Why Can’t We Just Go Hiking

The next of our 6 Rock Camp participants to be featured: Scott from North Vancouver!

“Everybody falls on Scott Leitchtheir first trad lead”, prophesized my belay partner and fellow climbing novice Sam, as I desperately attempted to place a piece of pro. I was entertaining the idea of placing the largest nut I had with me, when two of the previously placed nuts sprang out of cracks and gracefully made their way down to Sam. “I think you are supposed to attach a draw to nuts so that they do not come out when you pull on the rope…” Another essential piece of beta offered up by my equally inexperienced friend and coworker Sam.

Earlier that day, Sam and I had decided that it was imperative that we learn how to place gear on lead. “How else are we going to climb some peaks brah?!” I remember uttering with a naivety found in only the simplest of animals. We begged colleagues, friends and family to loan us gear. Due to my total lack of humility, everyone assumed that I was destined for rock climbing prowess and stardom, a la Alex Honnold with a better hair cut and more beer. Included in our bounty were two helmets ditched at the bottom of a ‘top 100’ 5.9 and enough passive pro to create a ladder up any multi-pitch in Squamish. We were fortunate enough to have one piece of bomber gear: a Petzl Nomad 9.8mm rope.

I grab the only draw I could find on my harness, an old Petzl Spirit Express, though it looked as though it had been used as a pre-placed draw for a 5.15 project. Both biners had significant wear at the point where the rope and wire meet with metal. I attach it to a desperate nut placement and watch as it walks back and forth in the opening crack. The climb was a disparaging 5.8 in Murrin Park and I was acting all too casual about what seemed like an impossibly long crux.

Thanks for the gear Uncle B

I jam my feet into the crack and begin to breathe deeply and sharply, hoping my partner will stop with his incessant “constructive criticism”. One more move to reach the anchor bolts and I can give up climbing forever. I will tell my friends and coworkers that I am moving on to do something more challenging like road cycling or gymnastics. One hand reaches the crest of the boulder at the top and I place both feet below and tether myself to the anchor.

“F*** that. ThScott Leitch2at was not fun at all.” I exclaimed, devoid of enthusiasm. “Not worth doing then, eh?” Sam graciously responded.

“No, you should do it; the crux was awesome.” An impossible contradiction that Sam understood and thankfully did not question.

Neither the once clean Nomad rope or the metallic death traps posing as draws saved my life but they did grant me a rare opportunity to feel alive and develop a hopefully life long passion for all things vertical. I still climb well below a respectable level but at least I have the common sense to use safe gear and continue climbing using my Petzl rope and newly acquired draws and biners.

 

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