January 28, 2022

What is a Pitch in Rock Climbing?

by Bernice

Pitch in rock climbing happens in ice climbing and rock climbing. It is a section of a route that is steep and needs a rope between the belays. The pitch is a section on a cliff connected using two endpoints called belay points in rock climbing. This is done during the climbing system. 

Pitch can be defined as climbing which the rope length does not cause any restriction. A rope is used to protect someone from falling. A climber usually ascends a cliff to bolt anchors set on a cliff face; he then lowers down from them. 

On certain terrain, which is easier, or rather when someone moves so fast, the pitch length could be extended by simul-climbing. Several pitches could be combined through a belay that runs. Climbers who move at high speed usually say they have finished a longer route with a few pitches. 

When someone uses more than one pitch, that’s known as multi-pitch. These pitches may range to about 20 when done on bigger walls. The climb’s rating increases depending on how complex the number of pitches on some routes is. 


Table of Contents

How Long is a Pitch in Rock Climbing?

The availability of the belay ledges and anchors determines how long a pitch is. The rock quality and the rope drag do determine too. Pitches are somehow short compared to the climbing rope length; they range from 50 to 80 meters. An American rope usually ranges between 50 meters which are 165 feet, to 60 meters which are 200 feet. However, some ropes may be so long, about 230 feet, which is 70 meters. 

How High is a Pitch in Rock Climbing?

The height of the pitch in Climbing is average from about 60 meters to 70 meters. Most of the pitches range from 100 feet to 160 feet on long climbs. Some pitches can be short, though, about 20 to 30 meters. The pitches used in sports climbing when the belayer stays on the ground are not usually high; they are generally about 100 feet from the ground. 

How Do You Pitch in Rock Climbing?

There is a leader in pitch climbing who goes up first. He ensures that they are anchored by placing gear. The next climber is known as the follower; he cleans the pitch by removing the protective gears. The length of the rope, the placement of belay stations or fixed bolts, the amount of the protective gear present, or when the leader would want to exchange the lead determines what length the pitch may be. Changing the team leader may be done when they reach the belay station.

Leader swinging is usually the most effective way of handling the climbing ropes. However, the team should be very cautious when they decide to change from belaying the leader and the second in their next section. Equipment is collected and exchanged with the leader before starting their next pitch. 

Just before doing a multi-pitch in climbing, the team ensures they have become very confident with their skills. The team ensures that all the members have enough skills to lead them through. A shorter route is selected, a route with a few pitches and where the team can not have a lot of challenges. In this manner, one focuses on techniques in the first pitch climbs.

Practice is done on the routes that have obvious ledges on their endpoints. More gear is needed on the routes with multi-pitches while setting belay points. The number of required quickdraws, slings, length of the rope, and cams should be estimated while studying the route before climbing. The equipment and belay gear are needed while building anchors.

It is good to theorize and read well, but there is no substitute for understanding and practice. One should understand their equipment, intentions, and systems well before climbing. It would help you gain enough confidence if you practiced them more on the walls. 

While trying to learn how to do multi-pitching, one should understand the trad gear. Learning how to build anchors and place gears is what a pitch climber should understand the most. Competent single-pitch climbers are great in their way. 

When two people do a belay, they get tired at the bottom, and each of them has to get tied on the rope end. The rope should be flaked first to ensure no knots are in between. Trust should be key while doing a partnership climb, as there will not be any untying until the climb is done. For those who are so used to doing a single pitch, it’s so much easier for them to lead in a multi-pitch. 

What are the Different Types of Pitches in Climbing?

There are various types of pitch climbing.

1. Mountaineering

This pitching is the most adventurous, although it is the oldest. The first was recorded in Etna, which is 3350 meters. Roman Emperor climbed this to see the sun rising in 121 AD. This type of pitch climbing requires enough skills as it is the most dangerous. The climber must know very well how to climb ice, rocks, and rocks. They should be aware of natural hazards like lightning, rockfall, and avalanche. 

2. Trad climbing

This is also known as traditional climbing. This pitch climbing type is where a climber or a team places all the needed gear to protect against falling and is removed when pitch climbing is done. In this type of pitch climbing, the team leader ascends in a rock section while placing the protective devices on the rock during the climbing. It can be so short, like a single rope length, and can as well be a very long one.

3. Sport climbing

This type relies on the permanent anchors that have been fixed well to the wall, for instance, using bolts to provide protection. Sport climbing emphasizes strength, gymnastic ability, and endurance rather than risk, adventure, and self-sufficiency since the need for placing protection has been eliminated virtually. The artificial ways are applied for protection rather than upward progress; it is perceived as a free climbing mode. Often, in sport climbing are used artificial walls for climbing.

4. Bouldering

This climbing style is done without a rope and is usually done for very short climbs. This is done to prevent severe injuries if a fall happens. It is done mainly on artificial boulders or natural boulders outdoors or in gyms. It may as well be done in large rock faces, specifically at the bases. 

5. Top rope climbing

A climbing type is where a rope is used to protect the climber. The rope is tied at the belayer all through to carabiners, and a connection is made to the anchoring system on top of the route and the pitch climber. This provides security to the climber even if he uses challenging routes. 

The anchors on the top rope could be reached using means which are not technical, like scrambling or hiking to the clifftop. It is usually practiced on routes which there cannot be a lead climber. It is used mainly in indoor wall climbing and in environmentally damaging or not secure ways. Top rope climbing is so easy in teaching a beginner.

6. Free solo climbing

It is also called free soloing. This is a form of pitch climbing where the pitch climber does not use harnesses, protective gear, or ropes. Here, the climber relies on their climbing ability, psychological fortitude, and physical strength. This method is not to be with free climbing, where gear can be used to protect if a fall occurs but does not help in climbing. This type is not recommended to any person since people die regularly. Always remember the difference between free solo and free climbing.

How Many Pitches are on a Climbing Wall?

When the pitch climber has already reached the anchor, they get lowered by the belayer. The multi-pitch routes are long and have many different sections and pitches. While doing a sport climbing, the multi-pitches start their routes from about 2 or 3 routes. In the big walls, there might be about 20 pitches. 

What is the difference between a Pitch and a Route?

Pitch is the length of a climb connected by a single rope in length. A climb leader usually leads a pitch, and the second in the team does the cleaning. The second is known as a follower. A route, however, is described as the path that is used by a climb in pitch climbing to reach the mountain top, ice rock, or while climbing a rock. 

Routes do vary depending on the grade and the difficulty. It is difficult to return or stop when one gets committed to the ascent. Choosing a route to use is an important aspect of pitch climbing. 

What is the Difficulty of a Climbing Pitch?

There are some difficulties while climbing the pitch. The aspects which give pitch climbers difficulty are the mental edge and the physical challenge. Most people have difficulty trusting that a rope could provide better security to them. They tend to have a problem leaving a safe ground to a height they have never been before. 

Some forms of pitch climbing, like mountaineering, are so demanding both mentally and physically. A lot of time is needed to go up and return down, having a lot on your back. One should understand well the technical skills before they go up. 

What is the Gear used for a Climbing Pitch?

Crampons, boots, an ice ax, and a climbing or rappelling helmet are essential while doing a climbing pitch. Trips, where one has to go through glaciers, will need a harness, ropes, and crevasse to secure climbers from falling. Cordelettes, anchors, and slings are also required to help one climb safely through the anchor points. Quickdraws allows one to attach the ropes to the anchors through the two carabiners connected in them. They provide the climber with safety while climbing. 

What do 4 pitches mean in Climbing?

The belayer drops the pitch climber after they have reached the anchor. The multi-pitch routes are pretty lengthy and contain several sections and pitches. Multi pitches begin their courses with roughly 2 or 3 climbs when conducting sport climbing. There might be approximately 20 pitches in the massive walls.

How Much Rope Do You Need for a Pitch?

Most pitches are about 30 meters or less in length. They require one rope of a length of 60 meters. Some of the current sports climbs are usually about 35 meters; a single rope is used in climbing this pitch. In the pitches made in America, a rope of 50 meters which is about 165 meters to 60 meters, 200 in feet, is usually used. Some of the ropes may belong to about 70 meters. Pitches in longer climbs may range from 100 feet to 160 feet. 

How Many Pitches is El Capitan?

El Capitan is located in Yosemite Valley. The type of route used is aid climbing and free climbing. The vertical gain is 880 m which is equal to 2900 feet. The number of pitches is 31. The route used by Honnold to reach the top is called Freeride. This is the biggest wall in Yosemite. It is so difficult that whoever makes it up there is newsworthy. 

How Many Pitches is Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe has a lot to offer both the trad climbers and the sport climbers. Multi pitching is done in many of the routes here, including the Black Wall. 

How Many Pitches is Lovers Leap?

More than 250 routes are developed in Lover Leap. They range from low bouldering to about four pitches. Its elevation is about 5809 feet. Its most distinguishing feature is that it’s named after two American lovers who leaped from the summit till they died. 

How Many Pitches is Masua Cliffs in Sardinia?

This route was in 2 days. It has got 16om to 5 pitches. It ascends just above the sea and is fully bolted. This name is representative of the partnership it had with some food metaphors. The first climb was done by a man called Bruno Fonnesu. He was a local man who was tireless to climb and find new routes that had never been used before. 

How Do You Lead a Belay Multi-pitch?

To lead a multi-pitch climb, various things have to be done. Just before doing a multi-pitch, one has to do lots of research. One should study the route to be used; where the route starts, where the route goes through, and where the route ends. One should also learn how to come down. One must get down eventually, so before climbing, you should study how to land well. One should find out where anchors are if they are rappelling. While climbing, one should have a guidebook or a topo with them. And here is our guide on the ways rock climbers get down.

If someone has friends who have done pitch climbing before, then you should go ahead and ask them for a beta. The time to be taken during the climb should be known. The climber should find information on how much time will be needed while climbing. There are different gears used while approaching, climbing, and descending.

The climber should understand exactly what gear they will use while climbing. The climber should also be ready for what terrain they will encounter there. Through this, the person will know how to go about it. After following all this, the climber is now ready for multi-pitch climbing. 

How Do You Set up a Multi-Pitch Belay Station?

A climber often ascends a cliff to bolt anchors placed on the face of the rock, then descends from them. Simul-climbing might be used to increase the pitch length on easy terrain or when someone progresses very quickly. A running belay might be used to combine many pitches. Climbers who go quickly often claim to have completed a longer route with a few pitches. When one reaches the rope end, that rope to which the partner is also tied; You pull it until it cannot move anymore. 

When the rope has been coiled successfully, you are good to do a belay set up for your partner. A belay device is needed to set up a belay for your partner. This device handles the belay from above. Such devices are like: Mammut Smart, Black Diamon ATC Guide, Petzl GriGri 2, Petzl Reverso and Petzl GriGri +. These devices are so safe to set up a belay so well. A preferable belay device to set up a belay is ATC due to its simplicity, versatility, and lightness. 

Ways of setting up a belay are; through a redirect, off the harness, and off the anchor itself. The best option is belaying from off the anchor itself. To set up the belay, one uses the chosen device to lock the attached carabiner attached to the anchor. Communication is so important while setting up a belay from above. A very simple way to belay is ensuring that you’ve got your device at hand very ready while pulling the rope. Lastly, one should ensure that their partners are set up on belay efficiently. 

Summary

Climbing is fun, especially if you have the right gear and pick the perfect practice locations. Getting from amateur to pro status will depend on your enthusiasm. The above procedures and tips will help you climb right away and safely enjoy the sport.

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About the author 

Bernice

Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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