/ advice for someone new to real rock

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philbert_mcpleb - on 01 May 2012
I've been climbing for a few months and can't wait to try some real rock. Currently I do bouldering and top-roping. I have been reading up on sport climbing and hope to be taking a course at my regular climbing wall soon.

My question is. If I can't take the course (dates not looking good) will I be able to top-rope at somewhere like Portland without getting in the way and upsetting other people there? I don't plan on simply staying in the same spot all day, but don't want to get moaned at simple because I'm using a top-rope.
Jon Stewart - on 01 May 2012
In reply to philbert_mcpleb:

I'm not sure about good places for top-roping in Portland, but have a think about this:

learning to lead on sport routes requires virtually no knowledge or skill, and is loads more fun and exciting than top-roping. You just need someone to show you some very basic ropework (how to get down) - it'll take about 5 minutes to learn. You honestly don't need a course for this (you might need a course for learning trad, but that's very different).

You will of course need some quickdraws, but it's worth the money.
Kemics - on 01 May 2012
In reply to philbert_mcpleb:

Rather than trying to work it out yourself, which will probably get in the way and be a little dangerous. (maybe not the climbing but if you're scrambling around trying to ab in to set up a tope rope etc)

Much better to hook up with a climbing club or just some more experienced climbers. It'll give you a great insight into climbing plus you'll learn much much more about both climbing itself and ropework/safety

tlm - on 01 May 2012
In reply to philbert_mcpleb:

Agree with the idea of joining a club.
I would encourage you to get involved with trad climbing as soon as possible, as most of the climbing in the UK is trad. If you second a climb, then there is not a lot more involved than top-roping, apart from removing the gear. Plus, you will be able to share lifts - quite useful from London!
Getting to know other climbers is key in climbing - to have people to actually climb with and to learn all sorts of extra bits of information that a course won't give you.
As to leading sports climbs - probably easier than trying to top-rope them, as often the lower offs may not be easily accessible from the top of the crag.
jkarran - on 01 May 2012
In reply to philbert_mcpleb:

If you can lead indoors you can lead at Portland. There are two hurdles to overcome:

Figuring out how to climb rock - Start easy and learn as you go.

Getting down safely - Read, ask, practice then do it carefully. It's easy but vital you get it right. You just need to understand what you want to achieve and why then you can adapt to whatever lower-off you come across.

Top-roping sport routes (without having led them to put the rope up) is generally not feasible, the lower-off is usually inaccessible on the face some way below the bad rock at the cliff top.

jk
Ava Adore - on 01 May 2012
In reply to philbert_mcpleb:

As tlm says, it wouldn't be toproping, it would either be leading or seconding.

Bear in mind that, depending on which wall you climb at and how stiff their grades are, you will probably find outdoor grades to be much harder. So start on the low grades. But avoid the low grade climbs at the Cuttings as they are polished horrors.
JH74 - on 01 May 2012
In reply to philbert_mcpleb:

As mentioned above the best way to do things is learn to lead then you can go at lots of routes slowly building up your confidence and strength.

Do not however overlook the importance of learning how to fall above bolts. Whilst relatively quick to learn if you don't do it instinctively in the first place, rigid falls plus leg around rope etc is to be heartily avoided.

Enjoy!
Ramblin dave - on 01 May 2012
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to philbert_mcpleb)
>
> Agree with the idea of joining a club.

Thirded.
tlm - on 01 May 2012
tlm - on 01 May 2012
In reply to philbert_mcpleb:

Oh and to find clubs...
http://www.thebmc.co.uk/map#clubs,huts

This lot seem quite good:
http://www.nlmc.co.uk/
airbournegrapefruit on 01 May 2012
In reply to philbert_mcpleb: I'd recommend getting in touch with Johnl and Mick Ward (both post on here regularly).

They have been putting up a lot of new routes lately aimed at the lower grade climbers and also have a lot of local knowledge so can easily point you in the right direction for places to start.

tbh, if someone has a go at you for top-roping politely tell them to sod off. If they ask nicely on the other hand then pull your rope and they will most likely put it back up for you.

ABG
Ramblin dave - on 01 May 2012
In reply to tlm:
The only London club I know is the Rockhoppers, who are generally active and friendly.
tlm - on 01 May 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to tlm)
> The only London club I know is the Rockhoppers, who are generally active and friendly.

On the map that I linked to, there are 24 BMC afflicated climbing clubs inside the M25...

http://www.thebmc.co.uk/map#clubs,huts

Ramblin dave - on 01 May 2012
In reply to tlm:
Sorry, that's "know" as in "know personally" rather than "am aware of".
philbert_mcpleb - on 01 May 2012
Thanks for all the replies. I'll definitely be looking into joining a club, especially as there is one that meets at my usual wall.
tlm - on 01 May 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to tlm)
> Sorry, that's "know" as in "know personally" rather than "am aware of".
*blushes deep red and feels most embarrassed*
Sorry!

The Ivanator - on 01 May 2012
In reply to philbert_mcpleb: If you are top roping sports routes with double staple lower offs (common at Portland) then use quick draws on these to minimise the damage caused to the staples. See this recent thread:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=500720
and the photo at the top of this article:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=4578
If you do top rope directly through the staples someone might well have a moan, considering the effort that goes into bolting the routes they would not be being unreasonable.
airbournegrapefruit on 01 May 2012
In reply to The Ivanator: An extremely valid point!!
philbert_mcpleb - on 01 May 2012
In reply to The Ivanator: I had seen that, I would be using something to protect the staples, for the simple fact that my gear is easier to replace than the fixed staples.
Ramblin dave - on 01 May 2012
In reply to tlm: Nah, reading back it was a bit unclear.
ads.ukclimbing.com
The Ivanator - on 01 May 2012
In reply to philbert_mcpleb: Of course to top rope outside you'll need to get the rope up, so someone in your party needs to be confident leading, then threading the lower off when you are finished with a route (you will have to lower off the staples then, which is standard practice).
BoulderBus - on 01 May 2012
In reply to philbert_mcpleb:

you could always get out and do some bouldering (southern sandstone/peak district) until you can get a course date that suits you, if you're dead set on a course, or like everyone else says get along with a club.
Durbs on 01 May 2012
At Portland, I think you can rig a top rope on the Triple Slabs, as the top of the slabs back on to a path - as mentioned above, use a couple of quick-draws in the staples.

Ignore any tutters or people moaning about top-roping - just don't spend 2 hours on the same route.
If you get psyched out leading, you might find a friendly local to lead it for and rig it for you.

Personally, I'd say that learning to climb on real rock is an eye-opener in itself, and learning to lead is also a new skill - so I'd try and tackle them one at a time if possible.

My first outing to Portland was a real eye-opener: leading 6a's indoors, failing to lead 4+ routes outdoors. Getting better now though...
Rick Whitehead on 08 May 2012
In reply to philbert_mcpleb: Just come back from my first outdoor (sport) climbing at Portland! My ten pence worth is to join a club. By doing this you can climb with those confident to lead who can leave the rope in for you to second/top rope and learn at your own pace. Then when you are ready to lead I found it easier on my first lead to climb where somebody has already placed the quickdraws so all you have to think of is clipping the rope in (& climbing!) - so you really need to be with experienced climbers.
Safety comes first and whatever you are doing in a club there will be somebody that you can (and should) ask that will be happy to help.
I got slightly phased by the rams horns in staples at the top of my first lead climb as in my mind they didn't look safe enough not being fully closed like a Karibiner. When you lead climb you are responsible for safely lowering yourself off but also if somebody is to second/top rope using the rope after you come down there cannot be any mistakes. A more experienced climber could/would no doubt climb up to help if you really needed assistance or reassurance at the top. As others have mentioned it's a shock to the system after climbing 6's indoors and then finding that you can struggle on 4's outdoors - be safe join a club. Once you've learned the safety aspects you can be confident to enjoy the whole experience.
Ramblin dave - on 08 May 2012
In reply to Rick Whitehead:
The other big advantage of joining a club is that you'll have the opportunity to second trad and learn about gear placement etc from much more experienced climbers until you're ready to start leading trad yourself. (And if / when you do start leading trad you'll continue to learn from more experienced climbers.)

You'll also get out to a wide range of trad crags, which in the UK tend to be much nicer and more varied than sports venues.
David Ponting on 08 May 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave: I think the biggest thing in favour of a club for me when I started was the ease of organisation - you just reply to the email saying "yes please, pick me!" rather than having to organise partner/kit/venue - and, inter alia, there are some huts that will only accept bookings from clubs rather than individuals.

Of course, being keen will eventually result in being asked to be on the committee, and all the organising comes back tenfold, but by then you'll know how it works, and it becomes "I fancy climbing at x next, who's coming with me?"
juza - on 01 Jun 2012
Have a weekend away and go on a course with these guys www.clipupclimbing.co.uk

They will really help your skills.

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