Placing Protection Rock Climbing

Placing Protection Rock Climbing

“The best climbers are the ones having the most fun” – Alex Lowe

Personal protection rock climbing equipment for a traditional climber has developed hugely over the years in design, strength and weight, making it safer to climb.

As rock climbers we will place protection for a number of reasons, firstly to protect yourself, to protect your partner and also when building belays.

Learning how to place protection correctly is a fundamental and vital skill to learn prior to venturing out into lead climbing at a traditional venue.  This is part of our personal protection equipment and is what is going to keep you safe whilst lead climbing.

 There are two main categories for lead protection; which are active and passive placements.

When placing either an active or passive piece of protection, there are a few key considerations.  They are as follows:

  • Rock quality
  • Directional  
  • Constriction  
  • Surface contact  

Passive Protection: This is when the protection has no moving parts.  For example, a wall nut, offset nut or a hex.  Passive protection works best in cracks that have a constriction or a narrowing.  DMM, Black Diamond and Wild Country are some companies that make passive protection for climbers.  The protection comes in a range of shapes and sizes.  Personally, I have a full set of DMM wall nuts, a full set of offset nuts and a selection of hexes, which I find works best for me.

*The images shown provide a contrast of various placements

Active Protection:  This is when the protection has moving parts.  For example a spring-loaded camming device.  This active protection comes in a wide range of designs ranging from 3cu’s, 4cu’s, Dragon cams, Camelots, etc.  Camming devices work best in parallel cracks.  As with the passive protection, there are a wide range of sizes to choose from.  DMM, Black Diamond and Wild Country, again, are all companies that provide active protection for climbers.  When lead climbing I like to carry a full set of cams.

*The images shown provide a contrast of various placements

It is vitally important to have a thorough understanding on how to select and place protection when lead climbing. Having the ability to select the correct gear placements, whether it be passive or active, when traditional rock climbing takes time and is a skill that needs to be learnt and then properly practiced.  

Our placing protection course focus is on various types of rock and their quality, identifying possible placements and what to look for, including sizing and which type of protection to use, e.g. either a nut, hex, or camming device.

The main aim of our placing protection course is to teach the skills necessary to climb safely and be able to place solid and safe protection.  We achieve this by creating a comfortable and safe learning environment, allowing us to further develop solid understanding on why we choose each method.

Learning to place protection correctly is a crucial part of our personal development on the pathway to becoming a competent, independent lead climber and is ultimately what is going to keep us safe.

Our skills based courses are designed for all levels of ability.  If you are a top rope climber looking to venture into lead climbing, or an experienced lead climber looking to check in and refresh skills previously taught – there is something for everyone.

Our Rock Climbing Skills courses provide a progressive introduction to the basic skills and techniques of rock climbing.

These courses will allow you to develop the skills required to stay safe, enjoy the sport of climbing and provides the foundations for the development of your own rock climbing activities.

There are three different levels to rock skills, so clients can choose the most appropriate level for them to access to the scheme.

Client testimonials:

“After signing up to do a course with Steve Hodge Mountaineering, I feel much more confident in my understanding of placing protection in the setting of trad climbing.  It is evident how important it is to be competent in utilising the right tools in the appropriate climbing environment.

To have the opportunity to develop these skills in the Mourne Mountains meant that our learning platform was diverse with a wealth of venues, grades of difficulty and an ever changing panorama to which one could never get tired of.

Steve’s approach to teaching facilitates a flexible and relaxed environment which maximised my learning capacity and made the course thoroughly enjoyable.

It has been a gateway to meeting people passionate about the sport, to learn how to stay safe and make the right choices and has opened doors to many other opportunities.

I look forward to furthering my development with Steve Hodge Mountaineering.”

–  Jo-anne Reid.

“I was keen to progress my rock climbing abilities from the indoors to the outdoors, but I needed to ensure that I was safe and that I could place protection correctly when rock climbing .

I have used Steve Hodge Mountaineering for mountain leader training, and I knew the quality of the training I would get is without question the best I have received. The Rock Skills intro and onwards to the Learn to Lead courses and recently an intro into Multi-Pitch, all delivered by Steve Hodge Mountaineering, has taken my confidence and abilities to new levels.

For some, YouTube may suffice but; when it is my life or my climbing partners life at risk there is no reason why you shouldn’t complete a course – it is value for money, and the knowledge you receive is far beyond that you get from a 5 min video online!

I feel that I myself as a person has grown through this journey, and I am grateful for the experiences I have now gained due to Steve Hodge Mountaineering.”

–  Si Gibson

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