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Learning To Lead


Original Post
Eli Vallejo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

I’m a fairly new climber. Took a couple of classes to learn basic anchor building skills for top roping (I also lead belayed my instructure and did one mock lead.). I’m now ready to get into lead climbing realizing how many more routes I could do with this skill. My local gyms require a 5.11b level of climbing to take their lead climbing class. I climb at about a 5.10a-5.10b level. I know quite a few very easy sport/lead routes in my area but didn’t know if it was too smart to just jump on the easy lead routes without more instruction. Their is a chance I could get an experienced climber to teach me to lead but if not what would you guys reccomend.

Will Maness · · Raleigh, NC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 25

Get a mentor. And that is a ridiculous policy for your gym to have. 

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 135

What did people ever do before gyms?

Go climb outside with people who know what they are doing and have them assess when you are ready.  Second a bunch of routes cleaning as you go so that you can get the idea of how different it is to have to pause at each clip and use one hand to set the gear, as opposed to just climbing.  Then, when everyone thinks you are ready, go lead something well within your ability.  Leading is a different animal that top roping, especially for a beginner.

Keep in mind, leading is only half the equation.  Lead belaying is another aspect to leading, and is an important skill that is very different that top rope belaying.  That is one reason why it is important to be with someone experienced.  You want your belayer to know WTF they are doing.  And passing a test is a gym is no guaratee of skill.  I have friends that I really don't like to have belay me because they are terrible at it.  I don't worry about decking, but constant short roping is so annoying.

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

What gym requires 5.11b skills to lead? That's insane. Most people can't climb 11b when they start leading. So, essentially, your gym is requiring that you are already a pretty advanced leader before they'll even test you. 

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

I am assuming the grades must be pretty screwed up at your gym if they require 5.11b to lead.

Mike Slavens · · Houston, TX · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 35
Will Maness wrote:

Get a mentor. And that is a ridiculous policy for your gym to have. 

+1 for both points.

Get a mentor!  Leading in a gym is not much more than top roping while clipping so even if you can get lead certified I would still recommend getting a mentor for climbing outside.  In the gym the draws are close and maybe even labeled per route, the route is obvious (tape or same colored holds), and if the setters are even half way decent they will set to make the clips safe and convenient. Plus, you just clip the anchors and lower, no cleaning or setting up a rappel.  Leading even "simple" sport outside can kick it up a notch plus there is a ton to learn on "simple" sport that is applicable to more complicated climbs, multi-pitch, and trad but only if someone is there to point it out.  It wasn't too long ago that a newer climber died on an initial trip outside because he didn't set up his rappel correctly.  

And agree 5.11b is a bit much for learning to lead but it might be out of necessity.  Do they have many lead routes easier than 5.11b?  My first gym had a lead test that was usually 5.10+ and (usually sand bagged for the grade) because 95% of all the lead climbs had at least 15+ of horizontal roof, it was just how the gym was setup.  So having a 5.9 lead test was kinda pointless as there was hardly ever anything to lead under 5.10+.

Eli Vallejo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

Thanks, your advice will definetly help.

Joep de Boer · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

 Hello I really want to get into sport (lead climbing) but still need to learn lead climbing/ lead belaying anchor building/ clearing and rappelling. Is there anyone who can help me or knows someone who can help me get into sport lead climbing in the powell river area?

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 487
Joep de Boer wrote:  Hello I really want to get into sport (lead climbing) but still need to learn lead climbing/ lead belaying anchor building/ clearing and rappelling. Is there anyone who can help me or knows someone who can help me get into sport lead climbing in the powell river area?

You might have better luck posting on the regional forums for that area or even the partner forums for that area. 

Hamish Malin · · Fredericksburg, VA · Joined May 2017 · Points: 15

I’ve seen gyms that require 5.10 to lead, or take a lead test - this makes sense as lead falls on less steep terrain could be less clean and a liability.  That being said, I see no reason to climb 5.11 before breaking into leading, whether indoor or out.

John D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2003 · Points: 35

Hey Eli. I think the ClimbingTechTips instructional videos would help you. 

Learn How to Gym Lead here:

https://climbingtechtips.com/instructional-climbing-videos-2/gym-lead-climbing/

Learn How to Sport Lead outdoors here:

https://climbingtechtips.com/instructional-climbing-videos-2/sport-climbing/

In conjunction with this:

https://climbingtechtips.com/instructional-climbing-videos-2/basic-intermediate-outdoor-climbing/

Have fun and let me know how it goes!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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