Trad Climbing Traditional Climbing or “trad climbing” is placing removable climbing gear in cracks and crevices to protect the ascent of a climb. It is the most pure form of safe climbing on a cliff, leaving only chalk dust to mark your passing. Unlike sport climbing where a line of bolts map the route to the anchors, a trad climb is a blank canvas where the artist-climber protects the route wherever and however often they feel comfortable.
Sport climbing routes appear anywhere someone feels inclined to drill holes and place bolts. As a result, most sport routes are very close to roads or only need a short hike to reach. Traditional climbing routes feature a natural forming crack or fissure in which to place gear. This often requires hiking deep into remote and quiet areas- away from the crowds. Trad climbing offers a new challenge for sport climbers who feel that they have reached their plateau.
There are some disadvantages to trad climbing, like the fact that you can’t roll right out of your car onto the belay site. And few people relish the idea of packing 35 pounds of gear long and steep distances just to climb a route or two. The main drawback of trad climbing though is the price of the gear. An intro trad rack will run you well over $1000 dollars for stoppers, hexes, slings, biners, and the most expensive- cams. Learning to trust the placement of trad gear takes great faith that it will hold in the event of a fall.
Trad gear mainly consists of stoppers (or nuts), hexes, cams and other removable hardware. There are many fine manufacturers of all of the above gear, however not all are alike. You may find for instance that one manufacturer of stoppers has stiffer cables than another, allowing you reach higher for a better placement from where you are perched. Another company may have stiffer triggers on their cams giving your hand a workout, while another cam’s trigger may be as smooth as butter.
Whatever brand you go with doesn’t matter so much as that you shopped around and you are 100% confident that you can trust your life to their products. Climbing is strange sport in that it balances great risks and rewards. Trad climbing offers a bit more risk and a lot more reward than sport climbing. But ultimately, climbing is unique in that it lets you, the rock an amazing environment be one.