Gear Guy on Intentional Falls


Original Post
amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20

Full article - should-climbing-gyms-allow-you-to-practice-lead-falls

The gist - a gym does not allow to take intentional lead falls, have a few reasons for it.

Let's not focus on the decision.

My question is - how do gym employees know if a fall is intentional.
Heck it is very possible I just had a muscle cramp on that 5.5 jug and took a whipper. Yeah, I know, happened to me more 10 times in row, - weird, right? I'll have to up my banana intake or something. And, who hasn't sluiced off that clipping jug, right?

Oh, let's keep it clean, and relevant, and focus on the intent detection ;)

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Wow. I couldn't disagree more. While I get the point about victory whips (stupid idea anywhere), learning to fall is a crucial aspect of learning to lead, and the purpose of the gym is to learn and train those skills so that you can be safe outside. It is in the gym's best interest to ENCOURAGE practice falls (my gym, also in the Midwest, just hosted a whipper clinic) so that people don't injure themselves when the real deal happens. Quite frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if this policy opens them up to liability; if a person were trained in the gym but not allowed to practice this skill and becomes injured in a fall, I don't see why they couldn't sue.

amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20

Just to make it clear - this thread should be a list of creative ways of selling your intentional fall as truly accidental to an overly attentive and concerned gym employee

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

";Oops.";

Honestly, though...you wouldn't want to practice on a 5.5 anyways, as you're more likely to hit something, so you should be falling on something reasonably overhung. I would just discretely work it out with the belayer and act surprised. Personally, I wouldn't climb there if they have dangerous policies like that...what was the gym?

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530
Ted Pinson wrote:Wow. I couldn't disagree more. While I get the point about victory whips (stupid idea anywhere), learning to fall is a crucial aspect of learning to lead, and the purpose of the gym is to learn and train those skills so that you can be safe outside. It is in the gym's best interest to ENCOURAGE practice falls (my gym, also in the Midwest, just hosted a whipper clinic) so that people don't injure themselves when the real deal happens. Quite frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if this policy opens them up to liability; if a person were trained in the gym but not allowed to practice this skill and becomes injured in a fall, I don't see why they couldn't sue.
The gym is not there for you to train those skills so you can be safe outside- the gym is there to make money and encourage people to visit their facility. They are not the least bit concerned about what people do outside of their facility (nor should they be).

As for the intentional fall thing- most gyms I've been to require at least one intentional fall as part of their lead certification. I have been to a few facilities that don't allow intentional falls and I've always thought that was a bit much- it's one thing to ask that people don't come in and take 50 whips in a session so your ropes last a little longer, its another thing to completely forbid any kind of intentional falling. This strikes me as one of those things where the staff should exercise common sense.
Crazymonkey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 154

any gym that doesn't supply the ropes should have no problem on allowing falls, its part of the sport in a controlled environment. obviously the liability is there so I can agree massive whips are not to be taken lightly, but if you wanna do that to your own gear then that's on you. You pay a pretty dime for any gym out there, so replacing a quick draw or a top anchor shouldn't be an issue IMO.

A gym is there to teach you how to climb and mimic outdoors as best as possible. to say that you can't fall or take an intentional fall is like saying come play basketball but don't hit the backboard intentionally hard. come play Frisbee golf but don't throw it into the chains intentionally hard. Go to a golf course but don't intentionally try to go for the greens from the tee box...

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 115

Considering that every gym I where I have take a lead test has required me to take a fall, and that when my daughter was going through a lead class, they took lots of falls, I can't say that I have seen this in the wild.

But my gym does not allow non-staff to teach lead skills, so you have to already know how to lead (or take the gym's calls) to be certified, and only then can you "practice" lead falls. And it does make sense that a gym would not want climbers to fall intentionally, since a lead fall is the event where an accident is most likely to happen

Personally, I practice lead falls by climbing routes that I can't finish, preferably when I am on my partner's rope.

Matt Stroebel · · Lakewood, OH · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 115

I'll try and stick to the question that you wanted an answer too, though it's hard because I find myself in a similar predicament where my gym doesn't allow leading at all outside of the classes they teach. (I'm in Ohio so it's annoying that the only time I can practice falling on lead is after a 6 hours trip to the Red)

I wouldn't get hung up on how a gym employee knows a fall is intentional or not. Other than a victory whip which would be very obvious, it will be a judgment call on their part and vary from person to person.

I used to struggle with head issues on lead, and I use the Rock warriors way method to deal with that issue. Part of that the process is using various falling drills. I'd recommend that you get the book and/or take a class, I did and it has honestly been the best money I've spent on rock climbing.

Beyond that, I'd recommend doing one of the drills I learned in the class which will facilitate you falling unintentionally. Instead of climbing to a point and then letting go, climb continuously until you fall. Don't stop if you don't know where to go next, just try for the next hold. If you fall, you fall. If not, keep climbing higher grades until you are falling.

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0
John Wilder wrote: The gym is not there for you to train those skills so you can be safe outside- the gym is there to make money and encourage people to visit their facility. They are not the least bit concerned about what people do outside of their facility (nor should they be). As for the intentional fall thing- most gyms I've been to require at least one intentional fall as part of their lead certification. I have been to a few facilities that don't allow intentional falls and I've always thought that was a bit much- it's one thing to ask that people don't come in and take 50 whips in a session so your ropes last a little longer, its another thing to completely forbid any kind of intentional falling. This strikes me as one of those things where the staff should exercise common sense.
+1 - I think John nailed several key points. The gym is not the least bit interested in what you are doing outside. Are you going to sue them when you rap off the end of your rope because you couldn't practice at the gym
NegativeK · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 5

They don't need to prove anything; they'll probably just tell you to knock it off and then tell you to fuck off if you get argumentative about it.

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310
amarius wrote:Just to make it clear - this thread should be a list of creative ways of selling your intentional fall as truly accidental to an overly attentive and concerned gym employee
Your freacking hold rotated......
AndrewArroz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Simple answer: Find a new gym.

Pavel Burov · · Russia · Joined May 2013 · Points: 50

Gym crew just don't need any formal reason to refuse a guest in service. They just say: "We refuse you in our service tonight. If you need more information on the case please contact our manager. Please, leave the facility." And everybody around understand what just happened and why.

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 681
John Wilder wrote: They are not the least bit concerned about what people do outside of their facility (nor should they be).
I completely agree with you on everything besides what is in the parenthesis. Gyms should be, at least slightly, concerned with what people are doing outside. They are after all the producers of most of the new generation of climbers that are going out into the crags, which makes me feel that they have a responsibility in at least providing some preparation in terms of stewardship and proper behavior that would minimize impact.I guess this is a whole other topic though.

On topic. Whenever I have done a lead test there has been a mandatory fall. Admittedly I have not lead in a gym in quite sometime because I hate clipping so many freaking draws.
Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

they can tell because the peoplez often doing this are terrified, and hesitantly look down longingly at their belayer for several moments before whacking off their meat off the top of the plastic climbing rocks.

BigB · · Red Rock, NV · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 340

Is this where I sign up and pay for my kids bday party?!?

Sean Smith · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Most of the time it comes down to insurance policy. A company, who is not run by climbers, states to grant insurance the gym has to follow safety guidelines and regulate the dangers of climbing. Though we all know climbing risks are already there, they try to limit it as much as possible. That's why we are seeing gyms starting to fix grigris to top ropes. But the keyboard warriors aren't up in arms about certain gyms not teaching people how to load belay devices properly and using alternate devices. Which might I add, are pretty much required to go outside at some point.

Just climb harder routes and over time you will end up getting used to falling and improve your climbing in the long run.

People just want what they want.

But back to your question, when staff sees someone climb to the anchors and scream like an idiot in excitement as they fall then that classifies as a victory whip. But they won't know if it looks like a normal lead fall.

rozaosa · · Mordor · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 10

I practice falls all the time at my gym. But the way I go about it is by pushing myself on routes that I am most likely going to fall off of. It's a win-win situation. Either you take a gnarly whipper or break through a mental barrier that's been holding you back from attempting routes outside your comfort zone.

Edit: looks like you responded while I was typing this out Sean, I completely agree with you.

Jason Kim · · Encinitas, CA · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 255

It's a non issue really. Unless you're acting like an ass, there's no way the gym would ever know if you're taking "real" falls or practice whips. I've done the latter on many occasions with no repercussions.

The concept that it's the gym's obligation or purpose to prepare people for the outdoors, well that is just wrong. Anyone who climbs indoors does so for their own reasons. Now, if you sign up for an "outdoors skills" class at a gym, sure.

BrianWS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 790

Learning to catch and take leads falls is integral to climbing safely. That being said, 90% of the intentional falls I see in the gym are hilariously inept - new leaders taking falls on low angle terrain with jumbo holds, and belayers who spike the shit out of them each time. I can see why gyms would want to discourage this practice, aside from the wear it takes on hardware and ropes.

A gym with good a instructional curriculum should teach clinics for proper lead falls/catches. Give a controlled space and time to take practice whips and catches, and hopefully the clientele will be able to translate the skills learned into honest falls and good belay technique.

sherb · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 60
Eric Engberg wrote: +1 - I think John nailed several key points. The gym is not the least bit interested in what you are doing outside. Are you going to sue them when you rap off the end of your rope because you couldn't practice at the gym
+1
Don't think you can sue a gym for something that didn't happen within their facilities (in such an injury case). You can try, but motion to dismiss will be granted. The gym does not take on responsibility for risks you take outside the gym. There would be 100 more proximate factors in the fall that contributed to your injury other than not being able to practice in that particular gym. Even if you could have practiced at that particular gym, you may have gotten injured anyway. You could have also practiced at a different gym.

But I see what you mean. One of the gyms I went to didn't allow grigris and I wondered how their members could learn to belay with a grigri outside.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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