Seven tips for leading your first trad route

Posted by Will Harris on 02/06/2014
Enjoying the well protected classic Heaven Crack at Stanage. Credit: Alex Messenger

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


We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.

From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.

Did you know that we've launched a U27 membership offer for just £1.50 / month? And with full membership from £2.50 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work: 

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/join-the-bmc-for-1-month-U27-membership


« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 2389 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Ready to Rock: Outdoor Days 2022
0
Ready to Rock: Outdoor Days 2022

Ready to Rock courses are designed to help indoor climbers make their first moves onto rock by having a fun day out as well as covering the use of some key skills and equipment.
Read more »

How to support novice club members weekend, at Plas y Brenin
4
How to support novice club members weekend, at Plas y Brenin

This popular training event is for experienced members of BMC-affiliated club to learn about training novices in climbing, scrambling and hill walking.
Read more »

A parent's guide to climbing, walking and mountaineering
1
A parent's guide to climbing, walking and mountaineering

If your child is interested in climbing, walking or mountaineering, then read this brilliant free BMC booklet which explains the benefits, and risks, of these activities.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

Ready to Rock: Outdoor Days 2022
0

Ready to Rock courses are designed to help indoor climbers make their first moves onto rock by having a fun day out as well as covering the use of some key skills and equipment.
Read more »

How to support novice club members weekend, at Plas y Brenin
4

This popular training event is for experienced members of BMC-affiliated club to learn about training novices in climbing, scrambling and hill walking.
Read more »

A parent's guide to climbing, walking and mountaineering
1

If your child is interested in climbing, walking or mountaineering, then read this brilliant free BMC booklet which explains the benefits, and risks, of these activities.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »