Multi-pitch Climbing: 10 Dos & Don’ts

Listen up, first timers!

So, you’re tired of being grounded and want to get high? Mastering these 10 tips will turn any climbing gumby into a vertical ace who Tommy Caldwell himself would be proud to call his belayer.

multi-pitch climbing
Photo: Doctor Popular; Flickr Creative Commons

Tip #1: Find a solid partner


Partner up with someone who seems experienced and that you are willing to put up with for an extended period of time. Then, and only then, plan your route.

Do not

Wing it with a Tinder date. They will NOT enjoy your presence after your climb, nor will search and rescue.


Related: On Being a Good Climbing Partner


Tip #2: Dial in your skills


Learn rope and belaying techniques from experienced climbing instructors or a guiding service. Practice everything accordingly before you have someone’s life in your hands.

Do not

Learn rope and belaying techniques from homeboy at the gym.


Related: eBook — Rock Climbing Fundamentals: Essential Terms, Techniques, and Tips for the New Climbers


Tip #3: Dress right and stay hydrated


Dress accordingly and bring lots of water. About a liter per half day is a good average; increase if climbing in hot or sunny conditions.

Do not

NOT drink said water … You may as well be carrying a brick up your climb.


Tip #4: Be prepared for the worst


Either check the weather beforehand or have a good attitude when it starts to hail.

Do not

Expect to top out before the storm starts.


Related: What to Do When Weather Sucks on a Climbing Trip


Tip #5: Climb routes that make sense for you


Lead pitches according to skill, experience, and fatigue. Map out who will lead which pitches, and be flexible to swap leads as necessary.

Do not

Attempt Mr. Caldwell’s 5.14 because you felt it was your turn to lead a pitch.


Related: Climbing Rope Management During Rappel


Tip #6: Be a generous follower


Follow the unspoken rule that the current leader carries less weight and is the master of the universe.

Do not

Treat your second as a slave; they will get their revenge when you swap.


Tip #7: Take care of your bathroom business


Force a bathroom run before the start of a climb. Bring a Wag Bag if you can’t hold it.

Do not

Pee on the belay ledge!


Related: 10 Common Mistakes New Big Wall Climbers Make


Tip #8: Wear the right climbing shoes


Wear comfortable shoes that can be on your feet all day without your toenails falling off.

Do not

Bring your three pairs of downturned shoes clipped onto your harness. NO, it’s not cool; doesn’t matter if you saw Daniel Woods doing it.


Tip #9: Don’t climb choss


Avoid loose rock, wet or mossy areas, and old manky gear.

Do not

Pull out GOOD pitons …


Tip #10: Get psyched


Stay positive, have a good attitude, and have fun!

Photo: Doctor Popular; Flickr Creative Commons

This piece was originally published on January 29, 2015.

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