Mountain Project Logo

Falling while Bouldering Test


Original Post
LB Edwards · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 28

Has anyone ever been to a gym where they test you on how to fall while Bouldering? Do they go as far as not letting you climb at their gym for the day if you don't pass or offer you a class you have to pay extra for? Experienced this for the first time today and was wondering if this normal outside my New York bubble.

Matt Wetmore · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2017 · Points: 45

Yeah, one in Vancouver and one in Philly. It was pretty informal both times, they teach you a way to fall and you do it for the test, then fall the way you are used to when climbing.

RockinOut · · NY, NY · Joined May 2010 · Points: 100

Which NY gym was it? I've been to every gym in the city and were never tested on a bouldering fall.  Did they test you on multiple routes...like an overhanging fall, vert fall, slab fall?  Just curious what the test was....if I had to guess it was Brooklyn Boulders since they've become pretty ridiculous lately. 

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 83

Earth Treks has you watch a video but that is it. 

LB Edwards · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 28

This was a gym in Philly. PRG East Falls.

Most gyms do an orientation and mention how to fall when bouldering, but this one just throws you into the the ringer. The employee wouldn't tell me what to do, just said asked questions and kept saying "let's see you fall controlled and uncontrolled." Like Matt said, it was very informal and was pretty frustrating and overall ridiculous.

They failed me but said I could climb for the day, but I'd have to retake the test IF I went back. She even tried to upsell me to a $15 dollar class to learn how to fall.

FFS.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

The Wall down in San Diego required one a few years ago. No idea if they still do. 

I manage a gym, but we don't do fall tests. We do fall orientations, though. 

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5

So a total beginner walks into this gym, and without any instruction whatsoever they are told to climb up and fall "uncontrolled"? That sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. 

LB Edwards · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 28

Em Cos wrote:

So a total beginner walks into this gym, and without any instruction whatsoever they are told to climb up and fall "uncontrolled"? That sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. 

Not exactly, they make you fill out a sheet of how much experience you have, if you are a total noob they require that you take their class to learn how to do it. It's a racquet.

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348

I've probably taken a few dozen belay tests, but I dont think I've ever heard of a bouldering test. I would probably laugh if someone told me I need to take a bouldering test and then ask them if they are actually serious. Then again it doesent surprise me considering some of the stupid crap I see people do while bouldering like walking under someone 15' above who's barely hanging on.

Rwwon ru · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 35

Amazing the differences between each gym. I see a wide variety from very laid back to very strict. Probably depends on insurance policies, attitude (and experience) of ownership, etc.

I went into a gym recently to do a lead climbing test, and you had to do a specific climb at a specific grade level, and finish all the way to the top flawlessly. If you failed any aspect, you had to re-pay and schedule another time (due to high demand in testing, and not wanting to waste staff time). In contrast, the previous gym I went to, you climbed up 20 feet on any available route, took a short fall and demonstrated you knew the basics and you were done. I'm not saying one is better than the other, just different.

On a side note, it feels like every gym has their own "correct" way of belaying, yet its different from gym to gym.

ViperScale . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

What you need to do is fall and break something during the test and than sue them for making a test that is not safe. I am pretty sure they are more liable for making you take a test you can get hurt in vs having you just sign that I could get hurt climbing on my own.

Hamish Malin · · Fredericksburg, VA · Joined May 2017 · Points: 15

I got tested at a bouldering gym in El Paso a while back; someone walked through how to land on my back, pull arms/legs in, and roll backwards.  Then I had to demonstrate, but could fall however after the demo.  It seemed contrived but the manager/owner (who was a pretty cool chap) explained that someone had just gotten an ambulance ride after a bad fall which I suspect was a face plant into a corner.  

It all seemed like overkill to me but not so much that I was offended...

Michael Diep · · vienna, va · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

I don’t know anyone who has ever failed that test at PRG.  I can’t imagine how you managed to do that. Maybe you tried to break your fall with your hands or your knees were locked off straight. Or you just forgot to use a pad? Or maybe a jerk employee. They have a couple.

For those who are commenting on breaking something during the test, you’re literally falling from 3 ft off the ground. If you look ok then you take another fall maybe 5 ft up. 

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,325

Requiring someone to take a fall is major liability waiting to happen. It is common practice to have people take falls for lead tests but even in a totally controlled environment it's still a bad idea in my opinion. Mandatory bouldering falls are downright stupid. I think giving people an orientation to falling is a good idea and perhaps a demo by staff but forcing someone to expose themselves to risk is no bueno. 

In a lead test the staff should be trained to know a solid climber from sketchy one simply by watching them climb.

Rudy Chavira · · Taylorsville. Ut · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

Thanks for heads up totally rediculous.

ViperScale . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

Tradiban wrote:

Requiring someone to take a fall is major liability waiting to happen. It is common practice to have people take falls for lead tests but even in a totally controlled environment it's still a bad idea in my opinion. Mandatory bouldering falls are downright stupid. I think giving people an orientation to falling is a good idea and perhaps a demo by staff but forcing someone to expose themselves to risk is no bueno. 

In a lead test the staff should be trained to know a solid climber from sketchy one simply by watching them climb.

Generally a lead test at our gym they make sure you can catch someone on lead (the tester has the rope and as a backup if the belayer fails) having them fall while lead climbing they generally can look at it and tell that the run is good or bad but still there is risk telling someone to take a fall when even the most basic small fall if you hit wrong could mean injury.

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 70

All of my friends who have hurt themselves in the climbing gym have done so bouldering. OP's experience sounds shitty, but executed well this strikes me as a pretty decent idea. Falling and not hurting yourself is for sure something you can practice and get better at.

Planet Granite (which is now Earthtreks or whatever) also has required the video for a while.

simplyput . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 60

So this one time, Planet Granite in Portland made a fairly experienced climber watch a video on how to fall. Then she went to the boulder cave, fell poorly and broke her leg. 

Not sure what the take away here is other than experienced or not, possessing the gym sanctioned knowledge or not, shit happens and people still manage to do it wrong.

LB Edwards · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 28

Mike Mellenthin wrote:

All of my friends who have hurt themselves in the climbing gym have done so bouldering. OP's experience sounds shitty, but executed well this strikes me as a pretty decent idea. Falling and not hurting yourself is for sure something you can practice and get better at.

Planet Granite (which is now Earthtreks or whatever) also has required the video for a while.

Could not agree more about this statement. They certainly have a bad approach to addressing this issue and from my experience as well, I have seen plenty of people get injured from bouldering than on ropes. I'm not about educating but they just expect you to know what they want.

All gyms I have been to demo or tell you how you should fall on the pads, not make you feel like an idiot and question every decision you've ever made falling off the wall.

The staff was nice enough to let me climb for the 40 minutes I was there while on my brother's guest pass, but not after some convincing and falling off the wall several times.

And waking up the day after, I'm feeling something tweaked in my back, maybe from all those falls. Eeeeeh hehehhe.

T. Brumme · · denver, co · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 230

The gym in Tucson (2 locations, Rocks and Ropes / The Bloc) makes you take a fall test before you can climb. They also make you pay to take both the falling test and the belaying test. First time I've ever been forced to pay for a test! I think they get away with it because they're the only gym in Tucson. 

T Roper · · the gym · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865

Certified. YES!!!!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "Falling while Bouldering Test"
in the General Climbing

Log In to Reply