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7. Soft Catches

In this video we review “soft catches,” a belaying technique which gently catches a lead fall. Sport climbing allows climbers to test the limits of their abilities, and minimize the dangers of falling, via the use of bolts as protection. Falling can be a part of climbing—and as saying goes, “If you’re not falling, you are not trying.”

At times, falls can be abrupt and jarring to both the climber and belayer. To limit the shock of a fall, we can use a technique dubbed the “soft catch.”

If the belayer anticipates a fall, they can be ready with bent legs and a relaxed stance. As the rope goes taut during the fall, the belayer jumps up to absorb the force. A belayer who is much larger than the climber will have to jump up more than a belayer who is much smaller than the climber. The belayer will often end up also hanging in mid air.

This technique is especially useful when a falling climber might get slammed back into the rock with a swinging fall. With more slack in the system, the lead climber will fall a bit further, but hopefully won’t swing hard back into the cliff.

Be sure to look for potential dangers such as ledges, protrusions, or ground fall potential as the soft catch does result in longer falls.

Please see our other video, “Falling While on Lead on proper falling technique.

We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!

Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.

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