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By Luis Barandiaran
From Longmont, CO
Jun 1, 2007
Shaking the Pope's Hand- The Ironclads

My first trad lead was The Bomb (5.4), Wind Tower, in Eldorado Canyon. This is a nice, mellow climb with a tree anchor after the 1st pitch and bolts after the second. I DID only place one piece on the top pitch and got pretty spooked after getting 20 feet off route. You could hear my "F**K!" reverberating off of The Bastile. But after reversing the moves I was able to collect myself and blast to the top.
First sport lead was Shaking the Pope's Hand (5.7)on Mt.Boner in the Ironclads. This is a fantastic slab route with perfect clips.... Actually my picture icon is of this first lead....


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By Livia
From Colorado Springs, CO
Jun 5, 2007
New icon

My first trad lead was Breezy in Eldo. We accidentally soloed P1 trying to figure out the start (don't ask) and I lead P2.

Prior to that my first sport lead was Alexi's climb at Shelf which was allegedly bolted for a small child ;)


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By Kat A
From Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
Jun 5, 2007
Summit of Chasm View

First sport lead was Lothlorien (5.7/8) in Boulder Canyon. Fortunately the ratings are soft there. First trad lead was West Crack (5.2) in Eldo - a classic beginner trad lead. First multipitch lead = First Flatiron. Dropped my ATC at the top of pitch one - Dumas. Fortunately I knew the Munter and my partner was very patient... Aaah, he still is patient with me.

I started leading within a couple of weeks after my first time ever rock climbing. How to become a leader? Fall in love with the sport of climbing before getting to know many experienced climbing partners, then try to convince some other newbie to go with you. "Don't worry, I'll lead this..." Ok, not recommended to learn to lead by force, but it works for some I guess.


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By tom selleck
Jun 5, 2007

The Horseman, 5.5, the gunks. Steepest 5.5 I've ever been on.


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By Kaner
From Eagle
Mar 2, 2008
Leading an unknown route.  Photo credit: Sam Lange.

took a 10-foot fall onto a purple trango low on the 1st pitch of handcracker direct in eldo yesterday.

it was my first lead fall on trad gear. sure got my heart racing!

felt pretty good actually to have a split second of total terror knowing that only a tiny cam, hand placed by me, was the only thing standing between me and the jagged rock pile below. so many things passed thru my mind in that moment- fuck i'm losing it! tiny cam! instant death! good placement? lobes touching? right expansion angles? partner paying attention? carnage! will it pull out? smash crash and burn! slam into rock! die!
and then, smooth sailing and a comfortable landing left me dangling and staring at the life-saving piece of gear that didn't budge a bit. nice catch by the partner as well.

1st lead fall on gear, i think i've earned the distinction of a trad climber!


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By Marc H
From Lafayette, CO
Mar 2, 2008
The Cathedral Spires in RMNP, left to right: Stiletto, Sharkstooth, Forbidden Tower, Petit Grepon, The Saber, The Foil, The Moon & The Jackknife.

Ryan Kane wrote:
so many things passed thru my mind in that moment- fuck i'm losing it! tiny cam! instant death! good placement? lobes touching? right expansion angles? partner paying attention? carnage! will it pull out? smash crash and burn! slam into rock! die! and then, smooth sailing and a comfortable landing left me dangling and staring at the life-saving piece of gear that didn't budge a bit.


Great description. Thanks for posting your experience; it gave me a big smile.

Edit:

My first trad lead was Diagonal (Crack?) (5.6) at Small Cliff in CT (On private property; currently closed to climbing)

My first lead fall was on Vector (5.7) on Main Cliff in CT; it was intentional.

I don't remember the first bolted route I climbed; it was a year or two into my climbing career. (Man, I'm glad I grew up in a state like Connecticut; even if the trad ethic is a little over-the-top.) The first bolted route I climbed was either in Rumney, NH or Camden, ME.

--Marc


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By winston
From Boulder, CO
Mar 2, 2008
napping with the dog, the best damn dog on earth.

Fruit Loops (5.7), rumbling bald NC. P1:Super clean layback crack with PERFECT pro up to a cool hanging belay in a cave. P2: body squeeze the chimney and exit left onto slabby runout to the top. Such a great day for being so hungover, I've never sweat Jagiermeister like that before, hopefully I never will again.


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By Alex Burton
From Colorado Springs, CO
Mar 2, 2008
Family at the Gym

First sport lead was Silver Spoons at Garden of the God's at age 13. Great education in smearing! First trad lead was the final crack on Lotta Balls in Red Rock (Vegas).


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By pretty bird
From Anchorage, AK
Mar 2, 2008
water oozle

my first lead was the second pitch of a two pitch climb called "batteries not included," on cliff drive in the upper peninsula of MI. it was only 5.6, and i thought it was the coolest thing ever...luckily i was oblivious to (1) how run-out the bolts were (what you'd call "traditionally bolted"); and (2) how horrible slab climbs are to fall on for the leader. but, i sent without batting an eye (probably because i was oblivious to the above points) and celebrated w/ a beer and burger at the michigan house.

for some reason, can't remember my first trad climb...i know i mock led a few times before actually leading off, just to get the feel for it (which worked really well because we'd rap to the base of the climb to start with anyway)


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By percious
From Bear Creek, CO
Mar 2, 2008
Hanging out with some scooter trash.

My first four leads were not very special. My 5th lead was High Exposure, on-sight. Enough said.

-chris


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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Mar 3, 2008
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.

Slightly off-topic, but I saw this thread and thought, "Huh... I wonder if I can remember my first trad lead." As I pondered this and read through, I came across my own response, almost a year old--it was a little disconcerting! I guess "college life" has taken its toll on the old brain cell account.


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By Chris Duca
Administrator
From Havertown, PA
Mar 9, 2008
Finishing up Elusive Dream at the King Wall.  Adirondacks, NY.

"Betty" at the Gunks. A 2-pitch 5.3 masterpiece.


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By Sirius
From Oakland, CA
Mar 11, 2008
Moving through the crux lock - now that's micro beta for you, that is.

Potholes or Bob's Buttress Crack at the Garden of the Gods. But I feel that I was born as a leader when I climbed Overseer at Josh later that year.

Then born again on Sacherer Cracker in Yosemite; then again on Mr Natural; again on Five and Dime... feels like my first lead every time I push my limit and feel that mix of fear and conviction. There's nothing like standing at the base of a line that scares you, and setting off onto the first hold/jam/lock.


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By KCP
From Eldorado Springs, CO
Mar 11, 2008

My first lead was Recompense, 5.9, at Cathedral Ledge. I was lucky enough to lead every pitch without any trouble because I had been doing a lot of top-roping at Wellesley Arches.

Second lead: The Book of Solemnity, 5.10a, Cathedral Ledge.

Third Lead: Cro Magnon, 5.10, Crow Hill.

Those first three leads set me on a thirty-year quest to do all of the classics that I could find.


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By Ron L Long
From Out yonder in Wisco.
Mar 11, 2008
City life

Your first lead was Recompense? I can't imagine leading that crux pitch first time out.

My first rock lead (free), 'First Lead' at The City; first rock lead(aide), some shitty cliff outside Bellingham WA. My first ice lead, a serac on Mnt Baker.....all three came within a two week period. If you're going to pop the cherry, might as well do it right!


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By KCP
From Eldorado Springs, CO
Mar 11, 2008

Ron L Long wrote:
Your first lead was Recompense? I can't imagine leading that crux pitch first time out.


It actually felt pretty easy after so much top-roping at the Arches, and the gear was really good.


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By Marc H
From Lafayette, CO
Mar 11, 2008
The Cathedral Spires in RMNP, left to right: Stiletto, Sharkstooth, Forbidden Tower, Petit Grepon, The Saber, The Foil, The Moon & The Jackknife.

Will A. wrote:
I didn't really get the whole "placing gear" thing. So every so often I would yell down to my belayer and ask, "am I gonna hit the ground?" when the answer was "yes" i would place a piece of pro.


That's the kind of thing that's great to hear on MP.com, but makes you cringe when you're climbing next to it. LOL. Great story.

--Marc


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By Peter Franzen
Administrator
From Phoenix, AZ
Mar 12, 2008
Belay

I'm pretty sure my first was the uber-classic 5 Gallon Buckets at Smith Rock.


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Mar 12, 2008
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

My first sport lead was probably an easy 5.10 in Austin called Cactus Patch. It was the easiest climb we knew of at the time. We had tied runners for that one. My first trad lead was Sweat at Enchanted Rock then I did the 5.6 Cave Crack. I had pretty poor jamming technique for both, but at least my jams were solid! A little too solid, as in painfully overtorqued. I learned over the years to jam with less force and less pain.


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By Steve Knowlton
Mar 12, 2008
Steve K waiting to top out on Betty at the Trapps

Twin Oaks/Triple Bulges at the Gunks. 5.5, 2 pitch perfection.


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By J. Fox
From Black Hawk, CO
Mar 12, 2008
Me too!

First lead (ever): Killian's Dead, 5.6 trad, N. Table Mountain, 8/27/07.

First alpine lead: Pagoda's North Buttress, 5.7 trad, 6 pitches, 9/1/07.

First sport lead (ever): Pandora's Pebble Pinching Party Palace, 5.7, The Monastary, 10/13/07.

Guess I did it kinda backwards.


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By YDPL8S
From Santa Monica, Ca.
Mar 12, 2008
Bouldering at right side of Sun Deck

East Slab, The Dome, Boulder Canyon 1972


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By Buff Johnson
Mar 12, 2008
smiley face

I should've said Ocelot 1980-ish, punk-kid free solo; but I didn't know what I was doing; not much of a lead climb, more an exposed technical scramble. I'll probably see some jail time for that one, eh??


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Mar 12, 2008
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

I usually don't mention that first free solo before I discovered people climbed with special shoes and ropes. (shudders) It was also in Austin near the Urban Assault Wall. Some 50ft. system of ledges up a corner to a loose scree top out with bushes and clawing for life. Did it alone and promptly lost the memory of doing it for years. PTSD?


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By percious
From Bear Creek, CO
Mar 12, 2008
Hanging out with some scooter trash.

Scott M. Mossman wrote:
East Slab, The Dome, Boulder Canyon 1972

My favourite climb of any grade in the canyon.


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