I'm writing a feature for my masters about the first time experience of lead climbing and am looking for help from passionate climbers. The aim of the article is to encourage people to take up lead climbing.
I know people have a lot of reasons for not starting lead climbing, so my question to you is:
1) For what reason do people not start lead climbing and why should they ignore this excuse and do it anyway?
2) What should first time lead climbers DO and what should they NOT do?
If you have any feedback or comments, I'd be really grateful!
In reply to margauxsmale: They should learn from books and not a mate they met in the pub. (Although it's good to have people to talk to and check over what you're doing IMO).
Too many beginners are falling off IMO as well. I taught one lad to lead last year, within 6 months he had a groundfall attemping an HVS, and then got back on it, fell 2 more time and eventually made it up the route. Climbing that hard on trad routes just damages the placements IMO, and should be reserved for when you've got several years experience under your belt!
> (In reply to Muel) thanks for that Muel. Sorry but I'm unfamiliar with a couple of terms: IMO, HVS and groundfall (do you mean he fell to the ground?)
Do some research and then come back knowing a little about the subject you are asking about.
We get a LOT of requests for masters/dissertations/etc on here, and whilst it's generally nice to put in a bit of effort to help people out it is kind of nice when the people asking the question have put in enough research to indicate that they actually care about and understand the responses.
..as opposed to a "fire and forget" where all the effort appears to being put in by the respondants.
A first time lead climber should be very familiar with all the basics which include proper knots,having all the gear,correct use of protection,route finding,how t build a bombproof belay and how to safely bring up a second climber.They should also be confident in their own ability to climb the route safely.
The list of NOT to do's could go on for pages and pages,but a novice is best to spend a lot of climbing hours around experienced climbers before attempting any serious leading.I would also recommend buying a book on how to climb and practicing building belay stations in your house.
In reply to John_Hat: Hi John, I apologise if you got the wrong impression from my response to Muel, I have done and intend to do a heck of a lot of research into the subject. I am pretty new to climbing, so thought this forum would be a good place to learn more about the sport. Thanks for your help anyways
In reply to margauxsmale: with regards to 'lead climbing', you'd want to break it down a bit more. As a rough guide, there's leading in a climbing centre; leading outside on sport routes; and leading outside on trad routes.
Each requires a bit more knowledge and equipment. Climbing centres typically have all the quickdraws in place, so you don't need to clean the route, and just need your own rope. Sport climbing outside requires your own quickdraws and rope, and to be able to place and retrieve them on a route. Trad climbing requires a varying amount of trad gear, depending on the routes you want to do, and the knowledge of how to use it safely.
1) Why people don't lead? Cost of the gear; cost of learning how to use it; cost of getting to crags if climbing outside; being happy enough bouldering or tope roping; trying it once and discovering it's scarier than having a top rope above you.
2) Dos/Don'ts - it's handy to become friends with somebody who has a solid amount experience of whatever leading you want to do. Courses are probably good (though I've never done one), but the cost will add up.
Starting in the climbing centre, then moving to outside sport, then onto outside trad is probably a good approach (though I can almost hear screams from those who started outside on trad). It does allow progressive spending on climbing gear, and knowledge can build up.
However, some people will find indoor leading and outdoor sport climbing too sanitised, so prefer going straight to outdoor trad.
A similar debate goes on on fishing forums re the "instant carper" who wants to go and catch a 30 lb fish on a ready made pack of gear he's bought from Argos. It's felt that these people would do well to start on small rivers, streams and ponds catching tiddlers and learning watercraft and safe fish handling...
Maybe the indoor climbers who can climb 6, and are used to "ticking" lots of plastic routes don't want to step down and appreciate the subtle beauty of a wet thrutchy mossy Vdiff.
Assuming you're talking about trad not sport, and outdoor rather than indoor leading?
There's a lot of relevant material in this other current thread, as well as the usual mix of insight, wisdom, pomp and prejudice. Of course, I don't know if are thinking that 'lead climbing' is about or includes indoors?
> 1) For what reason do people not start lead climbing and why should they ignore this excuse and do it anyway?
Because they don't like it or don't have the gear / someone to do it with. They should make an effort to do it because otherwise they haven't really ticked any routes.
> And also:
> 2) What should first time lead climbers DO and what should they NOT do?
They should put more gear in than they need to on a route they find so easy the climbing isn't really an issue. They should not fall off because half their gear placements are likely to be rubbish a bit fall with gear ripping is not a good introduction to leading.
1 Fear of falling, they will only ignore it by overcoming it
2 Place good protection, always with an eye for the direction of forces in the event of a fall, think about rope drag when going over corners, edges etc and extend if necessary. Don't overlace a route with protection to the extent that rope drag becomes a problem, think about how the protection will continue to protect your second on traverses -it's not just you that needs protecting. Keep well within your comfort zone so far as grade/technicality is concerned.
In reply to 999thAndy: Hi Andy, I have done, I did my first lead the other day. So I'm writing a personal experience piece tied in with some further information on leading for the first time. Loved it by the way. Hoping to build up and start outdoor leading when it gets a bit warmer..
* They have no sense of adventure
* They want to live in a health and safety world where everything is cushioned in cotton wool for them
* They see or hear about climbers falling a reasonable distance and it goes against their instincts to do the same
* It seems more complicated to belay a leader
* Their belayers are not experienced enough to safely belay a leader
Why should they ignore this excuse and do it anyway?
* Leading is more exciting
* It opens up so many more climbs to them
* With a good belayer and on the right route it is not much less safe than top-roping
* Leading is part of a natural progression which will lead to bigger and more interesting things
* Top roping isn't really climbing - you may as well be going up in a lift or cable car
* Setting up a top rope is more time-consuming than jumping on a route and leading it, so you will do more routes per day (and annoy less people being made to queue for a route)
2) What should first time lead climbers DO
* Read up as much as possible from reputable and up to date books and other sources eg internet (courses could be useful to supplement this)
* Practice setting up anchors at ground level before embarking on routes (trad)
* Practice clipping quickdraws so you know which way the rope should be orientated and don't back-clip
* Learn when it is a good idea to extend gear (trad)
* Learn the standard climbing calls and agree with partner which ones to use
* Wear a helmet, even on sport routes
* Build up a network of experienced climber friends/partners. Clubs & internet forums can be useful for this.
What should they NOT do?
* Z clip
* Carry just short quickdraws on a trad route
* Jump on a hard route before learning the nuts and bolts of how to protect it safely
* Expect a course to equip them fully as a trad leader - they need to do their homework too
In reply to cuppatea: I am looking more at sport climbing to start off with, as the feature is aimed at people new to the sport, but I'm going to make sure I am clear about the different types of climbing. Thanks for your feedback!