If the leader has had to resort to pulling on a piece of gear to make it through a crux on a pitch how can the second pass this point while also cleaning the piece that was used for aid. Assuming they are not a stronger climber than the leader.

quick glossary. "french free" and A0 are the same thing, both referring to pulling on a piece of climbing equipment attached to the rock when a climber is unable to pass a difficulty. Cleaning is removing equipment that the first climber has placed to prevent themselves falling to the ground in case of a fall. A crux is just the hardest part of a climb, it could take many physical forms. hope that helps. If not here is a more extensive glossary


1 Answer 1


Assuming a vertical, as opposed to traversing, route that is not overhanging, you unclip the rope from the piece and then pull yourself up just like the leader did. Once you are high enough above the piece to account for rope stretch you have the leader take in the slack. The key is that after weighting the rope you want your hands to be at the same height they were after the french free move. You can then reach down to clean the piece. As all your weight is on the rope, getting back on should not be a problem.

On an overhanging route the leader hopefully thought about your protection. If not, prior to weighting the rope, you might need to place another piece to control the swing.

On a traverse, the leader better have thought about your protection. If not, you need a new partner. There is little worse as a second than unclipping the last piece before the crux on a traverse with no other piece in sight.

  • That was how I learned self ascent after I finally stopped swinging far below the next protection :D Traverses are (almost) always mentally difficult for the second as well.
    – imsodin
    Jul 25, 2016 at 15:18
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    Adding to the vertical scenario (because it is often hard for the leader to take in the slack hard enough, or to know that he should take in more slack), you can often clean first and then smear your feet and pull on the rope for a move or two to get your feet or hands higher. Once you can get your weight off the rope, the leader takes in and you can continue free climbing.
    – Kenn
    Jul 25, 2016 at 23:32
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    @Kenn NO! it is never a good idea to pull on the rope. It can lead to rope burn and unexpectedly big falls for the belayer. Further, it is usually very difficult to transition back onto the rock. In terms of getting the rope taut enough, this is why I suggest climbing, on the rock, past the piece.
    – StrongBad
    Jul 26, 2016 at 19:16
  • The combination of getting past one move to a good hold or a tight rope from the leader seems like the best solution. While doing a bit of research there is a lot of info that is applicable for rescuing a second but all of these look very time consuming which I think would defeat the purpose of A0 in the first place. Jul 29, 2016 at 13:06
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    @StrongBad "It can lead to unexpected big falls for the belayer" This is one move of aid we are talking about. If your partner can't catch a top rope fall that is a single move in size, "you need a new partner."
    – Kenn
    Jul 29, 2016 at 18:44

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