Climbing Ethics -- Etiquette on Passing Parties


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Mountain climber
Kathmandu, Nepal
Topic Author's Original Post - May 11, 2010 - 12:13pm PT

What does everyone here believe?

What is the proper courtesy on passing parties on multi-pitch climbs? When is it ok to pass, and when should you wait?

The following threads discuss passing ethics on big walls:

I'm curious to hear if this is any different on multi-pitch, free climbs.

Gym climber
Green Cove slabbage BITD!
May 11, 2010 - 12:26pm PT
See Guideline #1 at mtnproject.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Why'djya leave the ketchup on the table?
May 11, 2010 - 12:30pm PT
I won't try to pass a party in route without permission, unless

a. There is an independent bypass (for at least long enough to pull into the lead, but I wouldn't lead directly above another leader unless...)

b. Life threatening situation (lightning, etc)

I've violated my own rule a time or two, typically on climbs like SE Face of Cathedral where a dozen parallel lines all converge to one or two final pitches. So I am guilty of both simul-climbing and soloing above parties that have not explicitly allowed me to do so.

I've bailed off big walls when the slow party in front of us refused to yield.

Guess I am not German enough.

Or something.


Trad climber
May 11, 2010 - 12:49pm PT
That are some very entitled indivuals out there that have no respect. I am not talking about somebody like Hans and Yugi blazing thru, but aholes that run over the top of everyone, when everyone else is waiting there place in line due to slower parties ahead.
An example. We had been climbing in Red Rocks for several days, and last day decided to go casual and do Birdland. 5.7 multipitch, crowded Sunday afternoon. Late start and still had to wait to rope up. We followed two chicks up, who were following some other parties, who were following another party...on and on. Plus you rap the route, so its a cluster. Anyway, we are respectful and I hung out on route rather then crowd the ladies at some of the belays. I am just starting up the last pitch, when 2 guys come racing up behind us simo climbing. The guy I am climbing with is a speed climber and holds numerous records, and he says GO! So i take off as the guys pull up along side me as i place a piece of gear in the crack, the guy tries to climb around me to get ahead of me so I speed up. The as#@&%e was going to try to ace me, total dick manueveur. I beat him to the anchors, and he comes up behind me and immediately threads the anchor. I try to be polite, but they are locals and friends of the girls we had been climbing behind, and obviously think they have the right of way and can do as they please. I am polite to him at the time but my buddy is pissed at me for not threading the anchor and lowering off immediately instead of belaying him up, as he does not like to be passed under any circumstance. I guess I have never been in such a circumstance where we were in line and giving the folks ahead of us a berth, and along comes some people that have no respect for other people. I can see true speed climbers passing people on wall routes or when there is a safe way around, but no way were these guys any faster climbers then us and on a crowded route? they obviously felt they were entitled. Get a life loosers. Dude, if you are out there reading this, know that the next time you try and pass me because we are on a trade route and there is crowds holding everyone up, I am going to kick you lilly ass off the rock. Don't friggin do it again. People that try to pass fast competent climbers on multipitch free climbs without permission due to crowds ahead are not only endangering themselves, but they are endangering the people they are passing. ITS NOT COOL AND NOT GOING TO HAPPEN ON MY WATCH AGAIN.

Desolation Basin, Calif.
May 11, 2010 - 12:54pm PT
First come, first served. Ask permission if you want to pass. Please is a magic word. But be aware, I got there early so as not to have someone climbing above me.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 11, 2010 - 01:01pm PT
Depends, there is no black and white answers. If you are deathly slow you should defer and let obviously faster teams pass. You shouldn't pass unles you are certain that there is no chance you will bog down and slow up the party that you just passed. Like it or not if you are a complete wanker you are going to get passed at some point so either learn how to move more efficiantly or accept your fate......

Trad climber
May 11, 2010 - 01:01pm PT
Wow- this again.

The rules on passing parties are:

1) You don't talk about passing parties.

2) You don't talk about passing parties.

Trad climber
May 11, 2010 - 01:15pm PT
I call Bullshit Pate. I don't even think you climb.
barry ohm

Trad climber
escondido, ca
May 11, 2010 - 01:30pm PT
The number one rule should be if you pass a party with or without asking, You better be able to climb ahead,stay ahead without slowing that party down later.
peace out, Barry O
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
May 11, 2010 - 01:32pm PT
An honest assessment of your skills as passing and being passed party helps. A passing party should be able pass with authority (meaning quickly and safely).
In every instance that I've ever passed another party, it was a group decision and everyone was happy with it.
Being first on the route gives you no upper hand if you are barely able to climb the route, but being a rock star doesn't give you a god given right to pass either.

Trad climber
May 11, 2010 - 01:35pm PT
Only with permission. and My rule is, I'll give them 15 minutes (while I sit on my ass) to get out of my way. If its going to take more time then that they can wait in line (hell, get up early if you don't want to wait your turn). Yea, if I'm on a 5.8 and they are 5.12 climbers , they can probably clear the pitch above in 15 minutes. But more often than not the hot shots (usually in their 20s) promise a quick pass then bog down themselves higher up and I have to wait for them. My daughter and I were once nearly benighted on Royal Arches when some punks passed us as we neared the top - after we asked them not to - then got their rappels messed up trying to rap with one rope. Three parties were bogged down in the dark waiting for them to clear the anchors. Needless to say I didn't give them back their cam they forgot at the belay. lol

Trad climber
Fresno CA
May 11, 2010 - 01:45pm PT
DMT, Gary and Rockermike state my basic rule: Only with permission (or if there is an independent line). Mark offers a great analytical framework.

My basic rule used to be analogous to playing through in golf, but with this difference: Allowing a party to pass puts the passed party in greater peril from falling objects. For that reason, I've never felt myself automatically entitled to pass slower parties. I always ask.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 11, 2010 - 01:50pm PT
hard and fast rules? not possible...

etiquette? a social convention most likely varying from culture to culture, in an international destination like Yosemite Valley you'll have every kind of behavior

probably the fundamental rule is not to cause the other party harm, real physical harm, not just pissing them off...

I've climbed through, most recently on Royal Arches with Dirka, where we knew we'd be in a crowd, but simul through the parties low down who were pitching it out, and taking variations that were not populated, we managed to pass everyone that day and tag the top as the first roped team (I assume the solo crew had had it's way with the route earlier, and later). Unfortunately on one pass my rope clipped into one of their pieces, very disturbing to me as it now linked my party with their's, I consider that very bad behavior on my part and something I would avoid in the future.

Was the other party pissed off? I have no idea, we were through so fast that their reaction hadn't made itself apparent to me or Dirka, they may have had a totally harshed mellow... but other than the errant clip, we were very very careful not to drop sh#t down on the lower parties (one of the parties we eventually passed wasn't so careful).

We probably should have been on the climb earlier, we hadn't expected a midweek crush of climbers, blah, blah, blah... on the other hand I thought I knew the route well enough to negotiate around the parties pitching it out, the whole point of the trip was to show Dirka how to get up the thing safely and quickly... which we did.

Other times we just sat and waited, it's good to have a gregarious partner in these cases, one who doesn't mind being social. When I did Nutcracker with Crimpie a few years ago we got into a long wait behind a party with both members wearing packs, the leader with a huge rack, on their first multipitch climb. I'm used to doing this, pitching it out, at about 20 minutes per pitch with Gary late in the day. Fun to be with Crimpie... waiting at the belays for the expedition in front of us to get up the climb. Wonderful September day... golden evening light and that fantastic view up Valley.


Trad climber
May 11, 2010 - 01:55pm PT
I call Bullshit Pate. I don't even think you climb.

I've said before and I'll say again, I'm a 13 year old Sophomore from Minneapolis and I've never climbed before in my life. If my mom knew I posted on this forum she'd ground me.

I wish I had a girlfriend.

Studly- your name is way homo. And your last post, and most of your others, are wicked retahded.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
May 11, 2010 - 01:56pm PT
The fact is, it's another art form in the art of climbing. While some will carry out this art very (very, very) well others who follow won't carry it out even a quarter or an eighth as well. This is life.

Pate wrote-
"You don't talk about passing parties."

For those of us new to this discussion, elaborate please.

Studly- Because your case involved females and hormones this automatically made the circumstances explosive and frenzied. Next time, beware females in the mix.

Ed wrote-
"Unfortunately on one pass my rope clipped into one of their pieces..."

Aughh, I hate that! When that happens! LOL!

Trad climber
May 11, 2010 - 02:08pm PT
HFCS- just a Fight Club reference in response to Studly's mature and well thought out post referencing his recent run in with threatening to toss some guy off a ledge.

Sounds to me like Studly is a little too Studly for his lycra.

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 11, 2010 - 02:11pm PT
If we're talking grade III type climbs, what about:

You arrivine at the base of a climb, and there is one (or more) parties taking their time, racking up, people are sitting around, obviously just not busting arss to get going?

I guess the options are:

1. You can wait since you didn't get there first
2. You can ask if you can go first
3. You can climb a different route

I've been on some climbs that should take a few hours that end up taking the whole day because of not pushing the issue to pass.


May 11, 2010 - 02:27pm PT
The rulz are

1) If they are going much faster let them pass
2) If they are going only a little faster or the same speed, no pass.

3) If they are Euro, NEVER let them pass EVER. Those f*#kers should get a life and go home to their over bolted via ferratas where breathing down the ass of others is a apparently an accepted practice.

Social climber
May 11, 2010 - 02:54pm PT
Funny how people always talk sht on those who want to pass calling them jerks and slagging on those people's sense of self-entitlement.

Can't you tell that your own sh#t smells just as bad? Isn't the person who won't let others pass just because they were there first and it is their right to stay in front just as self-absorbed? You are just as bad when it comes to being entitled jerks. Come on...

Read Studly's account above. It sounds like a couple people who were fine with going slow and casual, having a nice outing, but sped up intentionly just because they would be buthurt if somebody passed - a blow to their ego.
I speed up. The as#@&%e was going to try to ace me, total dick manueveur... [my friend] does not like to be passed under any circumstance.
You could have just stepped aside for a minute and then resumed climbing at your own pace and continued having fun.

Trad climber
May 11, 2010 - 03:04pm PT
Its not "JUST because you are there first", it is "BECAUSE you are there first"; yea, that is the whole point and that is the code. Exceptions can be made on a case by case basis - which is why you should ask permission. Everyone has a right to climb at a pace they consider safe. If you can't live with that then get an alarm-clock and get up earlier. And its never "just a minute", when passed you are generally hosed for at least half an hour unless you want to play the "two ropes and two racks stretched out on one pitch" game - which generally is unpleasant for all concerned.
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