Lead Climb Certified

With some help from Michael and Paul, I finally passed the lead climb test for the wall at Mines.

I think my next goal is going to be lead certified at ROCK’n & JAM’n. It’s going to be quite a bit more difficult since there’s an extensive overhang:

It starts in the middle of the image and goes to the upper right.


Lead Climb Testing

As I alluded to earlier, I’m in a climbing class at school. I’ve been climbing more and more over the last few years. Two summers ago I bought shoes and a chalk bag; last summer I bought a harness, locking carabiners, ATC (which actually stands for Air Traffic Control, but it’s a belay device), and some loops of webbing. See: Rappelling at Exit 38. I also started lead climbing over the summer and I really enjoyed it. Lead climbing is different from top roping in that you drag the rope up with you instead of having it already in place.

It’s provides a different kind of (relative) danger/excitement that keeps you safe while offering more of a challenge.

Our rock wall at school just started certifying students to lead on the wall. In order to pass, you have to climb a 5.9, take an unannounced fall (to test the lead belayer), and then complete the route.

Yesterday I decided to try for my certification. The route I chose was a 5.9+ with an overhang (I’ll try to get a picture of it at some point). I had climbed this particular route several times before and even mock lead it earlier.

I went up about six quickdraws and took my unannounced fall.

Falling while lead climbing is very interesting. I’ve had my share of falls while leading and they’re always…interesting. You end up falling quite a ways, maybe three or meters on average because you’re almost always climbing above your last quickdraw. So you fall at least twice the distance your are above your last quickdraw. Then there’s usually some amount of slack in the line, so add that on. And finally the rope is a dynamic, which means that it will stretch a bit as you fall.

Having a dynamic rope is a necessity as it pretty much breaks your fall and makes for a nice and relatively soft recovery, making for an exerience nothing like you’d expect.

After getting back on to the wall, I continued my climb up again. And fell again (on accident) while doing the reach-up on the overhang. I blame that on the fact that I had already been climbing for 2.5 earlier that day. I finally did make it to the top and hooked into the anchors. And that’s when I made by fatal failing mistake.

I Z-clipped the anchor:

Z-clipping happens when the climber grabs the rope under the last clipped quickdraw. In other words, on the rope going to the belayer. Then attempts to clip the next protection using that rope. This usually happens when protection is close together.

I got back down to the bottom and we discussed it. I wasn’t too disappointed because I did get to lead climb. I signed the form stating that I failed (which is on record until I pass). I can try again the next day (i.e. today), but my arms (specifically my deltoids) are pretty sore.

Forward to time index +0:20 to see what a lead climb fall looks like. Also note that this guy is doing an announced fall (i.e. his belayer knows that he’s going to fall) compared to our required unannounced fall:


Canyonlands: The Hike

Zone: 12
Aprox. 4094700 Northing
Aprox. 509500 Easting

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The primary reason I haven’t written the last few days was simply because I could not get a GPS signal. However, when I got to the well this morning, I was able to get a signal and thus far, maintain that signal. In any event, we are now doing "solo time." I figure this would be as good a time to recount the events of the last few days as any other time.

As I stated previously, I was rejected to Caltech. It still is not a big deal as I was pretty settled on CSM for some time now. However, all my planning now will be specifically based on the fact that I will be at CSM next year. We drove from Tuba City to Navajo Mountain. The drive was about 2 hours long. We arrived at the base (12, 4092845N, 510556E) and packed our bags. It took some time, but we got everything packed up and the guys left at approximately 1:24pm MST. I assume the girls took off shortly after that, but I really have no idea. We arrived at base camp (12, ????????N, ??????E) about 2 hours later. We set up our tents and then headed west along side the mountain for about 1.5km. We discovered a very cool set of caves and spent some time climbing in them before heading back to base camp. That night we had mac and cheese for dinner. It was good. I took a short nap then woke for camp fire. The specific details of camp fire stay with the group, but I can relate the basic jest of things. Everyone sits in a circle. Rob asks a question and passes the object around. In this case, it was part of an ancient pot that we found. The first time around, nobody speaks, just listens. The next time around people talk. Rob asked 3 questions. At the end of the last question, the object goes around one more time so that the leaders can comment on anything. After that, Rob throws some tobacco on the fire. Then we went to sleep.

On Tuesday, I woke up kinda late. I didn’t have my water bottles in the right place so they didn’t get filled up during the morning run. I ended up borrowing a liter from Saul. We had oatmeal for breakfast and then prepared for a six hour day hike. The hike was actually quite wonderful at times. We climbed from about 6505 to 8004 and about 7 or 8km to the east. The view from the top was absolutely amazing. We could see for at least 500km. Off to the west we saw 3 smoke stacks, probably from a coal burning electrical plant. The hike down was almost as hard as the hike up. People quickly ran out of water as the hike neared the 7 hour mark. Upon arrival at base camp, several brave souls offered to go get more water from the well 5km down. When they got back we cooked rice and chicken that had about 120% of the daily recommended value of sodium chloride (salt). I could defiantly taste it in the food, but it was necessary to replace all the salt my body lost during the hike. I made some no bake cheese cake for the group that Rob supplied. Then we sat around and did the fire thing again, sans tobacco, for whatever reason. We ate the cheese cake then went to bed. I remembered to put my water bottles in the correct place.