Mountain Project Logo

New to lead climbing, help with gear and general questions


Original Post
Cameron Habib · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

So I’ve been indoor top rope climbing for a couple years now (5.10d) and I’m planning on making the jump to outdoor sport lead climbing. I have about a million questions as far as gear and protocols go that I was hoping to get a little help on before I head out (with some more experienced friends of course). So far, the lead rope gear I have is:
- 8x 12cm BD FreeWire quickdraw
- 2x 18cm BD FreeWire quickdraw
- 1x 18mmx120cm BD Runner (for top rope anchor)
- 1x Metolius PAS 22
- 4x Petzl Attache locking carabiner (for top rope anchor)
- 1x Petzl Am’D twistlock carabiner (for belay)
- 1x GriGri+ (to belay climber)
- 1x BD ATC-Guide (self belay down following anchor clean)

Now for about a million questions:

1 - Are 10 quickdraws generally enough for start out with for beginning lead climbing outdoors? I opted to go with mostly 12cm over 18cm as I figured I wouldn’t be doing too many overhanging to start out with and by the time I do, I’d need a new set anyways. Would more (of either length) be a good idea?

2 - I’ve been watching and reading about top rope anchors and it seems there are about a million ways to do one. I opted to go for the double length sling over the 7mm cord as it seemed like a simpler setup. My understanding is that after tethering each end with a locking carabiner, you can tie either a single overhand or figure eight, the former being quicker to tie and uses less cord, the latter being easier to untie, but both just as safe. I’ve also seen a few tutorials that forgo the knot and use a “magic x” instead, but that seems like it would shock the system if one point where to fail, putting greater stress on the remaining. 

3 - How are routes generally cleaned? It was my understanding that the first person up sets the quickdraws and a top rope anchor. The second person up can then either clean the route as they climb or anyone can clean as they’re lowered. The person cleaning the top anchor then sets up a self rappel by:
A- securing themselves to both anchor points w/ PAS
B- securing top rope to harness and passing rope through both anchor points
C- equalizing lengths, flaking, and sending rope down
D- threading both rope ends through ATC and securing brake end with friction brake
It would seem safer to use a self-arresting device than an ATC. Is an ATC used instead of a GriGri to minimize the wear on the anchor points or is there another reason why?

4 - Which rope to buy? I’ve heard conflicting advice, some people saying to just buy whatever is on sale, while others have told me that I should invest in a higher quality rope from the beginning because it’ll last longer and be rated for more falls which I’m likely to take. I was planning on the Mammut Infinity Dry 9.5mmx60m and don’t mind spending the money, but wouldn’t mind saving it if it’ll just go to waste.

5 - Any other lead climbing specific gear I should pick up (have all the general stuff, i.e. harness, chalk, etc) or words of wisdom? Thanks!

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

all would be becoming clear if you would find some victims/friend to go climbing with out of doors for several weeks passing. You are welcome.

all your flash are belong to me

p.s. do not utilize unnecessary gear of PAS, and for certain do not wear it as a thong between the legs. also do not utilize deadly ATC or other similar tube style device, striking the fear into the hearts of good climbers everywhere!

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Do you have an experienced outdoor climber you can go with and learn from? They could help you learn what you need and don't need.

Cameron Habib · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

FrankPS wrote:

Do you have an experienced outdoor climber you can go with and learn from? They could help you learn what you need and don't need.

Sadly my usual climbing partner is indoor only much like myself. We've been trying to find a friend between us who has some outdoor lead experience but it's been difficult.

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

A lot depends on where you go. Where your anchors are. Internet is a good place to learn or refine understanding but most of this you should be learning in person from a trusted source. I understand u have questions but get hands on. Let someone trustworthy like I said show you what they can teach then come back w questions. There are routes where I am at that have 6 bolts. Some have 12+...what if u drop a draw? Will you have enough to finish the route? I could elaborate on your questions but its a lot you could already search on MP

Ben Williams · · van · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 30

Where are you located? If you're near outdoor climbing, more than likely there is someone else here on MP in the same area that'd probably let you come along and perhaps teach you the basics that youre asking about. You can post in the regional section of the forum and see what happens. First hand experience is so much more valuable than reading and youtube. 

runout · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 30

If you have only climbed indoors, wouldn't it make sense to lead indoors first before heading outside? Lead climbing/belaying is no joke. Proper instruction will pay for itself in no time.

Helmets? If you already have a PAS might as well get a helmet.

The only thing you can't practice indoors is anchor cleaning, but some gyms have anchors on the ground that you can use to practice.

Cleaning is only part that can be dangerous so you really want to do it a few times on the ground before you even do it outside. It's not too hard to hang your quickdraws on the wall in your apartment somewhere and simulate cleaning if you really don't have access to any sort of instructions other than youtube.

SeƱor Arroz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Truthfully, if you're climbing properly bolted sport routes you really don't need anything more than 2 extra draws for your TR anchor. I have a pair I've put lockers on just to feel extra secure when I leave my TR up and let the kids go crazy with it. But normal sport draws (non-lockers) will work fine, too. Oppose the gates.

I don't think 10 draws is really enough and you can get another 6 x for less than $50, so I say go for that purchase first. 

B Owens · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 60

Cameron Habib wrote:

Sadly my usual climbing partner is indoor only much like myself. We've been trying to find a friend between us who has some outdoor lead experience but it's been difficult.

Can the two of you hire a guide for an afternoon?  Where do you live?

Daniel H · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 15

Post your location, I'd be happy to go outside with you sometime, if you're local.

Franck Vee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 30

Keywords "magic X" and "gri-gri /ATC" have been mentionned - I predict 12 pages.

Franck Vee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 30

But more seriously....

There isn't much of a point IMO in having different length for draws. Ultimately, the couple centimeters won't do much in terms of rope drag - because significant drag would happen only when the extra cms don't really matter. If you climb in places where rope drags tends to be a concern, then buy a couple of slings, loose non-locking carabiners & make alpine draws. If drag is going to be a concern on a route, it may very well be mentionned on MP/guidebooks and you would see that it will zig-zag in some ways just by looking at the bolts & rock layout.

10 draws isn't that much. Ideally a 12-15 is ideal, especially because unless you're the rope gun for top ropers, you will just typically just 2 draws with gates opposed for anchors. So that eats up 2 draws. If it doesn't (because you're climbing with other leaders), then you have 2 extra draws - 12 is mostly enough and 15 is almost always enough. On a single pitch I've seen 18 but that's rather rare. EDIT: also if you're climbing with other leaders, they have draws. You don't need to provide all the gear all the time either....

Practically speaking, having a second cleaning routes is somewhat rare - well it would happen if you are rope gun for tope ropers who kinda know what they are doing. Like I wouldn't have a newbie top roper clean routes because how are they going to manage the anchors? But then if they are experienced outdoors with anchors and stuff, chances they will probably wan to lead it anyways. So often you would either rappel to clean, or be lowered & pick draws on the way down (me mentionning this just added 5 more pages to your thread). Exception would be really steep stuff (or some really steep section on otherwise not so steep stuff), then you may want to clean with the second on TR.

Don't buy a DRY rope - you pay extra for that. A dry rope is only realy useful if you fancy climbing rocks in the rain (unlikely unless you're going into some multi-pitch epics) or if you are ice climbing (which you haven't mentionned).

Really just get any dynamic rope that happens to be on sale. Generally, ~10mm ropes are going to be cheaper (but bulkier). Stuff like different sheat (to easily pick up the middle for rappel) and/or markings of the middle are going to be more expensive too. Unless you're into multi pitch, probably not really worth the trouble. 60m is usually enough, but then some areas fancy 30-35 meter long routes so that may warrant a 70 meters. I'm a huge fan of 70 meters because I like to just be able to to a route and not be stopped by route length, but that's just me.... Really at the beginning, you're not THAT likely to take huge whipper because you'll chicken out of a route before you get to the huge whipper zone. Unless you're a bit of a kamikazee. What's really going to eat up your rope is going to be top roping (if there's friction with the rock/rope drag), or lowering to clean (me mentioning that just added 2 more pages), or lowering when the rope has friction with the rock. Also not cleaning your rope, and/or not having a bag to prevent most of the sand/dust from getting on it will be bad. Point being there are a lot of factors that you can control that will affect the lifespan of your rope and I don't think huge whippers are likely to be the main ones. You get comfortable with huge whippers when you're more experienced, IMO.

EDIT: also I'd be curious to know/check how stupid we really are doing this, but I mean in theory a rope is only supposed to manage a couple of big whippers, but quite frankly.... I've never kept track of whippers on a rope. Not sure that many people do either (or maybe I'm being stupid). I mostly inspect it every once in a while, and I feel a lot of people probably go that route as well but I could be wrong.

txclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 10

Franck Vee wrote:

I disagree.   I almost always climb with different length draws.  There are reasons beyond rope drag.  Often, I won't like the way the bottom 'biner rests on the rock.  Maybe it's right at a ledge.  Maybe there is a protrusion that could cause the gate to hang open.  Etc., etc.  Having the option to go a few cm longer or shorter will almost always eliminate these problems.



B Owens · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 60

txclimber wrote:


I disagree.   I almost always climb with different length draws.  There are reasons beyond rope drag.  Often, I won't like the way the bottom 'biner rests on the rock.  Maybe it's right at a ledge.  Maybe there is a protrusion that could cause the gate to hang open.  Etc., etc.  Having the option to go a few cm longer or shorter will almost always eliminate these problems.


Better is to just bring a few alpine draws, rather than a few 16cm quickdraws to complement your 12cm quickdraws.  

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

searching for the perfect length quickdraw it is like searching for the mythical clitoris. many brave men and women have searched for it for thousands of years passing since the dawn of time, but few have found it and most are quite uncertain, and even if it is located, many questions may remain.

Brad Johnson · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

Aleks Zebastian wrote:

climbing friend,

all would be becoming clear if you would find some victims/friend to go climbing with out of doors for several weeks passing. You are welcome.

all your flash are belong to me

p.s. do not utilize unnecessary gear of PAS, and for certain do not wear it as a thong between the legs. also do not utilize deadly ATC or other similar tube style device, striking the fear into the hearts of good climbers everywhere!



Why the hate on a PAS?  I use mine all the time. 


Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310
Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

Brad Johnson wrote:



Why the hate on a PAS?  I use mine all the time. 


climbing friend,

you may utilize it if it pleases you greatly. it is not needed however for young one with burning desire to buy as much gear as possible with fixed amount ca$h and start "lead climbing."

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

I have draws of various lengths and if someone says a 18 won't do much in comparison to a 12 they havent had the experience of needing one. Lets give good advice here. Ive used a 18 to save my rope by giving it that much needed little bit of clearance around a bulge. Various length is in your favor.

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

Brad Johnson wrote:



Why the hate on a PAS?  I use mine all the time. 


Because If you don't know aleks he is the archtroll...take what he says with a extra small grain of salt

Josh Gates · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

About your anchor biners - I'd go with two different biner pairs (one for the bolts, one for the masterpoint), so that you don't get sharp nicks on the bolts biners and then later use them as the rope biners, slicing up your sheath. I'd also get symmetrical biners for the MP, so that you can oppose them and have the same profile (like the Omega Pacific Jake locker https://www.omegapac.com/itemdetail.php?id=63)

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "New to lead climbing, help with gear and genera…"
in the Climbing Gear Discussion

Log In to Reply