Multi-Pitch Sport climbing in Ailefroide – Top tips to stay safe when climbing
Multi-pitch climbing in mountains has more risks than single pitch routes, for obvious reasons – you’ll be out longer, at the mercy of the weather, carrying your kit, whilst trying to find your route up the route and off. There are more things that can go wrong, simply because you’re doing more and spending more time than you do on a single pitch route. We’ve put together a few tips to help you stay safe in the mountains.
1) Time – give yourself ample time to abseil off in the light if your descent route evades you.
2) Route – text someone your route – especially important if you change your mind – including your latest expected return time.
3) Water – make sure you have enough, but don’t get weighted down. 1 litre of water weighs 1kg.
4) Food – take a little extra something. If you were to get benighted (kept out on the mountain overnight), what food would keep you going and give you energy, but not weigh you down?
5) Head torch – check it works, with new batteries and take it!
6) Clothing –
Even though you may set out in glorious sunshine, weather changes and it gets cooler as you go further up the mountain. Andy Kirkpatrick has written a really useful article about multi-pitch gear. Click here to see it.
Basically, use your head. You’ll need to pack different things for different situations. The Multi-Pitch Pack list below shows what I would take for sports multi-pitch in Ailefroide and probably for long mountain routes in the UK, give or take a few things.
7) Ropes – Twin ropes at least 60m
8) Mobile Phone – Take a mobile with you – if you get caught out after dark you can either let people know you’re safe and just need the sun to come up to start climbing again or that you’re in trouble and need a rescue.
My Multi-Pitch pack for Ailefroide
Swiss Army Knife
0.5 – 2 litres water depending on weather and length of route
Coconut bars (from tesco – really good value & perfect for climbing), Nuts, Chocolate bar, Banana, Crisps x2 or 3 bags, 2 boiled eggs in shell (if available and if I can be bothered to cook them!)
Lightweight drybag for clothes
Helly Hanson long sleeved wicking base layer
Mountain Equipment ultra lightweight windproof & waterproof jacket (see review)
Pair of thin gloves (optional)
10 Quickdraws per person
3 slings per person
3 carabiners per person
1 x belay device and carabiner
Prussic loops x 2
60m twin ropes between a pair
Emergency bag / bothy bag
Guidebook / printout of route plan including descent route
Lighweight, but robust footwear for the walk-in
Craghoppers trousers – rolled over the knee if hot weather!
Obviously this is my personal list. It’s not exhaustive and you should make your own, informed choices about what gear to take with you on any walk or climb. If in doubt, ask a few members of a mountaineering club, or a few people you trust, to get a few ideas before making up your mind.
Take care and have fun in the mountains.