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Lead Etiquette for the Gym Climber

Proper lead etiquette indoors can help ensure that every climber enjoys their gym climbing experiences

Girl climbs route in La Sportiva Solutions

With so many people inside rope climbing, how can we be sure to respect everyone’s space? These five manners for indoor rope climbing help describe proper etiquette on ropes in the climbing gym.

Don’t Hog the Route: If you’re training, this detail is tough. Route climbers who train endurance necessarily require more time in steep angles in order to resist and overcome the pump. While running laps on lead is a great way to do this, it is important to remember that other people also want to try the route. If your gym is busy, running lap after lap, even if you aren’t falling may prevent others from climbing. If the gym is busy, try running endurance on a board instead.

Keep Your Equipment Together: We have all walked in and dropped our stuff wherever we felt it should go. Although we all like to feel at home in the gym, a busy gym has little space for lacking courtesy. A messy gym floor not only takes up space where people could be standing, it also makes it difficult for lead belayers to move around. Climbing is dangerous and climbing inside can have consequences if the belayer must spend time untangling their rope from a careless bag placement.

Don’t engage a belayer in conversation: Although different people feel different ways about their belayer talking during a gym session, it is best to presume they do not wish to talk while they’re belaying. Saying hi is one thing, but if the belayer is following their climber through a section of a route, leave them be, and catch up with them after their partner has lowered to the ground.

Avoid Walking Under Ropes: Perhaps it seems obvious, but it can be easy to forget where you are in a space. A particularly steep route can bring a lead belayer far off the wall, creating a dangerous triangle between the belayer, first bolt, and the floor. Maintain awareness and avoid walking between the belayer and the wall. If their partner falls, a belayer can accidentally shoot toward the wall on a catch and hurt the person walking in that space.

Do not belay far away from the wall: Walking backwards is a great way to take up slack on a lead belay. With that said, do not forget to walk back toward the wall when your partner starts climbing again. Belaying too far from the wall forces climbers under your rope and puts them at risk. While your peers in the gym should avoid walking into a danger zone, you should make it easy for them to do so. Strive to take no more space than you need. This will provide everyone the most space in the facility.

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