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Top 10 Weekend Whippers of 2019

The top 10 most popular Weekend Whippers of the year. Happy Friday and climb safe in 2020!

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10. Edu Marin Takes a 40+ Footer on His Montserrat Project

Fresh off his redpoint earlier this year of Valhalla, the longest (304 meters) and hardest (5.15a) roof climb in the world, in Getu, China, Edu Marin is at it again on another meaty project closer to home.

At the beginning of August, Marin began trying to free a route called Arco Iris at Montserrat, Catalonia, Spain. Armand Ballard, who established the line in 1978—employing aid techniques—called it “one of the most spectacular overhangs in Spain,” in an Alpinist article.

Marin asked Ballard for permission to add several new bolts, so as to make it even moderately safe for free climbing attempts. Even after adding several new bolts per pitch, the route is airy as can be, with falls of 15 to 20 meters possible at multiple points.

Now, he is in full on project mode, getting closer and closer. Marin told Rock and Ice, “It is for sure harder than Tarrago Plus”—a 5.14b to the right of Arco Iris. He freed that line in 2016.

In this video, taken by Esteban Lahoz, Marin takes flight high on the route with the last bolt a good ways below his feet. The rope finally comes taut some 40 feet below.

9. Or, Rather, Weekend Ripper

This one comes via Daniel Balderramos. Daniel’s friend was climbing Ozone, a 5.10b at Mount Diablo State Park, California.

The climber is plugging gear and all seems well until he experiences, in Daniel’s words, “a lapse in concentration due to some factors a little out of his control.” Too funny.

8. Arete Faceplant (Not For the Squeamish!)

Warning: This Whipper is scary to watch. But don’t worry, the whippee came out not too much worse for the wear!

Arthur Fox bandaged up after taking a fall off Kachoong, Arapiles
Arthur Fox bandaged up after taking a fall off Kachoong, Arapiles, Australia. Photo: Courtesy of Arthur Fox.

We’ll let Arthur Fox explain what happened in this video of him taking a super scary whip off the famous Kachoong (21/5.10+), Arapiles, Victoria, Australia: “As it was above my regular grade for trad I placed an extra cam mid roof and sat on it before pulling over the lip. Once I got around and tried to complete the mantle I realized I was pumped and couldn’t find a decent hold for my left hand so figured I’d just drop on the cam and rest before trying again.

“Turns out my cam placement wasn’t as bomber as I thought and it popped out which twisted me just enough to smack my chin into the arete.”

We are extremely happy you came out okay, Arthur. This one could have been much worse.

7. Three-Man Shoulder Stand And An Enormous Fall In Ardspach

On the hundreds of sandstone towers in Adršpach, Czech Republic, protection is limited to knotted slings or ropes, and widely-spaced ringbolts.

In this video, local climber Danny Mensik starts the route Orel nebo pana (“Head or tail”) by standing on the shoulders of a friend who is already standing on the shoulders of another friend.

When he established the route in 1978, a local legend named Cikán relied on a five-person (!) shoulder stand to bypass the 12-foot blank section at the base of the wall to reach the crack. Mensik says, “As we were only three, it was a bit more challenging.”

Grades in Adršpach, just like the ethics and protection, are also old-school. “This route has only had 6 repetitions and is graded VIIc,” says Mensik. “If you look at the comparison table it should be 5.9 in USA, but this comparison doesn’t really works since VIIc in Adršpach can be anything between 5.10-5.12, not counting the mental difference.”

Once established in the crack after the shoulder stand, Mensik got a couple of good knots and made his way up the finger crack, which eventually widens to an easy handcrack and the first ringbolt at 12 meters. The crack is then unprotectable for the next 6 meters, and just before the next ringbolt it gets shallow and thin again.

“Suddenly the crack was very dirty and full of moss,” Mensik says, “which caused my fall as I was trying to make another move to reach the second ringbolt. The whipper was completely fine…as smooth as can be. But my belayer hit his elbow while catching me which caused a terrifying look in his eyes and scared me more than the fall itself!”

Both Mensik and belayer were ok. Ten minutes a quick breather later, he got back on and sent.

6. Scary Inverted Fall in Lofoten, Norway

In the old guidebook to climbing in Lofoten, Norway, Tapir (No7-/6c/5.11b) was listed as one of the top 50 climbs.  Located on the west face the Pianokrakken (the Piano Chair) crag, the route follows a “sustained crack up to a bolt which protects a hard high-step move to the finish,” according to the guidebook.

Undaunted by the “hard high-step move,” Thea, this week’s whippee, decided to give Tapir a burn. Thea told Rock and Ice, via an email from her climbing partner Ulf, that she thought she “could use the undercling while placing the next pro, but that didn’t work well. Then I tried to find a good foot placement, and since I couldn’t hold onto the crack easily, it was difficult for me to retreat.”

Thea’s leg got caught behind the rope when she fell. She flipped upside down and came extremely close to hitting the ground. She hit the wall with a resounding thud.

Ulf told Rock and Ice, “Luckily she didn’t break any bones. She just bruised her ego, scared her audience, and got a gnarly rope burn circling her thigh.”

He concluded,”While we all should use this as a reminder to be cautious while climbing, and to place protection more often if we’re close to the ground and there’s a big risk of falling, we should also all aim to be as stoked and brave as Thea: going all in on a route way above her normal level, completely disregarding her comfort zone.”

Here’s to that: climbing safely and pushing it at the some time! Nice work Thea, and we’re glad you’re ok.

5. “Tired!” Yells The Rope-Soloist

This Whipper out in Joshua Tree comes to us from Daniel Bogart, and the Whippee remains anonymous!

Bogart told Rock and Ice, “So I’d just awoken from a much needed daytime slumber when this spectacle of a man waltzed right through the site and began up The Space Station. He set up an anchor below Dyno in the Dark (5.10b) and began rope soloing up.

“He seemed to be pretty gassed as he lost his footing.

“‘Tired!’ he said, as he came a’whippin’ down, his helmetless face narrowly missing the edge of the roof. At least the gear is good! Happy ending. He finished the climb.

“I never got to show him the footy as we headed out to climb again shortly after.”

Bogart adds, “Sorry for the stupid car door in the way. As I said, I’d just been awoken and was too content to move to get a better shot.”

4. Beached Whale Top Out Gone Wrong

This one requires a couple views to appreciate everything about it.

Harry Dempsey was climbing La Laja, a problem at the Entre Aguas area in Albarracin, Spain. Hugo Alonso, who sent us this Whipper and who owns the Santstone Guesthouse in Albarracin, told Rock and Ice, “It’s basically an easy but tricky mantle top out :)”

Frozen and stuck at the top, Dempsey asked his belayer to run around to the top and give him some help. But as she did so, he lost balance and rocketed backwards in one of the more dramatic bouldering falls we’ve seen of late.

Dempsey hit the tree on the way down, but came away without injuries.

3. Gear-Ripping Winger on a 5.13 in Sweden

Over the Easter holiday last year, Eline Næsheim went climbing with friends in Bohuslän, Sweden. One of her friends was projecting Skräckpropaganda, an 8a (5.13b) in the Galgeberget sector.

After sussing it out on toprope, Eline’s friend decided one crisp morning, just as the sun was hitting the climb, that it was time to take the sharp end.

Belayed by another friend named Joakim, the climber looks good all the way up, just until the last piece of protection. Eline told Rock and Ice, “In the video she places the last protection, I don’t remember which one, but it was a small piece. And from there you just have to go! It looks like she didn’t reach the sloper on the slab properly.”

Great job belaying Joakim—could have been a lot worse.

2. Loooong Fall on a 5.13a at Arapiles

A whipper this long gives you plenty of time to think about your decisions.

Tim Desmond was in the middle of a redpoint attempt on Final Departure (27/5.13a), Arapiles, Australia, and was feeling good.

“Was gonna send for sure, so I didn’t clip the crux bolt,” he wrote to Rock and Ice. “Then I fell…”

And he fell a looooong way!

1. Carabiner on Quickdraw Breaks in Half!

This whipper might not be the single-most exciting video you’ve ever seen, but the story behind it is both fascinating and educational!

Hunter Lee and his partner went up to Acephale, a crag in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada, to hop on Endless Summer (5.13d), a line they were both projecting. It had had quickdraws on it for a while—they didn’t know who they belonged to or how long they had been there, but they seemed in good shape and they had climbed through them before.

Lee wrote in an email to Rock and Ice, “We both warmed up on the route going bolt to bolt for our first climbs and we both had 2 redpoint burns on the climb where we both fell at the crux”—onto the draw that failed in the video above and in the pictures below.

Photo: Hunter Lee.

“Neither of us noticed anything wrong with any of the draws,” Lee continued. “After the last fall, I decided to try to run through the crux while still a bit pumped after hanging from the draw for a couple of minutes. I climbed through the first few moves well but then I found myself with an incorrect foot sequence and decided to let go. I felt the rope load the draw and then I heard a ting sound and saw a piece of metal flying away from the corner of my vision. I fell further, but luckily the draw that failed was extended and the previous draw wasn’t much lower. If I had fallen from a lunge move to a horn at the end of the crux sequence, I likely would have decked.

“The route has a bolt in the crux sequence that basically always gets skipped (I believe it used to get clipped before a hold broke) and people have been extending the previous draw to clip it from a more comfortable position.

“This extended draw is composed of two Edelrid Slash Quickdraws: one full draw plus another with just the dogbone and bent-gate, rope-side biner attached. The dogbones have 2014 on their labels. The bolt is placed on a clean part of the rock and the draw hangs in space.”

Lee did some research and asking around, and believes the carabiner’s failure may have been at least partially been the result of something called gate flutter.

Kolin Powick, Climbing Category Director at Black Diamond, posited a broader theory of what may happened based on the pictures. “By the way the carabiner broke,” he told Rock and Ice, “I believe the dogbone was NOT right next to the spine, but rather drifted out towards the nose of the carabiner. Where the break is located is a classic combo of open gate, AND ‘nose hook’—or, basically, NOT being loaded next to the spine.”

Despite the broken carabiner’s position connecting the two dog bones—and therefore not having the rope running directly through it—Powick said gate flutter could still be at play, as it’s about the tension in the system and oscillations UNDER LOADING.”

He finished, “My guess is that SOME gate flutter was involved, OR AT LEAST that the gate was slightly open FOR SOME REASON, and that the load wasn’t in alignment with the spine. If you have all of that, it doesn’t take much for an open gate failure when the load is cantilevered AWAY FROM THE SPINE ON THE BASKET OF THE BINER.”

Also Watch

Top Ten Weekend Whippers of 2018

Top Ten Weekend Whippers of 2017

Top Ten Weekend Whippers of 2016

Honorable Mentions

When You’re Freaked But Your Friend Can’t Help Laughing

No ground falls this week—hooray!  This week’s whipper comes courtesy of Adam Tripp.

Ben Kegan was gunning for the second ascent of the variation to a new route, The Radical Left (5.12b PG13), that Adam had bolted at Lakeview, Rumbling Bald, North Carolina.

Adam told Rock and Ice, “I had just redpointed the route and offered to snap some pictures of Ben on the second ascent—which is probably why he wore those snazzy sunglasses instead of a helmet. He got through the crux, but then started to melt down … At that point, sports action ensued.”

Adam added, eager to preempt any Facebook comments from both the honestly concerned and trolls alike, “This fall is a good example of why you should wear a helmet and, perhaps as importantly, give a soft catch. Ben plans to wear a helmet for the next go.”

“Commitment” (5.9) Issues

This one comes from Jake Silver (the belayer) and Mike Starr (guy behind the camera)—it’s a whipper they captured of their friend Nadia on Commitment, a three-pitch 5.9 on the first tier of the Five Open Books area, Yosemite.

Nadia was leading pitch 3—the crux!—which involves pulling a big roof with poor feet.

“Just when you think you’re past the crux, you realize your exhausted hands and feet have to make it up over the lip, which has deceptively shallow holds and awkward movement,” Silver wrote in an email to Rock and Ice.

“As I saw her struggling,” Silver wrote, “I took in rope in preparation and had just enough time to pull in one last bit as she was falling. She was caught by two well-placed cams, and landed just barely over a ledge. Despite her blood-curdling scream, she was completely injury-free.”

“Our friend Mike (the one wearing the GoPro that filmed this) then led the pitch and belayed each person up the rest of the pitch. Now rested and with a better feel of the beta, Nadia got through it on top-rope with no problem.”

Nice work all!

Can’t Make the Clip? Take the Whip!

When you’re freaked, you can’t make the clip, your finger gets stuck, and your belayer is being a jerk… ahhh the joys of climbing, amirite??

This climber, Molly May Finch, endures all that and more on The Great Escape (5.10b/c), Shagg Crag, Maine. (For more awesome background from Molly herself, go check out the comments below!) Her belayer, Jesse Briggs, told Rock and Ice, “It was Molly’s first time trying to lead the route, she climbed well to the fourth clip, where she had trouble clipping. After an unsuccessful attempt to clip, she tried again but managed to get her fingers caught in the draw! After a stressful minute or so she finally free her fingers and took one hell of a whipper.”

Luckily the fall wasn’t too bad in the end because she was wearing a helmet!


After getting some guff in the comments on the original video page, Molly responded directly to the keyboard warriors:

Thanks for your thoughtful, reasonable, helpful response (not just “go back to the gym!”) I laugh at everyone else freaking out on Weekend Whipper every week, and I’d be a hypocrite if I couldn’t laugh at myself!

To give a little more context, I’m an adaptive climber (on the USA national paraclimbing team) in the neurological category. Without getting into a long-winded medical explanation, sometimes I lose partial or almost total control of my coordination, especially in my hands. This clip starts after I’d already been hanging out trying to make the clip from a jug for over a minute but it just wasn’t working. “Stuck” didn’t mean that my fingers were actually stuck in the gate, it meant that my hand was neurologically frozen with my fingers in the draw, and I couldn’t get a signal through to uncurl them. I knew if I just whipped they’d come out which is why I asked my belayer if he was ready and let go on purpose.

My belayer has supported me through many many hours of freaking out mid-climb, and I appreciate the fact that he doesn’t take my bullshit and holds me to the same standards of other non-disabled climbers. Knowing that the climb was “safe” for big falls, and knowing that my belayer had my back 100%, made it possible for me to go for it in the first place. And you’d best believe I got back on it later that day, made all the clips and didn’t fall! (After, once again, practicing lots and lots of clips from the ground, like you suggested!)

Ok, now the rest of y’all can carry on with the gumby insults, if I couldn’t take ’em I wouldn’t have been okay with putting this up here! 😉

Happy Friday and climb safe this weekend!

And Click here to see the other Weekend Whippers from the year that didn’t make the cut as well as all the classic Whippers from years’ past!