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To be or not to be (a trad climber)
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By mountainmicah83
From Colorado Springs
Nov 9, 2010
Kit Carson

I am Clever's climbing partner and jumping into the trad with him as well. I have had a few more trad climbs under my belt than him but really just not enough to really matter. In fact, I was with him over the weekend exploring out in the South Platte with no guidebook just looking at routes saying, "I think we can do that!" Trad is seriously like an addiction. Once I get a bit more, I want even more and I want harder. Of course it is jacking up my body too becasue I don't know crap about cracks yet either. I got cuts and scrapes all over me. I see why I like it though. I am an adventurer/thrill seeker that lives for those epics you guys mention, and without even looking for them, they always seem to find me. I think the real reason I like trad is becasue it scares the crap out of me though.

Let's go push the limits Clevernamehere!- Ahhh. Seeing this thread from work got me all bummed about work. I wanna leave right now to get out and pull down some rock but have the obligation to stay to afford all of that gear we are going to be buying up. I suppose for now we could just run it out!

I love seeing everyone's encouragement on here.


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By martinharris
From Glenwood Springs CO
Mar 8, 2011

slab is scary tyiing off short on pitons with huge run outs is not my idea of fun


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Mar 8, 2011
Stabby

The original ground up ascents of the splatte slabs is considered trad, albeit a kind of twisted form (like snake handlers are to religion).
But whats following them? You don't place gear (trad), and you don't rely on the bolts at all (sport). What you used to do before they got replaced with bomber units was keep your sphincter squeezed shut while you dragged up 30' of rope to a 1/4" spinner that just broke your heart. 20% slab technique, 80% mind control. And considering that the 20% slab tech is still really substantial, the 80% has to come from down deep. I only did one of those things a long time ago, never to look back other than to just shudder.


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By Tombo
From Boulder
Mar 8, 2011
1/3 of the way up Spire, just above where my piece blew.

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


Unless you climb at Vedauwoo every weekend and suck at offwidth like me.


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By jhn payne
Mar 8, 2011
"Ragin Cajun" 5.12c Jackson Falls, So Il.

Welcome to trad, it simply is the purist form of what we do. The distilled essence of climbing is too find that unclimbed line, pull out the rack and send it, be it the local 60' sandstone or something very large half way around the world. I'm very glad I started when trad was the way to climb and I have found some of those unclimbed lines. I have also bolted and enjoyed sport, but the ones I remember are the trad lines I did.


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By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Mar 8, 2011

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


I sometimes re-tape all of my gear when I can't sleep. Or I will have the sudden urge to mark the middle of my rope with thread. Or realize that I haven't filed my crampons recently. Or try to rappel from the ceiling on 3mm cord and a Nano carabiner just to see if you could do it if you really had to.


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By Joseph Stover
From Batesville, AR
Mar 8, 2011

Trad climbing is awesome! I was in a similar boat... redpointing 5.11 sport regularly, but was scared above gear on 5.7 for the longest time... I finally feel comfortable climbing above gear. It is a whole different experience. I can't imagine doing without either. I am even thinking about getting into alpine (not ice!... yet) in the near future.

The freedom of the hills... that is what it is about... whether you are just hiking, lowball pebble pulling, or even running it out over clean gear...


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By Johnnyboy
Mar 8, 2011

It's funny to me that not to long ago, trad climbing WAS climbing. There were no bolts, no top roping, no gyms, just a few pioneers of the "sport" that were crazy enough and hard core enough to tie a string around a nut or screw and stick it into a crack.

To me, climbing is so much more than a sport, it's an interaction with the universe around us and a relationship / respect for the mountains that we climb. I cut my climbing teeth on the alpine routs in RMNP, and traditional climbing is all ya' got up there!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Steve House quotes: "Sport climbing is the murder of the impossible." I sometimes wonder what the fathers of climbing think about the new bolts that now riddle the massive rock faces of Patagonia or Zion NP.

Part of the essense of climbing is flirting with the impossible. Welcome to climbing my friend.


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By Ross Bickhart
Mar 8, 2011

I think that you can build even stronger friendships with your trad climbing partners. The level of trust required to climb a hard route protected by a gear anchor that you have not seen is pretty high. When you trust them and know they trust you when you are leading it is pretty cool


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Mar 8, 2011
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.

Johnnyboy wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong


You are wrong.


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By Johnnyboy
Mar 8, 2011

LOL, thanks Monomaniac. It was Reinhold Messner


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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Mar 8, 2011

Johnnyboy wrote:
It's funny to me that not to long ago, trad climbing WAS climbing. There were no bolts, no top roping, no gyms, just a few pioneers of the "sport" that were crazy enough and hard core enough to tie a string around a nut or screw and stick it into a crack. To me, climbing is so much more than a sport, it's an interaction with the universe around us and a relationship / respect for the mountains that we climb. I cut my climbing teeth on the alpine routs in RMNP, and traditional climbing is all ya' got up there! Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Steve House quotes: "Sport climbing is the murder of the impossible." I sometimes wonder what the fathers of climbing think about the new bolts that now riddle the massive rock faces of Patagonia or Zion NP. Part of the essense of climbing is flirting with the impossible. Welcome to climbing my friend.


Your understanding of climbing history is incomplete, and leads you to the wrong conclusions. "Wizards of Rock" by Pat Ament is a good place to start an education. Follow that up by talking to some older climbers about what really went down. Your comments strongly suggest that you have an overly romanticized "heroic" view of climbing history that simply isn't true. Virtually all of your so-called heroes from the past used various shenanigans just like people today. The only difference is that current media makes it harder to hide these blemishes than in the past. The first (known) bolting in the US happened in the 1930's and toproping?? Are you kidding me? Toproping is less common now than ever.

Also, Messner didn't say what you have attributed to Steve House, and if you new what he did say, and understood the context of what he was talking about, it might help you understand why things are the way they are today. The fact is, the top level climbing of today is every bit as bold and badass as it has ever been.


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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Mar 8, 2011

clevernamehere wrote:
Trad climbing is every bit mental as it is physical, and I found myself pushing my very physical and mental limits...

Congrats and thank you for that acknowledgement. All too often sport climbers only value the technical difficulty and argue that mental difficulty--such as the difficulty of placing gear, fear of gear failing, etc.--should be erased. To me, it's impossible to remove the mental challenges from the physical ones. In fact, it's often the greater challenge. Like the bullfighter, you're not facing down the bull; you're facing down your own fears of running away.

Hope you enjoy the journey.


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By J mac
Mar 8, 2011
Zermatt

For me as well as being metal and physical it is also ego-destroying! I am solid 5.11/breaking into 5.12 sport but have spent the last two weekends trashing up single pitch 5.9s in Eldo. And I get just as sore after one pitch as climbing 8-10 sport routes!

I'm also hooked.


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Mar 8, 2011
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.

Mike Anderson wrote:
Also, Messner didn't say what you have attributed to Steve House, and if you new what he did say, and understood the context of what he was talking about, it might help you understand why things are the way they are today. The fact is, the top level climbing of today is every bit as bold and badass as it has ever been.


We all conveniently forget that Messner wrote "The Murder of the Impossible" in 1971! He was talking shit about the heroes that we romanticize as infallible.

BTW, Steve House is a sport climber (too).


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By Paul Davidson
Mar 8, 2011

On my death bed (closer for me in my advanced years than most of you pups), I will not be asking, if only I could have done one more clip up. I will be thinking about past epics and wishing I had climbed PisnGums or Jump Back Jack or Hotline or fill in one of 2 many to even make a bucket list.

Sport climbing (for me) is fun, relatively easy (mentally) and about a gymnastics day out. Nothing wrong with that.

But tradding is about a full body workout, a thrashing approach, a long involved day and special relationships.


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By Cragophilia
Mar 8, 2011
About to do a reachy static move to a sloper finger pocket (and fail) on Vodka Arete-Right.

"To be or not to be a trad climber, that is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and cams of outrageous weight, or to keep arms free against a sea of troubles. To place protection, to clip quickdraws-- No more!"

The answer is BE. Trad climbing adds an extra level of concentration and challenge. Plus there aren't many bolts on good alpine routes :)


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By rangerdrew
From Loveland
Mar 8, 2011
Evans Aprons

Tony B wrote:
Much like I see that beginner climbers wear through the rubber on shoes in a season...


So true. I qualify myself as a beginner and just got a hole in mine the other day. I'm at 50 days outside and about 48 hours inside since June.


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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Mar 8, 2011

Paul Davidson wrote:
On my death bed (closer for me in my advanced years than most of you pups), I will not be asking, if only I could have done one more clip up. I will be thinking about past epics and wishing I had climbed PisnGums or Jump Back Jack or Hotline or fill in one of 2 many to even make a bucket list. Sport climbing (for me) is fun, relatively easy (mentally) and about a gymnastics day out. Nothing wrong with that. But tradding is about a full body workout, a thrashing approach, a long involved day and special relationships.


Interesting point, but by your logic, Michael Jordan won't look back on 6 NBA championships because his life wasn't in danger?

Any athletic endeavor can require enormous mental fortitude, whether physically dangerous or not, and can thus be rewarding. On the other hand, athletic activities with no challenge, and thus no risk of failure are not rewarding. So, I agree that going to a dumpy crag and climbing forgetable clip ups that don't push your limits isn't memorable. If that's what you think sport climbing is, you are missing the point.


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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Mar 8, 2011

Mike Anderson wrote:
Interesting point, but by your logic, Michael Jordan won't look back on 6 NBA championships because his life wasn't in danger?

Apples and oranges dude. Your analogy is just that. It doesn't prove anything.


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By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Mar 9, 2011

Shumin Wu wrote:
To OP, there's no reason to pigeon hole yourself as a trad climber or a sport climber. Learning trad will help you become a better climber overall, just as sport climbing/bouldering will help you climb harder gear routes.


And I havent, in fact I dont call myself anything other than a climber now. I dont call myself a boulderer, a sport climber, or a traddie. I am a climber. Climbing is what I do. If its a ladder, or a tree, or any kind of rock, I am a climber so I climb it.

And you are completely right, dabbling in all aspects of climbing has its benefits in other areas. Since I'm trad climbing now, my other skill sets have improved!


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By Brad "Stonyman" Killough
Administrator
From Alabama
Mar 10, 2011
Starting the second section of Live to climb another day

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.
Placing pro gives you a freedom to explore new routes and to be creative with your climbing adventure. Enjoy!


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By "H"
From Manitou Springs
Mar 10, 2011
Axes glistening in the sun

Trad indeed does = Rad! I think you find yourself slowly gravitating more towards loving trad. At least till you start buying your own rack!!


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By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Mar 10, 2011

Harold Lampasso wrote:
Trad indeed does = Rad! I think you find yourself slowly gravitating more towards loving trad. At least till you start buying your own rack!!


Ha! Isnt that just the truth. I have mixed feelings about my rack thus far. While I have better than a standard rack now and am VERY pleased with it, my pocket book sure is lonely....


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By Terry Price
From Mancos CO
Apr 24, 2011

Clevernamehere wrote:

"I found myself pushing my very physical and mental limits to hold still long enough for a safe placement." while also commenting on finding himself covered with bruises, cuts and peeling fingertips.



These symptoms will correct themselves as you gain competence and confidence in trad climbing. Indeed, the feeling of confidence and enjoyment where one previously would have felt fear and suffering becomes a proud benchmark of progression and improvement in any field. Now that you've got a feeling for trad, the gym and sport circuit may lose its allure and seem hopelessly tame.

Given passage of time since your first post, how about an update? Have you repeated the same route as your maiden voyage?


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