Lead climbing clinics

Ashley Peoples, Staff Reporter

One of the many opportunities Morris Recreation Center offers for the wellness Texas A&M University-Commerce students is a climbing wall. 

The very idea of rock climbing can be unnerving to some but for those who can handle the height, lead climbing may be of interest.

Outdoor Adventure Coordinator Kellen Dion says that rock climbing tends to attract individuals with a mind for puzzles and the ability to maneuver their body well. Even for those not in that category, rock climbing can be enjoyed by all different levels and abilities.

A popular way to climb up a wall is by having a bar or anchor at the top around which a rope is looped. One end of the rope is attached to the climber and the other is attached to the belayer – the person that feeds the rope through a device in order to stop the climber if he or she falls and then safely lower the climber to the ground. That is called top roping, or top rope climbing. 

But what is lead climbing?

Lead climbing requires the climber to run the rope through multiple strong clips bolted at intervals into the wall.

Sometimes when climbing outside there is no anchor at the top or a way to safely attach the rope at the top without someone climbing up first. That is the purpose of lead climbing, as long as the wall has bolts built in to accommodate the clips.


Climbing gyms offer the best controlled environment to practice the needed skills for lead climbing before venturing outside.

“We know all of our bolts are going into steel and are safe and we test them all the time [referring to the gym wall]. Outside, we don’t know the last time they were tested, how they were built and how they were anchored into the wall” Dion said.

While lead climbing definitely requires experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a beginner cannot lead climb. They need extra skills and to know how to top rope first. If you can handle the fear factor, lead climbing might be right for you.

The Outdoor Adventure program provides students with opportunities that expand their experiences beyond the gym and the classroom and into the outdoors. Dion explained that often the only experience people have with rock climbing is at their university.

“We’re giving them [students] just more knowledge to take with them into the world,” Dion said.

For students interested in learning to lead climb, classes are offered each semester at the climbing wall in MRC. If someone cannot make it to the classes, then students can also ask an OA staff member to teach them anytime the wall is open.