Some of our walls are so steeply overhanging that it would not be safe to hang a top-rope from the top of the wall. If a climber fell partway up, they would swing too far across the room, and endanger other climbers. On these walls, the only form of climbing allowed is lead climbing, which is a more advanced style of climbing. The lead climber takes their rope with them as they climb, clipping it into carabiners bolted to the wall every few feet to provide protection against a fall as they move up the wall. Whereas a fall on top-rope will typically drop the climber a foot or so, a fall when lead climbing drops the climber twice the distance from their previous clip, plus any slack in the rope, plus some stretching of the rope. These falls are often 10-15 feet or more, and can be very exciting!
Before you can lead climb in our gym you must pass our Lead Climbing test, which includes a deliberate fall to demonstrate that both the climber and belayer know the safe technique required. We also offer lead climbing lessons (2 3-hour classes). In addition to the steep lead cave and the archway, lead climbing is available on all of our top-rope walls except the slab wall and the chimney (areas where large lead falls would not be safe). Those certified to lead climb receive a green belay tag to wear on their harness.