Do you remember your first lead?


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

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

Trad climber
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.


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
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+.

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.

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

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.

Gym climber
Oct 12, 2018 - 01:33pm PT
5.10 on acid nearly 30 years ago... don't remember much other than clipping the first bolt while friends argued over who was going to go set up the TR. Pretty sure I was on belay by the second bolt.

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 didnít fall, cause the placements were marginal.

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.

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
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...

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.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Oct 13, 2018 - 04:32am PT
No, I donít
Jebus H Bomz

Sacramento, CA
Oct 13, 2018 - 06:42pm PT
No, I donít remember. I was hoping you would. Shet.

EDIT: I went ground up and didnít see the FA was already done on this comment.

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.

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

I like that. Thoughtful. Haha!


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.
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