Trad Is Rad

Words: Katy Whittaker

In this day and age with bouldering gyms popping up all over the place, bolted sport cliffs just moments from the road and an Olympic debut for climbing in 2020, you can see why climbing is becoming more and more accessible and popular. The emphasis is on pulling hard, training hard, hanging on a single digit or holding a front lever the longest. Trad climbing feels like a dying art amongst the younger generation and is often seen at faffy, slow paced and easy. But what are these gym bunnies missing out on? 

Women’s Trad Festival | Photo:

I love climbing a piece of rock and not having anything but the guide book to direct me. On topping out I love the feeling that the rock didnt need to be changed, altered or added to enable my ascent. In my opinion all the best biggest and most captivating pieces of rock requires trad skills to ascend. Hazel Findlay, Bad Ass World Famous Trad Climber 

I would be the first to admit these last few years I have strayed from the trad climbing path, enticed in by training and hard sporting climbing but something always feels missing. That sense of adventure, camaraderie with your partner and constant problem solving involved is like none other. Pretty much all of my stand out memories are from trad climbing. I feel very lucky to have shared various experiences with my friends and boyfriend. Having total off route epics, getting benighted, being puked on by defensive British seagulls or swimming to Scottish sea stacks purely add to the overall experience, adventure and incredible beautiful surroundings.  

Katy Whittaker climbing in the Alps | Photo: Hazel Findlay

“Theres something about the exploratory nature and the freedom Trad affords that takes you to places you might otherwise never have known about, see new sights and get to know our small island that much better. Sharing this experience with others – be that friends, acquaintances, or strangers – is very much a key part of what Trad is all about (it is, after all, a partnership). Strong friendships are forged as a result, as theres something about the sharing of a rope that accelerates the process of two people getting to know one another. Rob Greenwood, UKClimbing 

Arc’teryx Lakeland Revival | Photo: Alex Haslehurst

British trad climbing has a rich and colourful history and for me this is what makes the climbing so special and unique. There is still an amazing and psyched community of trad climbers out there, just doing their thing and enjoying every moment for what it is. Festivals such as the Arc’teryx Big Mountain Weekend, Women’s Trad Festival and Llanberis Trad Fest provide a national platform for learning, sharing and most importantly meeting like minded people and building life long partnerships.  

“What Im always struck with is the diversity of the individuals attending these festivals: male and female, experienced and inexperienced, young and old. Everyone is welcome and theyre a real melting pot, but thats part of the beauty. Rob Greenwood, UKClimbing.


Women’s Trad Festival | Photo:

Womens Trad Festival aims to help women at any level get into Trad climbing and also support women in outdoor leadership, as these women are vital role models. Overall we want to create a network of female climbers to support each other, learn new skills together and have fun outside. Ellie Fuller, Womens Trad Festival.

The Arc’teryx Lakeland Revival | Photo: Alex Haslehurst

If the thought of expanding your climbing skills has tickled your fancy then make sure you check out the Arc’teryx Big Mountain Weekend on May 5 & 6 in Langdale, Lake District. Clinics range from outdoor rock climbing for beginners to trad multi pitch and rescue skills. Or come along and get involved in some of the free activities going on over the weekend, you never know, you might just meet your life long climbing partner! 

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