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Lost Art of French Free + Falling: A Climber's Gamble


SeƱor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
Alexander Blum wrote: I’m pretty sure there’s a difficult to avoid tree on serenity - sons, for example.

Or have you ever seen someone climb Flower of a High Rank without touching the tree?

Andy W · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 31
abandon moderation wrote: you're saying not to fall if you want to minimize risk. 
Thanks for the constructive response. I suppose the root question I’m driving at is how to manage the risks of falling, but this is a basic question addressed in textbooks. I’m looking for a higher level of critical discussion that considers how well principles apply in practice, what the human factor affects, and where it lies in overall risk management. Risk management is a complex skill that requires experience to develop but discussion is still part of the learning process. Thoroughly understanding the nuances of each component and its contribution to the larger equation before leaving the ground helps me quickly, calmly, and accurately assess and manage multiple risks in real time.

So I have been playing devil’s advocate with the risks of falling. If something is undeniably true, i.e. falling is safe, it should be apparent by how easy it is to prove. I’m not suggesting the risk is enough to stop climbing but it is a critical piece that deserves our attention. All risks and skills to manage them should be reviewed regularly.

I do not dispute that a fall can be safe if all the appropriate precautions are executed correctly, but I question how capable humans are of consistent perfect execution. I have taken falls without injury so I obviously knew enough to protect it adequately, but the more I learn of all the intricacies the more I realize how little I knew and how much there is still to learn. The more advance we become the more vigilant we must be to not be complacent. Rappelling errors by the most experienced are a great example of experts losing sight of and failing to manage present risks.
 
I agree managing risk is an important skill, as is trust in your gear, and both more important than pulling on gear. However, learning to recognize where improvement is needed and how to improve existing skills (break the old dog new tricks cycle) is perhaps even more important. Personal experience, climbing partners, and textbooks provide a bulk of information but do not always give opposing or alternate viewpoints. This is the greatest thing MP has to offer and the only reason I participate; the chance to learn something new and valuable.
 
I also advocate getting stronger is the main goal, but as suggested up thread overuse injuries are rampant so I keep intense training to a minimum and must be patient with my strength development. I've found slowly gaining strength from continual climbing and occasional bouldering has provided steady improvement. My first summer I was maxed leading 8s and hesitant to pull thru 10-; last summer I led 9s clean and quickly frenched 10+ a dozen pitches off the deck. I greatly apologize for spraying those numbers, but it demonstrates my free climbing and french freeing ability are improving together and allowing me to push grades while minimizing certain risks at the times of my choosing. Good gear is obviously critical, both for safe falls and french freeing, so regardless I'm judicious in route selection and gear placement.

The part of french freeing I enjoy most is the game of how minimal a piece you can pull on. I think this relates to the art and pleasure aid climbers derive from setting tricky pieces, but with a speed element added. I am enamored with the science and art of placing gear. To improve these skills I enjoy aid practice on solo TR, placing as questionable of a piece I can find, testing it’s merit with weight, and doing so as quickly as possible. I believe every new leader should do this (minus the speed) to learn creative placements and the margins of their gear. Despite many people suggesting tugging on gear takes away success, what defines success specific to each climber can be as unique as the tactics they use.
 
 
Señor Arroz wrote: [worthless contributions]
You seem averse to constructive discussion. By definition a forum is a place where ideas can be exchanged and MP is notorious for discussing topics ad nauseam. If you think the horse is dead provide links to where it has been beaten. Simply denying something needs to be proved proves nothing and maybe suggests it's not so easy to prove. If you don't want to think that hard or see your beliefs questioned, don't read the thread.
 
Kindly point out where I mention anything about fear. You won't find it. This discussion and my choice to french free is not driven by fear but by a logical deduction that not falling minimizes one risk when there are many others to be managed. It’s the age old mountaineers’ concept, minimize exposure to easily manage risk.

Since you like cross sport references, I’ll explain my risk management background. I grew up on motorcycles which is arguably a higher risk sport than climbing. Most riders, at least the wise ones, accept (regarding accidents) it's not IF but WHEN. That’s because every second on the bike is exposing the rider to continual risk, much like driving a car but a car is designed to protect the human body. If a motorcycle rider goes down, it is nearly guaranteed their body will make contact with something hard. Acknowledging this risk doesn’t stop riders from getting on a bike (myself included), but maintaining awareness of the constant risk helps keep a rider on high alert and hopefully prevent a crash from happening.

Discussing risks of falling is far more worthwhile than if pulling on a tree is aid -- why do you care what other people think is free or clean? Insecure in your own views or worth? Once you stop caring what others think, you’re free to define it as you wish because it will only be used to compare against yourself.
Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 132

This hasn't been a constructive discussion for a few pages - you are just spinning your wheels.

Andy W · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 31
Alexander Blum wrote: This hasn't been a constructive discussion for a few pages - you are just spinning your wheels.

I'm well aware many MP users like yourself have nothing of value to contribute, but just the chance someone will share knowledge or further the discussion makes it well worth putting it out there.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Trad Climbing
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