Trad Climbing Courses in Snowdonia, North Wales

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Traditional Single Pitch Climbing Courses

What is Trad Climbing?

Traditional climbing, or trad climbing, is the act of climbing outdoors, on natural rock faces, without fixed protection. Working as a team, you fix your own anchors as you go, and the last person in the team removes the anchors. In this way, you ascend the cliff without leaving anything behind – you leave nature as you found it.

In trad climbing you are completely self-sufficient, constantly making decisions which will keep you and your party safe. Unlike indoor or sport climbing which mostly focus on climbing technique, trad climbing is more complex and requires a far broader set of problem-solving skills. As well as how to do the next move, you must be constantly considering where to place the next anchor, how to keep your team safe, where you want your rope to run so that it doesn’t fray on sharp rock edges. Rope work is a big part of trad climbing and often you climb with two ropes at a time.

The self-sufficiency of trad climbing, and placing your own anchors, gives access to a whole new world of climbing. You’re no longer restricted to a handful of indoor climbing walls or sport climbing venues. With trad climbing, you are free to climb any cliff face you have access to. Grit stone outcrops, sea cliffs, the mountains… These are all the realm of trad climbing.

Trad climbing is what many of us Brit’s believe to be the purest form of climbing. Indoor climbing, sport climbing, bouldering… they’re seen by many as just training for trad climbing. Trad climbing then is the Real Deal, the Main Event.

Two ladies puching the air as they celebrate the end of a two day trad climbing course
Celebrating at the end of a two day trad climbing course

What’s the Difference between single pitch and multipitch?

In the terms and single and multi-pitch, a “pitch” essentially means one length of rope. A single-pitch climb is one that can be done in one go – the leader reaches the top of the climb whilst they’re partner remains on the ground and belaying the entire time. Indoor climbing and sport climbing are (mostly) single-pitch climbs.

Multi-pitch climbing on the other hand usually means that the climb is too long for a single length of rope – think big climbs in the mountains. When the leader has climbed so far that their partner has no more rope to feed to them, although usually it is sooner than this, the leader must stop and bring their climbing partner up to his or her position. The two climbing partners will usually then swap roles, with the partner now becoming the leader, who forges on up the cliff face. They will keep climbing pitches (rope lengths) and alternating who is leading and who is belaying until they reach the top.

Most of time though, you don’t wait until you have reached the end of the rope. You might sometimes only climb half your rope’s length and then stop because you’ve found a particularly good ledge where you and your partner can change roles, or because the route changes direction for example.

Before venturing into multi-pitch climbing, it’s important that you first develop all of the prerequisite skills and first become proficient at single-pitch climbing.

Two young girls climbing, one hasn't oticed a cross-loaded carabiner
Having a great time, good anchors, but failing to notice the cross-loaded carabiner

What will I Learn?

The list below explains the main learning objectives for this Single-Pitch Trad Climbing course.

Avoiding injury

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The risks in climbing are numerous and each climbing discipline has its own hazards. Falling is the obvious risk, but you will also learn about other hazards relevant to the course. This could be warming up the muscles effectively, keeping out of the path of falling rocks, or prevent carabiners from being cross-loaded.

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Belaying

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Belaying is the act of holding a rope for a climbing partner. So that a climber doesn't hit the ground when they fall, they attach themselves to a rope. When they fall, they fall onto the rope and the rope takes their weight. Climbing is done in pairs as there needs to be somebody at the opposite end of the rope to keep hold of it. The person holding the rope is known as the belayer.

Rather than holding the rope directly, the belayer uses a belay device attached to their climbing harness to add friction and make it easier to hold the rope. A belay device makes it possible to hold the weight of a falling climber.

There are many types of belay devices available. Some are specific to different types of climbing, some accommodate one rope, some are intended for use with two ropes, and there are many specialist devices available. Knowing which one to use, and how to use it correctly, in any given situation is fundamental to climbing safely.

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Belay Stance

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As part of this course you will learn belay stance organisation. Keeping your belay stance organised is extremely important to efficient climbing. Without a well organised belay stance you could inadvertently force a fall because the rope has become stuck. We look at the most efficient belay setups to facilitate a smooth transition to climbing the next pitch, as well as how to organise your belay stance depending on who is going to be climbing next.

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Bottom Roping

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Bottom-Roping is often confused with Top-Roping, so much so that the two terms have almost become interchangeable. Bottom-Roping relates to a situation whereby the person holding the rope is stood on the ground. The rope travels from their hands to the top of the cliff. Here it passes through an anchor and down to the climber. The advantage of bottom roping is that the climber always has the rope above them. This means that if they fall off the cliff, they are instantly caught by the rope. Climbers will often use bottom-roping when they are practicing a difficult climb. As the rope instantly catches them, it means that they don't have to re-climb a difficult section to get back to where they fell off. Bottom-roping is also used for novice climbers who have not prepared themselves for the mental aspect of taking large falls. Finally, bottom-roping is an excellent way to develop new skills. As the fear of falling is removed, the mind is relaxed and more open to new learning.

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Building a Belay

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In traditional climbing, where a climber places their own protection rather than relying on pre-placed bolts, when reaching the top of the climb a climber must construct a belay stance. This is usually a combination of equipment types which provide a single point in which to clip the rope. This makes it safe for their climbing partner to then start climbing up to the belay stance, retrieving any placed protection on their way. In order for this to be safe, the belay needs to be correctly equalised and have redundancy. On this course you will learn how to build a safe and efficient belay.

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Communication

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Good communication is imperative when climbing as a miscommunication could prove fatal. The biggest risk is usually the person on the ground letting go of the rope when the climber is attempting a difficult section. For example, a climber psychologically preparing themselves by saying "let's go" could easily be misinterpreted by their partner as "let go". On this course you will learn a set of standardised communication phrases which are intended to avoid such scenarios.

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Conservation

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At Climb Wales we take conservation seriously and this is embedded in all of the climbing and mountaineering courses that we offer. One of the many great things about climbing is interaction with nature. During the course we will look at how to minimise impact and ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the same luxuries as we do.

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Equipment

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During the course you will learn to use a variety of climbing equipment. There are some aspects of equipment which are universal to all disciplines of climbing, such as climbing shoes, harness, helmet, ropes, belay devices and carabiners. Some items are specific to a particular discipline though and won't be the focus of other climbing courses, for example, during our multipitch climbing courses we will look at twin and half ropes but it's unlikely that these will be the focus of any of our other courses. On the sea cliff climbing course you will learn to use jumars and prusiks. And on the single pitch trad climbing course you will learn to place nuts, cams and hexes.

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Ethics

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Ethics has played an incredibly important part in shaping UK climbing, perhaps more so than in any other country. During this course you will learn about ethics in climbing and how it impacts what we do.

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Guidebooks

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As part of this climbing course you will learn how to read guidebooks, understand climbing grades, and find routes which are suited to your climbing abilities.

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Jargon

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"I've got no friends and my nuts are too small" is a phrase that many climbers have found themselves shouting down to their climbing partners. Snatch the Gaston, Undercling the flatty, Flag into an Egyptian, Dyno to the Crimper, Mantle on the Sloper and get ready to Dog the Flash... By the end of this course you will speak climbing lingo with the best of them.

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Knots

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Knots are an integral part of climbing and an extremely important link in a chain intended to keep us alive. For sport climbing the most important knot is the figure-eight, for multipitch and trad we extend the use of knots further with clove and Italian hitches, prusiks, bowlines and more. As part of this climbing course you will learn to tie and inspect knots appropriate to the discipline of climbing and how to ensure their safety.

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Leading

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For some, lead climbing is climbing. That is to say that lead climbing is the pure essence of climbing. You can arrive at a climber wall and find that some kind person has already left a rope hanging from the ceiling. You tie into one end and your belay partner takes the other. In this scenario you can fall off the wall safe int he knowledge that you have a rope above you. But what happens when you climb outdoors and there is no kind person to set up a rope for you? In this instance you have to lead climb, that is, to climb whilst trailing the rope below you. As you climb you clip the rope into runners (pieces of protection), in sport climbing this will be a purpose-built bolt which might be drilled and glued into the rock, in traditional climbing you will have to create your own protection using the natural features of the rock. In the event of a fall, you no longer have the rope to catch you immediately, and instead will fall part your last runner and keep falling until the rope becomes taut. Lead climbing is essential to climbing outdoors, and as was said earlier, to climb is to lead climb, but there are numerous mistakes which can be made and which you will learn to avoid as part of this course. You will learn to lead climb in a safe environment under the watchful eye of our experienced instructors and slowly gain in confidence your first "live" lead climb.

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Legislation

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During this climbing course you will learn about the legislation surrounding climbing, such as access permission, bird bans, and insurance.

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Mental Game

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An irrational fear of falling is one of the biggest inhibitors in climbing. During this course you will learn how to manage fear as well as develop mental tactics to leverage your ability and ensure a good performance on the rock.

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Placing Protection

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To prevent a falling climber from hitting the floor, climbers periodically place climbing equipment into natural rock features as they climb. In the event of a fall, the equipment catches the rope and minimise the distance of a fall. On this course you will learn about how to place a variety or protection in different scenarios, the types of placements to avoid, and how to get creative when it seems like there is no way of protecting the next part of the climb.

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Protecting a second

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When leading a climb it is easy to focus too much on protecting yourself and not enough on making the climb safe for your partner who will climb behind you. On this climbing course you will learn about the situations where problems arise and how to avoid them.

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Prusiks

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Prusiks are an important part of the equipment arsenal and as they weigh so little so be present on almost any rack. On this course you will learn about the different types of prusiks and how to protect an abseil, to ascend a rope, to assist a belay and a host of other uses for prusiks.

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Ropes

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There are many types of ropes used in climbing; dynamic ropes, static ropes, single ropes, twin ropes, half ropes, hybrids, and many different weights and thicknesses from a number of manufacturers. During this climbing course you will learn to decide which rope to use for ta particular type of climbing.

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Throwing the rope

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When rigging an abseil from the top of the cliff it's important to make sure the rope reaches the ground. As part of this course you will learn a number of techniques to ensure this happens and how to recognise potential problems.

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Top Roping

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Top-Roping is often confused with Bottom-Roping, so much so that the two terms have almost become interchangeable. Top roping is where the person holding the rope, the belayer, is situated above the climber. Top roping is most often used in traditional climbing where a climbing partner will follow a climber and retrieve all of the pieces of protection which were placed by the climber.

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Single Pitch Climbing Course
Adults
Full Day
£150.00£127.50
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£292.50£248.63
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£427.50£363.38
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