Trad climbing, or traditional climbing, is mostly followed in England, Ireland Scotland and Wales.

The principle ethic in traditional climbing is to climb without artifical aid, and to leave the rock after the climb exactly as it was before the climb.

Examples of what might be considered artificial aid would be placing a ladder on the side of the mountain (common in the Alps on popular routes) or using one's helmet to lasso a spike and then pull up using the helmet (A friend of mine brought a caver climbing, and the caver did just this. When my friend complained at him that this was unethical the caver pointed out that in caving the ethic tends to be to get out of the cave system alive and this leads to all sorts of ingeniousness on the part of cavers). Using artificial aid to climb a route is Aid climbing. Climbing without aid is Free Climbing

When trad climbing the leader climbs and then attempts to place pieces of equipment onto the rock which will hopefully catch her if she falls. These pieces of equipment (pro) must not damage the rock and must be removable by the climbers second (the person who holds the rope for the climber and then follows up after her).

Climbs which do not offer the ability to place protection on them must either be top-roped soloed or left unclimbed. In general Top-roping is looked down upon unless it is in preperation to solo the climb. Soloing is climbing with no equipment other than boots and chalk. It is a lot of fun and the type of climbing that is most likley to kill you.

Because of the commitment involoved in trad climbing (having to learn how to place gear properly on the rock) trad standards in trad climbing have not increased as rapidly as they have in sport climbing. A new breed of trad climbers have appeard in recent years in Britian. These people climb extremely hard climbs with little or no protection on them in a traditional style. A climb of this sort is termed a death route for obvious reasons. These climbers will top-rope the route repetedly and when they are capable of climbing the route more than 50% of the time (sometimnes perhaps a bit more than this) they will lead the route. This trend has been termed Head Pointing. In order to succsecced on a near suicidal route it is nessacary for one to be very mentally in control of the situation and this is where that therm comes from.

Some people think that this is pretty unethical (John Redhead was the first great objectionist to this style of climbing) and en even more interesting movement has begun in Britian. In this movement people clim silly hard death routes on-sight groud up (i.e. never having attempted the climb before).

To my knowledge no one has yet killed themselvs in either of the two most reecent trends in trad climbing, but that is sure to change with time.

While trad climbing is most rabidly pursued in Great Brittan, it is, in fact, quite popular throughout the world, from Greenland to Antarctica. Brits tend to think that they are the only traddies because they all-too-often engage in violence against the development of sport climbing in Brittan. (At the same time they are more than happy to go clip bolts in France, Spain and the States.) There are rock climbers all over the world climbing damn hard routes on gear who would object to this sort of parochial attitude. I, on the other hand, object, even though I only climb rather easy routes on gear.

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