Traditional climbing is one of the most pure forms of climbing and is where it all started really.
Unlike sport climbing where bolts are drilled into the rock for protection as there is nothing else available, traditional climbing only uses passive protection which is placed by the leader (climber) to protect the climber in case of a fall but then removed by the second climber, leaving the rock the way you found it. It’s a very clean and pure form of climbing leaving just your chalk prints on the rock.
Sea cliff climbing in Pembroke
Traditional climbing or Trad climbing as it is more normally called, usually follows more obvious features such as cracks, flakes and corners where protection can be placed more easily and frequently. Protecting some traditional climbs however can also get very challenging on more blank sections of rock, which are devoid of features, making it much more dangerous and risky affair so a cool head and steady footwork are a must.
Green Death at Millstone in the Peak District
The equipment used for protecting traditional climbs comes in all shapes and forms but the two most common pieces of kit used are Camming devices/Friends and Rocks or wires.
• Camming devices/Friends: These are spring loaded pieces of equipment and act when a load is applied which forces the cams out against the rock. They then cam into the crack creating a solid protection if placed properly. They are incredibly hard wearing but require maintenance.
• Rocks/Wires: These are curved chocks which are placed in cracks which provide maximum surface area contact with the metal and the rock in natural conditions.
There are many places where you can go Trad climbing and the UK is famous for it; from single pitch cliffs, such as the gritstone crags of the Peak District, like Stanage and Froggat Edge, to big adventurous multi-pitches at cliffs like Gogarth in North Wales. The variety and adventures that can be had in this form of climbing is limitless.
Here are my top 5 destinations in the UK:
• Stanage, Froggat, Curbar in Derbyshire
• Llanberris Pass and Tremadog in North Wales
• Pembrokshire in South Wales
• Sennen and Bosigran in Cornwall
• Borrowdale and Langdale in the Lake District
Cenotaph corner in Llanberris Pass in North Wales
And my top 3 climbing destinations abroad:
• Dolomites in Italy
• Yosemite and Utah in the USA
• Table Mountain in South Africa