How to prepare for Multi Pitch Climbing


This is a question I asked myself many times. “How do I Prepare for a multi-pitch climb?” It seems like a daunting task. Will I need new equipment? How much will I need? It a higher level of climbing and . assumes that you’ve climbed single pitches outdoors before.

If this is your first multi-pitch climb, here are some things I suggest to help you prepare for it.

What you need for an outdoor multi-pitch climb:

  • a leader. You probably don’t want to be leading for your first time.
  • a route (+ a print out or guidebook with that route). You will definitely want to know where you are going.
  • about 1.5x all the single pitch trad climbing gears (excluding your rope). This is highly dependent on the route, so make sure to read up on and see what type of rock protections you need. Take an extra belay device while you are at it (in case you drop one), Also you probably want a prussik loop for rappelling.
  • lots of water + snacks. Multi pitch climbs can easily take a whole day especially on your first time. Get plenty of protein filled snacks and enough water.
  • 1 comfortable hiking pack. As the follower, you’ll most likely be climbing and carrying up all the supplies. Do yourself a big favor and get a well fitted pack.
  • a radio. Shouting commands when you are 70m apart on a mountain is painful.
  • headlamp or flash light (+ extra batteries). In case your climb takes much longer than you thought and you have to climb or hike down after sunset.
  • rap ring + nylons for that emergency rappel.
  • space blanket (+ warm jacket) for that emergency bivy you’d rather not think about.
  • weather forecast. Don’t go on a rainy day.

What you’d want to learn for an outdoor multi-pitch climb (as a follower):

  • Common verbal signals. Take. Safe. Belay On. Belay Off. Watch Me.
  • How to do a hanging lead belay (+ rope management so your rope doesn’t get caught by some rock).
  • How to clean protection gear (+ anchor). Try your best to not push any gear in when you are trying to clean. Cams are the easiest, nuts are harder, cleaning tri cams is an art form.
  • How to not drop gear. This sounds really trivial, but in a multi pitch, if you drop some gear, your odds of seeing it again are very low.
  • How to switch belays after you leader belays you up a pitch.
  • Some basic rescue stuff in case of emergency. How to escape the belay so your can free your hands to call for help. How to tie munter-mule-overhands so you can secure your climber and go get help.
  • How to rappel because you’ll likely need to do that to descend.
  • Ideally, you’d also learn how to lead, which is just all around useful.

A lot of this stuff is best learned from an experienced multi pitch climbing mentor or friend. When in doubt, ask questions, and go with someone you trust.

Be safe, don’t die.



Thank You Angela Zhang for some creativity with this post.

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