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Top 10 Weekend Whippers of 2020

The top 10 most popular Weekend Whippers of the year. Happy Friday and climb safe in 2021!

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10. Too Close For Comfort in Italy

This one comes from Martin Feistl, who filmed this whipper in Italy and sent it over to us.

Alois Vigna, the climber in this video, was climbing Franti, a short and powerful 7c (5.12d) at Falesio Silenzio, Finale, Italy. On his first lap he sorted out the moves, going bolt to bolt, and then came back down and gave the route a proper redpoint burn.

Martin told Rock and Ice, “Alois climbed through the crux between the fourth quickdraw (the last one clipped in the video) and the fifth, but he was too pumped to clip that fifth quickdraw, so he kept on moving. For about 1 minute the whole crag was shouting encouragement up at him, but finally he fell off and landed right next to me.”

Alois gave his blessing for us to use this Whipper, but asked that we keep the name of the belayer anonymous. “It isn’t his fault,” Alois said, explaining that the belayer was a beginner.

The takeaways, as such, are pretty clear: As a climber, make sure your belayer is prepared and knowledgable enough to handle the variety of situations that might present themselves, particularly if you are going to climb the route in a way that requires additional experience and expertise. Alois was lucky to walk away from this one—literally—rather than end up with two broken ankles. We’re glad everyone is okay.

9. Hitting The Deck HARD In Joshua Tree

Logan Dickey had quite the day on Right V Crack (5.10b/c), Joshua Tree, California. This video depicts his second attempt of the day and he had already decked on his first try 15 minutes prior, he told Rock and Ice.

“The gear was difficult to place due to greasy holds from being in the direct sun,” Dickey said. “After my first decker I knew it would happen again if I took another decent sized whip so when my jam finally blew out on this try I knew I was going to the deck. It was like slow motion watching the cams blow out of the crack then I would just be laying in the sand ready to go again. I finally sent it on my third try about 20 minutes after this was taken. No serious injuries from this just some cuts and scrapes!”

Glad you’re okay, Logan, but you’ve got us a bit worried: between the narration of your friends, the fact that the cams ripped more than once, and your lack of a helmet (after you already decked once!), we’re concerned… Make good decisions!

8. Flipped Upside Down, Double-Rope Debacle

This is a good one! You can always count on the Brits to try some sketchy little trad rigs that’d scare the bejesus out of us tame-by-comparison Yankees.

Allan Evans and his friends were climbing at Wilton 1 Quarry in the U.K. when he decided to get on Cheat (E3 5b).

Despite only having climbed several E1 routes prior, Allan said, “I really liked the line and felt it was within my abilities.” He had scoped it out on earlier visits but never taken the plunge.

“I guess I was feeling brave this day and I’d been climbing well so decided I’d jump on it,” he said. “It was a hot day and this wall had been in the sun all day, so maybe it wasn’t the best time to try it.”

Allan smartly opted for double ropes—the protection is widely spaced, and mostly small wires. He carefully made his way up the first two thirds, climbing slowly and methodically.

“Then I went for the finish moves,” he said, “got too focused on the climbing and didn’t pay enough attention to the ropes and the flip potential—a bad foot placement caused me to grease off and that was it!”

Allan flipped upside down and hit the wall with an audible smack.

He concluded, “Some will say I probably wasn’t ready to try to onsight an E3 and that’s a fair comment, but I was aware of risks and I was comfortable taking it. Luckily I didn’t get any serious injuries, just a bruised back. Wear a helmet kids! Will be getting back on the lead for this on a cooler day.”

Good stuff Allan, we’ll be rooting for you on round two.

7. Free Solo Ice Climbing Fall

“I should not be doing that,” says this climber right after he lands on his bum at after this free solo ice climbing fall. We’re gonna have to agree with you him.

Incredibly, the climber was unhurt.

Tristan O’Donoghue filmed this fall and sent the video in. He said that the climber, a friend of his, has “soloed these falls near Denali National Park” previously “in better condition.”

“He fell roughly 20 feet and came out completely unscathed albeit quite humbled and embarrassed,” said O’Donoghue

To be sure, some ice climbers in the upper echelons of the sport are free soloists—just like Alex Honnold and Peter Croft are in rock climbing—but it’s a discipline better left to the very best, and even still only if they insist on doing it: guys like Dani Arnold or Mark Twight (back in the day).

So to the Whippee—break the cord out next time, pal. You normally don’t get any get-out-of-jail-free cards in free solo ice climbing; you got super lucky. Be smart, be safe and don’t tempt the fates.

6. Iceberg Rolls With Ice Climbers On It!

Well, that was close ? Climbing an iceberg evidently comes with its own unique set of challenges and risks…

In this video, Swiss-South African explorer and climber Mike Horn and Fred Roux prepare to start ice climbing their way up an iceberg off the coast of Svalbard, Norway in the Arctic Ocean, when things go topsy-turvy.

The iceberg rolls, and the two men take a terrifying and unanticipated polar plunge. Thankfully, they both survive.

Mike Horn has summited Gasherbrum 1 (8,035 m), Gasherbrum 2 (8,068 m), Broad Peak (8,047 m), and Makalu (8,463 m), climbing all of them without supplemental oxygen. While he can hold his own with a pair of ice tools in his hands, Horn made his name as a general explorer. He circumnavigated the globe, roughly along the Equator, in an 18-month journey in which he eschewed motorized vehicles of any sort. With Børge Ousland, Horn was also the first to reach the North Pole in winter without dogsleds or motorized vehicles.

Horn and Roux are not the first to think of climbing an iceberg, though their foray may have come the closest to ending in disaster. Here’s an example of successfully climbing an  iceberg.

More than anything, the video of Horn and Roux reminds us of the clip below from the “Dodo’s Delight,” when Captain Reverend Bob Shepton goes to work lightening an iceberg to move it off the boat’s anchor. “Like Moses through the Red Sea, he cut through the iceberg—with an axe,” says Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll in the clip.

5. Best PSA For Wearing A Helmet You’ll See This Week

This fall, which Ty Sanderford took back in February, likely would have ended up very differently if he hadn’t had his helmet on. We shudder to think about it.

The route is Rednekk Justus, a 5.10+++ (according to the inscription on a rock a the base) out in Escalante Canyon, Colorado.⁠

Ty told Rock and Ice, “I was at the top of the route, super pumped and I had just missed the clip for the chains. I knew I was going to have to take the fall so I looked down to check my feet noting that the rope was not behind my leg so I thought I was in the clear to take the fall. The next thing I knew, I was on my back.”

Glad you’re okay Ty!

4. Melissa Le Nevé Decks After Bolt Fails

This Whipper of Melissa Le Nevé was filmed by Michael Gunsilius , and his reaction in the video sums up how scary, fluky and—ultimately, given the outcome—lucky this fall is.

Melissa Le Nevé on Action Directe.
Melissa Le Nevé on Action Directe. Photo: Sender Films.

Earlier this year, Melissa Le Nevé became the first woman to climb Action Directe. The famously powerful and gymnastic 9a (5.14d) established by Wolfgang Güllich in 1991 in the Frankenjura, Germany, is a benchmark for the grade. Le Nevé’s seven-year journey toward this historic moment in climbing is the subject of one of the forthcoming mini-feature films in REEL ROCK 15. (The trailer just dropped, check it out here!)

The REEL ROCK 15 premiere, hosted by Alex Honnold, will be streamed online December 11. Tickets available here!

Anyway, back to the whipper above…

On her path to climbing Action Directe, Le Nevé found herself trying Bionic Commando, an 8c+ (5.14c) at a crag called Jesuswand in Bavaria, Germany.

This fall is from an attempt before her eventual redpoint. In the upper half of the climb, Le Nevé skipped a bolt. She clipped the next one (just below her in the video). She then peeled off at the very top of the route. You can see the rope begin to come taut, and then suddenly she continutes to plummet. According to Gunsilius, the nut holding the bolt in place had come loose; when she fell it popped off altogether, along with the bolt hanger.

Miracously, Le Nevé’s belayer, Fabian Buhl, managed to bring her to a stop just before she hit the ground, avoiding catastophic injury.

Stay vigilant out there folks.

3. Ice Climber Takes A Screamer

So the fall isn’t particularly big this week. But the guy falls on a Screamer—and it zippers open and holds! Most climbers will never experience or see this—heck, some of you probably don’t even know what a Screamer is—so we figured this could be an interesting one.

Screamers are “load-absorbing, tear-apart sewn slings,” as Gear Guy once described them.

Gear Guy went on: “Screamers hedge the bet in that gray zone of the unknown, and ice, ever changeable even on a good day, is the cup in which you shake the dice. Screamers can weight the dice in your favor.”

In this Weekend Whipper, filmed by Leopold Roessingh, climber Cris van de Berg takes a fall on an ice climb in Norway. The ice screw he falls on is connected to his rope via a Screamer. Below is a picture of the exploded Screamer that Cris forwarded along to us.

Photo: Leopold Roessingh.

Of course, while screamers can increase your odds of not cratering, don’t let Cris’ experience lull you into false sense of security that it’s okay to take leader falls on ice. Gear Guy thinks of Screamers more as mental pieces than anything: “I own and use a couple of Screamers, but more for rock rather than ice pro for the simple reason that if the ice is bad I don’t stop and waste time and effort putting in screws, and if the ice is good, the screw probably will hold without a Screamer.”

For more on Screamers and how effective they are, check out this article from Black Diamond.

2. Carabiner Breaks!

This isn’t the first Whipper we’ve had showing a carabiner failing (See this one, and this one!), but we have more insight into it that usual.

Zac Wronski, the climber, was climbing To Walk Like Anubis, a 5.10b at a crag called Whiskeyjacks in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.

“Reaching the last bolt before the anchors, I noticed it had a quicklink on it, left behind by whoever climbed it last,” Wronski told Rock and Ice. “I clipped the hanger and continued up to the layback crux of the climb. I took a small, uneventful fall about two feet above the bolt. Hanging on the draw to rest, I noticed that the carabiner was loaded over the quicklink it shared the hanger with.

“I briefly thought about moving the quickdraw to a different spot on the bolt hanger or just clipping it to the quick-link instead, but I decided that since I had already fallen on it I was probably fine. I tried the moves above two more times, each attempt resulting in a small fall onto the draw. I rested a bit longer and decided to give it one more go.

“I reached a new highpoint, but I fell once again. As the rope started to come tight, I heard a ping and felt myself suddenly accelerating downwards again, finding myself about 25 feet below my high point when the rope came tight. A quick look at my tie in point told the whole story: the rope side carabiner of the quickdraw hung by my knot with a mangled bolt-side carabiner missing its top half dangling off the other end of the dogbone.

“Thankfully I was completely uninjured and lowered to the ground laughing with a rush of adrenaline. Had the same thing happened one bolt lower on the climb, I likely would have hit the ground.

“There are two key lessons I was able to take away from this. Firstly, when your instincts tell you something is wrong, don’t ignore them. It would have been quite easy for me to move the quickdraw to a better position, but I was lazy and chose not to. Secondly, when you’re clipping a bolt that has a quick-link on it, avoid clipping the draw so that it rests over the quicklink. Instead, either attach the draw to the hanger so that it rests under the quick link.

“Very thankful that I was able to learn from my mistakes in this situation without suffering any serious consequences.”

Thanks for the analysis Zac. Glad you’re okay!

1. Belay Gone Bad

Bad belay be gone! This one comes from Lucas Zimmerann, and features a climber named Luciano climbing an overhanging wall in Bagé, Brazil.

Lucas said, “The belayer, knowing that the left hand of the climber is holding a perfect jug, wrongly decides not to take the slack, thinking he will pull rope again. Then the climber falls…”

He adds this analysis: “An interesting part of the video is to see in detail the belayer. He didn’t take the slack, so the rope angled down so much in front of him that he wasn’t able to take it in quickly.”

The fall almost ends in a couple broken legs (check out the reaction of the guy who enters the frame at the bottom left at the end of the video – he knows how close it was), but thankfully, doesn’t. A bad belay does happen from time to time, but it’s important, particularly when the climber is that close to the ground, to be extra vigilant and conservative.

Also Watch

Top Ten Weekend Whippers of 2019

Top Ten Weekend Whippers of 2018

Top Ten Weekend Whippers of 2017

Top Ten Weekend Whippers of 2016

Honorable Mentions

Ground Fall in Brazil

João Marcos Siqueira Silva sent us this video of a ground fall he took on Kriptonita (5.11d/12a), at Falésia do Zé, Luminosa, Brazil, a crag in the countryside near São Paulo.

João told us, “My 0.3 piece popped out of the rock. I still don’t know exactly why—I fell right there twice, and some friends of mine as well, and it didn’t pop any other times. Maybe I placed it slightly wrong, or I was too confident.”

He said he fell “magically” onto a soft pile of sticks and brush. His only injuries were a couple blisters on his fingers from grabbing onto the rope during the fall.

But neither the shock of the ground fall nor the blisters were enough to deter João. “The cool thing is that I was full of adrenaline and I didn’t want to let my body cool down, so I just taped my blistered fingers and I went back directly onto the route. I did the first ascent of this 5.12a finger crack. It’s an amazing line, 40 meters long. It starts in this finger crack and goes to some overhanging moves and some laybacking at the end.”

Glad you’re okay João and congrats on the first ascent.

Worst Case Scenario – Rope Wraps Around Neck

This video comes to us from Ian Thompson. We’ll let him provide the full rundown. He explained in an email:

“This video was taken when a friend and I decided to make a 5 day trip down to Squamish B.C. Our plan was to start on Calculus Crack, a very popular and moderate 5.8 multi-pitch, to get our bearings for the rest of the trip. We found what we believed to be the start of the route, with assistance from some of the local climbers (we did not have a guidebook). About halfway up, I began to realize that Squamish 5.8 was pretty stiff! Didn’t think much about it though…

“As I got to the wide off-width crack at the top, I was beginning to get some pump and didn’t have the proper jam technique to continue. As I have been able to read a little on MP since my accident, it turns out I was actually on a 5.10c line, called Start From Scratch. My last piece, a red size 1″ Camalot, popped. [Ian accidentally refers to this as a #2 cam in the video.] In retrospect, it should not have been placed where it was, due to the possibility of flex on the right side of the flake.

“As I pointed out in the [original YouTube] video description, ‘I have learned much from this experience; however, the major thing that would have saved me from this terrible accident was better preparedness. Lucky, I only came out with a sprained ankle and rope burn—from where the rope wrapped around my neck during the fall. My biggest hope from posting this failure was for it to be a learning experience for beginning trad climbers. Be safe out there everyone!”

Thanks for sharing the lessons you took away from this experience, Ian. Glad you’re alright.

Pete Whittaker Gets Gripped on the Cruzifix (5.14a)

The Crucifix Project is Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall’s next-level roof crack out in Canyonlands, Utah, that they’ve spent several trips to the area piecing together. While it remains a project, in 2017 the pair—known world-over as the Wide Boyz—made the first ascent of a variation with the same finish but an easier start and dubbed it the Cruzifix (5.14a).

Some of you will remember the video of Tom Randall’s epic fall on the Crucifix Project that made the rounds a few years ago, and now for this Weekend Whipper we’ve got a clip of Pete with a similar winger while trying Cruzifix.

This footage taken by Mike Hutton shows the doozy of a fall Pete took. To make sure the fall would be safe, “Tom and Pete did a sensible bag drop test first to test the lob,” Hutton told us.

Jean (5.9+), The Gunks, NY

Daniel Rolotti told Rock and Ice, “Made a beginner mistake and put my foot in front of the rope on this fall on Jean at the Gunks. Just couldn’t get my weight on my right foot. Lucky to walk away with some lost skin, a sore rib cage and a bruised ego.”

Happy Friday and climb safe next year!

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!