Stopping a climbing fall
The arrest of a fall is a brief but essential moment in the trust relationship between climber and belayer.
- Carefully read the Instructions for Use used in this technical advice before consulting the advice itself. You must have already read and understood the information in the Instructions for Use to be able to understand this supplementary information.
- Mastering these techniques requires specific training. Work with a professional to confirm your ability to perform these techniques safely and independently before attempting them unsupervised.
- We provide examples of techniques related to your activity. There may be others that we do not describe here.
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.
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...