It’s a bright Saturday morning in Boulder Canyon and you’ve woken up early and gotten first dibs on your chosen route. You have picked a jaggy granite 100-foot crag with a slight overhang about half way to the anchor. It’s rated a 5.7 with a 5.8 crux that might test your leading skills but be reassured – there is an abundance of handholds. You waste no time racking gear and ascending your first lead to shiny two bolts that mark the anchor. As expected, you struggle with the slight overhang for a couple of minutes working to place protection above you. Now it’s time to try some new stemming techniques you’ve been working on. At last, you’re able to successfully traverse the awkward angle. As your rapping down, you take notice of two specs moving 100-feet up on the adjacent wall. They are climbing a 4-pitch multi-pitch that will likely take them all day and surely push them to their limits. And just like that, you have the itch to begin climbing multi-pitches and reach the great heights.
To begin to climb
Starting multi-pitch climbing is a phase that all serious climbers will advance through. It’s a process of learning new techniques and gaining knowledge as climbing becomes more complex and time consuming. It is true that climbing multi-pitches can be trickier, but in reality the key is experience and patience for yourself and your climbing partner.
The anatomy of multi-pitch climbing
The basics of multi-pitch climbing consists of a climber leading the route first placing protection (bolts & cams) until they get to the first anchor. Once there, they attach themselves and the rope to the anchor. They will then have to manage their half of the rope before putting the second climber on belay with it. Once the second climber is on belay below them, they are free to ascend and clean the protection from the first climbers lead. Once both climbers are bolted into the first anchor, they then have to decide who will lead the second pitch. Usually since the second climber will have all the equipment and rope managed for them they will lead. If the second climber is less experienced at leading, they can move the rope so and re-rack their gear so the first climber can lead again. Once both climbers make it to the last pitch you both can rappel down or if the route has a walk off option, simply hike down. This process can be difficult and time consuming for even the most experienced of climbers, but if you are looking to take your climbing to the great heights and become a legitimate trad-climber, you will eventually take the leap…
So what are you waiting for?
By Carolyn Dean