Rock Climbing

If you are a novice climber interested in learning how to "lead", here's a list of things that will get you moving in that direction. Essentially, you'll need to ramp up your skills and experience with anchors, rope protection systems, and the basics of risk management.

  • Take a course on leading and anchor placements from a certified rock guide.
  • Follow several dozen pitches.
  • Study Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills, and other texts until you have a thorough understanding of the rope protection system.
  • Practice setting gear on the ground.
  • Learn to discern between good and marginal protection.
  • Pay attention to the rock quality near protection and handholds and footholds.
  • Do the first few “leads” with a top-rope so you have a backup.
  • Consider climbing the pitch on a top-rope before leading it to make sure it’s a good route choice.
  • Place lots of protection on your practice leads.
  • Once you’re solid on anchors, lead several climbs far below your limit so you can relax and focus on the gear without worrying about the climbing.
  • Ask a guide or very experienced climber to follow your leads to judge your placements and anchor extension.
  • Top-rope a pitch and aid climb up it to learn more about setting protection. Set a piece, clip it to a sling, or better, an etrier (a ladderlike sling), and then climb up on the etrier to set another piece higher. Continue this process to the top of the wall.

-- Adapted from Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills by Craig Luebben, The Mountaineers Books

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