HOW TO LEAD CLIMB: A PRACTICAL GUIDE

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Climbers also find it useful to practice falling, not only to calm the nerves, but also to get used to the movement, and the landing. If you’re on a steep overhang, chances are you will fly through the air and not hit a thing. But on a slab, it pays to keep your feet, bend your knees, and land on the rock as softly as possible. When falling, you should be aware of objective hazards, such as ledge systems that you could hit on your way down. But if the objective hazard is low and you get used to it, you’ll discover that falling is really not as terrifying as it seems.

WATCH FOR THE ROPE BEHIND YOUR LEG

If you’re lead climbing above your protection and the rope is wrapped behind your leg, it is a dangerous recipe for an inverted fall. This can happen if you step to the side as you climb, trailing the rope in such a way that it sits behind your ankle. Falling like this will often see the rope trip you, flipping you upside-down (good image of how this happens halfway down the page). If the rope is behind your leg, calmly flip it back in front of you.

LEAD CLIMBING TIPS

CLIPPING BOLTS – TRAD PROTECTION

If you’re hanging on for dear life, then clipping a bolt or piece of trad gear can be a daunting prospect. Clipping efficiently and quickly will help your lead climbing immensely. Check out the stances and the holds around a bolt. Sometimes the best place to clip is with the bolt at your waist, rather than at the top of your reach – though it may feel counterintuitive to climb higher when you’re scared. Also, clipping with a straight arm, while not always possible, will use less energy. There are generally two ways to clip – pinch-clipping and snap-clipping – and what you will use will depend on which hand is easier to free, and which way the gate on the carabiner is facing.

PINCH-CLIPPING

Reach down and take the rope between your thumb and forefinger, pulling it up to the quickdraw. As you go to clip the rope into the lower carabiner, take your thumb to the side of the carabiner opposite the gate. This will steady the quickdraw, while the rope is draped over your forefinger. As you “pinch” the carabiner, use your forefinger to push the rope into the carabiner.

SNAP-CLIPPING

Again, reach down and grab the rope between the forefinger and thumb. As you pull the rope up to the quickdraw, put our middle finger in the carabiner to steady it. Now push the rope into the carabiner with your thumb, rolling it over as you “snap” the rope into the quickdraw. Climbing.com provides some handy drawings of pinch- and snap-clipping. Two things to be wary of and to avoid are back-clipping and z-clipping.

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