What was your first lead? Please describe.


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mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 31, 2011 - 09:47pm PT
Holy Terror in the Needles. It is something like 5.7 and has one bolt in about 70 feet. You can sling a sort of undeveloped camel's hump on the ridge about 20 ft up with a 20ft sling that probably would not hold much of a fall. Cool Summit. I think it would get my attention even today.

You can just see the top of it in Riley W.'s TR in the photo after the needles eye just above the biker.http://www.supertopo.com/tr/The-Fire-Inside-a-year-in-the-life-of-a-life-of-climbing/t11022n.html

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Oct 31, 2011 - 09:48pm PT
Louie Louie

1964 Fender Mustang

rick ramback's garage

you are important, keep on trying,

be generous of your spirit,

get involved in a cause you believe in,

Sierra Ledge Rat

Social climber
Retired to Appalachia
Oct 31, 2011 - 09:59pm PT
Early 1970s
Huntington Ravine, Mount Washington
Who knows where I was?
A devious pitch to some hooking moves to a blind aid placement around a corner. The placement popped when I rotated onto it, and I fell backwards and upside down. The entire pitch zippered, except for the #3 wired that I had placed right before my first hook move. My belayer stopped me 5 feet above the ground.
Scratch 1 of my 9 lives. I was still a virgin.

But now I been gettin' laid longer than most of these young climber's have been alive.
John Butler

Social climber
SLC, Utah
Oct 31, 2011 - 10:23pm PT
Suicide Slide - Finger Lickin Good

With a half-dozen nuts, a double sling for a harness and no locking biners... terrifying :-)

From the City That Dreams
Oct 31, 2011 - 10:54pm PT
2nd pitch of Fingertip Traverse.

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Oct 31, 2011 - 10:57pm PT
The Stairs, 5.3, Mission Gorge, 1973, on my very first day climbing, after top-roping it once or twice. Basically soloed it. Good times.
Hand Jammer

Trad climber
Bay Area
Oct 31, 2011 - 10:58pm PT
I was interested in learning to climb and started showing up to the Sierra Rock Climbing Section (RCS) top rope outings on Sundays at the local bay area rocks around the summer of 1976. You were not allowed to go on any "out town" overnight trips until you passed various tests. The summer dragged into late fall and I decided I'd better get busy on the tests before the season ended.

Having passed enough tests I signed up for my first out of town trip which was going to Yosemite just before Thanksgiving. A young Peter Mayfield (still in braces) was one of the trip leaders of the outing. In the valley one of the other leaders asked me if I was a "lead" climber. Too embarrassed to admit I had never lead a climb or that this was my first "out of town" trip I blurted out that yes I was indeed!

Thusly I was was paired up to climb with a another beginner. If I remember correctly her name was Barbara and she had a foreign accent. I nervously looked through the guide book for the easiest rated climb I could find. I selected Lower Arch Traverse at 5.3 near the Arches area. It was pretty cold that November day and we got a late start toward the climb. I had no idea of the scale in the guide book or what I was getting into. As we walked along the base of the wall I could not locate the actual climb.

I finally decided that where we were was good enough and made preparations to climb. I pulled out the my new unused meager rack of stoppers, slung hexes, 150 foot rope, and home made harness made of webbing. I took a last look through Robbin's Advanced Rockcraft book for suggestions of how to go about the assent. I started up and took considerable time in placing pro as I had never done so before. Not having many carabiners I girth hitched slings to the wired nuts and slung hexes. The route, if you could call it that, consisted of many large blocks stacked up at the base of the wall. I finally reached a decent ledge and set up a belay after deciding I had gone far enough. My partner made it up to me as it was getting late in the day. We bumbled around and finally got the rappel set up. It now occurred to me I would have to leave some of my new gear behind. We got down after dark and ran into the RSC search party that was coming out to look for us on the way back.

Off route and almost benighted on one pitch of 5.3 I later realized I was never meant for climbing greatness.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Oct 31, 2011 - 11:05pm PT
while the memories of yore fog with the season of fade (howz that wege for poetic verbiage?)

I'm pretty sure my first lead was something on Short Wall at Indian Cove, JTNM.

There was probably more soloing going on than leading, because by then we had TR'd everything under the sun out there so there wasn't much I hadn't put a rope over the top of under 5.10. I never had an RCS to show me the leading. We picked up TR'ing from my buddy's pop, who learned from Chris Gonzalez. Desert rat learning. Get some gear, go have fun.

Fun we did have.

Trad climber
Oct 31, 2011 - 11:15pm PT
the bong, joshua tree. Lead my first sport climb a while later.

half my pieces fell out...5.4 so I guess it was alright.

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Oct 31, 2011 - 11:38pm PT
Mine was the Cussin' Crack on Castle Rock, Boulder Canyon. I think it's still a 5.7 these days? A real classic. I think it was 1960?

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Oct 31, 2011 - 11:41pm PT
Galwas Crack @ Mission Gorge (San Diego). Dirty 5.9 crack with hexes! I hadn't even bought nuts yet (but I did own one cam, a #4 Camalot, that may have been used).

Kind of funny how I didn't much progress beyond that in the last 17 years. Maybe my technique is a little more solid and I seem less likely to die. But then there was that time earlier this year near Chockstone Chimney.... So my whole climbing career has been a kind of plateau.

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Oct 31, 2011 - 11:59pm PT
Angel's Fright, Tahquitz, 1968 or so. Basically climbed it class 4: placed one 1" angle halfway in, at the mild "overhang" near the top. Belayed from trees, and the 2nd untied so we could throw the rope down to the 3rd and he tied in. We had a ton of fun.

From the City That Dreams
Nov 1, 2011 - 12:00am PT
Off route and almost benighted on one pitch of 5.3 I later realized I was never meant for climbing greatness.

LOL, Hand Jammer. Someday I'll tell about my 5 pitch climb of Intersection Rock.

Trad climber
Nov 1, 2011 - 12:04am PT
rat dung ramp, Smith Rocks, 1973 or '74, 5.6 / as I recall not great pro, and of course we were using hexes. Its just below karate crack for those who know / or sort of know the area. I can still taste the fear... ha ha
seth kovar

Reno, NV
Nov 1, 2011 - 12:10am PT
The Perfect Lie Back 5.8

Credit: seth kovar

Placed a bunch of crappy cams then bomber nuts to the top.

Then a sh#t eating grin.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Social climber
Retired to Appalachia
Nov 1, 2011 - 12:16am PT
First multi-pitch lead: Whitehorse Ledge, New Hampsire, circa 1975

My friend Tom Tucker at the top of Whitehorse Ledge, mid-1970s
My friend Tom Tucker at the top of Whitehorse Ledge, mid-1970s
Credit: Sierra Ledge Rat
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 1, 2011 - 12:20am PT
Seth where is that? I would be proud to lead that today.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Nov 1, 2011 - 12:22am PT
Longs folly 5.8+, Pinnacles NM.

Just had slings for bolts, no gear for the big chimney.

Pretty shaky at the top, which is standard on many Pinns routes...

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Nov 1, 2011 - 12:37am PT
Horseman, at The Gunks. Fall 1972. First day of climbing.

The day began with my "experienced" partner leading me up Three Pines. Then, he explained, it was my turn to lead and he suggested Horseman so up I went.

That day completely altered the course of my life. And I'm not tellin' the best part 'cause I'm savin' it.

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Nov 1, 2011 - 12:37am PT
Best I can 'member... First pitch of After 6. Back when it had a full tree and wasn't slippery as snot in the rain.
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