Level III Lead Competency

Enough of following in someone else’s wake, although climbing as a second can still be plenty exciting, someone must go first. It’s time to learn what you need to know, muster up some nerve, and launch out onto the lead. Unless you’re a Hydra, all the hats you’ll have to wear as a leader (route finding, placing and rationing
protection, looking out for the second, arranging belays, managing risks, etc.) could get mighty confusing, so lets sort it out step-by-step. Forget difficulty ratings for now, you need to learn how to lead confidently: when to step on the throttle, and when to reel it back in, calmly and in control. There’s a lot of work to do, so let’s get at it.

The focus of the Lead continuum is to assist a client through the process of becoming a competent “lead” climber. The specific courses that address each benchmark along the lead continuum are highlighted below. Clients may start at any point along the continuum depending upon their experience and mastery of the skills outlined in the Lead Competency Objectives.

 

Lead Competency Continuum

See where you fit in to the continuum, then select the appropriate course.

The Sharp End. What’s this, no rope from above? Welcome to the machine. Being out on the lead, “the sharp end” as it’s known, is a whole different enchilada,  like the difference between being a passenger and a driver. Set the mystique aside and dissect the beast. Course 9

Avoiding trouble. Go beyond the basics. Know how to handle the inevitable crisis, a poorly protected pitch, an injured partner, or a stormy retreat. Remember, that guy Murphy was a genius: everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Why not be ready? Course 10

Climb, Climb, Climb. You’ve got to want it ‚ without consistent practice and real in-the-trenches effort, it’s all just a pipe dream. But get to the point
where you’ve mastered all of this stuff and you’ll be ready to take it on the road: the world will be your oyster. Good luck and send us a postcard once in awhile.

Lead Competency Objectives

Listed below are the specific skills and knowledge you should acquire to become “lead competent‚” all of the items listed are covered in the Lead Competency curriculum. If you already have some leading knowledge and skills, use this list to identify gaps in your learning ‚ then let us know and we’ll customize any of our courses to fit your particular needs.

  1. Know what equipment to purchase to create a standard leader’s
    rack.
  2. Know how to choose a climb and assess its equipment needs.
  3. Know how to organize a rack of gear for the lead.
  4. Know what the fall factor is, what impact force is, and
    how to minimize both.
  5. Demonstrate solid gear-placement skills.
  6. Be able to anticipate direction of pull.
  7. Be skilled in the art of clipping.
  8. Know how to ration gear on the lead.
  9. Be skilled in fixed-gear assessment.
  10. Know what rope drag is and how to minimize it.
  11. Have a fluid, controlled climbing style ‚ be able
    to climb intermediate routes in absolute control and without
    falling (recognize that the ability to move smoothly without
    falling is the leader’s first safety system). Know
    when to back down.
  12. Know how to climb with your eyes first (and how things
    can be distorted from below).
  13. Develop a sense of mental cunning.
  14. Develop the ability to approach a lead in stages, constantly
    reassessing the situation — monitoring your strength, the
    protection you still have available, and the distance to
    another stance.
  15. Be skilled at route finding on steep, complex terrain
    with few clues. Know how to use a topo/guidebook.
  16. Develop a nose for danger. Be able to judge terrain, evaluate
    hazards including loose rock, weather, other parties, and
    your second’s limitations.
  17. Know how to protect the second on traverses and pendulums.
  18. Know how to retrieve more gear while on the lead.
  19. Develop the ability to climb boldly,  knowing when
    and how.
  20. Know how to aid through difficult sections and how to
    pendulum.
  21. Be skilled in the art of falling. Know when falling is
    acceptable and when it must be avoided.
  22. Know when to retreat (bail) and the options that exist.
  23. Become skilled in all aspects of rappelling: how to join
    two ropes, rope-tossing techniques, how to ensure an easy
    pull (last-man-down techniques), how to deal with stuck
    ropes, and how to be efficient on multiple rappels.
  24. Know how to escape a belay, implement an assisted raise,
    and rappel with an injured partner.
  25. Become an expert at crafting a solid belay from a meager
    rack.
  26. Know how to haul a pack.
  27. Be skilled in all aspects of belay stance selection and
    management.
  28. Know how to belay the second directly and with a redirected
    belay. With a Munter, ATC, GriGri, Reverso, and a GiGi.
  29. Be trained in Wilderness First Aid.
  30. Understand the difference and the techniques involved
    in sport leads vs. trad leads.
  31. Know how to improvise a stick clip.
  32. Know what tramming is and when to use it.
  33. Know how to properly clean top anchors.
  34. Understand the terms flash and redpoint.
  35. Know the differences between climbing on various types
    of rock (granite, sandstone, and limestone).
  36. Understand the issues related to new routes (cleaning,
    installing fixed protection).
  37. Still be climbing, alive and well, at age 70.

 

Lead Competency : Course Descriptions

 
Course 9
Leading I
Course Length: 8 hours
When:   Daily by appointment
Maximum Ratio:   4:1
 
This course starts to build the foundation of knowledge and skills that you will need to be a competent lead climber on multi-pitch “trad” routes. Equipment selection & organization, protection placements, belay stance management are just a few of the items covered in detail.
Please call for pricing, scheduling and pre-course details.

 

 

Leading II
Course Length: 8  hours
When:   Daily by appointment
Maximum Ratio:   4:1
 
This course expands upon the material covered in Leading I and includes additional content that you will need to become a competent lead climber on multi-pitch routes.
Please call for pricing, scheduling and pre-course details.

 

 

Leading III
Course Length: 8  hours
When:   Daily by appointment
Maximum Ratio:   4:1
 
This course expands upon the material covered in Leading I & II and includes additional content that you will need to become a competent lead climber on multi-pitch routes. Poorly protected pitches, hauling a pack, aiding through difficult sections, retreat techniques are just a few of the items covered in detail. By the end, you should be ready to lead easy to intermediate routes with skill and confidence.
Please call for pricing, scheduling and pre-course details.
 
Course 10
Advanced Self Rescue
Course Length: 8 hours
When:   By appointment
Maximum Ratio:   4:1
 
Know how to escape a belay, haul a second, or rescue an injured leader. Learn the skills you’ll need to be prepared for the unexpected.
Please call for pricing, scheduling and pre-course details.