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June 2023

“Plus Clipping” to Manage Risk in Multi-pitch Climbing

June 23, 2023 fmg-adminFundamentals Fridays Guides' Tech Tips Rock Climbing

Having a factor 2 fall is a concern unique to multi-pitch climbing. As we teach students in our Rock 401 course, this situation occurs if the leader leaves the anchor and falls before placing gear. The scenario creates the highest possible forces an anchor can see and can lead to a host of problems. Plus clipping is a way to mitigate this risk.

First, a primer on fall factor (FF): fall factor is the ratio of distance fallen to amount of rope out. The largest possible fall factor is 2, and it creates dangers for the leader, the anchor, and the belayer because of the forces generated. This would occur if the climber fell before placing any gear. Ex: A 10ft fall on 5ft of rope-10/5 is 2; we know that as a FF of 2.  Larger forces on less rope puts more resultant force onto the belayer. This is a concern when there is hard climbing right off the belay. It only takes 3-4 kN to displace a belayer; and at a cramped stance, that displacement can get violent - violent enough to cause them to lose control of the brake strand of rope (due to their displacement into the rock).

Introducing more rope into the system can alleviate this p