Weekend Whipper: Makin’ Waves

By Rock and Ice | October 2nd, 2015

After deciding against the top out, Marshall Strong attempted to down climb and took a spill off Makin’ Waves (V2) at Rocktown, LaFayette, Georgia.

“I missed the pads except for my head and a shoulder, but fortunately wasn’t hurt too badly,” he writes in the video description.

Strong is lucky he wasn’t hurt worse. As he fell, he rotated backwards and impacted head first, just catching the edge of the (poorly positioned) crash pad. His spotter also stood idle. Had Strong’s spotter tried to catch him falling from that height, it’s likely that the spotter would have been hurt as well. But the spotter could have re-positioned the pad with a swift kick to get it under the climber.

Falls happen fast—but this accident could have easily been prevented. Mountain Project suggests “a few pads [and] a few spotters,” for this heady boulder problem. Even though Makin’ Waves is on the lower end of the V-spectrum, it has a difficult, sloping top out and potential for a bad fall. When attempting highballs or boulder problems with shady landings, bring lots of friends and bring lots of pads.

Here are a few more tips to prevent boulder accidents from Rock and Ice issue 228 (August 2015):

1. Scope the fall line. Figure out where the crux is and where the pad/s need to be placed to protect a fall.

2. Suss the landing. If pieces of talus or gear can be moved out of the landing zone, move them. Check for pits and tree roots, and pad them accordingly.

3. Check the topout. If you can access the top of the boulder, do so. Preview and chalk up the last holds.

4. Communicate. If you’re spotting, let the climber know if you’re distracted or not ready to spot. If you’re the climber, alert your spotter before you climb, and let him know you want and expect his full attention.

5. When spotting, keep your hands raised, thumbs tucked in, and aim to grab a falling climber by the ribs under the arms. Don’t try to catch the climber, but only to decelerate and position him onto the pad/s.


Happy Friday and stay safe out there!


Watch last week’s Weekend Whipper: Robbed by the Stone

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