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First Trad Lead!
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Partner phaedrus


Sep 21, 2003, 6:59 PM
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First Trad Lead!
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I did it. Racked up my first of many trad leads today.

Woke up at 9:15 to meet up with Dave, my partner for the day, for the climb at Eldo we'd picked out. Grabbed a quick shower, packed my gear, and told my son I'd be back in a few hours. He sleepily rolled over (he's 14, of COURSE he's still in bed at 9:45 on a Sunday!), said "I love you, Dad," and gave me a hug. A small knot formed in my stomach; today was my first trad lead, and I had to make sure I came home, someone would be here waiting for me.

The Colorado sky was an amazing shade of blue as I drove to Eldorado Canyon, the music of Rush playing in the stereo. I got off the highway and started down the road to Eldo. I shut off the stereo, as I always do when within a few miles of a crag, just to enjoy the weather and the day, and to begin the meditative shift I go into when I'm in the outdoors.

I met Dave at the Eldorado Springs market. He hopped in my car, and we drove into the canyon. On the way, we discussed many things, the climb, my climbing team, what climbing meant to us individually. Entering the canyon, we saw a Boulder County sheriff's car and a Mountain Rescue vehicle parked. Immediately concerned, we got out and watched a rescue being performed near the Wind Tower. "Speading of things that put what we're doing in perspective," I said. We watched a bit longer, then found out it was a practice run that was being filmed for training. Breathing a sigh of relief, we got our gear and hiked up to the base of our climb, The West Dihedral, a nice 5.4 that I felt would be a good intro for my first lead. Dave agreed to lead it first so I could get a feel for the climb and what was there. Up he went, I followed. The enormity of the task ahead began to weigh on me, and I felt my resolve begin to slip away. I began to wonder if I truly was ready to lead it. I was scared out of my mind. I had confessed that to Dave earlier, who told me that made him feel a lot better; that if I wasn't scared, he wouldn't have let me climb. I knew at that point, I was with the type of partner I really like- willing to acknowledge and take the risks, but without Ego involvement. I knew I was going to have a good day.

We rapped down. I racked up and waited while an older climber free soloed the 5.6 next to me, then down climbed the .4 I wanted to do. Dave was amazing. He told me that he hoped that I would lead it, but at the same time said that if my head wasn't where it needed to be, that maybe today wasn't the day. I looked at the climb again. 50' never seemed so long. Finally, "If not today, when??" echoed in my head. I knew it was my moment. One of my goals was to lead a trad route by the end of summer and today was the last day; my last chance. Up I went. Two or three pieces into it, it began to flow. The rock opened up to me and became my world. Nothing else existed but the rock, my gear, and me, and we were all in perfect syncronization. The cracks generously swallowed my gear as each hold, each placement presented itself to me like the hospitality of an old friend. The initial fear was replaced by confidence and a sense of being at home. I realized that I knew how to do lead trad safely and would be able to finish this climb successfully.

Unfortunately, ten feet (perhaps less) from the anchors, my legs, tired from standing while I placed gear, which admittedly took far longer than it should have, began to shake more than a factory full of sewing machines. The first placement took a good ten minutes while I selected and reselected nuts, then placed them, re-placed them, checked them, and moved on. Each time I stopped to place gear took time and energy, and finally, I was spent. I knew I didn't have the stamina to finish the climb and be able to safely and successfully set an anchor, so I turned to Dave, told him I was spent and slowly downclimbed to the ledge. Did I feel badly about not finishing? A little, but I also realized that my Ego could just deal with it. By the time I'd reached the bottom, my legs were so spent I could barely stand. I knew I'd made the safest decision possible and that with practice, my time placing and checking gear would improve; that I wouldn't blow myself out fiddling with each piece far longer than was necessary.

Overall, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Dave's friend, Matt, a former Yosemite guide, joined us a bit after we'd started the day, and he took the time to finish my climb and critique my placements. Out of the 6 or so that I did, one was sketchy and one was not good... the rest, he said were "perfect." Dave went up and gave the same report, telling me the one questionable piece would have been better with a nut than a cam.

An amazing day. Found myself a couple of times worrying, but often found myself remembering a few points I'd read in The Rock Warrior's Way and found that what it says really works. Once I stopped thinking even little things like "that's a good hold" or "ugh, that hold's not so good," and began to think "how can I use this hold?" "What am I learning right now?" I really began to thrive in the moment. Yeah, I didn't quite finish the entire route, but so what? What I set out to learn and accomplish was done. Time for me to open that bottle of champagne I've been saving. :)

Todd


gblauer
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Sep 21, 2003, 7:04 PM
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Re: First Trad Lead! [In reply to]
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Congrats Todd. I had a first today too...I did my first 5.6 trad lead and my first trad lead fall! I put my hand in a puddle on the rock and slipped off. Fortunately my piece held rock steady and I finished the climb without a hitch. What a beautiful day here in S.E. PA.

Congrats again...


Partner phaedrus


Sep 21, 2003, 7:08 PM
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Re: First Trad Lead! [In reply to]
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In reply to:
Congrats Todd. I had a first today too...I did my first 5.6 trad lead and my first trad lead fall! I put my hand in a puddle on the rock and slipped off. Fortunately my piece held rock steady and I finished the climb without a hitch. What a beautiful day here in S.E. PA.

Congrats again...

Thanks, Gail, and congrats to you, too! (On the lead, not so much the fall. That must have been a bit scary, I bet. :P ) Sounds like great days for both of us. :D

Todd


Partner coldclimb


Sep 21, 2003, 7:21 PM
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coldclimb moved this thread [In reply to]
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coldclimb moved this thread from General to Trip Reports.


Partner coldclimb


Sep 21, 2003, 7:22 PM
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Re: First Trad Lead! [In reply to]
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Trad leading is definately awesome! Good job on getting into it. :D


Partner phaedrus


Sep 21, 2003, 9:34 PM
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Trad leading is definately awesome! Good job on getting into it. :D

Thanks!

Took me a good bit longer to do it, considering how long I've been climbing, but just as I was getting ready to start, I moved back East, then suffered a neck injury... but better late than never!! Can't wait until my next one!! :D

Todd


tahquitztwo


Sep 22, 2003, 1:07 AM
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Todd, congrats on a great job of writing and leading! You and Gail both had a great weekend getting out on that sharp end for the first time..


katydid


Sep 22, 2003, 12:22 PM
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Congrats, Todd!

Your life is now ruined, just like the rest of us. ;)

k.


dino


Sep 22, 2003, 12:30 PM
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Alright!! Well done Todd.


onbelay_osu


Sep 22, 2003, 12:50 PM
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Todd congrats....wow your story really made me feel like i should be out climbing right now instead of working.....welcome to the wonderful world of trad climbing...may your placements be good and your runouts long....


charley


Sep 22, 2003, 1:38 PM
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congrats Todd. First of many is right. Sounds like your hooked.


Partner phaedrus


Sep 22, 2003, 7:08 PM
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In reply to:
congrats Todd. First of many is right. Sounds like your hooked.

Hooked doesn't quite begin to cover it. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Definitely looking forward to more. :)


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