Multi-Pitch Climbing Buyer’s Guide

August 06, 2015

  • by
  • Lydia Tanner

Feeling limited by the length of your rope? Wondering what lies above your favorite crag? Climbing multi-pitch off the deck opens the door to countless adventures—plus it’s wicked fun. Prepare yourself physically and mentally for multi-pitch climbing with this Active Junky Buyer’s Guide.

Physical Preparation:

Depending on the length of your objective, you might string a day’s worth of pitches into a single route.  That requires enough food, water and fitness to climb all day (or multiple days on a really big wall).

Endurance Training Using Single Pitches

In the gym or at the crag, pick a set of three routes. One should be 90-95% of your ability, one should be relatively easy for you and one should be in the middle. Climb all three, starting with the hardest, without resting. When this gets too easy, climb the hard pitch three times back-to-back. Don’t be surprised at that 5.9’s difficulty after two nonstop pitches!

Preventative Exercise

Staying healthy while on the wall is also important. Implement a preventative regimen, using Therabands and/or a hang board to stretch tendons and strengthen shoulders.

Cross Train:

Mix climbing days with light cardio work (running or biking, etc), to improve your overall endurance.

Mental Preparation:

For most, going higher makes staying focused more difficult. The day lags on, muscles get tired and the objective doesn’t appear to get any closer. Multi-pitch adventures become riskier with every belay.  Stay sharp as you’ve got ropes to manage, a partner to look out for and weather to monitor.

Risk Assessment:

Manage risks whenever possible. Know your route, anticipate the weather and identify points you can bail. If one climber is demonstrably stronger, rotate leading accordingly so they are pulling the crux pitch.

Plan Ahead:

Agree to – and practice – signals if someone gets out of earshot. Bring candy rewards. These practices ease anxiety, replacing agitation with productive tasks.

Multi-Pitch Climbing Gear

Mammut 7.5mm Dry Half/Twin

Mammut 7 5mm twilight2 Mammut Twilight Dry Climbing Rope - 7.5mm

Double ropes provide twice the rappel length at the same weight as a single rope. If taking your multi-pitch experience to alpine rock and ice, you’ll appreciate being able to clip them together (or to alternating pieces of gear). Buy yourself insurance against a cut rope and/or distribution of forces in a fall. The Dry coating is essential in inclement weather or ice.

Petzl Attache

Petzl attache Petzl Attache

When building and belaying from anchors, trustworthy locking carabineers are required. Autolockers are great for belay ‘biners but can freeze and become unwieldy when wearing gloves. The Petzl Attache is smooth handling with a no-nonsense locking mechanism. While not the lightest option, it’s a great value for the money.

Black Diamond Vector Helmet

Bd vector helmet1 Black Diamond Vector Helmet

Form fitting and versatile, Vector keeps your brain safe from falling debris without making you sweat. Ventilation and an adjustable ratchet system ensure a personalized fit as you pull dicey moves. A little burlier than the Vapor (BD’s lightest offering), Vector weighs only about 8oz, less than your summit PBR.

Adidas Edo Light Wind Jacket

Adidas edo light 1 Adidas Edo Light Wind Jacket Starting at: $31.82

A couple of pitches up, you’re often being beamed by the sun or whipped by the wind — sometimes both. Carry a lightweight, compressible layer to escape the elements while on belay. With ripstop nylon and an adjustable hood, the Adidas Edo helps you hunker down without excessive carry weight.

Marmot Kompressor Backpack

Marmot kompressor 2 Marmot Kompressor Backpack

All-day objectives or long access hikes make snacks, layers and shoes advisable. This ultra-light daypack from Marmot holds everything needed without getting cumbersome. Made to shrink (“compress”), it’s ideal for that summit push.

Arc’teryx AR-395a

Arcteryx ar395a Arc’teryx AR-395a $136.74 - $152.64

For one of the lightest, most versatile harnesses out there, look no further than the Arc’teryx AR-395a. Despite lacking bulky padding, AR-395a distributes weight well with widened leg loops and webbing. Polyurethane gear loops keep your pro secure, and at a svelte 13.9oz, you might just forget you’re wearing it!

Black Diamond ReVolt

Black diamond revolt1 Black Diamond ReVolt $38.67 - $42.27

You’ve probably heard this before: never go adventuring without a headlamp. This holds doubly true if you’re in any situation that might include setting up belays or rappels. While not the brightest or the lightest, the BD ReVolt has an impressive battery performance— and can be recharged with any USB adaptor. So throw it in your pack and forget about it, it’ll be ready when you need it.

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