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Failed Gym Lead Test


Original Post
bmdhacks · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 401

I recently failed a gym lead test because the instructor said that I had back-clipped this draw while climbing the green route:

If you can't tell, it sits on an arete and essentially points straight out due to the 90 degree turn by the extra quick link.  The next draw is directly above this bolt.

I'm curious which direction people think it should be clipped.

Ryan Bowen · · Bend, Or · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 85

Probably opposite of the way that you clipped it the first time.

CrimpDaddy-WesP · · Bowling green Kentuckee · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 375

choose a different route next time perhaps to avoid confusion


Will Handy · · Denver, CO · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

Its hard to tell from the picture, but if the green route stays to the right side of the draw, I would clip it so the climbers side rope exits the right side of the draw. If the route follows the arete directly above the draw I don't think it matters which way you clip it.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 5

Judging by the small number of holds and not knowing where the route goes, my best guess is to say the rope should be coming out of the carabiner toward the right wall. But you haven't really given us a very good picture. The route looks like it continues to head up and right, but if those are just some intermediate holds and you're really staying to the left then reverse what I said. The gym employee "probably" knows what they're talking about since this is probably their certification route and they know how it should be climbed and clipped. 

ryan laird · · Denver, CO · Joined Sep 2008 · Points: 1,935

Let them know they have the hanger orientated wrong. Gravity works downward, not horizontal.

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 661

I refuse to analyze protection on a gym climb!

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

Looks as if the gym managers have purposefully set that clip in a position to trick people, which is kind of lame.  If the route follows that arete and doesn't force you to one side or the other (hard to tell in this pic) I wouldn't call that a back clip, regardless which way you clip it.  It looks as if it might trend right, in which case I'm guessing they want the rope to enter the biner from the left.  

My gym does something similar and they catch people all the time.  Depending on who administers the test, they will either fail you or just point it out and use it as a teaching opportunity to encourage you to think about these things.  Super annoying if you are an experienced climber and all you want to get is your lead card, but probably a good idea for beginners who otherwise might not consider the full consequences of following a bolt line, rope path, etc. and how that influences the protection system as a whole.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,455

Did you make him explain what a back clip is?

Dylan B. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 521

Does nobody care that the wall around the hangar looks beat to shit? Can’t tell for sure from the pic, but I doubt I’d be willing to fall on that thing anyhow. 

Eric Fjellanger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 845

That extra quicklink to rotate the draw is whack.

Tom Sherman · · Bristol, RI · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 417

Yo gym is GHEEEEEEEEEETTO! All f*ed up

rocknice2 · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 3,068

The draw is probably placed at 90° because there are routes crossing the arete in both directions. 

L>R, R>L clip in the direction of travel.

Eric Fjellanger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 845

Yeah but that means if you're ON the arete when you fall, you've potentially "backclipped" no matter what.

nkane Kane · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 101

This is one of the many cruxes of the Mission Cliffs lead test. You can only pass if you abandon ego, realize you're in a no-win situation, and throw yourself on the mercy of the tester.

Eric Fjellanger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 845

Might be a while then?

bmdhacks · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 401

Haha, I think nkane speaks the truth.

To conclude our story, I clipped left to right because I perceived the direction of travel towards those rightward jugs.  The next two or three bolts were straight up though.  After failing the test I got a bit worked up and berated the tester about "direction-of-travel" and that my stance was right of the bolt due to those holds.  The tester persisted in telling me I had back-clipped it and that the test is failed if you back clip.

Simon W · · Nowhere Land · Joined May 2013 · Points: 70
nkane wrote:

This is one of the many cruxes of the Mission Cliffs lead test. You can only pass if you abandon ego, realize you're in a no-win situation, and throw yourself on the mercy of the tester.

Mission Cliffs - definitely ghetto.

The Mission - not so much.  Great place to buy hipster glasses, skinny jeans and artiznal cucumber water.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65

The perceived dangers of back clipping are waaaaaaaaaay overblown. 

nkane Kane · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 101
bmdhacks wrote:

Haha, I think nkane speaks the truth.

To conclude our story, I clipped left to right because I perceived the direction of travel towards those rightward jugs.  The next two or three bolts were straight up though.  After failing the test I got a bit worked up and berated the tester about "direction-of-travel" and that my stance was right of the bolt due to those holds.  The tester persisted in telling me I had back-clipped it and that the test is failed if you back clip.

If you pass the back-clip phase of the test, you must then demonstrate that you're comfortable ordering your belayer to his/her death. Good luck.

SeƱor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

I would have clipped R-L but IMO there's no way to "back clip" a draw that is pointing straight away from the wall like that. Or, maybe, every clip is a back clip, since whatever way you fall you're going to pull the rope across the gate.

Either way, screw the person who failed you for that. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
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