Protecting your second with lead gear

Many routes, especially single-pitch routes, are fairly straight. Placing gear on the route is all about protecting the leader in case they fall. Once a belay has been set up at the top, the gear on the route generally has completed its job and just needs collecting. These are the types of route you generally learn on, so your learning may not go beyond those skills.

However there are many times when the gear is just as important for the second.

For this scenario, you are using a single rope:

Imagine a route that goes up to a crux move, then gains easier ground where you traverse left a number of metres before heading upwards again on harder moves. The instinct would be to place a piece of gear before that crux move, do the move and then traverse easily left, placing another piece to protect yourself on those hard moves.

Now imagine you are the second. You get to the piece before the crux, remove it and then struggle on the crux move. The next piece is above and a few metres to the left of you. If you fall now, you are going to take a big pendulum swing left, into hazards - possibly ending up on unclimbable ground but certainly not on the route any more.

Much better would be for the leader to place a piece of gear before and after the crux move, therefore protecting against this potential swing while the second is on the crux. Once they have done the hard move, they can remove the gear above it, and cover the easier ground.

If you'd like to know more about good leading practice, then join one of my Mountain Training courses - 
Or perhaps a bespoke course: