Lead Climbing

Traditional lead climbing is the foundation of rock climbing. Starting at the ground, a climber finds a way up a cliff face or mountain, bringing the rope along for a degree of protection against possible falls. As the climber ascends, she places "protection" - aluminum  chocks and cams of myriad types - intermittently, hoping it will catch her and her rope if she were to fall. "Trad" leading is an exercise in risk management and in the freedom of movement. It is technical, emotional and intellectual. If you think you might like to be on "the sharp end," we would love to help you learn how.

Lead Climbing

Safe lead climbing requires a combination of top-rope anchor skills (gear placement and anchor system construction), sport climbing skills (clipping, rope management, lead belay), and a more sophisticated approach to organization and risk management than either require. A strong competency with placing secure protection and building sound anchor systems are pre-requisites for this course. Sport climbing experience is helpful, but not required.

We teach all lead climbing on "mock-lead," meaning the leader is always connected to a top-rope system in addition to a lead rope. This provides a sense for the excitement of leading as well a calm learning mindset. Your instructor ascends next to you on a fixed line, enabling in-the-moment feedback, consultation and reassurance.

If you have no experience with lead climbing or your technical skills are not sharp, we recommend a 2-day course to establish good theoretical and technical foundations. For quick learners or those with previous training, a one-day course may suffice. Feel free to call and discuss.

Lead climbing days run longer than regular climbing days. Expect to be out from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM.


  • Learn practical lead climbing theory and risk management

  • Preparation/organization of rack, harness and rope

  • Managing an anchor from the top of a pitch and belaying a second climber up

  • Rappelling instruction (if needed)

  • Focus on modern-era, guide-standard anchoring practices

  • Leave with a firm set of skills to practice and build upon

  • Experienced, certified climbing instructor

  • Harness, shoes, helmet, if you don't already have them (but you probably do)

  • Hardware (nuts, cams, etc.) or software (slings, cordelettes, etc.) to supplement your own rack

  • Climbing and static lines to facilitate mock leads


WHEN: March through November, weather permitting. Private course only.

PREREQUISITES: Strong command of traditional anchors skills (building anchors with hardware). In our curricula, graduating from Anchors I, II and III would meet this criteria.

BRING YOUR OWN: Food, water, clothing and footwear appropriate for weather, camera, sunscreen. Climbers with their own equipment may bring as much as they would like to use. We can supply all climbing equipment if you do not have your own.

GROUP SIZE: 1 to 4. Larger groups possible by custom request.


Full Day
(8 Hours)

  • Solo | $400/person
  • 2 - 4 pp | $215/person
  • Open-Enrollment Groups
  • $185/person
  • April 13
  • May 4
  • May 25
  • June 15
  • July 6
  • July 27
  • Aug 17
  • Sept 7
  • Sept 28
  • Oct 7