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Three Common Lead Climbing Mistakes to Avoid

All three of these could result in serious injuries depending on the route, climber and belayer

Whether you’re new to climbing or going into your 10th season, there are a number of lead climbing mistakes that are easy to make if you’re not paying attention. Lead climbing is an important skill to have and when you’re transitioning from indoors to outdoors and there are a number of things you want to pay attention to. These are three mistakes that are easy to make and easy to avoid.

Back Clipping

Back-clipping is when you’re leading a climb and you incorrectly clip the rope. Instead of your end of the rope coming out of the carabiner away from the rock, your end of the rope comes out of the carabiner going toward the rock. It’s bad because if you’ve back-clipped a piece and you fall, the rope could unclip itself out from the carabiner. Always be sure your lead end of the rope comes out of the carabiner away from the rock.

Back clipping is bad and can lead to big falls


Z-clipping is when you clip the rope to your next bolt from below your last bolt or gear. This is most common on routes with bolts closely spaced and when the climber grabs blindly below their waist for the rope to make the next clip. Instead of gaining a higher point of protection, they create a false sense of security and give themselves extra slack. You’ll know if you are Z-clipped because there will be rope drag as soon as you start climbing. To fix the problem, downclimb to the incorrectly clipped quickdraw and unclip it. Re-clip the quickdraw using the rope hanging from the top quickdraw closest to your belayer. Your belayer can then take in the slack.

Leg Behind Rope

This happens when you place your toe, foot or leg behind the rope while you are climbing. If your foot is on hold between the rope and the wall and you took a fall, it’s highly likely that your foot would get caught causing you to flip upside down. To fix the problem, step over and around the rope, not behind it and be aware of your foot to rope relation. Never have a rope behind your leg! Watch how not to have the rope below.