Home > Rock Climbing > Getting my lead on

Getting my lead on

I am finally certified to lead climb at my gym.  I have been lead climbing outside, but 5.8s and 5.9s; when I went to test at my gym last summer, I had just begun climbing 5.10s and I didn’t pass.  I didn’t pass because all of the lead routes at my gym are juggy, overhanging 5.10-12s and I couldn’t flash a 10 as a warm-up back then, so I failed.

It took me until now to get my nerve up to try again.  I am a solid 10 climber.  I can onsite 5.10bs (sometimes) but I like slabby, technical climbs more than the overhanging ones, and I am better at them.  Plus, I was not at all bored with top-roping at my gym; they change the routes frequently enough that I always have projects to work and feel-good fun climbs to send.  But, I have to admit it was a issue with my pride.  I wanted to be legit just for my own sake.

So I tried again.  I chose a route that also had a top-rope and top-roped it first.  No problem.  So I grabbed my buddy Travis to belay me and my friend Chris to watch/certify me.  I clipped into the first three clips, so far so good.  Then I got to the fourth and had to commit to a move that was a bit sketch and it put me well above my last draw, so there were consequences if I fell.

I climbed to the point where I had to go for it and chickened out.  I down-climbed to more a secure footing, shook out my hands, stretched my forearms and took several breaths.  I went for it again and, again wigged out, afraid to commit.  My forearms started to get pumpy so I yelled for a take.  Travis said no.  “Well,” I said “then I’m going to…Falling”.  And I fell.  But I fell with a smile.  I wasn’t scared.  I knew he had me and I have taken a bad fall outside, so this didn’t phase me.

I hung there for a moment, got my head together and then started climbing again.  This time when I got to the move, I just committed to it and went for it.  I got it.  Clipped.  And then moved on to finish the route.

When I was back on the ground I felt that rush I forgot about.  It is such an adrenaline rush to lead.  To take that chance and know you can take a decent fall is exhilarating.   Top-roping is great for dialing in technique, but you don’t have that fear or that rush. I am counting the days until I can lead outside again.  And in case you are wondering, it is 12 days.

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  1. March 21, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Congratulations on your lead-cert!

  2. March 21, 2011 at 2:16 am

    yay, congratulations! this is definitely a big milestone for you. keep it up 🙂

  3. Ravit
    March 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Inspiring. I was practicing for this and I have the same problem in my gym. Looks like I will have to just go for it.

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