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Why trad climbing?

Original Post
Franck Vee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 70


Someone made a comment in another topic (rgold), to the effect that newer trad climber didn't necessarily seem to have fully considered the risk-aspect of this style of climbing. This led me to ponder a bit more the question as to "why climb trad" instead of other climbing, or why I'm interested in trad climbing. I think it's an interesting topic to discuss as well.

For me it boils down to 2 things - one related to the feeling of it, the other more practical. In all styles over the last year or so (sports/bouldering) I've been starting to pay a lot more attention as to how in controlled I am while climbing (as opposed to just achieving the objective in whichever fashion). To me trad climbing is in some sense the ultimate climbing style in which to strive for that - I want to be very deliberate in everything I do while placing gear, or even making moves above placements. I've been able to achieve a similar level of focus on what I am doing in relatively easy (grade-wise) climbs in trad that I could only achieve on hard sport routes. To be able to find something similar without necessarily having to push my limits physically is really something I value.

The practical aspect is plainly climbing styles - cracks are a different beast and I like that trad allows me to dive into that style in a way which wouldn't be possible (unless I go top roping / second with a trad climber I guess).

Why do YOU climb trad?

Jimmy Yammine · · Ehden, LB · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 205

The easiest answer I can give you is the list of inspirational trad climbs that are within reach is quite nice.
The nose, regular north-west face, epinephrine, moonlight buttress....
I wanted to go up big walls that aren't in Mexico.
I lived near Joshua Tree. That pushes you as well.
If you trad climb every route that is under your level is open to you.
If you sport climb. not so much.

Plus the new shiny rack.

USBRIT Ross · · Keswick Cumbria.UK · Joined Apr 2001 · Points: 21,661

Well, sport climbing is pretty boring.. no risk.

Paul Deger · · Colorado · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 35

When I started climbing over 20 years ago, sport routes were limited to 5.10+ so trad was the only option for leading at lower levels. And there was also the issue of changing the naturalness of the rock (but that argument seems long gone). For an overall sense of freedom, trad always feels like a first ascent as opposed to following someone else's bolts (although also easier to go off route!). As I get older, I do find the ease of bolts have won me over, but it can also bring a complacency trusting my safety to unknown party as opposed to my placements in the moment. In the end, you have a range of options that did not exist before: gym leads, sport, trad. My only advice, the first two you can dabble in, but the third requires a commitment and lots of practice.

yosem1te · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 25

I started out sport climbing and switched to trad.  For me, after a while I got tired of just chasing grades, and found the adventure of trad climbing appealing.  Now I can barely limp up a 10, but I would rather spend my time climbing pitch after pitch of beautiful moderate trad.  

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

I enjoy the adventure aspects, and the route finding.  I was mainly driven to it due to my desire to climb in areas w/out bolts; I didn’t want to buy $3K of gear as much as I wanted to climb in as many places as possible.  

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 661

I climb for the adventure, and adventurous routes typically require placing your own gear. Plus I need to do something with all of these black totems that MP convinced me to buy.

Caleb Schwarz · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 125

Because hand jams and perfect finger locks

Dakota from North Dakota · · Golden, CO · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 1,077

To stand on top of things. 

Fehim Hasecic · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 130

It’s the only way, after free solo, to scale something by “free” means (leave the rock as you’ve found it). To me it’s the pure way of climbing, clipping bolts feels like cheating in a way, I won’t say that I still don’t enjoy clipping them. Sport climbing is aid. The way I see it, if I can’t climb something without permanently altering the rock, then it wasn’t meant to be. And, there’s the risk factor to it.

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55

Why trad? So that sport climbers can learn true terror and ice climbers can learn true relaxation.

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490

rgold summed it up years ago;- "trad is a way to make small cliffs big" (or words to that effect). Somewhere like gritstone in the UK or even J Tree would be completely worthless sport venues but give endless complexity (and terror) in 10m routes as trad.

Matt Wetmore · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2017 · Points: 45

For multipitch, there is something about the cycle of the leader placing gear and the follower cleaning it, the team making its way up the route leaving behind nothing, which is really satisfying. The route finding and choose-your-own-adventure aspect is important too.

For single pitch, I like routes with tricky or sparse gear  because it just adds another dimension to the climbing. I like the mental aspect and I dont get to feel that when I climb sport.

Caleb Schwarz · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 125

Also, being honest the gear is cool as shit

Ryan Canny · · Illinois · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 20

The closest places to climb where I live do not allow bolts.

· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0

Trad climbing allows you to walk up to any wall whether it has been climbed or not and climb it (given some climbs aren't trad climbable due to no placements and require bolts). Sport climbing means you have to spend time and money to setup a climb (given people do lead bolt but less common) or can only climb something others have climbed before you.

NathanC · · Logan, UT · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 10

Shinies.  It’s all about them shinies.

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

Too weak/old to sport climb or boulder competently.

akafaultline · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 225
Tradgic Yogurt wrote: Why trad? So that sport climbers can learn true terror and ice climbers can learn true relaxation.

Couldn’t agree more.  Also- if want to do any big routes there’s no other option but to trad  and ice climb.  

Slartibartfast · · Magrathea · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 0

Because no matter how old or fat I get, I'll never be far from a 5.4 ridge with a peak to pee off of.

Brandon.Phillips · · Portola, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 55

Because I like getting scared and being broke.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Trad Climbing
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