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Intro to Traditional (“Trad”) Climbing

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Intro to Traditional (“Trad”) Climbing
Single Pitch Self Rescue

Prepare to tie into the sharp end, extend your focus to the destination as well as the journey and expand your knowledge of traditional climbing. This course focuses on the fundamentals of single pitch trad climbing with a heavy emphasis on gear placement and anchor building.

Day 1 consists of mostly ground school where climbers practice, among other skills, placing and evaluating each other’s gear placements, building and evaluating other participants’ anchors, making alpine draws, clipping draws to gear and clipping rope to draws. Climbers will also learn about the intricacies of lead belaying, belaying from the top as a leader and other aspects of Trad Climbing, such as lead climbing strategies, risk awareness, equipment selection and use and racking gear as a leader and follower.

Day 1 usually ends with at least 1 mock trad lead, which is when the climber lead climbs a trad route to gain experience placing gear while climbing, but under a top-rope belay scenario. A mock lead provides the climber the security of being on a top rope belay so they can apply the newly learned trad climbing gear placement skills without the risk of taking a lead fall on gear. The Instructor delivers and reviews a lot of information on day 1 and it can be overwhelming and difficult to retain the information and apply the skills and techniques by yourself. Hence, day 2, the reinforcement day!

Day 2 begins with a review that transitions into a Question, Answer & Demonstration session, which in turn progresses into the participants lead belaying, mock trad lead climbing, top site belaying and also following, cleaning and retreating from a trad route for most of the day. Day 2 is all about building confidence.


Course Length: 2 Daystrad

Course Size: 1:6 guide to client ratio course with a maximum of 6 clients

Pricing: $225

  • 3 climbers required to run the course. However, if there are less than 3 climbers, we can run the course under the below pricing schedule. The advantage is more personal time with the instructor. Since we understand that the increase in cost can be a barrier, refunds and rescheduling options are available for climbers who do not want to take the course with less than 3 climbers.

- 2 climbers – $300/climber

- 1 climber – $475

Instructor: Instructed by a certified American Mountain Guides Association Single Pitch Instructor

Topics Covered:

  • Review of Climbing Knots
  • Lead climbing strategies
  • Equipment selection
  • Gear Placement (protection) and anchoring
  • Following Single Pitch Trad Lead Climbs
  • Mock Leading Single Pitch Trad Climbs
  • Racking Gear as a Leader and Follower20150412_095521
  • Top and bottom belay-station and rope management
  • Belayer and Climber Communication
  • Assistance and lowering
  • Risk Management
  • Terrain assessment
  • LNT principles and climbing ethics
  • Route Identification

Special Note: The Intro to Traditional Climbing course is not a certification course.

Recommended Experience:

  • Familiarity with the following climbing knots and hitches: Figure 8 follow through, figure 8 on a bight, bowline, double bowline, bowline on a bite, double fisherman, munter, clove hitch, girth hitch, prussic, auto block, klemheist. Refer to for reference.
  • Prior outdoor rock climbing and rappelling experience
  • Able to top rope climb 5.8
  • Experience building anchors using natural features and artificial gear
  • VTS Rock Climbing Anchors 101 & 201 courses or similar experience
  • VTS Rappelling Setups and Techniques course or similar experience
  • VTS Top Managed Belay Site Setups course or similar experience
  • VTS Intro to Sport Climbing course or similar experience
  • Solid belaying technique
Philadelphia Intro to Traditional (“Trad”) Climbing