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Single vs Multi-Pitch ?'s
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cmn003


Jun 14, 2013, 11:06 AM
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Single vs Multi-Pitch ?'s
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(Hi, I'm new to climbing and have spent all my time in a gym. By now I've realized this is something I want to spend my life doing, and am just researching some goals, so I have some vision for where I'm going with this in the future. These are just some questions where Google wasnt coming across very clear... Thanks in advance to anyone who answer! Cool)

- Single Pitch vs Multi-Pitch SPORT Climbing - What is the "danger" increase going from single to multi? Of course, everything has inherent risks, and risks should be calculated based on research, training, safety measures, etc. but as a general rule some thinks are inherently more dangerous than others. (alpine expedition more risky than gym climbing, for an extreme example) so I'm just looking for some experienced common-language responses from you guys on about how much risk increase there is to get into multi pitch.

Lastly, what is the general height "threshold" where it goes from single to multi pitch? I guess this is a factor of what is the longest rope you can buy.. or is there more to it than that?

Thanks! :)


ChaseLeoncini


Jun 14, 2013, 12:40 PM
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It sounds to me like you are coming from a gym with little to no outdoor experience but would like to further your skills and pursue longer climbs. Understand that all climbing is dangerous, sport or not, and that just because your pro won't fail (hopefully) doesn't mean there isn't room for error and accidents. Before multi, you should be ready to deal with dangerous situations that might arise on your particular route. The danger level is based upon your training and experience (as you said). For example, you drop your only belay device at the 5th pitch anchor and you also realize that you can not be lowered back to your belayer because you are out of reach. What do you do? Now you're in danger.
Working towards multi-pitch, it shouldn't take you too long to send your first one, but don't go if you think you can just wing it. You would probably be able to finish the climb but your new found confidence might land you... well it might land you. Be careful out there.
If you have the skill, training, knowledge, etc. than multi should be generally pretty safe. (Of course there are always variables that might lead to some bad situations, i.e. wind, rain, falling rock)
Practice, you'll be there soon. And when you summit your first it will feel amazing!

Also, your second question. Multi goes to multi when there are multi pitches needed. A good idea (for multi-trad) might be to climb until there is 50 feet or so of rope remaining and then look for your nearest possible belay spot. When it's an all sport route (including anchors), you'll usually see the bolts to anchor into.

Hope this helps...


(This post was edited by ChaseLeoncini on Jun 14, 2013, 12:44 PM)


potreroed


Jun 14, 2013, 12:44 PM
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The first thing you're going to find out is that there isn't a lot of multi-pitch sport climbing out there.

The main increase in danger is the fact that you have to get down which involves rappelling. Rapping isn't really all that much more dangerous than anything else you do in climbing except that you're usually doing it at the end of a long climb when you are getting tired and hungry and dehydrated and it's getting dark and cold and all those things gang up on you so you have to be extra careful to not make any mistakes.

You also have to make sure before you start up whether you can get off with a single rope or if you need to bring another rope. Which should answer your question about a length threshhold. The length of the pitches on a multi-pitch climb are usually determined by where the good belay ledges are so it's important to get good beta beforehand so you know whether you need to bring another rope.

It's also important to be aware that you need to learn and practice self rescue skills because things do get more complicated the higher you are off the deck. It's one thing to lower an injured climber off a single pitch and quite another when you are 10 pitches up a wall.


lkeegan


Jun 14, 2013, 12:48 PM
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cmn003 wrote:
Lastly, what is the general height "threshold" where it goes from single to multi pitch? I guess this is a factor of what is the longest rope you can buy.. or is there more to it than that?

Thanks! :)


I feel like it should be added that rope length is one factor, but just going out and buying an 800ft rope doesn't necessarily make you want to make everything a single pitch climb. Rope drag is a huge problem so there will be some routes that have a 30 foot pitch because its a traverse or it makes for really bad rope drag. Doesn't mean that you couldn't combine two pitches into one, you just might not want to.


Marylandclimber


Jun 14, 2013, 12:53 PM
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potreroed wrote:
The first thing you're going to find out is that there isn't a lot of multi-pitch sport climbing out there.

The main increase in danger is the fact that you have to get down which involves rappelling. Rapping isn't really all that much more dangerous than anything else you do in climbing except that you're usually doing it at the end of a long climb when you are getting tired and hungry and dehydrated and it's getting dark and cold and all those things gang up on you so you have to be extra careful to not make any mistakes.

You also have to make sure before you start up whether you can get off with a single rope or if you need to bring another rope. Which should answer your question about a length threshhold. The length of the pitches on a multi-pitch climb are usually determined by where the good belay ledges are so it's important to get good beta beforehand so you know whether you need to bring another rope.

It's also important to be aware that you need to learn and practice self rescue skills because things do get more complicated the higher you are off the deck. It's one thing to lower an injured climber off a single pitch and quite another when you are 10 pitches up a wall.

You didn't mention Potrero that time! But all kidding aside that's a great reply.


jeepnphreak


Jun 14, 2013, 1:00 PM
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The BIG difference is TIME. I useally figure that for two people its an average of 45-60 minute a pitch depending length and speed of the climber (this is just an average from My experience based on routs Iam familiar with my area). along with the time needed to complete the rout and get down there is useally more stuff above you to be aleart about, ledges have rocks that can come loose, another team above you may send something down your direction.
there is heat, sun burn, cold, dehydration and hunger that you have to plan for.
The really nice thing about sport is that the rapels are really streight forward.
Then there is the approach it may be a few minutes or a hour or more that you may need to plan for.
I find that finding someone that has done the route before make a great resource and can give you bata that can make or break a trip.


cmn003


Jun 14, 2013, 1:14 PM
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Hey everyone, thanks for the thorough answers. I think I'm understanding about the next level of dedication it would take to climb multi-pitch. some great things to consider.

I'm still trying to understand about the height "threshold" between single and multi-pitch climbing.

I was expecting the answers would be something like "anything over _____ ft is generally considered multi-pitch" but again maybe its not that simple?

What lkeegan said about the 800 ft rope was very interesting. It sounds like ropes can get really freaking long! So what is generally advisable as the length for one pitch for vertical or overhung routes?

I hope I'm making sense. Basically what I'm getting at is how tall of routes will I be able to climb sticking with only single pitch sport climbing for a few years? I guess I could throw top-roping in there too.

Thanks again!


bearbreeder


Jun 14, 2013, 1:28 PM
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go with someone experienced who knows what they are doing and learn ...

if you do it properly its not MUCH more dangerous ... rockfall, rap accidents, falling, etc ... all exist in cragging situations

the main risk is that you can just lower off and run away .... if something should happen, if the weather should change, if your rope gets stuck on rap .... you need to know what to do ... and you should be able to climb quickly and efficiently, none of this yap all day do a few easy pitches taking yr time cr@p

you can tell very quickly the people who do multi alot, and those who dont by their ropework and efficiency ... go with someone who knows what they are doing

Wink


ChaseLeoncini


Jun 14, 2013, 1:49 PM
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In relation to what Keegan was saying, when multi-pitching it isnt just about height.

Picture this, you climb up 75 feet and there is no where to go but right. If you travel 30 feet right and then continue up again your rope will be zig-zagging through draws and it will be very difficult to continue (called "rope drag").
To avoid rope drag you would set your anchor before the "traverse" (part where you went right) an bring up your second (partner).
So, even though you have a 200 foot rope, your first pitch was only 75 feet.
Now let's say your next pitch goes straight up to the summit 200 feet higher and theres no where to anchor in between. You climb to the summit and bring up your buddy. But now how do you get down? Your rope length is now halved when you rappel leaving 100 feet of air between the tips of your rope and the only anchor. You would need two ropes or a 400 foot one.
For single pitch routes, to determine max height, it would depend on your plan. If youre to bring someone up and walk off you could climb the full length of your rope. But, if you wanted to rappel or TR from it your max would be half the length of your rope.

i would definitely insist that you study more about climbing or seek a more experienced person to help you out. You might be able to learn from the internet but it will take you a long long time to get the answer youre looking for.


(This post was edited by ChaseLeoncini on Jun 14, 2013, 1:53 PM)


billl7


Jun 14, 2013, 1:59 PM
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cmn003 wrote:
I'm still trying to understand about the height "threshold" between single and multi-pitch climbing.

I was expecting the answers would be something like "anything over _____ ft is generally considered multi-pitch" but again maybe its not that simple?

It's almost that simple.

You probably understand that a pitch is something a leader covers before anchoring somehow. Just think about all the things that might drive the length of a typical pitch:

* Sure, the height of the cliff matters but isn't really a general factor since there are some mighty tall cliffs out there.
* Also think of how much gear a leader would need to carry to do an 800 foot pitch if they were placing every 10 feet. All that weight makes it not very fun, hard, and/or perhaps impossible to make vertical progress (depends on difficulty of climb).
* What about communication? Not everyone likes to carry radios? Across what distance can a belayer and a leader adequately communicate by voice on an average day - or even by rope tugs.
* Yeah, gear for 800 feet gets lighter as you go up placing it but you are also holding more and more rope up off the ground!
* Rope drag factors in as well (e.g., friction from the rope sliding over rock or through biners). Rope drag can keep you from going more than 50 feet if you don't know a little something about what you are doing. And with experts, rope drag could easily be a show stopper on an 800 foot pitch.

On the other extreme, why not real short pitches? I think this is simpler. People typically enjoy covering vertical ground for a stretch. Not so much an attraction for many is getting to the base of the climb and then later anchoring in and / or rigging for lower off. So going super short on pitch length just doesn't bring a lot of return on investment. May as well forget about pitches and just boulder without gear.

So, there is a simple idea of an average pitch length and it probably grew out of considerations like the above. I tend to think that number is 100 feet. But there are certainly numerous pitches out there longer than that with many greater than 200 feet and then some less than 50 feet. The variability in pitch length has a lot to do with the above variables and combinations of them.

Anyway, if you can accept that vague notion of a "pitch", then multi-pitch is just needing to do more than one pitch to finish a route. But it does add significant complexity over single-pitch.

Bill L


curt


Jun 14, 2013, 5:21 PM
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Additionally, the forces possible in a fall on a multi-pitch climb are much higher. This may not be much of an issue from an anchor standpoint (since you're asking about sport routes) but the forces the belayer could have to deal with when arresting a leader fall could be much higher.

Curt


billl7


Jun 14, 2013, 8:09 PM
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cmn003 wrote:
Basically what I'm getting at is how tall of routes will I be able to climb sticking with only single pitch sport climbing for a few years? I guess I could throw top-roping in there too.
Why do you ask? Are you trying to decide what rope-length to buy? Just have a thing about saying how many feet you were above the ground? Something else?

It's hard to predict. It depends some one whether the theoretical single-pitch route ends at the top of a cliff where one can walk off; in that case one might lead a pitch that uses up the entire rope. Or, if one needs to lower/rap off some anchors mid-cliff then we're probably talking about a pitch where the leader reaches an anchor before half the rope is out.


cmn003


Jun 15, 2013, 7:36 AM
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Thanks for your great replys.

The reason I ask is to kind of pinpoint a goal for where I'm headed, which will then let me know what shoes to buy, rope length to save for, how to train all that. Just setting goals.

Very interesting about toping out versus being lowered down. I'm about to show off how much of a beginner I am here, but I never imagined you'd climb to (almost) the full length of the rope. I figured you always needed double the length to lower back down. So help me out here; you're 80% of the way up your pitch, which is also about 80% of your rope, and you just can't do it. You're totally exhausted and can't finish the climb. How do you get down?

Thanks, and yes total beginner, all my time in a gym! (Ab 7 months)


billl7


Jun 15, 2013, 8:36 AM
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cmn003 wrote:
So help me out here; you're 80% of the way up your pitch, which is also about 80% of your rope, and you just can't do it. You're totally exhausted and can't finish the climb. How do you get down?
Can you pull on gear to get your way through the part that is giving you trouble? If not, you need skills and gear to build insitu anchors. By the way, a best practice is that an "anchor" in this case is not just one bolt. And many other important details of how to do the below are left out. Hopefully the main point here is that even on "single-pitch" one can be faced with engaging relatively complex contingencies ...

One could build an anchor, attach, and bring up one's partner and let him/her finish the route ... sort of making a single-pitch route into a multi-pitch route.

The other option of going down is more complicated assuming you can't down climb while cleaning the protection (i.e., reversing the lead). Plus, hopefully, you and your partner are already aware of the real danger here of your partner lowering you off the end of the rope (i.e., rope end passes through belay device and leader free falls to deck).

Anyway, since one is at 80% of the rope, one likely can't be lowered to a point less than half a rope length up from the belayer. So going down will be a repeated process of lowering as much as practical to where you can build and attach to an anchor, pulling the rope from protection points above, and being lowered or rapping to next anchoring spot or eventually to the deck.

And you are going to leave gear behind (at least temporarily).

Bill L

P.S. There are other possibilities as well. Like, if other competent folks are around, maybe they could drop a fixed line from above allowing you to rap on it and clean your gear in the process.


(This post was edited by billl7 on Jun 15, 2013, 8:37 AM)


billl7


Jun 15, 2013, 8:48 AM
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I'll add to the above that for getting down a sport route, an "anchor" could make use of two lead bolts and possibly not ever going off belay. Again, lots of important details are left out of my last post.


ChaseLeoncini


Jun 15, 2013, 10:15 AM
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For fully bolted routes where the bolts are obviously bomber, You could ask to lower, clean as many bolts as possible on the way down, when your belayer says theres 10 feet left, clip yourself into another bolt, rethread rope through the gear and tie back-up fig-8 knot to your harness belay loop, untie your main tie-in and pull the rope from the top piece and re-tie in at the tip of your rope. Now you can most likely be lowered to your last anchor and youve only lost 1-2 quickdraws. (If it makes you feel safer you can always switch lockers to your draws)

Kind of difficult to explain but hopefully you get it. I definitely wouldn't recommend this technique without reading more about how to do it.
Self-Rescue books will help.

EDIT:
Bill said this in of his paragraphs, i missed that. My apologies.

Also, if your partner is tied into the other end of the rope (as is proper) you should never be able to be lowered off the end of the rope.

Best climbing book (out of the 10 i own) is Self Rescue by David Fasulo. Its published by Falcon Guides and is sold at many climbing shops.

Others that are great are:
How to Rock Climb - John Long (You all saw that comin)
Climbing anchors 2nd edition - John Long (that one too)
The mountaineering Handbook - Craig Connaly
Freedom Of The Hills - forget who wrote that one cant find it
Climbing knots - peter owen (im sure any knot book will suffice)
How to Big Wall - Chris McNamara

Theres more i just cant find them and these are the best anyhow.
Good luck.


(This post was edited by ChaseLeoncini on Jun 15, 2013, 10:24 AM)


lkeegan


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cmn003 wrote:
Thanks for your great replys.

The reason I ask is to kind of pinpoint a goal for where I'm headed, which will then let me know what shoes to buy, rope length to save for, how to train all that. Just setting goals.

Very interesting about toping out versus being lowered down. I'm about to show off how much of a beginner I am here, but I never imagined you'd climb to (almost) the full length of the rope. I figured you always needed double the length to lower back down. So help me out here; you're 80% of the way up your pitch, which is also about 80% of your rope, and you just can't do it. You're totally exhausted and can't finish the climb. How do you get down?

Thanks, and yes total beginner, all my time in a gym! (Ab 7 months)



If this is what you're really interested in, there are plenty of good books on it. Here are a few I've played around with:

http://www.falcon.com/books/self-rescue-2nd

http://www.amazon.com/Climbing-Self-Rescue-Improvising-Mountaineers/dp/089886772X

and of course the bible: http://www.amazon.ca/Mountaineering-Freedom-Of-Hills-Anniversary/dp/1594851387


majid_sabet


Jun 17, 2013, 2:18 PM
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cmn003 wrote:
(Hi, I'm new to climbing and have spent all my time in a gym. By now I've realized this is something I want to spend my life doing, and am just researching some goals, so I have some vision for where I'm going with this in the future. These are just some questions where Google wasnt coming across very clear... Thanks in advance to anyone who answer! Cool)

- Single Pitch vs Multi-Pitch SPORT Climbing - What is the "danger" increase going from single to multi? Of course, everything has inherent risks, and risks should be calculated based on research, training, safety measures, etc. but as a general rule some thinks are inherently more dangerous than others. (alpine expedition more risky than gym climbing, for an extreme example) so I'm just looking for some experienced common-language responses from you guys on about how much risk increase there is to get into multi pitch.

Lastly, what is the general height "threshold" where it goes from single to multi pitch? I guess this is a factor of what is the longest rope you can buy.. or is there more to it than that?

Thanks! :)

chances of injuries and even death on single pitch of any sport climbing or even trad is by far higher than climbing on multi pitch of similar type and grade and that has to do with laws of physics and potential of decking on the first pitch due to bad belaying, excessive slack etc.


ChaseLeoncini


Jun 17, 2013, 3:20 PM
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In reply to:
chances of injuries and even death on single pitch of any sport climbing or even trad is by far higher than climbing on multi pitch of similar type and grade and that has to do with laws of physics and potential of decking on the first pitch due to bad belaying, excessive slack etc.

Please explain in more detail. Im trying to put the pieces together on how multi-pitch trad route is less dangerous than a single pitch trad route of same grade and style.

I can think of your reason, which is a good one, ill give you that, but not many others.


marc801


Jun 17, 2013, 6:07 PM
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This sure got bogged down in minutia and tangents relative to the OP. Apologies if this has been mentioned (but I don't think it has) as I've only skimmed the thread, but....
A climb becomes multi-pitch once you need to climb more than one pitch to reach the top of the climb, meaning more than one rope length. It's really no more complex than that.

Many climbs, especially sport climbs, are designed so that a single rope is sufficient (meaning anchors at 30 meters). Others are longer - you just bring a second rope to get off the climb (or there may be a walk-off)

On multi-pitch climbs, the biggest single factor determining the length of each pitch is the location of good belay ledges. It's pointless - and much more time consuming - to climb 60 metes and set up a hanging belay if there's a great ledge at 50 meters, or 45m or 40m. For example, there's a 1000' route in Tuolumne Meadows where the best thing to do is end the 2nd pitch after only 25'. Why? There's a good ledge there, and pitch 3 starting from there ends on a great ledge just when you run out of rope. If you didn't do that ultra-short second pitch and just started from the P1 belay, you'd run out of rope about 25' below that great ledge and have to set up a very uncomfortable belay on a super tiny stance (just foot holds, really).


Fred20


Jun 18, 2013, 11:17 AM
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I would climb outside single pitch, and worry about multi later.

I have been wanting to do some multi, on my last sport trip my shoulder dislocated about 60-80' up and it usually goes right back in to the socket, it didn't and i just had my friend lower me. Needless to say I was glad it wasn't a multi-pitch, it opened my eyes to the necessity of maybe learning to do rapping 1 handed, etc. Unsure


Rinch


Jun 19, 2013, 2:01 AM
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 I've just started multipitch routes so I thought I'd throw in a few thoughts of my own about going up the learning curve.

First off, read a load on how things work. Freedom of the hills is pretty good I'm sure other books cover the same stuff. Going with people who know what they're doing is obviously great but telling you to do that doesn't answer your questions.

Where I live (near to chamonix in France) there are loads of multi pitch sport routes. Maybe you have something similar near you, or maybe not. If I was going to do a route I would get a good topo of the crag, this will tell you how long a rope you need for that crag, how many quickdraws and the grade of the route. Without a topo it's often pretty difficult to find the route in the first place and you might end up on something that's too hard.

Personally I climb with a rope long enough to be lowered down if anything happens (twice the climb length) if I got knocked out by rockfall I'd like to be able to be lowered back to the last anchor. Maybe this is conservative but that suits me.

As you're talking about sport climbing, your not often choosing a place to finish a pitch, the route setter has already done that and the anchors are normally pretty obvious and I'd want a good reason to climb past an anchor without ending the pitch. Round here most anchors are placed at 20-40m (rope length 50-80m) depending on positions of suitable ledges. Unless I really knew a route I'd always use all the anchors on the route. With your double rope length you can also rappel off any anchor without leaving gear.

The danger increase comes from the added complexity and the difficulties of backing off. At each anchor you have to make sure everyone is secure and that you don't get confused and end up with someone not protected. You also have to make sure that gear is with the right person. Sounds easy but lots can go wrong. If you're a few pitches in it could take a while to get out, can't just lower off at the first sign of rain.

Communication is also a big deal. you can probably shout to eachother over 30m, any further and you get confusion. Did the guy you're belaying for tell you he was "off belay" or to "take"?

So for me I'll climb single pitch up to 40m and some of the multi's round here 100s of meters long. Nothing quite like spending a day methodically working your way up a wall. But never put yourself in a position where you're doing stuff you don't know backwards, make sure you've done lots of single pitch first and start with the easiest multi you can find, it's not the time to be pushing your grade.


chris


Jun 20, 2013, 9:14 AM
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Re: [Rinch] Single vs Multi-Pitch ?'s [In reply to]
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If you can afford it, I'd really encourage you to hire a guide. The learning curve is so much steeper that way - you'll progress much faster. Seriously - you can learn to ski with your friends, in a group lesson, or a private too, you typically learn the least (and the slowest) with your friends - unless they happen to be ski instructors. Likewise with climbing, and with similar results (and much higher consequences). I think one-to-one instruction gets you the best return-on-investment.

And I'd encourage you to hire an AMGA Certified Rock Guide or an IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide. There are awesome guides out there who aren't certified (its not a requirement in most places in the US), and it doesn't promise that they'll have great personalities, but it does carry the assurance that they meet a professional standard recognized world-wide.

Feel free to message me if you would like a referral wherever you live. Or you can go to the AMGA website, amga.com, and click on the tab "Find a Guide".


(This post was edited by chris on Jun 21, 2013, 7:03 AM)


DemolitionRed


Jul 15, 2013, 2:18 AM
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Re: [Rinch] Single vs Multi-Pitch ?'s [In reply to]
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Forgive me if this has already been mentioned but one of the things that comes to mind in multi pitch, or even a single pitch away from a climbing gym is, your belayer often can't see you. Its a good idea to practice blind belaying in the gym but to begin with, have someone back up your belay. Learn and understand about the feel of the rope as the climber moves.



The other thing I would mention is weight. Rucksack, walk off boots, fluids, weather provisions and extra gear, ascendes, extra biners and friends ( I always take a few trad friends when I mp and more often than not I will use them). When you are used to gym climbing, where all you are carrying is your own weight and half a dozen quick-draws, carrying extra weight on your back may feel unnerving. correctly pulling through and safely balancing a heavy rope when you are belaying off a tiny ledge, isn't so much dangerous providing you have good anchors but it can be exhausting.

In France we have short multi pitch ledges in the gyms, along with instructors who can work with you.

You can also get used to carrying a full backpack whilst climbing at the gym.


(This post was edited by DemolitionRed on Jul 15, 2013, 2:31 AM)


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