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To be or not to be (a trad climber)
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By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 8, 2010

Just sharing some thoughts to the community, please feel free to ignore, share your thoughts, or flame me as necessary.

This weekend was a great weekend for me. As I push myself into leading 5.11 sport climbs after only a year of climbing, I've realized that I've left a giant hole in my climbing "arsenal". Several of my buddies are proficient traditional climbers and have such a great time climbing cracks and multi-pitch routes that until recently I had no access to. I decided to "man up" and got several trad leads in this weekend, and followed several trad climbs cleaning up placements and learning what I could.

I find myself engrossed in every aspect of trad climbing. From the strength endurance that it requires, to the full on physics lessons provided by placing your own gear, and the mental battle I found myself having with... well... myself. The entire experience is very different from sport climbing, and while I love to sport climb (probably more than I will ever love trad), it has certainly found a place in my climbing arsenal. With that I will expand not only my mind by my body and soul as well.

My last thought as I look back on my trad experiences this weekend is one of masochism. Yes. I believe that full on trad climbers are all masochists. After this weekend I find myself covered in bruises, I find my skin literally peeling out from underneath my fingernails. I find cuts and scrapes on the back of my hands and knuckles due to the jams and stuffing cracks like they were Thanksgiving turkey. Trad climbing is every bit mental as it is physical, and I found myself pushing my very physical and mental limits to hold still long enough for a safe placement.

I think that maybe there is a bit of a masochist in me after all.


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By Josh Olson
From madison, wisconsin
Nov 8, 2010
Looking at a 5.7 crack with Nick

Welcome to trad! Trad also opens many doors for more adventurous days. I've gone into areas and scouted lines without the guidebook, climbing what looked doable. Found out where my true limits are, great times. It is a lot more rewarding to me to pick my own line and go where the rock wants me to rather than following somebody else's line. Nothing wrong with sport climbing and all them shiny bolts, it is just a completely different ballgame.


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By mattnorville
Nov 8, 2010
Ship's Prow.

This is what I got from your post Clever, let me know if I didn't interepret you correctly.

Trad=RAD!!!!

I personally agree with that and take it not as opinion, but as fact.


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By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 8, 2010

Thanks for the positive encouragement, and the warm welcomes! And I do agree with the expense comment... trad gear is pricy! Good thing that between my several friends we have a decent rack. I'll be adding to my mentor's rack shortly.

Great fun!


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By Derek W
Nov 8, 2010
First summit of First Flatiron

Alias wrote:
Your climbing addiction just got WAY more expensive! Congrats.

+12


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By Rick Blair
From Denver
Nov 8, 2010
This is a novel auto blocking belay device.  I think it works quite well, depending on rope thickness and sheath quality, it belays very smooth.  Great to lower with.  You gotta love over engineering.  $3 at a gear swap!

johnL wrote:
There is nothing masochistic about trad though.

I am usually not aware of my injuries until I reach my belay and realize my hands/legs/arms are bleeding. Masochism implies desire and intent.

Welcome to trad climbing. After you go somewhere and climb something totally unplanned or undocumented, you will be hooked.


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Nov 8, 2010
Bocan

I'm not a "hard" trad climber by any means, but I have almost zero interest in sport. My point is that trad takes me to the cool and interesting places in the mountains that sport doesn't really offer with the exception of a few great climbs many of which are outside my ability.

Plus I love the logistics of the rack and everything that goes along with it. Climbing on gear in the flatiron or Estes granite is how I like to climb.

Oh yeah like they said...get ready to empty that wallet.


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By Brendan Blanchard
From Strafford, NH
Nov 8, 2010
Obi Wan Ryobi - Darth Vader Crag, Rumney NH

Alias wrote:
Your climbing addiction just got WAY more expensive! Congrats.


Agreed 100% and a little more...


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By martinharris
From Glenwood Springs CO
Nov 8, 2010

a quote from first accent well as close as i can remember "when climbing on gear you have to be ok with taking some big run outs and having a possability of a big fall, and either you have the spirit or you dont, if you have the spirit you are a bad ass if you dont you are a sport climber."


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By Kilroywashere!
From Harrisonburg, Virginia
Nov 8, 2010
Kilroy

johnL wrote:
Your skillset will improve. So will your mindset. There is nothing masochistic about trad though.

couldnt agree with you more as far as mindset goes, theres something about trad that if you overthink things, you dont climb to your potential, eventually you learn to just place your gear, and think about the climbing and the movements


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By Bill Duncan
From Jamestown, CO
Nov 8, 2010
Leading the 3rd pitch of West Side Story.

Scott McMahon wrote:
My point is that trad takes me to the cool and interesting places in the mountains that sport doesn't really offer

Amen.
The adventure of exploration, and climbing into the unknown . . . whether its 10 pitches in the rarefied air of the alpine world, or 2 pitches on some lonely desolate desert tower.

The views often improve exponentially too.

Have fun.


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By "H"
From Manitou Springs
Nov 8, 2010
Axes glistening in the sun

mattnorville wrote:
This is what I got from your post Clever, let me know if I didn't interepret you correctly. Trad=RAD!!!! I personally agree with that and take it not as opinion, but as fact.




+ another one! The sound of the gear, the self sufficiency, the satisfaction of knowing you placed your nut in the crack. ahhh. Sport can be fun, but trad opens up so many doors.


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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Nov 8, 2010
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.

Perhaps part of your more negative experience (leading you to the masochism conclusion) was owing to using techniques (or not using techniques) that are not yet in your arsenal.
Much like strong trad climbers can pop a finger the first time they climb pockets, I think a strong sport climber can get chewed to bits in a relatively easy crack climb.

Much like I see that beginner climbers wear through the rubber on shoes in a season... and advanced climbers shoes can look pretty good after a few years.

Anyway, if you liked it, try it again. If you enjoy it more each time, then the direction and conclusion will be apparent to you. If you still don't like it as much, then it just isn't your thing, but you can still cross that line any time you feel like it.


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By caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Nov 8, 2010

clevernamehere wrote:
I find myself engrossed in every aspect of trad climbing.


After one weekend? Well done! It took me years to get engrossed in say 75% of trad climbing.


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By "H"
From Manitou Springs
Nov 8, 2010
Axes glistening in the sun

Joe Lee wrote:
Nice! Now you better get ready for the third discipline of climbing because where there be cracks also lurk slabs. The addiction only grows.



Slabs suck and Crack Kills!! LOLOL!


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Nov 8, 2010
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

clevernamehere wrote:
Just sharing some thoughts to the community, please feel free to ignore, share your thoughts, or flame me as necessary. This weekend was a great weekend for me. As I push myself into leading 5.11 sport climbs after only a year of climbing, I've realized that I've left a giant hole in my climbing "arsenal". Several of my buddies are proficient traditional climbers and have such a great time climbing cracks and multi-pitch routes that until recently I had no access to. I decided to "man up" and got several trad leads in this weekend, and followed several trad climbs cleaning up placements and learning what I could. I find myself engrossed in every aspect of trad climbing. From the strength endurance that it requires, to the full on physics lessons provided by placing your own gear, and the mental battle I found myself having with... well... myself. The entire experience is very different from sport climbing, and while I love to sport climb (probably more than I will ever love trad), it has certainly found a place in my climbing arsenal. With that I will expand not only my mind by my body and soul as well. My last thought as I look back on my trad experiences this weekend is one of masochism. Yes. I believe that full on trad climbers are all masochists. After this weekend I find myself covered in bruises, I find my skin literally peeling out from underneath my fingernails. I find cuts and scrapes on the back of my hands and knuckles due to the jams and stuffing cracks like they were Thanksgiving turkey. Trad climbing is every bit mental as it is physical, and I found myself pushing my very physical and mental limits to hold still long enough for a safe placement. I think that maybe there is a bit of a masochist in me after all.



Funny you posted this... I'm in the same boat, I've been climbing for a couple years but just started to really get into outdoor climbing this year. I started out with top roping at my local crag (Devils Lake - no sport) and then ventured down to the Red and got hooked on sport climbing. I've redpointed a few 11's and even jumped on a 12. I'm pretty fearless on lead while clipping bolts.

I just picked up some trad gear because top roping was getting a little boring and I really enjoy the excitement of leading and I wanted to be able to do it locally. I'm finding the mental game a lot more difficult to overcome then the physical climbing itself while trad climbing. For the first time in my climbing career I had to stop and take a second to straighten my head out and it was while leading a 5.7 that I've tope roped a few times in the past. Totally different ballgame now! I'm hooked though, I love the freedom trad climbing allows. I have a full set of single cams now and I'll be picking up doubles soon! Taking my first trip to Red Rock in two weeks to do some multi-pitch and I'm sure the addiction will only worsen.


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By Victor K
From Denver, CO
Nov 8, 2010
Water!

For me, Trad climbing is as much about place as the climbing itself. My regular partner and I enjoy sport for the quick hit of being on real rock, but there is nothing like a multi-pitch climb to give you the feeling of being someplace special. My favorite trad climb in Eldo is Rewritten. It's an 8+, but the position on Rebuffat's Arete on the penultimate pitch is simply spectacular. When the climbing is done, there you are, at the top. (the descent is another story...)


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By claramie
From Boulder, CO
Nov 8, 2010
Should I be trying this hard on a warmup? <br /> <br />photo by Rob Kepley

clevernamehere wrote:
The entire experience is very different from sport climbing, and while I love to sport climb (probably more than I will ever love trad), it has certainly found a place in my climbing arsenal.


Just wait until you're leading trad climbs near your sport level. Physically taxed, tinkering in gear, scared and loving it. Then you'll get into all of the fun trad routes with sparse and/or crappy gear and somehow start to love those and search 'em out.

Now think of all the new things you can climb that don't have bolts! You can just walk up to some rock and eye it up, regardless of whether it has ever been climbed before and give it a go... and choose your own adventure.

And eventually go climb at Thunder Ridge in South Platte for amazing sporty style climbing with lots of gear placements!


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By Jasmine Kall
Nov 8, 2010
Getting ready to climb!

Soon you will be wearing your old jeans and long flannel shirts for offwith. Long cold approaches to remote multi-pitch climbs and a good headlamp will become more important then your favorite beanie. Lattes will become a thing of the past as Starbucks doesn't open till 5:30am and you are supposed to be on the trail at 3am. Obsessive organizing and re-organizing of your gear will consume your nights.


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Nov 8, 2010
Bocan

Jasmine Kall wrote:
Obsessive organizing and re-organizing of your gear will consume your nights.


haha...I always thought I was weird for doing that!!


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By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 8, 2010

Jasmine Kall wrote:
Soon you will be wearing your old jeans and long flannel shirts for offwith. Long cold approaches to remote multi-pitch climbs and a good headlamp will become more important then your favorite beanie. Lattes will become a thing of the past as Starbucks doesn't open till 5:30am and you are supposed to be on the trail at 3am. Obsessive organizing and re-organizing of your gear will consume your nights.


Wow thats some funny stuff right there! But I already wear flannel, and forget starbucks - it tastes horrible and that shit they put in it will kill you! I like coffee.
I've done some mountain climbing and I can do the 3 am stuff no problem.... its the cold or snow that gets me!


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By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 8, 2010

Tony B wrote:
Perhaps part of your more negative experience (leading you to the masochism conclusion) was owing to using techniques (or not using techniques) that are not yet in your arsenal. Much like strong trad climbers can pop a finger the first time they climb pockets, I think a strong sport climber can get chewed to bits in a relatively easy crack climb. Much like I see that beginner climbers wear through the rubber on shoes in a season... and advanced climbers shoes can look pretty good after a few years. Anyway, if you liked it, try it again. If you enjoy it more each time, then the direction and conclusion will be apparent to you. If you still don't like it as much, then it just isn't your thing, but you can still cross that line any time you feel like it.


I'll definately be doing it again, and again and some more after that. I like your comparisons that point out that I basically suck at this style of climbing, and thats why my body is racked. It makes total sense.... thanks for the input!


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By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 8, 2010

Joe Lee wrote:
Nice! Now you better get ready for the third discipline of climbing because where there be cracks also lurk slabs. The addiction only grows.


Does it make me weird that I actually enjoy a little slab now and then? In fact my local Red Rocks Canyon has lots of sandstone slab and I've climbed most of it. I've also climbed a lot of granite slab in the S Platte.... it can be very enjoyable!


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Nov 9, 2010
Stabby

Oh yeah, its all just Sunshine and Daisy's..........

Here's a little shot of reality for you. Lurking out there, and probably not too far off (except for the onset of winter), is your first real EPIC. Usually its a stuck rope on rappell, at dusk. When it happens, take the intensity of a trad ascent and multiply by 100. Most likely, you will eventually make it back to Terra Firma unscathed; but every sense you have will be amplified like never before. Although ominous sounding, epics are by far the most memorable climbing days we have. They are an inescapable part of the game, even the best cannot avoid them.


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By Jasmine Kall
Nov 9, 2010
Getting ready to climb!

My favorite Epic is a 27 hour C2C for Fishook arete, made the marathon I ran in a month later seem like a walk in the park.


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By Buff Johnson
Nov 9, 2010
smiley face

Ah, good point, get into trad climbing, buy a good headlamp and knife-tool.

As for epics, I eat them for breakfast, cause I'm that bad..a climber


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