13. Leading Steep Terrain

Aid climbing poses a very different set of challenges to the follower when compared with traditional free climbing. In this video we discuss some key considerations for the leader in steep terrain, so they don’t make cleaning even more difficult for the follower.

When leading steep pitches, it can be tempting to make big high steps, long moves, or to back clean gear (remove the piece below you). This makes it difficult for the follower as every time they remove a piece, they will swing out to hang, plumb line, or may have trouble removing a piece because their rope is tensioning it.  

On traversing pitches, it is more difficult to make reaches, however cleaning is also very difficult. Check out our video on “How to Pendulum & Lower Out While Cleaning for more on cleaning traversing pitches.

The important thing for the leader to keep in mind in both of these situations is not to back clean as aggressively as you might do on a vertical or slabby pitch.

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.