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Old 03-15-2008, 09:32 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Again, Titletown
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In general, ropes don't help you climb up, they protect you when you fall. For a standard climb the lead climber is attached to the rope via his harness. He (or she) places protection in the rock face in the form of nuts, cams, or hammers in pitons and attaches the rope to that. The rope is connected through these pieces of protection down to the following climber, who is holding on to the end of the rope and is tied into the cliff via protection of his own.

When the lead climber goes past the protection he just placed he can fall roughly double the distance he has traveled past; down to the protection, then that same distance past until the rope pulls tight. Actually, he'll follow further since the rope is designed to stretch and soften the blow of pulling up quick.

This is why it's important not to go too far without placing another piece of protection. If you climb 10 feet past your last piece of protection, you can expect to fall roughly 25 feet on a fall.