Sports & Gaming

Taking It Outdoors: Trad Climbing

Alex Honnold & Tommy Caldwell

Lesson time 05:49 min

Learn the basics of traditional climbing as Alex demonstrates an outdoor route and details planning, foot and hand placement, and the equipment you’ll need.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Taking It Outdoors: Trad Climbing •


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Crag climbing is different than sport climbing in that we'll be placing our own gear along the route and removing it as we descend. It's a lot more adventurous and it's the quintessential "Leave no Trace" method of climbing. Scalawag is a great route, but it has a tricky roof encounter. In addition to placing gear, I'll be relying on a lot of the hand and foot jamming techniques that we covered in the gym. [MUSIC PLAYING] So I'm looking up at this pitch trying to make a little bit of a plan before I start climbing. And I see that it's a pretty big, almost horizontal roof here at the bottom, which looks like mostly hand-size crack. And so I see that I have the gear that I need. I have a double set of hand-size pieces. And I also make a little bit of a plan for the climbing, knowing that something this steep is going to be pretty strenuous on my arms. I try to identify a bunch of footholds out this panel on the left. And I think about different ways that I can keep my weight over my feet while I'm climbing out this incredibly steep crack. So I double checked my knot, so I know it looks good. Double checked Tommy. So am I on belay? TOMMY: You're on belay. - OK, climbing. TOMMY: Climb on. - As I start lead climbing, an important thing for me to remember is where the rope is running around my legs. And so ideally, when you're lead climbing, you want the rope in between your legs because the danger is that if the rope is wrapped behind your leg and you fall and the rope comes tight, it will flip you upside down. And then you can hit your head. And also, when you tangle your legs in the rope, you often get-- you can get quite rope burned, which is sort of annoying. OK, so I'm placing my first piece here. I'm going to extend it because of rope drag. And then you have to decide for yourself where you feel comfortable placing the gear and evaluating whether or not that gear is good. In this case, I'm seeing that the cam is in the rock really nicely. And I think that is a great cam placement. So technically I'm hand jamming here, but I'm also liebacking in a way. So, you know, it's always a combination of multiple techniques. This is like a hand, almost a fist. I'm wedging my leg in. As I reach out to the end of this crack, I'm trying to find an area big enough that I can put my whole fist. So then I can hang off that fist and reach out to the jug. And then I jam my foot. I use the foot jam to release. I chalk up this hand on the fist. You know, getting both hands on the jug is fun and comfortable. And now I'm going to pull up, lock off, and go as deep as I can to this hand jam here. And then I'm walking my feet up the crack, putting my foot in sideways, and mantling up over the roof. [MUSIC PLAYING] So even as I pull over this roof, I have an awareness of where the rope is running and the fact that it's not around my legs. Even though I'm climbing this crack and I'm ...

About the Instructor

With more than 60 combined years of elite rock climbing experience, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell have scaled some of the largest—and most extreme—walls in the world. Now, the stars of Free Solo and The Dawn Wall are teaming up to share their tried-and-true techniques for tackling any wall. From the fundamentals of footwork and body and hand positioning to mental exercises and advanced holds and movements, you’ll learn how to take on new challenges and push yourself further on and off the wall.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Alex Honnold & Tommy Caldwell

Stars of “Free Solo” and “The Dawn Wall” Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell teach lessons from more than 60 years of combined rock climbing experience.

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