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Explain "multi-pitch sport" to me?


Original Post
phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 310

This is a sincere question, not trying to be sarcastic. I am seeing more and more requests for recommendations for people who want to do multi-pitch sport climbing.  I do a lot of sport climbing, a lot of single pitch crack climbing, and a lot of multi-pitch climbing, which virtually always involves placing gear.  One of the best things about most sport climbing is how comfortable it is.  No hanging belays, just lower to the ground and belay your partner from the comfort of the ground.

But I love getting up high on a big face, so I completely understand the attraction of wanting to get up there, but why as a sport route?  Why not just make the transition into placing gear?  It just seems like this would open up billions more options for getting up high than having to rely on the very few areas that are going to have multi-pitch sport routes.  I am genuinely curious about this.

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,470

People want to do big routes without having to buy a rack or learn climbing skills.

Dave Kos · · Temecula, CA · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 55

Do you want the definition or do you want to know why some find it appealing?

I'm not going to attempt to answer either.

But if you want to be even more perplexed, head to El Cajon Mountain - Multi-pitch sport with a long arduous approach!

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

It opens up more terrain, such as face climbing, where there may not be features in which to place gear. What if I want to climb a 1000 ft buttress that doesn't take gear reasonably?

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310

phylp.......  visualize yourself 1,200 feet off the deck with the security of a bolt every 6 feet or so.... a light rack of say 20 QD, maybe a few long slings... a 70m rope. 

Pretty simple to see why some people wish for that as a climbing experience. 



NegativeK · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 5

Learning to climb on gear takes longer than learning multipitch sport.

Joe Prescott · · Fort Collins · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 20

Multipitch sport is typically a different style of climbing. Less crack and more face. I like both, not because the gear involved, or the learning curve, but that it's different movement, etc. 

simplyput · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 60

Some rock types don't take gear well.

jon bernhard · · grand junction, co · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 288

To be sarcastic for fun of current ego project banter....multi-pitch sport climbing is bolt clipping hold chipping 6 foot whipping shenanigans.  

Shepido · · CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 50
phylp wrote:

But I love getting up high on a big face, so I completely understand the attraction of wanting to get up there, but why as a sport route?  Why not just make the transition into placing gear?  It just seems like this would open up billions more options for getting up high than having to rely on the very few areas that are going to have multi-pitch sport routes.  I am genuinely curious about this.

Using the route finder app,it list that there are over 500 multi-pitch sport routes here in CO. Granted a fair amount of these are a mix of sport and trad, but I bet there are still 'hundreds' of pure multi-pitch sport routes. So I would not say that there are 'very few' of them.  Royal Flush is probably the longest one I can think of off the top of my head - at about 1500 ft. 

Andrew Child · · Santa Clara · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 655

I always assume that people look for sport multis because they think that trad is scary and they are afraid to learn. Its true that the style of climbing is different though, the feeling of being alone on a face way of the deck is pretty stellar.

Marcus · · Aspen, CO · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 395
phylp wrote:

But I love getting up high on a big face, so I completely understand the attraction of wanting to get up there, but why as a sport route?  Why not just make the transition into placing gear?  It just seems like this would open up billions more options for getting up high than having to rely on the very few areas that are going to have multi-pitch sport routes.  I am genuinely curious about this.

There's a lot going on with multi-pitch climbing. There's a lot going on with trad climbing. You could try learning both at the same time, and exponentially compound the amount of things that could go wrong, or you could ease yourself in.

This is why I chose to learn trad on single pitch climbs well below my grade, and why I chose to do my first multi-pitch on a bolted line. That allowed me to practice setting up belay stations, swapping leads, building rope anchors and rappelling with other people on the route (this wasn't planned) all while not having to panic about my gear placements. I'm super thankful that there's a few multi pitch sport routes out there to do this, I can't afford to hire a guide every single time I go out, and I'm too keen on learning all of these things.

phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 310

I am appreciating all these responses.  I'm kind of getting it a better understanding now.  Didn't realize there were so many of them in places like CO.  I have done many multi-pitch bolted slab routes (usually too runout to be considered sport climbs and often with some gear), but the appeal of these was more I loved the movement rather than wanting to get up high per se.

Ken Noyce · · Layton, UT · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2,122
Andrew Child wrote:

... the feeling of being alone on a face way of the deck is pretty stellar.

This is why I like multi pitch sport.  It just feels very cool to be way off the deck on a smooth blank face that doesn't take gear.  I also find the movement of face climbing more enjoyable than crack climbing, so there's that too.

Dave Kos · · Temecula, CA · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 55

It's fun to be to do a long climb, maybe at the limits of your ability, and not be too scared.


ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 235

There are alot of sport multi pitch climbs that would be impossible with gear.

S. Neoh · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 0
Marcus wrote:

This is why I chose to learn trad on single pitch climbs well below my grade, and why I chose to do my first multi-pitch on a bolted line. That allowed me to practice setting up belay stations, swapping leads, building rope anchors and rappelling with other people on the route (this wasn't planned) all while not having to panic about my gear placements. 

That is a very prudent and good approach.  Wish I had the option of multi-pitch sport (without taking an airline flight) when I first started.  It was probably 8 years between my first mp trad and my first mp sport (which I needed to fly to LV for).  Those scary bolted slab routes on Whitehorse are def not sport!

Chris Blatchley · · Somerville, MA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Come to rumney, there's some pretty fun ones! hey, less rack to lug, and your sport climber friends can enjoy it too!

Stephen D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 20

How do you feel about huge, beautiful, alluring, features that are amazing climbs but don't take gear? Do you clip bolted belay stations on trad climbs? Why not just make the transition to placing all your own gear

Will Maness · · Raleigh, NC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

Lots of multi-pitch sport routes on European limestone.

David Gibbs · · Ottawa, ON · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 6

Because it is fun.  

I climb trad, single and multi-pitch.  It is always more work, not just placing/cleaning gear, but just hauling the rack up with you, lots of extra weight and clutter while you're climbing.  To be able to get high off the ground (the advantage/point of multi-pitch) with just 12-20 draws (depending on route) as a rack is just fun.  So much lighter and so much less clutter.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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