Showing category "Top Tips" (Show all posts)

Threading a Lower-Off

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Friday, March 15, 2019, In : Top Tips 

One of the key skills you need to take your indoor leading outside is to be able to thread the lower-off at the top of your route. A lower-off is a pair of bolts, sometimes joined together, which allows you to pass your rope though them and clean out all of your own equipment ready to use on the next route.

The principle is simple – get to the top, untie, poke rope though the bolts, retie, be lowered off collecting your quickdraws on the way. The trick is to make sure neither you, nor the ...

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The "Princess Clip"

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, In : Top Tips 

Mate: (sniggering) “You want your Princess Clip in for this lead?”

Me: (looking at sketchy sloper by first clip) “Yep! Princesses don’t have broken ankles…”

I was introduced to this term by a friend, its something I’ve used infrequently inside and out for years but never knew that it has such a good name!

In essence a “Princess Clip” is where you have your rope clipped through the bottom quickdraw/s of the route before your lead. Sometimes the difficulty of the climbing o...

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10 things you need to know about Sport Climbing

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Thursday, January 31, 2019, In : Top Tips 

  1. Sport climbing is a style of outdoor climbing where you climb up a rock face that has had bolts pre-placed on the route for you to clip your rope into as you progress upwards. 
  2. If you can lead climb indoors then you already have most of the skills you need, but knowing how to clip a bolt and thread a lower off to get back down safely are really important things to learn.
  3. When using a quickdraw one end should always be used on the bolt, where it may get scraped and form a sharp edge, and the oth...

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Scrambling Rack

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Friday, January 18, 2019, In : Top Tips 

Scrambling cover a huge range off terrain from steep walking to easy climbing, so at times the use of a rope to protect you or others in your party is a good idea.

Scrambling grade vary a little from area to area,  but generally :

  • ·        Grade 1 = A steep walk, hands may be needed for balance.
  • ·        Grade 2 = Some tricky sections where the use of a rope to protect the leader or belay a second may be required.
  • ·        Grade 3 = An easy rock climb with sections of pitched climbing with...

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Climbing in the Winter Months

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, In : Top Tips 

A winter approaches the air cools, the sun sets early and the rock can be cold and wet; you could be forgiven for just visiting your indoor wall to keep fit until Easter and the promise of sunshine and fair weather. 

There are many "Fair Weather" climbers out there and I can see why, I've spend more days than I'd like to remember rock climbing in wind, rain and sometimes even snow showers. Your hands freeze, water runs from wrists into your jacket as you place your arms above your head, you s...

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Retreating from a Sport Route

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, In : Top Tips 

I was asked a few weeks ago what to do if you can't complete a sport route and realised that there are so many options that it would be worth writing them down. There are lots of reasons why you might not be able to finish a route, thread the lower off and retrieve your quickdraws, it might be that its too hard, too wet or too late.

Firstly – no one likes leaving their gear behind, but it’s a small price to pay for getting down safely. None of your gear is worth as much as you,and the cost...
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Life Lessons From Rock Climbing

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Monday, June 6, 2016, In : Top Tips 
Lovely short talk from veteran rock climber Matthew Childs, he shares nine pointers for rock climbing that can be effective at sea level too. Available from TED talks.

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How to become a Rock Climber:

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, In : Top Tips 
A step by step process to becoming a rock climber - and we can help you with every step!

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Lowering off a bad bolt

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Friday, March 18, 2016, In : Top Tips 
Just thinking about teaching people the skills they need to move their lead climbing from indoors to outside this summer and remembered this little gem from a Petzl catalog a few years ago. 

With simple use of a prussik you can protect against the risk of a dodgy bolt failing as you are lowing off it. This would have been good to know in Majorca 10 years ago when I had to lower off a belay where you could pull one of the bolts straight out the rock!

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Keeping you nuts clean

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Wednesday, February 10, 2016, In : Top Tips 
"look after you gear and your gear will look after you"

An old saying that hits the nail on the head here, if you want your climbing kit to last you have to show it some love now and again. Here we look at how to maintain the cornerstone of any rack - nuts.

An alloy head threaded with a wire swage, not very complex but dirt and salt can build up between the two, and treating it rough can take its toll.

Best way to give this bit of kit a service is to put all your nuts in a bowl of warm slightly ...
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Climbing Kit Maintenance - Krabs

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Wednesday, January 27, 2016, In : Top Tips 
There are lots of ways to make the kit that you invest in for climbing last as long as possible, but you also need to know when it's time to retire that beloved bit of gear.

If you have climbed near the sea, and this even included Llanberis with the wind from the right angle, your climbing kit will have been exposed to salt from the sea. Not so much an issue for your soft gear like rope and slings, but can be devastating to metal like Krabs, nuts and cams.

If the salt can get into the metal thr...
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Self rescue for climbers

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Monday, September 7, 2015, In : Top Tips 
Self rescue for climbers - getting yourself out of trouble when things don't quite go to plan can be overwhelming or, if you have some basic skills, straight forward.
All these skills are covered on our Self Rescue for Climbers course, you can read up before using this article from, it is a little American in places, but it contains some well presented information.

Keep safe out there...
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Krabs and Bolts

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Monday, June 1, 2015, In : Top Tips 
Great Video from DMM about the interaction between Carabiners and Bolts, well worth a watch...

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Leading Outdoors - Video help

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Tuesday, April 21, 2015, In : Top Tips 
We've been busy with learn to lead courses this year and I keep recommending that people have a look at the BMC's videos on how to lead either before, or as a reminder after, the course. 
They have written a great article with several of the key videos on the BMC website -

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Belaying at the top of a climb

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Monday, December 8, 2014, In : Top Tips 
One of the big differences between climbing indoor and outside on real rock is that when you get to the top, there's not always just a krab to lower off from. 

The BMC have put a nice video together showing how to do  this safely, but if you want to get the skills wired then get in touch and we'll get you up to speed and ready for an adventurous 2015! 

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How to Lower Off a Sports Climb

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Wednesday, November 26, 2014, In : Top Tips 
On a recent Learn to Lead Sports climbing day I was teaching a client how to run through the process of threading a lower off in a safe and versatile way. I thought I'd share this process for everyone else to use, just remember that its best to practice on the ground 1st, and if you need any help, just give me a call and we can head out on a rock course.

  • Clip your rope into the lower off at the top of the route (using a quickdraw)
  • Clip your cowstail into the lower off (60cm sling and screwgate ...

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Night Navigation Practice

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, In : Top Tips 
For those of you who have been on a navigation training course with me or are working towards an NGB like the Mountain Leader there are a selection of suggested routes on which to practice your skills to be found on our "Resources" page. 

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Navigation - 10 Top Tips

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Tuesday, September 24, 2013, In : Top Tips 

1. Concentration

Your navigation is normally as good as your concentration, so work on keeping focused. 

2. Strategy

Plan each leg and break down the journey to make it as easy for yourself as possible using strategies like hand railing, aiming-off and attack point.

3. The 5 ‘D’s

The 5 things I make sure I think about for each leg all start with a ‘D’:

  • Direction – whether this is left, right, North West or 233o. Use compass when needed, remember to adjust for ...

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Tying a Clove Hitch

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Monday, September 23, 2013, In : Top Tips 
If you want to climb outside and stay safe then this knot is the one you'll need to learn. Its great for attaching yourself to anchors and building belays. Watch, learn and practice....

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Top tips from UKC

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, In : Top Tips 

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Winter Climbing - conditions apply

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Tuesday, January 29, 2013, In : Top Tips 
Nice video from the BMC on winter climbing and rare plant - well worth a watch for you winter warriors.

Winter Climbing Conditions Apply from team_BMC on Vimeo.

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Kit care

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Thursday, January 10, 2013, In : Top Tips 
A guide to maintaining your climbing kit from the BMC. If in doubt - give us a shout! ggggggg

Caring for Equipment from team_BMC on Vimeo.

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Crack climbing part 3

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Friday, May 18, 2012, In : Top Tips 

Its all about technique... and training, tactics & thinking. Check out our rock improvers course that could help you...

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Crack climbing part two...

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Wednesday, May 9, 2012, In : Top Tips 

For more information on how to improve your technique on all kinds of climbing terrain see our rock improver course.
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How to climb cracks - Part1

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Tuesday, May 1, 2012, In : Top Tips 

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Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Friday, March 30, 2012, In : Top Tips 
The last of our T's of climbing development is Thinking.

This ones all about the head, and managing thoughts, emotions and fears along the way. 

Focus, motivation and confidence are all areas that can bring you down, or spur you on.
Books such as the 'Rock Warriors Way' deal well with this area of climbers development.

If you're too scared to make the next move then this is the area which needs your attention. 

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Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Friday, March 23, 2012, In : Top Tips 
The Third T in our climbers development series is Tactics.
This is all about using your knowledge to outwit the climb, rather than strength to overcome it.
By using a measured approach and making informed decisions climbing can become easier for you.
Tactics start with route choice, picking the right crag to go to, warming up before you climb at your limit and picking a route that's in condition, not a wet crack on a north facing wall in December. 
Before you jump on the rock its about route pl...
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Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Friday, March 16, 2012, In : Top Tips 
The next T in our climbing development series is Technique.
Technique fouses on your movement skills, the basic act of climbing.
As with Training, Technique is a subject that has beeen well covered by books, articles and magazines over the decades.
It can be broken down into three areas, hands, feet and movement.
The way we use our hands when climbing vary on what holds are available. The classic jugs and crimps are often prefered over slopers, undercuts or dare I say it...jamming.
Each tec...

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The 4 T's - Training

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Monday, March 12, 2012, In : Top Tips 
Training is the first of the four T's of climbing development that we'll look at in this series, and the one that is often most focused on.
Training is about getting stronger, developing your muscles and better preparing your body for climbing. This element of climbing development has been the subject of thousands of books, articles and online debates, there is a wealth of information about training to be had, including the lists at the end of this article. 
Training can be broken down into a f...
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The Pillars of Climbing Development

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Thursday, March 1, 2012, In : Top Tips 
The gap between the level at which you climb today and your potential limit is unknown.
You may feel like you have a long way to go, or that you already climb as hard as is possible, but either way there are four things that can hold you back, or push you forward and help reach your goals.

These 'Pillars of climbing development' are four distinct areas that support you're climbing ability. It is best to think of them as the legs of a chair, each as important as the others, and if one is not pul...
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Matthew Woodfield An infrequent collection of tips, tricks and ramblings about climbing, walking and the great outdoors...