Do you remember your first lead?

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Messages 1 - 108 of total 108 in this topic
Iamjus10

Trad climber
San Diego
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 10, 2018 - 09:26pm PT
I recently wrote a blog post about my first lead. It was quite the experience for me. I'm sure plenty of people here have been on the same climb or, most likely, much more frightening climbs for their first. If so, how did that effect your climbing?
You can read about mine here if you want
Flip Flop

climber
Earth Planet, Universe
Oct 10, 2018 - 09:44pm PT
The 5.8 finish looked scary so I went the 5.9 way.
skywalker1

Trad climber
co
Oct 10, 2018 - 09:44pm PT
Yeah I remember it. Didn't think much of it at the time. I had some gear with some idea of how to use it. I bought it using my paper route money. I placed a few pieces early that might seem to catch me and my partner was paying attention. It turned into a layback and I just lay backed to the top not placing any gear and beach whaled it on top. I was 13 yrs old. No mentors. In hind sight I should have just free soloed it. Probably safer. This is 30 yrs ago so I'm now old at 44. LOL

S...
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Oct 10, 2018 - 09:57pm PT
Horseman at the Gunks. My mentor lead me up Three Pines for my first ever climb. After we walked off and had lunch he said "Okay, so now it's your turn to lead."
skywalker1

Trad climber
co
Oct 10, 2018 - 09:59pm PT
^^^^Classic
Iamjus10

Trad climber
San Diego
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 10, 2018 - 10:03pm PT
Jesus Skywalker, good to see that you're still alive. Haha
Iamjus10

Trad climber
San Diego
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 10, 2018 - 10:06pm PT
The 5.8 finish looked scary so I went the 5.9 way.

I didn't even know there was a 5.9 way. But I agree, the 5.8 finish looked scary. Haha
johntp

Trad climber
Little Rock and Loving It
Oct 10, 2018 - 10:07pm PT
Remembering a first lead is like the first time with a girl. No one forgets it unless they are stoned/drunked out.
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
Oct 10, 2018 - 10:10pm PT
^^ there you go bringing politics into it..:-)
johntp

Trad climber
Little Rock and Loving It
Oct 10, 2018 - 10:15pm PT
^^
Kavanaugh was not there....

I swear!
john hansen

climber
Oct 10, 2018 - 10:31pm PT
Dinkum at Consumne's , I think my friend was trying to kill me..

Post piton, pre cam's. just a little 25 foot pitch, but it showed me I could do it.
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Oct 10, 2018 - 10:35pm PT
yes

tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Oct 11, 2018 - 03:34am PT
I dinked around with a few really easy thing that kind of blend together but I certainly remember my first real lead of center Crack as well as my first multi pitch ice lead...
Gunkie

Trad climber
Valles Marineris
Oct 11, 2018 - 05:42am PT
'Betty' in the Gunks. Did not have a guidebook. First time in the Gunks. Walked along the carriage road gawking at the cliffs. Saw that wide crack and decided to climb it. Tied in with a 120' Goldline. Of course a bowline on a coil as all good mountaineers do. Carried a few stoppers, a few pins (!) and a hammer, and a dozen steel oval biners from our trusty Army Navy Store.

Wiggled up the crack a ways and was about to pound in a pin when I noticed a ring pin already there. I yelled down to my belayer, 12' away standing on the ground with the rope just running through his hands, "SOMEONE HAS BEEN HERE BEFORE!"

Could have died so easily that day. The adventure includes a second off-route pith and rap on a doubled rope that ended up 10' short of the belay ledge and a subsequent jump to said ledge, 60' off the ground.
steveA

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Oct 11, 2018 - 05:48am PT
No, I don't remember my 1st lead. It was 50+ years ago.
Todd Eastman

Social climber
Putney, VT
Oct 11, 2018 - 06:15am PT
I do...

Grandpa Nelson’s Turkey, a pinnacle at Nelson’s Rocks, WVA in 1973.
Lots of toproping at Carderock and seconding my dad in the years before.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Oct 11, 2018 - 06:40am PT
It was in 1966 fresh out of the army. I led everything I climbed for the first year or two. My army buddy who was my early climbing partner had a mild case of acrophobia and wouldn't lead.
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Oct 11, 2018 - 06:42am PT
The second pitch, the lieback, on Fingertip Traverse at Tahquitz. I was too stupid to know I should be scared. Set up a nice belay at the bucket just before the traverse. RJ was impressed that I used stoppers.

While belaying RJ across the traverse, a dude shows up below me. He said was lost and 35' above his last piece. He wasn't happy. I threw him a bight of rope. Just then, over on El Camino Real, there was a big commotion, some guy was taking a big whipper on that dihedral.

I was thinking, "WTF have I gotten myself into?"
Iamjus10

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 11, 2018 - 07:59am PT
I was thinking, "WTF have I gotten myself into?"

Yup.. That about explains it. I couldn't imagine my first lead being on gear, or with a static line held by a buddy, that's gnarly. Times have gotten a little less gnarly in the climbing scene for sure. haha
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Oct 11, 2018 - 08:16am PT
You get more extra points if the bolt wasn't in on Double Cross.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Oct 11, 2018 - 08:22am PT
My first was a 5.6 at Wasootch slabs. Was also one of my first climbs.
Soon after I graduated to 5.6 on Yamnuska, which is longer but less daring than 5.6 at J Tree
Scole

Trad climber
Zapopan
Oct 11, 2018 - 08:36am PT
I was 12 y/o, scrambling along the base at Stoney Point one day; I came across a few Sierra Club R.C.S. guys in mountain boots and wearing helmets, who were sieging a 5.7 route up the main wall. They called me over, saying "hey kid, come here".

At the time, I had yet to tie into a rope, but I wandered over anyway as they looked like harmless old duffers. The leader of the group offered me the end of the rope and asked if I would like to give it a try. I knew how to tie a bowline, so I tied in and took the meager rack they offered. The move that had stopped them in their mountain boots was low down and I cruised through it in my new PAs. I remember vaguely trying to figure out how to use the gear as they called out advice and encouragement, and I somehow managed to get some gear in and made it to the top. I clearly recall placing a tube chock sideways like a giant stopper. Obviously I survived, and from that day on led every climb I did for the next few years.

When I look back now, I realize that nobody would consider offering an unknown 12 y/o the sharp end for many reasons, insurance, liability, etc. and no 12y/o would go near a bunch of strange looking old guys hidden in the rocks, but it was a different time.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Oct 11, 2018 - 09:26am PT
One friend took me top-roping a handful of times, teaching me to make natural anchors with nuts and cams. I bought a #4 Camalot to supplement his rack. I read Freedom of the Hills. I bought my first set of hexes because they were much cheaper than cams.

Then I went out with a different friend, and on-site led the 5.9 Galwas Crack at Mission Gorge (San Diego area). A bit sandy/silty!

I haven't progressed much in the last 23 years.

rick sumner

Trad climber
reno, nevada/ wasilla alaska
Oct 11, 2018 - 09:40am PT
Goldline rope, a few pins and biners, mountain boots on verglas slab (unknown to us but rated 5.8 in dry conditions) December 1969.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Oct 11, 2018 - 09:54am PT
The guide told me my gear suk'd so we spent the rest of the afternoon on the ground placing gear. I free soloed the thing before leaving for the day. 3 years later I did my first A5 (so rated) El Cap route.
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
Oct 11, 2018 - 10:29am PT
1980 at Williamson Rock. I was 14 and I had just bought my first kermantle rope, I had been using my dads goldline for top roping prior to this. I had a few hexes and a number 3 stopper I bought at The Granite Stairway in SLO a few weeks earlier and was excited to use it. We climbed the main face of Williamson from the Mushroom Boulder up a gully to a headwall near the top. Anyone who has climbed at Willy knows there are not too many cracks so it was pretty runout at times but I didn't know any better. The last pitch is up a short headwall and that was protected by a star drive bolt and a homemade hanger, possibly one my dad had placed when he climbed there in the late 60's, who knows? I led the final headwall pitch at probably 5.8 and wedged myself in a depression and gave my partner a hip belay up. I probably weighed 120 soaking wet and my partner at least 180, I always made sure I found a big rock to sit behind or some other way to prevent getting yanked off the mountain. I was a fairly new climber and I didn't remember much about anchoring yourself while belaying or maybe I just skipped that part in Basic Rockcraft. Anyway, I survived.
fear

Ice climber
hartford, ct
Oct 11, 2018 - 10:39am PT
A juicy 60m of plastic WI3+ on a perfectly gorgeous day.

Oh, and at least 12 screws.

Didn't lead rock until a few years later.


limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Oct 11, 2018 - 10:41am PT
Yes, because it was a 5.8 Tobin Sorensen slab route and I didn’t know any better.
jbaker

Trad climber
Redwood City, CA
Oct 11, 2018 - 10:42am PT
My first lead was Fingertip at Tahquitz. My mentor, Virgil Shields, had led me up a few climbs and then handed me the rack and said it was my turn. I wandered a bit and created an amazing amount of rope drag. Partly because of that, I was a few feet short of the anchor at the top and had to Macgyver things with some slings. I was pretty pumped when I got to the top. Someone I later figured out was Clark Jacobs also topped out after soloing Left Ski Track (I think). He was completely pumped for me finishing my first lead.
Dick Danger

Trad climber
Lakewood, Colorado
Oct 11, 2018 - 11:36am PT
Classic Dihedral 5.7+, Bucksnort Slabs, South Platte area near Pine, CO. Circa 1990.
Roots

Mountain climber
Redmond, Oregon
Oct 11, 2018 - 11:46am PT
Yes, and I was scared out of my f'n mind....
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Oct 11, 2018 - 11:52am PT
My first lead was Fingertip at Tahquitz. My mentor, Virgil Shields, had led me up a few climbs...

You did more than one route in a day with Virgil? I ain't buyin' it! :-)
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Oct 11, 2018 - 12:42pm PT
Actual photo of my first lead - late May 1972 - East Slab, The Dome - Boulder Canyon. One of our party ran around the back and took a pic from the top.



Don Paul

Social climber
Washington DC
Oct 11, 2018 - 12:55pm PT
My first lead was with a rack of about 3 stoppers, maybe six biners, a machete, and 150' of gold line I used for caving, on a 5.1 in the new river va. I guess I thought I would be chopping a lot of plants on the route. Almost dropped it on my belayer too, when I pulled over a small roof and it started sliding out of the sheath ...
Iamjus10

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 11, 2018 - 01:10pm PT
A machete!? Damn... I've been climbing with the wrong protection for sure!
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Oct 11, 2018 - 01:19pm PT
I don't remember my first lead, but I remember my first fall and that wason a friction route TwoShoes put up at tollhouse.

My first lead was pretty boring. I did laps on the first pitch of Jamcrack on a toprope and then lead it.

My second lead, we had walked up to a climb my partner hadn't done before. There was a short lieback, flake before it mellowed to what looked like easy terrain. My partner said I should lead it, not knowing better, I agreed.

I got my feet ~8 feet off the ground, was struggling mightily, grabbed the biggest stopper off the rack, blindly put it behind the flake and pulled down until it stopped, got a sling on it and clipped the rope, and then, while trying to take a peek to see if it actually looked any good, fell off. Flipped upside down, from the rope behind my leg, and came to a stop with my head a couple feet off the ground.

I didn't finish the lead.

But my placement skills were perfect.
Iamjus10

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 11, 2018 - 03:27pm PT
The climb you're describing sounds a lot like "Lemon" which is a shitty crack/flake just down from Jamcrack. Was that the one?

That sounds a lot like my second lead too! I was about 15 feet of the deck in Mt. Woodson on some dumb flaring crack and flipped upside too..
Larry Nelson

Social climber
Oct 11, 2018 - 03:56pm PT
"The Ramp" in Mission Gorge, San Diego. 5.7, One hex, two stoppers, one original Friend.

NutAgain!
Been awhile, but I remember Galwas Crack as being kinda greasy slick. That's an impressive first lead. Your climbing progress since then probably surpassed mine, heh.
Iamjus10

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 11, 2018 - 04:51pm PT
Larry Nelson // NutAgain!

Surprised to see so many first leads at Mission Gorge! Im not far, I did some of my first TR's there. Slippery mess that place is..
Matt Sarad

climber
Oct 11, 2018 - 06:16pm PT
I think it was Initiation Crack at the Kern Slabs. I skipped the 10a part and started at the 5.7 part.
TwistedCrank

climber
Released into general population, Idaho
Oct 11, 2018 - 06:51pm PT
After Six. Duh.
throwpie

Trad climber
Berkeley
Oct 11, 2018 - 06:51pm PT
Either the first pitch of Jamcrack on sunnyside or something on Harry Daley.
Iamjus10

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 11, 2018 - 07:01pm PT
Seeing a lot of first pitch of Jamcracks on here. Makes me happy.
I put my friend on the first pitch of Jamcrack as his first trad lead. He knocked it out of the water.
He TR'd it first too.
jbaker

Trad climber
Redwood City, CA
Oct 11, 2018 - 07:02pm PT
Don Paul - I was climbing at Annapolis Rocks in Maryland when a couple local boys showed up to climb. They had a chain saw, just in case. So your machete might have looked a bit weak to the locals. One of them was top-roping, swinging back and forth, whooping, while his belayer was holding the rope end heading into the belay device. He wasn't open to advice that it might be better to hold the other end.
Curt

climber
Gold Canyon, AZ
Oct 11, 2018 - 07:07pm PT
Horseman at the Gunks.

Cool. Mine was Grey Face, at the Gunks.

Curt
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
Sands Motel , Las Vegas
Oct 11, 2018 - 08:18pm PT
skywalker1

Trad climber
co
Oct 11, 2018 - 09:27pm PT
^^^^ Where do you get these pictures from? Is that you???? LOL

S.....
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
Sands Motel , Las Vegas
Oct 11, 2018 - 09:46pm PT
skywalker... That's Cosmic .... on his first lead... Luckily he doesn't have any pics of me...
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Oct 12, 2018 - 05:09am PT
I forgot to mention that there is a calotype of my first lead somewhere in the archives of the Smithsonian, not sure where, seems to have been misfiled by an intern.
skywalker1

Trad climber
co
Oct 12, 2018 - 06:56am PT
Jim I believe your first lead was well documented in the Old Testament. I remember something with a goat. I may be mistaken.

S...

JerryA

Mountain climber
Sacramento,CA
Oct 12, 2018 - 07:05am PT
1976 P.S.O.M. Third Lake Camp , Kim Schmitz belaying , TM Herbert observing .
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Oct 12, 2018 - 08:04am PT
Jim did you guide Moses up and down the mountain?
Sula

Trad climber
Pennsylvania
Oct 12, 2018 - 10:33am PT
Shockley's Ceiling at the Gunks.

Abject ignorance of the concept of rope drag makes this route a bit harder than it should be.


tradryan

Big Wall climber
San Diego
Oct 12, 2018 - 10:44am PT
Speaking of abject ignorance... did anyone else whip on their first lead?? I was a relatively experienced seconder but my first lead was the first pitch of a multipitch route. First pitch 5.8, second 5.10c, with the crux right off the belay as it happened. Apparently, I didn't really conceptualize that when leading... one must determine where to stop. I cruised the first pitch to a nice ledge. Looking up at the next section of slightly overhanging layback thin fingers I thought "that looks really hard for 5.8." Ultimately, I whipped, smacking the helmet on the rock behind me. At that point, I decided I should probably belay from the comfortable ledge DOH!
Tom Bruskotter

Trad climber
Seattle
Oct 12, 2018 - 11:15am PT
It's fun reading all your stories about your first time.
My first lead was The Eye on Cyclops Rock at Joshua Tree in 1982 and I was 16. I remember it feeling like a long pitch and not thinking much of the occasional stoppers I was putting in. It was easy enough climbing but still pretty exhilarating. It was rated 5.0 then, but has been upgraded to 5.4. You know, I remember thinking it felt like at least a 3+.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Oct 12, 2018 - 11:33am PT
The Trough at Big Rock. Gold Line rope. Tennis shoes. I was GRIPPED like I was gonna die!!! At about 14 years old, my whole life flashed before my eyes.
Risk

Mountain climber
Marooned, 855 miles from Tuolumne Meadows
Oct 12, 2018 - 01:03pm PT
Sunnyside Bench about 1971. I fell!
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Oct 12, 2018 - 01:16pm PT
Hey, Tom, the Cyclops Eye sure felt like the real deal back then. Solidly 5.3+ R. Real exposure for a noob.
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Oct 12, 2018 - 02:38pm PT
5.9, a short one, at Grouse Slabs on Donner. My buddy who watched me lead said it was a good thing I didn’t fall, cause the placements were marginal.
Iamjus10

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2018 - 03:18pm PT
The Eye! That was my first ever free solo (I think it is for many) I love running up The Eye to watch the sunrise in the morning.
clode

Trad climber
portland, or
Oct 12, 2018 - 03:42pm PT
Joe Healy will appreciate this. As a teenager, beginning to climb in 1970, I followed a few leads at Broughton's Bluff (Lewis & Clark State Park, near Troutdale, OR). Then, I conned my high school buddy, who was one year older and taller than me, to try the Standard SE Corner of Beacon Rock, then a 5.6 (now a 5.7). I led the whole thing, no falls. My buddy could follow anything I could lead, but he never led. I offered, but he never took advantage of the opportunity. I guess he was smarter than me! Most of the time he beat me at chess. He could also do the Rubik's cube in less than two minutes consistently. Oh, and he became a member of MENSA.
David Knopp

Trad climber
CA
Oct 12, 2018 - 05:44pm PT
Duchess right in Indian Cove, at J Tree. It's maybe 30 feet high and i had a full rack, doubles of cams to #3, two sets of stoppers. Damned if i didn't try to place all that gear, mostly from fear. Took me about an hour. My wife was belaying me, i swear she was staring off in the distance trying not to laugh too loudly. She has always been a better climber than me...
clarkolator

climber
Oct 12, 2018 - 06:01pm PT
Absolutely - with first partner Peter Malarkey. We walked up to the Four Horsemen formation at Smith Rock on a hot summer day, no one else around, I thought the crack with the overhang at the beginning looked pretty cool. Friday's jinx, described in the first Watts guide as follows:

"This sinister route put half a dozen people in the hospital during the '80s. Oddly, the rock is solid and the protection reasonable, but for unknown reasons gear-ripping falls are a common occurrence on the first pitch."

...I got a nut in the first roof about eight feet off the ground, a hex in about 15 feet later , but the hex fell out. I'm not sure I remember the rest, other than I resolved to learn about routes more before I did them.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Oct 13, 2018 - 04:32am PT
No, I don’t
okie

Trad climber
Oct 13, 2018 - 09:09pm PT
Some hammering was involved, a rope that wouldn't have held...alone...only one fatality that way...managed to drop the hammer... watched it drop in a plumb line down the headwall, ricochet off the slab below and crash trough the trees. The climbing was the easy part.
skywalker1

Trad climber
co
Oct 13, 2018 - 11:34pm PT
only one fatality that way

I like that. Thoughtful. Haha!

S...
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Oct 14, 2018 - 02:16am PT
1974 in Giant City State Park in Southern Illinois. A 5.8 under the watchful eye of one Greg Bailey.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Oct 14, 2018 - 10:53am PT
First lead
Early-mid 70s
About 15 years old
Some unknown choss crag in New England
Yellow polypropylene rope
Hey, the leader doesn't fall, so you just need a top-rope for the second, right?

My desire to start leading preceded my ability to pay for 120 feet of Goldline.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Oct 14, 2018 - 01:10pm PT
^^^ LOL, great post!
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
Oct 14, 2018 - 05:54pm PT
All the nuts fell out behind me-lars
AnotherDirtbag

Trad climber
Joshua Tree
Oct 15, 2018 - 03:44pm PT
All the nuts fell out behind me

Classic. I was so scared of useing nuts when I first started (being in the age of SLCD's and all) but i've learned to properly set them and love them over time.
LuckyPink

climber
the last bivy
Oct 15, 2018 - 05:40pm PT
I do because I took a 3 day lead class with Tom Carter at Bela (RIP) and Mimi's ( cheers to you) ASI in 2002 or 2003 something like that. Couldn't have been a better experience. Tom insisted his class lead with all sorts of passive gear and all sorts of cams. Awesome. I learned so much. Very first lead was at Grouse Slab at Donner with Tom's coaching starting on Insidious Crack to Jelly roll to the other trad leads around the feature. I'm glad I learned from such a pro. We talked about skiing the entire time.
Aeriq

Social climber
Location: It's a MisterE
Oct 15, 2018 - 07:23pm PT
Mount Verstovia out of Sitka on mushrooms with my friend Ted in 1986.

We were not climbers, but eschewed the trail and soloed up a sketchy route on the west face - replete with lichen, moss and slick rock...in tennis shoes.

I only say it was a "lead" because I kept having to urge Ted on - it became more difficult the higher (both mentally & geographically) we got.

5.6X BW3:


Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Oct 16, 2018 - 06:51pm PT
Seared in my mind

Wiessner Crack at the Main Cliff of Ragged. 5.3. The ground was badly eroded at the base. Did some funky move to get on the crack. Promptly fell off slicing my finger open. Now it was very clear that this is serious. Got back up and laced the crack earning my name. Leading made climbing all new again and made easy climbs suddenly fascinating.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Oct 18, 2018 - 03:14pm PT
It was some sort of a sport crag by Auburn or something similar. Near Sacramento. At that point my only climbing experience was from friend taking me out on my first multipitch climb at the Lovers Leap. Some 3 pitch 5.8 near bears reach. East wall or east face? He was the only leader with 3 followers. #noobshit
After that we went out to top rope at Cosumnes River gorge. Was owned by dinkum crack. And I think another friend took me to top rope in the gym once. So 3 days of climbing ever prior to the lead?
Anyway, same friend took us to that sport crag and gave me some draws. Said to clip draws into bolts and rope into draws and I was off. After 5 or so bolts I got pumped to hell, my body started to shake and I took my first leader fall on my first lead. Don't really remember how long was the fall but I finished the route after hanging. Lol that went better than my first mountain climb a year prior. Story short, Mount Shasta in early July. No sleeping pad, unrated sleeping bag, no crampons/ice axe. Cotton shirt, snowboarding jacket, a sandwitch, running shoes and a few apples. No water from Lake Helen to the top. That was my first camping trip ever. God that was horrible and dangerous. Don't trust your boxing coach with mountain climbing logistics.
Iamjus10

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2018 - 05:51pm PT
Got back up and laced the crack earning my name

Well done seamstress. Hahaha
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Nov 5, 2018 - 06:45pm PT
Speaking of abject ignorance... did anyone else whip on their first lead??

I saved that thrill for my third, Cascading Crystal Kaleidoscope at the gunks. I traversed out from the corner and started to move up. I'd never been pumped climbing before and it took me totally by surprise. I came off while I was desperately trying to fit an old Clog hex into the crack. Exciting fall.
OnsightOrGoHome

Trad climber
Fair Oaks
Nov 5, 2018 - 08:19pm PT
My first lead was Upper Right Ski Track on Intersection Rock in Joshua Tree.
mongrel

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Nov 5, 2018 - 08:52pm PT
Angel's Fright (5.4) at Tahquitz. We had 120' of some weird soft (!) 3/8" goldline, cost $13 at the hardware store. Couple of pitons, 3 army steel biners (one for each piton, that must be right, eh?), probably 2 shoulder length runners one of which for the "rack". Hammers swiped from our fathers' toolboxes, preferably ball peen to minimize discomfort and shredding of the back pocket they were put into. Basically 30s kind of kit. I led the whole thing, we sat behind trees for belay anchors. Placed exactly one pin, at the crux overlap, having zero clue whether it would hold a fall.

But we didn't care, the idea of falling was so remote that it wasn't scary in the least, just a huge lot of fun. In true California fashion, we burned a giant splif on top to celebrate, then wondered how do you get down?

First leader fall was a few months later, off Never Never Land (10a) in the Gunks, climbing in semi-tight hiking boots (Pivettas or similar). Zinged off a pebble stretching to try to clip the spinner bolt that existed at that time. Fortunately, this was on somebody else's actual climbing rope, not the funky goldline-ish stuff. Undaunted, I got right back on and fired the pitch, with a second round of excitement when my boot split along the whole length of the eyelets and almost fell right off my foot in the middle of the hand traverse. Great days!
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 5, 2018 - 09:11pm PT
You move from not remembering the name of your first grade teacher to not remembering your first lead and on...horror of horrors...to not remembering who you first had sex with. With any luck, you may remember to bring the trash out tomorrow.
climbrunride

Sport climber
Golf Wall, CO
Nov 6, 2018 - 08:06am PT
^^^^^^ HAHA!!!
climbrunride

Sport climber
Golf Wall, CO
Nov 6, 2018 - 08:10am PT
My first lead was in the Pinnacles. I had been toproping a couple of times with friends, then went to the Pinnacles with a different friend. He had been climbing for several months. So he was the experienced one who actually knew what to do.

We walked in to the Smiling Simian boulder. He showed me a 3 bolt route up one face and told me it was 5.7. Then he told me to lead it. It seemed strange and I told him that I thought I knew what to do. So I jumped on and survived the thing.

Then we went over to Alias Bandits Bench and he sent me up a gear route. (Back then it wasn't bolted.)

Since I lived, it seemed like the right way to learn.
FRUMY

Trad climber
Bishop,CA
Nov 6, 2018 - 08:11am PT
Yes, I do.
Jim Clipper

climber
Nov 6, 2018 - 08:20am PT
Middle 10, bolts above a creek. Fell at the econd or third bolt, most likely second, (wishful remembering). Clipped a draw, got pumped, but didn't want to grab it, you know, because, style. Fell while almost clipping the rope. Landed on one foot, half crouching, on a small rock in the creek. Didn't get my shoes wet.

Couple guys, we knew, much stronger, looked over and said "Rad!"
Iamjus10

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2018 - 03:58pm PT
*Plot twist* Mongrels ascent of Angels Fright was just last year.
Antonio Genissimo

Trad climber
Sacramento,CA
Nov 15, 2018 - 02:33pm PT
My first lead was ‘After seven’ at the manure pile. I was doing my first ever roped climb with a guy who agreed to take me climbing. He was about thirty feet up and took a fall. I caught him and he asked me to lower him down. While we were looking up at the cliff trying to figure out how to get his gear back, I said “mind if I try”? He begrudgingly agreed and I finished the first pitch. The start of a fascination with climbing that still exists 43 years later
David Trujillo

Trad climber
CA
Nov 15, 2018 - 03:31pm PT
My first lead was South Crack on Stately Pleasure Dome in Tuolumne, 1984 or 85. Also first climb with my partner Wayne Anderson. I had just bought a set of Campbell Saddle Wedge stoppers. You had to purchase cord and sling the nuts yourself. We also had a full set of Hexes.
So Wayne lead the first easy bit before the 5.8 step-over and used way too much rope and many pieces creating a bomber belay. This left me 20' or so short of the nice ledge at the end of the next pitch. We did not know about simul climbing back then so I set up a belay; 1 decent piece that only stayed in place if I leaned back on it and a couple of better than nothings and, "off belay Wayne!" His first lead, not counting the easy bit at the bottom, was the next pitch. I just handed him the rack with a grin!
Scares me more now than it did back then.
Fun times...
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 15, 2018 - 04:47pm PT
Some 5.6 at the Pinnacles. Piece of cake. I bouldered and did top-ropes at Castle Rock for several years before I did any lead climbing. After that one trip to the Pinnacles it seemed too fun and easy so I headed up to Lover's Leap to expand my horizons. I lead successively harder pitches until I had a leader fall. I made it all the way to some 5.10 thing called the Vanishing Point and took a nice thirty-footer. Then I went to Yosemite and got schooled big time on some 5.8. Right side of the Cookie. No fall but it was the hardest thing I had done to that point.
johntp

Trad climber
Little Rock and Loving It
Nov 15, 2018 - 04:54pm PT
Okay, I'll play. First lead was the first time I tied in. Goldline, EB's a few hexes and stoppers. Some .6 in the Wichita's in Oklahoma.

I was in the groove, having devoured Basic Rockcraft and Freedom of the Hills.

My partner was as green as I was. Got about 60' up and he said "shouldn't you place some protection?".

Oh, yeah; good idea. Placed a piece and finished the pitch. It was a straight in fist crack with a couple a friction moves to the belay. To his credit, he led the second pitch, which went up a layback to a relatively easy traverse under a roof.

Good times.
fragglerockjoe

Trad climber
space-man from outer space
Nov 15, 2018 - 05:41pm PT
The Ronin samurai named Sakamoto Forced me to lead outer limits (5.10) for my first trad lead, then he dragged me over to separate reality(5.12) and convinced me to climb that too. Then we climbed generator crack and copper penny (both 5.10) and ate lunch with chop-stickes that he carved out of the manzinita tree. It was probably the best day of climbing I've ever had in 18 years.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 15, 2018 - 05:48pm PT
^^^^ Holy Bejeebus! Grounds for retiring and dining out on yer first day’s recounting!
skywalker1

Trad climber
co
Nov 15, 2018 - 06:16pm PT
Scares me more now than it did back then.
Fun times...

Yep pretty much my show.

Funny stories. Good thread.

S...
Mad69Dog

Ice climber
Nov 15, 2018 - 06:34pm PT
E Face of the Third Flatiron. Easy climb, the rap off the west side was the crux.
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
Nov 15, 2018 - 07:22pm PT
Daves Deviation to Gallwas gallop 5.9+ 1982 Tahquitz Rock.
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 15, 2018 - 07:38pm PT
rat dung ramp, Smith Rocks. 5.6. But in the day of hexes not well protected. 1975 maybe?
Aeriq

Social climber
Location: It's a MisterE
Nov 15, 2018 - 09:00pm PT
^^HELLO! That is hit-list worthy!

If I have ever heard of a more tantalizing tick, I can't remember what it could be...
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Nov 15, 2018 - 09:08pm PT
Disregarding, not counting climbing at Hammond Pond near Lexington Ma. in the late 60s.
Something on the Mohonk Mountain House grounds, on the House side of the Lake before climbs on the SkyTop main craig.
"Betty" (or the ugly chimney in the corner?) "Grey Face", "Lake View", "Rear Exposure"
All were done under the watchful eyes of Fritz W & Hans K.
As well as Mrs R, Krist(who would have been following, critiquing & removing pins) & her husband Wally.
I was Tor Raubenheimer's 1st rope partner.
TomMc

Trad climber
Massachusetts
Nov 17, 2018 - 05:29am PT
It was the same as the 3rd person to post - Horseman at the Gunks, pins, hammer, Goldline, mountain boots. It was Labor Day weekend 1966 or ‘67 and I distinctly remember there were only 4 cars at the Uberfall. Hard to imagine that now days!
TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO & Bend, OR
Nov 18, 2018 - 06:21am PT
This topic got covered before and its content is just as good as this thread.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1652765&tn=200
two-shoes

Trad climber
Auberry, CA
Nov 18, 2018 - 08:33am PT
After a few years of scrambling around in the Sierra and exploring quite a number caves, I'd learned some elementary rope work. My mentor, who had done a little bit of climbing in the early 70's, took me to Yosemite. He made sure I knew how to place a few chocks and then pointed me at Church Bowl Chimney. My first rock climb and my first lead. To me it felt just like caving, only without the headlamp and coveralls.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 19, 2018 - 04:58pm PT
I don't know if I remember my first lead, at least a real free lead where I knew what I was doing.

But once I had half a clue, I remember leading Bishop's Terrace on day and then heading over and somehow found myself at the base of Serenity Crack. I had no idea what climb it was but it looked low angle-ish and set out on the first pitch (which is now rated 10a I think)

I had few to no cams and sewed it up as much as possible anyway thus leading to my calves being on fire by the time I reached the anchor.
Iamjus10

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 11, 2018 - 02:58pm PT
Through this thread I have learned that in SuperTopo standards I am probably considered young at the ripe age of 30.
skywalker1

Trad climber
co
Apr 18, 2019 - 10:41am PT
I remember mine. It was a 50' climb maybe 5.7ish 5.8-? In West Nanticoke Pa. I had a few slung stoppers with not much idea of what was "good". I wore wrestling shoes, showed my partner how to belay and essentially soloed it. I was a dumb young buck age 15 with a lot of energy. 86' I believe

S...
Stephen McCabe

Trad climber
near Santa Cruz, CA
May 30, 2019 - 12:35am PT
First lead: Off-width, Face, chimney, or Rotten Log?

I had great respect for the older climbers who were teaching the climbing class at UC Santa Cruz. It took me a while to realize that these future founders of Marmot Mountain Works were only 19 and 20 years old.

They had taken us to Goat Rock and Castle Rock where I had done a few 5.4s and a 5.6. Learning to rappel on campus was pretty scary, stepping off the 50' high footbridge near the UC Health Center. So, with that rappelling practice, a couple of belay lessons on the ground, and a session on how to tie your own harness from 22’ of 1” webbing, we were off to Yosemite in the spring. It was intimidating huffing up past the bright white boulders under the looming monolith of El Capitan. As we approach the base, I hear cursing as our instructors, Dave Huntley and Eric Reynolds, realize that someone has jumped the new route they were working on on the Captain. Jimmy Dunn of Colorado was soloing up a bit above their high point on a route he would end up calling Cosmos. Later stories I read about this speak mostly of Bridwell and company being upset that a Colorado climber was taking their route, without a mention of Dave and Eric, who had actually started the route.

While most everyone in the class went to do the Left Side of La Cosita, I went off with a TA to do the Left Side of Little John. With 2 minutes of ground school about crack climbing, specifically wide cracks, I was heading to what later became part of the off-width circuit. After Little John, on La Cosita my lack of expertise showed as I was having a tough time until I realized I had to unclip the piton before I passed it. I felt like an idiot for trying to climb up while the belayer was yanking me down. Later we went to Manure Pile Buttress and I top-roped the first pitch of After 7.

Around the campfire Huntley said, “Do you want to do a multi-pitch climb tomorrow?” I replied, “Yes… What’s a multi-pitch climb?” After their explanation, I figured that the climb called Royal Arches must be three pitches or so. We got up early and I took a wool shirt for warmth, but no food or water. On the easy, usually un-roped section above the first pitch Chimney, the leader Dave (not Huntley), veered from the route and started up the main steep wall before becoming stuck and having to retreat back to the main ramp. We continued up for quite a while to the next real climbing, which was a face move off a huge ledge. This Dave had only been climbing a couple of months and could not do the move. The other beginner on the climb, Mary Lou, and I stood on the ledge and held our hands above our heads and against the rock for Dave to step on to do the 5.6 or 5.7 move. After helping Mary, I did the move myself without assistance and began to worry a bit about the strength of the team. Just before doing the pendulum we discussed bailing off the route, but we were all intimidated about what that might involve.

We had to climb up, clip in, untie, retie, unclip, lower and pendulum. It took us noobs quite a while. Being spring of a wet year, where I belayed was running with water and my shirt became fairly wet just as the sun was sinking. We traversed across that narrow ledge and then to the tree covered ledge, Dave took one look at the Rotten Log and said, “I’m not doing that!” So there was no way up and it was too late to go down. Later, we split an apple and a small sandwich and maybe a bit of chocolate that Dave had brought for our only food for the climb. We sipped from water running down the mossy rock of the traverse.

I really didn’t get how far up we were until the lights started coming up in the Valley. I was in awe of being half way up the wall in Yosemite.

Dave and Mary Lou might have been keen on each other, because when it was time to hunker down against the cold, those two snuggled and I was solo with a nice rock for a pillow. The colder it got, the more it annoyed me. In the morning Dave wouldn’t even consider the Rotten Log. My argument was that we had put in a lot of work, spent a miserable, cold night on a ledge and we weren’t even going to finish the climb? How much longer could it be? He was adamant, but offered me the gear. The Rotten Log had been there for decades. All the bark was gone and it was slick as a park slide with many knots sticking out where the wood had worn away. It spanned a chasm at a steep angle. I asked Dave about tying a sling around the trunk and clipping that, so that if I fell off, I wouldn’t plummet 50’ or more onto granite. He sagely advised not to do that because if I fell off, I wouldn’t want to pull the huge log with me would I?

I dealt with the slickness of the tree by putting my arms to the farthest around knot/stub that I could reach, so that I was sort of bear hugging and climbing the knots at the same time. Very airy. Very hairy. As I approached the far side, I was scared, but ok because the climbing wasn’t too difficult. There was a place a few feet before the end where the log was near the rock, then away from the rock for a few feet. Almost done! I thought, I’ll try my jamming technique and put my foot where the log and rock almost touch. Yaaaaah! Imagine my surprise when the log started to move! Just a bit. Just enough to make me freeze in near panic as I moved my foot away from the gap. Breathe deep. Breathe calmly! And then I made the awkward last moves to ledge. Whooo! What do I do? “Put in a pin!” This was when pitons were still standard protection on any climb. He described the ascending pinging noise I should hear as I placed my first piece of protection ever. I added a pin, hoped they’d hold and brought them across.

On the pitch above the log Mary Lou started falling repeatedly and needing help from the rope. The rest of the day I belayed the leader, climbed and hammered out over-driven pitons, or belayed and hauled the follower, while each of them got a rest while I belayed. Dave used aid for a few feet on one of the pitches above the log. The last traverse at the top was terrifying given the few piton placements, I was looking at 50-60 foot pendulums in places if I slipped on the sandy traverse moves. It was sandier than others may have experienced because of how early it was in the season. It didn’t look like it had been climbed that year or at least since the last storm. We kept Mary Lou between us, so she could have a rope on either side for safety. She was a trooper, considering how tired she was and Dave got us to the summit in spite of a very limited amount of climbing experience before that week-end.

The only information that I had remembered from the instructors was after finishing whatever you do, don’t start the descent too early. They had friends who were feeling around in what they thought were bushes, but were actually the tops of oak trees growing off of little ledges at the top of Royal Arches. They almost took the big plummet. We by-passed this to safely reach the notorious North Dome Gully, the site of many end-of-day accidents, and made it to the Valley. Hearing the shuttle, we ran the last 150-200 yards in near darkness through the rocks to barely catch the last shuttle, 38 or 39 hours after we left the valley floor. At the cars, I was so tired and hungry that I couldn’t stomach the thought of the beer they tried to give me. I had to collapse in a chair and start with water and juice.

After that week-end we went to Castle Rock one more time. I think my next climb was in the fall. It was my second lead, Church Bowl Chimney, after being shown in an office at UCSC what nuts were and how a Chouinard catalog said they could be placed.

A couple of years later Wayne Harriman and I did Royal Arches, including the gully descent and got back to the deli in around 4.5 hours(?) after we left the valley. Not exactly NIAD, but a lot faster than the trip on which I did my first lead.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
May 30, 2019 - 05:35am PT
Still trying to remember. I recall pounding some pitons on the sharp end at Devils Lake, when I was like 11. But not the details of what the routes were or difficulty. Didn’t really make the distinction, between leading and other climbing, as that significant back then. It was all just climbing.
Gunks Guy

Trad climber
New Paltz
May 30, 2019 - 06:19am PT
1984 - Gunks - Frogs Head
Led it in Converse sneakers with a handful of stoppers because I was too cheap to buy Friends and climbing shoes.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
May 30, 2019 - 08:11pm PT
Holy terror in the needles 1993. One bolt a twenty foot sling and balls.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
https://nutagain.org
May 30, 2019 - 08:50pm PT
I’ve posted before about the 5.9 Galwas Crack at Mission Gorge (San Diego) being my first lead. One friend had taken me top-roping a few times, and taught me to set up natural anchors. Between that and reading Freedom of the Hills, I was ready to try leading. I went out with another friend and we just tried it and didn’t fall or die.

But the climb that sticks in my memory right now, is Solid Gold at Joshua Tree. I had the climbing magazine calendar that showed a great picture of the climb. It looked giant. I wanted to do multi-pitch climbing, and we couldn’t find much of that at Jtree. So we first did it in some contrived way to make a 2 pitch climb out of some 5.6. But then we headed out to Solid Gold.

I was really not ready. Having had no mentors for lead climbing, I had no sense of style or ethics. I got up that thing through Herculean efforts from one bolt to the next, where I would sag and hang at each bolt and recover my wits after the last run-out. So I basically made every bolt like a separate pitch. Pretty funny!
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