Stopping a climbing fall - Petzl Luxembourg
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Stopping a climbing fall

The arrest of a fall is a brief but essential moment in the trust relationship between climber and belayer.

Warnings

  • Read the technical notice before viewing the following techniques.
  • It is important to fully understand the information provided in the technical notice before using this complementary information
  • Mastering these techniques requires training.
  • Consult a professional before attempting to perform these techniques on your own.

In case of a fall, hold the brake-side rope firmly, while pulling it downward. Whatever the device used, the act of gripping the brake-side rope with your hand increases the rope friction in the device, allowing the fall to be stopped.

In case of a fall, hold the brake-side rope firmly, while pulling it downward.
In case of a fall, hold the brake-side rope firmly, while pulling it downward.

WARNING: do not grip the climber-side rope! Never let go of the the brake-side rope.

Train yourself to stop falls in different situations, or get professional training. For a dynamic belay, do a small jump or take a step forward to reduce the impact force on the climber.

A good belayer is able to do much more than stop a fall: s/he knows when to do a dynamic belay and when to stop a fall more abruptly if necessary to prevent the climber from hitting an obstacle (ground, ledge, other climber...). At the moment of a fall, there is no time to decide whether to use a dynamic belay or not. So one must always be prepared for the possibility of a fall and be ready to stop it.



Here are the essential points to consider (non-exhaustive list):

  • potential fall height and fall severity (if the climber is far from the last point of protection or offset from the axis of the protection...).
  • risk of hitting an obstacle during the fall and available space for giving a dynamic belay.
  • issue of a long fall on an overhang, if the climber needs to regain the rock to continue the route,
  • space for the belayer if giving a dynamic belay: he/she will be pulled against the wall and thus must have a clean area, not be barefoot, have no knots in the rope...