What was your first lead? Please describe.


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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.

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...

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
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

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

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?

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

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.

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!

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....

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!
The route in fact the entire cliff is GONE...


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.


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

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.

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!
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