/ Beginning to trad lead

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
rachchanter - on 17 Apr 2012
Hello,

After years of seconding I've decided to take the next step and start practicing trad leads and gear placement. Can anyone recommend places where there are easy single pitch routes that can be accessed from top and bottom by foot, i.e. like Stanage. I live near London but anywhere in the UK is good.

Secondly, a lead rack - I'm planning on getting a set of DMM wallnuts 1-11, a set of torque nuts, 10 quickdraws of 25cm, nut key, helmet and gear sling. I've already got 3 HMS and 3 locking carabiners, a couple of 60, 120, 240 cm slings, 50m outdoor rope, harness, shoes, belay plate. Is there anything that you think I've missed for a beginners lead rack?

Thank you for your help!
muppetfilter - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to rachchanter: That is a pretty formidable Arsenal you have there. A few quickdraws that are longer and shorter to give you the option to avoid Krabs resting over edges and a rope bag or tarp to help keep your rope clean ?
Oujmik - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to rachchanter: I was in pretty much your position recently (although I went to straight to leading via leading scrambles and a very small amount of seconding/instruction so you probably have far more climbing experience). My rack is pretty similar to yours. I'd suggest maybe getting a few cams, just because the peak district (where I'm about to suggest you go) is very cam friendly. I bought size 1,2,3 DMM 4CU from Joe Brown for a good price.

I did my first trad leads at Windgather. It's a lovely crag with a great atmosphere and great looking routes (particularly high buttress arete which is top of my list for next visit). Really beginner friendly with lots of routes in Mod-VDiff range. I'd suggest getting on Staircase or Buttress Two Gully for your first lead. Just be prepared for the fact that you'll need to use gear (or at least some slings and screwgates) to build you anchor as there are no stakes, trees or convenient rocks.

To give you a feel, over the sum of those two routes, the gear I placed was roughly: two slings through threads, five cam placements and one or two nuts, plus three nuts and a few slings for anchors. I could probably have replaced some of the cams with hexes and maybe found nut placements instead but overall I was glad I decided to buy cams.
Al Randall on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to rachchanter: Cams are useful on grit. At some point, once you are more confident ditch some of the screwgates. I've never felt a need for more than 3. An oval Petzl AMD for the belay plate, an HMS for when I want to centralise several slings/ropes and/or use an Italian hitch and a light screwgate to either supplement the belay, use for direct belays or for attaching a prussic when abseiling. Get a few more 60cm slings. These can be made into quick draws or used as slings on spikes etc. 2 x 120cm slings and one 240cm sling should be sufficient.

Al
Richard Alderton - on 17 Apr 2012
There are some excellent articles on what constitutes a good beginners' rack.

Read these two for starters, as well as the advice you get in this thread.

http://www.needlesports.com/catalogue/content.aspx?con_id=285f8f26-74d0-4578-9893-9c9e00a587e6

http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=840

I would echo the advice that a variety of quickdraw lengths will be more useful than 10 x 25cm.

Many people say you should serve an apprenticeship on wires before you buy cams. I can see the logic in that, but if you're going to the Peak, cams will be very reassuring. I certainly would have progressed much faster if I hadn't waited so long to buy a full set.
jhw - on 17 Apr 2012
One question is, how many cams?

I have DMM Dragons in 2, 3 and 4 but have ended up feeling very run out in certain situations, particularly Stanage. I'm thinking about buying some additional cams in 2 and 3 but would rather not as rack already feels very big and we're in a recession!
Al Randall on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to jhw: Some of you may find this hard to believe but many of us managed to climb up to E4 on Stanage before cams were even invented. They are a nice to have, not a necessity so if you have 2 that's better than 1 and 3 is better than 2 etc. etc.

Al
muppetfilter - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to Richard Alderton: I am of the school of thought that learning to place wires and hexes well before adding cams to a rack is the best way to learn. It develops the eye for good placements with wires and hexes and prevents people getting lazy and placing cams sloppily.
It's sometimes to wait that little bit longer and solidify the basics before pushing on.
Richard Alderton - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to muppetfilter:

Yeah. Like I say, I can see the logic - it makes sense to learn the basics. I guess I self-excluded for too long. When I finally got my hands on a full set of cams, it was a bit of a revelation.
Danielg - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to muppetfilter:

Surely wires are suited better to tapering cracks and surely cams are suited better to vertical sided cracks.

I'm a new climber, with wires and cams. The routes I have done mainly do take more wires than cams. But surely by todays climbing standards you do and will need cams on some routes, especially on grit.

If your leading and can't place any sort of protection correctly, then surely you shouldn't be leading!

My advice along with most books I've read, is to get a decent variety of both wires and cam's.
muppetfilter - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to Danielg: The OP is learning to lead and the best grades for this were pretty much a climbed in days of old with Plimsoles, a Rope round the Waist and decent Facial Hair.So Cams aren't a necessity.
I can't be arsed to get into the debate, eventually as a solid leader a climber should be able to draw upon a wealth of past experience and make a decision based upon a number of fluid factors... How far am I going to fall, How hard is the next move, How good was my last peice of gear, What pieces do I have left, Why the F**k did I leave my wires at home , If that bloke looks at my MRS Arse again I'm going to brain him with my Hex 11.

One thing to consider is the number of people that will be posting on here over the next few months that have lost cams because as new leaders they placed them badly... it happens every yer for a reason ;0)

Offwidth - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to Danielg:

That's because you are with the majority. Learning to place cams isn't so hard that it can't be done from the start and I fail to see any causal connection with placing nuts badly (this assumes all climbers are lazy and will fail to sort out important gear placement skills leaving themselves at risk).

My tip is if you can climb with some better climbers (if not that, at least a range of climbers). Its important to get proportionate constructive critisism on how you are going and not to be held back with a little too much 'learn your trade at grade' and weighed down with too much pro (too often the case with amateur bumbly teachers).
Offwidth - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to muppetfilter:

"I can't be arsed to get into the debate," really? (and remember this is a beginner's forum with it's distinct rules).

Back to the Op... Top tip for not loosing cams...dont place the small ones (especially around friend 1 size) too deep and extend them to stop them walking in.
Danielg - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to muppetfilter:

We are very much pasted the days of tieing ropes around our waists and whereing plimsoles.

Like I said before, if you can't place a wire or cam correctly you shouldn't be using any, nor leading.

In my own opinion, I like to take 1 set of dmm wall nuts and selection of wild country wires as extras. A full set of dragons aswell. Gives me the piece of mind that I've got a piece of protection for most circumstances.

The days of no protection and proper footwear are long gone, learn to evolve with the climbing scene. Or stick to what you prefer, but I'd encourage every trad climber to get wires, hex's and cams. It will open more routes for you if you want to progress.

Learn to place all manors of protection correctly before you start leading and you simply won't have a problem.

I don't grab my cams first time everytime, because the crack won't always except one better than a wire or hex.

I am a new climber, and i must say that choosing the correct piece of protection for the rite crack really isn't rocket science.

Bring on the new shiny kit!!!!

PIMP MY RACK!!!!
ledifer on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to rachchanter:

I started trad a couple months ago with half a set of nuts and a few rigid stem friends. So far the game is as follows:

- Get above previous gear.
- place cam, draw and clip in rope
- stop panicking and now I'm safe, start looking for a decent nut placement so I can take the cam further up.
- swear lots and promise myself to go and buy a full set of nuts.

Obviously having such a tiny rack means we can only do the smallest routes, which for the moment suits my cowardly self :)
muppetfilter - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to Offwidth:

>
> "I can't be arsed to get into the debate," really? (and remember this is a beginner's forum with it's distinct rules).
>
I have placed a valid point of view if thats ok with you ?
...... and as such I didn't want to draw this thread into one of UKC's usual quagmire of tail chasing threads.


Styx - on 17 Apr 2012
Cam placements are easy to find but also easy to f*ck up, nuts/hexes are more difficult to f*ck up but the placements are harder to spot - particularly if you've got your "arrgh, I'm scared, I need to stuff a cam in the next crack I see" blinkers on.

Practice makes perfect and it's good to spend time on the basics like spotting and placing nuts/hexes before you get all giddy about shiny expensive cams.
Richard Alderton - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to Styx:
> Cam placements are easy to find but also easy to f*ck up, nuts/hexes are more difficult to f*ck up but the placements are harder to spot - particularly if you've got your "arrgh, I'm scared, I need to stuff a cam in the next crack I see" blinkers on.

Also, a cam that may or may not be good is still better than a wire you never spotted till after you fell off ;)
Styx - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to Richard Alderton:
> (In reply to Styx)
> [...]
>
> Also, a cam that may or may not be good is still better than a wire you never spotted till after you fell off ;)

Entirely true, but by having an array of cams at hand you may well be hindering your nut placement spotting though eh?
Danielg - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to Styx:

"Entirely true, but by having an array of cams at hand you may well be hindering your nut placement spotting though eh?"



Surely knowing where wires and cams are placed in the first place would help.

Am I wrong in thinking that wires are more prone to be put into tapered cracks and cams more prone to vertical sided cracks. I know there's some cross over though.

The only adviced you need before buying any equipment for your trad rack is; make sure you have the knowledge of what it does and how you use it.
rachchanter - on 17 Apr 2012
Thank you all for the replies! With regards to cams I guess it is personal experience. I think I want to go out and do some leading first so I can gauge how many and which before I buy them because they are comparatively expensive.

Does anyone have any advice on nice locations to start out? Windgather was mentioned earlier which sounds great. Any other similar places to recommend?

With regards to quickdraws do you find it better to get a range of presewn ones or carabiners and slings that you can obviously adjust?

Thanks! Rach
Danielg - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to rachchanter:

Before my first lead climb, I posted on UKC asking for good beginner's routes rather than specific crags. I got plenty of replies and suggestions. I ended leading broken buttress climb on stanage, HVD 4a. It was a cracking first lead. Highly recomend it.

Dan
joem - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to rachchanter: I've been climbing for nearly 5 years now i only got cams last year after getting scare on one to many VS climbs until i started climbing vs i didn't find the lack of cams to be a issue and that was only on grit. the grades beginners should be leading shouldn't need cams and if your on limestone you'll probably find cams next to useless, its amazing the placements you can find when you get creative with hexes which people who have always had cams won't appreciate.
Danielg - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to joem:

Very true, hex's are the dogs bollocks.
mrginna on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to rachchanter: Yeah Windgather is always a good place to start but can be very exposed depending on the weather. Stanage or Roaches is always an option. You may want to look at Birchen or even Burbage North that is where I did my first trad lead.

If you need a belay just ask!

Ian
Steve Clark - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to rachchanter:

A trek from London, but maybe :

Cadshaw Castle Rocks, Lancashire. Natural coarse grit, with loads of varied placements. About 30 routes, mostly VD-ish, some harder. Gets used for spa courses. Safe belays. About 30mins north of Manchester, 15min nice walk from the road.

Steve
Voltemands - on 18 Apr 2012
In reply to rachchanter: I'd agree with those who encourage low/no cam use. I've been on what I consider a good variety of rock/locations this past year and barely use the ones I carry on our rack. I just don't have as much faith in a cam placement no matter how good, as a bomber nut or hex. I'm hoping all these people who preach that it'll make you a better climber in the long run are correct!
rachchanter - on 18 Apr 2012
Cheers guys! Looks like I will be pretty busy trying out all these places! Can't wait to get outside now.
The Ex-Engineer - on 18 Apr 2012
In reply to rachchanter: As others have said, 10 quickdraws is probably over kill - however it often works out CHEAPER to buy multi-packs of quickdraws than it does to buy individual wiregate krabs.

It might well be cheaper buying two packs of 5 quickdraws but then stripping down some of them to give you seperate wiregates to rack torque nuts and short slings on and ideally to have 2-3 spare.

Copied from another thread today http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=502370&v=1#x6839671:
As a starter rack, especially for gritstone, in addition to a belay plate and a nut key, I think the following is easily sufficient:
- set of nuts on wire on a racking krab
- 2-4 hexes racked separately
- 6 extenders
- 2 60cm slings racked on snap/wiregates
- 1 120cm sling racked on a snap/wiregate
- 1 120cm (or 180/240cm) sling racked on a screwgate
- 2-3 spare snap/wiregates
- 1 spare screwgate


Finally it is well worth considering buying a cheap 30m or 35m rope rather than a 50m. 30m is more than adequate for most single pitch venues, including all those discussed here. On most crags with pitches long than 25m you will want a pair of double ropes and if you ever want to go sport climbing abroad you would probably want to buy a 60m/70m single rope. Basically a 50m single rope is a pretty poor compromise - it is far too long for most trad routes where you would want to use it but still too short for longer sport routes.
Oujmik - on 18 Apr 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

>
> It might well be cheaper buying two packs of 5 quickdraws but then stripping down some of them to give you seperate wiregates to rack torque nuts and short slings on and ideally to have 2-3 spare.
>
Very much agree with this. I bought a load of quickdraws and ended up stripping most of them for their snapgates - was still better value than just buying snapgates. If you've got hexes and cams on slings, you'll need a snap gate for each one (and therefore won't need a qdraw unless it needs extending, meaning you can climbing with hardly any draws at all).

I'm finding this thread very useful as it's confirming that I've made decent choices with my own rack, even if I did take the soft option placeing cams instead of hexes. I'm definitely going to practice some hex placements when I next get on grit.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Cake - on 18 Apr 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
I echo the shout for a short rope. I had a 40m rope for my almost entirely gritstone cragging for about 5 years. Easy peasy.

With regards to wherefo the OP: I think I started out mainly at Froggat, Stanage and Burbage North. Burbage North does have a very short feel about it. When your confidence is up go to longer parts of Stanage, Roaches for a bit more adventure and see if you can keep it together.
Offwidth - on 18 Apr 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

"Finally it is well worth considering buying a cheap 30m or 35m rope rather than a 50m." Completely disagree: these non-standard sizes don't come at good value and a single 50m or 60m half rope or thin single rope (9.8 or 10mm) folded over and used as two ends is by far the best compromise for grit, especially those crags where the belays are well back.

My 35m rope and 25m occasional ropes I use came from an old 60m that I cut after retirement from lead use.
Danielg - on 18 Apr 2012
In reply to rachchanter:

If you have a decathlon near you, there doing 70 metre 10mm rope for 70, cut in half then u have two 35 metre ropes to use as double ropes if on wondering routes.
needvert on 19 Apr 2012
In reply to rachchanter:

Was in the same position as you very recently so take my inexperienced comments with a grain of salt...Which are:

- A short and a long prussik is good (nylon slings may suit in a pinch?)
- I went with the cordellette style of rigging anchors
- I really like DMM brass offsets, and normal offsets too
- I have almost a full set of cams (00 mastercam to 4 camalot), if I were doing things again with less money I'd skip the cams. But...Sometimes nothing else works.
rachchanter - on 19 Apr 2012
Yeah, part of my decision to get ten was the bulk deals on groups of 5, but you're right that I don't have to take all ten as quickdraws. Interesting point about the rope. This one has a year or so left before I retire it so I'll have a think about it when I come to buy a new one!
wae76 on 19 Apr 2012
Up and under in Cardiff do a nice trad starter pack. Not related - just shop there.
Skip - on 11 May 2012
In reply to rachchanter:

planning to do 1st trad lead on Alison Rib at Bosigran this weekend
John_Hat - on 11 May 2012
In reply to rachchanter:

Second the comment about windgather, its about as beginner-friendly a crag as you'll find. Just don't do "Struggle".
rachchanter - on 12 May 2012
In reply to Skip: Good luck! Hope it goes well and the weather holds out for you. Went out last weekend for my first big trip. Went to birchen edge which was really good. Walking distance from the campsite so excellent for an afternoon -post drive from London climb. Went to froggatt and walked along to curbar just picking up easier routes the next day!! Somehow we managed to have perfect sun both days as well!
Skip - on 13 May 2012
In reply to rachchanter:
glorious sunshine all day at Bosigran, not many there, did 2 leads, went okay
tom.e - on 17 May 2012
EmilyCreative - on 17 May 2012
In reply to rachchanter: I've just started leading and Windgather is great - lots of mods and diffs that can be soloed, which are good for practising gear placement. Absolutely gorgeous on a sunny day.
Other places that have been good are Stanage, Birchen and Alderman Rocks - Alderman is only a small outcrop, but no-one around when we went, so we got a choice of all routes!! At Alderman there are a few short two-pitch routes too, which is good if you fancy practising your rope work. It might be a bit far from London, but there's plenty around Dovestones too if you want to make a weekend of it I think. Have fun.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.