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How to climb resourcefully with trad gear


Original Post
John C · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 1

Hi everyone,

I'm fairly new to trad climbing and my main fear is that I will run out of the proper gear as I start climbing to the top with a standard rack.  For instance, if I climb a route that barely has any beta or info on MP and I use my only #1 red cam and other gear of equivalent size but turns out to build an anchor at the top, I absolutely needed that #1 red cam.  Has anyone ever come across a situation like this or have any advice for a situation like this? Any information is much appreciated!!

Thanks in advance.

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

Start by climbing below your limit so you don't need as much gear to complete the climb. That way. you can confidently run it out until you get a placement with a different size.

Have a rack of double cams.

Have fun and stay safe.

Jeff Luton · · Ventucky Ca · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5

Still pretty new to leading trad myself, but I’ve gotten in the habit of placing more passive gear recently. If I see a spot that looks like it will take a nut just as good as a cam, I go with the nut. I’ve definitely come to notice the difference when I get to the top with what is still on my rack.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,630

A couple things that can / will help ...

As you get more mileage, you will get better at making use of what you do have whether passive or active - small comfort now I know. Meanwhile - spend some time on getting good gear that is not obvious.

The other thing is to down climb to where you have more than one good piece and lower off to go get that #1.


PatMas · · Tulsa, OK · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

Try to build diverse anchors as well. Using a 1,2,3 to build an anchor puts you or your partner at a big disadvantage on the next pitch. Two nuts and a cam somehow feel like you used way less gear to build an anchor than three cams.

mbk · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 840

Try to spread out the sizes of what you place as you go. Opt for passive stuff where you can. Make use of good stances to place gear that might not be as obvious. Try to look ahead and read the route for your next few pieces, recognize your risk tolerance and know when to back off or decide to build a belay.

Don Ferris III · · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 175

There is no way to tell what pieces of gear you’ll need. Quit climbing now while you’re  still alive. 

MisterE Wolfe · · Bishop, CA · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 3,792

Back-clean.

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

Heh.  Frank pretty much covered everything.  I like to have doubles if I know I’m building gear anchors, but then don’t be an idiot and place your second #1 on the climb unless you ABSOLUTELY have to.  Most new leaders start by sewing everything up, which is a good idea until you start linking pitches and need to spread your gear out over 200’.  At that point, you need to be comfortable climbing above your gear and only protecting when you need it, which means running out easy sections.

Tristan Mayfield · · SLC, UT · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 45

When in doubt, run it out!


JK, don't always live by that. But really, just take more gear than may be necessary as a n00b. When you get better at the craft, you'll learn what you really need and what you can shave off the rack. If doing multi-pitch read trip reports and gear beta to see what you'll need ahead of time and if there are any really clutch gear/placements on pitches. But this is a problem everyone runs into, even the most crusty traddies sometimes. Just be careful and don't die.

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

This raises one of the key issues in the development of trad climbers. People who need the most gear tend to have the least. If you're really concerned about running out of gear (and that's legit) then carry doubles. A "standard rack" is only 8 cams, so you could run out of those pretty easily if you aren't good at planning ahead. 

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,435
Jay C wrote:

Hi everyone,

I'm fairly new to trad climbing and my main fear is that I will run out of the proper gear as I start climbing to the top with a standard rack.  For instance, if I climb a route that barely has any beta or info on MP and I use my only #1 red cam and other gear of equivalent size but turns out to build an anchor at the top, I absolutely needed that #1 red cam.  Has anyone ever come across a situation like this or have any advice for a situation like this? Any information is much appreciated!!

Thanks in advance.

You never absolutely need anything, look around, there's always a way. And carry some tri-cams cams on the back of your harness.

Todd Ra · · Golden · Joined May 2014 · Points: 50

At then end of the day, this is just going to happen. You'll be halfway up a climb and not have the piece you need to protect it. You either run it out or downclimb or lower or some other shenanigans. It's climbing. It happens. Welcome to trad climbing!

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 124
Jeff Luton wrote:

Still pretty new to leading trad myself, but I’ve gotten in the habit of placing more passive gear recently. If I see a spot that looks like it will take a nut just as good as a cam, I go with the nut. I’ve definitely come to notice the difference when I get to the top with what is still on my rack.

To add to this, it's easier to double up on nuts than on cams, both money-wise and weight-wise. I have a double rack, but sometimes the climb is short and I don't want to carry all that, so I'll only carry a single rack up. But I always carry both regular and offset nuts, because there's just not that much reason not to, weight-wise. And money-wise, I'd definitely double up on nuts before cams--it's just more bang for your buck.

Depending on where you climb, tricams might fulfill a similar role.

Dr Strangelove · · Bend, OR · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 30

The good news is that easy trad climbs often have options for many different sizes/types of pro within a small distance, and decent stances to fiddle around . Get creative! This does depend on where you're climbing, but a single rack of 5 cams and a set of nuts got me up many an easy multipitch climb all over the west coast. Also, hexes can be great if you need hand sized pieces at an anchor, so you can save cams for the next pitch.

Howard · · Costa Mesa, CA · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 2,440
Also, hexes can be great if you need hand sized pieces at an anchor, so you can save cams for the next pitch.

I agree with this advice by Sam.  BD cams 2-4 are well substituted by large but light hexes 11 (also yellow)-13.  Awesome for the alpine where climbing may be easy enough for hexes to work on lead plus the weight savings is much appreciated for the hike.

Howard · · Costa Mesa, CA · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 2,440

One useful trick to conserve cams for cruxes but benefit from their quick and easy protection is to get in a cam but shortly after passing it (where ideally you have an even better stance), get in a good passive piece.  Then back clean the cam for later availability.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,800
AndrewArroz wrote:

This raises one of the key issues in the development of trad climbers. People who need the most gear tend to have the least. If you're really concerned about running out of gear (and that's legit) then carry doubles. A "standard rack" is only 8 cams, so you could run out of those pretty easily if you aren't good at planning ahead. 

In the perfect world, developing traddies are climbing with their mentor, who has the needed gear.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,630
Jay C wrote:

... but turns out to build an anchor at the top, I absolutely needed that #1 red cam.  Has anyone ever come across a situation like this or have any advice for a situation like this?

One other thought .... there can be placements a little higher that take gear that you have.  Go up and place those and use the rope to extend the rig back down to the belay ledge.  Many here have done this many times.

climber pat · · Las Cruces, NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 215

If you notice you are running out of gear and think you might not have gear for a belay, it is time to stop and set a belay while you still can.

It is common that looking around you can find a different placement that takes a different sized piece of gear.  So you can try to maintain variety on the rack you have left by choosing to use what you have the most of.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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