Intro to Outdoor Lead Climbing

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TBD (local climbing crag)

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Pre-requisites: Participants must have completed a CNS Intro to Climbing Outside course or possess equivalent experience/knowledge. They should be comfortable climbing 5.8 on a Top-Rope, belaying on a Top-Rope system, and building an anchor from fixed or natural gear.

The exciting world of outdoor lead climbing could be described with a variety of words, from commitment and focus, to fulfillment, dedication, and much more. The emotions and terms that people relate to the art of lead climbing are almost as diverse as those who choose to do it, however there is one thing that everyone can agree on, the level of risk and danger are significantly increased. Choosing to tie into the “sharp end” can be the next step along a journey of increased opportunity and adventure, but as always it’s important to read the fine print. Proper instruction and risk navigation is a must.

Our Intro to Outdoor Lead Climbing is a 2 day course designed to help students gain the skills and experience necessary to transition safely from the practice of outdoor Top-Rope climbing to the exciting and committing world of outdoor Sport/Lead climbing. For graduates of our Intro 101 course or equivalent experience, this course can be thought of as the next step.

Throughout the course, students will work to develop confidence in both the technical aspects of lead climbing and the finer aspects of risk management, route selection, communication, and more. Using the practice of Sport climbing as a focal point, course concepts are designed to be fundamental, and a useful progression for all types of lead climbing.

Both days are packed with essential information, and will include a variety of hands-on exercises, group discussions, and real practice in the vertical environment. Under experienced supervision, participants will first work to develop their leading skills in a simulated or “mock” environment, then depending on student/instructor comfort level, they will have the opportunity to try real leading.

It is our goal for students to leave this course with the proper knowledge and skill to safely and confidently practice sport climbing at a variety of climbing areas.

Course topics include but are not limited to:

  • General equipment/gear review

  • Lead specific equipment/gear review

  • General risk awareness/management

  • Lead specific risk management

  • Anchor construction (Natural & Fixed)

  • Lead belaying

  • Proper clipping techniques

  • Refined techniques/gear management

  • Anchor cleaning

  • Rappelling

  • Climbing on the Sharp End

  • Route selection

Equipment Needed:
Participants should bring their own Harness, Helmet, Shoes, Chalkbag, and Belay Device, along with any basic gear typically used on a Top-Rope climbing endeavor. Top-Rope anchor materials are suggested for building anchors on both natural and fixed gear, such as locking carabiners, slings, lengths of 1” webbing or cord, etc. Quickdraws and/or alpine draws, Gri-gris, or other lead-specific gear is not required however it is always recommended to bring and use your own gear whenever possible.

Instructor Bio: Brendan Konowal

Brendan was first introduced to the sport of climbing at an early age and has been both a student and teacher of climbing for nearly 20 years. He caught the serious “climbing bug” around 2000’ with his first foray into traditional lead climbing in the hills of West Virginia’s Seneca Rocks, an experience he can recount to this day. Brendan believes that to be the best climber you can be, you must be well acquainted with all forms of climbing. But while he holds a love and appreciation for many of climbing’s disciplines, he always seems to find himself uniquely drawn to the beauty and intensity of higher multi-pitch summits.

It was this love of being high off the ground, challenged to the very core and connected to something deeper, that would fuel his passion for adventure, and ultimately lead him down a career path that would allow him to share his passion with others. It wasn’t long after pursuing university studies in outdoor education that the art of climbing instruction naturally followed suit. Brendan began to hone and focus his skills both as a climber and as a teacher and soon found himself working in a professional setting high above the ground.

Over the years he has taught in many climbing venues from indoor rock gyms to multi-pitch summits. His professional teaching/guiding experience is focused around top-rope, sport, and multi-pitch traditional climbing up to grade III-IV. Brendan holds a B.S. degree in Parks and Resource Management, has held certifications from a variety of organizations including the AMGA, SOLO, and the American Red Cross, and has spent many years reinforcing his skills with real life experience.

If asked about why he climbs, Brendan would likely say something like: “It’s funny, not much else has brought me so close to the beauty and essence of life, while at the same time almost killing me.”

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TBD (local climbing crag)

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