Clipping Climbing: Learn Lead Climbing Clipping Techniques


Good clipping practices is one of the most important skills that climbers must develop when learning how to lead climb. One must always remember that clipping climbing ropes should not be taken lightly considering the dire consequences that can come as a result of careless and improper clipping techniques. That said, below is a discussion of the two most widely used lead climbing clipping techniques, the steps involved in executing them, as well as some tips to keep in mind to minimize the chances of a rock-climbing fall.

Pinch Clipping

Pinch clipping is one of the most common lead climbing clipping technique used by rock climbers around the world. This technique is used when the gate of the rope-end carabiner is facing the direction of the climber’s clipping hand, that is when the gate is facing right and the climber is using his or her right hand to clip and vice versa.

Below are the steps you’ll need to follow when clipping climbing ropes using this technique.

  1. Grab the rope from the tie-in knot at your climbing harness.
  2. Slide your hand down the length of the rope. Grab as much rope as you need to reach the rope-end carabiner of carabiner.
  3. Let the rope rest on your forefinger, then bring the rope up towards the gate of the rope-end carabiner.
  4. Place your thumb on the spine of the rope-end carabiner to stabilize it and then position your forefinger and the rope in front of the carabiner’s gate. At this point, you’ll want to make sure that the lead end of the rope (the end of the rope attached to your harness) is facing away from the wall.
  5. With your thumb stabilizing the carabiner, push the rope into the gate using your forefinger so that both the rope and your forefinger enters the carabiner. Pull your forefinger out of the carabiner to leave the rope inside.

Again, you’ll want to double-check and make sure that the lead end of the rope is facing away from the wall. Also, check that the carabiner gate is closed securely before moving on.

Snap Clipping

Snap clipping is another lead climbing clipping technique and is pretty much the opposite of pinch clipping. This is because in pinch clipping the carabiner’s gate is facing the direction of your clipping hand. With snap clipping, the carabiner’s gate will be facing away from your clipping hand. So when the gate is facing left, you’ll be clipping with your right hand and vice versa.

To execute this lead climbing clipping technique, follow the steps below:

  1. Grab your climbing rope at the tie-in knot at your climbing harness.
  2. Slide your hand down the length of the climbing rope to grab as much rope as you need to reach the quickdraw and the rope-end of the carabiner.
  3. Holding the climbing rope between your thumb and forefinger, bring the climbing rope up towards the rope-end gate of the carabiner.
  4. When your clipping hand is at the same level as the rope-end carabiner, take your middle finger and hook it into the bottom part of the carabiner. This is what you’ll use to stabilize the carabiner so that it doesn’t move while you’re clipping the climbing rope into it. Again, make sure that the lead end of the climbing rope is facing away from the wall.
  5. With your middle finger hooked into the carabiner, push the climbing rope through the gate and into the carabiner. Here, your thumb, forefinger, and the climbing rope will all be inside the carabiner along with your middle finger. To finish the move, simply pull all your fingers out of the carabiner. Check that the carabiner’s gate is locked into place before moving to the next rock climbing anchor or quickdraw.

Clipping Considerations

To further ensure good clipping practices, here are some tips to keep in mind when clipping climbing ropes.

  • Always try to clip from a resting position as much as possible. If you need to move a little more to get into a better position, then do so.
  • Use the correct length of rope when clipping. Avoid the temptation of using too much rope since this will leave a lot of slack which means you’ll fall farther if you accidentally slip and fall.
  • When lead climbing above a clipped quickdraw, make sure that the climbing rope is running outside your legs or along the sides of your climbing pants or climbing shorts. This is because when the rope is running inside or around your leg, you will most likely flip upside down in case of a fall. This is, in turn, can cause you to hit your head on the wall (hence the importance of a climbing helmet).
  • When possible, orient the gate of the carabiner away from you. For instance, if you are climbing towards the right then the carabiner’s gate should be facing left and vice versa. This way, the rope rests on the spine of the carabiner instead of the gate which can open up when you fall.



Q: What is back clipping in rock climbing?


Back-clipping happens when climbers clip their climbing rope facing towards the rock instead of away from it. This is dangerous because if you fall the pull of the lead end of the rope (end of a climbing rope attached to the climber) can force open the carabiner’s gate and unclip itself.

Q: How do you clip climbing?


To clip climbing ropes into carabiners, climbers usually employ one of two common clipping techniques namely pinch clipping and snap clipping. Climbers may use several other clipping techniques, but these two are the most commonly used. Care should be taken to ensure that ropes are clipped properly and mistakes like back-clipping and Z-clipping are avoided.

Q: What is stick clipping climbing?


Stick clipping is a simple trick that many climbers use to clip climbing ropes to a bolt or anchor that is out of reach. Stick clipping is done in the following manner:

  1. Look for a stick that is long enough to reach the bolt.
  2. Align the spine of the carabiner with one end of the stick. Tape the carabiner in place using climber’s tape. Wrap the tape around the carabiner’s spine and stick only once. Overdoing this will make it difficult to remove the stick later on.
  3. Prop the carabiner gate open using a small twig or stick. Make sure that it doesn’t fall off while you’re raising the stick.
  4. Raise the stick towards the bolt and insert the open gate into the hole.
  5. Once in place, pull the stick downwards. Apply a little force when doing this so that the propped twig comes off thereby closing the gate and stick is separated from the carabiner.

Q: How do you practice clipping quickdraws?


You can practice clipping climbing ropes by doing the following exercise:

  1. Set up up two quickdraws on a wall, one at waist-high level, another one along your head.
  2. Practice snap clipping and pinch clipping using the quickdraws. Be sure to train both your left and right hand. Be sure you’re clipping correctly and avoid back-clipping and z-clipping.
  3. Start with your feet flat on the floor so you don’t have to worry about your balance and focus on clipping properly instead.

Once you’ve gained enough confidence, you can make the exercise a bit more challenging by standing on a chair (you will need to adjust the quickdraws’ height) to test your balance. Make it even harder by standing on a plank of wood if you’re up to it.

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There may be several other lead climbing clipping techniques out there, but these two are the most widely used ones. If you intend to be a good lead climber, be sure to devote some time to practicing clipping climbing ropes to quickdraws or carabiners. Needless to say, your life hangs on a line when rock climbing so you’ll want to make sure that you do everything right.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!