6. Preparation

When you want to get out on a multi pitch route, how do you select and prepare for that route? How do you set yourself up for a successful day? In this video, we talk about the process from selection to preparation and approach! Below we take you through three levels of preparation: Macro, Meso, and Micro.

Macro Level: The Big Picture

1. Research – Use all available resources to research your climbing destination and desired routes. This includes climbing websites, guide books, and any climbing friends.

2. Route Selection – This should be based on your personal abilities, your partner’s abilities, psychological factors, experience, retreat options, and weather conditions that day.

3. Route Beta – Depending on your level of climbing and desire for advice on specific routes, learn route beta by talking to climbers who have climbed the route, local guide services, guide books, and/or websites.

Meso (Mid) Level: Climbing and Route Logistics

1. Approach – When scoping new routes, be sure to evaluate the approach (even the drive to the crag). While hiking in, cue in on certain landmark features on the trail or the rock that you can use to find the base of your climb (i.e. to the left of the large overhang…etc).

2. The Route – Where does your route go? Identify key features and landmarks to guide you, and familiarize yourself with the locations of the anchors on each pitch. How will you know when you’re at the top of a pitch? How long are those pitches? And are your anchors bolted or gear belays?

3. Descent – During the approach, identify specific landmarks that can help guide you on your descent or walk-off. Importantly, determine if your descent is a walk-off or rappel. And if rappelling, find out if you need one or two ropes.

Micro Level: The Climb Itself!

1. This level of preparation involves the smaller details of your route. Perhaps another climber informed you to take the crack on the left rather than the face holds on the right at pitch 3. Or you observed a big roof from the approach that will help you stay on route while climbing a wandering section on pitch 7. Collect as many details as you can and remember them or make note of them on your topo or in the guidebook to help you stay on route.

2. If your route information is from an older guidebook, note that the authors may not have drawn some of the smaller features and instead focused on the big features. This can allow for a bigger sense of adventure for those who go to climb it after them, but it can also make it difficult to find the actual route. This why it’s good to have a handle on the preparation process, from Macro to Meso to Micro. Find out what you can, assess what you don’t, and make sure you’re up to the challenge!

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.