Lead Climbing: How to Place Trad Gear


Lead Climbing: How to Place Trad Gear

Trad gear, sounds exciting right? Well, if you want to progress as a trad climber it is necessary to learn to properly place protection. To place trad gear securely, you must have a good eye. To where you route to place the gear. The common key is that they are removable, as opposed to fixed gear which is permanently secured to the rock for e.g., bolts.

Some of the guiding principles which need to be followed while learning to place trad gear are:

A gear placement is as strong as the rock that is around it. To make sure that the rock is solid you need to examine. Don’t place the gear in contact with loose blocks or flakes as it might pull out or break.

Use your fingers and hands to measure the crack and then choose the piece that corresponds with that.

You should avoid shallow placements where the piece can easily pull out.

Placing the piece too deep in the crack too tightly will be difficult for the second climber to remove.

How To Place The Nuts Properly For Trad Climber:

Lead Climbing: How to Place Trad Gear
Lead Climbing: How to Place Trad Gear

These nuts are metal wedges which comes in various sizes and shapes and are strung with cables and made to fit in constrictions in the rock. These are inexpensive and lightweight, and if placed well are very reliable. Before cams existed, climbers used nuts on their rack. These nuts are mostly effective in vertical cracks with constrictions, but they can also work in horizontal cracks if it narrows at the opening. Nuts do not work well in cracks that burst outward or downward because there is not enough of a constriction to hold the piece in place.

Finding the Right Nut Placement For Trad Gear:

The most important thing that you need to keep in mind is to look for a nut placement, for which you need to examine the rock to make sure it’s solid.  Don’t place a nut with loose blocks which might pull out or break. For any gear placement, a nut placement is as strong as the rock around it.

Nuts work by wedging into a constriction in the rock, so look for a crack that’s wider on top and tapers as it goes down. Nuts are most effective in vertical cracks with constrictions, but they can sometimes work in horizontal cracks if the crack narrows at the opening. Nuts do not work well in cracks that flare outward or downward because there is not enough of a constriction to hold the piece in place.

Lead Climbing: How to Place Trad Gear
Lead Climbing: How to Place Trad Gear

While learning how to place nuts and cams, you can ease into it. Here are some of the tips for practising good gear placements: 

  • To be more secure it is better to follow an experienced climber to climb up a climb and examine their placements.
  • Look for a crack that is easily accessible from the ground and experiment it with gear placements. Clip a sling into a piece and put your body weight to know how well the piece has been placed.  
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