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'Alpine Climbing' in the School of Rock

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Rock Climbing Photo: by Chris Philpot
The Alpine Quickdraw
You'll often carry several full-length, 24-inch slings on long rock routes or alpine climbs, to reduce rope drag, wrap around horns for protection or belays, or rig belay anchors. But draping multiple slings over your shoulders is cumbersome. The solution? The alpine draw...
Dougald MacDonald at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: by Jamie Givens
The What-if Plan for Big Climbs
I knew what I was signing up for when I married a climber. So when I crawled between the cold sheets on a September night alone – again – I wasn’t particularly concerned that my husband wasn’t home yet from the Diamond’s Full House. I had learned that “I’ll be hom...
Kate Nelson at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Typical trad route
Big Wall Kit
Depending on the type of pulling down you’re doing, climbing can vary from minimalist to “everything but the kitchen sink,” and big wall climbing is very much the latter. Doing multi-day routes not only requires aid climbing equipment (protection, aiders, ropes, helmet...
Julie Ellison at Climbing Magazine
Belaying While Mid-Pitch While Simu-climbing
If you are simul-climbing part of a route because it is technically easy (e.g., 5.4 or 5.5), you still might come across an isolated crux section that is two or three body-lengths and more difficult (e.g., 5.8 or 5.9). That portion might warrant a belay for the leader and...
Scott Bennett at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: How to haul a bag by Supercorn
Haul Your Pack to Climb Faster and Harder
Simple truth: Attempting to go "light and fast" often means heavy and lame. To avoid the stigma of hauling a bag, many climbers feel the need to have everything clipped right on their harnesses. Water bottles, approach shoes, bullet packs—you name it—jangling ...
Jeff Achey at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: How to Hip Belay by Supercorn
How to Hip Belay
Long before the invention of belay devices, the hip belay provided security for the second and saved time in the mountains. When used correctly, a bomber stance can replace a traditional anchor, or you can back up a marginal anchor with a solid stance. It’s best in lower...
Christian Santelices at Climbing Magazine
How to Simul-Rappel
As Ed Viesturs famously said, “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” And sometimes getting down safely means doing it quickly. Simultaneously rappelling, or simul-rapping, is an advanced skill where two climbers descend one rope at the same time (o...
Liz Drummond at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: How to tie an alpine girth hitch
How to Tie an Alpine Girth-Hitch
The seldom-used alpine butterfly knot has long been considered the gold standard for climbers when tying into the middle of the rope. Prestigious guide services and hallowed tomes like Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills teach the butterfly for glacier travel and any oth...
Blake Herrington at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Improvised Rappel Anchor by Chris Philpot
Improvised Rappel Anchors
Getting off a cliff with no fixed anchors or big trees is a skill that every climber should have in his bag of tricks. It’s especially useful to do it with minimal loss of expensive hardware. Here’s one method. Warning: Never compromise safety on rappel anchors. If you...
Eli Helmuth at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: How to lower on multi-pitches by Chris Philpot
Save Time and Avoid Stuck Ropes on Descent
Outside of single-pitch sport climbing, lowering isn’t a common practice, and most climbers will choose to rappel anything longer than one pitch. However, descending at maximum efficiency on long routes should include lowering techniques as well as rappelling. Lowering t...
Steve Banks at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Pre-rigged rappel setup by Chris Philpot
A Safer Way to Set Up Rappels: Pre-rigging
Are you a climber who thinks double-checking your partner’s harness and knot is a good idea prior to launching up a route? Me too. That’s why I’m always mystified to see so many climbers ignoring such safety checks when coming back down. Imagine you’re at the top of ...
Dale Remsberg at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Preferred rapelling knots by Chris Philpot
Preferred Knots for Rappelling
As a mountain guide, two questions I’m often asked are: 1) What knot do you use to join two ropes for rappels? and 2) Which knot do you use to tie the end of the ropes for a backup? Preferred rapelling knots by Chris Philpot 1. Joi...
Rob Hess at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Fig 1. Friction hitch by Chris Philpot
Ascend a Rope With an Auto-blocking Device
The shadows are growing long across the desert as you rappel off the neo-classic Birdland (5.7+) in Red Rock, Nevada, after a successful ascent. In your haste to beat darkness (and avoid the resulting expensive ticket at the park gate), you forgot to grab the rack off the...
Kurt Hicks at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Rappel without a belay device by John McMullen
Rappel Without a Belay Device
You’re lying if you say you’ve never dropped your belay device and watched it go “tink, tink, tink” all the way down to the base of a route. That’s where you want to get, and you just let go of the one piece of gear that will get you there most conveniently. It can h...
Ian Nicholson at Climbing Magazine
Use a Friction-Hitch When Rappelling
A friction-hitch is popular among climbers who desire maximum control and safety while rappelling. The most common back-up is to link a harness leg loop to the rope with a prusik hitch. Your brake hand holds the friction hitch to keep it from locking while you rap, but i...
Eli Helmuth at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Short fixing by Mike Clelland
Short-fixing is an experts-only technique that essentially separates a climbing team into two roped soloists via a knot at an anchor, allowing the climbers to move simultaneously. It’s most commonly used on one-day ascents of big walls, or to speed up the process during ...
Russ Facente at Climbing Magazine
Short-hauling Your Climbing Partner
It's been a long day on the rock. If your partner can just finish this pitch quickly, you can be down on the trail before dark. But he’s exhausted, and a crux overhang has stopped him. “Take!” he yells. You give him tension, with your belay device rigged in guide mode ...
Mark Nelson at Climbing Magazine
Rope Commands for Multi-pitch Climbing
Whaaaat?!” is the word most commonly spoken on multi-pitch climbs, where river noise, wind, acoustics, and helmets and stocking caps make it difficult, if not impossible, to use traditional verbal belay signals. If I had $100 for every time I’ve watched a team wasting t...
Topher Donahue at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Figure 3  by Ben Fullerton
Single-Hitch Belay Escape
Keeping it straightforward is a good credo for rescue and almost anything climbing-related, and this particular skill is a good example of how to streamline the act of escaping a belay. It uses minimal steps, equipment, and hitches or knots, especially when compared to mo...
Eli Helmuth at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Protect your follower
Protect Your Follower on Traverses
Pitches that traverse sideways can be as dangerous for the follower as for the leader, exposing both climbers to the risk of long, swinging falls. When leading, a climber naturally seeks pro before the crux; after the difficulties, however, he may cruise across easier ter...
Adam Scheer at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Step 1
The Butterfly Knot
This is the preferred knot for tying into the middle of a rope, as you’d do on a three-person rope team. (Clip into the loop with a locking carabiner.) This knot is also great for rappelling when your ropes are too short. Step 1 ...
Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Walking the rope by Chris Philpot
Get Back on an Overhanging Route After Falling
Walking the rope by Chris Philpot When working his route Le Rêve (5.14d/5.15a) in Arrow Canyon, Nevada, Jonathan Siegrist was forced to skip a clip in the middle of the extremely overhanging crux section, where he fell dozens of tim...
Alex BIale and Jonathan Siegrist at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Downclimbing by Mike Tea
Techniques for Downclimbing
Whether it’s backing down a runout lead, navigating a sketchy descent, or merely exercising the unlikely (I will sometimes climb up and down the same route, just for fun!), the ability to downclimb (DC) is a skill worth polishing, especially for budding trad leaders. Thi...
Mic Fairchild at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Tug test your figure eight by Mike Tea
How to Stay Alive in the Alpine
The pitches flew by on Polar Circus, our one-day Canadian Rockies winter objective.So when my partner said he’d forgotten his headlamp, I didn’t sweat it. Then, a few hours later, I dropped our shared thermos (bummer). But when my crampon’s toe bail snapped and a falli...
Dave Sheldon at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: How to jug by Supercorn
Transition from Rock to Alpine
Progressing from weekend cragging to long alpine routes can be intimidating for anyone, even strong and competent traditional climbers. While the most valuable knowledge is gleaned from experience, there’s plenty of real-world advice to learn beforehand. Alpinist Scott B...
Julie Ellison at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Pickets and a rope team by Supercorn
Traveling on a Rope Team
Got a peak like Mt. Rainier on your tick list? If you have Alaskan or Himalayan aspirations, you should. Rainier’s classic Disappointment Cleaver route is the perfect introduction to mountaineering: You’ll get a taste of glacier travel, extreme weather, and altitude, on...
Shannon Davis at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Alpine anchor
Alpine Anchors
In the mountains or on long rock routes, anchor efficiency can be the difference between a comfortable finish and a forced bivouac. Using a cordelette to equalize an anchor is easy and strong, but it takes a lot of extra time to set up, and even longer to break down. Ther...
Ian Nicholson at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Keeping it together by talking by Keith Svihovec
How to Manage an Unplanned Bivy
We left the Black Canyon’s North Rim Campground a little before 9 a.m. — fine if we weren’t climbing Stratosfear (VI 5.11+ R), on the Painted Wall. Come dark, we still had three pitches left, including the crux. We faced a decision: an open bivy at a hanging belay or t...
Mark Synnott at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Safely navigating a whiteout by Keith Svihovec
How to Navigate a Whiteout
A descent through a whiteout is usually remembered in two ways: over a cold beer with friends or as a bestseller written by the sole survivor. In fact, descending a snowfield or crossing a glacier in a whiteout can be a complete horrorshow: the ground and the air blur int...
Martin Gutmann at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Storm-proof your tent setup by Mike Tea
How to Prepare Your Tent for the Worst Storm
When a storm hits, most expedition climbers play cards, pick lint off of their boot liners, or fantasize about sipping Mai Thais. A little “tent pitching” and a flask of grandpa’s cough syrup easily bide the downtime for most, but when Mother Nature blows nuclear-stren...
Molly Loomis at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Essential bivy survival kit
Survive an Unplanned Bivy
Everyone knows packing the 10 essentials is a good idea, but most people don’t actually pack them. It’s easy to get lax about loading things you hope not to use, but would you cancel your car insurance just because you haven’t had an accident yet? We consulted professi...
Shannon Davis at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Take the whip, take the whip!—ooh, but not like t...
50 Ways to Flail
I've been climbing for more than 15 years, and the mistakes I've made cover the gamut. My knot came partly untied while I was climbing at Joshua Tree; I've threaded my belay device backward; partway up El Capitan, my partner once completely unclipped me from a belay. Wors...
Laura Snider at Climbing Magazine
Rock Climbing Photo: Use Your Loops Wisely
Attain Speed by Eliminating Gear-Fumbling
Successful and swift trad climbing is all about efficiency. You can’t squander minutes searching for the perfect piece, drain strength by over-gripping while you untangle runners from your cams, or waste energy by lugging up unnecessary weight. Mayan Smith-Gobat knows a ...
Leia Larsen and Mayan Smith-Gobat at Climbing Magazine
Training for the Fifty Classic Climbs
Routes like the North Ridge on the Grand Teton require covering a lot of ground with a heavy pack. These—and many other Classics—are not casual outings. We’ve devised a six-week training program—approach, mountaineering, mixed, aid, and free climbing— that will help ...
Mercedes Pollmeier and Connie Sciolino at Climbing Magazine

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