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1 Tactics, Choice of Route, and Special Preparation

1 Tactics, Choice of Route, and Special Preparation

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Rock Climbing

The route to be climbed should be well protected and not longer than 2-3 short

pitches. Since you cannot see the whole route at the start of the climb— often the

topos do not contain all the information for each pitch (e.g., the number of bolts

and the type of belay stands)—it is better to take just a little more equipment with

you than normal. A medium-sized backpack is recommended for each person.

For lead climbing, it is useful to also take the following items in addition to the

usual basic equipment:

2 quickdraws

2 Prusik slings (5 and 6 mm)

2 webbing slings (60 and 120 cm)

An adjustable anchor sling with a loop

An additional HMS carabiner

An additional locking carabiner

For routes of more than 3 or 4 pitches drinks, granola bars, light all-weather

protection, a First Aid kit, and a cell phone should be included in the belayer’s

backpack. Such climbs often may take half a day, especially for inexperienced

climbers. If the descent is not rappel but a hike down, firm shoes are also

required. Descending in climbing shoes is not only very uncomfortable, but

outright dangerous.

Multi-pitch routes often are located in more remote areas; in such cases, one

needs to plan for the longer ascent to the beginning of the climb as well.


The calanques rocks

near Marseille and…


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Multi-pitch Routes

TIP: In many climbing areas there are easy one rope-length routes with several possible

belay stands within the pitch. In these one can easily practice all the procedures for

multi-pitch climbing. All the necessary information is normally contained in the topo

for that area.


…the Quiquillon above

Orpierre offer ideal conditions for your

first multi-pitch routes.


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Rock Climbing


Leading, Building Belay Stands,

and Following

All preparatory work at the base of the climb is as described in chapter 4. On

shorter routes, one can leave both backpacks at the base of the climb. Leading,

building belay stands, and following are also the same as already covered.

Normally, the partners should alternate leading in multi-pitch climbs, and thus

the lead climber must consider the next pitch and position himself accordingly

when building the belay stand.

This means: if the follower comes up on the right and is going to climb up

further to the right-hand side, the lead climber should position himself in the

belay stand as far left as possible. If the climb continues on the left-hand side (i.e.,

the second climber has to cross over the belay stand), the first climber needs to

decide whether it is better to step over above or below the belay stand. He then

positions himself so that interference is minimized.

TIP: If the first protection point on

the second rope length is way off from

the belay stand or the moves upward

appear difficult, it may be advisable to

clip a quickdraw into the upper bolt on

the belay stand as a “dummy runner”

(Photo 332). This reduces the potential

fall distance as well as the impact of

the fall on body and protection a little.

It is, however, only useful when there

are two bolts at the belay stand and

the upper one is in the direction of the

climb. Otherwise the rope from the

falling lead climber could run over the

hands and arms of the belayer.



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Multi-pitch Routes


Belaying the Lead Climber

from the Belay Stand

As described above, the lead climber arranges himself in the belay stand so that the

second climber can continue climbing up without a problem. For a comfortable,

well-functioning position it can be advantageous to clip the personal anchor sling

into one of the chain links. This is useful for example when the route continues

beside the higher bolt of the belay anchor. One clips the personal anchor sling

into the second or third chain link, and belays the lead climber from the upper

bolt (Photo 333). If one wants to belay from the lower bolt instead, which is

opposite to the continuation of the route, a dummy runner should be used to

allow for more fluid movement of the rope.


Lead climber

Personal anchor sling


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