Adventure Sports degree students spent the day jumping off a rock face to practice taking ‘lead falls’ when climbing on ‘Trad’ routes.
Mountaineering Instructor, Simon Wells explained “Trad or traditional climbing is where the climber places removable pieces of metal in the natural cracks in the rock then attaches them to the specially made climbing rope. If the climber falls they fall as far as that piece of metal plus the amount of rope. It can be very scary!”
“The psychological pressure of the fear of falling is immense. When you are lead climbing on trad gear your mind may focus on your gear, worrying if it will hold a fall. You need to be focusing on the climb. But that fear can make your hands over grip then your movements become stiff and jerky and your climbing deteriorates. The pressure of the fear of falling can make it really hard to climb at the top of your game.”
“As you can see from the picture we put an orange rope above each climber, this was secured to the top of the crag and operated by an experienced climber. This allows the climber to ‘lead’ the climb placing pieces of gear. At each one they weigh it, then jump down a little way, then finally they take a full lead fall onto the gear.”
“It gave the climbers real confidence to know the gear they placed could really do the job. It also gave them the chance to practice falling and using the ‘land like a cat’ technique we taught during the indoor climbing module.”
When you trust your gear you can climb at a whole new level. But it is vitally important to learn in a safe way with an experienced instructor who can help you reduce the risk to an acceptable level, and use their coaching skills to get the most out of each fall.