10 tips for better multi-terrain climbing

It’s multi-pitch climbing season and there will be thousands of climbers climbing rock faces across Canada over the next few months. If you’re a seasoned multi-launch pro, you don’t need to know about this. But if you’re new to this, these 10 tips are good to keep in mind.

Study the weather

Multi-pitch climbing is more challenging than cliff climbing, which means you’re more at the mercy of the weather. Check several sources on the weather for the day you are heading for elevation. Watch him throughout the day, approaching and climbing. In case of a storm, have a plan-b and know when you can safely retire from the climb.

Know the route

Look at all the topos available online and in the guide. Routes change over the years, so a belay edge or fixed piton may not be where it was 10 years ago. Know how many slots the climb is, the ratings breakdown, where it’s going, and if there’s a special beta you need. The last thing you want is to be high five and start variation 5.12 when all you had to do was traverse left to crack 5.10.

Great Wall Topo

Bring enough layers

You only want to bring the layers you will need or may need if the weather changes. Bring a light rain shell and a light insulating layer, but in the summer you don’t need much else unless the forecast calls for dramatic changes. All of your diapers should be compact enough to fit in the bottom of your bag.

Carry the right bag

Too many climbers go for moderate three to five pitch climbs with big packs. You shouldn’t need a 40 liter backpack for a short day uphill. Start with a 15-25 liter bale pack and see what you can fit. If you can’t fit it (ropes, helmet, shoes, water), attach it to the outside of the bag or carry it. There’s nothing worse than having too much on your back in these crucial terrains. And if you ever have to head for a fireplace, you’ll be better off with a slimmer bag than a bulky one.

Climbing with a ball bag Photo Mark Cushman

Bring in enough calories

You know how much food you need, so bring enough. And before you get on, make sure your partner has some food too. It’s good to have snacks you can eat on the belay ledges, that way you’ll never go hungry and you’ll always have calories. , jerky, peppers and hummus and sandwiches.

Bring enough water

There are two ways to carry water on a climb: in a hydration bladder or in a bottle. Whatever your preference, be sure to bring enough. Some climbers use plastic bottles with cord and tape and install a system to attach to your harness. Bring an extra liter or two for the car. When you get to the climb, drink plenty of it, so you won’t need to dip into your stash for a while. When you start drinking your water, keep in mind the number of pitches you need to climb and the descent. Consider adding electrolytes to add flavor and keep your energy up. Ration what you have, especially if it’s hot. Do not rush, otherwise you will ask your partner for his. Then, when you return to your car, drink the drink you brought to quench your thirst after the climb.

Bring enough water for long days

Become an insurance pro

Multi-pitch belaying is different from crag or indoor climbing because you are roped to your partner the entire time.

When belaying a leader: Be comfortable, have the flake rope for easy feeding, don’t stand on the rope. If the lead climber falls they will pull you very hard into the rock, so be aware of what is in front of your face. There’s a roof, then position yourself, so your head won’t hit it if you’re pulled up.

When belaying a second: Know how to belay using a guide-type device, always equalize the anchor, manage the rope in an orderly manner, keep the rope taut (no slack) and help the second to cross any knots by being attentive.

Rescue Techniques

The best climbers in the world have had serious accidents on simple multi-pitch climbs, so be prepared for the worst. Anything can happen: a hold can break, equipment can shoot, time can happen, you can get on another team with an epic. Rescue techniques can go a long way, such as hauling, descending, tandem rappelling and how to escape belaying are skills everyone should have. Ask your partner if they could save your life if you fell and were knocked unconscious. Rescue techniques are as important as carrying a beacon and a shovel in avalanche terrain. Bring a radio, cell phone (know if there is coverage on your route before you go), SPOT, or inReach. Watch AMGA guide Patrick Ormond explain how to raise a climber from the top using a 3:1 system:


Having good communication on a multi-pitch climb is key to reaching the top, especially if there are other climbers around. Always use each other’s name when communicating, some examples:
“Sarah, I’m off road and need to get off, so take some slack.”
“Hey Dave, I’m safe!”
“Michelle, you’re off the hook!” »
“Sonnie, hoist me up, I can’t tie the knot you made easy.
Also, good communication at the belay ledges is important. Make sure you are properly belayed before unclipping from the anchor and make sure your second has clipped in properly before removing them from the belay.

To wear a helmet

Helmets are lightweight, affordable, fashionable and can save your life. Why wear a multi-pitch helmet? Falling rocks, climbers above could drop something, you could fall, the lead climber could fall on top of you, you could be pulled headfirst into the rock, and so on. To wear a helmet.