How To Be A Good Partner On Multi-Pitch Ice Climbing

Second on Multi-Pitch Ice

For the past two weeks, I have been in Ouray, Colorado ice climbing with great friends, taking clinics at the Ouray Ice Festival and participating in Chicks With Picks. I have learned so much, especially about backcountry multi-pitch ice climbing, as well as what it takes to be a good "second" or true climbing partner (I am not quite ready to lead ice yet!).

From my fabulous friend Cheryl, who led me up many pitches of ice, to the guides at the Ouray Ice Fest and Chicks, I picked up some great tips on how you can be a good second. 

1. Anticipation- knowing what needs to happen next and taking charge such as flaking the ropes when you arrive at a climb while the leader racks up. 

2. Climbing fast and efficiently so the leader doesn't freeze at the belay.

3. As you clean the route, make sure the ice screws are cleared of snow, otherwise they are useless on the next pitch. If you can't knock the snow out, put the screw down your jacket so the snow will melt by the time you reach the top of the pitch. 

4. Be ready with your personal carabiner to clove hitch into the anchor when you reach the top of the pitch or use your Personal Anchor System to clip into the anchor or bolts at the top of a climb. 

5. If rappelling off a route, make sure to pre-rig yourself as well as the leader so that you can both double check each others setup. Also, before you clean the anchor and rappel down yourself, double check which color rope you need to pull when you get down. 

6. Pull and coil the ropes at the end of the climb. 

7. Know how to build and use a V-thread in case you need to get out of a bad situation.

8. Don't complain when ice and snow is dropping on your head.

9. Be sure to always thank the lead climber and tell them what a great a job they did as their climb was much harder than yours! 

I would love to hear your tips on being a great second or climbing partner in general.


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