After deciding not to climb at Gogarth, having looked over the edge of Wen Zawn earlier in the day and realising our heads weren’t in the right place for committing sea cliff climbing, we chose to do some sport climbing on the Orme in the belief that it would be a safer option.
Neither of us had climbed at Lower Pen Trywn before but were both confident we’d be able to climb some of the climbs in the 6’s at the right hand edge of the crag. We are mostly trad climbers who occasionally go bouldering or sport climbing, usually operating in the VS-E2 grade range when climbing together.
The climber who took the first lead on this route weights 5-6 stone more than the belayer (myself). The first bolt was clipped with a clipstick from the ground. Whilst moving past the first bolt the climber’s foot slipped and he fell, with his leg getting caught either on the rope or on a ledge causing him to invert as he fell.
Due to the weight difference with a heavier climber, the belayer was lifted off the ground meaning that the climber came close to the floor (1-2 metres) whilst inverted. If there had been slack in the system because they were clipping the second bolt then the climber would most likely have hit the floor.
The climber remembers a small impact on their helmet as they fell but this was not an impact with the ground and caused no damage. The climber did sustain a cut and a bruise as they bashed their knee against the rock when they fell.
The incident took us by surprise as the lead climber was the stronger climber of the two of us.
It caused us to immediately recognise that the belayer should have been weighed down or attached to something on the ground to stop them from being lifted up off the ground in the event of the heavier climber falling whilst lower down on the climb.
It would also have been useful to clip the first two bolts if possible before climbing in order to make the start of the climb safer.
Fortunately the climber was wearing a helmet as there is a chance they could have hit their head on the way down even if the impact was not with the ground.
Sport rock climbing
Slip, trip or fall
Rescue Services Involved?
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All reports are self-submitted and have not been edited by the BMC in any way, so please keep an open mind regarding the lessons and causes of each incident or near-miss.