Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In


Weekend Whippers

Weekend Whipper: As Close As It Gets

Lock Icon

Unlock this article and more benefits with 40% off.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

40% Off Outside+.
$4.99/month $2.99/month*

Get the one subscription to fuel all your adventures.

  • Map your next adventure with our premium GPS apps: Gaia GPS Premium and Trailforks Pro.
  • Read unlimited digital content from 15+ brands, including Outside Magazine, Triathlete, Ski, Trail Runner, and VeloNews.
  • Watch 600+ hours of endurance challenges, cycling and skiing action, and travel documentaries.
  • Learn from the pros with expert-led online courses.
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

“I don’t think I realized how close my head was to hitting the ground until I watched the video,” Steve tells Rock and Ice.

He’s lucky to be alive. Another few inches and he would have been eating from a tube for the rest of his life.

Steve was climbing Jungle Gym (5.10c) at the Playground, Red River Gorge, Kentucky, when he went for a ride. His leg caught behind the rope, he
flipped upside down and his head skimmed inches above the deck. Luckily, he escaped with only rope burn.

Before he fell, Steve was looking all right—no obvious mistakes. His waist was only two or three feet above the last bolt and his right foot was
well to the side of the rope, so why did his head nearly smack the dirt?

When Steve made a leaping move up and left before he fell, his leftward momentum continued once he was airborne. Out of reflex, Steve pulled in his right
leg and it crossed the rope, which inverted him once the rope went taut.

Preventable? If Steve had extended the draw on the last bolt, the rope would have been more centered under his waist, decreasing the chances that his leg
would cross. A lower foot position might have helped as well—but it seems that the culprit of the leg catching was just bad luck and bad timing.

The belay on the other hand—even with a soft catch, Steve shouldn’t have fallen half that distance. His belayer likely had too much slack in the
system or caught the fall late. A few more inches and Steve would have been toast.

“Right after the fall, adrenaline took over and I felt super excited and more psyched than ever to get back on the climb,” Steve says. “My friends were
significantly more sketched out than I was and were not too keen on the idea of me giving it another go. Eventually they talked me out of it. I shamefully
bailed and we decided not to climb any more routes and head home. It was the last day of our weeklong trip anyway.

“I was damn fortunate to come out of that fall with nothing more than a bit of rope burn on my leg. Better believe this made me reconsider not wearing
a helmet while sport climbing.”

Remember your helmet this weekend—and happy Friday!

Weekend Whipper submitted by Steve Ward


Watch last week’s Weekend Whipper: I’m Going For a Ride, Boys