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trad climbing

A Weekend of Trad Leads

Tuolumne Meadows Dozier Dome Climbing

The first time I ever led trad was about a year ago. I got a crash course in placing nuts right before. My friend mumbled some stuff to me, patted me on the back, and headed up the pitch with another friend. I would meet them up there. I nervously adjusted the sling containing the alpine draws and nuts. I thumbed through all the cams and started to climb. My first piece was a nut, right off the deck. My second piece was another nut, perfectly slotted into a constriction right before a lieback. I didn’t trust it. I don’t know why. I was afraid of kicking it out. I froze. And then I lowered off it, too unsure of myself and my abilities to continue. The pitch was a 5.4 on low angle slab.

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Climbing the Matterhorn

Climbing the Matterhorn, Sierra Nevada, Sawtooth Range, July 2016

I was too slow. I was too fat. Maybe my pack was too heavy. I shouldn’t have gone to the gym yesterday. Did I really need to bring my DSLR and tripod? Why couldn’t I keep up? What if he didn’t want to ever go on climbing adventures with me again? My trekking pole got stuck in a crevice. I yanked it out and subsequently knocked the handle into my eye. That was the final straw that broke the frustrated camel’s back. I tried to stop it, but one sniffle led to another. Then I was suddenly bawling on the last half mile section to our campsite for the night.

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Reminiscing on Red Rock Rendezvous 2016

Red Rock Rendezvous 2016

Friday afternoon, a week before Red Rock Rendezvous, I frantically dialed the number of the dude organizing the entire festival. In the span of an hour, en route to Joe’s Valley, I managed to completely freak out and convince myself that my measly trad skills were too measly for an advanced gear placement and anchors class. I anxiously rifled through the website, hoping for something, or anything, to tell me that I’d be okay. But somehow things looked a little different from when I bought my early bird ticket back in November. And this time around? There were skill levels associated with all the descriptions. Crap.

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Climbing Corrugation Corner

Climbing Corrugation Corner

6 AM, my alarm cut through the quiet of the night. I groggily woke up, trying not to rustle my friend beside me in the car. My night was pretty restless, filled with tossing and turning, too excited to climb to get any real sleep. This was going to be the day. I was finally going to climb Corrugation Corner.

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