14. How to Pendulum While Leading

When leading on aid, you may find yourself at a dead-end crack, looking at a blank wall — where all rock features seem to disappear after a fixed pin, or bolt, or some other piece of fixed gear.

Then, out of the corner of your eye—or on the topo map stuffed into your pocket — you spy more features well over to the side. Relief briefly settles in but you still have to know how to get there, as there is a sea of blankness separating you from success. Often times the only way to glory is via a pendulum!

For the leader, completing a pendulum is relatively straightforward.

Step 1: Clip the ‘pendi point’ (pendulum point) with your lead line. Be sure its is “bomber” (i.e. 100% secure) or you may get some unexpected air time!

Step 2: Have your belayer slowly lower you down to a point at which you think the arc of your swing will allow you to snag the feature that you have identified as your goal.

Note that it might take a few times to find the right spot. Stop earlier than later and check to see if you can make the swing, as it is easier to get lowered a wee bit more than it is to climb back up.

Step 3: Once you have reached the new features, you can begin leading again.

Be sure to use extended runners and/or back clean the pieces below you as you climb up the new feature (so long as each piece of gear you are setting is bomber), as this will help reduce rope drag.

Please be sure to watch our next video on “How to Pendulum & Lower Out While Cleaning.”

These are essential techniques to any big wall and aid climbing adventure. Be sure to practice and have a working knowledge of these systems before venturing onward.

We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!


Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.