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White Tape

Version 1.0; last reviewed 18-10-2021


In order to safely and without-supervision participate in traditional climbing (trad climbing) activities at any UQ Mountain Club (UQMC) climbing event, you must obtain your “White Tape”.

First and foremost, UQMC promotes a “safety first culture that guides all our activities". That means that whatever you are doing, you must make sure that your and others’ safety is the number one priority at any given time.

This document will guide you towards a successful completion of the assessment of your “White Tape”. In order to get your “White Tape” approved, there are four main steps:

  1. Read and remember the knowledge displayed in this document,

  2. Put all this knowledge into practice in the correct manner,

  3. Get yourself assessed for new theoretical and practical material by 3 members of the executive team who will ask you theoretical questions and will assess your practical skills during one of the UQMC events.

  4. The Executive team will vote upon the competency of the member in an Executive meeting based on the development of their “Black Tape” skills and their competency on new material. Note that climbing ability is not considered as a requirement for “White Tape” and should not sway decision making. The “White tape” can be awarded by the majority vote of the current Executive Team.

After a successful assessment, you will obtain your “White Tape” on your UQMC card, which you will display on your harness together with your “Yellow Tape”, “Blue Tape”, “Green Tape”, “Red Tape”, and “Black Tape”.

Please read the following instructions carefully.

NOTE: We do not endorse all the information by the content creators given below. However, we have checked the specific links and believe that they are great learning resources. These links do not replace learning practically from club members, but will be helpful to aid your learning.


Having “White Tape” indicates that a member is a proficient traditional climber. The member is able to identify different types of traditional protection, as well as where this protection can be safely placed on the wall. A member with their “White” competency should also be able to understand the challenges of building an anchor with traditional protection and confidently be able to build this anchor. This member is capable of teaching members who are new into trad climbing.


You must be a member of UQMC to be tested for the “White Tape” competency.

You must have the “Yellow Tape”, “Blue Tape”, “Green Tape”, “Red Tape”, and “Black Tape” competency to be tested for the “White Tape” competency.

Testable material

The material testable to obtain the “White Tape” competency can be broken down into the following categories:


The member with the “White Tape'' competency has attended a number of UQMC trad climbing activities. During these events, the member has consistently demonstrated that they are experienced and knowledgeable to independently trad climb (without supervision). The member being tested, must be able to:

  • Ascend and descend on prusiks;

  • Munter hitch rappel and belay;

  • Build an equalised and redundant anchor for top-belay using slings, rope and a quad;

  • Safely lower a climber from top-belay using the ratchet method and the redirect method;

  • Setting up a single (retrievable) strand rappel at the top of a climb;

  • Setting up a retrievable double strand rappel with two ropes at the top of a climb;

  • Safely multi-pitch;

  • Safely lock off a belay device (to escape the belay);

  • Safely haul a climber up on a 3:1 hauling system;

  • Safely perform a pluck off during a patient rescue;

  • Bypass a knot whilst ascending and descending.

The member must be formally tested on the following new skills:

  • Have traditional gear knowledge;

  • Correctly place traditional protection;

  • Have knowledge of traditional anchor building techniques including anchor principles such as equalisation, redundancy and extension;

  • Understand the scenarios that each type of traditional protection is used for;

  • The process of how to trad climb;

  • Setting up an assisted haul;

  • Abseiling with a casualty.

Theoretical material

The member being tested must have a comprehensive understanding to explain the theory behind:

  • Bad bolts;

  • Understands anchor principals such as equalisation and focal points, weights on anchor, redundancy, extension, and dangers;

  • Build an anchor for top-belay using slings, rope and a quad;

  • Safely lower a climber from top-belay anchor using the ratchet method and the redirect method;

  • Setting up a single strand rappel at the top of a climb - theory of absolute anchors;

  • Multi-pitching;

  • Rope management;

  • Knowledge on how to set up and work a 3:1 hauling system;

  • The steps of a “pluck off”;

  • Setting up a rappel with different types of setups

  • How to set up a retrievable single-strand rappel;

  • Knowledge of knots when setting up a double stranded rappel with two ropes;

  • The steps of a “Knot bypass”;

  • Crag Ethics.

They must also be as tested on the new material including:

  • Understanding of which protection is needed for each situation and why these are appropriate;

  • Understanding of traditional anchor building;

  • Key differences safety measures and risk assessment in traditional climbing in comparison to other types of climbing;

  • The process of trad climbing;

  • How to perform an assisted haul;

  • Abseiling with a casualty;

  • Crag Ethics.

The better you understand all the following material, the safer you will be as a climber and the more likely you are to avoid a climbing accident. Having a “safety first” culture within UQMC is the highest priority when climbing.

Reading for theoretical material

Sports climbing revision

In order to receive your “White Tape”, you need to review your knowledge from your “Green”, “Red” and “Black Tape”. This section is a very short outline of the most important points from those booklet:

  • Lead belaying;

  • Lead climbing:

  • Clipping;

  • Falling techniques;

  • Commands;

  • Cleaning a climb (2 PAS, figure-8, through rappel rings);

  • Rappelling (third hand);

  • Bad Bolts;

  • Ascending and descending on prusiks;

  • Munter hitch;

  • Anchor principals: equalisation, focal points, weights, redundancy, extension, angle of separation and dangers;

  • Building a top belay anchor (3 methods: Rope, sling or quad anchor);

  • Belaying from a top belay anchor;

  • Ohm and stick clip;

  • Multi-pitching;

  • How it works;

  • What is important;

  • Purpose of a Jesus quickdraw;

  • Catching a fall;

  • Munter Hitch or Garda Hitch when someone dropped their ATC;

  • Rope Management;

  • Dangers;

  • Climbing with a party of three;

  • A 3:1 hauling system;

  • Retrievable single strand rappel and double strand rappel with overhand knot;

  • Bypassing a knot;

  • Pluck off;

  • Crag ethics.

Please go over your “Green Tape”, “Red Tape” and “Black Tape” booklet again if you have forgotten the theory or practise of these points.

Remember: Anchors must be SERENE.

S - Solid: The anchor that you are using (bolts, bollards, trees) is solid and you have inspected it.

E - Equalisation: The tension on all strands is equal, meaning they are all taking equal load during a fall or haul.

R - Redundant: there are no single points of failure.

E - Efficient: The anchor should be simple, so you can easily inspect it.

NE - No Extension: If a piece fails, the anchor will not shock load.

What is trad climbing?

Many climbers will say that traditional climbing or trad climbing is the most addictive, adventurous, intriguing, exhilarating and daunting type of climbing. Whilst sport climbing, you will clip quickdraws to bolts already in the wall. When trad climbing, there are usually limited or no bolts in the wall.

You use features of the cliff face such as cracks, horns, pockets, and trees in order to place your own gear which will protect your falls. The gear you place is selected to complement the feature. Once placed, you clip your rope into the gear as you ascend. If you fall, you get caught by your last piece of gear, as in sport climbing.

Trad climbing can complement sport climbing, but varies in both style and ethics.

  • The ethics around trad climbing are a bit different, as trad climbing revolves around how you should interact with the rock - minimising your impact and climbing in a style that ‘conforms to the way the rock formed’.

  • Sport climbing is more about pure performance, going for the highest grade, where trad climbing focuses on the more mental and adventurous aspects of climbing. You will usually trad climb at a grade that you can onsight or climb comfortably, which is usually a few grades lower than your sport climbing grade. Do not be offended or disappointed if you start climbing 12s instead of 20s or 16s instead of 24s. This is just how it works.

  • Trad routes often follow cracks up the face of a cliff. Cracks offer two things: good opportunities to place protection and a unique style of movement called ‘jamming’. As such, cracks are usually not bolted as per crag ethics.

One thing is most definitely the same: always wear a helmet.

In this booklet, the theory about trad climbing, the dangers and the ‘how to’ will be explained, however, practising in real life is necessary to truly gain understanding. Therefore, this booklet can more be seen as your theoretical guide after your first trad climbing experience. We will explain all of this at the crag as well.

Fun side of trad climbing

Trad climbing can be quite exciting. The fun side of trad climbing is:

  • Because there is no need for bolts and the barrier to entry to trad climbing can be quite high (in terms of gear and knowledge required), trad climbing can allow you to climb in remote, unique, and beautiful places and have it all to yourself.

  • When cleaning a route, you leave no gear behind in the rock. This means that the rock is ‘left clean’ after you have descended. Many trad climbers consider this better for the crag, nature and the ethics around climbing.

  • The mental game in trad climbing can be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. You are in full control. For some this is extremely addictive and fun, for others not so much (not at all).

  • Hand and foot jams - these are among the most beautiful movements in climbing.

  • It is usually not very busy at the crag and when not limited by bolts the opportunities for new lines are endless..

Downside of trad climbing

Of course, there are downsides of trad climbing:

  • The gear is expensive. A new cam will cost you about $100-$200 depending on the brand. This makes leaving gear behind a tearful event.

  • Trad climbs usually do not see as much traffic as sport climbs and as a result can have poorer rock quality where rock can be rotten and routes can be littered with choss.

  • Placing your own gear and staying calm takes some mental strength which can make trad a lot harder to do than sport climbing, as it takes patience, resilience, confidence, and perseverance (in a way you do not quite see in sport).

  • If gear is placed incorrectly and does not catch you as you fall, there is a high risk to your personal safety. This could range from minor injuries to death. Ground falls do happen and are by their name, very dangerous. Partaking in trad climbing should not be taken lightly.

Trad climbing gear

Yes, more gear and it is not cheap. But it is very shiny! Trad climbing gear consists of but is not limited to: nuts, hexes, cams, and slings. You also need quickdraws. A nut tool, which is a sort of hook, will help you get stuck gear out of the rock, so getting a nut tool is recommended as well (#gainz). All of this gear in combination is referred to as a ‘trad rack’ or simply a ‘rack’.









Carrying trad gear is much heavier than what you are used to when you are sport climbing. So be prepared to not only carry it to the crag but also on your harness whilst climbing.


Active and passive placement

There are two types of placements in trad climbing: active and passive placements. Active placement means that the piece of trad gear is engaging ‘actively’ in protecting you from a fall. The protection has moving parts which allow the device’s size to be manipulated to fill certain voids. Some of these active devices are designed to expand as they are loaded allowing them to be placed between parallel surfaces. The most common active gear is a SLCD (spring loaded camming device, or just ‘cam’ for short). Other active gear might include ball nuts or big bros.

Passive placements are placements that do not engage actively, but rely on the gear being jammed into constrictions in the rock. These do not have any moving parts and rely upon the device becoming locked or wedged into position in order to not be dislodged during a fall. Passive gear most commonly includes nuts and hexes. Another example is tri-cams.


Cams are versatile trad protection that are designed to be placed in smooth, parallel-sided cracks. A cam has 3 or 4 retractable lobes mounted on an axle that, when weighted, transfers the downwards force of a fall into outward pressure on the crack in which they are placed. Each lobe is shaped according to a mathematical logarithmic spiral, so the angle between the lobes and the rock is always the same.



When the cam is weighted, the lobes are forced apart, which results in outward pressure on the walls of the crack. The outwards pressure holds the cam in position. In saying that, do not place cams behind rock that has the ability to expand. Such as hollow flakes or loose blocks. The cam being weighted, will force the lobes to expand and push the "loose" rock feature away from where it is attached to the rest of the rock.

To make the placement of cams even better you should look for indents and features of the rock to nestle the lobes of the cam behind. As big does not pull through small.


A cam is perfect for parallel cracks. The advantage of cams is that they can be placed quickly and efficiently, which can be a lifesaver when you are pumped. Cams also do not rely on there being constrictions available. However, the disadvantage is that a cam is (very) expensive, and may not be effective in certain situations.

Cams can also be very useful in horizontal, parallel cracks. Depending on the rock type, and possible bulbous indents in the rock (which come in handy to position and lock in the lobes as big does not pull through small), it is best practice to position the inner lobes of the cam facing upwards.

One of the most essential aspects of placing a cam is knowing how wide or closed the cam lobes should be, which is also different per brand and model. The photo below is an example of a Black Diamond cam and when or how you should place this.


In the orange zone, it will be very hard to get your cam back and is called being ‘over-cammed’. The red zone means that you have not cammed correctly and the cam will not hold your weight, which is called ‘under-cammed’. A good indication for a good cam placement is if the lobes are at the same width apart as the trigger wires, and thus equalised.


For more information about placing a cam, please read this website (10 min), which is excellent to get a feel on how to place a cam and we would highly recommend it.


For most people, nuts are the first piece of trad gear that someone buys. Nuts are relatively cheap, light and sturdy. They are made of flexible wire, which is threaded through a hard ‘nut’ of material. Nuts do not have outward force into the rock, but they transfer the force in the direction they are pulled. In other words, if you fall (downwards), the nut will put force into the downward direction.

There are also nuts called RP’s, which are just really small ‘nuts’ or ‘peanuts’. Place the RPs, similarly to other nuts, but be aware that the smaller RP sizes are only rated for aid climbing (i.e. #2 or less). The wires of an RP are more susceptible to snapping than that of larger nuts.


This is the reason why a nut should always be placed in a constricting crack or pocket, where the crack becomes smaller further down. When weighted, the nut wedges itself even further down into the crack. In other words, ‘big does not fit through small’.

A nut must have maximal surface contact with the rock, meaning that all sides of the nut should touch the rock. Also, with more surface contact, the nut is less likely to get pulled out of the rock when upwards force is applied by the rope dragging upwards as you climb.

In saying this, you can purchase different kinds of nuts. From offsets to half nuts and everything in between. Each nut has their own advantage in shape for certain cracks. However, which type of nut you prefer to use, will come with experience.


Be aware that there are multiple ways to place a nut. For example, this is a perfect way; sliding it in a crack:



Also, be aware of the quality of the rock around your nut placements. More likely than not, if you have placed a nut with good surface contact, the failure of the placement will come from the rock around it breaking into, for example, small crystals, or hollow flakes.

For more information about how to place a nut, see this website (5 min).


Hexes are historically used in similar placements to where we now use cams. However, they can be quite heavy, loud and not less versatile than cams. Nevertheless, nothing will make you feel as safe as a good hex placement.


Hexes can be used passively in the exact same way as nuts, as they can be wedged or placed into constrictions and tapered cracks. Make sure that the hex makes contact with at least 4 sides in order to give you the best protection.



Hexes can also be placed actively, so they can cam into the crack. Because of how wires or slings are threaded through a hex, when weighted they in-fact have a camming motion where they rotate, causing force to be placed outwards into the walls of the crack:



The main advantage of a hex is that you can place it if a crack is dirty, wet or icy, where the cams are likely to slide out. Also, a hex is less expensive than a cam. Together with nuts, hexes are a great addition to any rack, as you can protect yourself well and in situations where neither nuts nor cams would be sufficient.

Natural features

In trad climbing, natural features are in. This means that you can sling a tree or a horn as protection. Whenever you sling a natural feature, keep the critical angle in mind, for example around a tree. As with building an anchor, you should keep angles at less than 120 degrees - good practise is keeping all angles acute. When slinging features, any greater angles create potential to cross load hardware.


The most common natural feature is to sling a block or flake, where you put a sling around the rock and clip a quickdraw on it. Just make sure that you give the sling a tug (in the direction of loading when you fall) and check if it still holds well.


Another option is to sling a tree. Usually trees are used to build top anchors, but sometimes there is a tree mid climb. Just sling the tree and clip both ends with a carabiner or quickdraw. Be sure that you sling the base of the trunk, as this is more important with smaller and thinner trees. Keep the damage to the tree minimal please - this means not breaking limbs or rubbing hardware against the trunk.



You can also sling a chockstone. A chockstone is a rock which is stuck in a crack and is usually found in wider cracks. If you sling the chockstone, sling it on either side of the block so that when downward force is applied, the block will rotate and cam in the same way that a hex will if you fall on it. This is a lot more secure than slinging across the middle where there is greater potential for the chockstone to slip.



Other natural features include drill holes, tree roots, horns and boulders. Applying basic principles, they all offer protection in similar ways.

One last tip, slings are usually racked up by placing them over your shoulder as opposed to being on your harness. This way, they are quick and easy to access. It might also be good to put a carabiner on them before going up. Do not wear too many slings, as they can get tangled and this might be hard to untangle when getting pumped!



Nut tools

A nut tool is a long metal hook used to remove gear from the rock. Sometimes it can be difficult to get your nuts and hexes back if you have taken a fall on it or if you have really jammed them in. In order to effectively use a nut tool, hit the base of your gear in the opposite direction to that which it was placed into the rock. You do not have to hammer it up, unless you cannot apply enough force to unstick the gear with your hands; just a gentle hit is usually enough. It is more important to ensure you are hitting in the right direction, as a good piece of gear will often only come out the same way it entered the feature. Make sure you do not drop your gear when retrieving it.


How to place trad gear

Trad gear is normally placed in a crack (preferably an offset), behind flakes, around blocks (sling around a boulder), and around horns. This sometimes means that a “placement” (somewhere to put gear) is placed deeper in a crack or a bit around the arête.

As stated above, there are two types of placements in trad climbing: active and passive placements. And then there is also natural feature use.

Active placement

When a climber is assessing the suitability of an active protection placement, they should consider:

  • The predicted direction of loading is suitable for the placement - The cam must be oriented facing downwards, as the fall is going to be downwards;

  • The rock at the placement is solid, and not likely to fracture or break off when it is loaded;

  • The placement is not likely to dislodge a block if loaded;

  • Placement is well seated and unlikely to ‘walk’;

  • Placement is not seated on sand or dust.

Passive placements

When a climber is assessing the suitability of an passive protection placement, they should consider:

  • The predicted direction of loading is suitable for the placement - The hex or nut gets more wedged or jammed when loaded into the rock (hot tip: use a nut tool to get this placement out);

  • The rock at the placement is solid, and not likely to fracture or break off when it is loaded.

Natural Feature use

Again as stated above, you should make sure that when you are placing a sling, the angle of the sling and the natural feature is less than 120 degrees and preferably 60 degrees. Make sure that the natural feature does not ‘cut’ into your sling as well. When natural features are being assessed to use as protection, the climber should consider:

  • If they have the materials available to use the feature, such as carabiners, slings or similar for adequate length and thickness;

  • If the rock feature has adequate strength;

  • Jointing around the feature;

  • The sound produced by tapping the rock with your knuckle or a carabiner. In general, stronger rocks will produce a higher pitch ring, especially with a metal object;

  • The amount of rock that will be engaged by attaching to the feature. The weaker the rock, the more of the rock that the placement should engage;

  • In the tree feature has adequate strength;

  • If possible, the health of the tree should be assessed - the tree is alive;

  • The size of the root or tree, as the diameter of the feature should be at least 10 cm;

  • If the feature poses a danger to equipment. So avoid attaching to features with sharp edges;

  • The stability of the attachment, so ensure that whatever equipment is attached to the feature will remain in place when loaded during the fall.

Other things to consider when placing gear:

Direction of Pull

When you are placing gear, think about the direction it will be pulled if weighted and whether or not the feature and gear being used lends itself to catching a fall in that direction. Cracks often accept seemingly good gear, but if they get pulled at an unaccounted for angle, they can walk or move out of a position that will catch you. Placing gear with this in mind and setting gear properly will mitigate the chance of gear ‘walking’.

‘Walking’ gear

Gear can ‘walk’. This means that the gear can move upwards or downwards or to the back of the crack after you have placed it. For example, nuts can wiggle out, slings can lift off and cams can walk out of position. Walking is caused by the movements in the rope as you climb past your gear. It can be dangerous as it can undo good placements and cause gear to get stuck (a very expensive mistake!)

The most common case of walking gear is when a cam is placed in a crack that tapers. This means the cracks are not perfectly parallel and there is a gradient across the surfaces. Tapering will cause the cam to wiggle itself into the wider section (bad). In outwards-tapering cracks, this could cause them to move into an insecure position or out of the wall. In inwards-tapering cracks, this can cause them to move further into the wall, potentially out of reach where they will ‘a mission impossible’ to recover or will be lost forever. In downwards-tapering cracks, they can fall down and out of the crack as soon as surface-contact is lost. This is the most common and worst-case scenario. In order to mitigate walking, we extend gear.

Extending Gear

Because of the nature of trad climbing, the climbs can be long and meandering. This means that there could be a lot of rope drag, which makes it harder to move as a leader and can cause rope abrasion. Therefore, we make sure that we extend gear to reduce rope drag.

Another reason to extend gear is to stop the rope from applying any upwards cyclical force on gear below the leader. This prevents gear from walking.

There are various ways to extend gear, such as clipping a sling to them or using an extendable draw. Alpine draws are extendable quickdraws made from 60cm or 120cm slings and two snap gate carabiners.



There is no back clipping for these alpine quickdraws, so that is one less worry! See the next picture on how to clip an alpine quickdraw.



Rock quality

Rock should be clean, dry and solid. If a placement in a crack is muddy, dusty or a bit wet, the placement becomes much less reliable. If you are unsure about your placements, back them up by placing more than one piece in an area, increasing the odds that at least one placement will catch a fall.

Before placing gear, you can visually inspect the rock or do the tap test to ensure that the rock is not hollow or rotten.

How often should you place gear

There is no ‘general rule’ of how often you should place gear. The more experience you get, the more you can ‘read’ the rock or ‘see’ the moves. Very vague, yes we know. However, there are some tips and tricks:

  • If you are a beginner, make sure you do not run out any climbs and just place gear whenever you find an opportunity. Remember, practise makes perfect!

  • If the piece below you is sub-par, then place a solid piece as soon as you can.

  • As you become more experienced, you will know when it is acceptable to run it out more and when placements are becoming important. This comes with time.

  • In general, you do not place a piece when you are pulling through the crux. You place a piece, as high as you can, before the crux. Pull through the crux, and then place a piece after the crux. This is on the condition that you have good gear below you.

  • Whilst ego is dangerous in all forms of climbing, this is particularly true for trad climbing. If in doubt, there is nothing wrong with placing gear and sitting on it to have a rest. This is part of the process, especially as you progress to climbs that are closer to your limit. Your first priority should always be your own safety, for the sake of both yourself and your belayer, who is trusting you to place sufficient gear to enable them to catch you safely.

One last note: trad gear is all rated to different MBSs. The majority of gear will not fail when catching big falls. The first thing to go usually is the rock itself, which is why checking rock quality is so important. The next thing to fail is the way the gear was placed - cams placed in downwards-tapering cracks, where they may walk upward, are sketch.

Finally, the exception is small gear, which can be rated to forces <6kN. These can in-fact fail whilst catching factor two falls and as such should be backed up or only sat on. The rating of different sized nuts is usually printed on the braided metal stem.

UQMC would recommend using a simple 1-5 grading system, with 1 being ‘(deadly) dangerous consequences’ and 5 being life saving. For every placement you place, rate it on a scale from 1-5. Ask yourself:

  • What is the rating of this placement? 2 or 3? Will this placement save my life if I fall? If not, I need to back it up.

  • What is the rating of this placement? 3 or 4? How does this placement relate to the line of the climb? Will it make me ‘pendulum’ swing?

  • What is the rating of this placement? 4 or 5? Could I potentially top-rope on this placement?

If you have a rating lower than 4, you will have to back up the piece whenever you can. If you have a rated-4 placement, you should definitely look for a rated-5 placement.

This video is a great introductory video on how to place gear and where to place which type of gear (15 min). We would highly recommend watching this.

How to trad climb

Gear prep

Before you start climbing a trad route, you should always ‘rack up’ correctly. This means looking at the climb and reading the guide book, then deciding what is appropriate to carry up with you. For example, don’t carry a #4 cam up a small finger crack with nowhere to place it. Discuss with your belayer what is useful and avoid bringing up excessive amounts of gear. It is useful to have a harness with enough space to rack up sufficient gear for long routes.

Always know where your gear is located on your harness. Do not just clip it on willy-nilly. This will make it harder to find the right gear when you are super stressed. Learn an efficient, organised way to rack your gear that suits you. Everyone has their own individual method. Trial and error with this one.

After you have racked up, you and your belayer discuss how the route goes together and what to expect. For example, is there a crux somewhere, does your belayer need to pay more attention at a certain part, where do you need to extend your placements. It is also useful to look up in a guidebook if there is a double bolt belay anchor, a tree or if you have set up a trad anchor. If you are setting up a trad anchor, you should take more gear up to make sure that you have enough gear to set up the anchor. More information is given below.

You should consider bringing the following gear up with you (this may vary slightly depending on the route):

  • Quickdraws; consider the amount of protection available and the length of the route. It is recommended to bring alpine draws to extend gear where appropriate. Make sure you bring enough.

  • Slings: 120cm slings are versatile and can be used for both protection and anchors. A 240 cm sling is a good option when building trad anchors;

  • Extra screwgate locking carabiners for the anchor;

  • A belay device and/or rappel device;

  • A third-hand prusik;

  • Nut tool;

  • Nuts;

  • Hexes;

  • Cams (if applicable);

  • Extra prusik.

Note that it may be recommended to bring up doubles or triples or certain hexes, cam or nuts for particular routes. This can be determined from a visual inspection of the route and/or any notes found in a guide book.


As you have learned how to climb a multi-pitch (“Black tape”) and how to climb in general (“Red” and “Green tape”), we will not include an excessive amount of detail here. It is best to get out there and learn the practicalities from an experienced climber. However, we will give a short example.

For this example, we will call climber A the ‘leader’ and belayer A, and climber B is the ‘seconder’ and belayer B. The sequence of trad climbing is the following:

  1. The leader will climb the route, and placing protection and extending gear as they ascend;

  2. The leader reaches the top of the route, and secures themselves on 2 points of safety. This can be on a double bolt belay, a tree or a protection piece. Once safe, the leader can call down to belayer B “I’m safe! Come off Belay!”;

  3. The belayer replies “Off belay!”;

  4. The leader builds an anchor. Again, this could be a double bolt belay anchor, a tree or a trad anchor;

  5. The belayer/seconder ties into the end of the rope. It is also acceptable to tie in midway using an alpine butterfly and a locking carabiner on some short routes. Beware of any knots at the end of the rope if you are to pull the rope up;

  6. The leader takes in slack until the seconder yells “That's me!”, when rope is tight on their harness;

  7. The leader/belayer A secures the ‘climber’ rope into the belay device and performs the final ABCDE-checks. When these checks have successfully passed, the belayer A yells “On Belay”;

  8. The seconder responds with “Climbing” and ascends the route. The seconder will remove all the gear as they climb up;

  9. The seconder reaches the anchor and attaches their 2 points of safety before coming off belay;

  10. The seconder and leader will set up a rappel, which can be on the double bolt belay, on a tree or on a boulder, and rappel down one by one to ensure maximum safety;

  11. When seconder and leader are both on the ground, pull down the rope gently as rocks may dislodge from the top.

Note that in trad climbing, you will usually have a climber and a seconder. You will more often rappel down a route, instead of lowering the climber.

Trad anchors

Unfortunately the climb is not over when you reach the top, as you still need to make an anchor for yourself and your seconder. There is a hierarchy of anchors within trad climbing, which are listed below with the first one being the best option:

  1. Double bolt anchor. If there are bolts, great! Clip them and belay off of them. Done deal. A double bolt anchor is the ideal anchor in all cases of any sport or trad climbing;

  2. Belay from an absolute natural feature, such as a tree or a big boulder. Make sure that the tree is big and sturdy enough, or that the boulder does not move or is loose.

  3. A trad anchor. A trad anchor is made out of trad gear.

As you already have knowledge of the first two, we will inform you about setting up a trad anchor.

First of all, you should always make a trad anchor with at least 3 good pieces of gear. Preferably you will need 3 5-rated placements as your anchor. However, more pieces is always great, especially if you have a rated-4 placement in there as well. More than 5 is not needed. Gear placements can be sometimes obvious and close together or not so obvious and far apart. If you cannot find a good place to make a trad anchor, try looking around a bit until you find something workable. If you are multi-pitching, you may have to climb up or down to find a good spot.

The placement of the pieces should be in different spots, meaning that the pieces should not be stacked together in the same crack, but spread out over 2 or more cracks/features. This will ensure redundancy, the same way as you make an anchor on two separate bolts. Also, it gives you a bit more comfort. Easy, right?

Connect the pieces together in a manner that ensures the SERENE principle: solid, equalisation, redundant, efficient and no extension. Your gear placements need to be equalised together to form a central point. For example, this can be achieved by connecting a cordelette to each piece of protection and tying an overhand knot to create a masterpoint or central point. You attach yourself and your belay device from this master point. How you create the master point depends on what gear and placement is available, how spaced it is, which direction the anchor needs to be focused in (the direction of load if your seconder falls) and whether the climb is a single or multi pitch.

It is important to note that you should connect the pieces of the cordelette or sling(s) together in a manner which minimises the extension in case of failure of a protection piece. This means that the anchor either has to be on the same length or will have different length in the cordelette. It is better to see in practise how to tie this cordelette together.












As you can see in the picture, the cordelette is attached to 3 locking carabiners and has been equalised with an overhand knot. For more information on how to build a trad anchor, please watch this video, which shows different scenarios and different anchor types (9 min).

One last excellent tip: find a place where you can either sit or stand easily while belaying. Leading on trad can take a long time.

No practise falls

Where UQMC would recommend doing practise falls for sport climbing, UQMC does not recommend taking practise falls while trad climbing. We assume you know the techniques of falling while sport climbing well enough, that you will be able to use these when trad climbing.

You must make sure you place enough protection and that your protection is safe, to ensure you will not have a groundfall. Of course, at some point, you do fall while trad climbing, which is completely normal. But practising falling on trad gear is riskier than we would like.

Instead, we recommend that you place gear and sit on it to test that it holds your weight. You can do this with more gear placed below you so that in the event that your top piece does fail, there’s gear close below it to catch you.

Assisted hauling

As part of your White Tape competency, you will have to know how to do the VR skill ‘Assisted Hauling’. This is basically like hauling with a 3:1 system, which you have learned before, but with differences in how the 3:1 is achieved: namely that your seconder is a part of the system and pulls themself up at the same time.

An assisted haul is much (much, much) easier than a 3:1 haul by yourself, as the casualty will assist you. However, there are two criteria which must be adhered to, in order to do an assisted haul:

  1. The casualty is conscious and able to understand your commands;

  2. There is at least ⅓ of the rope left to do an assisted haul.

The steps are the following:

Step 1: Lock off your belay device and tie a calamity knot preferably to third or another anchor point.

Step 2: Attach a screwgate locking carabiner to the rope stack and lower it down to the casualty.

Step 3: The casualty attaches the locking carabiner to their belay loop

Step 4: Add a PCD to the system if belaying with an ATC and make sure that the rope does not rub too much over the edge of the cliff.

Step 5: Haul up the casualty, while the casualty pulls down on the rope with a 2:1 mechanical advantage system, and the belayer/you pulls up with a 3:1 system.

Step 6: Retie the calamity knot every 2 meters until the casualty is at the preferred height or on top of the cliff.


Abseiling with a casualty

Scenario: You have just topped out a climb when your climbing partner is struck on the head by a rock or faints due to heatstroke. You need to abseil with the casualty to safety.

For abseiling with a casualty, the following steps must be followed:

  1. Find a safe spot, preferably away from the edge of the cliff.

  2. Check if the casualty needs first aid: is the casualty breathing? Perform CPR and call a copper. Is the casualty bleeding? How much? If the injuries are too great, call a copper. If not, perform first aid.

  3. Set up a rappel close where you and the causality are.

  4. Attach a safety prusik for both you and the casualty to the rope.

  5. Make or attach a chest harness to casualty, and clip it to their belay loop using a locking carabiner. Make use of the casualty’s gear.


  1. Deadlift/ desperately drag the casualty towards the edge of the cliff.

  • If the casualty is lighter, or you are a total powerhouse, you may be able to simply dead lift them.

  • If they are larger than you, or you have not eaten enough cliff bars that morning, the best method is to place one foot under the neck and one under the hips, with one hand on the chest harness and one on the harness belt, lift as much weight as you can with. Alternating sliding the foot under the neck, then the foot under the hips backward, walking the casualty closer to the edge

  1. Attach your belay device and third hand to the rope.

  2. Add extra friction to the rope by adding the ‘Super S’ to the belay system.

  3. Attach the casualty to yourself with a sling/their safety. Ensure the attachment runs from their belay loop to your belay device, and not your harness.

  4. Slowly lower yourself and try to get your casualty underneath you as well. Make sure that the casualty is facing you and their arms are over your legs. Beware of the casualty’s head and injuries.

  5. Lower yourself down to the ground and perform first aid/ get to the car/ call the helicopter.

Crag Ethics

It is UQMC policy (and just common courtesy) to leave no trace whenever you are climbing. Access to crags is something UQMC wants to keep, so we all must be good environmental stewards at all times.

Some crag ethics, therefore, are:

  • Avoid making too much noise (music, load conversations, swearing etcetera);

  • Do not leave tonnes of chalk on the climb or on the ground. Use your brush to brush it off the rocks;

  • Pack out rubbish and food scraps;

  • If you set up hammocks, be careful not to rig bark trees;

  • Try and stick to the existing crag trails;

  • Do not leave toilet paper EVER;

  • Leave your pets at home whenever they are not allowed at the crag (e.g. National Parks). Otherwise keep them on a lead or at least in eye shot, so you can pick up after them. Also, make sure they are not attacking or hunting local wildlife and are not annoying (or scaring) other climbers or members of the public.


Version Table

V0.1    Meike Go                           27-11-2020        Created Document

V0.2    Meike Go                           06-06-2021        Populated information into the document

V0.3    Ruth Bridges                   20-07-2021         Continued populating the document, especially in section “how to trad climb”

V0.4    Meike Go                           08-08-2021         Finished the section on gear. Finished the section on how to place gear.

                                                                                            Finished the section on how to trad climb. Finished the section on trad anchors.

                                                                                            Checked the document and sent it for review to Ruth

V0.5   Steven van                        10-08-2021         Provided comments

            den Berg

V0.6   Ruth Bridges                    10-08-2021         Provided comments

V0.6   Jarred Vardy                    26-08-2021         Provided many comments and edits to be reviewed. Document is not

                                                                                            ready for public consumption

V0.7   Ruth Bridges                    29-08-2021         Reviewed comments

V0.8   Genevieve Forshaw      18-10-2021         Provided comments

V0.9   Kyle Addy                          18-10-2021         Provided comments

V1.0   Meike Go                            18-10-2021         Reviewed comments and changed the order of some things around


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