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DON’T DO THIS: There was a climber leading a sport route. The belayer was half belaying and half messing with a tangle. Halfway up the route, the climber stopped at a ledge, then untied and threw the rope down so that the belayer could sort everything out. He wasn’t clipped in to anything. After straightening out the rope, the belayer—after many tries—tossed the rope back up to the climber, who tied back in. He wasn’t safe until he reached the next clip, though. When he tossed the rope down, it had fallen out of the lower draws.—L.V., via Climbing.com
LESSON: Given what gravity and sudden impacts can do to a body, you should never be on a route unanchored. It’s too easy to lose your balance and pitch off the wall, especially when you’re doing something like, say, trying to catch an airborne rope. The best course is to prevent these problems before they start. Always flake your rope at the base of a route before starting a climb to eliminate knots and tangles. If you do find yourself in a situation like this, either go in direct while your belayer sorts it out, and even then the belayer should keep you on belay, or suck it up and lower if that’s possible with the rat’s nest of rope, fix the problem, and start over. It’s better to waste 10 minutes than to deck.