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Indoor Weekly: Never Do Gym-to-Trad Lead Climbing!

Trad climbing skills take years to learn

It’s spring and many climbers will be wanting to test their indoor climbing skills outdoors on real stone, but there are serious consequences if things go wrong.

So far in 2018, at least one climber has died trad climbing in North America from their gear pulling on on a lead fall. And three others have broken their backs or legs.

Gyms instruct climbers how to lead in a gym, but not outdoors, so don’t assume you can lead outdoors just because you have a lead card for indoors.

And under no circumstances should you ever lead outdoors using trad gear without proper instructions and training.

Both, sport climbing and trad climbing are a form of lead climbing, which means the first climber to go up is not protected by a rope from above.

A trad climber carries not just quick draws, but a whole rack of climbing gear consisting of cams, nuts and sometimes hexes that get placed into cracks in the wall.

Just because you watched a YouTube video, saw an Instagram photo and bought some cams doesn’t mean you know anything about placing gear in cracks, vertically or horizontally.

Placing gear often doubles the amount of time you’re on lead, which means you’ll be more pumped, which means you can’t climb those high gym grades on trad climbs.

Trad climbing is a skill that takes years to perfect, is dangerous at best and more climbers die every year trad climbing than sport climbing.

Trad climbs often follow vertical features like cracks. That means the rope is often behind your leg. If you don’t know how to keep the rope infront of your legs on lead, don’t trad climb.

Trad climbing anchors are difficult to build, especially equalized.

Trad climbing anchor

We recommend that you built a strong set of skills under the supervision of veteran trad climbers. The internet can’t teach you the skills you need.

Find a local guide, contact the Alpine Club of Canada or American Alpine Club and take a course.

Below is a list of skills that you need to know, if you don’t know them then don’t trad climb.

15 Trad Climb Must-Knows

Difference between passive and active pro.
What ERNEST means.
How to equalize anchors from two- to six-points.
How to ensure a piton is safe to use.
How to make your first piece multi-directional.
How to make multi-pitch anchors multi-directional.
How to use a munter, clove and girth hitch.
How to tie a water knot.
How to remove a nut, cam, tri-cam and hex.
How to use shoulder- and double-length slings.
How to extend protection.
How to lower/raise an injured climber from above and below.
How to use a prussik.
How to unlock a guide-style loaded belay device.
What the American death triangle is.

Watch a lead climber fall with no helmet and rip three pieces of trad gear out. Wear a helmet, don’t trad lead climb if you can’t properly place gear or put a helmet on.