What was your first lead? Please describe.


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Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Dec 22, 2011 - 03:22pm 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

heading slowly NNW
Dec 22, 2011 - 05:26pm PT
Reddish brown, in a left facing corner.

Trad climber
Washington DC
Dec 22, 2011 - 05:42pm 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.

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Dec 22, 2011 - 05:44pm 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.


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.


Trad climber
Dec 22, 2011 - 05:51pm 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!

Trad climber
Washington DC
Dec 22, 2011 - 05:57pm 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.

Trad climber
the cats
Dec 22, 2011 - 07:27pm 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?


Trad climber
nevada city, California
Dec 22, 2011 - 07:52pm 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.

Social climber
misreading rock everywhere
Dec 22, 2011 - 09:27pm 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 22, 2011 - 09:49pm 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 22, 2011 - 09:54pm 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 22, 2011 - 10:17pm 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 22, 2011 - 10:34pm 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 - 07:04am 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 - 07:35am 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 - 07:30pm PT
photo not found
Missing photo ID#274122

Social climber
An Oil Field
Dec 1, 2012 - 08:05pm 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 - 08:55pm 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.
Riley Wyna

Trad climber
A crack near you
Dec 1, 2012 - 09:54pm PT
I soloed long before I lead or had gear..
Don't really remember my first single pitch lead..probably trying to rope solo lead Tuna and Chips at red rocks with jumars...lol - ended up dropping them and just soloing it...
Maybe for a real lead something at redrocks or that 5.9 thin finger crack at the base of Swan Slab in The Valley.

But my first multi- pitch lead was a 5.6 at Taquitz..
An Australian guy had showed me how to make an anchor and took me up Dark Shadows the week before..
That was the extent of my tutalage..
The next week I lead all the pitches on a 5.6 at Taquitz with some noob from the gym who became my steady partner for the next 3 years...

The Taquitz route was Angel's Fright...

Dec 1, 2012 - 10:08pm 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
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