Learning to lead climb safely and confidently under private instruction

Learning to lead climb on Tryfan Bach

Mountaineering Joe received a private instruction booking and a challenge from Paddy Wilmot. “Can you teach me to lead climb at VS grade in 3 days?”

Paddy says: “I have been climbing for a couple of years as a second to my climbing partner and including a couple of HVS’s I’ve never failed on a climb when seconding. But leading is a whole new ball game. I called Mountaineering Joe and set him this challenge. His response was – well, let’s see.”

Paddy thoroughly enjoyed his 3 days learning to lead climb and sent Mountaineering Joe an account of his experience.

“on the first day we climbed diffs and V.diffs and concentrated on the principles and techniques of setting up belays. For example, always maintaining a loaded system, to avoid the dangers of shock loading. On day 2, in the morning, Joe had me climb the same level and even a mod making me place gear in every possible placement, until I emptied a full rack.

Learning to lead climb on Tryfan Bach

Learning to lead climb on Tryfan Bach

In the afternoon, we tackled a delicate severe on Tryfan Bach which after balking at a few times I finally took on and won. By this stage I had got it. I was seeing anchor points and picking gear quickly and placing it securely.

Throughout his patience was extreme and his encouragement was quiet and unpatronising. I had worked out on day 1 that I had set him an impossible challenge but I was extremely pleased with myself after leading the severe. I had achieved what I wanted to achieve which was to learn how to lead a climb safely and confidently. I was confident in my gear placements and in my belays. I understood how it all worked.

On day 3 refusing to balk at the challenge Joe took me to lead a VS. Joe can teach you to climb. he keeps it simple and bullet proof. He can teach you to find good placements for safety and how to recognise unsafe ones. He wont allow any mistake to creep in. Every screw-gate must always be closed etc. But, he cant teach you courage!

I enjoyed the climb. It ended in a 50m abseil. After a few more V.diffs and severes I’ll have another go at leading it.”

We are glad you had a great experience Paddy. Keep enjoying the climbing and we look forward to climbing with you again.