Unbelayvable: A Gym Fall Close Call

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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: A Gym Fall Close Call

I was teaching a lesson in the gym when I heard a loud fall behind me. I turned and saw a climber sitting in his belayer’s lap. The belayer was using a Grigri. He'd been feeding out slack by holding down the cam, but he didn’t release it after he finished. When the climber fell, he grabbed hard on the cam, locking it open. At the last second he panicked and let go completely. The Grigri locked, barely preventing the climber from hitting the ground.—Chase, via email

LESSON: If you're a regular reader of this column, you may remember a similar lesson from just two weeks ago: If you hold down the Grigri’s cam, it can’t lock on the rope. The Grigri is a great belay device, but it needs to be used properly. Hold the cam down only if necessary to pay out slack quickly, and always keep your brake hand on the rope. Assisted-braking devices don’t let you off the hook for practicing to become an efficient and safe belayer.

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