/ Going forward after starting to lead climb

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TheFasting on 29 Nov 2016
I recently passed an exam in Norway that gives me a certificate to lead climb and top rope on any climbing gym in Norway.

What would be the best path for progression for me? Should I lead every climb and slow push the grades up as I get better? Or should I lead what I feel comfortable with and then top rope the routes that feel hard?
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GrahamD - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

Or mix and match. Depends what you want to get out of it really.
jonnie3430 - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

I'm coming to the conclusion that the best way to progress climbing is to climb lots, not climb hard. You climb loads of easy and medium routes everytime you go to the wall, not just warm up then stare at route for ages. You might as well lead them, as it'll get your confidence and ability up at the sharp end up. Personally I'd rather top rope a route at the limit of my ability (it's nice to treat yourself every now and then, and also allows you to measure improvement,) in a wall, it would be very annoying to twist an ankle falling off something I could top rope.

Obviously different rules outdoor, except the "climb lots," one.
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planetmarshall on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to jonnie3430:

> I'm coming to the conclusion that the best way to progress climbing is to climb lots, not climb hard.

It's inevitably a bit of both, climbing is no different from most other things in this regard. You don't improve by doing the same thing all the time, but then you won't improve much by breaking your legs either. Sorry if that's not much help but it really isn't rocket science.

1poundSOCKS - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

Leading gives you more options:

* access to the steep routes at the gym (and likely many more routes if they're like the ones I go to)
* access to outdoor sport and trad, and everything else.

And it's more exciting. And the rope doesn't get in the way.

So I'd recommend mostly leading. When you're better, and can get on the steeper routes, think about trying stuff that you're likely to fall off. Then try hard and fall off. But make sure you know when you can fall, and have a trustworthy belayer. And take things at your own pace. If you want to rope-rope, then top-rope.
jonnie3430 - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:

> You don't improve by doing the same thing all the time, but then you won't improve much by breaking your legs either.

Sorry, my point was that working a hard route doesn't involve as much climbing as climbing many middle and easy routes. As you progress middle becomes easy and hard becomes middle, from a personal point of view, of course.

And though irrelevant, I think that you improve massively if you do the same thing all the time, or maybe that's just me?
davidbeynon on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to jonnie3430:

I think you can gain a lot from doing relatively easy routes perfectly. Instead of hauling yourself up you have the luxury of trying to use every hold in the best possible way.
ChrisBrooke - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:
As above, do a mix. Lead things you find easy, lead things you find hard, lead things at your limit. Top rope things you find hard and at your limit so you can experience making hard moves without the stress of falling off. Structure your session with a warm up period, so you can pull hard on the routes you're keen to try later in the session.

Train in a bouldering wall as well if available, if you want to get strong and improve your technique more quickly.

It really depends what you want from climbing. I've never 'trained' a day in my life, and it's taken me 20 years to get to where some keen youths could be in two years. Depends what your goals are.
Post edited at 16:17
Greasy Prusiks on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

Whichever you enjoy most.
Duncan Bourne - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

I am going to assume you mean trad here and on single pitch stuff. Though I suppose you could mean top-roping sports climbs too. I would say keep pushing the leads but I never found any harm in top-roping the odd harder climb to get a feel for the moves (not one I wanted to onsight I hasten to add). Better if you can find a partner who climbs harder than you.
The other thing is really to vary your climbing (in which case top roping may not be an option). Single pitch, bolted, trad, multi-pitch, mountain routes, sea cliffs etc. All have their own feel and place different pressures on the climber. Compare the commitment involved in a sea cliff abseil to being half way up a four pitch mountain crag or a hard single pitch onsight.
ModerateMatt - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

I think you have to question your reasons for wanting to climb better. If you simply want to climb 7b indoors there are many way to go about that boulder lots and get a fingerboard when you have been climbing for a couple years. The reason I strive to improve is so I can climb routes I aspire to do. I think the best way to improve is to simply climb what you like the look of then you will enjoy climbing and not get burnt out. Do as much climbing as you can is my number one tip for getting better. For me like most I was shooting to climb a certain grade but now I just go out climbing for the fun of it. Getting in this mindset is hard and sometimes I find myself falling back it my old way of thinking.
TheFasting on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to ModerateMatt:

Short term goal is just to be proficient at n6 grade. I haven't learned trad climbing yet and I suspect when I start this summer I'll start doing the easier stuff. But eventually I want to do some longer alpine routes that go up to n6. So even if I'll have to "restart" a bit to be comfortable in the beginning, I figure the better I've become the more comfortable I'll be on grades closer to n6.

Basically my goal is to just be very good at n6 (equals about E1 I think) multipitch.
ModerateMatt - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

If you want to be able to do lots of climbing in a day (alpine rock or long routes elsewhere) you need to have two things dialed: be very proficient at the grade especially if you are doing lots of pitche's (could be cold, hot, wet and you get tired), I'm guessing these routes are predominantly bolted you have in mind as there is a big difference between a long E1 route and a 6a multipitch sport route. Second thing is logistics kit you have with you, rope management, building belays, swapping leads all this stuff needs consideration in the mountains and if you are not slick you will take ages to do everything.

I can't stress enough do lots of easy stuff and if you want to do long routes in the mountains start of easy.

Oh and how hard you climb indoors has little bearing on your trad grade especially to start with.
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TheFasting on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to ModerateMatt:

Thanks. Yeah of course long-term I'd like to climb the classic north faces and such. However that's far in the future so no use thinking about it now. Short-term I have a few technical climbs in Norwegian alpine areas in mind, so up to 10 pitches where most of the climb is around VDiff with maybe one pitch or two of HS (n3 to n5-). I don't know if I can do those next season or a season after, we'll see. Anyway I think that should be doable fairly early, if I haven't misunderstood something? Hard to find routes that are easier, I usually climb VDiff rated routes without a rope.
springfall2008 - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

I'd climb whatever routes your gym has available and are within your grade range.

The way I usually do it is warm up slowly, then get some mileage on routes within my grade and then finish off pushing the grade up a little.

I'd certainly try to lead a decent number of routes, but if you are scared to push the grade then why not mix/match with top rope as well until you feel confident.
Mark Kemball - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

> ... Short-term I have a few technical climbs in Norwegian alpine areas in mind, so up to 10 pitches where most of the climb is around VDiff with maybe one pitch or two of HS (n3 to n5-)...

Before trying longer multipitch routes, it's a good idea to try some shorter climbs - 2 or 3 pitches. That way, you'll have the experience of placing gear, rigging belays and sorting out ropes etc. at stances. Once you and your climbing partner feel confident at that, then move on to longer stuff. Given good weather, this could be achievable in a season. It is very important that for longer climbs you and your partner have confidence in each other.
TheFasting on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to Mark Kemball:

Yeah I skipped that part maybe. The plan is first some short and easy stuff of course. After that it's longer and easy when we feel comfortable.

There's a route that's almost a rite of passage for beginner Oslo trad climbers from what I've learned, Via Lara in Nissedal. It's n4+, or Sev, at 8 pitches. People seem to do it to get a lot of mileage with placing gear.
Mark Kemball - on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

If you're in the Oslo area, then Bohuslan is not too far away - a great place to learn about crack climbing - something you can't really learn indoors. It's also good for placing gear, but is mainly single pitch.
C Witter on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:
If you've never tried trad leading, when you do your goals will change completely, as will your understanding of climbing. In the meanwhile, it probably doesn't matter what you climb; as long as you climb regularly (e.g. twice a week), you'll get better. Bouldering is good for physical exercise and technical moves. Leading will prepare you better mentally and tactically for leading. Top roping can be used strategically, to push at certain boundaries, but otherwise it is a bit like eating with a bad cold. And, if you value your climbing partner, don't spend a whole session "dogging" routes, as there's nothing more dispiriting than watching the clock tick away as your partner pours chalk down into your face, and exults in kidding themselves that they "can do all the moves" of a route because they've touched every hold, whilst relying on you to haul their ass up, as though climbing were an atheist campanology.... There is a special circle in hell intended for these people. Please excuse the venting!
Post edited at 09:23
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TheFasting on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to C Witter:

Yeah if I'm trying to send a route and fall then I just lower down and try again. I get that can be frustrating. First time I climbed n6 (6a sport I think, top rope), I climbed the whole thing except the top two holds 3-4 times before I got it.

From what I hear I will have to "start over" in a way when starting trad. I just figured the better climber I was at that point, the better I'd fare.

So what I'm getting from this thread is: Climb a lot (I also boulder once a week), lead a lot, maybe top rope some, and prepare for most of it not to matter when you start trad
springfall2008 - on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

> Yeah if I'm trying to send a route and fall then I just lower down and try again. I get that can be frustrating. First time I climbed n6 (6a sport I think, top rope), I climbed the whole thing except the top two holds 3-4 times before I got it.

That's unusual, most people will try the sequence over and over until they get it without starting again from the bottom, then go back and climb the whole route cleanly afterwards (if they can be bothered).

john arran - on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

If I'd just started a lead climb I'd be looking to go up rather than forward.
TheFasting on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to john arran:

Right. That'll be step 1 then. "Don't climb on flat ground".
French Erick - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

best thing to progress. Make friends with loads of climbers who go out often. That way, you can find out where reality lies between what you think you like/are good at and what you really need to work on/stay clear off.

For many years I thought I wanted to go on expeditions in the greater ranges. Now I know that I enjoy the sure hit of the 1/2 days climb and also that I am probably too soft for expeds. However I have never been on one but I found out that long winter days fulfill my hunger and I am not too keen on all the objective dangers and low success rate of expeditioning. Basically, I am not a true adventurer, just a keen climbing punter.
TheFasting on 02 Dec 2016
In reply to French Erick:

I'm member of a student climbing club and I keep meeting new people there, it's a great way to find other climbers. I guess as you climb more and more you eventually fall in to what you prefer the most. I still have lots of things to try before I find that out.
stp - on 04 Dec 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

I don't think it's necessarily good to lead every route.

If you top rope some routes you'll probably feel safer and able to push yourself harder, hopefully to the point where you fall off. Finding this limit is important. Then, when you lead climb, you'll have a better insight into whether you really pushed yourself as hard as you could or you backed down because you were a bit scared. Once you can recognize the difference should aspire to lead with the same level as effort as when you top rope. If you can close the gap sufficiently then top roping will eventually become redundant.
springfall2008 - on 06 Dec 2016
In reply to stp:

> I don't think it's necessarily good to lead every route.

> If you top rope some routes you'll probably feel safer and able to push yourself harder, hopefully to the point where you fall off. Finding this limit is important. Then, when you lead climb, you'll have a better insight into whether you really pushed yourself as hard as you could or you backed down because you were a bit scared. Once you can recognize the difference should aspire to lead with the same level as effort as when you top rope. If you can close the gap sufficiently then top roping will eventually become redundant.

Yes agreed, although nowadays with more experience I find I don't climb as well on top rope as on lead - it's hard to take top roping seriously...
TheFasting on 06 Dec 2016
In reply to TheFasting:
Well today I found out I'm too much of a whimp to lead so I just lead halfway up some routes top roped some more and then went home and felt sad.

So this thread was pretty pointless in that regard, I just naturally reverted to what you guys said

Edit: Whoops that was meant as a reply to Springfall
Post edited at 21:21
stp - on 06 Dec 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

Just try leading some easier routes then: lots of them. After a while you'll naturally find the challenge isn't enough any more and you want to try something harder.
MFB - on 07 Dec 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

There are loads of days when on the face of it you don't succeed, that's called mileage and your ability to deal with this will determine if you are a climber. You need to find the love in face of adversity.

To improve - climb a lot (you should leave the wall knackered), climb something 3 times a week, no pies
Post edited at 02:29
TheFasting on 07 Dec 2016
In reply to stp:

That's what I did actually. Tried leading the easiest route and got scared and lowered down from the third bolt.

Tried leading something I had done before that was a higher grade but very easy for the grade. Didn't feel scared about falling really but didn't remember how to climb it (probably got tunnel vision because I was still slightly scared) and lowered down off the third bolt again.

I've read a bit about it and considering I start out each session scared out of my mind on the first route and then calm down after I think I'll use that for warming up my mentality too. I'll do the easiest climb on lead. Climb up to the third bolt and fall slightly below the bolt. Climb up one hold higher and fall. Climb up two holds higher and fall. Clip the 4th bolt and fall below it etc.

Just keep falling my way up a route as the first 15 minutes of each session. I'll try that next.
Mark Kemball - on 07 Dec 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

Falling practice, much as you've described it, is a good idea. However, a few things to think about. I presume you are doing this on an indoor wall, do not try this before you've clipped at least the third clip, there is a risk of getting too close to hitting the floor! Overhanging climbs are best - you don't hit anything on the way down! As you are beginning to realise, climbing is as much about your state of mind as your physical fittness. Evolution has made us afraid of heights and falling (for very good reasons!) training youir mind not to worry about this is probably more important than training your muscles to pull hard.
TheFasting on 08 Dec 2016
In reply to Mark Kemball:

Oh yeah sure. Thankfully I had to learn that in the climbing exam I mentioned earlier. We did some falls to train last week and a long fall from the 4th bolt basically puts you at the first one.

But it will also give me something to focus on besides a fear of falling so I might get up my first route lead.

I really like this part of climbing though. I felt a bi of fear with toproping when I started out, and always bailed at about the third/fourth bolt. Since then I started getting over that and getting to the top. Now it's like I'm starting that fight with myself over again with lead climbing
springfall2008 - on 09 Dec 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

> Oh yeah sure. Thankfully I had to learn that in the climbing exam I mentioned earlier. We did some falls to train last week and a long fall from the 4th bolt basically puts you at the first one.

You can shorten the fall quite significantly with care from the climber and belayer, this can be more important outdoors when you have stuff to hit on the way down! But indeed more rope out = more stretch = bigger, but softer, fall.



Rock to Fakey - on 18 Dec 2016
In reply to TheFasting:
Opt for keep leading as well as top roping, and autobelays, but don't shy away from leading.

With leading, it's inevitable you will have to fall, from above gear.
Get on an easy route at your indoor climbing wall for you, if one's available, overhanging, climb to the 5th or 6th bolt or higher, and start getting a feel for little falls just above it progressing to feet level and above it.
Practice falling every climbing sesh on this and other routes. It takes lots of time for some people, 100's of falls, to start to relax about it, on safe gear, bolts , never mind trad gear.
Read Dave McCleods 9 out of 10 climbers, a bit waffley sort of, but has a whole chapter on falling.
He says if you only do it a little and think u have it sorted, you are probably wrong, and need to keep incorporating it in each session, if it doesn't just happen anyway.
You'll be ok with it sooner or later. It's a small thing one day.
The little falls feel worse than the bigger ones in the end. At 5th bolt level and above your belayer shouldn't be taking in tight when you shout "gonna fall", as a little slack at this height helps cushion the fall. At 1st to 3rd bolt slack should be kept minimal.
Post edited at 18:40
andrewmc - on 18 Dec 2016
In reply to rox to fakey:

Or you can not fall. You just won't get as good. I am (for now) happy with that...
TheFasting on 18 Dec 2016
In reply to rox to fakey:

I did that this week actually. For my warm-up I picked an easy route, climbed up to the 4th bolt, and "fell up" the route. First below the bolt then one move above it, then two, then clipping the 5th bolt etc.

On the climbs after it I felt much more relaxed, still a bit scared but not so much it crippled me. I think I will keep doing that as part of my warm-up.

Lead my first whole pitch and lead 5a for the first time.

There's a debate on whether they "count" because I didn't clip the top anchor, it didn't seem necessary after I got the top hold and the bolt was very close. But they count to me so it doesn't matter.
springfall2008 - on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

> There's a debate on whether they "count" because I didn't clip the top anchor, it didn't seem necessary after I got the top hold and the bolt was very close. But they count to me so it doesn't matter.

What do you mean by "count"?

If you were outdoors and failed to clip the top you would have to reclimb it until you could re-thread.

but

Indoors, you aren't in a climbing competition so the only person who cares is yourself right?

TheFasting on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to springfall2008:

Yeah that's what I thought.

But I'm wondering, would you really have to rethread to lower down on a sport route? If someone else will climb it after you can't you just clip in to the top and then lower down?
Rock to Fakey - on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to TheFasting:
Its good to try climb something that's a grade too hard for you so long as you pick something that you can part climb to the 3rd or 4th bolt ok, perhaps needing rests but you can do the moves between sections, perhaps not all in one go, before it becomes really so too hard for you that you get a section where you can only try really hard, but it's beyond you and you have no option but to keep falling there! The effort and concentration you put into trying can begin to distract from the fact you know will lob off, then it just happens, and u will hopefully think "ah, that wasn't so bad".
At least that's how it works for me on slightly overhanging stuff.
Anything vertical or slabby at a gym could be more scary as i'm aware of loads of holds that are not part of my route but are sometimes sizeable obstructions, so you hope to control missing them with a little jump outwards.

Always keep the rope in front of your legs, don't step between the rope and wall, as then with a fall it could flip you upside down.

Also, there's a great thread to read on clipping at the next bolt, rather than from below it, when possible, if more appropriate.....
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=652329

All your questions and answers to that will surely be in that thread, i hope!
Post edited at 21:13
Rock to Fakey - on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

Safer to have the rope re threaded, unless it's a screwgate, or two opossing snapgates., and you double check make sure you are safe before untying to rethread.
Some would lower on a single snap gate, just not so safe.
springfall2008 - on 20 Dec 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

> Yeah that's what I thought.

> But I'm wondering, would you really have to rethread to lower down on a sport route? If someone else will climb it after you can't you just clip in to the top and then lower down?

Normal practice is either to lower off with draws in place and pull the rope, which will allow the next person to lead, or to rethread and clean the route. You could also second the route if you put double quickdraws at the top but it maybe safer with two screwgates (for obvious reasons).

Like was said before there's no reason why you can't top rope it with draws in place instead, but normally someone top-roping maybe inexperienced as so you don't expect them to re-thread.

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