Expert's tips for sport climbing
Sport climbing should be safe, but accidents can happen, usually through simple or stupid mistakes. Use the common problems chart to ensure that you and your climbing partners stay safe.
If you decide to work a route prior to a redpoint you need to make things as easy as possible. The style of the redpoint is the only thing that matters. If it is proving difficult to get between bolts use aid or a clip stick (See Equipping the route
). A stick can be made from bits of tent poles if you are keen or you can improvise with any old tree branch (but please don't snap them off live trees).
A clip stick is also useful for clipping the first bolt if desired (see Ethics and Equipping the route). If there is a quickdraw already in the first bolt use a trick knot to clip in the rope (see below). Make sure the rope is clipped into the quickdraw the correct way before climbing (see Equipping the route), if not, pull through the rope.
If you have failed on a redpoint you can lower off and pull the rope to leave the first draw already pre clipped. Whilst lowering, clip a quickdraw from your harness to the section of rope between the first and second bolts. This will be taken down with you as you are lowered. This is often referred to as 'pulleying'.
Here are some common problems, they all sound ridiculous, but they recur time and time again. I have either done every one of these myself or had them done to me!
Problem - Solution
- Lowering off the end of the rope - Tie a knot in the end of the rope.
- Bad communication between lead climber and belayer - Make a clear plan before setting off - what calls mean what etc.
- Belayer drops climber - Especially if you don't know and trust your belayer, keep talking to them and make sure he/she is paying attention.
- Gri-gri put on the wrong way round! - Check the Gri-gri before you climb every time!
- Belayer dragged into rock and long fall for the leader - Belayer must stand closer to cliff with less slack rope.
- Forgetting to tie in or half tying in/Forgetting to double back the harness - Run through a mental or written checklist (with your partner) to avoid any mistakes or omissions before setting off.
- Rope unclips from quickdraw - Make sure you know how to correctly clip a rope into a quickdraw...
- Violent swing into the rock due to skipping clips and then climbing around bulges - Don't skip clips unless it is safe.
- Swinging and crashing into the ground, trees or someone else when stripping the route - Not a good idea! It's not over till you're down! Concentrate on the task and communicate with your belayer.