It's true! Improving your lead clipping skills helps you climb better
In an internet world full of climbing tips and training articles about how to build strength to climb harder, it may seem odd to focus on something silly like improving your lead clipping skills. Trust us when we say it isn't!
Clipping quickdraws is a very important part of lead climbing for three big reasons:
- The more quick and efficient you can clip a quickdraw, the more energy you have for the climb.
- Being quick and efficient is good practice because you're pulling extra rope out at the farthest point from your last clipped draw. Taking even an extra second or two to get the rope clipped increased the chances of taking a big fall.
- If you're clipping slow and sloppy, you increase the chance of getting your finger/hand pinched in the quick draw.
Practice makes perfect
Now that we've made our case, we've got some things to keep in mind while you're clipping. Most of our roped gyms have an area with two quickdraws you can reach from the ground (this is usually where we do our lead checks).
Take a short practice rope (most of our roped gyms have one at the front desk) and and practice clipping. Make sure you're clipping quickly, but are still keeping your hands and fingers out of the gate. Here are some other things to keep in mind:
- Make sure you're in a good, neutral stance when you're clipping--you want to try to avoid straining too much when clipping.
- Aim to clip when the quick draw is in 'the strike zone' between your eyes and belly button.
- When the quickdraw gate is facing outward, use the pistol grip. Grab the rope in your hands and bring it towards the clip. Put your thumb on the spine of the quickdraw carabiner, and using your index and middle finger, push the rope in.
- When the quickdraw gate is facing inward, use the pinch grip. Grab the rope in your hands and bring it towards the clip. Use your middle finger to stabilize the carabiner. Use your thumb and index finger to press the rope into the gate of the carabiner and twist your wrist as if opening a door to push the rope into the carabiner.
Practicing this skill is a great way to build muscle memory and improve your ability to clip quickly and efficiently. Do the following drills:
- With the rope in your right hand, clip into a quickdraw facing outward (repeat 10 times)
- With the rope in your left hand, clip into a quickdraw facing outward (repeat 10 times)
- With the rope in your right hand, clip into a quickdraw facing inward (repeat 10 times)
- With the rope in your left hand, clip into a quickdraw facing inward (repeat 10 times)
For more lead climbing tips, head to your gym's website. From the menu, click on the calendar to locate any upcoming Intro to Leading or Intro to Leading Lab classes.