Weekend Whipper: Why Heavier Climbers Need Ground Anchors

This article originally appeared on Climbing

Readers, please send your Weekend Whipper videos, information, and any lessons learned to Anthony Walsh,

Here's a classic "I told you so" scenario: two climbers, one significantly heavier than the other, partner up. The route has spaced protection and big falls are likely. The heavier climber offers to lead and the lighter belayer offers to build a ground anchor, to prevent them from being sucked upwards in a fall. The leader demurs--it can't be that bad!

It could, in fact, be that bad.

Rachel Pearce teamed up with her climbing partner George for Dwarf in the Toilet (E6 6b/5.12), a mainly gear-protected single pitch. "There's a bolt below the crux that gives you something to aim for but it definitely still feels airy up there," she wrote. "George backed off the start because he didn't want to break his legs when he couldn't get high gear, but I stepped up and committed to the route and got up to the safety of the bolts."

Pearce eventually jumped off at the crux so George tied back in for another go, "really going for it" above the bolt. "We had considered a ground anchor, and I did say I told you so!" Pearce said. "George thought it would be OK, being neither too run out or close to the floor, but we didn't account for the rope running in a perfect line with zero friction and on his first fall we collided because the only gear on the rope is directly under the bolt."

"There are many things to consider when falling off," Pearce continued, "and I see lots [of folks] falling further than they expect. Things like how much rope is in the system, how far past the runner [you are], where gear is (any friction from the rope zig-zagging).... Hopefully this video will highlight some things you need to consider if you're going to take to the air!"

Pearce reported that on George's next attempt they built a ground anchor with a small amount of slack between it and Pearce: "When he falls off the next time, the catch is clearly a lot harder but at least I don't get T-boned.

Happy Friday, and be safe out there this weekend.

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