Want to lead your first route outside? Follow these simple suggestions to guarantee a stress-free transition into the world of trad leading.
1: Second a few trad climbs
A great way to start to understand how leading on trad gear works it to second a more experienced climber on a variety of routes. Look out to see how gear placements work, and take notice of how the leader attaches themselves to the top of the crag.
2: Start easy
Forget your indoor grade and leave your ego at the wall. Whilst you are perfecting the art of good gear placements choose routes that offer comfortable positions to place it from. At this stage in your career the emphasis should be on the gear, not on trying hard moves that you might fall off.
3: Practice placing gear
Being able to place good gear is what keeps you safe, so it's essential that you know how to do this before you leave the ground. Walk along the bottom of a crag placing as many different pieces as possible, and ask a more experienced climber to give you feedback on each one.
How to place a nut on BMC TV:
4: Choose well-protected routes
You may aspire to lead North Stack chop routes, but when first heading out leading it's important to start on safe routes with plenty of options for placing gear. Read guidebooks, seek advice from more experienced climbers and have a good look at routes from the ground to see how much gear a climb is going to accept.
5: Learn to build good belays
When you get to the top of your first route you need to be confident that you can anchor yourself securely before bringing up your partner. Practice building belays at the base of the crag, thinking about the direction of pull on your anchors. Remember to use as many pieces of gear as you need to make sure you are safe, considering what would happen if one of the pieces were to fail.
How to attach to anchors at the top of a climb on BMC TV:
6: Try leading on a toprope
A great way to practice the technical skills needed to lead climb in a safe and familiar environment is to 'lead' a route whilst on top-rope. Set up a top or bottom rope, tieing in and belayed by your partner as you normally would. Now attach a second rope to your harness as if you were going to lead the routes. Climb the route, belayed by your partner on top-rope, but placing gear and clipping your 'lead' rope.
7: Get advice from experienced climbers
Leading on trad gear is a big step up from top roping or leading indoors. Get hands on advice from more experienced climbers, or consider using a properly qualified instructor. A great way to meet and learn from more experienced climbers is to join a club.
How to lead a trad route on BMC TV:
See BMC TV for more videos showing the skills you need to lead trad routes
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