Starting lead-climbing after doing the lead-course

So, you’ve done the Lead course — congratulations!

We’ve included a few helpful tips to keep in mind as you get started with the skills you’ve learnt;

  • If you are unsure of something ASK. Accidents only take one tiny mistake.
  • Never be afraid to ask for help, or why someone has done something differently. Experienced people are always happy to help.
  • Learn to lead at Arapiles, it is so much better than anywhere else. Once you have done at 20 climbs then perhaps consider different locations. Be aware that the quality of rock is quite variable at the grampians, werribee gorge, and camles hump.
  • Down climbing is a trad climbers best friend.
  • Do not even consider multipitch climbing until you have done at least 10-20 single pitch climbs and a climb takes under 2 hours from start to finish (including racking up and returning to the ground).
  • Avoid doing climbs longer than 30m when you start out. If something goes wrong you can always be lowered to the ground.
  • Climbs that are describe as “bouldery” have tough starts. Do not do these climbs unless you can get lots of gear in down low.
  • If you can’t protect the crux of the climb, DO NOT DO THE CLIMB
  • At least 3 bombproof pieces of gear for an anchor.
  • You are only safe at the top of a climb when the anchor is finished and there is no chance of falling off the edge.
  • If belaying normally from the top, the brake rope is always in the locked off position.
  • Use names when communicating with your seconder/ leader.
  • Gear at feet = More gear (a good time to put in another piece of gear/protection).
  • At crux= More gear (another good time to put some more gear in).
  • Traverse/ gear below over hang = More gear with an extender (as above).
  • Always take more gear than less. It makes you stronger and you are less likely to run out.
  • NEVER GET COMPLACENT. That’s when stuff really really goes wrong.
  • Abseiling is a dangerous activity. Always be on a safety line and triple check everything before you commit to the decent.
  • Triple checking any safety system is probably a very good idea always.
  • You are responsible for yourself and your judgement is your best friend.
  • And finally, NEVER ABSEIL THE MULDOON RAP STATION WitH ONE ROPE. You have been warned

The suggested list at the bottom is a great starting point to plenty of good climbs with good protection and a great place to hone your skills. Remember, when you are first starting out, it’s about refining your skills (placements, anchors, JUDGEMENT), as opposed to climbing hard & your ability (ie. trying the latest silly run out death climb). Get the technical side of things down-pat so that it’s second nature, and harder routes in time will be easier and more safer. Do at LEAST 20 of the climbs listed before contemplating multi-pitch climbing (which generally takes longer, is more committing and is more “in the deep-end” than the single-pitch options).

After 20 of the recommended climbs (ideally at least a few being grade 10), maybe have a look at some of the smaller multi-pitch climbs. Just make sure you can complete a single pitch, from leaving the ground to back on the ground in around 1 – 1.5 hours. This is a fairly good guide that you are becoming efficient in your climbing.

Spend 3 trips at Arapiles learning the ropes before you consider the Grampians (Summerday Valley has great beginner leads). Leave Werribee Gorge and Camels Hump for quite a few months.

Once you have done at least ten leads (that’s yourself actually leading, not just seconding) consider coming along on a lead rescue course. YOU WILL ALSO HAVE TO RUN ONE LEAD TRIP before you can come on the rescue course, but they have to be the easiest trips on the planet to run.

Suggested climbs to start with

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