I am fairly new to lead climbing. Yesterday, while I was attempting to lead one of my project routes at the gym, I look a fall while clipping the 3rd clip (in the danger zone). The fall scared me quite a bit because it was so close to the ground. I believe that I was applying good clipping technique, I just wasn't able to anticipate that fall and it caught me off guard.

I believe that these unexpected falls happen on project climbs because I haven't worked out all the moves/holds yet. Is there a good method apply when leading project climbs so that I avoid similar mishaps?


3 Answers 3


the only issue I can see with what you did above was your proximity to the ground when you fell. It might be worth investing in a "Clip stick", something like this: enter image description here

From Rock and Run website

The idea is that you can pre clip the first few clips thus saving you from the above issues in the danger zone but will allow you to lead the rest. These are particuarly helpful when leading sport climbs outdoors.

The issue with top roping climbs before leading them is there is the danger that you don't get used to leading diffidult climbs and this may stunt your progress.

  • 3
    For outdoor climbs where setting up a toprope beforehand is difficult: +1. But bringing a clip stick to a gym might/will look silly...
    – anderas
    Dec 22, 2016 at 11:01
  • 1
    Haters going to hate @anderas :) (I mean the gym people, not you!)
    – user2766
    Dec 22, 2016 at 11:20
  • Wow, this might be really useful for outdoor climbs. Thanks for pointing it out. Dec 22, 2016 at 15:51

What I would suggest is that you practice leading routes that you have done without leading many times.

As you have found out, taking the sharp end of the rope adds an extra amount of difficulty, both mentally and physically.

I would do the route over and over again until you know all of the moves and are confident in your ability to climb it without falling.

Then I would reattempt leading it.

  • I agree with this. However it seems like it would be bad practice, especially for outdoor routes where top roping it first isn't always possible. Dec 20, 2016 at 19:44
  • 3
    @SivaDotRender If top roping is not possible, then I would say to skip it until you have more experience and are ready for it. There is no shame in leaving a climb for another day. Dec 20, 2016 at 19:47
  • The thing is that I thought I was ready for this climb. Well within the grade that I've lead before. Either way, I agree with you. i think it is always safer to top rope first. Dec 20, 2016 at 19:55
  • 3
    @SivaDotRender I remember I learned to lead in what could be graded as a 5.6 YDS (maybe even lower; it was closer to stairs than a wall) even if I was already toproping 5.9 confidently. Seriously! I know I could have easily climbed that without a rope (it wasn't even a tall climb), but getting to the top wasn't the point of the exercise. I was learning to lead. And truth be told I was still nervous even if I was aware that it was too easy a route for me.
    – Roflo
    Dec 20, 2016 at 21:18

I look a fall while clipping the 3rd clip (in the danger zone).

There is no reason that a climber should be at risk of a ground fall while making the 3rd clip. Even the second clip should be safe in a gym (and ideally outdoors). Something seems off and you should ask either a staff member or a more experienced climber about where you should clip. You should mention your experience of almost taking a ground fall.

If you are concerned about a ground/ledge fall, it is generally better to clip with the bolt near your waist than far above your head. If you pull out 6 feet of slack to clip a bolt that is 3 feet above your waist, at the end of your fall you will be 3 feet closer to the ground (ignoring rope stretch) then if you climbed the extra 3 feet and clipped the bolt right at your waist. Obviously the clipping stance and difficulty of the extra moves need to be taken into consideration.

  • I posted this question right after the fall, so I was still a little rattled. Now that I think about it, I may not have been that close to the ground. I didn't hit my belayer or anything. I might have exaggerated the fall due to inexperience. Dec 22, 2016 at 20:03
  • 2
    @SivaDotRender while scary, ending up 5 feet or more above the ground while blowing the 3rd clip seems perfectly reasonable to me.
    – StrongBad
    Dec 22, 2016 at 20:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.