How to Solo Climb Safely

How to Solo Climb Safely
Rock climbing offers a challenging outdoor experience, typically in the company of friends or climbing partners. At times, though, some climbers simply want to go it alone, ascending or descending the rock face solo. This presents a whole new set of challenges--as well as risks. By following a few simple steps, however, you can minimize much of that risk and perform a solo climb safely.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Standard climbing gear
  • Standard climbing gear
Step 1
Train. This is by far the most important step in preparing yourself to climb solo. Be sure to check the qualifications of your instructors--and then train only with real, qualified professionals. If you are starting from scratch, begin by practicing regularly in an ultra-safe environment--like on a climbing wall in a monitored recreational area--then move to more challenging outdoor environments with climbing partners in tow. Bottom line: Don't ever attempt any serious solo climbing unless you have been properly trained by the experts.
Step 2
Do your homework on your chosen climb site. This entails doing terrain and weather research and poring over any available reviews of the site that other climbers have written. Stay up to date on weather conditions down to the very hour at which you plan to climb. One very important thing to research is the local wildlife; might you encounter a certain variety of snake, for example? How will you deal with it? These are questions you must answer before you attempt a solo climb.
Step 3
Provide a family member or a friend with a proposed timeline for your trip, as well as a location and directions. If something happens to you, you want your loved ones to know where you are and when they should worry that they haven't heard from you.
Step 4
Go through your gear, item by item. Be sure that you have an extra of everything--and that includes an extra pair of rock climbing shoes, an extra helmet, an extra rope, extra anchors and bolts and an extra safety harness. While you're at it, be sure to check your bolts, the links that hold your harness buckle and the strength of your anchors. Only when you have thoroughly checked all of your gear--including extras- should you move on to Step 5.
Step 5
Climb using a doubled rope to protect against friction-caused snapping. As you move from one belay point or anchor to the next, clip in the next one before you unclip the previous one.
Step 6
Descend. This should be done via an easy route and not down a long, challenging drop.

Tips & Warnings

It is always, always, always safer to climb with a partner.

Article Written By William Jackson

William Jackson has written, reported and edited professionally for more than 10 years. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, high-level government reports, books and online. He holds a master's degree in humanities from Pennsylvania State University.

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