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1 Tactics, Choice of Route, and Special Preparation
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 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
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…
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.
Leading, Building Belay Stands,
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.
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.
Personal anchor sling