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
Dr.Sprock

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 :-)
Gary

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

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.
Mungeclimber

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.
justin01

Trad climber
sacramento
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.
Brokedownclimber

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?
nutjob

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.
mongrel

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.
Gary

climber
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.
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
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

climber
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.
mucci

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...
Ksolem

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.
Ihateplastic

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.
bvb

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Nov 1, 2011 - 12:37am 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).

Jesus Nutnob your first lead was Galwas Crack!? That's pretty proud n' burly!
KabalaArch

Trad climber
Starlite, California
Nov 1, 2011 - 01:23am PT

The first leads I recall: 1st pitch of Portent in the Pinnacles; the 2nd pitch of Munginella together with the 1st and 3rd of of Selanginella, when my partner and I ran them together to approximate a Grade III. Swinging leads on Fairview Regular, I drew the 2nd pitch, a rattly 5.8 hands, or fist (don't remember which). Cams hadn't been invented yet, so the only piece of my parsed rack was this large hex, which fell out of the crack every time I moved up; I'd snag the thing and try and get it to stick above me. In this manner, I somehow managed to get to the small pine at the stance, spent in mind and body.

1st 5.10 lead was the well named Head Rush on Lembart. Once on top we had to throw down a TR to some Brits, whose leader had become gripped out on the top bolt of Werner's.

I'd say it took me about 10 years of apprenticeship to come into his own as the Leader. I trolled thru Camp 4 one Sunday, looking for a day partner, whom I eventually met as a nice young woman from North Carolina, and basically walked her up Grack Marginal on the east side of the Apron, realizing, apparently, that I seemed to climb with a lot more focus on Lead than on a TR. Things had suddenly clicked!

From that day of the epiphany forward, I literally became a Lead Hog, and was to end up leading every pitch of every climb I made.

My guess is that if you can put it together on lead, move effectively, and get your gear, but still feel a bit anxious, you're not quite there yet. If you can't wait to getu up there and place your first piece, and feel completely at home in your environment, you've arrived. It's just one of those things. No one has to tell you you're a Leader - you just know it.
murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
Nov 1, 2011 - 02:02am PT
Portent for bolts, and I can't remember my first gear lead. Knapsack Crack, Pop Bottle, Grack, and Munginella were early ones, though.
F'ueco

Boulder climber
San Jose, CA
Nov 1, 2011 - 02:09am PT
My first "lead" was a two-bolt thing on Shady Rock (Castle Rock State Park) called Slot Nos back in 1996. It was 5.9 at the time and is now considered 5.8.

My first real lead was Coyote Ugly at Pinnacles (5.9, 150' with 4 bolts and a cam placement). Now that was spicy for a first full-pitch lead in 1997.
Dr.Sprock

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Nov 1, 2011 - 02:23am PT
do you still get a dozen donuts for your first lead like the ol days?

or is everybody strung out on luke warm PBR from somebody's crusty artesian sleeping bag?

what was the last thin you threw up from j box?

what did it look like coming out?

greenish brown, or mild yellow?

ever drop a deuce in somebody's bird bath?





Mikemcee

Social climber
Mill Valley, CA
Nov 1, 2011 - 10:40am PT
Cathedral Peak. I had followed it the year before and knew the placements were good. Many sweaty palm moves later, I sat on the summit pedestal not sure whether to laugh or cry. No idea if any of the placements were good since we never tested them but it sure was an eye opener.

seth kovar

climber
Reno, NV
Nov 1, 2011 - 10:58am PT
The Perfect Lie Back is @ Woodfords
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
Nov 1, 2011 - 11:05am PT
My first complete lead (I had a couple of 1/2 leads where I wussed out on the way up) was "The Owl" at Mission Gorge - 1975.
Gary

climber
From the City That Dreams
Nov 1, 2011 - 11:06am PT
Criminey, seth, that was your first lead?
k-man

Gym climber
SCruz
Nov 1, 2011 - 11:08am PT
Honestly, it was my first real lead.

Late 70's. We poured out of the school vans onto the dirt parking lot. I was given a few ropes, a rack of stoppers and hexes, and 3 or 4 "students" from our class. I was told to go take these folks up East Wall at the Leap. Marty Garrison was in charge of the class and Lars Holbeck was the other "teacher." What a hoot.

Hey, I'd read both of Royal's books. I was solid (although I did get lost on the traverse).
ExtraBlue

Ice climber
the ford VT
Nov 1, 2011 - 11:12am PT
First lead was that little mixed thing with three bolts in the amphitheater of hyalite.
I hooked all the bolts, and hung from my leashe, but made it out to the ice. When I went to place my first screw I dropped the only screw I was carrying and had to run it out to the anchor, (dead log).
It took forever, my belayer froze and I did it in super poor style but I finished it and I was a lead climber! then slowly I went down to leading ice that season, trad that spring and finally sport later the following summer.
Branscomb

Trad climber
Lander, WY
Nov 1, 2011 - 11:16am PT
I think it was Great Northern on Lower Index Town Wall in WA in 1971. Pretty cool stuff. Really decided that climbing was IT when led the Canary Route on Castle Rock in Leavenworth the next year. Pretty stout sh#t for me in those days but I felt so good after wards I knew I was hooked.
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
Nov 1, 2011 - 11:26am PT
Hey, I'd read both of Royal's books. I was solid

Right??
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Nov 1, 2011 - 11:26am PT
HA HA HA!!! Great stories here.

My first lead(s) all blend together. Myself (n00b 1) and n00bs 2,3 & 4 had a big ass expedition to Red Wall, Moscow Crack, 5.6 @ Smith Rocks in 76?

We hauled monstrous packs full of heavy old skool camping gear into the canyon and bivied under a monster Ponderosa that is still there.

We got up in the pre-dawn and struggled to the base. n00b 2, who was the "experienced" member and had a real pair of Shoenards, got about 8 feet up the first pitch and backed off.

n00bs 3 & 4 were not the least bit interested in taking over the sharp end duties. That was a LOT of pre-climb effort to be spanked away 8 feet off the ground!!

I ended up leading all 3 pitches with my funky old mountaineering boots, Swiss seat with too big leg loops sliding down and a couple not big enough hexes rattling out of the wide parts. Oh the sweet horror.....

It took us most of the day to get 4 n00bs up the thing, but I was pretty pleased with myself, and so were my semi-bold partners. I'm still impressed we survived it.

We had ARRIVED!!
TwistedCrank

climber
Ideeho-dee-do-dah-day boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom
Nov 1, 2011 - 12:06pm PT
Some crumbly thing in Wyoming.



I think a little poo came out.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 1, 2011 - 12:10pm PT
Not sure but it might have been a big choss pile behind Desert Hot Springs.
I took my obsequious and gullible younger brothers up with Grandma's clothes
line. I would climb to a big ledge and stand there giving them a hip belay.
I'd bring one up, untie him, and toss the rope back down to the next believer.
I was 13 and they were 9. The blind leading the blinder.
I don't recall that we went to Mass the next day but we clearly should have.
FinnMaCoul

Trad climber
Green Mountains, Vermont
Nov 1, 2011 - 12:54pm PT
Absolute first time on lead and placing gear was some chossy chunk a nuthin' 5.whatever in the Blue Hills Reservation outside metropolitan Boston. My eyes were opened in more than one way that day.

My mentor and I are walking in through the woods on the approach to the chosspile and guys are scampering out of our way as they're pulling their pants up. Me whispering, "What the hell are all these guys doing out here???"

Gotta love learning to climb in the urban jungle.

First actual lead was some 5.6 or 5.7 at Den Rocks in Lawrence, Mass. Stolen car capital of Mass. The approach involved climbing over burned out hulks of abandoned cars. The guide book used the graffiti on the wall as reference points, "Follow the crack to the right of the f@#k".

But shortly thereafter I got my license and a job at REI and my escape to the mountains was realized.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 1, 2011 - 01:03pm PT
Reilly, sounds like confession after Mass might have been a good thing as well.
Byran

climber
Merced, CA
Nov 1, 2011 - 01:03pm PT
My first lead was in the gym, at "Stonehenge" in Modesto. Not too memorable except right after that I started getting tendinitis in my elbow, probably from fumbling with the clips while totally gripped.

My first trad lead was a while later, the chimney pitch (p2?) of the Great White Book in Tuolumne. Most people stay at the edge of the chimney with their feet on the slab and shoulder against the flake and just walk up. I got in deep with my back to the slab and squeeze chimney'ed that thing in what was probably a 45-minute-long lead. Incidentally, the first piece of pro I ever placed was a #6 Camalot.
tolman_paul

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Nov 1, 2011 - 01:47pm PT
The first attempt was Atlas Shrugs at the Pinnacles, I had no idea who Jim Beyer was, nor that perhaps one of his routes would be a poor choice for a noob. The old piton, bolt and cam I placed seemed great and I managed to get about 1/2 way up the first pitch. Then looking upwards I was greated with the where do I go now sensation, and no pro visible for the next 30 feet. The 100+ temps and lack of pro melted any sense of boldness. Technically the 5.9 should have been within my reach, but I was over my head for a first lead.



Then we skulked back to the monolith. My guide book was the old white one sans topos. I managed to get to get on POD and made it to the second bolt, but it seemed hard, and it was @ 5.10d. Pretty disconcerting to have bailed off two routes on my first attempt at leading, but I was not deterred, not yet. Piecing together a small rack was tough enough, and I was not about to leave a quick draw to bail off of. So somehow I managed the nerve to make it back to the second clip, then traverse right over to subterranean tango, and worked my way up to the top of the monolith. To those not familiar with the Pinnacles, Subteranian starts in a cave below the start of pod, so I'd gone from maybe 15' off the deck on the second clip, to somewhere around 40' off the deck for the third clip, with a pendulum and possible grounder if I blew it.

So I guess my first lead was the Post Orgasmic Tango.
strangeday

Trad climber
Brea ca.
Nov 1, 2011 - 01:56pm PT
Eschar. 5.4 on trashcan rock in jtree. A little tricky for the grade, and I used every piece on the rack, and had nothing left for the anchor. good times...
Floyd Hayes

Trad climber
Hidden Valley Lake, CA
Nov 1, 2011 - 01:58pm PT
In tennis shoes with an odd assortment of a dozen or so nuts and no chalk bag on Harding Route III 5.7 on Glacier Point Apron, back in 1982. I had never placed gear or set up a belay anchor, only heard how to do it from a friend who took a group of us up Snake Dike III 5.7 (my first climb) a week earlier. I led more than half of the 15 or so pitches (many short) and took a 15' whipper high up on the route. I had rappelled only once before, maybe 40', so I was terrified by the prospect of rappelling 1000' in the dark. Luckily my partner had a headlamp, but I didn't, so after he went first on each of perhaps 15 rappels, I had to set up my figure-8 and clean gear off each bolted rap station in the dark. I swore I would never climb again, but only 5 days later I climbed Royal Arches III 5.6 A2 (as it was rated at the time) and bailed off North Dome--South Face III 5.7.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Nov 1, 2011 - 02:01pm PT
A squeeze chimney at Little Table Mountain whose name I never knew. I placed no pro so I assumed it was Class-4. My first chimney lead in the Valley was Church Bowl Chimney, which seemed to me about the same difficulty as that chimeny at Little Table Mountain (except I placed on piece of pro in Church Bowl Chimney). If so, I guess my first lead was easy fifth class.

John
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Nov 1, 2011 - 02:04pm PT
Floyd, the Harding Route must have been quite an undertaking for a first lead. I, too, fell about 15 feet -- but low on the route when I misjudged where a handhold was. This was in 1970, and we only carried five or six nuts, but maybe 15 pitons. I learned that placing pitons in lieback position -- even if the liebacks aren't hard -- is a nontrivial matter.

Good job!

John
Floyd Hayes

Trad climber
Hidden Valley Lake, CA
Nov 1, 2011 - 02:19pm PT
I was 20 years old. In retrospect I feel fortunate to have survived! My climbing partner was in his 40s and wore stiff-soled boots, but he had previously climbed a bunch of routes. The worst part was when we got to the top. Roper's guide briefly described a walk-off which we couldn't find in the dark. But fortunately somebody had installed a bunch of bolted rap stations, each with two bolts connected by a chain. We simply looped the rope around the chain, so had a bolt failed I wouldn't be writing this.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Nov 1, 2011 - 03:31pm PT
Floyd,

I've done the "walk-off." It's the old Glacier Point Terrace route, and even it involves a rap or two, in addition to a very easy -- but somewhat exposed -- traverse. When Robbins reviewed Roper's Red Guide, his only real criticism was Roper's description of the Glacier Point Terrace descent route. When we got to the top of the Harding Route, we also noticed rap stations going straight down (and anchors every 75 feet, which would have been right for a doubled rope in those days).

Knowing of Robbins' criticism, and never having climbed Glacier Point Terrace, we were tempted to follow those raps straight down, but we figured we had enough time to look around. It was a good choice. After one rappel, we found the traverse point rather easily -- although we saw raps leading straight down there, too.

When Roper's Green Guide came out, the first place I looked was for the Glacier Point Terrace description. It was essentially the same as in the Red Guide.

John
jogill

climber
Colorado
Nov 1, 2011 - 03:44pm PT
August of 1954. Soloed the east face of Longs Peak, wandering up chimneys and cracks on the Mills Glacier Buttress, then Little Notch. I was 17 and didn't really know what I was doing. Wore J. C. Higgins work boots and carried along a 50 foot manilla rope about 3/8" diameter. Had to loop it over a knob above me and pull on it to get up a blank section of a dihedral. A priceless experience virtually unobtainable today.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Nov 1, 2011 - 03:45pm PT
My FIRST SOLO was when I was 4 y/o in Japan,
climbing the rock terrace behind our house.
Unfortunatly I took a header the second time I did it and cracked my skull open.
This pic of the terrace behind our house was taken about a week before
I cracked my skull open.
photo not found
Missing photo ID#149170


My little brother are standing on the 2nd story porch of our house
GOclimb

Trad climber
Boston, MA
Nov 1, 2011 - 04:00pm PT


Thin Air, Cathedral Ledge, NH.

Hook, line, sinker, and bit off half the fishing pole.

GO
steveA

Trad climber
bedford,massachusetts
Nov 1, 2011 - 04:02pm PT
Mike,

Wish I could remember!
HuecoRat

Trad climber
NJ
Nov 1, 2011 - 04:24pm PT
1981 Uriah's Heap (5.7) at, well...Hueco. I had followed Cakewalk (5.6) two days earlier, and had followed Uriah's the day before, so it was my 3rd day climbing. I had 5 pieces of gear in my rack (and was quite proud of it!). My partner, Les and I arrived at the Front Side to see a guy (Donny) at the end of the 1st pitch of Indecent Exposure (5.10), and his second, Gary, falling over and over off the same move about 10 feet up. My partner suggests that I climb something with Gary, then ties in and finishes Indecent Exposure/Tree Route with Donny.

Gary is totally bummed, so I suggest Uriah's. I lead the first pitch and figure he will lead the crux second pitch. At the belay he says he doesn't feel up to it, so I think, "Hey, I'm roped up. What could happen? I'll be fine." So off I go. Two slung potholes later I set my beloved #9 hex and launch off up the diagonal roof crack. By the time I get to the belay stance that #9 is 30 feet below and 20 feet to one side (actual distances are probably shorter). As I set up the belay I hear Les calling from around the corner, asking what we are on. Gary answers. Then Les hollers to ask who's leading. Gary answers again. After a pause Les asks the same question. When he gets the same answer he asks what pitch, and Gary lells back that I have just finished #2. After Gary comes up I start up the last pitch only to find Les and Donny waiting and watching.

After that I was one of the clan.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Nov 1, 2011 - 04:25pm PT
Oh Steve, you are not that OLD!!!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 1, 2011 - 05:07pm PT
Steve, I thought your first lead was this summer in the Winds. HaHa. How did your slide show go?
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Nov 1, 2011 - 05:11pm PT
Some 5.6 in Cosumnes river gorge, the easy thing on upriver end of Buck's Bar Dome. It's a route I could probably have soloed and been less gripped than I was leading the thing.
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Nov 1, 2011 - 05:40pm PT
Love that photo of Thin Air. The first pitch of Thin Air was my second climb. Alas, not my first lead.

My first lead was Weissner Slab, 5.3, at Ragged Mountain. I charged up without placing a piece and promptly greased off the first high step, and plopped onto the slope. Now I was bleeding, as the Rock Gods demanded.

I remounted the horse that threw me. 2/3 up the slab, there is a short section where pro becomes a little more interesting to place. I was above my last piece and contemplating where should I stop to place the next of my shiney new stoppers. A tiny black snake slithered out of the crack at eye level and scared me to death. Somehow I did not react and stood motionless until the snake moved on. I moved up very quickly to gain the huge ledge above.

Getting off was the next catastrophe. I rigged the rappell and hoped that the rope would come back to me. I needed some help dealing with the friction from that large boulder.

You never forget your first.....
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Nov 1, 2011 - 05:48pm PT
My first sport lead was on a 6a on some scrappy cliff above Kleinne Scheidegg when I was 12 or 13. My first hangdog was there too.

My first gear lead was a .9 at Grouse Slabs on Donner Summit. Can't remember the name, but it is face moves to a short hand crack. I had it dialed and didn't place much gear. My mentor followed and told me that my placements were 50/50 regarding good and junk.

Over half my life climbing, and that lead in CZ sticks with me. My dad and I had no idea what we were doing but went for it anyway. Halfway up, I hear sheep bleating, cowbells ringing, and glaciers calving. It resonated with me and I've been climbing ever since.

Good times, good thread.

Edit, the line at Grouse is Desire. Fitting name I guess.
Friedo

Trad climber
South Lake Tahoe
Nov 1, 2011 - 05:53pm PT
First Trad lead was Surrealistic Pillar (5.7) to Corrugation Corner (5.7) at the Leap. I placed a ton of gear and over-gripped until my hands cramped up and I could barely do the third pitch of Corrugation.
steveA

Trad climber
bedford,massachusetts
Nov 1, 2011 - 06:18pm PT
Seamtress;

Yes, you really can forget your 1st lead. Honestly, I hope that I'm not getting senile. I scared myself back-then so often, I really can't pin it down to one specific climb.

Maybe I really am getting Alzheimer's, ( I had to do a spell check first).
murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
Nov 1, 2011 - 06:27pm PT
the easy thing on upriver end of Buck's Bar Dome

Beginner Cracks

moosedrool

Trad climber
Fremont
Nov 1, 2011 - 07:36pm PT
About 28-29 years ago in Poland.
It was the final climbing exam organized by High Mountains Club (or something like this). The club was located in Gdansk, some 400 miles from the closest rock. For about half a year we (the students) attended various classes of geology, first aid, survival, knots, climbing history, etc. We practiced climbing on old, decommissioned brick bridges and trees (using their thick bark; some kind of beech). After we finished the climbing course, we had to pass the theory, and show some skills in climbing bridges and trees. The final climbing exam took place in the rock climbing area called Sokoliki, about 15 hours away by train and bus. On the first day, we were roaming free, top roping whatever we could. On the second day, we had to show our leading skills. I dad never led anything before. Since I was quite good top roping, they asked me whether I could lead a pitch of 5.10a or b (can't be sure because we used a different scale). And, of course, I said, yes! I started climbing this ~70 feet mix of face and hand crack rock with about 5 pieces (borrowed). I couldn't place anything for about 1/3 of the rout. Then, I found a placement for my huge hex. OK, I felt quite good about that placement protecting the crux. The crux involved some strenuous move with my right hand above and behind my had. I pulled through, but, to my embarrassment, I saw the hex sliding down the rope to my belayer. I don't remember the rest of the route, but I did finish it and I... passed! Since that, I had a chance to climb in the mountains only a few times. I was very scared to lead anything after that, though.
Now, almost 30 years later, being half the man I used to be, I started climbing again. Still scared of leading...
barry ohm

Trad climber
escondido, ca
Nov 1, 2011 - 07:40pm PT
A 40' crack climb at the local crag, Y crack. My mentor told me to buy a set of stoppers,some 1" tubular runner Carabiners and some Hexes, I set 1 Hexcentric about 8' up, slinged a chokstone, and set 1 stopper. Looking back it was a wise recommendation to learn to set passive pro before purchasing cams. Cheers
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Nov 1, 2011 - 07:45pm PT
SteveA,

It's been a long time for me, too. You aren't senile - probably just too filled with memories. I think there is a related thread about your first memories...???>>??
moosedrool

Trad climber
Fremont
Nov 1, 2011 - 07:57pm PT
Seamstress, it doesn't make a difference whether you have too many memories to recall, or you are just senile. Trust me, it feels all same, al same, al' sam...
moosedrool

Trad climber
Fremont
Nov 1, 2011 - 08:04pm PT
Yesterday I went to see a doctor. I said, doc, I think I am getting old.
"why is that?"
"Well, I climbed on top of my wife last night..."
"That's very good!"
"Yeh, but I had forgotten why???"

Anybody, please?
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
Nov 1, 2011 - 08:34pm PT
Something up at Williamson Rock around 1980. It was near the Epitaph formation and it was on trad gear, no bolts, a big wide crack that took #11 hexes.
The next lead was also at Williamson following an old route up the main face to the top, there were a few old homemade hangers and a pin or two protecting it. It was real adventure climbing back then. Loads of fun.
gonamok

climber
dont make me come over there
Nov 1, 2011 - 09:36pm PT
I led "The Stairs" at Mission Gorge, and was terrified the whole way. I took about 2 hours and placed at least 10 pieces on an 80 ft tall route.

Rating - 5.3
gonamok

climber
dont make me come over there
Nov 1, 2011 - 09:50pm PT
August of 1954. Soloed the east face of Longs Peak, wandering up chimneys and cracks on the Mills Glacier Buttress, then Little Notch. I was 17 and didn't really know what I was doing. Wore J. C. Higgins work boots and carried along a 50 foot manilla rope about 3/8" diameter. Had to loop it over a knob above me and pull on it to get up a blank section of a dihedral. A priceless experience virtually unobtainable today.

John, you are amazing. Even your very first climb was beyond the realm of regular human type climbers.

After 35 years of climbing you still inspire me
cowpoke

climber
Nov 2, 2011 - 11:58am PT
Cowboy Boot Crack, Garden of the Gods.

Nothing too remarkable, except that I was pretty psyched to try out my rack: set of nuts and a #3 friend, freshly purchased and all shiny. And, I remember it made me nervous to have the tourists watching and asking questions. This was before they removed the road that went between north and south gateway, winding below the west face of north gateway.

Edit: I lied. I think cowboy boot crack might have been my second or third lead...I was on an easy multi-pitch climb in 11 mile when I led for the first time, I believe. hmm, wish I'd written it down or something.
big ears

Trad climber
?
Nov 2, 2011 - 12:12pm PT
First Normal Form, HCR Arkansas. I made the classic noob mistake of "I lead 5.11 in the gym, this 5.9 should be no problem. I wonder what this + sign after the grade means?". Thank god it was only a single pitch sport route, or I could have been in trouble. Took a nice 15 foot whipper. I hopped on it for nostalgiac purposes a few months ago, and it was as pumpy as I remembered. Definately not one I'd recommend to any first timer. First trad lead was Poison Ivy, sam's throne arkansas. 5.7. Still love that route.
rectorsquid

climber
Lake Tahoe
Nov 2, 2011 - 12:22pm PT
Spring Break (.8) on River Rock along the Truckee River near Verdi, CA. Sometime around the year 2001.

Some experienced guy talked me into leading it. It was easy climbing but leading for the first time made it quite a bit harder than it was on top rope.

Dave
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2011 - 01:46am PT
would love to hear some more strories.
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Nov 6, 2011 - 04:24am PT
This is a really good thread. My first lead was my first climb. Armed with the tomes of the time, I was prepared. Tied my swami; tied into the goldline with my friend Robin on hip belay. Nobody did helmets then. So I headed up, the crack sucked my hands in and there was no fear. Sixty feet up my friend was screaming for me to put something in. Number 4 hex went in and was locker. It was a trivial .6 climb. But it will always be with me.
telemon01

Trad climber
Montana
Nov 6, 2011 - 09:43am PT
Roaring Brook Falls, Keene Valley in the Adirondacks, 1984



Lowe hummingbird hammer in my left hand...



Lowe ice Snargs for gear



buckie

Trad climber
Oregon
Nov 6, 2011 - 10:31am PT
Super Slab at Smith in 1986. Rope got stuck, stuffed in 2 cams and hung out in the middle of the second lay back pitch while my belayer found a volunteer coming up the first pitch to un-stick it. Did'nt see that coming. I learned quickly that you don't just let the rope dangle.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Nov 6, 2011 - 10:55am PT
January, 1975, at Joshua Tree...14 years old.

I had been in a climbing class at Trash Can..the only kid. Most of the others in the class could not get up the top-roped routes.

The instructor was more of a mountaineer than a rockclimber, and even he could not do a number of the routes...I managed them all. He decided I needed introducing to a few friends of his who were there, so he hooked me up.

These guys were old (19 and 20) and were pushing the standard of the day, 5.10. They told me, "Kid, if you're gonna climb with us, you have to do your share of the leading."

I was handed the rack at the base of Double Cross. Had only fiddled with some stoppers and hexes in the class...never actually placing one appropriately. Double Cross became my crucible.

In a swami and tennis shoes, I scratched and clawed my way up, and was completely cotton-mouthed at the halfway point. With shouts of encouragement, I gained the top completely shredded in both hands and knees, and as parched as the desert sand.

The first guy I belayed up, Mike, came up and gave me a big grin, shook my hand, and with much vulgarity, complimented the first lead of my life. I will never forget his exuberance and joy for me, and that climb was the start of a great love affair. (Mike would later become the one who bestowed the "Cragman" nickname on me, as I bugged him to no end to take me climbing whenever he went out.)

I led Walk on the Wild Side the next day. I still have those tennis shoes....hoping to bronze them some day. Simply a weekend I will never forget.
TrundleBum

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Nov 6, 2011 - 11:37am PT
Mid 70's, Cathedral ledge N.H, 'Fun House' first pitch on hex's. I shud'a died !
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2011 - 11:38am PT
My first ice lead was in a little canyon by Rapid City where I had found this little smear that goes through a sandstone band. I was so anxious to do it that I used what ever gear I could get my hands on. I had tele boots, flat crampons, two mismatched axes, and no screws. I was able to put some rock gear and got to the top finding that it was a huge egg shell that had moved about a half a foot from the wall. It turns out this rarely forms and only lasts for a week when it does. Kind of a neat little flow though and is about 80ft which isn't bad when you consider that you can count the ice flows in the Black Hills on your fingers.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Nov 6, 2011 - 11:55am PT
In 1965, at age 14/15, I was camping in Yosemite with an older friend, my high school art teacher, who was in his early twenties. We wandered into the Le Conte lodge (the old stone building under Sentinel) which had displays of the exploits of the early Yosemite explorers. We read about John Muir's ascent to the base of Yosemite Falls--and set out to climb the Sunny Side Bench route.

We found a rope in the caró3/8 inch and 1/2 inch hemp, spliced in three sections. We tied into it with our Boy Scout's knowledge of knots, and climbed the route, snaking the rope through tree branches for protection. I am not sure that we had any concept of belaying, not that it would have done any good. At one point, I untied my single wrap bowline and threaded the rope through an old ring piton and then re-tied.

On the way down, a party of "real" climbers rappelled past us--Goldline ropes, carabiners, hammers, piton, and orange helmets.

I was hooked.

I found Indian Rock in Berkeley, and five years later, at age 19, I was living in the Valley full time.
Modesto Mutant

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Nov 6, 2011 - 12:03pm PT
Church Bowl Chimney (5.7). Wore Galibier Mountain Guide boots. Freaked on the tyrolean style rappel, ended up down climbing the big tree next to the cliff. I was eager for more adventures after that ordeal.
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Nov 6, 2011 - 12:04pm PT
First gear lead was Bookmark, 5.8 at Lovers Leap, CA.

We were a party of three: me, an early trad mentor named Roddie, and an attractive female who will remain nameless. My buddy got done with the awesome double hand crack leading to the large belay ledge and belayed us up.

When I got to the top, he told me that I should lead the second pitch. I gulped and said I wasn't so sure I was ready. He applied pressure by shrugging and saying that if I wouldn't lead it he'd just solo up to the top trailing the rope (the second pitch started off in a scrambly looking trough). I glanced at our hottie third and realized I couldn't back down and said, yeah, sure, I'll lead it.

Everything was fine until I ran into the off-width crux. It would probably only take cams of the #5 or #6 proportions, cams I didn't have. Instead, I got a little nest of micro nuts in a seam to the left and embarked.

Fortunately, the top of the climb had a large tree to sling because I'd never made a belay anchor before.

When my buddy got up he gave me an incredulous look and said he was glad he hadn't solo'd that pitch after all. How had I gotten through that off-width? I just smiled and didn't tell him that I'd actually face-climbed around the off-width off that nest of micro nuts. In retrospect, the face climbing was probably harder than the OW, but not to me in those days. It's funny the risks you'll take when you don't have the knowledge to know you're taking a risk.
telemon01

Trad climber
Montana
Nov 6, 2011 - 01:59pm PT

My first lead on rock was at Pok-O-Moonshine in the Adirondacks in the Spring of '84.





Ironically, I led ice routes before I tied into the sharp end on the rock.
Didn't really have any epics as a new leader until I moved to Colorado later that summer. My first lead in Eldorado Canyon was on Bastille Crack. It was early AM, the climb was in the shade, and the temps were frigid. The sandstone felt really slippery that day!
Matt Sarad

Trad climber
Bakersfield CA
Nov 6, 2011 - 03:48pm PT
Initiation Crack at Kern Slabs around 1990. I skipped tha 5.10 finger crack at the start and went for the 5.7 segment.



The 5.7 is maybe 40 feet above the crack in the picture. I had to top rope the lower part later that year.
TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO
Nov 6, 2011 - 05:21pm PT
First lead?

In 1972, my buddy Frank and I wanted to become "rock climbers." Acting on the impulse we went to an outdoor equipment store in Phoenix at 32nd Street and Camelback Road and asked, "Where is the rock climbing around here?" We were told "At Camelback Mountain" denoting the entire massif which is a Phoenix icon. The employees were reluctant to tell us anything too specific for fear we would get hurt. Knowing we were being snubbed yet full of impetuous desire and not to be denied, we proceeded to buy the bear essentials we thought we needed to become "rock climbers" and begin our adventures: 4 Eiger carabiners and a 150 foot "Goldline" rope. We thought any hiking boot with a vibram sole were perfectly suited to climb rock - and these we had. Frank's pocketbook exhausted (and mine having nothing to offer) we departed and drove about 1 mile to the base of an area now lost to climbing near the Bolus (long since closed off to access due to McMansion construction around 1980). We had no clue where any route may exist so chose a line on smoothish, basically unfeatured rock going upward into a bowl-like feature about 40 feet above the deck. I tied in and took the lead. Obviously, I placed no protection and somehow got back down. I don't even remember if my buddy followed me up on a top rope - or he lost heart seeing my fear and predicament upon reaching the bowl.

Pretty pathetic.

Other early leads: also pathetic. Developed uncontrollable sewing machine leg standing on small holds with mind roiling between the desire to live versus the desire to climb higher, so tied off the head of my Chouinard hammer to be lowered off a 5.4 short climb on "Carefree Wall," the main face at the Carefree Boulderpile - also now lost to climbers, enclosed within one of the ultra fancy golf courses surrounded by trophy homes. The wall is now someone's backyard scenery. Bet they don't appreciate it like us climbers did. Maybe they never even visit the home!

Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Nov 6, 2011 - 05:23pm PT
It was so LONG ago I can't remember my first lead with a rope.
I do remember my first solo though, at 4 years old.

:)
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Nov 6, 2011 - 05:40pm PT
First time on ice was the waterfall by the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. I was alone and had SMC rigids, peutereys, and two forrest tools. Bouldered around the base for a while. Found myself about 20 feet up; with visions of Jeff Lowe in my head I just kept going up.

Wish I were as fearless today as I was in my youth.
Bargainhunter

climber
Nov 6, 2011 - 06:22pm PT
Direct Exum, mid-1980s, as a teenager
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 15, 2011 - 12:06am PT
Gotta bump this up. Too many stories, but not enough have chimed in. Anyone take a whipper on their first lead? Would love to hear from Patrick Oliver, Golstone, Donini and other ST legends about their first lead. Or even better hear from others about someone else's first lead.
Zander

climber
Nov 15, 2011 - 11:26pm PT
I think I posted this a few years ago on another thread.
So my buddy Paul and I met playing pickup soccer. We had both been bouldering at Indian Rock in Berkeley, me for six months and he for a few years. Did I mention we were soccer Dads. I was 39 years old. We decided to climb the East Arete of Mt. Humphreys. Noticing the neither one of us had ever roped up before we decided we better figure it out. He hooked up with some of the Indian Rock crew and climbed Bookmark at the Leap. I hooked up with Robert Munios, a guide, and did one day at Pinnacles. You know one hundred feet is way off the ground! So Paul chose our first lead to be The Saw at The Pie Shop in South Tahoe. It was 5.5 and we were cranking left Watercourse and the Borson Pinch at Indian Rock. How hard could it be? The thing is that Indian Rock doesn't really have any cracks so neither one of us knew how to jamb, at all. It was the second day of roped climbing for both of us. So we roped up at the base and he tied himself to a root and put me on belay. The crux was supposed to be about forty feet up. There was a crack running through a bulge at the base. I tried this, I tried that, I didn't know how to jamb! We both started laughing. Here we were going off to Mt. Humphreys and I couldn't get off the ground! Finally I found a little ruggosity, which I put my foot on and then liebacked the crack. If you can't climb it, lieback it. I never did figure out where the crux was it was so trivial. Must have been a boulder problem. I built a belay under the little roof two thirds the way up the pitch. Paul came up and lead the rest. He didn't put in any gear! He couldn't find any placements. So his first lead was fifty feet of unprotected slab! We came back years later and climbed it again. The crack at the base was casual. There was pro everywhere all the way to the top. Ha ha! Actually, we climbed and lead Crepes Corner after The Saw. Paul's lead of the wide crack low on the climb was pretty cool and gutsy.

Climb on!

Zander
Gorgeous George

Trad climber
Los Angeles, California
Nov 16, 2011 - 07:27am PT
Bastille Crack, old school 5.6 with Lenny Coyne circa 1974. I was 19 and I think he might have been 17, but he had been showing me the ropes mostly in the Garden of the Gods. We drove up to Boulder and he handed me the rack, proclaiming me ready to lead. Did it on nuts and hexes, no falls, no crying, but I'll never forget the fear I felt on the first pitch. I remember reaching the belay like it was yesterday. Later, told my friends, Dave and Dave from Boulder, that I had led it first time They couldn't believe it. I felt chingon for weeks.

Oh ya, I forgot to mention the gold line hemp rope, wrapped around my waist three times and tied with a bowline. Did I mention the army surplus store knickers and knee socks? Oh, the memories.

Anybody know where Lenny is now? Last I heard he moved to New Zealand with a woman.
Wade Icey

Trad climber
www.alohashirtrescue.com
Dec 22, 2011 - 04:12pm PT
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlEzvdlYRes&feature=player_embedded
Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
Dec 22, 2011 - 04:17pm PT
It was 20 years ago on glacier point apron..a one pitch 5.7 R that went up and then straight left(what is the name???hmm) I agonized over some slab move forever and had to do it cause Helga was down there watching and I didn't want to look any geekier than I already did by backing off...I made it!
Jeremy

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Dec 22, 2011 - 04:47pm PT
My first lead was when I lead Russ's mom to the DEPTHS OF DEPRAVITY!

WOO HOO!

J
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 22, 2011 - 05:57pm PT
I wish I could remember style bump






not unlike other things...
NigelSSI

Trad climber
B.C.
Dec 22, 2011 - 06:14pm PT
Pretty sure it was Dung Fu. I was too stupid to be scared back then.
tolman_paul

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Dec 22, 2011 - 06:22pm PT
Looking at my old pics, this might have actually been my first lead, but I don't recall exactly when I accumulated enough gear to feel I could lead something. Obviously not noteworthy as I never would have remembered the climb if not for my dad's photos.



It was a chimney somewhere in Squaw Valley that it looks like I really should have just done as a boulder problem.



But I did place gear and was belayed.
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
Dec 22, 2011 - 08:26pm PT
Reddish brown, in a left facing corner.
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Dec 22, 2011 - 08:42pm PT
K-man, I remember that trip! I led a party of 7 up Corrugation. I was topping out while the last student was just starting. Lars, you and a bunch of coeds. I was like 21 or something leading a group up a bunch of climbs, driving Cal State Vans. The evenings around the fire are memories to cherish.
stich

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Dec 22, 2011 - 08:44pm PT
My first true crack lead was Cave Crack at Enchanted Rock in Texas. That was the first hand and foot jam route I ever did, which to me makes it the most memorable. I may have lead something other than this route first, but I forget. To me, this was what it was all about and I need to learn that stuff!

You start in a cave made by a large boulder leaning against the main batholith. Then you exit the vertical part and end up in the sun.

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/cave-crack/105872738

My then Czech wife hated her first foot jamming experience. She was usually very reserved, but that day she said, "That was f*#king painful." She never did get into pure cracks, but she enjoyed Eldo once we moved to Colorado.

hairyapeman

Trad climber
Fres-yes
Dec 22, 2011 - 08:51pm PT
Elephant Walk 5.7 slab at Tollhouse Rock in spring of 2004. It was so epic...or so we thought at the time. Me and my friend kept on taking videos of ourselves at every belay station saying things like "I love you all in case we die" and "Done with P2 now going to start P3, wish us luck!". So fun to watch those vids now!
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Dec 22, 2011 - 08:57pm PT
Truth is this is hard for me to remember. The first lead I recall was the Hand at the Pinnacles. I was very fearless at the start of my climbing career. There may have been something in the Valley before this.
kc

Trad climber
the cats
Dec 22, 2011 - 10:27pm PT
I'm sure it was the 5.5 on the Hogsback at Lover's. Nothing terribly remarkable about it except that it was a multi-pitch.

War--Deflowered, really? Your first? That is a total sandbag at 5.6. Plus it has chimney, off-width, crack, face, flare, a little bit of everything. Quite the start!

Cragman--with no experience, Double Cross was a coup! I love that climb, plus it takes some balls to do the start before you get to the crack. Can't imagine racking up for that for my first one!

And who said Dung Fu--on Hemmingway? A cave hike, chimneys, rope drag, awkward. Man, you guys make me look like a wimp!

Can anyone tell I'm excited to get back down to Josh next week?

:)
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
nevada city, California
Dec 22, 2011 - 10:52pm PT
knapsack crack, hogsback, lovers leap for trad and captain cheese dog, indian springs for sport. did knapsack crack a couple times right at start, great practice there me thinks.
Stonedeaf

Social climber
misreading rock everywhere
Dec 23, 2011 - 12:27am PT
The Groove 5.8 lovers leap...No one told me to set nuts...1/3 self cleaned and fell down the rope...Partner didn't want to freak me out by yelling up instructions..I was climbing it well..probably the right decision..I wouldn't have decked...just been surprised by the big fall..
Pennsylenvy

Gym climber
A dingy corner in your refrigerator
Dec 23, 2011 - 12:49am PT
Ooops, here come a train wreck. Gonna 'fess up and say, even though I loath it!, that my first lead was completly 'sporto'. Having toproped some 5.7 boulder problem at Upper Blacktail Butte near Moose, WY my cluesless friends and I found ourselves looking up at a line of bolts at the nearby Hoback Shield.

I fell on the second bolt, and then somehow got up it. 10b (sporto). To this day I remember this climb because we really had no idea what we were doing. Dumb kids having fun. Since then there have been many a 10b that I wish I could float up seeing I had 'climbed' that grade 20 years earlier for my first lead.

Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Dec 23, 2011 - 12:54am PT
Right Angled Gully , Ben Arthur (The Cobbler), Scotland June 1975.........I think the climb was about 5.2...something like that......stoppers and hexes......awhile ago...
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Dec 23, 2011 - 01:17am PT
First real leads I remember were Bishop's Terrace and then the First Pitch of Serenity in the same day. I just started up Serenity without even knowing what it was rated with a couple friends and tons of wired nuts that I used too many of. I don't know what I was thinking.

My calves were on fire when I got to the belay.

Back in the day, sandbagging was a way of life, but I had nobody to blame but myself cause I brought along a girl friend to belay me.

Peace

Karl
MH2

climber
Dec 23, 2011 - 01:34am PT
As to the question of memory good or bad, and speaking from 10 years of working at a nursing home, it is notable that no poster to this thread has told the story of their first lead more than once, here. So far as I can tell.

Mike M asked his question politely and has repeated it. I like to help where I can.

I remember my first roped climb: Friction Face, 5.0, at Quincy Quarry in the autumn of 1967. A dry-mouthed fear claimed me as step by step I walked a dubious bridge over a great chasm, my life depending inescapably on my fingers and toes and airy nothing threatening to snatch me despite reassurances from the natives that their crude construction of vines and knots would save me. I remember following my first longer route: Rusty Trifle, 5.2, at the Gunks on 20 April, 1968.

When I saw the thread title I remembered that in the early days of climbing at the Gunks, I had written the routes I did on the backs of the daily permits we bought. When I remembered where those notes were kept, I had a look. My first lead was probably part of Northern Pillar, 5.2, on 19 May, 1968. I don't remember it as such, though. The way we viewed climbing was different, back then.

ClimberDave

Trad climber
The LBC, CA
Dec 23, 2011 - 10:04am PT
1st lead was The Trough at Big Rock, 5.5 but its a waterchute and very slick, 1st trad lead, I think was Mikes Books 5.6? on Intersection Rock in JTree. Good times.
GuapoVino

Trad climber
All Up In Here
Dec 23, 2011 - 10:35am PT
S-Wall 5.9 Quartz, Oklahoma 1988
Friction slab - one bolt halfway up the first pitch. One bolt part way up the second pitch. Didn't need much gear obviously. I think the joke is you just need a couple quick draws and some "nuts" or something like that.

moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Dec 1, 2012 - 10:30pm PT
photo not found
Missing photo ID#274122
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Dec 1, 2012 - 11:05pm PT
I remember seeing a guy, who I won't name, who fell off of S-Wall right before the belay.

Yep. Cheese gratered the side of one leg. I mean, he was bleeding big time.
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Dec 1, 2012 - 11:55pm PT
Wow. S- wall? Shudder!&%$#@

Quartz is wild!

Bourbon street takes big gear....or nuts.

Man, oaklahoma slab, rattlers and concealed carry...good place to retire.
Googlymoogly

climber
Dec 2, 2012 - 01:08am PT
Easy Rider at Mission Gorge. It is a short 5.7 sport climb. At the time it seamed pretty damn hard. After some procrastinating I finally got up it though and I think that was my one climb for the day
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Dec 2, 2012 - 01:37am PT
The Trough...Tahquitz....Robbins boots , hexes , and a Chouinard hammer...Loved the scent of the wooden handle and those Mt. Mahogany's that made great pro...RJ
MisterE

Social climber
Dec 2, 2012 - 01:48am PT
http://www.mountainproject.com/v/great-northern-slab/105790657

I later "bouldered" the .10c variation as an approach to the whole thing free-solo...

The last slab bit was a bit unnerving. My first free-solo, as well.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Dec 2, 2012 - 03:39pm PT
1985 The Dolphin, 5.7+ at Joshua Tree, a Largo route. I recruited a belayer in the Split Rock parking lot, he had done a little climbing and had some Tri-Cams his dad gave him. I had taken a couple of climbing classes in the valley the prior summer, read some books and bought some gear. Did not know any other climbers, had never led, followed or top-roped. I got on it and damn near pitched off testing a Tri-Cam placement. No friends back then, all nuts and hexes. First climb, first lead, first crack, first off-width. Seems like insanity now, but I learned a lot very quickly, just about my most memorable climb.

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/dolphin/105722164
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 2, 2012 - 03:50pm PT
The Dolphin is like big hands for that Largo guy, right?

My first lead? Aleister Crowley let me lead a pitch on Kanchenjunga.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 2, 2012 - 04:39pm PT
The Owl at Mission Gorge.

I thought it was 5.6, but the guidebook says it's 5.8+ now. It was my first day tied into a rope - I was 13.

The guy I was with was older, and the only climber I knew of. He backed off the lead, and I did it, with instruction from him as to how to protect it.

I thought he knew everything about climbing, and later he suggested we drive up to Convict Lake, and do Morrison in the winter. OK, if you say so, said I. When I look back with my present knowledge, I have to laugh, with a slight cringe.

Well, fortunately it snowed on us and we had to bail. He drove us down to a spot he had heard of for climbing named Joshua Tree, this was in 1968. I was psyched to get out of the weather, and he hooked up with another adult to aid climb The Flue. He lent me his rock shoes - Kroenhoffers - to scramble in, and he chose his mountaineering boots for the aiders.

I ended up watching them climb from the little canyon there btw what's now Chalk Up Another One and The Flue. My mentor was leading, and his newfound partner had set up a belay in the little pod about 20 ft off the ground. Bruce was aiding and ran out of gear to use, so he moved out freeclimbing. He was about 20 ft out from the belay with a few pieces in, the last was a wired clog.

The goldline kinked, lifted the clog out and it slid down the rope. He was now suddenly 15 ft out, in mountaineering boots and having trouble. He tried to go for it and came off, falling 40 or 50 ft to the ground right in front of me. The rope stretch barely slowed him down.

It was real ugly, and horrifying to witness, but he survived. I lost contact with him, and I believe he quit climbing partly due to his physical injuries.

For some reason I kept at it...

eKat

Trad climber
BackInTheDitch BackInTheDirt BackInTheDay
Dec 2, 2012 - 04:47pm PT
Third pitch of Commitment - 5 Open Books - YOSE Falls. . . got up to Bridwell, he tied me off, and as I was starting to transfer the gear over to him, he was transferring the rest of it over to me.

?

HUH?

"Your turn, Brockman!"

HUH?

HohMahn. . . I got ten kinds-a-wiggly with every piece he clipped into my gear sling. . .

"SOOOOOOO. . . I don't know how to put this stuff IN, all I know how to do is TAKE IT OUT!"

"Ahhhh. . . just put it in. . . if it falls out, put it back in!"

Whoa.

The rest is history!

Funny how you sell yourself short until somebody MAKES you do something, eh?

:-)

eKatLongTimeAgoOldDadBrockman
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Dec 2, 2012 - 05:25pm PT
eKat, that's funny!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Dec 2, 2012 - 06:44pm PT
Mikes Books J-Tree 72/73?
Grampa

climber
from SoCal
Dec 2, 2012 - 06:54pm PT
Angels Fright at Tahquitz. All pitons although only place a few because of so many trees and bushes.
Michelle

Trad climber
Toshi's Station, picking up power converters.
Dec 2, 2012 - 08:11pm PT
some 5.6 at Potter's rock. my partner was more scared for me than I was. first multi pitch, Sea of Tranquility 5.7 on Herring Creek Dome. it started to snow, climbed by someone's bail anchor of 2 micronuts (that got sent to the Philipines!) and quickly made it to the top before it started to dump (it didn't) still love that climb!

Jebus H Bomz

climber
Reno, Nuh VAAAA duh
Dec 2, 2012 - 08:15pm PT
"Ahhhh. . . just put it in. . . if it falls out, put it back in!"

The definitive line of the thread. I have to use that on the next person I mentor.

It's surprising how fast some people pick up gear placement through a bit of following. I had a friend do this solid 5.7 in Arizona (read: a 5.9 elsewhere) as his first lead. I led on his gear afterwards (afraid to trust his first TR anchor), and his placements were all solid. Good thing, since his first lead was also his first upside down whipper! Luckily it was an overhanging climb, with no danger where he fell (an AZ 5.7 indeed). What a first lead!

Bill Mc Kirgan

Trad climber
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Dec 2, 2012 - 09:09pm PT
First trad lead was The Bone (5.5) at Devils Lake. It was highly recommended as a first by friends at the CMC and was fun until I got to the ledge with a roof about 4 feet above it. I crawled on my hands and knees a bit at that point until finding the chimney exit to the right.

Piece of cake on top rope, but as a first lead it gave me plenty to think about.
jtlocal

Trad climber
Joshua Tree
Dec 2, 2012 - 11:02pm PT
Mike's books in a pair of Vans, on an old static line we found in someones garage. 1989
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Dec 2, 2012 - 11:30pm PT
The Trough at Big Rock, although since it was all bolts that wasn't considered a "real" lead.

Angels Fright, Tahquitz with a 120 ft Gold Line tied in with a bowline on a coil, a half dozen or so pitons, a Bell Telephone lineman's hammer with the handle sawed down and a parachute cord keeper sling.

Yes!

Mt. Mahoganys are your friends!
Al Fylak

Mountain climber
Rochester Hills, MI
Dec 3, 2012 - 12:09am PT
Wandering Tortoise .. Turtle Rock .. JTree .. 1980.
Not much pro (big hexes), but easy climbing.
I remember thinking, "This leading stuff is not so bad".
As I slowly worked up the grades to 5.9, I found out otherwise!
Al Fylak

Mountain climber
Rochester Hills, MI
Dec 3, 2012 - 12:15am PT
I also remember soloing The Trough at Tahquitz around 1984.
Easy fun climb, until I got off route to the left onto some 5.6/7.
Fortunately, I trailed a rope and was able to set up some funky psycho self-belay. Not sure it would have really helped in case of a fall, but it gave me the courage to continue up.
briham89

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Dec 3, 2012 - 12:21am PT
eKat that is rad!!! and funny haha.

My first gear lead was swan slab gully 5.6 3 pitches woohoo!!!


actually that was my first valley gear lead....
My first gear lead was at castle rock on that 5.6 corner to the right of the waterfall. All I had for pro was stoppers haha
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Dec 3, 2012 - 09:06am PT
Just found a slab in the New River VA and started leading up it, with goldline rope, and about 5 carabiners and 3-4 nuts clipped to the belt loops my my jeans. I also had a machete in a holster on a biner, not sure why but I expected to have to chop through plants at some point. The route actually had a small technical part with a roof, where I sunk one of my stoppers. As I made the move, I remember seeing the machete upside down and ready to slide out of the holster and down onto my belayer and his girlfriend. Luckily this didn't happen and the climb was a great success, probably went at about 5.4.
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Dec 3, 2012 - 09:18am PT
Funny how you sell yourself short until somebody MAKES you do something, eh?

:-)

Or until you have no choice. Hillarious story Kat; trial by fire, who says no to the Bird?
slabbo

Trad climber
fort garland, colo
Dec 3, 2012 - 10:12am PT
Whitney-Gilman ridge on Cannon cliff in NH '77
I had to convince my partner it was a 300' 5.4 .. it's a bit longer than thatand about 4 grades harder.

Titons, hexes and a couple of slings,, finished in the dark w/o headlamps of course
hossjulia

Trad climber
Where the Hoback and the mighty Snake River meet
Dec 3, 2012 - 10:42am PT
Interesting how many first leads were at Mission Gorge.
I think mine was too, but it could have been in Eldorado Canyon.
Anyway, the first lead I remember was some chimney at Mission Gorge with no obvious pro. 5.6? I was getting tired looking for pro, and it was short, so I just gunned for the top. Soloed the rope up. Getting up there, I had a moment of panic because I had to set up a belay on a couple of not-so-great looking bolts. I didn't want to f*#k that up, so it took me a bit. Probably longer than the climb did. My SO and his brother were pretty quiet as they came up. Couldn't believe I did it with no pro. They had been making bets about me backng off of it. Showed them. They wouldn't lead it.

But I grew up on Rumson Dr. in Santee and used to play around on the boulders there all the time. All by myself in sneakers.

First *real* lead was Walk On The Wild Side in Josh. LOVED it!

This is a fun thread with some, no all, great stories.
EKat, love that one.
eKat

Trad climber
BackInTheDitch BackInTheDirt BackInTheDay
Dec 3, 2012 - 11:56am PT
Or until you have no choice. Hillarious story Kat; trial by fire, who says no to the Bird?

HA!

In retrospect, it was pretty funny. . . at the time, it was thought provoking, to say the least.

There was always this air of silent respect while climbing with him.

No screaming for help.

No "WATCH ME!"

No "TENSION."

No boasting.

Just STFU and climb.

I can't begin to tell you all the "defining" moments connected with this very day; silently exploding from my soul!

Jim was the perfect mentor, gentleman, confidant. I was one lucky little girl!
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Dec 3, 2012 - 12:28pm PT
June 1972, my first granite lead, East Slab 5.4/5 - The Dome - Boulder Canyon. Old blue Royal Robbins I bought from my mentor. Placed stoppers only, most of them probably weren't too good.

East Slab - The Dome - 1972
East Slab - The Dome - 1972
Credit: ydpl8s

My first sedimentary lead was about a week earlier Calypso 5.6 - Wind Tower - Eldo. Seemed pretty easy, not nearly as slippery as it is nowadays.
Stewart Johnson

climber
lake forest
Dec 3, 2012 - 10:17pm PT
professor falls 1982
professor falls 1982
Credit: Stewart Johnson
Gene

climber
Dec 3, 2012 - 10:30pm PT
Fingertip Traverse. Tahquitz Rock. 1847.

g
Gary

Social climber
Right outside of Delacroix
Dec 3, 2012 - 11:39pm PT
Eschar. 5.4 on trashcan rock in jtree. A little tricky for the grade

One of my early leads. I still like that climb. Karpkwitz was another early lead. Trash Can is an interesting place.
Borut

Mountain climber
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dec 4, 2012 - 01:18am PT
By 'lead', what is meant is real stuff I guess! Around the age of 10, my first high boulder was the Roche Hercule east side 'voie normale'. That's an 8 m tall boulder in the Fontainebleau forest (France) where I spent my childhood.


OK, this topic is about 'first leads', but here is a descripton of my first lead fall (ca. 1970, aged 15), copied from a post I once sent on an other site: "My first lead fall was at the Saussois cliffs (France). After a full day of climbing I was quite pumped, but we started up l'Echelle (the ladder, ca 5c), one of the rare multipiches at Saussois. I was leading the second pitch, and had made too much rope drag along the traverse as I started up the final corner. Nothing difficult, but I hadn't been hydrating properly, and cramps started setting into my hands. We used just single (steel) biners, and I remember my fingers not being able to let go of the biner door (ha,ha). I was tugging at the rope so as to place it in the biner, holding the rope with my teeth in order to reach at it once more (everyone does that now and then). While pulling, it must have been a foot that slipped, and I flew. Unfortunately I didn't curse or shout, and the first yank came on my front teeth, which broke. Next I pendled and finally hung below an overhang. The adrenaline must have done its job and I soon got back on the line, now relaxed, and not too shaky. Wasn't much of a fall (ca 30 feet) but I do recall it. BTW, the routes were protected with in place pitons, and we had no harnesses (just a broad, belt type thing, which made you realize about your ribs)."


My first 'real' multipitch lead took place on the limestone face of 'La Pelle' (Diois > SaoŻ synclinal > Trois Becs), somewhere between Lyon and Marseille, in the French Prealps.
photo not found
Missing photo ID#276830
It must have been 1971. The climb (maybe the 'voie de la Tour' ?) was ca. 150 m tall at grade V, and the rope length must have been 40 m, though it might even still have been 30 m, I do not recall. Climbed with my mentor's girl friend and led all pitches though I first thought we would be exchanging leads, ha. She said I was doing well and should just go on.

Borut
darkmagus

Mountain climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 4, 2012 - 11:03am PT
Mine was "Turkey Chute" at Mission Gorge, using all cams. I did some other sport leads that day as well.
KirbyC

climber
Dec 4, 2012 - 11:28am PT
I did my first lead in terrible headpointing style (on a 5.9 no less :P) at Seneca Rocks in WV. It was the first, super short pitch of Marshall's Madness. Maybe 40 feet at the most? When I mock-led it the trip before, I fell on top rope before I had my first piece of mock gear in, meaning if I was on lead I'd have been crumpled on the ground in a broken pile.

I always seem to climb so much better on lead that on TR.. And by better I mean with more precision, focus, economy of movement. Even though I can definitely climb harder stuff on top-rope.

Love this climbing thing.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Dec 4, 2012 - 12:12pm PT
Riley, did you do The Owl? The committing move to the chicken heads, the short handcrack, the little roof with the head jam at the top, that was my first 5.7 lead, lots of interesting moves on that one.
Skeptimistic

Mountain climber
La Mancha
Dec 4, 2012 - 12:26pm PT
The Flue at JTree. I think it goes at 5.6 and is a right leaning crack/traverse. I had just gone big on a shiny new rack and was anxious to show my friends how cool I was, having been climbing for a whole 5 months or so.

I launched off and placed a bunch of nuts about every 3 to 4 feet. About 20 feet from the top I realized that I was pretty much out of gear and would have to balls it out to the top. Shith just got serious...

My belayer, who was fond of giving "penalty slack" and letting you free fall for about 5 feet when lowering, just happened to flick the rope right then and I watched all my placements zipper out to the one just below me. Of course all the pieces zipped down the rope and hit her, causing her to drop the rope.

Freaking out, I ended up finishing the route, but I then spent the rest of the weekend learning how to properly place gear...
Kenygl

Trad climber
Salt Lake City
Dec 4, 2012 - 01:36pm PT
African Flake Big Rock. I think I sh#t myself. Early 80's. First multipitch-Uneventful, Tahquitz.
Andy Fielding

Trad climber
UK
Dec 4, 2012 - 03:01pm PT
Diamond Crack, Froggatt Edge, Peak District, UK. It was 1976, I was 15. The route is only 25' long and HS 4b (5.6). I think that was my entire rack right there on my Whillans harness.

First lead 1976
First lead 1976
Credit: Andy Fielding
TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO
May 17, 2013 - 10:39am PT
Bump.

You only get to lose your virginity once so it's gonna be memorable!

Lot's of great stories posted so far.

Soooo, how did you lost your cherry?
Sparky

Trad climber
vagabond movin on
May 17, 2013 - 12:10pm PT
E.O. Lieback 5.5 @ Vedauwoo. Perfect 1st trad experience back in '94.
protour

Trad climber
Concord, CA
May 17, 2013 - 12:31pm PT
All five pitches of the nutcracker, I was terrified
G Zeus

Trad climber
Tucson, AZ
May 17, 2013 - 01:29pm PT
Table Mountain, near Sonora, Ca. Something on Welcome Wall. Maybe Keebler's Revenge?

A guy at work said he knew how to climb and I wanted to, so I bought some gear and off we went. I didn't know that he really didn't know what he thought he knew.

There was already a bail biner a couple bolts up. He got that far, bailed, and pulled the rope. Then it was my turn. I tied in, placed a draw or two and clipped them, then headed up toward the hard stuff.

That's when actual climbers walked past and said something like, "Hey, do you know you're climbing on a static rope?" I was, but I didn't know static rope from a hole in the ground (which is where I'd probably be right now if I had fallen). They just kept walking. I know I can't rely on anybody to make the world safe for me but, they. just. kept. walking. Too busy to save a life, I guess.

I bailed without falling and we moved on to The Grotto where other actual climbers filled me in on dynamic vs. static rope. I never climbed with that guy again. I did, however, devour Basic Rockcraft, How to Rock Climb, Climbing Anchors, and Freedom of the Hills.

I met Before-Christ Go-B that day and we became climbing partners.

Sidesaddle at The Grotto is what I consider my first lead; the aforementioned was a close brush with death.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
May 17, 2013 - 01:48pm PT
Some 5.7 or 5.8 fingercrack at Sunset, TN. My rack was a set of stoppers and hexes. Got 15' up, placed a nut, got 40' up, started shaking, sewing machine, pumping out, looking at ground fall. First two nut selections didn't fit...soooo pumped, gottat get the piece in or I deck, finally get a nut placed and clipped, immediately slumped onto it insanely pumped.

Somehow finished the lead, placing about 4 pieces in 80'.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 11, 2013 - 12:17am PT
Jack got his first lead this year and put up a new route the next day. Possibly the easiest route in Spearfish Canyon.... We are hoping. He also did his first trad lead this year the first pitch of Mr. Clean at Devils Tower. I am guessing he will also get on his first ice lead this winter. He was primed to do it last year as the conditions were perfect with fat ice and warm temps but I had to pull the plug as the day was getting late. The opportunity never came up again last year, but he now is a lot stronger and has a lot more experience.
Credit: mike m
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Dec 11, 2013 - 01:29pm PT
^^^
Jack is a Hardkid!
Modesto Mutant

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Dec 11, 2013 - 01:49pm PT
1975 Church Bowl Chimney 5.7 in Galibier boots. First lead in EB's Grack Marginal 5.9. I was gripped!
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 11, 2013 - 01:54pm PT
Um, well it was at Devils lake... And I used Pins... But the details are hazy....
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 11, 2013 - 01:59pm PT
I can't remember if it was Devil's Lake or Mt Erie, WA.
Either one would not be worth slaughtering any more bytes over.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Dec 11, 2013 - 02:10pm PT
Underground City, Tennessee, Original Route, FA. 15 I think, unsupervised hahaha!
1975.
The route in fact the entire cliff is GONE...

DMT
steveA

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Dec 11, 2013 - 02:12pm PT
Hey Mike,

I wonder 50 years from now, if your son will remember his 1st lead?

I sure as hell can't, but I do remember the few times I scared myself.

Steve
kev

climber
A pile of dirt.
Dec 11, 2013 - 02:30pm PT
P1 Pop Bottle at the leap.
michaellane

climber
Bonita, California
Dec 11, 2013 - 02:32pm PT
Happy to see so many Mission Gorgers on this ... mine was Crack of Dust 5.8. Protected it with three hexes. Number sixes, if I recall. Felt like a million bucks.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 11, 2013 - 02:41pm PT
Dingus, did mr peabody's coal mine take
It away?
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
From Panorama City, CA
Dec 11, 2013 - 02:51pm PT
Well, I mostly 'free-soloed' with a friend as a 15 year old in the extreme west end of the San Fernando Valley - out toward the Thousand Oaks end - not the Stoney area. Then my mother helped me find out about the RCS of the Sierra Club. My RCS card is dated 3/31/68. Before I had a chance to hook up with the RCS though, she dropped me off at Stoney Point one afternoon ( my first time there ) and left me to have fun (maybe her too!). There was nobody around, except I noticed somebody climbing up the left crack and gulley of the main face of Stoney. I immmediately went up there and climbed that unroped. The climber was gone by the time I got up there. I did not get to meet whoever it was. All of the climbing I had done up to that point consisted of climbing faces and cliffs and hooking a rope at the top over horns and edges of rock and rappelling down. I even used to hook a rope on the edge of rock on top of Rock 1 at Stoney for rappelling!
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
Dec 11, 2013 - 03:08pm PT
My first day of climbing after taking some lessons.
I was with a small group which included Stunewberry.
We climbed Gibraltar Rock (Santa Barbara) and were messing around on a top
rope, trying to climb a crack to the right of the bolt ladder next to the road.
Just as we were getting ready to leave, Gunk came driving up wanting to
climb, so I borrowed a hammer and stayed. Gunk led up this corner to the
right of the bolts and the crack. When I got up to him he told me to go to
the top, so I did.
I don't have any idea how hard any of the climb was, his lead or mine.
I assume it had been climbed previously, but no guarantee.
Bababata

Mountain climber
Utopia
Dec 11, 2013 - 03:14pm PT
Mine was the last pitch of the north face of Aiguilles du Midi (Frendo Spur). Did not place any ice screws (didn't really know how to, plus the ice was crappy) and belayed off of my two ice-tools at the top... Gulp.

I was a complete noob at the time (had only followed a few pitches of rock and ice). My buddy was an experienced rock climber but a noob ice climber as well. He led all the rock pitches and we simulclimbed on the ice except for the last 3-4 pitches where my buddy found some good rock pro again... by then his calves were completely shot (he was climbing in leather boots). I was faring better in my plastics, so I got the line honors.

I was certain we were gonna die that day. I'm still amazed that we didn't!
fresh pow

Gym climber
Plastic Paradise
Dec 11, 2013 - 03:27pm PT
Mt Woodson, Bozo no no, East face of Uncertainty Principle boulder. Couldn't do the 10.d move past the fist bolt. Some guy with long frizzy hair, jeans and no shirt was sitting down by the painted boulder, watching us with binoculars. After a while he came up and told us that we should just clip the first bolt and yard up on it. Then it would 5.4 to the top. My first lead was also my first ethics lesson!
goatboy smellz

climber
लघिमा
Dec 11, 2013 - 04:11pm PT
Arrow in the Gunks.

I hitchhiked up from NYC and since this was my second time out climbing I was hoping to meet up with someone with more experience and climb with them which was SOP for those suckers looking for partners on the weekend.

The day started off slow with no partners available, save for the usual TR's set up around the Uberfall, eventually disillusioned in prospects I ended up bouldering around until eventually meeting up with an able body that was greener than me.

We decided on Arrow because it was on the cover of the Swain Guide and I knew where to find it. Once there, gear upped, harness on, rope flaked out, we both forgot how to tie in. Seriously, we're standing there for 15 minutes trying to remember how to tie a fvcking figure eight with no luck.

After a half dozen of attempts with "that doesn't look right" and "I don't think that will hold" I yell over to a couple greybeards 20 feet away who just arrived. "Hey, you guys know how to tie a figure eight?"

Their eyes get real wide and ask if we are joking, I say "well not really" so the older one says "yeah sure..." then proceeds to give us a quick lesson on how to tie a figure eight in a sing song voice.

Once done he looks up and asked if we got it. I said "sure, thanks for the help" then up I went like an Arrow.


Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Dec 11, 2013 - 04:40pm PT
Yes he did jaybro he ate the whole thing!

You can never go home or I can't anyway

DMT
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
Dec 11, 2013 - 05:21pm PT
Swallow Crack at Pinnacles with a rack borrowed from an officemate who no longer climbed.

I had read Robins and Long, and had all the book smarts. Me and my partner, who as also a n00b, played around at Sunol in Fremont the weekend before, where we probably really only managed one unremarkable toprope climb.

The next weekend we went to Pinnacles for a day trip, messed around trying to top rope stuff, but had a hard time finding anything that worked. Toward the end of the day I decided that I wanted to climb something, so I just decided to go for it on the sharp end. It went pretty well because I was so high on adrenaline and stoke. We had lost track of time and it was getting late, I topped out as the sun set and my partner had to climb it in the dark. Of course we had no headlamps.

I told my officemate about my climbing weekend and he scolded me for leading trad at Pinnacles. He told me it was choss and that I'd get myself killed. Not knowing better, I told him I wouldn't do it again, but I've since climbed there many times with my own gear.

The next leads I attempted were much harder and scarier just because the adrenaline buzz had worn off.


Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Dec 11, 2013 - 05:33pm PT
I am pretty sure it was 2nd pitch of knapsack at Lovers Leap. I was pretty nervous.
Truthdweller

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 11, 2013 - 05:55pm PT
Couldn't do the 10.d move past the fist bolt.

Hope I don't burst your bubble, but that move is 10b...fun lead either way!


Edit: Munginella, Yosemite, 1982 @ 19 y.o., with Roger Barnes (45 y.o. then) of Poway...got to lead every pitch!
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
Dec 11, 2013 - 07:14pm PT
Knapsack at Lovers Leap for me as well. I totally went past the 2nd belay and ran out of rope.....
whitemeat

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo, CA
Dec 11, 2013 - 08:35pm PT
5.8 50 sport foot climb!!!!!
TMJesse

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Dec 11, 2013 - 11:35pm PT
Sunnyside Bench about 1970. On a day trip to the valley with my dad and my neighbor buddy, we set up and I lead upward, off route. Called "tension" and took a small swinging fall. Probably helps explain why I usually don't lead. On another foolhardy ascent of Sunnyside Bench earlier, same buddy and I rappelled to a ledge with no protection that was festooned with dried moss on decomposing and flaking granite. He had to lunge for an oak tree where we could tie off and continue our decent. Stupid kids.
Rudder

Trad climber
Costa Mesa, CA
Dec 12, 2013 - 12:06am PT
It was either Hanging Teeth, or Switchbacks, or Falling Star... I really have no idea... who remembers that stuff? lol
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Dec 12, 2013 - 12:15am PT
Portent 5.5 Pinnacles National Monument (in those days). Fired it.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Dec 12, 2013 - 01:52am PT
cant remember other than it was at Dinosaur rock, i was wearing a cur off seat to a parachute rig for a harness, and climbing on a twisted nylon rope that was at least 1/2" thick. 74
mcreel

climber
Barcelona
Dec 12, 2013 - 03:22am PT
Sh#t, I can't remember! How embarrassing. Pop Bottle at the Leap? Surrealistic Pillar? After 6? Hmm, I must be getting old.
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Dec 12, 2013 - 07:40am PT
Second pitch of Munginella when I wasn't even in high school yet.

At one point I traversed all the way out to the arete for the next open book (Commitment?) and ended up traversing back to the Munginella book. Huge rope drag!

Then I ended up taking a short cut to the top and not doing the final pitch. My finish ended up on a dirty, sandy shelf. My belayer kept cursing at me as crap would rain down on him intermittently.

I barely had enough rope to make an anchor with my 60 meter Edelrid. The belayer may even had had to climb up a bit. I don't remember clearly. It was 1977.

Upon reaching me, he exclaimed: I give you balls for that, Skrub!

Skrub was my nickname with them.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Dec 12, 2013 - 11:49am PT
It's hard for me to say, but not because I started climbing in 1957 and can't remember. The problem is that I progressed at a very leisurely pace through mostly roped but barely protected third and fourth-class mountain scrambling before really doing much in the way of fifth-class leading, almost the polar opposite of the way people get into climbing today. I had already been at this scrambling for four years when I went to college and started climbing at Devil's Lake, Wisconsin---no scrambling there!

During those first four years I probably did do a fifth-class lead or two. I recall a dihedral on the East Ridge of Teewinot which, in retrospect, was probably 5.3 or so. My first few climbs in the Tetons were guided, so I had followed up to 5.7 (SW Ridge of Symmetry Spire) on occasion. Then, in 1961 I think, I climbed Three Pines in the Gunks on a totally deserted weekday at the end of the summer. This was a fantastic experience at the time, no guidebook or any idea where to go or how hard the climbing was going to be and no one else at the Trapps. We just walked along the cliffs and started up in a promising place. (An experience I repeated a few years later on a much harder Gunks route with Al Rubin.) Our total lack of local knowledge and the fact that no other climbers where at the cliff gave the undertaking the air of a back-country adventure for us.

Anyway, my first self-consciously fifth-class lead was at Devil's Lake and was what we were calling 5.4 at the time (which probably means it was 5.6 or so). I had already top-roped it so knew what to expect, and the protection was via severely overdriven pitons. It would be five or six years before nuts would appear, and more than ten years until the first cams showed up.
Larry Nelson

Social climber
Dec 19, 2013 - 11:30pm PT
How cool that so many first leads were at Mission Gorge.
And Nutjob: With Galwas Crack your first lead, your avatar name is appropriate. I am impressed. That crack's slipperiness makes it a major 5.9 sandbag.

I don't remember my first lead or even where it was, but I spent many a day at the Gorge and met some good partners there. I used to get to lunch rock before sunrise with my dog and a buddy, lead The Ramp's crack, top rope it out on the face, then downclimb it with lots of rope slack... up and down until the crowds came. Was usually out of there before 9:00AM.
Lis

Sport climber
Twain Harte, CA
Dec 20, 2013 - 12:58am PT
Sidesaddle 5.9 on the Ort wall in the Grotto at Table mountain. Short and sweet!
thebravecowboy

Social climber
Colorado Plateau
Dec 20, 2013 - 01:03am PT
In echo of the OP, it was
something like 5.7 and has one bolt in about 70 feet


Elephant Head in Lower Monument Canyon. It was wickedly hot and I picked a south facing slab. Definitely some groundfall potential 'tween the two rusty hanger'd mystery bolts 'fore the juniper up top.
mark miller

Social climber
Reno
Dec 20, 2013 - 01:42am PT
Somewhere around 74' or so with a 2" piece of webbing from a construction site as the lead rope. On the back side of C-hill in Carson City.There are still some interesting problems to encounter back there,Adventure was what it was all about, knot the grading #.
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Dec 20, 2013 - 01:52am PT
Probably Empress at Chapel Pond Slabs in 1972 pounding iron and nuts with the hammer. There's still a small steel bong that fell behind the big ledge near the top...
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