Learn How to Lead Climb

Climber lead climbing and looking up while ascending a rock climbing route at Smith Rock

Intro level courses for Sport or Trad Lead Climbing

Learn the essential skills and techniques of lead climbing and be ready for the next level!  

We will cover the considerations and practice the skills to move from top rope climbing to lead climbing. We will follow a progression from ground school of route selection gear, racking, clipping styles, and then putting it together with mock leads (practice with a top-rope belay) on appropriate level climbs. Our certified guides and instructors will help you practice the essential skills of lead climbing working toward confidence and comfort for your first lead climbs.

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A solid base of top-rope climbing and belay experience is a prerequisite for this course
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Curriculum will be presented with a balance of instruction and hands-on practice.
Man sport lead climbing up a steep route at Smith Rock State Park

Sport Lead Climbing

If you have experience climbing and belaying on top rope indoors or out and you're ready for the next level, sport lead climbing on bolts is a typical next step in progression.

  • Route selection: using Guidebooks, apps and internet resources.
  • Climbing rack basics: preparing and racking your gear; personalizing your system.
  • Quick-draws and clipping lead rope considerations.
  • Efficient movement for lead climbing
  • Building solid and equalized anchors to cover many situations.
  • Cleaning a sport anchor – lowering or rappelling down safely.
  • Lead belay techniques, using GriGri and tube style devices.
  • Rope management considerations for lead climber and belayer.
  • Universal climbing etiquette and awareness of local standards and ethics.
  • Lead belay techniques
Climber trad lead climbing using a wedge to grip the rock at Smith Rock State Park

Traditional Lead Climbing

Looking to master to art of climbing trad? Our intro level trad climbing class will teach you the fundamental techniques and tools of trad gear placement for lead climbing and anchor building principles for top ropes in a hands-on experience.

Establish solid judgment through a progression style approach-utilizing “mock-lead” back-up for added safety.

Trad Lead Climbing Curriculum

  • Lead climbing gear: essential traditional gear, building a trad rack, and creating your racking system.
  • Placing and removing traditional protection for lead climbing and anchors.
  • Rope drag prevention techniques, extension tools, and strategies
  • Climbing route selections, guide book descriptions, and terrain assessment.
  • How to lead belay according to trad climbing considerations

2024 Course Dates

Book your Smith Rock climbing course today, and learn from an expert AMGA-certified guide!

Sport Leading - May 18th, June 21, July 6, August 9th
Learn to Lead Trad - June 1st, July 11, August 17th, September 13th

Courses are $180 per person, a minimum of three people required to run a course

If the listed dates don’t work with your schedule, all courses can be arranged as a private guiding customized to your needs, on the day you choose.
Private Guided Day Trips

Check out our other instructional courses to take your climbing skills to the next level!


Blown Away

“I came from a background of only gym climbing and the guides were AMAZING!!! The amount of knowledge and expertise they bring to the table is incredible.”

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Our AMGA Accreditation helps assure our clients receive the highest professional standards in our industry.
Our AMGA Accreditation helps assure our clients receive the highest professional standards in our industry.