Friday, February 6, 2009 by Daniel


I finally got my lead card!

This is cause for great celebration and personal satisfaction. No longer will routes mock me with their empty toprope pulleys and "lead only" warnings. Now I can finally play in the cave! Where things are REALLY hard! It is my passport to climbing adulthood, like a driver's license for the wall.

I took the test at the Power Company with Tor. They were setting in the cave, so at first the guy behind the counter, Mike, wasn't going to test me - but he relented when I asked if he couldn't pick a route somewhere else. He chose a stemmy 10b that I think I've done before, and truth be told it was very easy - plenty of opportunities to rest, easy clipping stances, etc. The end was a bit scary: after I clipped the last draw and kept climbing I was trying very hard not to think to myself, "every foot I climb I'm going to have to fall past in a second." I made it to the top, took a quick breath and just let go - less thinking the better. My heart was pounding, but Tor caught me (of course) without any trouble. The belaying portion went very smoothly, though (keeping in mind the notes from last week) I intentionally kept more slack in the system, so when Tor fell he generated a good amount of momentum and pulled me up about 3 feet.

Mike passed me, and confessed that he had been hoping to be able to fail me, but couldn't find anything wrong with what I'd done. Apparently his pass ratio has gotten too high, which reflects badly on him as a tester, so he's looking to get a bit more strict. But not me!

ML10a(o), L10b(c), L10b(dnf), 10d(f+)

So, after my triumphant ascent of the stemmy 10b, I chose as my first real lead climb the 10b across the way, with a tricky-looking roof about halfway up. Clearly, I am not yet fully proficient in analyzing climbs from the ground. What looked "tricky" on the floor turned out to be "really fucking pumpy" on the wall, and leading is a different animal. It was about 10' off the ground that I came to the realization that I was really actually leading this climb, and there was no safety rope, and no instructor, and if I fell, it would not be a comfy toprope fall. This rattled me somewhat. I failed spectacularly getting over the roof, and took a small dive into thin air. Untying at the bottom, Mike came over and graciously informed me: "that's the worst 10 lead in this gym. It's a bitch." I thanked him for not testing me on it.

I decided to call it quits for leading after that, and toproped a very crimpy 10d on GWPC's "slab" wall with two falls.

The evening was simply deadlifts, which I'm always happy to do:

Deadlift 30-5-5-5-5-5

135-205-225-245-255-265...275 x 1-295 x 1-300 x 1 (PR!)

I was lifting with Gita and new guy Aaron, and we were having fun so we opted to keep going with singles when we were done with the 5's. 300 pounds is a PR by 15 pounds for me, though it's been a long time since I've tested my 1RM deadlift. I felt like I could have done a little more, but my form was starting to fall apart, particularly on the first third, and I didn't see any reason to push it. In general I feel quite solid with my deadlift form these days. I wish my squats were anywhere near as good.

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