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Easy single-pitch trad in Linville Gorge?
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Jun 24, 2014
I happen to be backpacking in Linville Gorge in a few weeks, and thought it would be nice to get out and climb a route with my partner (who is less experienced, so I'd be leading).

I've done some mock trad lead with a guide outdoors to critique placement, and I'm comfortable placing gear, but haven't done a true trad lead yet. I'm climbing 5.10 TR and 5.8 lead in the gym comfortably.

On MP, I see that Jim Dandy and The Prow are nice likely candidates, but they are both multi-pitch. What are thoughts on these being first trad leads? Is it possible to just single-pitch the first two pitches of one of these routes? I've been reading a lot about multi-pitch technique and would be comfortable belaying from the anchor, but acknowledge that multi-pitch adds some complexity that I could perhaps not be prepared for.

Thoughts? What was your first trad lead in NC?
Joined Sep 27, 2013
0 points
Jun 24, 2014
Jim Dandy, the Cave, Skip to my Lou all have bolted anchors on ledges at the top of each pitch. You can do the first pitch of any and rap off easily, or top out on any of them.

JD was my first trad lead (1981...). A few bolts on each pitch that can be supplemented with gear. Same as for Cave and STML.

Trying to rap from the second pitch of any of them would not be fun - they wander a bit and getting back to the top of the previous pitch would be an "adventure".

The first pitch of Peek a Boo is also fun - but you'll need two ropes to get back down.

The first pitch of Rip Van Winkle to the anchors on A Tall Climb to be Good On would also be a good choice - you could TR the later after climbing RVW.

The Prow and the other 5 easies in the amphitheater do not have fixed anchors.

From Morganton, NC
Joined Feb 10, 2014
0 points
Jun 24, 2014
If you can find the top of the mummy buttress you can build a gear anchor and tr the too pitch of mummy or daddy. You can also hike to the too of table rock and set ups random tr on some rock. Hawksbill has single pitch stuff too rock_fencer
From Columbia, SC
Joined Dec 20, 2009
205 points
Jun 25, 2014
I hate to be that guy, but it seems that you may want a little more experience before going out on your first lead. At least have someone who is experienced there with you. Climbing multi-pitch is fairly straight forward... unless something goes wrong, then it gets really complicated really fast, although you acknowleged you may not be ready for that. I know you said you did a few mock leads which is a great place to start. Leading trad can get very heady when you are standing above your last piece of gear, not being totally confident in how solid the placement is, then having to move up and further away from that gear. I know it seems basic, I have been there, but I really encourage you to seek out a mentor and follow, follow, follow. Clean as much gear as you can and see how others do it. I cant tell you what is right or wrong for you, but it is generally not a good idea to go lead your first trad pitch with an unexperienced climber and on a route you dont know.
Not sure if your in the WNC area but if so I would be more than happy to let you follow me and give you some pointers.

Either way, have fun and be safe

photocodo mcclung
From Hendersonville, NC
Joined May 15, 2012
35 points
Jun 25, 2014
Just a note or two on Jim Dandy: the first pitch (I thought anyway), is pretty awkward and balance-y. Also, it's pretty much bolt line with a few in-between spots for gear. You can rap off the first pitch with a 60m rope, but if you run all 3 pitches you'll probably want a 70m to get back to the ground (two raps). It's damned tricky with a 60m, at least from the anchors we were at (above The Cave).

But as per the previous poster said, definitely head out with a mentor and perhaps get a few more miles in. There are also a couple of 5.3's and 5.4's at Moore's Wall (Hopscotch, near Sentinel Buttress, and the 5.4 next to it that I forgot the name of), that would be good first leads. You can rap to the ground from a slung chockstone at the top.

EDIT: I know you said Linville Gorge, but just wanted to throw out some other suggestions just in case they're on the way.
Travis Senor
From Mailing Address in NC
Joined Feb 2, 2013
15 points
Jun 25, 2014
I'm going to be contrary, that's what I do. First, throw out whatever you do in the gym. That's completely irrelevant. Second, lots of us learned by going out and sticking our nose in it somewhat or substantially unprepared. That's how you get prepared. I agree that you should be following someone to learn (that's also how we learned), but if you have a basic understanding of how pro works and a dollop of common sense, then I think there's not a damn thing wrong with jumping in with both feet on easy or moderate ground. The Prow is a freaking walk up for crying out loud. Table Rock has numerous easies and especially those formations on the ridge south of the parking lot (The Towers or something like that, I forget what they're called). A ladder is 5.3 and you probably have to have a stroke to fall off anything 5.5 or lower (barring a loose hold--test everything, that's part of becoming prepared), so why not. Even though you won't ever actually fall off it the exposure and (somewhat, compared to a sidewalk) insecurity will focus the mind and you'll get a hell of a lot more faster and a good and relatively safe adventure--savor it, as you get better the buzz comes more dearly. Jim Corbett
Joined Sep 19, 2008
10 points
Jun 25, 2014
Jim Dandy, Skip to My Lou, and the Cave Route are all excellent and time-honored first leads. The bolts are far enough apart that you will have reasonable opportunities to place gear. At minimum, you should climb these routes to Lunch ledge (2-3 pitches). You can easily scramble off the north end of the ledge to get back to the base of the climbs.

You can also take the Block Route (which is really the 3rd pitch of the Cave Route) from Lunch Ledge to Lightning Ledge. From there the scramble to the top of Table Rock is a little exposed in places and I would not recommend it unless you're confident that your partner will be comfortable with it. My Route is also fun, just know that it has a great potential for rope drag and communication can be challenging.

The Amphitheater is fantastic. But it is easy to get lost on your way there and on some of the routes. I recently heard about someone getting way off route on the Prow. Not sure how it happened, but even experienced climbers make mistakes sometimes.

FYI, the Prow was my first gear lead, but my partner knew the route. He let me lead every pitch--for which I remain very grateful.

Have fun and let us know how it goes.

[edited for typos and clarity]
Scott Phil
From NC
Joined May 30, 2010
188 points
Jun 26, 2014
Check your PM WLK
From Morganton, NC
Joined Feb 10, 2014
0 points

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