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Multi-pitch climbing is a type of rock climbing that typically takes place on routes that are more than a single rope length (circa 50 to 70 metres) in height (or distance), and thus where the lead climber cannot complete the climb as a single pitch. Where the number of pitches exceeds 6–10 (300–500 metres), it can become big wall climbing, or where the pitches are in a mixed rock and ice mountain environment, it can become alpine climbing.
Multi-pitch climbing is more complex and involves more risk than single-pitch climbing as the climbers will remain exposed on the rock route for longer, and it will often involve the use of a hanging belay and the creation of belay anchors. Multi-pitch climbing requires greater communication and coordination between the climbers. Advanced climbers can use simul climbing to move faster. Climbers have also free soloed multi-pitch routes.
See also: Lead climbing § Multi-pitch leading
On multi-pitch climbs, the lead climber will reach a point where they stop climbing, tie into the rock face, from which they belay their second climber up the face. When the second climber reaches the ascent of climbing routes with one or more stops at a belay station. Each section of a climb between stops at belay stations is called a pitch. The leader ascends the pitch, placing gear and stopping to anchor themselves to the belay station.
The general purpose of these stops is to allow the second climber to ascend to the point of the lead climber while collecting the protective gear from the route in the course of the lead climber's ascent. At the belay station, the protective gear is collected, possibly exchanged to a new leader, and the leader of the next pitch ascends the route.
Climbers invoke stops either by choice, convention or necessity. Examples include: