Whether you’re a beginner or have been climbing for 30 years, you can always learn something to make you a better climber.

Upcoming courses

Self Rescue for Multipitch Climbing courses will resume this winter or spring depending on coronavirus conditions. I am planning to offer these classes through Rocks and Ropes in Tucson and will provide links to the courses when we schedule them.


Why take climbing courses?

For the beginning climber, learning the right techniques can save hours of frustration, help avoid dangerous situations, and reduce the chances of getting hurt.

Learning to make placements, lead, build anchors, belay, route find, and manage time, rope, and transitions are all important aspects of climbing. Teaching these skills requires a completely sound knowledge base, a logical approach to teaching, and a massive amount of experience. Very few recreational climbers possess these qualifications. A certified guide, however, has undergone rigorous training and examination to demonstrate competence in both climbing and instruction.

Even for people who have been climbing for years, there is always something to learn. I have been climbing since 1997 and have watched thousands of people climb. A few of them have been excellent – great movement skills, a wide array of technical skills, and a good sense of when to apply them. Most, however, have weaknesses that are slowing them down, limiting what they can climb, placing them at increased risk, or just making their climbing less enjoyable.

Honestly consider the questions below:

  • Can you build a multi-directional, equalized anchor?
  • Do you know what “extension” in an anchor is, and the reason it’s a concern?
  • Do you know what the effective ranges of your cams are?
  • Do you know when it is appropriate to extend a draw on a piece of gear?
  • Do you know how much force is generated in a typical lead fall? How much force is generated in a toprope fall?
  • Do you know there’s a much better option to tying in with a daisy chain?
  • Are you able to belay two people at the same time while keeping the station organized?
  • Do you know when it is better to belay off the anchor vs from your harness?
  • Do you know when it is better to belay with an autolocking device vs a plaquette device vs a plate device?
  • Can you escape a loaded belay?
  • Do you know how to quickly and easily extend the master point of your anchor?
  • Do you know when to use hip belays vs terrain feature belays?
  • While belaying a second to an anchor, could you set up a rappel and have yourself on rappel before your second arrived?
  • Do you know how to back up rappels and lowers?
  • If your partner were injured on a multipitch climb, could you smoothly and efficiently get him down, even if he is unable to assist?
  • If you had to lower someone 350 feet with two joined ropes, could you do it smoothly and confidently? How about if your partner was unable to assist you by unweighting the rope?
  • If your partner was injured on lead beyond the halfway point of the rope, would you know how to get them him down?
  • Using a mechanical advantage, could you raise a second up a pitch if the circumstances demanded it?
  • Do you know the advantages and disadvantages of tandem, simultaneous, and counterbalanced rappels?
  • Can you manage your rope at belay stances? How about two ropes? At hanging belays? When swapping leads vs not swapping leads?
  • Have you practiced these skills in the last month? In the last 6 months?

You might be asking if you really need to learn all of this. My answer: the more you know, and the greater your experiences, the more fun you can have. In climbing, greater skill leads to greater adventures.

Check out a list of certified providers in your area at www.amga.com

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Self Rescue for Multipitch Climbing
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