Learning To Lead: A Guide To Getting Lead Certified

It’s been a few months since you’ve been sucked into the world of climbing. You’ve bouldered and you’ve top roped, but you can’t stop watching in awe at the routine of flaking, clipping, whipping, coiling. You’ve decided it’s time to take it to the next level: lead climbing. Thankfully, we’re here to help you on your journey.


Learning The Basics

Interested in taking the lead class (LIC / Valhalla)? Here are a few benchmarks that will tell you if you're ready to take the plunge (or shall we say, take the whip!):

  • You've been top rope climbing consistently for several months

  • You can frequently top rope climb 5.10 grades with minimal falls and are climbing 5.9 grades with NO falls

  • You are interested in climbing outside

During the lead class, which is taught in two 3-hour sessions, you’ll learn stances, clipping, dynamic lead belaying, including feeding out rope and catching falls, and finally, taking the whip!


Getting Lead Certified at The Cliffs

You’ve taken the class, learned the ropes, and think you're ready to lead climb without a top rope backup. Take a look at the skills you should have before taking the lead test:

  • You can lead climb a 5.9 without making clipping mistakes

  • You are confident in taking a lead fall then continue the route

  • You have an understanding of rope-management as a climber and belayer in a lead scenario

  • You can confidently and smoothly belay a lead climber

  • You can confidently and adequately catch a lead fall

If you meet all these requirements, you’re ready to take the test! No need to make an appointment; when you’re ready and have a partner to test with (either someone who is already lead certified at The Cliffs or who will be also be tested), come up to the front desk and let us know. We’ll call your name over the speakers within about 10 minutes when we’re ready for you! (Please note that in LIC, Note we do not administer tests between 6AM - 8:30AM and 6:30PM - 8:30PM.)


Start Lead Climbing On Your Own

Congratulations! You’ve passed the test and now you’re certified to lead climb on your own at The Cliffs. When you want to check out a lead rope, come to the front desk and one of our staff members will grab one for you. It is free, but we do require a piece of collateral, such as keys or an ID, to lend out a rope. Return your rope neatly coiled to retrieve your collateral.

If you’re ever unsure about something when you’re tying in, belaying, or climbing, our staff is here to help. Always err on the side of caution!

Happy climbing, clipping, and whipping!

Adam Schwartz1 Comment