If you’re new to outdoor sport climbing (or even if you’re not), you might not know some of the social norms at the crag. There’s the general outdoor etiquette of “don’t be an asshole” and Leave No Trace, but for climbers, there are a few other courtesies to keep in mind. Heather Weidner, pro climber and the instructor for Climbing Magazine’s Intro to Sport Climbing course, gives some tips on how to not be that guy at the crag.
1. Keep talking to a minimum
Loud, excessive talking at the bottom of a climb can be both a distraction and a safety issue. Communication between climber and belayer is crucial, so if others disrupt that with unnecessary chatter, those climbers will not be happy. The same goes for communication between belayer and climber: Keep language simple and direct so no one gets confused, and at a crowded crag, use names for clarity.
2. Consider leaving dogs at home
Nobody wants off-leash dogs running on their rope or causing a distraction. Dogs are great, but it’s best to leave them at home if visiting a crowded area. This also goes for kids, if they’re screaming and running around unattended. “Both human babies and fur babies!” says Weidner.
3. Tolerate beginners
Try to remember when you first started and be respectful to the beginners, no matter how experienced you are now. Everyone at the crag is worthy of courtesy and respect, including the newbies.
4. Lower off your own draws
If you know your partner is going to climb the route after you, clip two draws at the anchor opposed and reversed instead of lowering off the anchor hardware. This decreases the amount of wear on the anchor so more people can use it over time.
5. Lower, instead of rappelling, whenever possible
Weidner explains that rappelling at a sport crag is just asking for miscommunication and/or accidents. Always assume that the climber is lowering instead of rappelling to be on the safe side. However, examine the anchor to make sure the hardware is suitable for lowering and not too worn or grooved, as this can cut your rope. If you’re really classy, carry a couple steel carabiners to contribute in case the lowering hardware is worn out.
Want to test your limits on a rope? Learn to sport climb with pro climber Heather Weidner in Climbing Magazine’s Intro to Sport Climbing online course.