The other weekend I went for my first ever multi-pitch rock climb, and it changed my world. I headed over to Tremadog, in North Wales, to have a go at Christmas Curry, an HS4b. It was quite an experience – two fun and trouble-free pitches and one last quite strenuous and slightly more difficult pitch.
I have to say, I struggled to get up the last 30 meters or so – it was 2pm, and I was absolutely starving, with little energy left in me. However, I think I have improved my climbing a lot on the route – I beat my fear of traversing without the help of any handholds and proved to myself that, even if I’m knackered and nauseous, a little rest can give me the strength to reach the top. As my patient trainer says, discovery (or progress) happens somewhere between discomfort and disaster.
Even though I did have one or two moments where I was near to desperation on the last pitch, I’d do it all over again. Why?
1) It’s adventurous
The increased length, risk factor, and commitment that a multi-pitch involves make the climb much more adventurous. You also feel a sense of urgency to get to the top. Additionally, when multi-pitch climbing, you reach much bigger heights, which means that you can access stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.
2) It tests your endurance
Everyone’s able to do many little routes in a day, with a good rest in between them. When you’re multi-pitch climbing, your endurance is tested because each pitch can be as long as 40m. What a better way to discover whether the long sessions at the indoor wall worked?
3) It feels like you’re actually going somewhere
Climbing single routes can sometimes feel a bit artificial – you go up a route and pop back down via the descent and then repeat all over again. While that’s an excellent way to get a lot of different routes at different grades done, on a multi-pitch, you feel like you’re actually going somewhere. Be it the top of a hill or the top of a sea cliff, the distance you cover is definitely greater.
4) It builds your character
When multi-pitch climbing, you can’t simply give up and get lowered down to the bottom if you struggle, so you need much more determination and mental strength to complete the route. This kind of rock climbing will definitely help to build your character and improve the way you handle stress in a demanding situation.
5) There are fewer breaks
There are hardly any breaks between each pitch (especially if you and your partner are leading alternately), as you don’t have to walk back down to the bottom of the crag to start a new route. This way, climbing feels much quicker.
6) It gives extra satisfaction
A longer route also means more satisfaction, especially if you struggled on a few moves. If you climb, you know how addictive the feeling of topping out is. Well, you could easily multiply this for the number of pitches on the route to understand how rewarding finishing off a multi-pitch is.
So… have I convinced you to try multi-pitch climbing out?
Image credit (the first one only): http://www.dreaminvertical.com/