Weekend Whipper: Impetus
Paul Thomson is back for a lap on his new route, Impetus (5.12c), at Medlow Bath in Australia’s Blue Mountains. He clears the
crux, but a tricky dynamic move guards the jug above. Thomson sets up for the toss, but doesn’t quite make it…Airmail!
Why such a massive whipper? Belayer Jason Nguyen says the system needs extra slack in order for the climber to clear the ledge below—a good example
of a smart belay and a clean fall.
As a belayer, it is your job to assess the risks of a given situation. If a ledge or protrusion looms below your climber, more slack can allow him or her
to clear the hazard safely. In other cases, if the whip could be dangerous, a short, static fall may be preferable to prevent the climber from slamming
the ledge and breaking his or her ankles.
Both have dangers and merits. While a soft catch is better than a hard one, the more slack you feed into the system, the more difficult it becomes to gauge
the distance of a fall. A short, static catch risks slamming the climber into the wall, but can be necessary to avoid obstacles lurking in the soft-catch
sweet spot. The choice often lies between the lesser of two evils.
Have fun and stay safe!
More Belay Tips
Catch of the Day
Eight Ways to Avoid Braking Bad: The Art of the Soft Catch
Watch last week’s Weekend Whipper: Aid Fall on Lost Arrow Spire
Video submitted by Jason Nguyen