Intermediate instruction - lead climbing

As scouts continue climbing, we gradually introduce/allow more alternate methods for belay/rappel, including munter hitches, hip belay, and even dulfersitz rappels under carefully controlled circumstances.


Protection Placement 1 (cliff base with variety of cracks of various sizes)


Teach: types of pieces and uses, characteristics, and eccentricities. Principles of placement, direction of pull. Examining pieces for integrity. Practice placement.


Protection & Anchors 1 (top rope area, or perhaps as a flat-land intro)


Re-teach: Piece placement.


Teach: Use of webbing slings, cords, girth hitch, selecting & checking natural anchors and bolts, independence of anchors. Hazard Evaluation. Introduce equitensioning. Practice.


Anchors 2 (top rope area)


Check: Piece placement


Re-Teach: Webbing, natural anchors, anchor rules, hazard eval.


Teach: Equitension, backup, opposing anchors, vector forces. Practice.


Climbing Practice (top rope area)


Test: Piece Placement


Check: Webbing, natural anchors, anchor rules, hazard eval.


Re-Teach: Anchor construction science & art

[Troop 8 scouts will typically have a fair bit of practice at this level, perhaps with Tyrolean or ascender system experience.  It takes a fair bit of guided practice to become proficient in the art of piece placement and anchor building, which are necessary before moving on to basic lead climbing]


Lead Climbing Mechanics (flat land)


Review: Anchor rules (use J. Long’s anchor problems from book)


Teach: Mechanics of leading & following, rope management, use of slings, quickdraws, problems of traverses.


Lead tryout 1 (top rope area)


Test: Natural anchors, anchor rules, hazard eval.


Check: Anchor construction


Re-teach: Mechanics of leading.


Teach: Rappels with rope retrieval.

Mock lead climb up good crack while tight top-roped to practice piece placement. (Must be an easy route). Rappels on anchor to bottom.


Following 1 (2-3 pitches)

Supervisor lead, scout(s) follow. Quiz & teach along the way.

[Note: Doing an introductory multi-pitch climb set at this point assumes: 1) the adult leader is using pitches well below his/her ability, and 2) you are operating in a 3-person team, where at least one of the followers has had basic rope rescue training & practice, in case the leader gets into trouble. Otherwise, you’ll need to move rescue items up ahead of this.]


Rescue 1 (flat land/climbing gym)


Teach: Rescue knots, belay escape. Practice.


Following 2 (multi pitch)

Supervisor lead, scout(s) follow. Quiz & teach along the way. Rappel out.


Test: Anchor construction, if possible


Check: mechanics of leading/following.


Lead Tryout 2 (top rope area)


Test: Anchor construction


Check: Mechanics of leading, rappels with retrieval

Mock lead climb & follow with top-rope belay. Mid-station anchor construction by scout.


Rescue 2 (flat land/trees or top-rope area)


Re-teach: Rescue knots, belay escape.


Teach: backing up rappels with locking knots and autoblocks; rescue psychology


Following 3 (multi pitch)


Test: Rappels with retrieval, mechanics of leading/following


Check: Rescue knots, belay escape


Re-teach: backed up rappels, autoblocks

Supervisor lead, scouts follow.


Rescue 3 (flat land/trees or top rope area with short cliffs)


Test: Rescue knots, belay escape


Teach: Prusik ascending system


Following 4 (multi pitch)


Test: Rescue knots, belay escape


Check: Backed-up rappels

Supervisor lead.


Lead Tryout 3 (top rope area)


Test: Backed up rappels


Re-teach/Review: Prusik ascending

Mock lead climb while on top rope belay. Belayer should introduce penalty slack so that top rope is only backup to the primary piece in a lead fall, or to guard against ground/ledge impacts.

If a rope is available that is near age retirement but is in otherwise good condition, it is a worthwhile exercise to rig a good anchor and have climbers do a deliberate low-force lead fall, to practice "safe falling" technique and cut down on unnecessary fear.


Following 5 - First Lead

Two-person team; supervisor leads first pitch. If he/she feels scout is ready, switch leads. (Best on a route the scout has already done).

Alternately, on an easy sport route below the scout's ability level, scout leads short single-pitch to anchor and gets lowered off.


Following 6 - First Lead

Same as above


First Lead - Supervisor follows.

Scout leads from ground. Supervisor follows as 2nd or 3rd on team.