/ Getting into Trad

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Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
A post about where people might find some sport climbing around Dewerstone got me thinking again about how sad it is that so many younger/newer climbers are fixated on sport climbing. Clearly, this is a product of the ubiquity of indoor walls and the fact that these are nowadays most people's introduction to climbing.

This may be something of a generalisation, but I think many will agree that the essence (and indeed the tradition) of climbing in the UK is Trad. Although never is a long time, I feel sure that UK will never be a significant sport climbing area, although there may possibly be a continued and increasing pressure from some quarters to make it one, especially if we fail to induct newcomers into that tradition. It may also be a generalisation, but in my view we have very few good sport crags. Many sport venues seem to be places explored but largely rejected by trad climbers, such as Harpur Hill, and there is only a handful of real quality sport crags, which are mainly catering for experienced and hard climbers rather than newbies fresh off an indoor induction course. My point here is that people are missing the special quality of British climbing if they don't get into trad, and anyone living in the UK who thinks sport climbing is going to give them a passion with a duration measured in decades rather than months is sadly deluded.

Perhaps there is an onus on the older generation (whatever that is) to do their bit towards helping people get into trad? Correct me if I'm wrong, but no-one in the responses to the Dewerstone post said "I could meet you at such-and-such a place and maybe give you a bit of a hand in getting into trad", which might (or might not) have been appreciated by the OP. Is it time we set up a panel of Trad Mentors who would be willing to give up a bit of time to bring on the next generation of trad climbers who will value and maintain the trad ethic?

So, whether you're a hoary handed son of trad or a newbie fresh off Awesome Walls, what do you think?
conorcussell - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko: 'anyone living in the UK who thinks sport climbing is going to give them a passion with a duration measured in decades rather than months is sadly deluded.'

Is this a joke?
David Coley - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:

I normally reply to such a post with, join a club. For the Dewerstone, there are two clubs in the area.
Ramblin dave - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:
Strongly agree with your basic point.

There seem to be a lot of standard wrong reasons that new climbers want to start outdoors on sport climbing -
* because trad climbing is prohibitively more dangerous than sport
* because trad climbing is prohibitively more expensive than sport
* because the only way to learn trad is to go on a long and expensive course
* because the only safe and sensible progression into climbing is indoor TR -> indoor leading -> outdoor sport -> outdoor trad...

It'd be interesting to think about where those misconceptions come from and how they can be addressed. I'm not against all forms of bolting or anything, but it'd be sad if there was pressure to bolt perfectly good trad crags just because people mistakenly think that it's the only way beginners can safely start climbing outside...
gcandlin - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko: I totally agree, there seems to be an assumption that you have to progress in the following way, indoor climbing, out door sports climbing and then and only maybe trad climbing.

Seems a real shame to me when I think about how much fantastic climbing we have in this country that all some people get to see of it is a chossy quarry. If people want to focus on sport having tried trad climbing and found its not for them fair do's, but if they are stuck in these quarries because they don't know how to go about getting into trad climbing then I think the more experience of us have a duty to step up and offer help where we can.

I also think there is a bit of a misnomer that the only way to get into trad climbing is a proper course amongst some circles (I agree its a very good way!) but when I learnt I just read lots of books, read posts on here and trawled the internet, bought some basic kit and got me and my equally clueless mate down to burbage north and started of very slowly and cautiously.
professionalwreckhead - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:

I think you are right that many of those who progress to rock from plastic will focus on sport (since it's what they know and seems to be more about the moves, like on plastic).

However, I do think that much of it is down to the people themselves, rather than where they learned.

I spent many years in the mountains before taking up climbing. It seemed like the next logical step, opening up a different side to the mountains which was previously off limits to me.

After spending a winter on climbing walls working on basic rope skills and movement on long winter evenings, I finally got onto rock in April this year.

Sport never really crossed my mind, it wasn't that I was intentionally avoiding bolts, it just didn't fit with why I learned to climb - to get high up on mountain crags.

I think that if a person has some form of mountain background before picking up climbing, or has a mentor/friend who already climbs trad, then trad is a more natural choice.

I'm quite intrigued by roadside quarry type climbing, which I don't really enjoy at all. The only reason I can think of is that, to me, its just making moves on rock, which is closer to indoor climbing than a long mountain route. Which again comes back to why you climb - if its for the challenge of making moves on rock, then easily accessible sport crags probably fit the bill for most people. However if it's mountain climbing you're after, you've no option other than trad (in the UK at least).

I do agree that climbing just wouldn't feel like climbing unless my leg was shaking 10ft above my last bit of gear :-)



gcandlin - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to professionalwreckhead:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)

>
> I spent many years in the mountains before taking up climbing. It seemed like the next logical step, opening up a different side to the mountains which was previously off limits to me.
>

I think you have hit the nail on the head here!

johncook - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko: I regularly take 'wall/sport' climbers and introduce them to 'trad'. They then fall into two main categories;
a) This is great, I have a lot to learn and need to learn it sensibly. (the majority.) These often then want to also get into the higher hills and learn 'mountaineering'.
b) I don't like this, I can lead 7a indoors and 6c sport, but only S 3c trad. I will stick to what I can do. (An (egotistical) minority) These often have given up climbing fairly rapid afterwards.
I don't climb very hard, but do ensure that when I take a 'new trad climber' out that I climb for them, on easier routes where they can learn the gear placements etc, rather than trying something where they are pushing their limits and are learning very little, only the fear of falling onto gear, which may or may not be well placed.
I am a member of Castle climbing club, but if anyone in the Rotherham/Sheffield area wants to make the transition, they are welcome to contact me, and if I am not already committed to other stuff I will be happy to take them out. It is possible that they can come on a 'group' day and can be involved in the whole social side, but they won't get a totsl individed attention all day in this scenario, just total undivided attention for short time durations when they are actually climbing.
simonzxr - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:

There seems to be this false assumption that all climbers would be doing trad if they only saw the light! The advent and popularisation of climbing walls has lead to many people taking up climbing that would not have 20 or 30 years ago...some people just don't want adventure in the mountains, and that's fine.

The trad vs sport debate is old and tired. Most people I know climb sport, trad, boulder, and alpine depending on what takes their fancy. The only people who knock UK sport are the ones who climb below 7a/7b which is where UK sport really takes off.

I also know a few who only climb sport....they do so not through ignorance but because the thought of Trad scares them too much and they don't get much out of crapping themselves on VDiffs when they onsight 7b+'s!
AJM - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:

> My point here is that... anyone living in the UK who thinks sport climbing is going to give them a passion with a duration measured in decades rather than months is sadly deluded.

It's a point of view that many would feel is total nonsense, that's what it is...

tony on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to professionalwreckhead:

I'd agree with quite a lot of what you say, but I'll chuck in another element. I remember my first day trad climbing. This came after years of hill-walking and some indoor climbing. We drove from Edinburgh to Bowden - not a short trip - and did four routes. Bowden's not very high, so they were four quite short routes. One of them was a VDiff, which we soloed. The others were VSs, which I seconded. Apart from the VDiff, the routes seemed to me to take an inordinate length of time for the number of moves, what with all the faffing about with gear placements and my partner setting up the belay at the top. It was all okay, but I did leave feeling distinctly underwhelmed with the whole experience - a whole day, at least 3 hours in the car, for no more than a few minutes actually climbing.

So for me, that first experience of trad was pretty negative - I couldn't justify the time, the cost (especially the carbon cost) for such a small amount of climbing. For what I wanted from climbing at that time - movement on rock, and as much of it as possible - sport would have been a much better option. I don't dispute that trad climbing gives special challenges, but I think if trad evangelists want to promote trad climbing, they do need to think about the process, and they do also need to recognise that for some people, sport climbing is a preferable option.
AJM - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to simonzxr:

Agree.

Sport climbers aren't all proto-trad-climbers who haven't yet been shown the light. Some have tried the light and decided that it isn't what they want. Some started off on trad and now feel they have seen the light and have embraced sport climbing. Some, probably most, do both.

Ramblin dave - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to simonzxr:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
>
> There seems to be this false assumption that all climbers would be doing trad if they only saw the light!

I don't think this at all - if people have had a fair go at trad and decided it isn't for them then fair enough. It's just people who never even want to try trad because "it's really dangerous isn't it?" or think that their local crag needs to be bolted because "there has to be somewhere for newbies to start outside" that bother me.
MonkeyPuzzle - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Speaking as someone who is stutteringly trying to get outdoors more, I think you may be right in many instances. Getting outdoors onto a sport route after doing routes indoors, you are fairly confident that you are not going to mess things up too badly but the impression (certainly mine, anyway) is that you'll either balls up something doing trad, or worse, hold up the leader and lessen their experience somehow. Obviously if you happen to know a load of people who do climb trad then this will probably be lessened but the extra knowledge and skills needed for this step up (or out) are daunting if you don't have those people around.
professionalwreckhead - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to tony:

> Apart from the VDiff, the routes seemed to me to take an inordinate length of time for the number of moves, what with all the faffing about with gear placements and my partner setting up the belay at the top. It was all okay, but I did leave feeling distinctly underwhelmed with the whole experience - a whole day, at least 3 hours in the car, for no more than a few minutes actually climbing.
>

Absolutely!

This is one of the reasons my girlfriend and I don't like quarries - 12m of climbing takes 30 minutes (at my pace at least!)

Being able to do 100m routes makes a HUGE difference to my enjoyment of trad, that's why I enjoy it - travelling on a "mountain", rather than just moving on rock (if that makes sense).

That said, I do feel like my technical ability to move on rock is being held back by trad, I could probably do with some sport milage to focus more on the moves themselves.
tony on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to professionalwreckhead:
> (In reply to tony)
>
> [...]
>
> Absolutely!
>
> This is one of the reasons my girlfriend and I don't like quarries - 12m of climbing takes 30 minutes (at my pace at least!)
>
It's not just quarries where short routes can take ages. At the risk of being branded a heretic, given the choice between climbing at Stanage or going for a nice walk in the Peak District, I'd choose the latter.

> Being able to do 100m routes makes a HUGE difference to my enjoyment of trad, that's why I enjoy it - travelling on a "mountain", rather than just moving on rock (if that makes sense).

Yup. By contrast, I also remember vividly doing Agag's Groove. Technically, it was much easier than routes I was used to doing at the climbing wall, but the setting was much more what I was interested in - out in the mountains.
beardy mike - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to tony: Um, not quite sure I understand this logic. You went to Bowden (doors) and did 12m routes. And then complained that the routes are too short? Forgive me if I'm wrong but I was under the impression that there are a few locales in your direction which are a touch larger than 12m and that might have fulfilled your notion of a longer route? Just saying like...
tony on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to mike kann:
> (In reply to tony) Um, not quite sure I understand this logic. You went to Bowden (doors) and did 12m routes. And then complained that the routes are too short? Forgive me if I'm wrong but I was under the impression that there are a few locales in your direction which are a touch larger than 12m and that might have fulfilled your notion of a longer route? Just saying like...

Yes, there are plenty of places with longer routes. It's just that my first experience of trad climbing was at Bowden. If my first experience of trad climbing had been on Agag's Groove, for example, I would have come away with a different appreciation.
beardy mike - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to tony: Well absolutely. BUt you can't say that old trad climbers need to get off their high horses purely because you went to one of the countries smallest crags out of you own volition when you have a plethora of massive crags much closer to home...
tony on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to mike kann:
> (In reply to tony) Well absolutely. BUt you can't say that old trad climbers need to get off their high horses purely because you went to one of the countries smallest crags out of you own volition when you have a plethora of massive crags much closer to home...

Well, if I'd said anything about anyone getting off their high horse, you might have a point. But I didn't. I'm not looking to be confrontational, I'm just suggesting that there are a number of different issues to be thought about.
The Ex-Engineer - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko: I'm afraid I disagree on many levels.

If someone says they are interested in learning to ski, the default answer would invariably be to save up and book some lessons from a professional instructor. Existing skiers don't have this nonsensical attitude that firstly there is something virtuous about eschewing professional instruction and secondly that pretty much anyone can instruct. Why climbing is different I don't know.

There are hundreds of climbing clubs around the country and also hundreds of extremely experienced and passionate professional instructors. There is no shortage of opportunity for people to get into trad climbing.

Like many others I already instruct on a voluntary basis for the BMC supporting the next generation of climbers through BMC affiliated clubs but I am certainly not going to offer to assist any random Tom, Dick or Harry who asks. If anything, I am insulted that you imply I should.

What we need is for existing climbers to be much more supportive both of our climbing clubs but also of those who work as professional instructors. To me, your suggestions seem to undermine both.
Ramblin dave - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko) I'm afraid I disagree on many levels.
>
> If someone says they are interested in learning to ski, the default answer would invariably be to save up and book some lessons from a professional instructor. Existing skiers don't have this nonsensical attitude that firstly there is something virtuous about eschewing professional instruction and secondly that pretty much anyone can instruct.

I don't think that's what the OP was saying, TBH. We have an idea that experienced non-professionals can instruct based on the fact that that's how the vast majority of climbers have learnt to climb over the last however long, and an idea that experienced non-professionals are sometimes happy to instruct newbies because when they got into climbing someone did the same for them. It's not about being "virtuous", it's about not putting people off trad simply because they don't know how to get started.
beardy mike - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to tony: Sorry - it came across like that when you said about trad evangelists...

I suppose the thing is that over the years barriers have been put up to entering trad as a sport. When I started climbing it was all just climbing, Ken Wilson was going on and on and on about the thin end of the wedge, and sport climbing was not that well known. Climbing walls were far and few between, and it just seemed like you bought the Handbook of Mountaineering, bought some gear and got on with it. I think as much as sport climbing and climbing walls have done for introducing people to climbing, they also act as inhibitors to people just getting out and doing it. You only have to go to the continent to witness peoples attitudes to trad and alpine climbing which seem to be the preserve of climbers who are excellent sport climbers. I know the ethos is very different but...
Bulls Crack - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to tony:

My first day too was on Bowden - a shorter trip admittedly from Newcastle but I loved it..and the weekend after we went to the Lakes and loved that too and i'm sure if sport had been available i'd have done that too!

Mediocre/sh*te low grade sport climbing is here to stay and whilst it may not be what this country does well - ie a relatively huge and varied choice of trad - many enjoy i (including me). I have little wish to promote the joys of trad though - if people really want to do it they'll get round to it
Ramblin dave - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave: And in any case, I took the first post as being meant as a trigger to discussion rather than a fully worked out manifesto...
The Ex-Engineer - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to tony:
> but I think if trad evangelists want to promote trad climbing, they do need to think about the process

I completely agree. Introducing people to trad climbing is not easy, despite many climbers seeming to think it is.

I believe the approach taken by many people (which is often along the lines you describe) is fairly flawed. Given the opportunity I would always take novices on a decent multi-pitch route as their first trad climbing experience rather than heading to a single pitch venue.
beardy mike - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer: Same here. Most people want to learn to climb because they go past a massive cliff and think "wow - I wonder if I could climb that". So the first time you take them, you generally prove to them that they can, and that sows the seed. Then going to smaller cliffs doesn't seem like a let down as they've got the big one in the back of their heads... somewhere along the way people get syphoned off into the different disciplines, but that doesn't really matter - it's up to them. The salient point is that you've enabled their brain to cope with what seems impossible and they can go off and do what they want with it. Climbing walls seem to serve the opposite purpose, making people think that outside is dangerous and they need much more experience to do it, when in reality the climbing wall should be about training to fulfill your ambitions...
mockerkin on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to professionalwreckhead:

As gcandlin said, your spot on.
Enty - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:
> anyone living in the UK who thinks sport climbing is going to give them a passion with a duration measured in decades rather than months is sadly deluded.
>

This is the daftest thing I've heard on here for ages.

Most of my UK climbing buddies have had a passion for sport climbing since the mid 80's when it all kicked off. They still love it just as much as much now as they love getting up to the Lakes to get on an E5.

E

In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
> [...]
>
> This is the daftest thing I've heard on here for ages.
>
> Most of my UK climbing buddies have had a passion for sport climbing since the mid 80's when it all kicked off. They still love it just as much as much now as they love getting up to the Lakes to get on an E5.
>
> E


I assume he means in the lower grades, in which case he may well be correct. You can have a lifetime of adventures in the UK if you can climb HVS but if you are looking for quality sport routes F6a and below you are going to struggle.

Chris
climbingjoca - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:
When I first started, I did my bit with the indoor stuff, learnt how to climb in a fairly safe environment. Then wanting to move to the next step and not knowing anyone else to start the outdoor bit with, me and a few clueless mates started on our own, first we acquired some basic kit each of us getting a few bits so we had a rack between us then headed out onto the rock. sport didn't really even enter our minds aiming for routes in the mountains we were after the British way the pioneering way, the adventurous way. its not about how hard you climb its about how much you enjoy it and adding more adventure to your climbing, well in my mind helps me enjoy it. we started by setting up top ropes at single pitch crags and placing gear as we climbed pulling a lead rope with us for practise, gradually over time we started to trust our placements and made the switch, it has to be said other climbers at crags are always there if your unsure of something ask what's the harm in asking every climber I know would rather help than pick up the pieces when you deck it. I do feel if you want something bad enough you can make it happen there is enough info out there these days to pick up the basics you don't always need the expensive courses.
Jimbo C - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:

7/10 for trolling. Not bad at all.

I will still contribute however. You're right to say that we lack a large number of good quality sport crags but to say that British sport climbing will never be significant is wrong. UK sport climbers have, in the last few decades, added some of the hardest lines in the world to our crags (eg, Ben & Jerry, Ste Mac, Dave Mac). Notice that all of them have also climbed hard trad.

We do, of course have a much larger supply of trad crags due to the history of the sport in our country, our geology and a general ethical atmosphere that bolts should not be used if it would be 'fairer' to climb it on leader placed protection.

To an extent I think it depends on what crags are local to a newbie. When I started (not that long ago), my local crags were (and still are) Eastern Grit and I was psyched to get on them. So after using the indoor wall for a bit to learn the ropes, that's what I did. If I'd lived near some excellent quality easy sport crags, things may have been different.

I don't think anyone has a 'duty' to help the newer generation into trad. If they want to get into it, they will. Climbing on rock is quite a natural thing for humans (unlike learning to ski for example) and the skills can be self taught from books and film and practiced in safety.
Kevin Woods - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:

My history is indoor wall TR then lead, to outdoor TRthen lead - still working on that last one. Trad is a pain in the arse to get into :) My onsighting is my weak link: it's a lot more interesting to do a mid-grade redpoint, struggle on technical moves, than s***ing my way up a VS. Hmm..... need to get out climbing more.
Simon Caldwell - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to simonzxr:
> The only people who knock UK sport are the ones who climb below 7a/7b

So the vast majority then
Ramblin dave - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Jimbo C:

> I don't think anyone has a 'duty' to help the newer generation into trad. If they want to get into it, they will.

Not sure I agree with this at all. Apart from the fact that a lot of people develop lifelong obsessions with activities that they first try more-or-less by chance, I think there's an issue that affects everyone here, namely that:
* lots of people assume that climbing sport is the only practical / sensible way to go outdoors from the wall
* as this happens, there's pressure from an increasingly large proportion of climbers to bolt more crags. Like maybe some of those weird little sandstoney edges in the Eastern Peak...


Again, this isn't about evangelising about the joys of trad so everyone can discover the One True Path that is hex swinging. It's about not creating unnecessary and artificial pressure to bolt stuff because people mistakenly think that that's the only option open to them.
beardy mike - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> * as this happens, there's pressure from an increasingly large proportion of climbers to bolt more crags. Like maybe some of those weird little sandstoney edges in the Eastern Peak...

Surely those aren't high enough to be worth climbing on are they?
Kieran_John - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:

I've done bits of trad but tend not to bother too much. Living in Castleford (and prior to that, York) it takes a good 45minutes to an hour to get somewhere decent for trad climbing. Then the actual climbs are considerably slower. Trying to fit work, my wife, a second job and climbing in to a day is a difficult thing, so at most I get around 4 hours to climb, including travelling time.

Now I can either spend 2 hours travelling and get a couple of routes in trad or I can drive 20/25 minutes at most and get 3 hours of constant climbing in indoor.

When I do get out and about some weekends I prefer to boulder, again because in my mind I get more out of it.

So for me, it's a time thing. I'd LOVE to be able to get an entire day in but sadly it's not going to happen any time soon. It's worth pointing out though that what little trad I've managed to do I really enjoyed.
Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko: Well, there’s been a few misunderstandings here, to be sure. Despite being fairly careful, my words seem to have been misinterpreted.
For clarification:
1. I’m not anti sports climbing – I do plenty of it, but I’m interested in doing quality routes. Compared with the thousands of good trad routes, there aren’t too many good sports routes in the UK in the lower grades which is where most newcomers will be, at least for a while.
2. I’m not trying to prevent people who want to get into trad from going on courses, indeed I’d recommend it. But with the best will in the world lots of people won’t if only for reasons of cost. Loads of people got into trad without courses and a lot of them got help and advice from experienced club members or friends. I think the unwillingness of lots of younger climbers to join clubs means they are missing some benefits here. At least pushing into trad these days is safer than it was when I started, because pro was almost non-existent then. Even if half your gear falls out you’re probably safer than older climbers were when they began.
3. I didn’t intend to come over all evangelistic about trad. My comment “anyone living in the UK who thinks sport climbing is going to give them a passion with a duration measured in decades rather than months is sadly deluded“ was much too sweeping. I should have qualified it by saying “the average climber” and “without flying off every weekend to continental venues”. But I still very much doubt if many newcomers who final plateau around the 5+ - 6b level and don’t get into trad as well will have enough in the UK to keep them going for a lifetime, as they’ll undoubtedly be able, sooner or late, to detect rubbish.
Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to simonzxr:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
>
> ...some people just don't want adventure in the mountains, and that's fine.

Agreed.
>
7a/7b which is where UK sport really takes off.

I rest my case!!
>


Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to simonzxr)
>
>
>
> Sport climbers aren't all proto-trad-climbers who haven't yet been shown the light. Some have tried the light and decided that it isn't what they want. Some started off on trad and now feel they have seen the light and have embraced sport climbing. Some, probably most, do both.

I had no intention of re-starting old "sport vs Trad" debates. I suspect (could be wrong) that most people asking for such things as "sport venues around Dewerstone (or anywhere else)" aren't very experienced or they'd know where to go, so haven't had the chance to decide what they are, and I'm just regretting that they're finding it hard (if they are) to get experience of trad.
Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
>
> Obviously if you happen to know a load of people who do climb trad then this will probably be lessened but the extra knowledge and skills needed for this step up (or out) are daunting if you don't have those people around.

Again, I rest my case.

Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack:
> (In reply to tony)
>
>
>
> Mediocre/sh*te low grade sport climbing is here to stay and whilst it may not be what this country does well - ie a relatively huge and varied choice of trad - many enjoy i (including me). I have little wish to promote the joys of trad though - if people really want to do it they'll get round to it

The problem is, in the long term, if fewer and fewer want to do trad there'll be more pressure to bolt Stanage ( a bit extreme, I know!)
Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave: Dave, you may be rambling, but you're one of the few people responding here who seem to understand what I'm trying to say. The failure to understand is probably down to me and the reader in equal proportions, but at least I feel that someone's not putting false interpretations on the OP. Thanks Mate!
SCrossley on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:
Are there fewer people doing Trad?
Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
> [...]
>
>
>
> Most of my UK climbing buddies have had a passion for sport climbing since the mid 80's when it all kicked off. They still love it just as much as much now as they love getting up to the Lakes to get on an E5.
>
> it would have made more sense in the context of the OP if your post had ended with HVS rather than E5. In case you hadn't noticed, not many newcomers reach E5 at all, let alone in their early days. While not wishing to be offensive, you've really missed my point, but that's probably a result of my lack of oratorical skills.

Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to Enty)
> [...]
>
>
> I assume he means in the lower grades, in which case he may well be correct. You can have a lifetime of adventures in the UK if you can climb HVS but if you are looking for quality sport routes F6a and below you are going to struggle.
>
Cheers Chris. Very succinctly put.

Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Jimbo C:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
>
> 7/10 for trolling. Not bad at all.

No, quite serious.
>
> UK sport climbers have, in the last few decades, added some of the hardest lines in the world to our crags (eg, Ben & Jerry, Ste Mac, Dave Mac). Notice that all of them have also climbed hard trad.

I wasn't talking about these demi-gods, I was talking about Mr Average.
>
>

Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to simonzxr)
> [...]
>
> So the vast majority then

Precisely!

Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave: I shall have to start paying you as my official interpreter, Dave.
Jon Stewart - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:

I think it depends very much on the area. Where the crags are busy (e.g. Peak grit) we should be encouraging novices to hang out in chossy quarries doing sub-mediocre sport routes until a massively block comes off and wipes them out. But in areas needing more traffic, local trad climbers should be making exactly the kinds of efforts you describe, promoting clubs and so on.

In all seriousness though, I usually bite my tongue when I hear someone suggesting a trip to some choss-hole when they could be doing some great, fulfilling trad climbing in a wonderful setting. But really, all the information is out there and people do what they want to do - if someone wants to climb complete rubbish then that really is their business.

As things are, with so few good low-mid grade sport venues in the UK, I think it pushes many people into trad who might otherwise prefer sport, given more of an option. Which is fine. I reckon that as people see how limited low-mid grade sport is in the UK, they're likely to get into trad of their own accord. It's fairly natural to want to find sport routes first if you're progressing from indoors, and those who really get into climbing will soon see that they either need to get really good to get the most out of sport, or else take up trad. Or just go bouldering if that's their bag. I think people can probably be left to work that out for themselves - it's not rocket surgery.
Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to sjc:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
> Are there fewer people doing Trad?

Steve, you're a business man. You must understand percentages!

climbingpixie - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

> If someone says they are interested in learning to ski, the default answer would invariably be to save up and book some lessons from a professional instructor. Existing skiers don't have this nonsensical attitude that firstly there is something virtuous about eschewing professional instruction and secondly that pretty much anyone can instruct. Why climbing is different I don't know.

I disagree with you here. I think we need to differentiate between learning to climb and learning to lead trad. Learning to climb is the harder thing to do and yet that's the area that 99% of people don't even worry about, they just pick it up as they go along, watching mates or the strong chap at the wall, and hence why so many plateau at VS to E2 and don't improve. Learning to climb trad, in comparison, is pretty easy. All you need to do is learn a couple of knots and have a basic understanding of some pretty simple physics and you're away. How on earth that can be stretched into a 2 day 'learn to lead' course I don't know!

FWIW I learnt trad from some kind people on a UKC meet who showed me how to place gear and build a belay. I bought some gear, taught an equally novice mate how to place gear and then we just went climbing, placing lots and lots of probably rubbish gear on diffs and vdiffs. In comparison, I've just been having skiing lessons and it really is much harder to learn to do that (I've done 5 hours of lessons and I'm still shit) than it is to learn how to place a wire in a crack.
Taurig - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:

As someone who has been top-roping indoors and out for the past six months, and just last week in fact did my first indoor lead, I'm probably one of the newer climbers you are talking about. Personally, I can see myself climbing both trad and sport in the future.

At the risk of repeating things that have been mentioned above, sport has a few appealing attributes. Cost is big factor, a set of quickdraws and you are away. Then there is the reassuring solidity, perceived or real, of bolts, and the fact that falling off is relatively safe and somewhat normal. It appears to me though that, in Scotland at least, the majority of bolted routes are in the higher grades (or higher than I can currently climb) so I feel that starting out on sport and sticking with it might be quite limiting compared to the amount of trad on offer, at least at the beginning.

I prematurely bought a set of DMM wallnuts recently as they were one sale, and have had a few goes of placing them at the end of a top roping session. Without a more experienced climber there to assess my placements and give advice, I would guess that only about 30% of my placements could have held a fall and wouldn't have been pulled out by rope movement. This, to me, makes trad a lot more intimidating, and why I will be taking it very, very slowly to start with.

Ultimately, however, my main aim is to get out on big mountain routes and maybe get to the Alps in the next few years, so trad is really where I want to be. I can see myself using sport as more of a training device; hopefully climbing multipitch VS in big boots with a rucksack will seem easier if I've been training on steep crimpy sport routes. Who know though, I'm just a beginner. :)
Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Kieran_John:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
>
> Trying to fit work, my wife, a second job and climbing in to a day is a difficult thing, so at most I get around 4 hours to climb, including travelling time.

A very common and understandable perspective. But with luck you'll come out the other end of that dark tunnel and be able to spread your wings!
>

>
>

Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:That's a good optimistic response and I hope you're right. I trust that at least some of it was tongue in cheek.
Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Taurig: You are my text-book example!
Enty - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:

> it would have made more sense in the context of the OP if your post had ended with HVS rather than E5. In case you hadn't noticed, not many newcomers reach E5 at all, let alone in their early days. While not wishing to be offensive, you've really missed my point, but that's probably a result of my lack of oratorical skills.

Fair enough but what if I was to put E2/E3. I was never more than an E2/E3 climber and had years of fun at Kilnsey,Malham and Goredale clipping bolts even though I never climbed anything harder than 7b.

(I didn't want to mention grades for fear of being flamed.)

E
Jon Stewart - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Taurig:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko...Without a more experienced climber there to assess my placements and give advice, I would guess that only about 30% of my placements could have held a fall and wouldn't have been pulled out by rope movement. This, to me, makes trad a lot more intimidating, and why I will be taking it very, very slowly to start with.

I think trad's more straightforward than you think it is. Using trad gear isn't like using some complicated bit of machinery, it has very little mystery and takes very little skill. It should be obvious without any practice whether a nut is going to hold a fall, cams slightly less so but it only takes a minute to learn. Just a matter of building up from easy routes where you can place the gear from ledges to hard routes where you have to fiddle in tiny wires while hanging off crimps - and the grading system tells you all you need to know. Crack on, I say!
Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart: In principle I agree with you though I think you overstate your case somewhat. I just think that lots of people could do with a little low-key advice and moral support, so they know at the start of their career that they're not doing really stupid things.
Jon Stewart - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko: Everyone needs to learn the basics (setting up a belay) from someone who knows what they're doing. But aside from that, I don't think there is much of a learning curve. Once you know how to set up a belay, I think you should be safe to go out cragging with at a lot of places (maybe not going down the Great Zawn at Bosi or whatever, but many crags). The odd shout of "I think you should extend that runner" or "do you really need 4 cams in that break?" might be required, but they should be safe enough if they choose the routes sensibly.
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Taurig - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I suppose you have a point in the sense that I have been able to pick out which placements look crappy, and hence would try to find another one anyway whilst climbing. I just don't want to be faffing around like this while getting pumped and disco legged out my nut, so I'll take it easy till I get some confidence in it.

In principle I'm confident it should be fairly easy to pick up, but with other sports I do in mind, I'm sure there are plenty of little tips that aren't so obvious if you don't have them pointed out to you by someone more experienced. I would be really pissed off with myself if I got badly hurt through an easily avoidable mistake, although on the other hand, that's sort of like life in a way...
Bradders - on 05 Oct 2012
I would call myself relatively new (compared to many) to the sport of climbing. I defiantly wouldnt call myself a indoor climber, though i use it as a training aid. Indoors was defiantly where i started climbing in earnest, however i had done scrambling and occasional outdoor climbing before that. But trad certainly had the greater enjoyment factor, which is why i do it more.

> Being able to do 100m routes makes a HUGE difference to my enjoyment of trad, that's why I enjoy it - travelling on a "mountain", rather than just moving on rock (if that makes sense).

I suppose this is one of the main reasons that i love trad, well that and the fact i live in the Lakes so are able to get out and climb this style of routes. Saying that its alpine style climbing that i enjoy the most, infact its weird to think about, but sport climbing in general scares me more than hardish alpine climbing and trad climbing.

I possibly have a fear of sport climbing. I was standing indoors looking at this 6c route and said to partner i cant lead that and he put it in context, "imagine it is in the alps 600m up with spaced gear and your partner doesnt want to lead it, would you attempt it then". Yeah so i managed it fine, i find it weird how i am more scared in a less scary setting really haha
Ramblin dave - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to David Coley:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
>
> I normally reply to such a post with, join a club. For the Dewerstone, there are two clubs in the area.

This does seem to be a lot of the answer. It's really really good to go out with a range of more experienced climbers because it makes it much more likely that someone will pick up on any little mistakes that you're making.

And from my experience, people who climb with clubs tend to be happy to take novices out from time to time, provided they're reasonably committed and serious about learning and not just treating it like a free "taster session".
oddtoast on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Aplogies for the mini essay but as asked for, here is someone new’s experience.

I started indoors in February by booking a beginner’s course that came with a month’s free pass. I liked it, and found a bunch of people at a similar level to keep going regularly. The attraction was partly something active to do on dark winter evenings, but also the potential to get me out of London when the weather improved to the great outdoors I was sorely missing.

The kickstart came when I unexpectedly moved back up north in July. Here was an area with more rock in it! I’d been reading UKC since finding it online whilst googling my beginner’s course, so it’s been a pretty major influence on my getting into climbing. The collective advice on UKC is to join a club, so I found one near me with a friendly website and (with a bit of difficulty) plucked up the courage to go along. It didn’t occur to me to go and try sport climbing as I wasn’t even leading indoors yet.

When club members noticed that, they started me off on 4+s learning to clip and have a go. Because I wasn’t at the minimum level most walls require for learn to lead courses, I had assumed I had to “get better” before I could try leading. Instead, I found how different and awesome leading is and something clicked.

As well as meeting a pool of people to climb with at the wall, the main impact for me has been individuals who have taken me out trad climbing, not caring that I can’t yet climb very well, but wanting to develop my interest and enthusiasm and share their sport. This has obviously been a massive deal for me, opened up a new world, given me a crash course and improved my climbing along the way. I am very grateful to these people, who know who they are, and am aware that I am lucky to be getting an old school club-based apprenticeship in trad (including recently a day’s BMC-subsidised outdoor course run by the club).

The point really is that some younger people like me are turning up at clubs with enthusiasm, and are being deliberately and generously encouraged by experienced climbers. This is likely to make me want to do the same down the line, if I am in a position to do so. However, teaching novices has to come from intrinsic motivation – you can’t try and impose a sense of duty on something that requires as much patience and safety responsibility as teaching trad to someone who can’t use their feet!

Going back to the OP – I havn’t tried sport climbing at all yet, because it simply hasn’t come up. Climbing at the lower grades this is probably a good thing, because there is so much satisfaction to be had on the trad that I can do, that if I had tried sport that I simply couldn’t I may well have been put off!

Just a personal experience of a twenty something getting into climbing in 2012, which may be similar or different to others :)
tom_in_edinburgh - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Rog Wilko:
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)

There is a simple explanation why masses of indoor sport climbers aren't demanding that Stanage is bolted: indoor climbers like their climbing warm and dry. So the Costa Blanca is more appealing than Sheffield.

Rog Wilko on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to oddtoast:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
>
> Aplogies for the mini essay but as asked for, here is someone new’s experience.
>
> I started indoors in February by booking a beginner’s course


Thanks for your mini-essay, very refreshing to read it. Looks the start of a long love affair... I wish you as much joy and fun as I've had over 40-odd years

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