To say something or not to someone about to take she sharp end for the first time


Original Post
Shepido · · CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 50

I have a friend who is pretty set on leading soon, and I don't think they are ready for it...

I am not sure what to do. On one hand I could express my concerns and try to dissuade them, on the other people are free to do what they wish, and I am afraid that my talk will fall on deaf ears and maybe if nothing else upset what confidence they do have.

Surely I am not the first person to be in this situation, so I am sure some of you have been in this same position before. I'm curious what action you took, if any.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265

It's a judgement call for both of you.

Are they your partner? If so, I think it's your call to speak up. Personally, telling me I'm nuts to even consider such a thing is part of what I would want in a partner, but....

Hopefully, they would also be honest when they thought I should go for it, and I was being a weenie. Goes both ways.

Just my two cents, not worth much.

Best, OLH

JSaarela · · Park City · Joined May 2015 · Points: 150

Let's talk worst case. Would you rather have your friend have an accident, or have them think you think they're incompetent?

I know which I'd choose, whether I was in you or your friend's place.

Most gyms offer lead classes, maybe suggest one to them. Then all they have to learn is basic anchor building and they can make the next step to outdoor sport when ready.

EDIT: after being told this is the ice forum, I see I should be a bit more observant haha. Best of luck!

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265
JSaarela wrote:Let's talk worst case. Would you rather have your friend have an accident, or have them think you think they're incompetent? I know which I'd choose, whether I was in you or your friend's place. Most gyms offer lead classes, maybe suggest one to them. Then all they have to learn is basic anchor building and they can make the next step to outdoor sport when ready.
This is the ice forum, so a gym isn't gonna be super useful. Good thought, though.

OP, it's a thoughtful, and tough, question. I'm a mom, so it's even tougher, because I really do have to respect my son making his own decisions. That said, he is my climbing partner, and, that means to speak up if something is actually wrong, and dangerous.
Michael Schneider · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 735

I apologize if this comes off as "preachy" I am just direct.

The methods for teaching lead climbing on Ice should be no different than &
similar to the way one learns to lead rock.
Follow for at least a season.( 10 climbs )

Top rope lots & lots of potential 1st leads.
Get as familiar with the things that are likely to go wrong,
as well as just a smooth un-eventful climb.
Prepare for the worst.

Top Rope-Mock lead lots (Practice leading the climb just followed)

A mock lead is accomplished by using two full rope systems .
A top-rope providing the safety and the climber trailing a "lead" line
that they pretend is their life line.
Place gear as you would if one is leading but doing so safely.
Ice is fun but very unforgiving,

In more ways than on rock, The 'old school' "The leader does Not fall "
is the most important guideline,
Climbing, never weighting the rope is the safest.'method.

Because It is hard to simulate the sweaty, exhausted, adrenaline-flushed conditions that ice climbing produces;
Think about fully running through the combination of cold, slow precise actions
from insecure positions. (as it will be, having to set a safe belay)
In a low stress setting - on the ground

again do this more than 4 times get the systems dialed in.
Then add obsticals - try it having dropped a glove for example,

It is well known to those of us who can look back at our own fledgling ice climbs;
One can do short leads that give one a false sense of accomplishment,
They do not tax one as a "real" (longer) more stressful climb might.

Step up and speak up if these conditions have not been met,
recommend they rehearse; practice - practice - practice

Ice is very nice , it is always trying to kill y'all!

climber pat · · Las Cruces, NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 215

Why do you think your friend is not ready for the sharp end? A discussion of the specifics might lead to better advice.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265
JSaarela wrote:Let's talk worst case. Would you rather have your friend have an accident, or have them think you think they're incompetent? I know which I'd choose, whether I was in you or your friend's place. Most gyms offer lead classes, maybe suggest one to them. Then all they have to learn is basic anchor building and they can make the next step to outdoor sport when ready. EDIT: after being told this is the ice forum, I see I should be a bit more observant haha. Best of luck!
Hey, or take the picks to the gym, eh? :-)
Jack C. · · Calgary, AB · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 325

If they are your partner I think it is part of your job to help keep them safe, either with a your belay-plate or with your advice. Take the word of someone who started leading ice way too early: I wish my partner would have told me not to. It would have been humbling in the moment but good in the long run. It's not as if I've ever fallen but I do wish I would've had the sense in the past not to lead and, considering I tend to be over-confident in my abilities, my partner would've had the sense to tell me I wasn't ready. I've been ice climbing three seasons now and I still don't think leading is probably a very smart idea on my part.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480
Shepido wrote:I have a friend who is pretty set on leading soon, and I don't think they are ready for it... I am not sure what to do. On one hand I could express my concerns and try to dissuade them, on the other people are free to do what they wish, and I am afraid that my talk will fall on deaf ears and maybe if nothing else upset what confidence they do have. Surely I am not the first person to be in this situation, so I am sure some of you have been in this same position before. I'm curious what action you took, if any.
Don't say shit if:

They look solid, climb fast, can speak full sentences at the belay, protect often.

Say WTF are you doing if:

They flail, climb slow as f,ck, are outta breath at the belay and/or grunt and whine like a boulderer when leading, protect down low but run it out up high.

You know when someone's not ready. If you gotta ask us on MP then ask.. are you buthurt they have a better lead head than you?
Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,755

If they do any of these things on TR or while following, it suggests they aren't ready to lead: get themselves out of balance, frantic, or desperate; have to make hurry-up swings; move upwards on bad sticks; lose footing while swinging; pump out or WORST OF ALL fall unexpectedly.

Of course the above doesn't strictly apply if they're pushing themselves on grade 5 terrain or drytooling or otherwise engaging in the sort of silliness where TR is the way to go. Bottom line is that their movement skills have to be completely dialed in.

D-Storm · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2007 · Points: 265

Will Gadd posted this essay not too long ago about some important lessons he's learned when it comes to leading ice, and some of the mistakes he frequently sees as the sport becomes more popular. He provides some frank commentary that I think pertains to the OP's question, and makes some points that all ice climbers of all abilities should always keep in mind.

http://willgadd.com/note-to-self-how-not-to-fall-off-ice-climbing/

Shepido · · CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 50

The biggest issue I have is them moving up on shaky tool placements, and sometimes not sufficiently staggering their tool placements.

For the most part footwork, balance, etc are all pretty good.

I am dealing with someone whom due to who they are has a hair trigger sensitivity towards being told they can't do something. A simple critique may spiral wildly out of control into a huge argument about this same issue in general and how it relates to work, life, etc.

Ain't That Rich · · White Oaks, NM · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 35
Shepido wrote:I am dealing with someone whom due to who they are has a hair trigger sensitivity towards being told they can't do something. A simple critique may spiral wildly out of control into a huge argument about this same issue in general and how it relates to work, life, etc.
That don't sound like the ingredients of good climbing partnership. Better bail now.
djh860 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 110

Deffinately say something. Help him find a training course

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

I led on my second day out. This idea of being ready is absurd.

grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70
Shepido wrote:I am dealing with someone whom due to who they are has a hair trigger sensitivity towards being told they can't do something. A simple critique may spiral wildly out of control into a huge argument about this same issue in general and how it relates to work, life, etc.
Lets not assume gender. Let's assume its a girlfriend
Shepido · · CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 50

not a girlfriend, actually, but yes a woman.

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

Put her on the sharp end. A few screws in and she'll gain a new respect for the effort required to lead nice. She might bail or she might finish the route. If she's a grown up woman, let her do it.

Bill Czajkowski · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 30

If she's hell bent on doing it, how can you help her make sure it's a successful, and reasonably safe, experience?

SinRopa · · parts unknown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 50
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:Put her on the sharp end. A few screws in and she'll gain a new respect for the effort required to lead nice. She might bail or she might finish the route. If she's a grown up woman, let her do it.
This. Nothing convinced me I wasn't ready to lead ice yet until I tried leading ice. It's all fun and games until that first screw won't go in...
doligo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2008 · Points: 277

I was in the Ice Park last month and watched in a horror, how one by one these people would come and lead up this low angle ramp with horrible technique - bad feet, shaky tools, really whacking at convex parts of these sketchy onion-shelly bulges (and placing gear on them). Lucky for all around that day, they all somehow made it up without dying or falling (low angle helps). Just think about how many people go through their lives thinking they're good or adequate without knowing how bad they are? Probably a lot, and just make it through by sheer luck.

I'd say tell your friend if she's ok soloing, go for it. I think once a person realizes they are soloing, they would at least make sure their pick placements are bomber. The leaders in my example most likely all had a false sense of security in being tied to the rope and their shitty screws.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply