Rock Climbing CompanyAssociation of Mountaineering Instructors

Rock Climbing Outside - Outdoor Climbing Courses
in North Wales & Snowdonia

 

Sunny days at Gogarth

 

Climbing in the Sun

 

Sea cliff climbing on Castell Helen Gogarth

 

Lead climbing outside on the great sea cliffs of Gogarth

 

International meet

 

Rock Climbing Outdoors - Courses

 

 

Climbing outside in north wales Our outdoor rock climbing courses are for climbers who have some experience of climbing on indoor walls and would like to gain the skills and experience needed to start climbing outside safely.

 

The course will reinforce the climbing techniques that you have learned indoors whilst also covering the core skills needed to climb outside - building safe anchors, managing ropes, organising belays, using climbing hardware to protect climbs and descending or retreating from routes.

 

These skills can be taught in a variety of environments depending on your ability and aspirations - single pitch, multi pitch, routes with bolt protection or routes that need traditional protection.

Climbing outdoors is far more involving than climbing inside at at a climbing wall and often feels slightly strange when you first try it - it is often physically a lot more subtle than climbing on a indoor wall with more emphasis being needed on precise footwork, body position and stamina.

Personal climbing techniques need to be expanded because climbing outdoors is not just about pulling on crimps; you will need to learn to climb sloping cracks, smeary slabs and even the odd chimney. The character of the rock outside often offers a lot more potential solutions to climbing a particular section, but knowing which of those solutions to choose is dependant on experience.

There is also a greater need to think ahead and read the rock, looking for alternatives and planning gear placements / rest positions. Overall climbing outdoors is more demanding, more involving, but also a lot more rewarding.

We will help you understand how to deal with all these different situations whilst also helping you learn about the technical aspects involved in climbing outdoors - equipment, rope systems, anchors, constructing belays, belaying correctly, placing gear and retreating.

On the longer courses we will be able to use our extensive collection of climbing equipment to give you a thorough understanding of safety systems, helping you to use equipment correctly and giving you insight into the pros and cons of various items of kit in different circumstances and different rope systems.

The Climbing Outside course can run over a time scale of your choosing from one day to 4 days and is best held with a instructor client ratio of between 1:1 to 1:3. It may be tempting to go for a higher ratio to keep the costs down, but you just don't get as much climbing done or take as much information in.

It is increasingly popular to run combined Climbing Outdoors and Learn to Lead Climb courses - the massive growth of climbing walls has meant that climbers come to courses fitter and able to lead climb indoors - this makes progress faster and now we run a lot of 3 and 4 day courses that can progress rapidly from "Climbing Outside" skills to "Lead Climbing" skills. The key thing is just ask us to build a course for you and we will do just that.

Climb outside courseYou can find more specific details content of this Climbing Outdoors course in the tabs below.

We have tried to answer some common questions on the General Information page and on the Climbing Tips page, but please do not hesitate to contact us if you need more information or have any questions at all.

Courses can be arranged privately (i.e. just contact us with the details of the course you want, the dates you want it on and the people who will attend and we will try to arrange it) and the prices for the private courses are in the Booking + Prices tab below. We have also written various articles for the site and there is a piece on non-locking carabiners below with the full list on the climbing tips page

Alternatively we also run a series of open courses where you can join other climbers with similar experience and ambitions in learning new skills. The details of the open courses are set out on the Calendar page - just contact us if you need more information.

 

 

Outdoors Climbing Course - Outline

 

Climbing Outside Penmaen Head on the North Wales CoastThe ever increasing popularity of climbing walls has created an incredible surge in the popularity of climbing as an adventure activity; this course aims to help those people who have developed a solid competency of indoor skills and want to start climbing outside.

We will provide coaching and instruction so that the transition to climbing outdoors is easier, faster and safer.

This rock course is also popular with climbers who have not ventured onto the crags for a while and would like some coaching to accelerate their transition back to the rock. This can either let you climb more solidly at your chosen grade or help you break out of a plateau to climb at the next level.

Key points covered on the Climbing Outside course often include:

  • The Crag Environment and Potential Hazards: A key part of climbing outside is understanding that there is a risk attached to the activity, but being foreseeing potential hazards allows us to minimise them. We also need to understand the access issue and ethics involved climbing outside so that we can continue to use the crags, many of which are on private land.
  • Rope Work: A lot of climbers will only have used single ropes if they have been climbing indoors - we will look at both single and half ropes, choosing the correct belay device for the ropes you are using, how to belay using various rope controllers and how to tie into the anchors.
  • Climbing Equipment:- We will look at carabiners, quickdraws (solid gates, wire gates, quantity and length of quickdraw), the rack of protection devices (cams, wires) that you will carry and how to arrange the gear logically and consistently on your harness so that you know where to find the gear when you need it.
  • Top Roping: We will look at setting up top rope systems with both top and bottom belays.
  • Belays / Belay Management - We will look at constructing safe, bomb proof belays that are fully equalised, plus how to plan ahead to avoid common problems.
  • Advanced Belay Skills - We will look at thinking ahead and when to give slack and when to minimise the amount of rope out.
  • Climbing techniques for climbing natural features such as cracks and slabs
  • Abseiling / Retreating off a route.
  • Protecting routes - bolts and natural protection. Learn how to choose the correct gear quickly, seat it securely and extend it correctly.
  • Finishing routes and getting back down - how to thread the belays safely and communicate with your partner effectively
  • .

We can offer this course on a ratio of 1:1 to 1:3; we could offer a higher ratio, but this would mean more hanging around for clients, less climbing and less efficient teaching.

If you are not quite sure what climbing course is best for you then we have a "Which Climbing Course" page that you might find useful.

 

 

Non-Locking Carabiners

 

Non-locking carabiners form the core of a climbers rack whether being used for racking climbing equipment or being use to form quickdraws – there are lots of different names for them - wire gates, non-lockers, plain gates, bent gates etc.

"Snapgates" covers all non-locking carabiners with either wire or solid gates and these gates can be either straight or bent.

There are a vast amount of non-locking carabiners on the market - some are great, a lot are OK and a few are down-right (in my view) dangerous and should be withdrawn from sale. There are a lot of features and factors to consider:

Solid Gate or Wire Gate?

The most often asked question is wire gate or solid gate….after initial skepticism when Black Diamond introduced the first wire gate - the Hotwire - there is a general trend towards using wire gates; this is based on some solid reasoning together with some misconceptions. A wire gate biner potentially has some key advantages over an equivalent solid gate version, however the devil is in the detail. Credit should go to BD for the Hotwire - not only was it a totally innovative move, but the design of the carabiner itself was very good as well.

One major advantage of a wire gate carabiner is that it should be lighter than an equivalent solid gate carabiner because the actual stainless steel wire gate weighs less than a traditional aluminium solid gate. This is a real advantage that has played a part in substantially reducing the weight of a climbers rack over the last few years.

Smaller advantages that are generally offered by wire gates include increased gate opening and (generally) less likelihood of the gates becoming iced up when winter climbing.

The lighter weight of a wire gate also has the potential advantage of minimising gate flutter. Gate flutter sometimes occurs during a fall when the movement of the rope through the carabiner sets up harmonic vibrations in the carabiner back, these harmonics can - in certain situations - cause the gate to vibrate open and closed.

You can get the general principle of this if you take hold a solid gate carabiner by its small apex with the gate facing upwards - now tap the carabiner into the palm of your other hand - you will probably hear a slight click which is the gate opening and closing very quickly. If you then repeat this with a wire gate you will most often not hear anything - the lighter weight spring can't create enough momentum to overcome the tension in the spring.

This matters because carabiners are significantly weaker when loaded with the gate in the open position and this means there is a much higher chance of the biner breaking.

However so much also depends on the design of the carabiner itself and the stiffness of the spring in the gate - I would far prefer to fall onto a well designed, ‘strong’ solid gate biner with a ‘positive’ spring tension than a poorly designed ‘weak’ wire gate with a low/inconsistent spring tension.

There is misconception that wire gates are stronger than solid gates. but in general this is not true.  The only exception is in the minor axis test where the extra malleability of the steel wire gate can allow higher readings to be obtained. However this is the least important of the tests and minor axis loading should be virtually eliminated in well designed snapgates – the gate/nose interface is far more important and a far greater source of breakages.

Carabiner Design - Important Factors

 

The gate/nose interface – where the gate meets the body is the downfall of many wire gate carabiners because the design has been taken straight from its solid gate antecedents.

This often means that there is a massive notch where the wire gate sits that is perfect for hanging up on wires, slings and ropes. This can cause the carabiner to be loaded in the worst possible way with the force being applied the maximum distance away from the spine.

This is made even worse if the carabiner has a long fat top bar. a weak gate open strength and a weak spring. Simple stuff, but there are a lots of poorly designed biners out there - the current Clog wire gates are a good example of how not to build a carabiner as they feature all these weaknesses. DMM recently demonstrated this with the BMC and tensile tested some carabiners that were loaded via the gate notch - they broke at 3kN i.e. even a minor fall will break a carabiner loaded via the gate notch.

All notched nose carabiners will hang up, but some will do it a lot more easily than others; the only way to avoid this is to use notch less or keylock carabiners (DMM Shield / WC Helium for wiregates or DMM Aero or Shadow for solid gates)

Generally I would choose a good quality, strong, lightweight wire gate for traditional or winter climbing (DMM Phantom or Spectre), but go for good quality, key lock solid gates if sports climbing (DMM Shadow).

This is because sports climbing is hard on carabiners because the steel bolts used to protect sports climbs can chew up the relatively soft aluminium used on carabiners very quickly. A chunky sports draw will last a lot longer than a minimalist wire gate. Always choose carabiners with key lock noses for sports climbing as this makes stripping quickdraws from routes much easier.

This type of carabiner is often heavier than a lightweight wire gate, but this is offset by the fact that the draws not only really durable, but they are also often left in-situ on sports routes for red-point attempts. A lot of people also feel that a well shaped bent gate carabiner is easier/faster to clip in extremis than a wire gate.   

Choose carabiners that are anodised as this really does help stop them from seizing up. Anodising does use nasty chemicals, but as long as the anodising is done in an environmentally safe manner then there is a very strong case for doing it - virtually all climbing carabiners are made from the 7000 series of aluminium alloys as it offers the holy grail of high strength and good ductility; however the downside of 7000 series alloys is that they are very susceptible to salt corrosion because of the copper, magnesium and zinc alloying agents used in 7000 series alloys.

Anodising in conjunction with good, proactive maintenance really helps slow down the corrosion process and stops biners from seizing up.

Weight, shape and size are entirely personal and come down to looking/playing with the various options. The lighter modern biners are almost always smaller than their heavier counterparts and you need to choose where to draw the line on a carabiner being too small to use effectively.

Choosing snap gate carabiners – key things to look for:

  • A good gate open strength – 9kn or 10kN. 7 kN is just not enough – there is no margin for error in manufacturing tolerances and it is quite possible to generate 7kN in a fall especially when using a static belay device (GriGri) or a thick, old rope.
  • A well designed body that drives the rope into the spine i.e., no flat long top bars.
  • A minimal notch where the gate meets the nose of the carabiner to minimise the chance of items hanging up on the notch and so loading the biner away from the spine. Or even better a keylock / notch less nose.
  • Check the spring tension – it should be firm and constant without being stiff.

Choosing snap gate carabiners – nice finishing touches:

  • A shrouded nose – helps stop the gate opening accidentally
  • Anodising – help stop the biners seizing up
  • Separate colours for either ends of the quickdraw on wire gate draws. One end of a draw should always be used for clipping gear and one end for clipping the rope – this is because the gear end often becomes marked and notched where bolts or hard materials dig into it under load. These nicks and marks can pull threads on ropes, slings and harnesses - in bad situations these nicks can act as stress concentrators and cause carabiners to break below their rated strength.

Solid gate draws have a straight gate biner for the gear and a bent gate for the rope – no chance of mixing them up; however wire gate draws can easily be used the wrong way around unless the carabiners on the different ends are identifiably different 

  • Rope groove – helps keep the rope close to the spine.
  • A nice rope bearing radius - 8.5mm or more

There are more climbing articles on the Climbing Tips & Advice page.

 

 

Pricing and Booking

Prices. A list of all prices for the Climbing Outside private courses are found below and all prices include VAT.

Type of Course
Length of Course
Instructor - Climber Ratio
Cost per group
Cost per person
Climb Outside in Snowdonia
1 Day Learn to Climb Outside Course
1:1
£170
£170
1:2
£180
£90
1:3
£210
£70
2 Day Learn to Climb Outside Course
1:1
£330
£330
1:2
£350
£175
1:3
£390
£130
3 Day Learn to Climb Outside Course
1:1
£490
£490
1:2
£520
£260
1:3
£570
£190
4 Day Learn to Climb Outside Course
1:1
£640
£640
1:2
£660
£330
1:3
£750
£250

 

Fill in a Booking Form

Booking Details + Conditions

Technical Equipment : The Rock Climbing Company will provide all the technical equipment for the Climbing Outside course including ropes, climbing hardware plus a helmet and harness for each course member. You are welcome to bring along any equipment that you already have (we will need to quickly check it in order to ensure it is in a safe condition) and it is well worth using your own harness on this course as developing your own system for racking quickdraws and hardware is a key outdoor climbing skill.

We have extensive racks of climbing equipment from all the major manufacturers - DMM, Black Diamond and Petzl - that you are welcome to use so that you can decide what equipment you prefer.

SnowdoniaEquipment that you need to provide: You will need to bring along clothing that is suitable for the time of year, but please bear in mind that the weather in the mountains can vary from glorious sunshine to torrential rain - so always bring along plenty of warm clothing, a full set of waterproofs, hat and gloves. This may seem over the top if you are booking a course in the middle of summer, but the mountain weather is fickle and does change quickly.

The crag approaches on this course can be up to 30 minutes long and it is well worth bring along your walking boots/good approach shoes for the walk-in.

Ideally on this course you should have your own rock shoes as well, although we can arrange hire rock shoes if required.

You will also need a 40 litre rucksack and plenty of food and drink for the day.

There is more information on the best kit to bring on the Equipment for Snowdonia Courses page.

What is not included. The price of the Climbing Outside course does not include transport, personal insurance, accommodation or meals.

If you need more information on where to stay then you might find the Accommodation in North Wales page useful.

Ratios and course sizes: The Climbing Outside course is best taught at a ratio of between 1 to 3 clients per 1 instructor. You can book as an individual, as a group or ask us to try and match you up with other climbers looking for a similar course.

The dates, content and duration of all of the climbing courses are by arrangement and totally customisable. Please do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss your requirements.

 

 

 

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