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 Page 1 of 3. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 40 | 41 to 52
What's the scariest lead that you've ever done?
Winston Smith
3:05:12 PM
Mine was about five years ago and was my first trad lead after eight years away from climbing.

The pair of us rocked up to Secret Swinger (16) at the Wolgan and I was given the first pitch which, after an awkward start, is cruisy and well protected. I wobbled my way up and with great relief downed the rack in the sandy apocalyptic cave that is the belay.

After finding some attached sandstone amid the sand and blocks, I built an anchor and brought the other bloke up. When he got there he announced that he wasn’t interested in doing the second pitch and I’d have to.

Despite my protests I found myself climbing out under a roof, over a small rooflet and into a flaring corner. Nervous as hell I dropped three of the guy’s larger Camalots – he racked them in threes on one ‘biner which I hate – and watched as they hit the deck.

After stitching the first few metres with my remaining gear, I found myself horribly lacking in gear for the rest of the flaring corner crack and simply had to run it out for the last four or so metres to the top.

Feeling frightened and alone and buffeted by a stiff breeze that increased my feeling of isolation, I tentatively made my way upwards. I remember screaming gibberish, my mouth feeling like sandpaper as I wished I was somewhere else.

I also remember random, ridiculous thoughts like reassuring myself that my handjams would not involuntarily spring open like a boiled clam, that my harness buckle was still doubled back and that the knot wasn't untying of its own accord.

I also remember glimpsing my tent back at the Capertee campsite and wishing I was down there with a beer watching someone else doing this...

Then I mentally slapped myself and returned to the situation at hand which demanded that I shut the hell up and continue climbing...

After I eventually topped out and tied myself into a bomber nut I sat for a little while. I felt exhausted, and then the endorphins kicked in and I was exhilarated.

I’ve since been back twice since and led what it now a demystified climb. It's a familiar and friendly route but the chemical hit after I climb it never as good as that first time around.
Dave C
3:23:30 PM
Death Trap, E5 5b,4a,5b,5a Mousetrap Zawn, Gogarth in Wales, October 1990.
Only grade 18-ish but the crux is a slanting, overhung groove where the holds are ribs of chalky quartz stuff protruding from something with the appearance of mouldy cheese and "protection" mainly from slings hooked over spikes and ribs! The 4a pitch is actually scarier being a short, unprotected traverse on what feels like solidified mud - nice!
Done for the thrill of ticking a true Mick Fowler classic and in the end worth every minute.

3:39:03 PM
Big Cliff, Cape Wollemi, Philip Island - don't go there

3:44:13 PM
Crapped myself on Pedro (10) at Araps. Had one piece in on enormous long sling and then doing dicky traversey moves and somehow making them much harder than they needed to be.

Oh and sat under the roof of the last pitch of Lamplighter (14) for an age staring out across the gully, wishing I could just take the elevator back down again. I'm sure my belayer thought I'd headed off for a coffee break.

3:53:03 PM
Mine was some time during the An Elephant Or The Moon debacle. dan and I went out to Mt hay in the Blueys to climb Tom Thumb. We got lost 3 times on the walk in and were suffering heat stroke, or stupidity stroke. Managed to abseil in with out dying, and found the start of the route. Dan climbed the first pitch, then didn't go to the next belay. It's carrotted, so we didn't have any gear, except some small cams and slings. We read the route description and went "up and left" of OUR incorrect belay and did 4 pitches on new climbing 120m down in the Grose. The first pitch I lead had a small cam in a sandy pocket, then 4m to a chossy break of a cave, where I crawled inside and slung a sandy horn for gear. Then I climbed a couple more metres to a terrifying mantle right on the nose of the arete. I belayed in an ants nest after slinging 2 tufts of grass and an anaemic Hakea.
Dan's pitch had te pick of the climbing, but was scarey as hell. I can hardly remember it, except there was a mantle out of a muddy corner to finish.
My last pitch wound back and forth up a slab between hakeas that looked strong enough to take a lead fall of a 94kg man. There weren't many, so I spent a good time shiteing myself stupid. This was probably the most scared I've been, pulling through a mantle, into a bush, and trying to fight the branches from pushing me off, long enough to sling the bottom of it for gear. I built a dodgey belay from my remaining can and the hakea, then Dan set off.

About a quarter of the way up the 30m pitch, the cam sheared off one side of the crack, and a block the size of a case of beer, fell off, pivotted and rested against my hip. This made me happy. Down a piece of gear and a death block against my leg. Dan survived, I kicked the block off and climbed the 30m Ironstone dinnerplate slab, with 4 cams for gear. Got to the top, and Dan had built the best anchor I've ever seen; slung 3 boulders and a gumtree.I hugged him, and we both cried.

This is Dan. He looks tired:

This is me. I am tired. Note the good posture.

More pictures of these shenanigans here

4:42:23 PM
When I did Tom Thumb none of my bolt plates would go on the bolts on the second last pitch, so I ended up pretty much soloing it. The rock quality made it quite exciting. I belayed off a single carrot clove-hitched with a sling. Fun!
4:51:53 PM
My very first outing on top rope still stands out but on reflection the last 2 pitches of Por El Pueblo Oprimido...guidebook writes up a great sport route (true) but neglects to add the minor detail that the last 2 pitches are 100% trad, I think I had something like 2 small cams and a couple of slings. The belay we were hanging from had a nice rusty peg and shaky juniper bush suspended over 2-300 metres of gas and we'd just traversed an irreversible section on reasonable pegs & bolts. Turned out fine but the mental side certainly kicked in leading the next pitch, I had us totally committed and I still think if I fell at the minor crux after the 10m rising traverse to the right we were pretty well screwed despite having gotten a reasonable piece of gear in 5m out because I just didn't think the rock would hold a proper most scary moments remain the approaches and descents.

7:33:04 PM
Not the whole climb, just the moments before and after pulling a small microwave size block off Elija on Bluff Mtn. We were 6 or 7 pitches up, and off route. The block gave me a smack in the face as I was falling. The last piece was a large wire, a move or so below my feet. I was very happy the rope and my belayer were not in the fall line of the rock. I remember sounding like a small puppy that has just been stepped on. We backed off and made it back to camp just on dark.

7:41:49 PM
Some thing at Mandalay cliffs writen up as sport grade 18....somehow missed the carrots which ran out before half way to find a mantle on a sloping dirt ledge looking at grounder from 20m up to finish the route....I was in a good stance so could really shit myself and think all about what will happen when I bounced.

Finally committed and survived ...hugged a tree and rapped down and on the way down could see a rusty line of carrots 5m to my right...what a c--k up...I had traversed off the route without realising until to late.
9:59:11 PM
Charlotte Dome. The topos have a section that shows where you can get offroute to the
right of the best line and end up on a 5.10 run out face. "I have the topo, I am not
stupid, I will avoid that spot where everyone gets offroute" I said to myself at the start of
the climb. Only one of the three statements was true.

10:37:13 PM
On 9/04/2009 Dave C wrote:
>Death Trap, E5 4c,5b, Mousetrap Zawn, Gogarth in Wales, October 1990.

That has to be the best English grade I've ever heard. Had to be a Fowler!

Sir Chossalot
11:01:39 PM
Probably Big Glassy Corner, but we were aiding so I don't know if it really counts.

The 5th pitch began with me pulling out the carrot bolts that made up the belay we were hanging on (one completely out the other 2/3rds of the way) as I started to aid of them. After we recovered from that - putting the bolts back in wrapped with stickers off my helmet we found that the next two bolts were loose (able to be reomved with my fingers for the same sticker treatment) and that the knife blade pins I bashed into the thin corner above not much chop either - although I was a little up tight at this point so I could have under estimated the pins. I finally got what I felt was a good pin in about 20m out from the belay then followed a traversing line of bolts out to the left, I foolishly clipped a piece of old tat on the last bolt which broke as I stood up in my aiders. This sent me off on a pendlum bashing back into the corner at a rapid rate. A couple of bolts popped but luckily the stickers and tape on them kept them in the bolt plates so they could be bashed back in.

We decided that just as descretion is the better part of valour so too is cowardice the better part of descretion, and so valiantly backed off.

The palms of my hands are tingling just remembering it.

1:35:53 AM
On 9/04/2009 Sir Chossalot wrote:
>Probably Big Glassy Corner, but we were aiding so I don't know if it really counts.
Of course it does !!! Aid climbing takes you places sport climbers only nightmare about !!!

When were you on it? We freed up to that belayand then Zac got shut down . . .
Rowan and I were sitting on that belay whilst Zac was trying to free past the first 2 bolts and get
established in the thin corner but got shut down - it gets quite bouldery and hard to work . . .
Anyway whilst cleaning the top draw, the lower one popped out and he fell back past the belay
Can't really say it was scary, but going back solo to get the bolt I left on the ledge kind of is . . .

Doggie has given me a pretty fair share of scary moments but lately it's all been quite funny . . .
Once on a free shot on Collossus's first 2 pitches Zac and I were laughing most of the way . . .

Anyway, although not necessarily the 'scariest' lead, Shai Halud was really pretty weird . . .
It was really bizarre having a bunch of good friends and fellow clmbers watching . . .
Most of the time on really scary stuff I can't think about fear, for fear of it affecting performance;
It's the ridiculous fears of seemlingly 'safe, easy' climbing that is often more challenging . . .

Oh yeah - my scariest lead is probably one of my half-started/unfinished aid projects . . .

4:00:21 AM
Scariest lead I've ever done was this unmarked thing at the "SRC crag" at Bungonia. "Only" about grade 18, but involved smearing up a slippery limestone slab about 12m above the last gear (which itself was only about 3m above a large spiky ledge that was only about 4m above the ground). It didn't help that I'd traversed all over kingdom come to find a line that went, and so had ridiculous rope drag into the deal. I was pretty certain I was going to come to some serious harm that day!

It's the second route described in this trip report.

Actually another scary lead was "Little John Right" in Yosemite. It's "only" 5.8 but the first pitch is one of the hardest pitches I've led since moving here - extremely slippery vertical laybacking on super polished water worn granite with only two horrendous old pitons for pro up the initial hard bit. My second claimed to be climbing 5.11 at the time and couldn't get up it, and the ensuring multi-hour Z hauling + dehydration debacle has left me permanently scarred!

dr box
12:08:26 PM
'The Fear' at north head, all i'll say its named well!
but hindsight makes it one of the best days of climbing with a mate that i dont get to climb enough with, but thats usually what the scary ones do
2:10:04 PM
All of them!

5:35:13 PM
On 10/04/2009 hero wrote:
>All of them!

I was going to say "Whatever my most recent lead was" but I realised that's not quite true. Some of them weren't too bad.
8:44:05 AM
My scariest route wasn't intended to be a climbing trip ... it was a lilo trip down the Cox River to Breakfast Creek that went wrong. After encountering a waterfall that wasn't on the map, one guy with a concussion and one guy who'd been caught by his leg and held upside down in a cascade, we made camp and decided to take a "short cut" out up Galong Creek. Back in those days when I was young and foolish, we carried no maps but Galong seemed to head in the right general direction.

There were 5 of us. It was drizzling rain and we were all wearing wetsuits and sandshoes, carrying packs. No ropes of course. Galong started as a pleasant valley but it quickly grew into a box canyon. We started encountering a succession of waterfalls, each one higher than the last. Very little water flow but of course very slippery. Big pools between the falls, some just a meter or so wide but some deep enough to have to swim.

We came around a bend and were confronted with the mother of all falls. We'd been going for hours and it was way too far to turn back. From memory the falls were about 20 m high, although memories do become embellished with the passed of so many years. I checked a map yesterday and it shows a section with a 100m rise over 200-300m so a step up of 20m is quite possible.

2 of the guys decided to climb the canyon walls ... not as steep as the falls but many times higher. The other 3 of us climbed the waterfall. The last move still sticks in my mind as scaring the absolute c**p out of me ... the lip just out of reach and a soggy dyno to the top. From there it was easy.

Eduardo Slabofvic
3:24:28 PM
All of the ones when Hero was belaying me.

2:29:01 AM
several over the years, including seconding a route in Crimea yesterday. (will try to do a TR soon on that).

i led this old school 5.9 chimney at index, in the US. very strenous, very tough gear placements, was running out of strength, so gave up on gear and threw for a crimp and just made it. my partner got out of the way on the ledge below, knowing if i fell, i would have hit him before rolling off the ledge to...

another one was Ramadan at Ben Lomond. extremely nice crack but just wasnt in good enough shape for it. not so much scary but a huge struggle with many hangs.

another was castleton tower in Utah, in the US. did the original Kor-Ingalls route and the 3rd pitch in the chimney with no gear and a definite broken leg or back fall had me pissing my pants.

one more in the US at smith rock. it was about a 20 and i was climbing well so ran it out. the first 6m fall fractured the rock around my highest piece, so i backed it up. the next 3 falls at the crux resulted in a sprained ankle after hitting the wall sideways. felt bad cause it wasn't my rope and i should put more gear in before the crux. went back about 5 years later and cruised it without even breathing hard. so my crack technique is much improved.

and another at yosemite. got off route after my partner set up a belay at the end of the second pitch (so it's all his fault). started up a nice corner but just couldn't make the move over a roof to a glass slab. knew the gear would blow if i fell. spent 30 minutes looking at it. found out later it was an 18, we were supposed to be on a 16. saw the real third pitch from there, down climbed for my gear and led the next 4 pitches, one of them a 110foot run out on a thin slab while my partner was tied off to one old piton. i told him if i fell. he was going have to find his own way down cause i'd be dead. but the climbing was good and forced me to focus like never before on thin edges, body position and breathing.

but the scariest two moments of my climbing life were rappelling, but maybe that's another thread.

as for one of the other posters who talked about "little john right". it's wicked, wicked hard!

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There are 52 messages in this topic.


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