What was your first lead? Please describe.


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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..

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.



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.


Trad climber
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.

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.


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

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.

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.

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

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

Social climber
Dec 2, 2012 - 01:48am PT

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
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.


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

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...


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.



"Your turn, Brockman!"


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!"


The rest is history!

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



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?

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.
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