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Attn New Climbers - What Pros Want You To Know


Original Post
IcePick · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 100

Last week I started this thread asking experienced climbers what they would teach new climbers,   I edited the title and the OP so I could share the results of the 4 pages of replies and here it is:

#1 BELAYING- obviously the most important subject as your lives are literally in the hands of your belayer, mastering this skill takes practice and time, a multitude of devices are available and each requires complete knowledge on how they function, there are courses and manuals you can learn from, unfortunately there have been many many injuries and fatalities related to belay errors, practice at ground level and seek an experienced climber for questions.

#2 KNOTSevery climber uses knots and mastering them is imperative, YouTube IMO is a useful tool for learning the knots required to connect you and the anchors to the rope, again practice tying and untying knots at ground level over and over again and even with your eyes closed, dressing (tightening) your knots are just as important as fatalities have occurred from undressed knots, I will list the only knots I personally use but by no means are they the only ones used in rock climbing.

Figure 8 (follow thru & on a bight)

Clove hitch (for anchors)

Alpine butterfly (for anchors)

Double & Triple fishermans (for joining ropes)

Water knot (for joining webbing)

Prussik & Munter (technically not a knot but a hitch)

Thats all I need.

#3 COMMUNICATION- Learning to communicate with your partner will prevent   Injuries & fatalities due to a misheard or misunderstood command, learn and agree on simple commands before you leave the ground, this is a loaded subject so please work out signals with your partner beforehand.

Those are the Top 3 BUT there is one subject that should always be number 1

SAFETY

safety should always always be priority 1,  double check everything always, it will keep everyone alive, read and understand the many many threads about safety.

knot the ends of your rappel ropes

dress the knots

tie stopper knots

weight your rappel rig before you unclip your PAS

and the list goes on

Im a huge proponent of redundancy in my system, it is your backup if something goes wrong.

also of mention is wear a helmet, get an early start, good footwork, inspect gear, have a backup plan for weather or unforeseen circumstances and learn how to self rescue, it literally takes years to learn to be proficient in everything rock climbing.

you also Wikipedia "Climbing Terms" and learn our language, here's the link

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_climbing_terms

by no means did I cover everything as that would take months to do but I hope you all find something here to help you enjoy this awesome sport.

Thank you all (please don't flame me, If you feel I wrote something in error just leave a reply and I will correct)

Rprops · · North Las Vegas · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 865

With a munter, figure 8, and prussic, you can pretty much get into or out of any situation.

amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20

If you don't fall, all your placements are bomber.
If you can't hip belay, you should pick up competitive knitting.
You must rap off everything.

(Just nudging this thread into proper direction)

Joe Prescott · · Fort Collins · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 6

Belay/rappel technique/safety

Footwork

Ego



Nicholas Young · · Spokane · Joined May 2015 · Points: 215

Basic anchors, good belay technique, useful knots to know as a climber. (Munter,clove, Prusik, etc.)

ANGUS WIESSNER · · Denver Colorad · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,155

I think new climbers should be taught how to belay on some sort of auto locking device such as Grigri or other brand I think it's silly to learn on an atc these days with all these new belay devices that do half  the work for you not to mention  if you're climbing at your limit you'll save energy. 

The two times I've almost hit the ground I was being belayed on an atc by someone who has been climbing for multiple years and only knows how to use an ATC I will not climb with them anymore cause they won't take the time to learn a new device cause they just care about how much climbing they get and not there  Partners concerns. 

 Id prefer to not be belayed by someone  unless they're using an auto blocking device unless I know them and their skill also if I kick down a big rock and my Belayer gets knocked out I'm Sure glad to have the gri gri lock up. One time on the diamond after overexertion on a pitch then taking a super big lead fall I was so exhausted at my next belay I almost passed out glad I had a Grigri otherwise I would've felt really unsafe Belaying

For a long time I refused to learn the Gri gri  and now I look back and realized how lazy I was being and how much energy I wasted. 

 FYI I think the new gri gri plus is the Supior device in climbing once you get used to it. Took  about a week to acclimate.  Top rope mode works great too  pretty much only goes one way like a micro traction.

ATC belay devices definitely have their place but for single pitch cragging or serous lead belays auto locking option for sure.

Be safe out there 

Wild country has a new device coming out that looks cool because it can't be loaded backwards either way you load it is fair game! 

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 489
ANGUS WIESSNER wrote:

I think new climbers should be taught how to belay on some sort of auto locking device such as Grigri or other brand I think it's silly to learn on an atc these days with all these new belay devices that do half  the work for you not to mention  if you're climbing at your limit you'll save energy. 

The two times I've almost hit the ground I was being belayed on an atc by someone who has been climbing for multiple years and only knows how to use an ATC I will not climb with them anymore cause they won't take the time to learn a new device cause they just care about how much climbing they get and not there  Partners concerns. 

 I really don't want to be belayed by someone  unless they're using an auto blocking device period. Also if I kick down a big rock and my Belayer gets knocked out I'm still somewhat safe. One time on the diamond after cruxing super hard on a pitch then taking a super big lead fall I was so exhausted at my next belay I almost passed out glad I had a Grigri otherwise I would've felt really unsafe Belaying

For a long time I refused to learn the Gri gri  and now I look back and realized how stupid I was being and how much energy I wasted. 

 FYI I think the new gri gri plus is the Supior device in climbing once you get used to it. Took  about a week to acclimate.  Top rope mode works great too  pretty much only goes one way like a micro traction.

ATC belay devices definitely have their place but for single pitch cragging or serous lead belays auto locking option for sure.

Be safe out there 

Wild country has a new device coming out that looks cool because it can't be loaded backwards either way you load it is fair game! 

Lets try to stay on topic and not start a grigri war. Next time, if you have something completely irrelevant and want to make some pretty big claims just start a new thread. Thanks. 

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

What things you can do to get yourself killed... in other words what things you should never do.

Being a good or bad climber doesn't matter that much as long as you stay alive.

Kyle Taylor · · Atlanta Ga · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

I know you asked for an expert opinion but as someone who would just now call himself an intermediate climber... I can share my opinion on what I feel lacked in my experience while climbing with others in the first few weeks.

1- safety checks: for obvious reasons.

2- if you're going to be climbing outside, understanding what gear does what(lingo and terminology) and why. How to clean a route and set up anchors.

3- technique: injuries suck. 

Coming from the cycling world, the egos in climbing have shocked me. You always come across buttheads, but there's also good people out there who have shown me tons, more of those people please! Focus on the positive. You need it to climb. 

Joseph Epley · · Keego Harbor, MI · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0
ANGUS WIESSNER wrote:

One time on the diamond after cruxing super hard on a pitch then taking a super big lead fall I was so exhausted at my next belay I almost passed out glad I had a Grigri otherwise I would've felt really unsafe Belaying.

I get the impression from this post that you believe grigris to be "autolocking" devices instead of "assisted breaking" devices. Although I don't use them, in every video and manual I've seen on the subject it has been stressed that grigris are NOT autolocking and to treat them as such is to misuse them in a very dangerous manner. But maybe you're talking about a different version than I have heard of?

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

1.  How to tie in.

2. How to belay.

3. Safety checks.

Robert Cort · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 800

Hmm, interesting question since you only give "top 3".  

1)  How to belay

2)  How to rappel safely (including tips on how to not die, like stay on the anchor until you verify (load) your system, how to back-up your rappel, etc)

3)  Double back your harness (if applicable) and tie-in (kind of cheating here, is this 4?)

Lots more!

ANGUS WIESSNER · · Denver Colorad · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,155
Joseph Epley wrote:

I get the impression from this post that you believe grigris to be "autolocking" devices instead of "assisted breaking" devices. Although I don't use them, in every video and manual I've seen on the subject it has been stressed that grigris are NOT autolocking and to treat them as such is to misuse them in a very dangerous manner. But maybe you're talking about a different version than I have heard of?


ANGUS WIESSNER · · Denver Colorad · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,155

Assisted breaking auto locking same thing to me guess auto locking would be more the term for a carabiner that is not twist shut but auto locks once clipped to device. 

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 708

1. What to do preclimb.

2. Belayer/climber responsibilities while climbing.

3. How to get back down.

Best, OLH

Heavy on the J · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

1.  LNT

2.  Yell "rope" before you drop a rope, "rock" if you drop anything else

3.  General crag etiquette

I start with these 3 because they affect everyone at the crag. We all have opinions on the "best" way to do certain climbing processes, and while I like to teach new climbers as much as possible about what I believe to be best practice, it is ultimately up to them to choose what processes work best with their risk tolerance. But those first 3, because they impact all of us, are non negotiable and should be taught early.

Kyle Elliott · · Everett, WA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 580

Use of music. Crag dogs. Cutting in line on multi pitches. 

lucander · · Stone Ridge, NY · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 257

1. basic knots

2. anchors

3. belaying

Aaron Danforth · · Cody, WY · Joined Sep 2007 · Points: 0
Kyle Elliott wrote:

Use of music. Crag dogs. Cutting in line on multi pitches. 

I'm all for music and crag dogs but cutting in line? Seems like a dick move to me.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 489
Kyle Elliott wrote:

Use of music. Crag dogs. Cutting in line on multi pitches. 

music is fine but only if it's heavy metal or screamo. No smooth jazz or classical music allowed. 

Joseph Epley · · Keego Harbor, MI · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0
ANGUS WIESSNER wrote:

Assisted breaking auto locking same thing to me guess auto locking would be more the term for a carabiner that is not twist shut but auto locks once clipped to device. 

Ah okay. When I saw you use the term "auto locking" I thought you meant a device that locks up automatically when when the rope is loaded. Grigris often do this, but they won't always, and should not be trusted as a replacement for proper belay technique. That's the distinction I wanted to clarify with "auto locking" vs "assisted breaking". 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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