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Rock Climbing Training

How Much do You Trust Your Feet? Welcome to Chamonix Granite Rock Climbing!

"You can smear an edge but you can't edge a smear!" Climbing on smooth granite in the Chamonix Aiguilles requires faith in friction, gained through experience and good technique: Maintaining poise with small steps and the centre of gravity above the feet.

Learning to Lead Climb at Tremadog - Placing an Early First Runner

Note the crucial first runner (a pink cam) placed by the leaders chest. This is critical in avoiding a fall factor 2 whereby the leader climbs above the belay ledge and falls without placing a runner thus placing a huge load on the anchor and belayer. Even on long easy alpine routes....get that first runner in!

An Abseil High on Les Drus - Making Ropework More Efficient & Safe

It's cold, you're tired, hungry and just want to get down now....precisely the circumstances where you need to take your time and have efficient & safe systems for checking anchors and ropework. Always try to do a physical check with your belay plate - so it is loaded and tested before you unclip from the anchor and commit to the next abseil.

Steve McClure Demonstrates A Dropped Knee ('Egyptian') Position in Kalymnos

By opposing forces in the legs weight can be taken off the arms. This is most easily done by bridging (or stemming if you are American!) up a corner or groove. However the cunning, observant and technically skilled can make an opposing forces energy saving even on a wall where foot holds allow.

A Well Equalised Anchor at Froggat Edge in the English Peak District

Two anchors have been brought together with an equalised sling and then the rope has been used to equalise the three anchor points together. This means that the 3 anchors all share about the same amount of load and they are also independent if one anchor was to fail. The rope is run through the anchor point and then tied off to a screw gate carabiner on the harness (rope loop) with a clove hitch. Note that there is no slack in the system. Resistance to a load would be improved if the belayer sat down.

Double Runners to Safegaurd Topping out on 'The Pleasure Dome', Pembroke, S. Wales

The easy finish to this brilliant sea cliff climb has been protected with double anchor points to safeguard the slightly loose top out and offer some protection in the event of the leader falling off the top of the crag.

A Great Evening Top Out...But Beware the Descent!

Great Route, Top Out in the Sunset, perfect....and now for the most dangerous bit! Descending easy but exposed ground is often more dangerous than the climb itself, particularly when still wearing rock boots and on grass or mud. Maintain concentration and consider leaving the rope on if it will offer protection (if there are trees or boulders etc that will act as natural runners).

Full Body Contact in 'The Groove', Snowdonia, N. Wales

Here Sophie has her hips closer to the rock than her feet and is able to place a runner from a 'hands-free' rest. The left side of the the body is all adding friction and contributing to stability and relaxation when placing a runner on the lead, a great skill and often easier said than done!

What is Your Strategy for Racking Gear?

Having a logical system for where your hardware is stored on the harness is just one part of placing gear efficiently on the lead. The gear you use the most is best placed at the front on the side of your preferred hand. Bigger gear that is less often used goes further back with lots of quick draws and belay plates, prussiks etc. In this way you can locate the piece you want immediately, one handed and with out looking.

Placing Gear on the Lead - How Good at it are you?

Once the right piece is located from your harness how good are you at fiddling it in to the best possible position and much do you trust it afterwards? The best possible placement might still only be a poor 4/10 but that is better than a poorly placed poor placement at 2/10! An excellent excercise for folk without much leading experience is placing runners at the base of the crag, trying to get them as good as possible...with one hand, and then giving them a score out of 10.

Placing Protection Lead Climbing

Here Andy Houseman demonstrates rock craft with the use of lots of small wires and cams to protect some thin moves on Yorkshire limestone. Note the two runners equalised together on the right and backed up with another runner out of shot...safety in numbers!?

Time to 'Go For It!', Sport Climbing in the Scottish Highlands

Blair Fyffe climbing 'Tribeswoman' (7c+) in Glencoe. Bolt by the knee, fingers bearing down, teeth gritted...the time has come to trust your belay, commit to the moves and focus entirely on upward progress...even if it means falling off!

Lead Climbing Training

Picking a very well protected straight route with the moves well within your abillity level is a great way of gaining experience and confidence in your lead climbing skills. Also pick a competent and attentive belayer and place as much gear as you can. Here the mouth is used as a 'third hand' which is an essential part of leading on steep rock.

Attaching to an Anchor Whilst Multi-Pitch Rock Climbing

Totally adjustable clove hitches are used to attach the climbers to the anchor. Note the strong & comfortable position adopted by the belayers and the absence of any slack in the connection to the anchor, firstly with their ropes and then the slings used to equalise the 3 anchor points together to form a single attachment.

Extending Running Belays For a Smooth Running Lead Rope

A rising traverse in Snowdonia's Llanberis Pass necessitates liberal use of extendable quick draws. These are an essential part of the trad climbers rack, especially when climbing on a single rope as here. A tripled 4 foot sling gives an ideal extendable quick draw.

Trad Climbing Rack

This was the rack used to climb 'Right Wall' a super classic single pitch E5 (F6c) in Snowdonia's Llanberis Pass. Lots of extendable quick draws were used as well as small wires and cams. Several light weight slings were also useful for extending runners and the odd small spike. The hexes were not used!

Hanging Out on Steep Sea Cliff Rock

The steep and pumpy routes of 'Hunger' (E5) and 'Extinction' (E8) at Gogarth in North Wales being climbed by Blair Fyffe and Tim Emmet. As well as requiring both power and stamina routes like this require craft and cunning to place good runners swiftly and efficiently whilst hanging on. The advantage of routes this steep is that, if the runners are good there are no ledges to hit, as demonstrated by the angle of rock in relation to the camera mans (Ray Wood) rope!

In-Situ Gear....

Wherever you climb, a circumspect approach to the use of in-situ equipment is required. Pegs, nuts, slings or whatever you clip whilst leading should be inspected for damage and ideally backed up with your own gear. This rusty peg was found on the sea cliffs of North Wales. When a quick draw was clipped and tugged the peg fell apart! In-situ tape slings are particularly susceptible to U.V. damage and should ideally be replaced with rope which has a better resistance to U.V. damage.

Protecting Your Second on a Traverse...

"A Dream of White Horses"....An inspiring name, a brilliant route and an awesome environment to climb in. The final pitch is much easier than it looks but like any traverse, particularly a descending one the leader should remember to place runners both before, and then after, the harder moves. This gives the second a degree of protection from what could be a wild swinging pendulum fall and result in hanging in a lot of space above the sea...How are your prussiking skills?

Prussiking! A Worthwhile Skill for Climbers

Ascending a rope without prussiks? You are probably in for an epic! By carrying two light pieces of 5-6mm cord tied in to a loop a rope can easily be ascended in the event of a second hanging in space. Prussiks are also extremely useful for protecting abseil descents and in the event of a crag rescue situation. Get some and learn how to use them whilst hanging from a tree and not a big cliff!

Deep Sea Cliff Climbing in The Scottish Hebrides...

Climbing on Mingulay, an Island in the Scottish Hebrides, a fantastic adventure. Abseiling in to approach crags like this has an almost alpine scale of commitment. Be sure to protect the abseil rope over any sharp rock edges, safeguard your own abseil and have the means to re-ascend the rope if you are in the wrong place or the route is wet / too hard!

Alpine Rock Climbing Skills

Classic 'pitched' rock climbing techniques can become far too slow and inefficient on easy ground and moving together may be a much better option. In this even the ability to take 'alpine coils' and move together with runners or spikes of rock between climbers can offer an acceptable margin of safety but with much swifter progress. Practicing taking and dropping coils can be done in the living room but the trickier judgments of how best to manage the rope according to the type of terrain you are on requires judgement only refined with experience.

Alpine Rock Climbing in the Chamonix Aiguilles

Bolts, Pegs, Cams & Wires. Rock boots with socks, hoodie, light pack...and a splitter Chamonix granite crack. Les Lepidopteres, Aiguille du Peigne North Face