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lemur


Apr 28, 2003, 10:01 AM
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Pushing yourself on Trad
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I am eager to learn Trad, but I have a few questions first. I was climbing yesterday and saw a woman trad-climb this 5.4 layback crack. I spoke with her afterwards and asked what she would normally climb on toprope.. She said she would climb 5.9's.. I asked her if she fould that she could push herself on trad, and she replied that she had to learn a lot more before she would feel confortable..

When she was climbing the 5.4, she was looked comfortable up there and had very little problem at all staying stable.. My question is: For those people leading trad on 5.9's, are they top-rope people who climb 5.11's, and therefore a 5.9 feel's the same way that the 5.4 felt to the woman who climbs 5.9's?

Do you find that you get to push yourself in climbing while leading trad as much as you do with top-roping? I know the whole leading trad is a worthwhile experience in itselt, but as for actual physical pushing of your abilities, do you just get comfortable doing the hard stuff and trusting your protection like you would on a top-rope?


pbjosh


Apr 28, 2003, 10:11 AM
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You should probably lead at least 100 pitches of trad before you get on anything where you think you have any chance of falling. The reason is basically that as a new trad leader you suck at it. You'll grab the wrong sized piece, be inefficient, place less than bomber gear some of the time, be poor at noticing great stopper placements, etc etc.

For what it's worth, I didn't have a trad lead fall until somewhere around 150 pitches, and I didn't start pushing myself trad leading (IE, leading or attempting to lead at my TR level) until about 250 pitches. I've now led probably somewhere around 600 or 800 pitches, don't really keep count so I'm just guessing. I probably fall on about 1 pitch in 5... I've ripped gear but never been surprised to have ripped it, as it's always been suspect stuff but I've always had better gear a reasonable distance below.

josh


freed


Apr 28, 2003, 10:13 AM
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everyone has a different defenition of "pushing yourself" for those climbing trad this may include "pushing yourself" both mentally an physically. after all is that not what makes climbing so great that combination of mental and physical juxtapositioning.


vegastradguy


Apr 28, 2003, 10:22 AM
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pbjosh is right. although i dont have near his experience, from what i do have (around...150 pitches or so, roughly) and the falls i've taken (one on lead, one on second), both have been well within my climbing ability, but not my leading ability (the lead fall was on a 5.8+ move).

leading trad is something to be taken very slowly. I've been leading for about 6 months, and have just started venturing into a 5.8 lead again, but i can probably follow a 5.10d without too much difficulty.

and, for the record, yes, new trad leaders can generally climb much harder on TR and Sport lead than they can (or will dare) lead on trad. I lead up to 5.10d on sport, climb in the mid .11's on TR, but you wouldnt catch me dead on a 5.9 trad lead.

take your time, start really easy, and get a mentor who you can trust. thats the best and safest way to lead trad.


pbjosh


Apr 28, 2003, 10:28 AM
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I definitely agree with Freed. Pushing yourself isn't just a question of sport vs. trad, it's a question to ask yourself before every climb. Falling my way up 12- in Indian Creek is no scarier than a well bolted sport climb. But some Jtree runout 5.8's have left me crapping my pants!

josh


scrappydoo


Apr 28, 2003, 10:35 AM
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In reply to:
Do you find that you get to push yourself in climbing while leading trad as much as you do with top-roping? I know the whole leading trad is a worthwhile experience in itselt, but as for actual physical pushing of your abilities, do you just get comfortable doing the hard stuff and trusting your protection like you would on a top-rope?

No. You do get comfortable in a sense, but in a different way. The whole reason there is so much debate over ethics and pinkpointing, redpointing, onsiting, flashing, etc is that there is a huge difference between TRing something and leading it, especially trad.

My experience is that you still push your abilities, as much or more, on trad than TR, but it is your mental abilities, routefinding, and gear techniques (i.e. anchors, placements, belay stations). TR is all about pushing yourself in a physical and acrobatic way; its where you learn the limits of your contact strength and just how sticky the rubber on your shoes is. Trad is a whole different game.

On TR, no matter how hard you climb, you will never get seriously hurt as long as your partner belays you properly off a good anchor. Ever. People die climbing 5.7 trad every year. Its the nature of the beast and thats what seperates the issue. its a risk to push yourself on trad, whereas TRing is a .000001% risk, no matter how hard you push yourself.

Now, on vertical splitter cracks like Indian Creek, yes, you can definately push yourself as hard as on TR, and even more because the pitches can be longer.

Drew


Partner camhead


Apr 28, 2003, 10:41 AM
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huh huh. my first trad lead was a 5.8, when I was about a 5.9 sport leader. My first fall was on my second trad lead, a 10b.

In reply to:
Now, on vertical splitter cracks like Indian Creek, yes, you can definately push yourself as hard as on TR, and even more because the pitches can be longer.

oh, okay, I get it. I learned trad the wrong way; at Indian Creek. Granite, stoppers, and runouts still scare the hell out of me.


bandycoot


Apr 28, 2003, 10:44 AM
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I definitely push myself at trad. I've taken more falls on gear than bolts, and lead less than a full grade than the hardest I climb. Get good at placements, then push yourself!

Josh


bumpkin


Apr 28, 2003, 10:57 AM
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FWIW

I lead 9 consistently, 10a usually and some 10b. Have never ever been able to climb 11 anything on toprope. no matter how much hanging, rope tension or frigging. If the pro is good, then lead on gear = lead on bolts = (almost) top rope. I have led climbs smoothly then tried to top rope them minutes later and fallen. Go figure.

Last time I fell on lead was 30 pitches ago.

When I first started to lead the spread was about a grade or two, and I would often yank or hang on gear. Now having a TR seems to make no difference.

Finally, I get waaay more sketched out on bolts than with gear.


pbjosh


Apr 28, 2003, 11:06 AM
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In reply to:
huh huh. my first trad lead was a 5.8, when I was about a 5.9 sport leader. My first fall was on my second trad lead, a 10b.

oh, okay, I get it. I learned trad the wrong way; at Indian Creek. Granite, stoppers, and runouts still scare the hell out of me.

Heh heh, my first lead was my 3rd climb, trad, maybe 5.3, maybe 40 feet and my friend gave me a set of nuts and about 12 cams and told me to put every single one in if I wanted to. Seems to have worked out. Still though it was a long time before I started to feel comfortable falling.

There's also the issue that except for rare places like Indian Creek, most climbs below about 5.10+ have nasty sh!t to smack into if you fall, so it's better to fall on harder stuff than easier for sure, most of the time.

josh


dirtineye


Apr 28, 2003, 11:31 AM
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I'll disagree with almost everyone else who commented. Trad comfort is all about the gear. If you can't place good gear, it does not matter how hard you boulder or sport or top rope. If you can place good gear, get on whatever your climbing ability will allow. IF you can't, stick to stuff you will never fall off of.

DISCLAIMER: I climb in the south on REALLY GOOD sandstone, it's pretty much bullet proof. ONe example is the sandstone aroudn Chattanooga, such as Twall or Sunset. IF I had to climb on the soft stuff or chossy stuff, I'd be fearing for my life LOL!

I had about 10 pitches in before I started leading 9s n 10s on trad, i have never had a piece blow, and I've fallen on a lot of gear as well as a few bolts. If you are worried about falling, check out Arno Ilgner's Warrior's Way site. I try to take a fall a week, on my gear.

I will get on anything I can gear up, and fall on my own gear if need be without worrying about getting hurt too much, because I have made serious efforts to learn correct gear placement and proper falling technique. The best way to start learing grear is on the ground with an experienced tradder grading your placements. Assuming ou can already climb fairly well, after you get the idea for each kind of gear, and you know how to avoid the common mistakes, and you have followed a good tradder and cleaned their gear, you should be able to do some leading on climbs that are say 5.7 or higher that pro up well.

Choice of climb is important! Try to find more vertical climbs as opposed to low angle stuff, so that if you do fall you will have less chance of hitting anything. One good motto for trad is, "Never pass up a bomber placement.". This is what one of my pals came up with, and he has been around a long time, done many FAs and has no major injuries, so he is still climbing LOL.

As for top roping, I am the world's worst top roper. Top roping is worthless for gaining lead ability or even to guage a climbs gearability and difficulty for leading in my opinion. I say this because I have easily toproped several climbs and thought they woudl be simple leads, only to find that when your life depends on it, that bomber looking placement you saw on TR now looks like it wouldn't hold a butterfly, and that 10c you had no trouble with on TR suddenly only takes gear in the places you want to put your hands and hanging out to place anything becomes a real trick LOL.


climblouisiana


Apr 28, 2003, 11:33 AM
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Find the well protected routes with very easy gear placements and push yourself on those.
The term "trad" implies a lot of different things from X routes with zero protection to routes that can eat up more protection than you can carry.
If you have any comptence at all at placing gear then you should push yourself on those well protected climbs. If you get scared then sew it up.


mreardon


Apr 28, 2003, 11:41 AM
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Most times on here I agree with PB, especially regarding trad skillsets, but this time I have to disagree. I think the first thing anyone wanting to climb trad should do is just one pitch of basic aid. Find a line that you could toprope/lead easily. Then start placing pieces and pulling on them with slings attached so you can stand every now and then until you reach the top. Every now and then, put two bomber pieces in and then place the crappiest piece you can and try placing your weight on it or yanking it out to see if it would have held a fall. In other words, test the gear and learn how it's best placed and where it's breaking points are. Once you have that knowledge, then fall!

Just like sport climbing, get on the gear and take a few falls immediately. If you can't trust the gear, then you shouldn't be climbing. I know that my opinion is different than most, but why can you push yourself on sport? Because you're not afraid of the fall (or at least "not as" afraid). Well the same is true of trad. If the climb takes good gear, then don't be afraid to fall on it, and the only way you get that into your head is to take enough falls.

I never took a fall on gear until I had a couple dozen leads under my belt. Then one day a proper friend following me showed me that basically all my gear placements sucked and I might have decked from 100 feet up. Immediately that day, he made me lead up a 5.7 in my sandals so that I had to use the gear to hold my weight. After that, I learned how to use gear.

Last Saturday it was the end of the day and I was tired and jumped on a climb that normally is a warm-up. About 3/4 way up I got tired and was willing to take a 10-footer on a tiny alien because I knew it was good. I ended up placing another piece instead, but you get the idea. Learn how to fall and enjoy!


zacrobinson


Apr 28, 2003, 11:56 AM
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i would just say that you should never push yourself too much at once. Either push your limits at placing gear while being on a comfortable climb, or push your climbing limits while feeling completely sure about your gear.


freed


Apr 28, 2003, 12:26 PM
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If you do not trust your gear then why bother placing it or climbing gear for that matter. Place gear that you trust then go big. If you are constantly thinking of your gear then improve your placements, clip bolts, or get on something with easier pro. Another suggestion to improve you head for gear leads is to go and do some good clean aid lines and really, really bounce test that pro so you know how it reacts to weight and shifts in weight.


freed


freed


Apr 28, 2003, 12:30 PM
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If you do not trust your gear then why bother placing it or climbing gear for that matter. Place gear that you trust then go big. If you are constantly thinking of your gear then improve your placements, clip bolts, or get on something with easier pro. Another suggestion to improve you head for gear leads is to go and do some good clean aid lines and really, really bounce test that pro so you know how it reacts to weight and shifts in weight.

freed


ramylson


Apr 28, 2003, 12:38 PM
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Everyone is basically talking about the same thing here. Sure, there are different ways to get to the same end result, but it's still the same end result. If you're placements aren't good, then there's no way that you'll be "fit" mentally. And thus, no way that you'll be able to lead higher rated, or harder trad lines. It all starts with the pro, so make sure that you have placing gear dialed. After awhile, you'll be able to notice solid placements, and even size it up by sight alone. A lot of times when you're learning, it'll take a while to figure out the sizing for a stopper or cam. There's no way around it.. other then doing it, a lot. The more often you're on lead and placing gear, the more you're going to learn. Do I mean, should you go out and get on there and get on a hard climb to "learn". Of course not.. and, if you think that I do go back up and read the part about everything starting with good placements. If you don't have solid gear underneath you, you'll climb stiff.. over grip everything.. pump out.. and the fear for your life about the fall. Just like in sport climbing.. (well, anything for that matter), climbing smooth mentally and physically helps a lot. Personally, I started out very low in the grades when I started in trad. At the time, I was comfortably leading high 10's, low 11's sport. Regardless, I started out with 5.6 for trad. Why? To learn the gear. To learn the subtle movements and knowledge that happen when on the sharp end, above your own gear. For one summer, I only led stuff between 5.6 and 5.7. The summer after that, it was 5.7 and 5.8. Now, I'm into solid 5.10 climbing above my own gear. Is that the point when I'm pushing myself. A little bit.. but, it's different. Mentally you have to be much more stout and thoughtful when climbing trad (versus sport of course), because you always have to think of the fall (what will happen?).
Will going this route take a lot of time.. of course. But, you'll be solid when you do get to the point where you're pushing yourself completely.

You have to learn to crawl before you walk.


bhudda


Apr 28, 2003, 1:25 PM
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One thing everyone seems to forget is all the heavy gear you take up with you on trad. It can be cumbersome and make a relatively easy climb a lot harder (i.e. Chimneys). But I agree, the most important thing to do is learn how to place gear and know it is solid. The poster who recommended doing some aid climbing is a great idea and will give you a much deeper understanding of what gear really is capable of holding. With greater confidence comes greater risk taking, hence higher grades if that is what you are chasing.


freed


Apr 28, 2003, 1:54 PM
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As i mentioned the aid climbing for a good gear head. I should also mention that you should go for the marginal and experimental placements (under otherwise safe conditions) so you can really learn what the limit of your gear is under a variety of conditions.
You can also aid (clean, no pitons please) a route then leave the gear and free it on pre placed that you already know will hold your weight.

I would tend to stay away from routes thar are to easy...the easier they are the more shit you will hit if you fall, i am terrified to fall on anything easier then 5.10 but harder routes are generally splitters (no dihedral to ping pong down) and don't usually have big bad ledges to hit. I know it sounds crazy but Harder = Safer; for me. It is not the falling that hurts... its hitting things.

freed


dirtineye


Apr 28, 2003, 7:52 PM
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WEll there are plenty of juggy vertical routes that are not rated highly, and plenty of run out hard routes, so it is not entirely true that harder is safer.

But by all means choose your climbs wisely by looking for easily protectable and clean fall zone climbs.

The first fall I ever took was on my first lead ever, a 10 a/b sport route that was slightly overhanging. I fell at the next to last bolt, and flew 27 feet, landing on air. Never felt a thing but dissapointment. Climbed back up, finished the climb and kept on leading. IF that climb had had a ledge fall, I probably would not be climbing these days LOL. I owe the person who chose that climb for me a favor and a big thanks, and I learned right there that those low angle blocky "easy" climbs are dangerous.


ergophobe


Apr 29, 2003, 10:21 PM
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In reply to:
You should probably lead at least 100 pitches of trad before you get on anything where you think you have any chance of falling.

That's way conservative. Some people "get it" (placing gear) very quickly and some don't. People who get it can safely lead easy trad after a few days of climbing. On some occasions I have taken people who get it out and done a day where they toprope/follow and I make them place and clean a ton of gear, then more gear placing on the second day, and that afternoon, get 'em up leading. There are other folks with 100 pitches under their belts who shouldn't even belay a leader, much less attempt it themselves.

As for pushing it - go for it. I trad lead very close to my sport level (about 1-2 letter grades apart - on a good day I'll onsight 11a or 11b trad, and I don't think I've ever onsighted 11c sport). I trust my own gear more than manky bolts. My rules for safe leading are fundamentally the same, trad or sport.

1. Anytime you are pushing it, have two bomber pieces between you and disaster.

2. Don't go for it unless the top *bomber* piece can pull and you still won't get hurt. Always know what you can hit

3. Never get the rope around your leg if you are pushing it.

4. Back off rather than risk a dangerous fall.

One thing I would add that is more of a consideration when placing your own gear - be sure that you understand what the direction of pull will be on your pieces. Don't get lazy - put runners on your gear so it doesn't get yanked.

Tom


pbjosh


Apr 29, 2003, 10:38 PM
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Ergophobe -

I think you and I agree more than you realize. I think people SHOULD start leading trad EARLY in their careers. However I think they should lead a LOT of pitches before they get on hard leads where they're regularly risking falls. This is for all the reasons you state and more - understanding direction of pull on pieces, contemplating what you might hit when you fall, keeping your rope in front of your legs not behind, placing solid gear, not running out of gear, building solid anchors, finding appropriate stances to place gear on hard routes to lessen the chance of falling while placing/clipping and to give more time to place better gear, etc etc etc etc... once you have some large number of leads under your belt on your own gear (100 or 45 or 450 or whatever number is right for you, you'll probably know and your friends can help tell you), you should go for it and you should trust your gear more than bolts and you should push hard and you should take falls... but you should definitely not go out and take whippers on your second ever lead on a ledgy 5.3 while you're learning the difference between a nut and a tricam and when you reach for a #3.5 camalot to fit that handcrack and make all the other first lead errors ;)

josh


apollodorus


Apr 29, 2003, 10:43 PM
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I have only one word of advice for your first trad climbs:

EasyHandFistCracksAreTheEasiestToProtectOnLeadAvoidLaybacks


drkodos


Apr 29, 2003, 10:47 PM
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I probably have led 6,000 pitches or more....I stopped counting years ago.

Logged at least 250 falls.

I lead at my limit. The hardest route (gradewise) and most serious I've ever climbed was done on lead/on sight.

Perhaps this is because I don't toprope that much ( no danger, no fun), don't preview routes, and don't believe in spurt climbing.

I started leading as soon as I started climbing. There really were no other options at the time. Sure, seconding was available, but what was the point of not leading?

Growing up (as a climber) in an area (the Gunks) where the leading climbers where such people as Dick Williams, Henry Barber, Jim McCarthy, Rich Goldstone, John Bragg, and many other BOLD/TRAD Vulgarian era old-school types, it seemed then (and now) that there really is no other way to climb that makes any sense.


straightedgeteen


May 16, 2003, 6:55 PM
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In reply to:
I am eager to learn Trad, but I have a few questions first. I was climbing yesterday and saw a woman trad-climb this 5.4 layback crack. I spoke with her afterwards and asked what she would normally climb on toprope.. She said she would climb 5.9's.. I asked her if she fould that she could push herself on trad, and she replied that she had to learn a lot more before she would feel confortable..

When she was climbing the 5.4, she was looked comfortable up there and had very little problem at all staying stable.. My question is: For those people leading trad on 5.9's, are they top-rope people who climb 5.11's, and therefore a 5.9 feel's the same way that the 5.4 felt to the woman who climbs 5.9's?

Do you find that you get to push yourself in climbing while leading trad as much as you do with top-roping? I know the whole leading trad is a worthwhile experience in itselt, but as for actual physical pushing of your abilities, do you just get comfortable doing the hard stuff and trusting your protection like you would on a top-rope?
Um my hardest trad is a 5.6- but ive TRed a 5.10d and did it. When your leading trad its a whole diff story. you have to be alot more careful ALOT more

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