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How much below your limit do you lead trad?
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By Greg D
From Here
Jul 21, 2012
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W.
JeffL wrote:
I'm looking at the C3's, but I dislike their breaking strength. The purple (size 00) has a 6kn strength, and my rope has a max impact force of 8 or 9 kn. Should I stick with stuff bigger than or just place this small gear skeptically and realize that it's simply protection and not something that will hold a big whipper?


You are misunderstanding those numbers. A rope's impact force is determined by a test dropping a specific mass a specific distance, then finding how much force it has imparted on that "top" piece. It really is used to give you an idea of the rope's ability to absorb energy. The lower the impact rating, the more the rope can absorb energy in a fall. If I recall correctly, ropes most be below 12kN to get the UIAA approval. This upper limit is to protect your body.

Last year my fat ass (200 lbs) jumped off and onto a purple C3 cause I was getting stung by bees. Maybe a 12 to 15 fall. I'm still here. The cam is fine. I still use it with confidence. BTW, C3's might be the strongest of all micro cams.

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By Ed Wright
Jul 21, 2012
Magic Ed
Nowadays about three full grades but back in my prime I would lead trad beyond my limit.

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By slim
Administrator
Jul 23, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
i'm generally pretty even between trad and sport, maybe a letter grade harder onsighting and redpointing for sport. oddly enough, my wife leads around a full grade HARDER on gear (both RP and OS) than she does on bolts. for some reason she gets kind of freaked knowing that she doesn't have as much control on when and where the protection is. probably because a lot of the sport climbing we do has reachy/awkward clipping.

i thought willS advice is good. if you are just starting to place gear, just focus on placing GOOD gear. worry about climbing hard while placing GOOD gear later down the road.

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By T. Stark
From Los Angeles, CA
Jul 24, 2012
HoD, one of my favorite climbs in the park. Photo ...
slim wrote:
if you are just starting to place gear, just focus on placing GOOD gear. worry about climbing hard while placing GOOD gear later down the road.


Agreed. 60% of leading is mental, especially on gear. Whatever rating you're able to confidently place gear on IS your limit, regardless of how "hard" you climb on other styles.

I also hope that you have had adequate instruction on placing gear, as you stated you've only had your rack for a few weeks and you're already attempting to lead .10's...

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By matt davies
Jul 24, 2012
Zero, when I'm sketched I plug and tug.

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By martinharris
From Glenwood Springs CO
Jul 24, 2012
I can top rope the occasional mid 11 clean but often fall leading 5.10 trad so depending on what you consider your limit it might varry. And saying that some old school 9+ had felt harder than some 11s I have done. So in my opinion grade is to subjective to decide what climbs are in your ability. Use your jungment lookin at the climb and sack up or back off. and often sacking up leads to being I. Way over your head but other times is the first step to a breakthrough.
Long story short if the gear looks good and the fall looks clean go for it. Gear works realy realy well.

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By Princess Mia
From Vail
Jul 25, 2012
Chillin' at City of Rocks
Personally, my sport limit is below my trad limit..........

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By chris_vultaggio
Jul 26, 2012
Chris Vultaggio leads the title route at Five and ...
if I can climb it I can lead it (assuming it is not a death X route).

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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Jul 26, 2012
Re the orginal question, when I'm in shape at least, just a letter or two below, depending on the type of climb.

Other than that, pretty good overall advise from Will S. He kind of encapsulated a lot of the issues you need to consider when starting to lead trad.

BTID, depending on where you learned, you really had the opportunity to learn the various aspects of trad leading since that was really the only game around. Placing gear, route finding, learning to downclimb rather than risk falling on poor gear or poor terrain. And you spent years doing it as you worked up thru the grades. Nowadays, not so much. Still, you need to learn that breadth if you want to be competent in that area. Just as an example, lots of old school trad classics on, say, Middle Cathedral Rock--Quicksilver, Stoner's Highway, Freewheelin'--require all of the above, even though they're rated only 5.9-10c. Or that .11 crack line may have a 20' runout of 'only' 5.9 slab at the top. Some climbs require you do it all.

Enjoy the process. There are some really great moderate routes out there.

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By Siberia
From Birmingham, AL
Jul 26, 2012
Start very low - go cruise some 5.9s or something to get in mileage before working near your limit.

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By Ezekiel Thornton
From Akron, Ohio
Jul 26, 2012
Top of Castleton
Be careful, don't push it until you can place solid gear in a timely matter. After that you can lead close to your level!

Watch your foot behind the rope!!

Someone said have fun on the moderates. +1

Practice standing on your tippy toes, hehehe.

I've heard it is all about surviving the first 3 years.

Good Luck with trad!!



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By Arlo F Niederer
From Fort Collins, CO
Jul 30, 2012
I read some really good advice somewhere sometime ago, and it goes like this:

"Don't push your climbing limits and your protection limits at the same time."

As an example, if your climbing limit is 5.10b, don't lead a 5.10b with tricky protection.

Most people put effort into increasing their climbing ability by getting in shape, climbing at the gym, climbing different types of climbs. One of the reasons sport climbing is so popular is you don't have to put much effort into protection as trad climbing (do I need 8 draws or 10 draws? lol) and can focus on climbing harder routes.

My suggestion is to put the same amount of effort into increasing your protection limits as you put into your climbing limits. After all, isn't the ability to provide adequate protection the most important aspect of climbing?

Clean aid climbing is one of the best ways to do this - it tunes your eye to the proper gear/size selection, and there's nothing better to find out how much a piece will hold then bounce testing it - you would be suprised how a really sketchy looking piece is able to hold really hard bounce testing...and a fall...and the ability to estimate the length of fall a piece will hold.

After I do aid climbing, my free climbing confidence and speed go way up, as well as my safety margin.

When practicing aid, practice placing all of your gear...cams, nuts, hexes, etc. And try some placements that don't look like they will work. Your protection limits will rapidly expand and you won't get as sketched trad climbing.

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By Christian C
From Arcata, CA
Jul 13, 2013
right at my limit assuming there's good pro

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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Jul 13, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV
yeah, I'll admit that I generally turn into a little girl on trad. Sometimes on sport too, but I am mostly comfortable with bolts. I would definitely go with the "start over" mentality. Start with well protected 5.7 - 5.8s and go from there. Placing gear makes trad a completely different animal.

I can generally climb most 11+ routes and some 12- on bolts, but with trad, 5.9 can be a real challenge.

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By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Jul 13, 2013
Last weekend I flailed my way up an 11c roof, hanging off 3 different pieces of gear, so I would say about one number grade above my limit.

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By Ellenore Zimmerman
Jul 13, 2013
me
Two graded below my limit usually. I give myself a lot of room to veer etc. I only follow and tr at my limit. Sport usually one grade below my limit. I'm a timid leader.

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By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From Salt Lake City, UT
Jul 13, 2013
Cleaning up in Jenny Lake.
Jon Zucco wrote:
yeah, I'll admit that I generally turn into a little girl on trad.

This. The YDS grade means one thing, the protection and setting means another. I climbed Wolfs Head last weekend and it had lots of handsless 5.6 traverses with a thousand+ feet of air beneath. I redpointed a 5.10a sport route yesterday and felt far far more scared on the 5.6. I'm kind of a wuss no matter what the climb though. If the stars align and the winds blow in just the right way I can climb a single letter grade below my limit.

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By Rob Warden, Space Lizard
From Springdale Ut
Jul 13, 2013
blah
I lead at my level or beyond I dont even like sport climbing anymore. but thin crack and big crack overhanging fists these are the things that I dream about. I don't even go bouldering unless there's a crack in it... on the whole purple c3 thing. that cam and my black aliens have caught more falls than any other unit on my rack.

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By 20 kN
Administrator
From Hawaii
Jul 14, 2013
JeffL wrote:
I just got a rack last week, and have already gotten myself pretty nervous. My limit in sport is 11b, but on a 10c the other day I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I ended up running out almost 30 feet because I could not find a good placement. I did place one piece in between there, but didn't trust it to hold a whipper. So there's the question, how close can you get to your limit on gear? I understand some routes are harder to protect than others, and am using the mindset that you don't fall when leading trad. Lastly, how close to peeling off will you let yourself get while placing gear? I'm talking about not having a good resting position when you're placing your protection. Near my limit, I've had situations where I nearly fell while clipping the rope to the draw from pump. Edit: If it matters I'll mostly be onsighting, aside from projects and classics.

It all depends on how well protectable the route is. If it is a splitter crack in Indian Creek I will lead hard enough to fall regularly. If it is a trad-protected face climb with finicky placements, I rarely lead hard enough to fall.

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By VerticalUrge
Jul 14, 2013
at or above limit for reasonably protectable routes. can send harder rated cracks than face/sport usually

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By Ezekiel Thornton
From Akron, Ohio
Jul 14, 2013
Top of Castleton
As you can see everyone has their own opinions on how hard you should be leading but I think everyone can agree that you should start low and once placing becomes easier then go at what you feel comfortable at.

What easier means...you're leading and on your second attempt you place the right piece / you aren't wasting a lot of energy placing / feel comfortable with the gear placed.

What you feel comfortable leading...more like what are your goals in climbing/who are you as a person.

I must say that if you are leading and taking 4-5 times on the climb you are climbing to far above your level.

I'm a weekend warrior so on the day I will warm up, then climb 1 to 2 10's for on-sights then attempt my hard climb that I scope out as my style/well protected (basically above decking point) and where I believe I can give a good on-sight attempt!

I believe in the on-sight!!

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