Lead Climbing

I took a lead climbing class last weekend. Lead climbing is where you clip in as you climb up the route, as opposed to top roping where you set up a rope beforehand and then climb on that. It allows you to safely climb many routes that don't work at all for top roping, such as a huge overhang. But it can also be dangerous. While belaying I watched my climber struggle to clip in and a few moments later fall, known as blowing the clip. This was scary because he had easily 5 feet of rope between the last clip and his harness, which means his fall was 10 feet before I could even start catching him. We ended up with his feet almost touching my head, and it was good that he was so high up already because he had plenty of space to fall. Lessons learned: watch your climber, be prepared to do anything you can to take in slack if they start to fall, such as running backwards. Makes for a hard catch, but even the hardest catch is softer than a ground fall.