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The second, what to take

A simple piece aimed at the second and what to carry when climbing traditional rock climbs. Seconding is a pretty vital job and is also the gateway to lead climbing. We deliver numerous rock courses including 'competent second' and 'learn to lead courses'. We wouldn't though is run one straight after the other. Learning to lead climb needs lots of experience best gained seconding climbs before thinking about making the move to leading. 

What to be equipped for

The main things to consider for the second will be to belay the lead climber, strip the gear out, be able to attach to an anchor and be able to abseil safely either off a route or down to access a route. That is a a few jobs but it doesn't require a huge amount of gear or financial outlay. The following would be what I would recommend you have on your harness.

(1) Belay plate and HMS screw-gate 

(2) Spare HMS screw-gate 

(3) Sling with screw-gate 

(4) Prussic x 2, knife, whistle and rigged on a small screw-gate 

(5) Nut key on a snap gate 


The problem solving kit (pictured left)

This is an important little collection of kit and essential to have. It will vary from person to person and may well grow in time for you but this would be my recommended minimum to have.

Two prussic's this allows you to set up a protected abseil it also allows room to drop one accidentally. They can also be used to ascend the rope. 

Whistle, perhaps a personal preference but having a way to communicate and attract attention if things have gone very wrong is no bad thing. Although you may have a variety of devices and knowledge to get you out of trouble there may come a time where shouting for help is the best option. 

Knife, I have carried one of these for many years both personal climbing and instructing and have never used it. Again its something that is there and if it was needed then you would really wish you had one. 

Rigged on a screwgate, this gives an extra crab should you need one. You could use an older one which could be left behind if a retreat is needed. 


Sling over the shoulder (pictured above left)

A method for carrying your slings is to have it over the shoulder clipped together, easier to pull it out when needed quickly rather than have to locate it round the back of your harness and then unfold it. Its also less likely to get dropped. 

Racking it on your harness (pictured above right)

Best if you can to rack this all to the rear of the harness. This way as your climbing and taking gear out its not in the way. 

Nut key (pictured left) Nut key in action, try not to drop it or get it stuck too.

That's it for what to take, don't forget bag fulls of enthusiasm and also patience at times. 

We run a range of climbing courses based in the Highlands to see more details click here and get in touch for further info. 

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