Once a climber makes the conscious decision to venture out on their own, they are making a commitment to learn, gain experience, and gain independence. A logical progression here is having some initial climbing experiences, shoring up personal skills like movement (jamming), knots, hitches, belaying and rappelling, then learning how to top rope so you can have independent practice.
I believe it is important to learn Top Rope Skills from a qualified professional. Here are a few reasons:
- Learning the most up to date best practices: Pros are constantly learning new skills, can best utilize modern tools and equipment, and increase the rate at which you learn.
- Learning Curve: When you climb with friends (nothing wrong with this) and want to learn, you have competing agendas- your friends may not be educators, and they want to climb- you want to learn! Qualified guides and Instructors will increase the ‘curve’ at which you learn- we cherry pick your experiences and build upon them.
- Risk Management: Qualified Guides and Instructors will teach you how to best protect yourself while working and playing in hazardous terrain. Protect yourself at the edge, while rappelling, and at the base of the crag.
- Follow Through: Qualified Guides and Instructors can make a recommendation for what you should consider doing next. More climbing time, another lesson, or graduation to independent climbing on your own.
Here is a story to go along. Last week I climbed with Kelly and Stephanie. They wanted to do a simple top rope anchors course. We met, came up with a plan of graduated challenges to build upon their current experiences.
We headed out to Pinnacle Rock, learned some knots, reviewed some, practiced some hitches, practiced building anchors on the ground, then applied our skills on the cliff. We then added edge negotiation, rappelling, and protections systems to the skill set.
At the end of the day, we had a discussion detailing what the next logical steps could be. Self reflection is important here: Kelly and Steph basically told me where they thought they were, and it was pretty much the same place as I thought.
That will increase your confidence.
So, consider joining us for a skills seminar or tune up if you think you could use it. It very well may be money well spent.