What was your first lead? Please describe.


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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.

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

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.

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

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.


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.

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.

Trad climber
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?

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
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