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Recommendations for a first trad lead?
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Apr 10, 2016
I've lead at the gym three times but really prefer climbing outdoors and wanted to do my first real trad lead this weekend at Joshua Tree. Relatively new climber, and follow 5.8.

Any recommended routes? Looking for something relatively easy for my first time. I thought about just picking up a guidebook but I know not all JT 5.7s are created equal.

Thanks in advance (and, as an aside, if you're looking for a ride out to JT on Saturday I'll be leaving LA at 5am...not sure if i'll camp out or return that night so I can't promise a ride home)
Br3tt
Joined Feb 29, 2016
0 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Self Photo
I'd suggest leading some sport routes outside and getting those on point. Leading routes outside is a hell of a lot different than gym leads where bolts are placed every 5 feet. I have just started leading trad and it truly is a whole different style of climbing and mentality. If you haven't crack climbed before you are in for a huge beatdown.

Also, do you have experience placing gear? Blindly trusting cam placements is asking for broken legs or worse.
Josh Romney
From Kaysville, UT
Joined Aug 5, 2015
10 points
Apr 10, 2016
I have experience placing/removing gear and building anchors. The sport route was something I thought about and I'll take into consideration. Br3tt
Joined Feb 29, 2016
0 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: P9 of Homo Santa on Mini Frey/El Piñon. Photo by ...
The Eye
The Bong
Mikes Books (2P)
Toejam
Chad N in Central CA
From Central California
Joined Jan 30, 2010
1,426 points
Apr 10, 2016
Br3tt, My advice to you, even though you may not like to hear it, is to TAKE IT EASY, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, TAKE IT SLOWLY. I've seen way to many climbers advance too quickly. We never like to hear this, cause most of us want to get up that climb and get going! I agree but I'd just continue to second with someone who has a lot of experience leading, and then with time, take the sharp end on something 5.6 or 5.5ish. Seriously, I've been there! We think "Hey! I can climb 10s and 11s in the gym" but believe me, this is SO different. Please, just go slowly. Learn all of the tricks to lead climbing (and no matter what anyone says, there are many!), gain experience slowly and I think you'll be happier (in the long run) and safer (which is much more important!). If that doesn't convince you, get an older copy (2015 or before) of the Accident in North American Mountaineering, and that should convince you. AR AndrewR
From Minneapolis
Joined Dec 28, 2009
5 points
Apr 10, 2016
Really appreciate all the thoughtful advice. Think I may follow Josh & Andrew's advice and pump the breaks a little. Br3tt
Joined Feb 29, 2016
0 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: ...
Just a suggestion.

If it really is your first outdoor gear lead, it might be wise to pick something well within limit first, until you get your shit dialed.

Have someone that knows gear well second and check your placements.

You don't want to find out the hard way.



REMINDER: PLACE GEAR IN DIRECTION OF ANTICIPATED FALL



EDITED:

I must have been typing close to when Andrew was. Andrew is correct!
Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
Joined Oct 13, 2002
2,541 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Boulder Canyon Sport Climbing
There are a couple perfect first trad leads at trash can rock. Michael Colby
From Boulder, CO
Joined Jan 21, 2014
17 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: a wall near hall of horors
I'm blessed by living right down the street from JT and try to go out at least once a week or more. I'm getting a trad rack set up now and haven't got the experience yet to recommend any routes to you, but I've been leading sport for a while now (9 months on and off) and can at least help you select a few sweet sport routes in the park if you're interested. I've (stubbornly and hesitantly) taken the same advice given me as Josh just gave you and I've found that there's more than enough to do out here to keep you busy and entertained. Right off the top of my head I would send you to the hall of horrors area or headstone. They don't see too much traffic and both are great. tomallen112190
From yucca valley, ca
Joined Oct 25, 2015
99 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: ice'n
jumping right into gear climbing is fine, but look for the absolute easiest routes you can find.

my first was called "giant staircase" and I remember sitting down at one point while placing a cam...it was that easy.

I would say walk around J-tree and find cracks that are so easy they are not even considered a climb worthy of a MP page, do that for several outings then step up into the 5.6-5.7 range.
christoph benells
From tahoma
Joined Nov 14, 2014
239 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: ...
Unless you want everyone and their cousins watching you, DON'T GO TO "TRASHCAN"!


Use Mt Projects "Best routes for you" thing, type in 5.0-5.5 "TRAD", pick something.

A bunch to be had.




EDITED:

If it's "Sport" you want, you'd do better to go to New Jack City or one of the other areas similar. Much more concentrated and "Sport" specific.



IMO you had the right idea first time around. Grab you RACK and start learning to stuff gear. It's Joshua Tree, aka CRACK CITY.
Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
Joined Oct 13, 2002
2,541 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Dow Williams, 2011
My favorites to teach trad leading on at Jtree.

Mental Physics; Double Cross; Toe Jam; Maggies Farm; As the Wind Blows, Dappled Mare, Sail Away; Gem...but there are a ton of good choices, great place to learn..good luck
Dow Williams
From St. George, Utah; Canmore, AB
Joined Mar 13, 2006
241 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: On the steep sport wall on the back side of Echo C...
Chad Namolik wrote:
The Eye The Bong Mikes Books (2P) Toejam

+1 for The Bong. Straight forward gear placement and great climbing all at 5.4. Sew it up (which means place lots of gear, in case you didn't know)!
Also, Sail Away is a good one and was my first lead on gear.
NeilB
From Tehachapi, CA
Joined Apr 9, 2014
47 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Celebrating on Intersection Rock, JTree.
Go to Short Wall in Indian Cove and do Double Crack and Donna T's Crack, 5.3 and 5.5. brat
Joined Nov 28, 2007
84 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: J-Tree
FWIW when I take someone on their first trad lead now I take them to a 5.2 crack that is not too steep and has lots of good placements and then have them place gear (as much gear as possible) while trailing a rope and clipping the gear all while I belay them on a top rope. David Hous
From Boulder, Colorado
Joined Nov 18, 2001
191 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: ...
SMART!

"Mock lead"

"FWIW when I take someone on their first trad lead now I take them to a 5.2 crack that is not too steep and has lots of good placements and then have them place gear (as much gear as possible) while trailing a rope and clipping the gear all while I belay them on a top rope."



And on that note, a PERFECT crack to learn gear on is out at Bear Island...

A 5.2 that takes good gear.





EDITED:

"Go to Short Wall in Indian Cove and do Double Crack"

Bad choice for first gear lead in my opinion.

Too easy/tempting for a n00b to stuff their needed holds.
Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
Joined Oct 13, 2002
2,541 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Jackson and I at Smith Rocks
My first trad leads were in Jtree after years of following a really strong climber. I suggest going to Atlantis Wall off of Lost Horse Road. You can set up a TR on all of the routes. Top rope them, get a feel for the rock. Maybe pre-place the gear and then lead. The easier routes on the wall have amazing pro placements. My first time up each of those routes I places 12 pieces in the 45 feet, no joke. Great practice, great stances for placing. And again, great top rope set up, just bring long webbing.
FyI-I live out in Jtree. The rating are crazy. There are 5.7s I will not lead because they are sketch (double cross), yet 5.11s I will lead. Don't assume all 5.6s and 7s are created equal. Climb smart and have fun.
Carey De Luca
From Yucca Valley, Ca
Joined Jul 17, 2007
10 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Me trying to FA Solomon Grundy
Mikes Books was my first trad lead in JTree, I would not recommend it as a first trad lead. The Bong is solid. EthanC
Joined Jun 17, 2013
287 points
Apr 10, 2016
Uhh... Yer gonna die? simplyput
Joined Nov 30, 2013
55 points
Apr 10, 2016
EthanC wrote:
Mikes Books was my first trad lead in JTree, I would not recommend it as a first trad lead. The Bong is solid.


The downclimb on the Bong would be the scary part. Very exposed.
FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Joined Nov 19, 2009
284 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: ...
"My first trad leads were in Jtree after years of following a really strong climber".


He left this note for me. I have to admit that it's a bit concerning.

LOL!

Rock Climbing Photo: ...
...
Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
Joined Oct 13, 2002
2,541 points
Apr 10, 2016
I'm a new leader and although I wasn't ticking my first gear leads in JTree, I'm certainly novice. Here are the climbs I lead while I was there with some commentary:

5.6:
- Ain't nothing but a J Tree thing (Thin Wall)
-- Good gear, short.
-- The stances aren't hands free unlike a lot of early leads so that's good and bad
-- Easy to set a TR

- Solar Technology (Atlantis0
-- Straightforward, lots of gear, good stances.
-- Easy to set a TR

- Leaping Leaner ("5.6")
-- Note the quotes. I found this to be at least 5.8. 5.9 with the start described in Mirramontes.
-- This is where I fell on gear several times, so good for gaining trust in your placements (once your placements are solid ;-) )
-- Eats gear like crazy. Tricky climbing, but you can sew it up
- Fote Hog 5.7
-- 2 pitches
-- The traverse that gets talked about so much was relatively easy to protect
-- More finicky to protect than most other climbs on this list

- White Lightening 5.7(+)
-- Long and sustained. Good practice for _not_ sewing it up. I used every single one of my 13 cams on this route (including 3 for the anchor)
-- Crux is early and decently protected
-- Gear is decent but not as stuffable as the 5.6s

- Toe Jam 5.7
-- A nice 5.7.
-- Takes good gear. A bit tricky because some of the placements are a little blind. Requires good crack technique. If you can't toe jam effectively, this will be more like 5.10

- Sail Away 5.8(-)
-- Eats gear. Pretty short so you can sew it up.
-- Easy to skip the tricky start right off the deck by going around
-- Requires good hand jamming technique, but some decent feet outside the crack
Russell Cohen
From Redwood City, California
Joined Apr 16, 2013
10 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Jackson and I at Smith Rocks
Locker:Joe has lots of love to go around. Haha! Carey De Luca
From Yucca Valley, Ca
Joined Jul 17, 2007
10 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: stone depot
Curious if this is your first outdoor lead then how do you have experience placing gear? Slow it down dude unlike gym route outdoor routes are not going any where. Start clipping bolts, follow and clean lots of routes. Place gear on top ropes and have someone check your placement, learn about extending draws and all the other things you need to know before you go getting on a trade route. Jon Powell
From LAWRENCEVILLE GEORGIA
Joined Jan 23, 2012
115 points
Apr 10, 2016
Jon Powell wrote:
Curious if this is your first outdoor lead then how do you have experience placing gear? Slow it down dude unlike gym route outdoor routes are not going any where. Start clipping bolts, follow and clean lots of routes. Place gear on top ropes and have someone check your placement, learn about extending draws and all the other things you need to know before you go getting on a trade route.


I've built tr anchors and I've also placed gear while cleaning/following just so I can get the hang of it.

Thanks for all the helpful advice.
Br3tt
Joined Feb 29, 2016
0 points
Apr 10, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: P9 of Homo Santa on Mini Frey/El Piñon. Photo by ...
EthanC wrote:
Mikes Books was my first trad lead in JTree, I would not recommend it as a first trad lead


What happened? Face the wrong way or not enough cams?

Low angle huge corner to good gear & a jug haul. Clip chains. Stuff oneself into a wide crack, that is if one can figure out which way to face, slab up on bolts to another bolted anchor. Rap route. Take some bigger cams to #4. Nothing too trivial. IMO. Good experience w/ multi-pitch too. I know lots of people who were new to trad and hopped on this, no problems.
Chad N in Central CA
From Central California
Joined Jan 30, 2010
1,426 points


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