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Our Top 10 Weekend Whippers of 2021, From Harrowing to Hilarious

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What is the science of rubbernecking? Allow me to answer that with another question: Why is the Weekend Whipper so popular?

“Witnessing violence and destruction, whether it is … on TV or a real life scene playing out in front of us, gives us the opportunity to confront our fears of death, pain, despair, and annihilation while still feeling some level of safety,” psychiatrist Dr. David Henderson told NBC News. “We watch because we are allowed to ask ourselves ultimate questions with an intensity of emotion that is uncoupled from the true reality of the disaster: ‘If I was in that situation, what would I do? How would I respond?'”

Climbers are no different. In a sport that can maim its participants in an instant, we can’t help but watch whipper videos and try to figure out what we would do differently. The Weekend Whippers aren’t graphic, of course—we won’t disseminate whippers that result in serious injuries—but most of them are cringe-worthy in some way or another. Others (our personal favorites) are funny, with moments of indecision and misfortune, and the climber always walks about without a scratch.

So, dear reader, as you bid farewell to 2021, enjoy these ten unforgettable whippers, and please, for all that is good and just in this world, wear your helmet.

—Anthony Walsh, Digital Editor

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

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

Elvis Leg + Indecision = Upside-Down Ground Fall

We all have commitment issues. When the crux is low and the feet are slick, like they are on this 5.10d in the Canary Islands, it can be difficult to punch it while so close to the ground.

Once our whippee is properly situated in decking territory—waist-level with the second bolt but too pumped to clip it—he backs off. A wise move, sure, but an unfortunate ending.

Photo: Mike Hutton

Really Putting the Gear to the Test on 5.13 R⁠

Do you remember your first unexpected trad whipper? Maybe you were solid as cement, relaxing on bomber jugs when that damn foot blew. Or perhaps you were pumped but confident, grabbing crimp after crimp before you greased off, airborne.

For Anna Hazelnutt, who began trad climbing earlier this year, her first unexpected trad fall happened on the notoriously heady Once Upon a Time in the Southwest (E9 6c/ 5.13 R). Yikes.

10-Year-Old Skips Clips, Goes for the Ride of His Life

Bayes Wilder, 10, has the sport climbing confidence most of us can only dream of.

“He tried to pull up the rope to clip but didn’t have the energy so he decided to skip the clip. The same thing happened again on the next clip (the last before the anchors) and so he skipped that one too,” his father, Matt, said. “He had enough power left to pull within a move or two of the easier terrain but eventually his fingers gave out and he took the 50-foot ride.”

Sharp Edge Slices Rope, Climber (Barely) Walks Away

Half ropes for the win on this one. If Peter Aarhaug had been on a single rope here… we shudder to think of it.

Huge Fall in the Czech Republic Becomes Religious Experience

As Daniel Krolop set out on this first ascent last month in the valley of Rokle Srabů at the historic sandstone area of Roklice, the Czech Republic, it was 90 degrees F. The local ethic forbids chalk—hence the kitchen towel hanging off his harness.

While climbers have frequented the area since 1909, they had left this line untouched, meaning it was probably quite difficult. He encountered bad slopers, crumbly feet, dirt, and moss.

Imagine This, Rope Unclips Itself as Climber Leads

This was a new one for Climbing’s staff: a rope unclips itself with seemingly no effort at all.

On the climber’s seventh attempt that day, the fluke of all flukes happened: his knee rubbed against the wire gate carabiner, unclipping the rope, and leaving him in ground fall territory. “I took a nasty whipper just inches from the ground and gouged my leg,” he said.

Skipping Bolts and Ripping Cams on Bolted 5.13

How far are you willing to go for the “full experience”? For Adrian Montano, who had long coveted an ascent of Golden Beaver Left (5.13b), it meant skipping as many clips as possible on the partially bolted line, accepting a healthy runout at the top (for the crux moves) and risking a long fall. All with a series of pre-hung draws hanging in his face.

Here’s Why You Should Close Your Legs When You Whip

Here’s an occupational hazard we haven’t yet seen: the hidden dangers of tufa climbing. Or, as one of our staff puts it, why you should close your legs when you whip.

“New beta helped me clean up the sequence, get better footing on the tufas, and clear this segment much more gracefully,” he said. “I walked away with nothing more than some bruises to my butt and ego.”

Trad climbing whipper in the Gunks
(: Christian Fracchia)

“I’m Really Scared” Blown Onsight on Runout 5.12

Onsighting in the Gunks isn’t like your first go on Supercrack or Squamish’s Crime of the Century. Hard trad here requires top-notch composure, not knowing where the next horizontal gear placement will be, but continuing on, pumped, anyway.

This whipper features a botched sequence, a foothold missed, and a long fall over opposed nuts!

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