I spent the past two weekends in along the Tieton River learning to not only climb crack, but place traditional protection. My hard work of spending countless hours in the climbing gym paid off by allowing me to focus on crack climbing and placing protection.
We started the first weekend by performing “mock leads” where we are protected by a top rope and trail a rope tied into our harness while we place protection and “clip” the rope into that protection. An experienced instructor would then rappel down with us, inspect our gear, and give us feedback on our placement. Within the first two mock leads I started to dial in cam placement, sizing, and pockets/flaring to secure my cam from walking. I was surprised by how much cams walk while extended! I ensured that while I was on mock lead I acted like I was truly on my own gear without a top rope which helped with the mental factor
What I found hardest wasn’t the mental block of being on gear that I placed myself, leading, or even the technique, but selecting good placements and managing my gear budget. I found my placement becoming more poor when I felt I did not have the right size of protection, or started to rush gear placement to continue on the route to the point my Camalot #3 become stuck. (I later retrieved it).
I passed my evaluation by leading 3 routes on gear during the second weekend with near flawless placement.
I’m excited to continue to improve upon my climbing and trad skills, with trips planned to Leavenworth, Squamish, and Smith rock in the coming weeks along with learning both sport and alpine multipitch.