Essentials For Trad Seconding

If you are keen to get into trad, the easiest way forward is to make friends with experienced trad climbers who have all the gear and are willing to take you under their wing. This allows you to try it out safely, learn all the correct practices and get familiar with the equipment before shelling out for your own rack. 

You can thank your partner for their mentorship and the use of their precious gear by being a well-prepared and reliable second who is eager to listen and learn, and that starts with ensuring you’re stocked on all following essentials (along with your harness, shoes and chalk bag, of course)...

We recommend wearing a helmet for all roped-climbing, and for trad it’s an absolute must for both climber and belayer. Trad routes generally see less traffic than sport routes and thus there is a lot of debris that can be knocked loose – keep that head protected!

As a seconder you will, of course, need to belay, and you may have to do some abseiling as well depending on the climb, which means you’ll need a belay device that can be used for rappelling and take two rope strands, as trad climbing typically involves climbing with two half or twin ropes. We recommend choosing a belay device that offers assisted braking to increase overall safety, such as the Edelrid Mega, Micro and Giga Juls.  

You will need to secure yourself to the anchor at the beginning/end of each pitch, for which we recommend a 60cm sling, combined with a locking carabiner. Dyneema slings are ultra-light but slightly more expensive, while nylon slings are more affordable but bulkier.

A prusik loop is a length of accessory cord* tied with a double fisherman’s that can be used to create a prusik knot as an abseil backup or self-rescue device. We recommend bringing along two made from 5mm / 6mm cord, and studying up on how to use them. 

*NOTE: Make sure to use rated accessory cord and NOT paracord or anything not designed for climbing.

A cordelette is essentially the same as a prusik loop (except constructed using 7mm cord) and is used to build an anchor by linking multiple pieces of protection. The leader should ideally have two cordelettes on their rack already, but it’s a mega bonus if you can bring an extra one along just in case (rather safe than sorry!).

You can never have enough locking carabiners! Use them for your prusiks, belay device, sling, chalk bag, water bottle and more!

Last, but not least, we highly recommend getting yourself a nut tool to help get out those stubborn pieces of pro. You might only need it once in a while, but damn you’ll be glad to have it.

Stock up on all of the above online in our trad gear category or in-store at the CityROCK gear shop, and chat to our gear team if you need any advice for your adventures…

By Michael Kable
Cape Town Gear Shop Manager