Seconding A Pitch

The second needs to be organized, especially on a long multi-pitch route. He or she must remove the gear and store it in a logical fashion. Nothing slows a climb down more than having the second arrive at the belay with nuts and slings all clipped to each other and draped haphazardly all over the place. Removing the belay is usually straightforward because the second is on a good stance.

If the belay is a hanging stance, the second may have to climb up a move or two and get established on the climb while removing the anchor; in extreme situations, he or she may need to hang on the rope while working. Here are a few pointers for removing and racking gear while seconding:

1. When you get to a piece of protection, first try to establish a stable stance-after all, the leader figured out a way to stand there comfortably enough to put the piece in.

2. After you are as stable as you can be, look at the piece before you take it out: Which way did it go in? Should it be pulled up? Out and up? Twisted and then tugged upward? You get the picture.

3. Keep pieces clipped to the rope while you work to get them out. If the piece is on a quickdraw, after it is out of the rock, clip the carabiner that is attached to the nut to the gear sling, then unclip the other carabiner from the rope and let it dangle-this ensures that you will not drop the nut while you work to get it out and that once it is out it does not hang down too far (as it would if you clipped the other carabiner to the gear sling). If’ the piece is on a long sling, take the piece out, put the sling over your head and shoulder, then unclip the sling from the rope.

4. It ‘a nut was set well by the leader, it may take a tap from the nut tool to loosen it (keep the nut tool clipped to something while you poke at the nut).

5. If the piece is a cam, be careful to grab it carefully and retract the cams at the same time you push on the stem- if you grab it blindly or accidentally push it in, it may be stuck forever.

6. Put each piece where it belongs, and keep like things together as you go: slings with slings, nuts with nuts, cams with cams, et cetera.

7. When storing extra-long slings or cordelettes, wrap them up into a small package first and then store them-do not just let them drape all over you.

8. If a placement is in a particularly difficult place to work-in the middle of a crux sequence, for instance-quickly analyze it, pop it out, and let it slide down and hang on the rope by your tiein knot. You can store it when you get to a good stance.

When you get to the belay, tie a figure eight loop in the rope to form a tether, and clip into the anchor with a locking carabiner or two carabiners reversed and opposed, then prepare to make the transition to the next step on the climb.