Traditional Climbing Course

When talking about traditional climbing or “Trad climbing”,  it’s important to understand what that term means. It’s a style of Rockclimbing in which a  climber or group of climbers place all the equipment required to protect against fall, and remove it when a pitch is complete.

Trad climbing gear

So now we know what Trad climbing means, what equipment do we use besides harnesses, ropes, helmets and rock shoes when doing a traditional climbing course?

Since the 1970’s the development in protective Trad climbing gear has made the sport safer and in turn more popular. Contemporary protective equipment includes nuts, spring-loaded camming devices, slings, tricams, hexagonal shaped chocks and aluminium, steel or brass nuts. These are removable pieces of metal which can be jammed into cracks to support a weight during a fall but can be removed at the end of a climb.

Harness Knots for climbing anchors

A number of knots are used to tie into the harness or for creating anchors.

  • The figure of eight re-threaded-used by a climber to tie into the harness.
  • Clove hitch-used for building anchors or for a climber to make themselves safe on a belay ledge.
  • Double Bowline-used by a climber to tie into the harness or to anchor around a fixed object.


When a climber has reached the top of a climb, an anchor must be set up to allow the leader to bring up the second climber, (seconder) safely. A climbing anchor is a system made up of individual anchor points that are linked together to create a master
point.  The rope and/or climbers clip into the master point to be securely attached to the rock.

  • Protection: An anchor typically consists of 3–4 pieces of protection with the minimum being two pieces. The anchor placements are chosen such that a failure of any single piece will not lead to loss of integrity of the entire system.
  • Slings: These are used to tie the pieces of protection of the anchor together with equalised tension using the above-mentioned knots.
  • Karabiners: Karabiners have a twistable ring that will close over the gate to prevent accidental opening. Non-locking karabiners in place of locking karabiners do not have this safety ring and are therefore more likely to be accidentally opened by rope or systems. When using a non-locking karabiner in place of a locking-karabiner, they are with the gates opposite and opposed, so that it is significantly unlikely that both will be opened simultaneously.

Looking at the history of Traditional climbing there were some great exponents who left their mark with some outstanding classic climbs in the Peak District and who contributed to the leap forward in standards of climbs being attempted.

Traditional climber in action in the Peak District

Peter Harding
In 1946 Peter Harding climbed Valkyrie at the Roaches described as an arch-typical grit classic.

Joe Brown
Then there was Joe Brown with his ascent of the Right Unconquerable at Stanage described as one of gritstones greatest classics.

Ron Fawcett
A huge leap forward in standards came Ron Fawcett who left his mark with Masters Edge at Millstone Edge described as one of the greatest routes of the 1980’s.

Johnny Daws
Lastly, there was Johnny Dawes with his ascent of Gaia at Black Rocks described as stunning and brilliant.

Whatever your aspirations for traditional climbing, there are rock climbs of all standards in the Peak District, that’s the beauty of it!

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peak district climbing instructor

David Matthews is a qualified teacher having a BEd degree in Outdoor Education and has been involved in working with groups through outdoor activities for 25 years.