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General => Beginners Area => Topic started by: bentleyclimber on August 05, 2010, 04:15:11 PM

Title: Learning to climb trad
Post by: bentleyclimber on August 05, 2010, 04:15:11 PM
Hey, looking for suggestions on how to begin climbing trad without a mentor available. This summer was my first summer climbing outside (all top-roping), and the more I climb the more my desire to climb multi-pitch grows resulting in the realization that I need to get around to learning to climb trad. I recently bought a set of BD nuts 4-13 and have been placing them while on top rope to get a feel for setting them. I have also read John Longs book on anchors and Freedom of the Hills. Outside of hiring a guide to learn the basics are there any other recomendations? I've heard that the AMC can be helpful for this and if anyone has any information I would appreciate it. Spending the money on a basic rack isn't to much of an issue for me though I would like to get a bit of experience on different gear so I don't end up buying something I dislike. Thanks in advance for any help.

-Ben   (had accidentaly posted this in the bouldering forum and moved it when I realized)
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: meclimber on August 05, 2010, 05:49:50 PM
I think there may be a few threads on what to buy for gear, everyone has there preferences.  But sticking with BD to start and moving into more specialized pieces makes the most sense to me.  As far as learning I did what I feel most do, buy a few pieces and start leading well below what your toprope limit is.  Have fun be safe.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: DLottmann on August 05, 2010, 06:47:32 PM
There is always a mentor available somewhere. I would start by joining your local AMC Mountaineering Chapter. You won't learn as quickly as you could with a hired guide, but you can network and meet some pretty great informal teachers. Post up in partner forums here and on other climbing sites. There are usually guys willing to show a new guy the ropes, but I have heard my share of horror stories when some "experienced" climber took someone out to show them the ropes.

If the cost of a guided day or two is prohibitive, think about suggesting it as a gift from some loved ones. Parents, wives, etc. are often looking for a good birthday/Christmas present and a couple days with a climbing guide could really help you learn some key concepts.

Good luck, go slow, and have fun.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: strandman on August 05, 2010, 08:54:01 PM
I think the cost of someone like Kurt Winkler for a day (same as a couple cams) would be HUGE
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: bentleyclimber on August 06, 2010, 08:10:36 AM
Thanks for all the replies, much appreciated.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: little lil on August 06, 2010, 11:54:03 PM
Totally agree with DMan.  Expand your climbing community.  There's always a mentor around.

As for building a rack, if you don't know what you want then you're simply not ready yet.  Lead on other ppls racks first, find out which pieces work for you and which don't.  When I finally started building my rack, I knew exactly what I wanted and what I didn't want.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: Lancer786 on August 13, 2010, 11:17:13 AM
What type of indoor exercises are recommended before we start climbing?
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: M_Sprague on August 13, 2010, 12:13:20 PM
Anything for general conditioning should help, and also stretching. Pay attention particularly to your core. Of course climbing in the gym helps build your strength and you will be doing lots of moves, thereby building up your repertoire. You want to make sure you don't overdo the steep climbing though as your muscles will develop much faster than the connective tissues like ligaments and tendons. If you don't let them catch up to the muscles you can develop joint problems. Some pull-ups might help in the beginning , but I think they tend to make you climb dumb, over relying on your arms. Fore general toughening you could try iron crotch training http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI8vFfy1_IY&feature=player_embedded (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI8vFfy1_IY&feature=player_embedded)
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: sneoh on August 13, 2010, 12:42:29 PM
1.  General conditioning should help, and also stretching.
2.  Pay attention particularly to your core.
3.  You want to make sure you don't overdo the steep climbing though as your muscles will develop much faster than the connective tissues like ligaments and tendons.
4.  Some pull-ups might help in the beginning , but I think they tend to make you climb dumb, over relying on your arms.
I TOTALLY agree with Mark on the four major points above.  A lot of climbers do not pay enough attention to the 2nd.

You may want to skip the Iron Crotch training, for now. :)
Mark, where do you find these things??!!

Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: M_Sprague on August 13, 2010, 02:31:13 PM
Hey, it works...the power of chi. Obviously, don't start with 450 lbs or you may have an unpleasant surprise. I don't recommend the more dynamic exercises until you have worked up to it
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: Lancer786 on August 14, 2010, 01:44:33 PM
Thanks for tips, can you kindly explain the 'core' a bit? what do you exactly mean by paying attention to core?
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: sneoh on August 14, 2010, 02:01:29 PM
Here's my interpretation; core - upper abs, lower abs, lower back, buttocks, quadriceps.  Keep them strong and in shape.
Climb without letting your core 'sag' , esp on vertical and overhung routes.
I like to think it is the core that 'brings together' the effort exerted by one's arms and legs to enable one to make vertical progress on a route.

Hope this helps.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: meclimber on August 15, 2010, 10:03:06 AM
good description, any real 'cross-training you will find to be very helpful.  Endurance and core training.  Check out Gym Jones or Mtn project, they are Mark Twights's and the Exum Ridge guide services training palns and have fantastic tips for what you need.  Also knowinf 'what' you are training for is huge.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: steve weitzler on August 15, 2010, 09:00:59 PM
Drink beer, eat pizza, go climb. Drink more beer, eat more pizza, climb again!!! Why sweat the details.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: Jeff on August 15, 2010, 10:30:44 PM
I'm with Steve!! If it works why change it? Of course I can't climb anything harder than moderate these days (moderate= 5.9+ according to the boys in the gym) but that's always been an interesting grade in NH, so ... Beer and Pizza it is ( and not your damn yellow fizz either!) 8)
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: strandman on August 16, 2010, 10:07:47 AM
Of course motivation is very key. "If get this route, I'm drinkin" . The only issue is that harder/serious routes may require harder drinkin'   ;D
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: epoch on August 17, 2010, 07:13:50 AM
Of course motivation is very key. "If get this route, I'm drinkin" . The only issue is that harder/serious routes may require harder drinkin'   ;D
Eyem know engrish teeacher, but yor grammar sucks!
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: JBro on August 17, 2010, 09:10:07 AM
If you have the time and cash to drive down there a lot, the Gunks is really a great place to learn how to trad climb, especially if you don't have more experienced folks to climb with. As long as you know the basics about placing safe gear and building anchors, you can start at 5.1 and work your way up through the grades. And the easy routes don't suck like they usually do in most other areas.

Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: bentleyclimber on August 17, 2010, 09:15:50 AM
I ended up going the self-taught path; read john longs book on anchors, bought some basic gear and sewed up my first 5.4. It was an absolute blast and I'm still alive to boot.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: strandman on August 17, 2010, 09:28:32 AM
Eyem know engrish teeacher, but yor grammar sucks!
Too much drinkin' and serious routes I reckon
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: llamero on August 17, 2010, 07:36:09 PM
I ended up going the self-taught path; read john longs book on anchors, bought some basic gear and sewed up my first 5.4. It was an absolute blast and I'm still alive to boot.

This is similar to how I moved from indoor to outdoor.  I read two really good guide books to get different perspectives on how to use pro (yes, there are different techniques that are equally valid, you just have to find what works for you).  I also read the "Accidents In North American Mountaineering" journals to learn what could go wrong, and how to prevent these problems.  I then went down to Monument Cove (a bouldering area) and practiced gear placements, anchor building and escaping belays.  Also, since I was going to be climbing at Otter Cliffs, I practiced rope ascending by simply setting up a rope in the tree and working my way up.

Finally, after feeling comfortable with all the systems, I setup an anchor atop "In the groove" (5.5) at Otter Cliffs and climbed it clean in the first go despite being understandably nervous.  Been climbing ever since, and it's been more fun each time I go.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: DLottmann on August 18, 2010, 03:43:21 PM
This is similar to how I moved from indoor to outdoor.  I read two really good guide books to get different perspectives on how to use pro (yes, there are different techniques that are equally valid, you just have to find what works for you).  I also read the "Accidents In North American Mountaineering" journals to learn what could go wrong, and how to prevent these problems.  I then went down to Monument Cove (a bouldering area) and practiced gear placements, anchor building and escaping belays.  Also, since I was going to be climbing at Otter Cliffs, I practiced rope ascending by simply setting up a rope in the tree and working my way up.

Finally, after feeling comfortable with all the systems, I setup an anchor atop "In the groove" (5.5) at Otter Cliffs and climbed it clean in the first go despite being understandably nervous.  Been climbing ever since, and it's been more fun each time I go.

I believe ANAM is one of the best yearly publications a new climber can read to get aquatinted with all the potential mistakes one can make. Learning from others mistakes is a most valuable tool.

I also studied Freedom of the Hills and How to Rock Climb by John Long. These two texts, plus trying to climb with experienced peers, and perhaps 1 or 2 private guided lessons a year can greatly increase your learning curve and safety margins during your first couple years learning the ropes.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: little lil on August 18, 2010, 05:25:10 PM
and watch cliffhanger   ;)
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: sneoh on August 18, 2010, 06:40:25 PM
and watch cliffhanger   ;)
Where can I buy one of them bolt "guns" the Stallone character used in the film; it installs bolt *and* hanger with one squeeze of the trigger.  NICE.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: Joe_Re on August 18, 2010, 08:24:17 PM
Where can I buy one of them bolt "guns" the Stallone character used in the film; it installs bolt *and* hanger with one squeeze of the trigger.  NICE.

I haven't seen the movie, but I hear Stallone was so badass, he didn't even clip the bolts.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: little lil on August 19, 2010, 12:21:21 AM
I haven't seen the movie, but I hear Stallone was so badass, he didn't even clip the bolts.

and climbs ice with his bare hands.  could have saved the money for my ice tools and just toughened up a little instead.   :-\
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: Joe_Re on August 20, 2010, 08:44:37 AM
and climbs ice with his bare hands.  could have saved the money for my ice tools and just toughened up a little instead.   :-\

Something to aspire to.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: bentleyclimber on August 27, 2010, 09:19:22 AM
Hey, I'm looking for some tips for rope management at hanging belays. I was practicing building belays and swinging leads at a local crag and realized that I had no technique to handle the situation and quickly had a mess of rope with strands hanging 30 feet down. Thanks for any advice.

-Ben
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: llamero on August 27, 2010, 09:32:26 AM
This is a pretty good solution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/78647489@N00/2899374005 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/78647489@N00/2899374005)

You can either pass it through a sling on the anchor as in the photo, or across your lap if you're sitting a little ways away from the anchor.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: DLottmann on August 27, 2010, 03:30:12 PM
Hey, I'm looking for some tips for rope management at hanging belays...

At a true hanging belay lap coil the rope over your tie-in. If swinging leads start with bigger loops on each side working to smaller loops. This will feed off better for the next lead. If leading in blocks start with small loops and work to bigger loops. After 2nd ties in carefully "flip" the whole stack over onto their anchor attachment. The small loops should feed smooth for the next lead.

With a little practice this is easy. If the wall below is smooth with zero chance of a catch you can make some huge loops. If there is a ledge use it and just make a rope pile. The "pancake" flip takes a bit of practice but re-stacking only takes 45 seconds.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: Jeff on August 27, 2010, 07:31:53 PM
Dave, does BD make a proper sized spatula for the "pancake flip"? Inquiring minds...  ;D
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: lucky luke on November 22, 2010, 11:31:43 AM
Hey, looking for suggestions on how to begin climbing trad without a mentor available. This summer was my first summer climbing outside (all top-roping), and the more I climb the more my desire to climb multi-pitch grows resulting in the realization that I need to get around to learning to climb trad.

I learned without mentor. There was few good climber in Quebec when I learned and it hapened often that I was the only party on three cliff as big as cathedral. When you look at the evolution of equipment, you have the pins (piton), the bolt boat in england, the first stopper, stopper with camming effect, hex with a camming effect, tricam and, when you put two tricam back to back, you have a cam. So, we have an evolution from bolt boat to cam ...and from pitons to bolt. Bolt are not a sport part of equipment, but in the line of the evolution of trad.

So: I place my stopper so I climb trad is false. There is many other kind of protection that people never use because they are too complicated. Keep it simple. Actually, the use of the equipment is so simple that a stupid climber like me can understand how they work.

The real meaning of trad is in the strategy to climb the cliff. In Quebec, I just have a line in a photo and a number 5.7. I had to climb a cliff of 400 meters with a partner who know less than me and nobody around to save my ass. Stategy, fall factor, evaluation of the solidity of the rock are somethink that can not be teach, but you can learn it only by looking at an experience climber. At cathedral, they have those climber who climb 5.8 or 5.9 with a lot of experience and the desire to climb.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: bentleyclimber on November 22, 2010, 11:45:05 AM
Funny to see this thread revived. Over the past three months I've read everything I could and taught myself to lead. I've only led 50-60 pitches of trad (mostly single pitch with the addition of one gunks trip and one whitehorse trip) and am starting to feel a bit more comfortable. That said, I made one of my biggest mistakes yet on saturday, I let my ego get the best of me and ran it out more than was needed at the end (Zipper, Red Rocks MA) and slipped a foot causing me to whip a solid 20 feet onto a blue tcu. I looked up very happy that the cam held and then at my belayer and she was nearly in tears. Was a good experience, though not one I'd like to repeat to soon.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: MAmedic on November 22, 2010, 12:12:57 PM
Whipper on the Zipper! Glad to hear your ok.  That has been a first or early trad lead for climbers for on the Northshore for a long time.  One word of caution, be careful what gear you place near the top.  I saw the aftermath of someone placing a cam under the little (formerly) expando flake at the top of the climb.  she whipper, cam broke the rock, she fell.  The person teaching her how to place gear didnt mention how much force caming force is.  Try it on all passive gear sometime.  Its a great experience.
Title: Re: Learning to climb trad
Post by: lucky luke on December 04, 2010, 08:50:32 PM
That said, I made one of my biggest mistakes yet on saturday, I let my ego get the best of me and ran it out more than was needed at the end (Zipper, Red Rocks MA) and slipped a foot causing me to whip a solid 20 feet onto a blue tcu.

20 feet, so you was at 10 feet over your pro. Quite natural for a trad climber. If you try ant's line, the crux is protectable, but you lost a lot of energy and have to be take on your cam if you are not strong enought. The game is to push and place a pro at ten or more feet over the crux. Is it a mistake?

In one case, you lost power, on the other you have a longer fall and more fun and proudness if you succeed. Notice that you fall in the air, without chances to be on a ledge. It is a decision that a person have to take. if I feel weak, I will put more pro because I can not control the situation, if I am in good shape, I will plan where to jump without pro. Same person, two different situation, that is the game of trad, no rules to follow like a line of bolt, just decision.

If this can help you, try to do aid climbing. You are going to be more confident on your pro. if you climb some hard aid, where two or three pro are questionable in a row, you are going to be more aware of the possibility of a fall. real couragfe is when you know the danger and use your skill to make it safe, not to ignore the danger to be bolt