you are wrong. You can add approximately 3-5 feet, depending on how far you are reaching to make that clip. If you clip 3-5 feet below a bolt, then no slack is taken in, you should be able to climb 3-5 feet above the bolt. If you clip with the bolt at your waist, you will not be able to climb very far above the bolt. There is 3-5 feet of extra rope out. Therefore, there will be a 3-5 more feet if one were to fall clipping.
The assumption is that you fall while (i.e. before) making the clip. I have no idea what situation you're talking about...
Joel Andersen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 10
JASON A. wrote: Nope, you are wrong. You can add approximately 3-5 feet, depending on how far you are reaching to make that clip. If you clip 3-5 feet below a bolt, then no slack is taken in, you should be able to climb 3-5 feet above the bolt. If you clip with the bolt at your waist, you will not be able to climb very far above the bolt. There is 3-5 feet of extra rope out. Therefore, there will be a 3-5 more feet if one were to fall clipping.
If you fall while clipping a bolt that is 2 feet above your waist you fall an extra four feet. If you climb until your waist is even--an extra two feet--you will fall an extra four feet.

The only difference is how high off the ground your fall will leave you.

Do you still disagree?
· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0
Joel Andersen wrote: Common misconception. Fall distance is the same, you only fall closer to the ground (in this case it apparently mattered).
I would disagree with this (though i had to draw it out just to make sure i wasn't making an ass out of myself).

Spencer, I remember my first clipping above my head almost decking fall. Austin, Texas on the greenbelt. Fun ride. As others have said, good job going back for the TR. Just get on that stuff and lead it. That's what ropes and harnesses and pro are for. If you haven't check out Arno's book, the Rock Warrior's Way, I recommend that you do. Be safe, but take those calculated risks. Climbing is about doing something you didn't think you could. You'll look back at Hollowman someday and laugh that you took your first big whip on it.

To answer the OP request, Here's a good one: I was on a climb I had no business climbing, placed my gear well and clipped the one bolt on the route. I wasn't breathing well, and was getting pumped, but pulled through the roof and up into a very shallow dihedral. Mentally, I was prepared for the climb to be over after the roof. To the contrary, it involved some hard friction moves with an awkward stance and nowhere to place gear. I was trying to get my feet on good holds, but when i did, my knees would push me out from the rock. Finally, I got my left foot on a small nub, but it pushed me off balance and my foot popped.

I was laid out, but had enough time in freefall to orient myself. The bolt caught me fine, though it now spins freely. It was about a 35 footer, ending with me crashing into the wall below the roof. I pulled myself together got back on the wall and went up and finished that bitch.

(Thanks for letting me spray)
Ryan Kelly · · work. · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 2,980
Josh Olson wrote:fall distance is different with a high clip then one at your waist. you have to pull the rope up, meaning you have to pull an extra three feet or so of slack. The rope goes up to the krab and back down to you, whereas if you are slightly above the krab when you clip, the rope just goes up to the clip and then up to you. make sense?
No, it's not. Draw a diagram, it'll make sense. Remember that although more rope is out, you're standing lower.

However, that's a textbook example. In real life when I've seen people fall making a huge clip they're usually inexperienced and so is their belayer, who tosses out a few extra feet of slack because they misjudge how much is needed.
Joel Andersen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 10
Josh Olson wrote:fall distance is different with a high clip then one at your waist. you have to pull the rope up, meaning you have to pull an extra three feet or so of slack. The rope goes up to the krab and back down to you, whereas if you are slightly above the krab when you clip, the rope just goes up to the clip and then up to you. make sense?
See my post above. This is incorrect.
Joel Andersen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 10
Price wrote: I would disagree with this (though i had to draw it out just to make sure i wasn't making an ass out of myself).
You'd be wrong.
Lee Smith · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2003 · Points: 1,545

Real world numbers.
10 feet between bolts. For the high clip, your waist is 6 feet above the low bolt and 4 feet below the high bolt. You need to pull 8 feet of slack to clip the high bolt (4 feet up and 4 feet back to your harness). You have 14 feet of rope above the lower bolt. Miss the clip and you fall 28 feet.

Same scenario but clip at your waist. You are 10 feet above the lower bolt and you need 1 foot of rope to clip. You have 11 feet of rope to the lower bolt. Fall is 22 feet; much shorter than 28 feet.

Ryan Kelly · · work. · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 2,980
Lee Smith wrote:Real world numbers. 10 feet between bolts. For the high clip, your waist is 6 feet above the low bolt and 4 feet below the high bolt. You need to pull 8 feet of slack to clip the high bolt (4 feet up and 4 feet back to your harness). You have 14 feet of rope above the lower bolt. Miss the clip and you fall 28 feet. Same scenario but clip at your waist. You are 10 feet above the lower bolt and you need 1 foot of rope to clip. You have 11 feet of rope to the lower bolt. Fall is 22 feet; much shorter than 28 feet.
You can't just double the rope length in the first scenario. You fall 6 feet to the bolt, then the 14 feet of rope that's out. 20 feet.
Ryan Kelly · · work. · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 2,980

This 3D computer animation that I just got in from NASA might help:

Sporto fall length

Both situations are a 6 foot fall (all extraneous variables omitted). The difference is that in situation 1 he ends up 6 feet below the lower bolt, in situation 2 he's only 3 feet below.

Lee Smith · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2003 · Points: 1,545

That is correct Ryan. I see now.

Ryan Kelly · · work. · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 2,980
Lee Smith wrote:That is correct Ryan. I see now.
Was it the explanation or my fantastic drawing that I worked really hard on that did it?
Joel Andersen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 10
Ryan Kelly wrote: Was it the explanation or my fantastic drawing that I worked really hard on that did it?
The one that NASA did? ;)
Lee Smith · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2003 · Points: 1,545

It was a great drawing, but logic was the winner in the end.

This is why I hardly ever sport climb.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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