learning to lead

I started climbing regularly last September and have been hooked ever since. My friend Martin took a group of Outdoors Club members up to the Smoke Bluffs in Squamish last September to transfer all of his knowledge to us. It’s crazy thinking back to that day and how I went up with a group of strangers, and now it feels really weird when I haven’t seen at least one of them every couple of days. It sounds super cheesy, but trying outdoor climbing for the first time was a game-changer (the start of a fantastic obsession, really).

Wesley, Cassy and Vlad being taught anchor building by Martin. This picture means a lot to me as it captures the first day when I met so many new people that have become close friends. Such a great day, so many great outdoorsy and indoorsy adventures with them since then, so many more to come!!!

In January, a bunch of friends and I took the next step and learned how to lead climb at my home gym in Surrey. I am not sure about the rest of them, but for me it has been one of the most mentally challenging things I have ever done.

The first day we went out, we started on an easy slab climb. It was neat because you have to rappel down to a little ledge in the middle of the cliff to belay your comrades. We didn’t do super well on this crag.

Wesley waiting to climb and Rob doing some lead belaying action.

Later in the afternoon, we decided to head up to Chekamus (north of Squamish). Usually you can drive up the access road, but it was totally snowed in. So naturally, we decided to hike up to the climbing areas. It was cold empty! There I did my first successful lead climb, and was very, very nervous. I may look smiley, but my intestines were tied into a knot.

Rob, Wes and Patrick looking way too chipper to be climbing in the snow. "At least if you fall before your first clip, you'll land in a foot of pow"
I now look good when I climb because Kat made me an epic helmet.

Since then, I did another slab lead climb (where I “practised” taking some falls on the rope) which was also nerve-racking… maybe because we went skiing the same day and my muscles were cramping or maybe just because lead climbing is scary.

After another unsuccessful lead climb attempt last Friday, I attempted an easy one on Saturday in Area 44 (a brand new area in between Squamish and Chekamus). It was a success! Hoorayyyyy! A hurdle has been passed! It was definitely a very easy climb with big ledges every time you have to clip in to the next bolt. The grading was 5.6… I can climb easy 5.10s outdoors and mid-5.10s at Coastal Climbing in Surrey. (I AM a bit curious what kind of climbs I can climb at Cliffy now.. it’s been a while). I still have a lot to work on!

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