August 10th, 2023
If there was one fact that encapsulates the whole of climbing, it is this:
You will fall, A LOT.
Falling is an integral part of climbing and more than that, it is an essential part of growing as a climber. If you want to grow your strength and skill as a climber, you should try more challenging and complex routes, and this means you should be prepared to fall on those routes.
Even the most experienced and strong climbers will fall just as much as the next climber because they are always trying something new.
Since it is such an essential part of climbing, it is more important to know how to fall.
Here are a few things that are important to consider when falling while you boulder:
Planning your fall
Before you climb anything make sure you inspect your route and visualize where you will be during the entire climb, and where you might be the most likely to fall.
Is this a straightforward climb, or will you traverse? Are there any large holds that you could fall on or scrape against? Where does the climb start and finish, what are the best holds to use when climbing down? Will any of the holds cause you to spin or tumble?
These questions are crucial and you should ask yourself these every time you climb.
Additionally, when climbing outside, you might only have a couple of crash pads to use, so these questions might be the difference between falling on a thick cushion or falling on a sharp rock.
Preventing A Fall
While falling is an unavoidable part of climbing, there are things that you can do to avoid falling in certain situations or at least prevent any injuries.
Each time you climb, make sure you use enough chalk for your problem or have your chalk bag strapped to your waist.
One of the easiest ways to fall is to lose your grip or slip on a hold. Having enough chalk can give you enough grip to get to a deeper hold, or give you enough time to fall correctly.
Being in tune with your body and recognizing when your muscles are getting pumped (full of lactic acid and losing strength) can help you avoid a fall. When your muscles are worn out at the end of your climb and you try to push yourself farther than your muscles can take you, you will lose your grip and you will fall.
Preparing For a Fall
If you are in the business of pushing yourself to your absolute limit, we absolutely applaud your gumption, but you should know that falling is unavoidable so you should focus on mitigating your risk or focusing on how to prepare for a fall.
A great way to mitigate your risk is to start downclimbing when you feel yourself losing strength. The higher the fall the higher the risk of injury, so it is always a safe bet to start downclimbing so instead of falling from 10ft, you fall from 6ft.
If you are at the crux of your climb and you feel like you’re about to fall, the first thing to keep in mind is to not brace for your fall. It’s really scary to fall from any height and your comfort with falling will come with time, but it can always be a bit scary!
Even the great climber and free soloist gets scared, here’s how he deals with it when climbing:
“I’ve done a lot of thinking about fear. For me the crucial question is not how to climb without fear―that’s impossible―but how to deal with it when it creeps into your nerve endings.”—Alex Honnold
So even if it is scary to drop from a route, try to remember you’re falling on a thick crash pad that WILL catch you, so try and relax your muscles!
Next, implement a tried and true fall form.
Our climbing experts here at G1 Climbing + Fitness recommend dropping from the wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. When your feet make contact with the crash pad, continue bending your knees to absorb the impact and roll onto your back or butt. Do not fall with braced knees, or with your hands under yourself. Your hands should be crossed in front of your chest to avoid injury. Remember to keep your chin tucked into your chest to prevent whiplash!
Take a Class
Falling while lead climbing is a whole different ball game than falling while bouldering so the best thing you can do to prepare to fall with grace during a lead climb is to take a class.
If you are interested in learning how to fall while lead climbing then our ‘The Art of Falling’ course is perfect for you!
During this course, our private instructor, Jeff Blum, will teach you how to push yourself safely and fall with grace when you do. He will bring mindful attention to the act of falling, give you the space for proper reflection and bring you closer to our community while he does it!
There is nothing better to prepare you for falling safely than a class taught by climbing, and falling, experts!
So what are you waiting for?
Start falling at G1 Climbing + Fitness today!!