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
Watch last week’s Weekend Whipper: Aid Fall on Lost Arrow Spire
Video submitted by Jason Nguyen