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Weekend Whipper: When You Have One Piece of Gear Left, Don’t Drop it Into the Sea

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How often do you abort your flash attempt because you dropped a cam into the sea? For Phil Jack, it was an easy decision.

Jack set off on Yahoochie (E6 6a/5.12a R), a classic pump-fest on the northeast coast of Scotland. While he normally climbs squarely within his onsight abilities, Jack watched several ascents of Yahoochie that day and decided he had the requisite beta to push his grade.

On tricky schist climbs like Yahoochie, part of the difficulty comes from placing the correct protection from the most restful stances. Jack received all the insight he could from those who climbed it before him and took off with a pared-down version of the rack—just enough to keep him safe.

“The gear is decent but strenuous to place, there’s a couple run outs too, so with it being quite a short route it’s important that you place all the gear available!” wrote Jack to Climbing in an email.

Indeed, Jack had all that he needed and not a single cam more.

“I was told that I would only need a 0.75 for the top so stupidly only took that exact piece,” he wrote. “When I got to the slopey ledge it was much greasier than I expected, I was much more pumped than I expected and I was much more scared than I expected so had a major wobble trying to place the cam which lead to me dropping it.”

That cam was the final piece between Jack and the top. “If I went for [it] and blew it I’d probably hit the deck,” he wrote. Unwilling to risk such a dangerous fall, Jack made the quick decision to jump off.

In hindsight, Jack says the crack would have gladly accepted a No. 1 or 2 cam, and normally he would have brought extra gear just in case. You never know when your last piece will go for a swim!

Happy Friday, and be safe out there this weekend.

Readers, please send your whipper videos, information, and any lessons learned to Anthony Walsh, awalsh@outsideinc.com.

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