Unbelayvable: Extreme Toprope Whippers

Scary (and true) tales from a crag near you
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Kevin Corrigan
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Scary (and true) tales from a crag near you

Every Monday we publish the most unbelievable stories of climbing stupidity submitted by our readers. See something unbelayvable? Email unbelayvable@climbing.com and your story could be featured online or in print. For more Unbelayvable, check out the Unbelayvable Archives.

Unbelayvable Bungee Jumping

This is what real bungee jumping looks like. Notice how there are no rocks or ledges for the jumper to smash himself upon. Photo: Carla Lane/Flickr; CC BY 2.0

I was climbing at a small crag called Roof Rock near Red Cliff, Colorado. I had brought a beginner to show her some basics on the wall’s easier routes. We met a group of six that had been there a while. I could tell who the “most experienced” climber was, based on the way he was talking himself up and shoehorning all the climbing lingo he knew into his sentences. We watched him start up a 5.10 on toprope. About halfway up, he had his belayer haul out about 25 feet worth of slack so he could “take a whipper.” He then intentionally jumped off the route, taking a fall on nothing but the two top bolts, and stopping only eight feet from the ground. He was low enough that he could kick his belayer in the head. He repeated this two more times.
—Travis Kale, Vail, CO

LESSON: Just don’t do this. Please? While climbing gear is, of course, designed to catch big climbing falls, we wouldn’t recommend it for this kind of pseudo–bungee jumping pursuit. Consider what these daredevils are doing. They are guesstimating the amount of slack and rope stretch needed to come close to the ground but not hit the ground. It seems like a recipe for disaster. Even if you don’t hit the ground, these “whippers” can still send you into a dangerous swing, and they will shorten the life of your gear.

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Email unbelayvable@climbing.com and your story could be featured in a future edition online or in print. Unbelayvable photos are welcome, too.