What is Fall Factor?

Written By: Lance Piatt

What is Fall Factor?

 

Fall Factors are something that every rescuer and climber should understand.  Fall factor is only applicable in situation where a climber/rescuer has climbed above their last anchor point.  Understanding fall factor will help a climber/rescuer determine when and how often to place anchor points.  Because it is impossible to fall farther than twice the length of the rope the highest possible fall factor is 2 (except via ferrate).  A fall of 8 meters on 4 meters of rope (8 divided by 4) is a fall factor 2.  So is a fall of 40m on 20m of rope (40 divided by 20, fall factor 2).  It is important to remember that fall factor is not the only determinant when calculating impact force; overall length of the fall, friction from anchors, as well as the manner of belay (whether dynamic or static) also greatly affects the impact force felt by the climber.  In order to limit the impact force created is it important to place protection whenever possible and to utilize a dynamic belay.

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