Leading Indoors

Climbing walls provide facilities that can allow you to get a taste of leading climbs. Don't be fooled though; there is a big difference between leading indoors and outdoors, even on sport routes. Leading routes on an indoor wall will give you the thrill of moving above protection, and trusting your partner's belaying. The relaxed and sociable atmosphere makes the whole thing seem very cosy and safe, so much so that accidents in climbing walls are often due to poorly positioned belayers or careless mistakes. So before leading check your partner's equipment as well as your own.

Once satisfied that your partner is capable of belaying safely, you can set off with confidence. Clipping the rope into a quickdraw is something of an art. You have a choice - either stand below the bolt, pulling up rope to clip above your head, or you climb up until the bolt is just below your waist, reaching down to clip it. The handholds and footholds will dictate which level you choose, and either way can result in a longer fall if you slip before you clip.

Whether indoors or outdoors make sure you clip the quickdraw correctly - don't back clip. This term refers to how your lead rope is oriented in the quickdraw. With the quickdraw flat against the wall, clip the rope so that it comes out of the front of the karabiner towards you. Once clipped, ensure that the end attached to your harness is not passing between the karabiner and the wall. In that situation the rope will run along the karabiner's gate as you lead above it, and can easily unclip if you fall off. Practice clipping at ground level, and learn to do it quickly - when leading you do not want to use up vital energy reserves fumbling with quickdraws.

At the top of the wall clip the final karabiner and lower off, but ensure your partner has taken in any slack rope before weighting the rope. Don't unclip any quickdraws on the way down; they will act as a failsafe.

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