Trad is Rad

LeadingHoldlessHorror - OS

August 7, 2016 | My first trad/gear Lead | Holdless Horror

I have been the follower for many years, and I have been looking for that opportunity to get on the sharp end of a trad climb. There had been a lot of factors holding me back; building a gear anchor, understanding came placements, nuts, etc. You know… the important stuff! In the last year I started paying a LOT more attention each time I was responsible for cleaning a climb, and I started messing around while we sipped our “after climbing beers” by placing gear.

Funny enough, I feel like I had a bit of a break through, and started to feel more confident after the Flash Foxy festival in February. I took the “Trad for Beginners” and reviewed a lot, with a group of great ladies. An unexpected moment during the session was Katie Lambert showed a few of us how set an anchor without a cordelette. I didn’t even know you could do that at the time.  Sounded like a good skill to have, but I never thought I would use it!

P 1
I was in a totally different head space compared to my first lead, or so I thought. I felt ready + steady during the approach, and was still good as I started to gear up. It wasn’t until I put my helmet on, and the rack that my fear was quite obvious! That breathing thing is key. I kept it together, confirmed that I still wanted to go for it, and after I made it to the first belay ledge I calmed down. I looked back, and had to laugh at myself a little. It was fine. Heck, I had tons of jams, and my feet on the face almost the whole time (slab is my jam).


On P1 before the belay ledge.

P 2
Oh hello weird stemmy crack. The description on Mountain Project is true, and I listened. No need to get sucked into the crack other than to place pro. Bring that #4 friends. I saved that sucker for about two-thirds up (see: right above her head), where I made a transition onto the left face, and up and over. The pitch wasn’t bad in the end, but it had some very funky little moves. However, I survived and was stoked for the next pitch.


Can’t even see the WIDE from the P2 belay ledge.

P 3
I was starting to feel a bit tired, but pressed on and this is where I went wrong! Hubs, and I have our system, since we have always climbed with one leader. This was still the case today, the leader being myself, but we forgot something… confirming that I had a cordelette. This pitch was money, so fun, good gear and an opportunity to sew-it-up. I made it the full rope length (don’t do that), I should have stopped about 15-20 ft shorter. I couldn’t find placements for what little gear I had left, so lesson also learned. I worked through it, found a ledge and starting building my anchor. Her comes the fun part. I freaked out on myself! I realized I had messed up. I panicked. Considered yelling for my brother-in-law, who had just topped out another climb, but didn’t. I eventually calmed down. Took some really deep breaths, remembered I could work with just the rope, and did just that. I was still in shock that I remembered how to tie everything. Eventually I brought up hubs. Once I could see him all I could say was that “I fucked up,” and tears rolled down my face. I was so mad at myself. I couldn’t help it. I thought failed. How was I to be trusted in the future. Then the best words came out of hubs mouth, “it was my mistake too, shake it off, and I’m pretty impressed with this set-up.”

P 4
Those words took a few minutes to set it, and then he insisted I finish leading the climb. He wanted to see me finish! Luckily, it was an easy jaunt through some fifth class. I think I only placed three pieces. You can move smoothly, and a piece as you move over a bulge near the end is a good call. Then boom.. we topped out!


So many little bushes at the beginning of the top out.

My observations + feelings: The climb was awesome! I can’t believe I led all 4 pitches! Why did I pick a multi-pitch route for my first trad lead… who knows? But, it was worth it! Thank you Hubs for the big hug, and congrats at the top. Always  remember to breathe. I love my TC Pros. Lastly, always check with your partner about who has what gear!!!

Here’s a fun fact: This lead occurred 1 yr + 2 days after my first lead on Zee Tree.