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Art Of Leading, The
(Doco) Describes strategies for safe and successful multi-pitch rock climbing
|The Art Of Leading, hosted by the well know John Long, is an instructional climbing movie shot in American at such locations as Joshua Tree, Arches, & Canyonlands National Parks and aimed towards beginner leaders. It’s fairly dated, I’m guessing at least pre 1990’s judging by the colourful 80’s style clothing, and it doesn’t go into detail about how to place protection or build anchors, so if that’s what you’re looking for I suggest you pick up a copy of one of John Long’s excellent books on the subject instead. John actually states “the video is incapable of showing you just how to place nuts”. Furthermore it doesn’t really get too bogged down in details about leading techniques in terms of equipment use, instead focusing mainly on actual body movements and showing us, by example, lead protocols and procedures.
Above: Ron Kauk leading Comic Book 5.10 at Joshua Tree
Scattered through-out the film are small comedy “sketches”, which, while lame, are actually rather funny if you like that slapstick humour reminiscent of Abbot & Costello, Marx Brothers or perhaps a Road Runner cartoon. Within in the first five minutes John is extracting his sidekick from a crack with a crow bar tire iron. I know I laughed out loud, though that could just be me.
First up we see Ron Kauk and climbing partner leading Comic Book a two pitch 5.10 crack line at Joshua Tree. He brings up the second, they swap leads, and top out. This example kind of sets us up for the rest of the film. Without going into it in too much detail, what we are shown next is a discussion of:
- Guide books and their use
- Off-width techniques, including stacking feet, arm barring, etc.
- Mental aspects, lead head, protecting crux’s, run outs, etc.
- Hand, Fist & Foot jamming
- Building a tape glove
- Finger cracks, finger locks & jams
- Quickdraws, rope drag, single vs. double rope technique
- Protecting traverses for the second
- Face climbing, relaxing to not over-grip
- Slab climbing, footwork, edging, smearing, etc.
- Use of chalk
- Handholds, crimps, mantles, etc.
- Steep routes, numerous boulder problems.
- Laybacking, Chimneys, Flares
- Dealing with bad rock
The topic of configuring a belay is touched upon. Aspects such as equalising anchors (sliding X), how to tie a clove hitch, setting a piece for an upwards pull, hanging belays, belaying off the anchors, protocol for swapping leads, leader clipping the anchors before heading off, dynamic rope and shock forces, etc. However, there really isn’t enough detail covered to say that this will sufficiently prepare you for lead belaying.
Some of the routes shown are:
- Ron Kauk on Fisticuffs 5.10b, Equinox 5.12d, Pumping Monzonite B2, Joshua Tree
- Darrel Hensel on Turtle Dome 5.10, Muzzle Loader B1, Mt Rubidoux
- Mari Gingery on Blood Of Chirst 5.11d (takes a fall), Diamond Dogs 5.10b, Chip Flakery B1, Joshua Tree
- Kevin Powell on Slightly Ahead Of Our Time 5.12, The Boiler Plates B1, Joshua Tree
- Mike Lechlinski on So High B1+, Joshua Tree
Above: Ron Kauk.
In summary, the video covers a fair bit of ground, in an educational, and often fairly humorous way, without going into great detail. Armed with this video alone you wouldn’t have enough information to become a safe leader. A copy of Mountaineering: The Freedom Of The Hills, and some in person instruction from an experienced climber or guide, for example, would serve far better. On the negative side, you won’t see a helmet being worn, nor did I spot any screw gate carabiners. However, as a tool for providing a visual representation of concepts the beginner leader may have only read about, this video could be significantly useful.
Below: John Long
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