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'Beginners' in the School of Rock


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Assortment of tools and hardware.
Fixed Hardware: Bolting & Anchors
Nearly every style of climbing requires some degree of fixed anchor placement to safely ascend and descend technical terrain. Sport climbing (i.e. bolt intensive climbing) has continued to grow in popularity since its inception in the 1980s. Unfortunately, many of the mos...
Access Fund
Good nut (left): securely set in a constriction, oriented downward, with full width of both sides touching. Extended with a quickdraw. Bad nut (right): Sides sticking out of crack, set in fractured rock, and not extended. <br />
Nuts 101
When many people start trad climbing, cams become their new best friend. They’re easy to use and contract to fit a variety of crack sizes. But don’t underestimate the benefits of their counterpart: the nut. With no moving parts (hence, “passive protection”), nuts are inex...
Julie Ellison and Dougald MacDonald at Climbing Magazine
Step 1
Single-Strand Backpack Coil
Tired of repetitively flaking out a backpack-style rope coil before starting each new pitch? Here’s how to make a single-strand backpack coil that you can unwrap, drop, and then immediately start your lead. Instead of grabbing both ends of the rope to begin coiling, start...
Chris Van Leuven at Climbing Magazine
The perfect backpack rope coil
The Perfect Backpack Rope Coil
There are times when carrying a full pack to the base of a route is cumbersome and inefficient; plus, you might have a packless, walk-off descent to think about. You need a convenient way to carry the rope, and the backpack coil is the ideal method. This system prevents y...
SP Parker at Climbing Magazine
Passive Mode
Tricams 101: A Guide
The Tricam is a puzzling piece: It’s delightfully simple, with no active—or moving—parts, yet it has more potential uses than either a spring-loaded camming device (SLCD) or a standard nut. These metal nuggets are essentially hybrids: They can be placed passively (like a ...
Amanda Fox at Climbing Magazine
The tripod stance
Ice Climbing Basics: The Tripod
If you’ve ever tried ice climbing and got so pumped you couldn’t even reach the top of the route, you’re not alone. As with any discipline, finding and maintaining the correct body position is what it’s all about. Last December, I headed up to the Bozeman Ice Climbing Fes...
Berne Broudy at Climbing Magazine
Taping up... with a twist <br />by Chris Philpot
Better Tape Gloves
A gnarly fissure will rip the skin off even the best crack climbers. Protect your hands with a layer of tape so you can keep trying hard until your strength gives out instead of failing from pain or blood loss. Here’s how I make thin, reusable tape gloves, using two neat ...
Jean-Pierre Ouellet at Climbing Magazine
by Jamie Givens
How to Belay a Heavier Leader
People whose partners outweigh them by 25 pounds or more routinely get yanked off the ground when catching sport-climbing leader falls. Although this phenomenon is disconcerting at first, it can be perfectly safe with a few simple precautions—and it provides a nice, soft ...
Dave Sheldon at Climbing Magazine
The cam is engaged and pinches the rope to keep it from moving
Proper Techniques for Grigri Use
The release of the Petzl Grigri in 1991 marked a major step in the evolution of belay devices: Here was a device that assisted significantly in catching a fall, and also allowed a belayer to hold and lower his partner with little effort. Belay slaves rejoiced, but incorre...
Julie Ellison at Climbing Magazine
Tyrolean traverse <br />by Supercorn
How to Do the Tyrolean Traverse
The Tyrol, short for Tyrolean traverse, involves using a fixed line to cross from one point to another, often over water. While wearing a harness, you clip onto the rope or cable to pull yourself across. Developed in the Dolomites of the former Tyrol region, this method w...
Bruce Hildenbrand at Climbing Magazine
by Chris Philpot
Safely Rappel with a Too-short Rope
Do you always know the exact length of every rappel? At some point in your climbing career, you will probably encounter a rappel that is unknown but looks too long for your measly single line. Instead of tossing the rope, crossing your fingers, and getting to the ends of ...
Jeff Ward at Climbing Magazine
Essentials of sport climbing <br />by Mike Clelland
The 10 Essentials of Sport Climbing
If you’re a crusty old dinosaur like me then you probably remember being taught the importance of the 10 Essentials upon your introduction to climbing and the mountains.While these items (map, compass, food, water, umm, uh, hmmm . . .) are just as important to safe mounta...
Matt Samet at Climbing Magazine
Cleaning a sport anchor <br />by Chris Philpot
Cleaning Sport Anchors
One of the best parts about sport climbing is its utter simplicity: Clip some bolts as you climb, and—well, that’s pretty much it. The most complicated part is cleaning the anchors; in other words, threading your rope through the rings or chains at the top so you can lowe...
Julie Ellison at Climbing Magazine
The standard flag—the position most climbers learn first.
Five Techniques for Better Footwork
It happens to all of us: You’re 10 feet above your last bolt, over-gripping and breathing erratically, and everything feels “off.” What’s wrong? The tension in your body has caused you to lose your balance. But there are ways to get it back, even when you’re mid-route. Bo...
Amanda Fox at Climbing Magazine
Falling <br />by Jamie Givens
Practice Falls When Climbing
Just because you don’t actually feel afraid to fall does not mean you are completely comfortable falling. It’s the uncertainty that gets us. We know we might fall, so at committing cruxes we hesitate, second-guess, slap lamely for a hold, or simply let go. What we need is...
Arno Ilgner at Climbing Magazine
Friction climbing body position
Slab Climbing Techniques
Friction climbing —holdless slab climbing— can be effortless or desperate, or both at the same time. Strength plays no role; there’s nothing to pull on. Technique and mindset are paramount. Friction climbs typically involve long runouts between the stances where a first a...
Jeff Achey at Climbing Magazine
Hand jam in constriction <br />by John McMullen
Hand and Foot Jams for Crack Climbs
Jamming isn’t something you learned by climbing trees as a child. Instead of grabbing normal holds, you wedge body parts into cracks. It’ll take some practice, but once you learn the techniques, cracks become your roads to success on all kinds of rock. And when the crack ...
Jeff Achey at Climbing Magazine
3 exercises for better balance <br />by Ben Fullerton
Exercises for Better Balance While Climbing
Along with a good pair of shoes and a positive attitude, balance is crucial for successful rock climbing. Without it, your body won’t move naturally on the rock, thus eliminating efficiency and style. We tapped into trainer and hardman Eric Hörst’s knowledge of climbing p...
Amanda Fox at Climbing Magazine
Bolted toprope anchor setup <br />by Chris Philpot
Bolted Toprope Anchors
Once you start venturing outside the gym to pull on real rock, you or your climbing partner might not be quite ready to tie into the sharp end, so it’s essential to know how to set up a solid anchor for toproping. Many climbs have two bolts (or chains or rings attached to...
Julie Ellison at Climbing Magazine
Pre-thread a top rope
Setting Up an Anchor-Friendly Toprope
You're climbing outdoors with novice friends, and you want to rig a toprope from a fixed-chain anchor. You’re the only one in the group who can safely install and clean a toprope setup, but you loath having to climb each route twice—once to hang the rope, and once to clea...
Russ Facente at Climbing Magazine
How to jug <br />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 Be...
Julie Ellison at Climbing Magazine
Pickets and a rope team <br />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 a...
Shannon Davis at Climbing Magazine
How to Rappel <br />by Ben Fullerton
Learn the Basics of Rappelling
Getting to the top of any route is a success, but it also means one thing: You’re only halfway there. To descend single- and multi-pitch routes, rappelling is an excellent option that gets you down quickly and puts minimal wear on fixed anchors. The process of rappelling ...
Julie Ellison at Climbing Magazine
Take the whip, take the whip!—ooh, but not like that... See mistake number 6.  by Andy Mann
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
Climbing Dictionary
Presenting the 50 most important (and common) climbing terms, the words you need to know in order to speak the language at the cliffs. All have been excerpted in part or in total from the Climbing Dictionary by Matt Samet, published in 2011 by The Mountaineers Books and w...
Matt Samet at Climbing Magazine
How To Build a Trad Anchor
Learn the best way to build a simple, safe, equalized anchor.
Climbing Tech Tips
Ice Climbing Over Bulges
Learn how to mantle like an expert and move over changes in angle on ice climbs.
Climbing Tech Tips
Basic Hold Types and Grip Techniques
View the different types of handholds and how to position your hands on them for the best grip.
Climbing Tech Tips
Basic Footwork Tips
See the best ways to position your feet on different rock features.
Climbing Tech Tips
Body Mechanics for Climbing
How to position your body to conserve energy and climb smoothly.
Climbing Tech Tips
Basic Climbing Moves Explained
See a narrated series of basic footwork, hands and other useful climbing techniques on Joshua Tree's "Gunsmoke Traverse"
Climbing Tech Tips
Being Prepared and Racking Up
Mental checklist for a trad route and how to prep your climbing gear.
Climbing Tech Tips
Make Quickdraws with Long Slings
Watch this demonstration of extending slings and re-clipping long slings to make shorter quickdraws for trad and alpine climbs.
Climbing Tech Tips
What is Traditional Climbing?
This is a description of the basic methods and ethos of traditional or "trad" climbing.
Climbing Tech Tips
Gear and Packing Considerations
In depth discussion about what and how to pack for outdoor climbing excursions.
Climbing Tech Tips
How to Belay From Above
See a discussion of the pros and cons of direct and indirect belay methods.
Climbing Tech Tips
How to Tie a Munter Hitch
Watch the construction of a Munter Hitch, how to use it to belay through a biner, and finally how to lock it off as a Munter Mule.
Climbing Tech Tips
Clean a Top Rope and Make a Rappel Backup
Step by step demonstration of how to clean a top rope and set up a hands-free rappel backup.
Climbing Tech Tips
Make a Butterfly Rope Coil Backpack
Use this method to make a tidy, compact coil of rope for easy transport on your back.
Climbing Tech Tips
Set Up a Top Rope Anchor with a Cordelette
Learn how to construct an equalized cordelette anchor for a top rope climb.
Climbing Tech Tips
Set Up a Top Rope Anchor with Slings
Learn how to construct an equalized, double length sling anchor for a top rope climb.
Climbing Tech Tips
Make a Sliding X Top Rope Anchor
Learn how to construct a sliding X anchor and when it is appropriate to use.
Climbing Tech Tips
Top Rope Belay Basics
How to tie a figure 8, rig a belay device, use belay commands, perform slide belay, and lower a climber on top rope.
Climbing Tech Tips
Using SERENE to Make Safe Anchors
Learn how using the acronym "SERENE" will help to build safe anchors.
Climbing Tech Tips
How to Belay with an Autoblock Device
Watch an explanation of how to use an autoblocking belay device and understand it's benefits for rescue.
Climbing Tech Tips
How to Back Up a Rappel
Choose your favorite method to back up a rappel.
Climbing Tech Tips
Ice Climbing Grip Techniques
Learn the best ways to grip the ice tool to use less energy.
Climbing Tech Tips
How to Hook with Ice Tools
Learn how to place ice tools between rock and ice and when to trust it.
Climbing Tech Tips
Basic Techniques for Ice Climbing
What you need to know for safe efficient ice climbing: footwork, tool placement, swing dynamics, anchors and resting.
Climbing Tech Tips
How to Pack Ice Gear
A discussion of choosing basic ice climbing gear and how to pack it for trips.
Climbing Tech Tips
Ice Climbing Safety Tips
How to choose safe tool placements, protect the rope, warn your partner, and fall safely.
Climbing Tech Tips
Mono-Point VS Dual-Point Crampons
How to choose crampons for best performance on ice.
Climbing Tech Tips
Parts of a carabiner
A Guide to Carabiners
Carabiners are the unsung heroes of the climbing world. They get beat to shit and save thousands of climbers’ lives day after day, all without the slightest nod of gratitude or appreciation for their ingenious form and function. A carabiner is a loop of metal with a spri...
Andrew Bisharat at Backcountry
Cleaning Sport Anchors
How to Clean Sport Climbing Anchors
One of the best parts about sport climbing is its utter simplicity: Clip some bolts as you climb, and - well, that’s pretty much it. The most complicated part is cleaning the anchors; in other words, threading your rope through the rings or chains at the top so you can lo...
Julie Ellison at Climbing Magazine