Home Forums Climbing Talk Ideal routes for a trad debut?

  • This topic has 11 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by mayorkerm.
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  • #8372 Reply
    Luke B

    So I reckon it’s time to have a crack at trad climbing – any recommendations for particularly safe routes around Perth on which to make my debut?

    I’m thinking sub-20, with bomber placements from a good stance.

    Otherwise I’ll just trawl through the guides for routes of a suitable grade with “well protected” in the description…

    Cheers, Luke

    #8373 Reply
    Luke B

    Of course just after posting I thought to look for previous posts, and found one (sorry).

    Nonetheless, any recommendations besides the easy grade 13 slab climb with a huge crack at Darlington Boulders?

    #8374 Reply

    Depends on how you define trad….

    Many climbs use a mixture of removable gear such as cams and nuts as well as a sprinkling of bolts. Are they trad? And then there are ‘fully’ bolted climbs that are generally considered to be ‘trad’, routes such as ‘Sucked in Ben’. Sports it ain’t. Take your binoculars to help you find the next bolt.

    After all, which came first – bolts or cams and nuts? The answer is bolts, or at least pitons. They were first used in 1865 by Tyndall during the recovery of Douglas’ body after a climbing accident on the Matterhorn. That makes ‘bolts’ and other fixed gear, more ‘trad’ than cams (1970’s) and nuts (1950’s).

    Good trad routes… I’d recommend ‘First Route’ at Churchies. Cams and nuts all the way. Also at Churchies, ‘Major’, all nuts and cams, and ‘Lost Arrow’ with nuts and cams, or ‘Superslab Direct’ (2 bolts plus cams), or ‘Supernova Connection (1 bolt, plus cams). Or ‘Gates of Mordor’ with 4 bolts plus plenty of small nuts and 3 or 4 cams. If you want to freak youself out, try the GoM variation – ‘Smeagol goes splat’ with the extra bolt. Keep away from the horrible thing with the tree in it and the chimney climbs.

    At Mountain Quarry, try ‘Playboy’ (cams and nuts) or the variation out to the single bolt on the left of the slab. Or ‘Mullup’, with several bolts plus a few cams or nuts. ‘Cigarettes and Chardonnay’ (is that what it’s called?) is a great mixed climb.

    At Statham’s, try ‘Strider’, ‘Striding Edge’, and ‘Striding Edge Direct’. Once again, some of these have some bolts, but you also need cams and nuts. Also ‘Hipster Crack’.

    Another trad climb is ‘Boomer Crack’ at Boomer Crag.

    Then of course there are many at Willys – ‘One for the Road’, ‘Stainless Steel’ (mixed again), ‘Corpus Dilecti’, ‘Dolphin Smiles’ (3 bolts plus cams), and plenty of others.

    Albany – any at Bluff Knoll – ‘Easter Gully’ is nice. The Gap ‘Surfs up’, ‘Over Indulgence’, ‘The Amityville Horror’. Peak Head – you can’t beat ‘Albatross’ and ‘Baylac Direct’! But avoid ‘Baylac’ like the Plague!

    West Cape Howe – where does one start – ‘The Climb’, ‘Wire Flake’, ‘Harry Humpkin…’, ‘Andromeda’, ‘Carousel’, ‘Vulture Street’ (1 bolt!) and the list goes on and on…

    #8375 Reply
    Luke B

    Whoa thanks Numbat, that’s a pretty solid list. Should tide me over for a while, though I reckon I’ll leave the scarier ones until I can trust my placements!

    #8376 Reply

    One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to fall, so ideally, whatever your max redpoint grade is, trad lead about 5 grades less. This is because at the beginning, much of the pro you will place will be pretty bad, especially the nuts.

    If you want to practice placing gear, the bottom of Churchmans is really good, you can place about 20 nuts and small cams between Superslab and gates of mordor just walking around the ground. Once you place them, clip a longish sling to the gear….then step into the sling with all your body weight. That will load test it to about 0.8kN force……now jump up and down in the sling, that may increase it to 1-2kN……max force brutal whipper falls can generate about 10kN force (theoretically up to 20kN). Nevertheless, you’ll be surprised how many of what looks like good nut placements will pop when load testing…… Point being, do lots of easy routes first u ntil you get this together. If you will not fall, no need to worry about it.

    When selecting routes, look for ones that have decent cracks most of the way. Routes that are mostly bolted are not good for practicing trad climbing. “Major” is definitely not a well protected trad climb….if you pull the two pieces of gear that you can place at the crux, you will hit the ground from 15m up. I know, I did…..15 years ago. It was one of my first leads and I rushed it. Good luck 🙂

    #8377 Reply
    Luke B

    Cheers Ross, good advice, I especially like the idea of testing pro without having to leave the ground. Then I guess I’ll go looking for easy fingercracks.

    #8378 Reply

    Another good idea is to second an experienced trad climber. Then you can see how they put the gear in and where. It also helps you (as a potential leader) in the difficulties faced by the seconder in getting gear out that was jammed in by a panicking leader.

    The other thing you need to learn is to set up good anchors at the top. While many climbs have bolt anchors at the top, many don’t, so you need to use cams, nuts and slings etc to set up. I have seen some belays set up where if the seconder were to take a big fall, they would probably pop all the gear and take everything and everyone with them. Like one I saw, where the belay was set up using a single nut. You’re gunna die sooner or later if you do things like that.

    Having said all that, it is actually quite rare for gear to pop out if it has been put in OK. I have taken 8 m falls onto a small cam without any problems (apart from the obligatory scream of ‘Oh F***, I’m gunna die’ on the way down).

    About the only time that gear regularly falls out is with nuts when there is a sideways or outwards pull because the route causes the rope to apply tension in an outwards direction. But usually by then you have managed to whack in a few ‘OMG I’ve saved’ cams, like at ‘Gates of Mordor’.

    Try ‘First Route’ at Churchies. Nice crack, well protected until about 3/4 the way up, then it gets a bit thin.

    Have fun!

    #8379 Reply
    Luke B

    Ok, looks like I’ll have to give the aptly named First Route a go when I’m ready. Will also consider coming along to a CAWA outing sometime and offering to second.

    #8380 Reply

    Do pink knickers before you do first route

    #8381 Reply
    Luke B

    Ah yes, a nice grade 12. I’ll check it out, thanks.

    #8382 Reply

    For your first trad routes make them about placing the gear not so much about “doing the climb”..

    Also look at doing a lead course so you can learn the finer details of placing gear..

    PK is a good start, just a trad belay and you’ll need a good length of static to go around the top boulder..


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