Part of the syllabus for the Singapore National Climbing Course, Level 2, is to take lead falls. Specifically, the trailing leg of the climber should be above the last clip. The run out is about a metre, which means the ‘length of fall’ is about 2m. We climbed up to about 8 clips before we took the fall, which mean that the ‘length of rope’ was about 10m.
As a belayer, it is rather stressful, even knowing that your climber would prep you before he/she falls. The responsibility is on the belayer to catch the fall, to keep the climber safe. On the other hand, as a climber, telling oneself to let go of the wall and ‘jump’ off about 4-5m, takes a great deal of courage. I was extremely nervous climbing up, especially when i was at the run-out portion.
I think for my first fall, I jumped back a little away from the wall, and then I was free-falling, my stomach flying up, until I felt the jerk of the rope and my feet slammed against the wall. At that point, Sardinia flashed into my head. The unexpected fall, wondering when I would feel the catch of the rope, the knock on my head, being extremely dazed and disoriented. I thought I had forgotten that, but falling brought it all back. The second fall was much harder to take. Knowing what to expect, I dreaded it even more. I was more timid this time and merely released myself rather than push away from the wall.
I know my greatest weakness in climbing now. It is not strength or technique.. it is about falling.