Mission Gorge

 

This will be a short post – I only managed to take four pictures with my iPhone while climbing in Mission Gorge.  The tiny camera on this phone is pretty darn good, and I find myself using it all the time.

I was all psyched up for my trip to Nicaragua (Steve and I flew out of LAX later that night) and I decided to lead my first trad climb.  Though I’ve been climbing on and off for over 5 years, I have never worked up the courage to do a gear lead.  Hell, I only did my first sport lead a couple of months ago.

Following an experienced leader is the best way to learn, and I figure I’ve followed a couple dozen routes over the years.  That’s a woefully small number of climbs, but I think I have a decent grasp of the basics and at some point, you just gotta get out of your own head and onto the rock.  Climbing with my friend Justin has been a big help, since he is experienced and very safe.

My first trad lead

I got on a 5.6 called Beautiful, which I had never climbed before.  It looked like an easy climb and the placements appeared solid, but it was exciting to be on something new while having to place gear.  I brought every piece of active and passive pro I own, and I must have looked ridiculous, but who cares?  No way in hell did I want to run it out or find myself lacking gear.

The climb starts with a 30′ section of easy 5.6ish unprotected climbing.  I had been on that section before, and it didn’t present any problems.  As soon as I reached the base of the crack (the proper start of the climb), I placed a bomber cam above my head, and I started up.  My game plan was simple: I would place a piece every 4-5 feet (stances and features permitting) for the first 25 feet, and then I would increase the distance as I got near the top.  I also kept an eye out for ledges or potential areas that would need additional protection.

Are my placements sound? Johnny belays

Everything went smoothly, and I felt confident in all my placements.  I used a few cams, a tri-cam, and a couple of nuts.  I tried to mix it up and go with passive pro if it would fit.  What a rush!  A girl down below was making fun of my hexes.  I guess these things have gone out of style.

Once I reached the bolts, I set up a sling anchor my new climber-friend Johnny lowered me off.  Then he cleaned the route on top rope, and everything went swimmingly.

Later that day, we moved over to a 5.9 crack that I contemplated leading.  After sussing it out on TR, I realized that it wasn’t going to happen.  The final 8-10 feet of the climb is rather arduous, with no good stances to place protection.  I knew that if I led this thing, I would probably have to run it out and just gun for the top, or risk falling while fumbling around with the rack.  No thanks.

Johnny cleans the route

 

 

 

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