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rvega


Jun 21, 2005, 1:06 PM
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My 1st Trad Lead...my last?
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So I just came back from Yosemite and my first trad lead. I did the first pitch of Munginella (5.6) and was hoping to do the 3rd pitch as well. I simply was terrified and emotional and physically exhausted by the third pitch so I let my partner do it. I don't understand it. That climb shouldn't scare me. In retrospect it was pretty easy, but I was so scared it felt so much harder. I can lead sport 5.10s-5.11s with some fear but nothing like this. I've been climbing for over ten years. What gives? I need to get over it because I want to start multi-pitching and can't expect my partner to do everything. Advise?


gblauer
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Jun 21, 2005, 2:16 PM
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Ummm....been there...done that. It all sounds VERY familiar.

My advice: Lead, Lead and lead some more. Pick easy things, things you KNOW you can dance up. Concentrate on your gear placement, breathing, looking around for placements, holds and stances.


Although I have not done it, many people have suggested that I aid climb with my gear (i.e. weight each piece) to develop the confidence in my placements. I never seem to have the time!

Above all...Remember that your climbing ability is your best protection. Believe in yourself and your ability to climb.

Good luck, it is a long hard slog for some of us!


maculated


Jun 21, 2005, 2:52 PM
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Re: My 1st Trad Lead...my last? [In reply to]
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Rebecca, sorry to hear you freaked on Munginella. That said, Yosemite grades are a sight harder in my opinion for first leads. I'd suggest you go down to the Pinns and lead the 5.6-5.7 trad routes there first. They were my first leads and very gentle. If I didn't think it is probably hot as hell out there, I'd suggest meeting up and I'd be happy to help you out.

If you're bent on leading in the Valley, I would suggest something like I think it is called the Cow? On Glacier Point Apron. And Sunnyside Bench. The Cow (if that's the name) is a mellow angle, eats gear, and is still a multipitch experience. Sunnyside Bench is pretty much a nice solo - lots of 3rd and 4th class, but still protectable. Tuolumne's Cathedral Peak is also a really, really great choice.

Don't let Munginella set you back. It's not a straight-forward route for a beginner leader - kinda wandery, kind of exciting. I'm pretty solid on 5.8 and I was freaking out on the third pitch of Selaginella - I want to go back this summer and find out why - it's not unusual.

Gail's advice about aid climbing is also a brilliant one. After my big scare in the valley a few years ago, I took up aid climbing to build confidence on the gear and I am a lot happier than I used to be (I climbed with an attitude that I was soloing - I still sort of do, but I also know my pro is good).


caughtinside


Jun 21, 2005, 2:52 PM
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Re: My 1st Trad Lead...my last? [In reply to]
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Well, if you're not afraid to lead above bolts but you are afraid to lead above gear you placed, it sounds like you have no confidence in your gear.

Aiding might not be a bad idea. Either that, or climb with a giant rack and sew things up.


lisae


Jun 21, 2005, 3:14 PM
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Re: My 1st Trad Lead...my last? [In reply to]
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[quote="maculated"]Rebecca, sorry to hear you freaked on Munginella. That said, Yosemite grades are a sight harder in my opinion for first leads. I'd suggest you go down to the Pinns and lead the 5.6-5.7 trad routes there first. They were my first leads and very gentle. If I didn't think it is probably hot as hell out there, I'd suggest meeting up and I'd be happy to help you out.

Swallows Crack is fun, but it is the only easier trad route I can think of at the Pinnacles. What other ones were you thinking of? I am curious, so I can add them to my 'list.'

Today's high in the Pinnacles is supposed to be 86, but only 79 or so this weekend...


maculated


Jun 21, 2005, 3:24 PM
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Re: My 1st Trad Lead...my last? [In reply to]
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Same area (Discovery Wall):

Portent, Swallow Crack, Ordeal, Cleft, Entrance

Ordeal is 5.8, but I don't remember it being much harder than the others.


I thought about this some more, and I think it might also be another factor - crack climbing. I am about worthless on face climbing these days because I got so focused on crack climbing. When you switch to one from the other, and don't mix it up regularly, you tend to favor a type of climbing. CaughtInside watched me go belly up on an easy 10a a couple weeks ago - and I'm talking Easy. EASY.

I'd suggest just following a ton of trad stuff for now and enjoy yourself. When you stop feeling the demons, it's probably time to lead.

And don't be so hard on yourself - I kind of hate leading (I'm nearly always scared to some degree, even on some sport 5.6s in the Gorge) - I only do it because my ego makes me.


lisae


Jun 21, 2005, 3:45 PM
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[quote="maculated"]Same area (Discovery Wall):

Portent, Swallow Crack, Ordeal, Cleft, Entrance

Ordeal is 5.8, but I don't remember it being much harder than the others.

Thanks! I am just starting to lead, so I've never lead these routes, but have followed them, except for Ordeal.

I've always through of Portent as being a bolted route. Mostly because it is so easy after you get past the start that any one I've followed hasn't felt the need to place any gear on it and after all, there are a few bolts on it.

I forgot about the Cleft and Entrance.

I don't know if the Pinnacles is a good place to learn trad leading. I don't see how you can really trust your placements there. ..I know that I am always a bit nervous about the rock quality when I am climbing there . . .


rvega


Jun 21, 2005, 7:00 PM
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Thanks guys. I appreciate all the advise and encouragement. I know those climbs on the Apron (the Grack and Cow) and all the Pinn climbs pretty well. I guess I started out on not the best climb, something I've never followed.

I'll try to redo some climbs I've done before, so the scare factor is reduced. Also, we're planning on climbing Cathedral Peak next month so I hope that I can get it together enough to switch leads. I like the aid idea too. I really think my confidence in the gear holding a fall is key.

An Mac, we still need to go climb together. I'm moving to SoCal real soon so before then!


maculated


Jun 21, 2005, 10:39 PM
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Re: My 1st Trad Lead...my last? [In reply to]
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SoCal? Pshhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaawww . . .

I'm only working four hours a day and am pretty flexible. I have to be here through July 4 but after that.

Anyhow, I sometimes think leading stuff you haven't climbed is better, no "the hard part's coming up."

As for Pinnacles being a trad lead area - the very well travelled routes are about as trust worthy as anything you'll find in the area in my opinion. I have seen guys deck on routes that aren't routes or aren't travelled well, but as long as you have a sense of rock quality (which you should get from sport climbing as well), you should be okay.

And you could be right about Portent, it's a long time since I've climbed it so I don't remember if it is bolted or not - I think you could supplement it with gear, and tha tmakes it a good first lead. If your mentor is any good, they'll try to either follow or rap down with you and examine gear placements - needed or not.


fern


Jun 23, 2005, 5:07 PM
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Re: My 1st Trad Lead...my last? [In reply to]
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I doesn't seem clear to me that just lack of confidence in your gear would be enough to freak you out so much. Especially since you say that you were wigged even still at the top of the 2nd pitch which you followed so you didn't have to think about gear. Sounds to me more like a big-picture freak out, perhaps you built up some pressure in yourself about the Big Event Your First Trad Lead!!! and in the moment of putting it all together you just stressed yourself out. In which case, since your Second Trad Lead!! is not quite so much a balloons-and-glitter worthy event there should be less pressure and it will all go smoothly yes? "Relax and Have Fun" is a good mantra.


maculated


Jun 24, 2005, 9:44 AM
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Fern has a very, very good point . .. September of last year I was freezing up FOLLOWING 5.8s in Eldo. I think I'd put a lot of expectation on myself or something and my performance was hurt by it.


rvega


Jun 24, 2005, 2:35 PM
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Yes that seems like too. Maybe all the build up was to much. Doesn't help that I'm recovering from a hurt knee either. My partner Tweek thinks that it was just first time nerves and that I just need to start trad leading every time we go out, even if it's a 5.1 or a mixed sport/trad lead like at Pinnacles. That way I can build both confidence in my placements, anchors, and my abilities. I think I'm ready to go try it again. Maybe this time it will be fun...I hope so! THANKS EVERYONE!


iamthewallress


Jun 24, 2005, 2:43 PM
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Best of luck!

I always take more confidence from my climbing than from my pro. (Or to paraphrase my bf "Staying on the rock is my first parachute.")

If I'm having a bad lead-head day, I stick to climbing where if one part of my attachment to the rock cut loose, another part could save the day. Hand jams are the best for this, but most cracks offer this kind of security. In the smaller sizes, they also allow you to place pro as needed.

I save the insecurity and pro as nature allows it of the face climbs and slabs for good lead head days. Munginella is pretty facey if memory serves.


hangerlessbolt


Jun 24, 2005, 2:46 PM
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Re: My 1st Trad Lead...my last? [In reply to]
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In reply to:
I doesn't seem clear to me that just lack of confidence in your gear would be enough to freak you out so much.


Sheeaatt! That's the ONLY thing that freaks ME out these days...If it's bomber and the landing's clear...sail away! :D

I'd agree...there seems to be more to it than just sketch gear in this case...

Anywho...go with the 100/95% rule...when starting out...only lead routes you're 100% sure you can cruise if you're only 95% sure of your placements...and routes that you're 95% sure you can cruise only if you're 100% sure of your placements.

Hop on some fun 5.2-5.4's...where you can focus on the gear and not the climbing or route finding. I know it may sound ridiculous to "waste your time" on such cruisers when you can send .11's on sport...but like Mac said, trad not only uses different gear...it requires different technique

Moving to SoCal, eh?

I can point you towards some good starter routes when you get down there. (More importantly, I can tell you which ones are total sandbags)


jt512


Jun 24, 2005, 4:13 PM
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In reply to:
(More importantly, I can tell you which ones are total sandbags)

Shhhh!

-Jay


hangerlessbolt


Jun 24, 2005, 5:52 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
(More importantly, I can tell you which ones are total sandbags)

Shhhh!

-Jay


Hey...notice the 512 at the end of his name...?

Can't expect him to remember what a 5.4 is really supposed to feel like...

Hell, Jay hasn't been on anything under a 5.9 in years!

Me, on the other hand...I don't even warrant a rating at the end of my name...so if I can do it...you can dooo eeeeeettttt

"Trust me...I'm a doctor"

;)


dirtineye


Jun 25, 2005, 9:49 AM
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Re: My 1st Trad Lead...my last? [In reply to]
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rvega, I have to wonder, since you are a sport leader, how far apart was your gear on the climb that freaked you out?

Specifically, were you placing gear about as far apart as bolts on a sport climb?


rvega


Jun 30, 2005, 10:51 AM
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Nope, I was putting in pieces as often as I could and almost ran out of quickdraws and slings as a result.


dirtineye


Jun 30, 2005, 11:53 AM
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Have you placed much gear before?

As in, a butt-load of ground school?

That helps.


One other thing I've seen before is that when a climb is below one's ability, sometimes our mind wanders to silly stuff, and irrational fears seem to pop up. Once a climber gets into a section that requires a lot of concentration to stay on, but the climb is still within that climber's ability, then a lot of the irrational thoughts go away because now the climber needs to concentrate on staying on the rock and getting up the climb.

The need for total concentration can have a calming effect.

I would not reccommend you try this until you are good with your gear, but working on harder stuff might help you get your mind right.


justthemaid


Jun 30, 2005, 9:29 PM
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Freaked out?

Irrational fears?

Welcome to my world.


gblauer
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Jul 5, 2005, 4:25 PM
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Ok, I took 15 foot whippers on gear this weekend. We were climbing at a local crag outside of BOS. The rock was about 35 feet high. We placed gear, weighted it, then got a little bolder and took mini falls. Once we were comfortable with the mini falls, we started climbing a little higher and taking bigger falls, leading to the 15 footers.

What did I learn? Well, I learned that I have solid placements (the gear never moved) and that I am really not free soloing when I am trad leading. (I always felt like I was free soloing!!!) So, with our new found confidence, I went to the Gunks and pushed my leading. It was really liberating to know that I could trust my gear. No, I didn't take any unplanned falls, but I do know that I can.

Try it...you will feel more confident in your placements.


dirtineye


Jul 6, 2005, 7:49 PM
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In reply to:
Ok, I took 15 foot whippers on gear this weekend. We were climbing at a local crag outside of BOS. The rock was about 35 feet high. We placed gear, weighted it, then got a little bolder and took mini falls. Once we were comfortable with the mini falls, we started climbing a little higher and taking bigger falls, leading to the 15 footers.

What did I learn? Well, I learned that I have solid placements (the gear never moved) and that I am really not free soloing when I am trad leading. (I always felt like I was free soloing!!!) So, with our new found confidence, I went to the Gunks and pushed my leading. It was really liberating to know that I could trust my gear. No, I didn't take any unplanned falls, but I do know that I can.

Try it...you will feel more confident in your placements.

I have to ask, did you inspect your gear after each fall, and did you have enough good gear just under the top piece so that if one or even two pieces pulled you would still be safe?

If you are going to practice falling repeatedly, set up an anchor to fall on, and still inspect it after each fall.

These tips are based on what Arno does when he teaches falling, and on seeing a friend take three falls on a piece that held, and then taking one more on that same piece and pulling it and the one below it.

The latest ANAM has several instances of people taking a fall or more on a piece that holds at first, but affter a few falls fails, leading to serious injury.

I'm all for learning to place good gear, falling on gear, and practicing falling, but I encourage everyone to be very careful in the execution.


gblauer
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Jul 7, 2005, 5:55 AM
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Dirtineye,

Good point...


Believe me...we inspected our gear after every fall. Further, we put in redundant gear.

I want to live to climb again! It was a great learning experience, something that I recommend to all...if you do it in a safe and controlled manner.

Another method would be to back yourself up on TR before taking the falls.


dirtineye


Jul 7, 2005, 8:15 AM
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Dirtineye,

Good point...


Believe me...we inspected our gear after every fall. Further, we put in redundant gear.

I want to live to climb again! It was a great learning experience, something that I recommend to all...if you do it in a safe and controlled manner.

Another method would be to back yourself up on TR before taking the falls.

Good for you.. You'va always struck me as a sensible, smart climber from your posts, but I had to make the point. To many people do not take teh proper precautions.


sfclimbergirl


Jul 11, 2005, 1:47 AM
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I've never climbed Munginella, but I totally understand the feeling of never wanting to get on the sharp end again. First, Yosemite is a hard place for beginners to learn how to trad climb. For example, the climb "Great White Book" on Stately Pleasure Dome is only rated 5.6, but that climb is a total head game. There is an entire pitch on the climb where you have no pro placement whatsover. I led the first three/four pitches until I got to the last pitch which was supposedly rated 5.4 and embarassingly enough, I had to turn that pitch over to my partner.

I still get scared leading, but several things have helped me since. First, yoga really helped me pull together my mental game. Everytime I'm scared shitless and my legs start trembling, I start focusing on my breath to help calm myself down, and to increase awareness of my body and its relationship to the rock. Second, I focused on climbing short single pitch cracks where I could overprotect myself with tons of gear and know that my partner was paying really close attention to me, and talk me through things if I got scared. Once I became more confident with my gear placements and knew that almost every single piece I placed was bomber, I was finally okay with doing longer multi-pitch routes and being out of earshot and visibility from my belayer.

So key things for me - focusing on the breath in times of crisis, being confident with gear placement, and having a belay partner I could fully trust.

Good luck!

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