Sunday, April 16, 2017

Trad and Aid Climbing Training with Derek

Derek leading Supremacy Crack on aid

Derek and I headed to the Dome to climb the East Slab, but it was busy so we headed up Cozyhang (3 pitdhes, 5.7). When we got there the East Slab party was geared up and ready to go. In the time they did that route and descended, Derek and I climbed Cozyhang and then the East Slab (5.6) and were back down for a second lap before they got down. Derek then led the East Slab - his first trad lead! He did great and put in lots of good gear. He enjoyed it. We were then going to maybe do Cozyhang again, with Derek leading this time, but another party was at the first belay. In the time it took them to climb the second pitch, which is about forty feet long, Derek and I ate and drank, packed up, hiked over to Monster Woman (3 pitches, 5.9), geared up and climbed that route. I led it as one pitch, but you get the point. It was super windy out at that point and we decided that was enough for today. Fun stuff. Derek was a natural on lead and we'll work to get him a lot more experience fast. was all about training Derek up on trad leading and aid climbing. Before today Derek had led only one trad pitch - the East Slab on the Dome (5.6).

Derek on his very first trad lead: East Slab on the Dome
The next weekend we headed to Eldorado Canyon for more trad climbing and for some initial aid practice. We started with me leading the first pitch of Calypso because the Wind Ridge (our first choice) was busy. We then simul-rapped to the ground and Derek led the same pitch.

Derek leading at the crux of Reggae
 I then led up Reggae and things were getting really crowded on the Wind Tower. It was time to move quickly. Derek followed and descended to the rappel anchors just before another team was ready to rappel. Thank goodness as they took about 20 minutes to rappel. We simul-rapped down to the halfway ledge and then Derek did his first trad onsight lead up the West Overhang (5.7). He cruised it easily and we got on it just before another party was ready to do it. This was also good since the second of that party hung on the roof three times.
Derek leading Calypso
Derek got back up to the rappel anchors before the leader of the party we got in front on our first rappel had left it! I followed and we simul-rapped again down to the same ledge. Now Derek led Reggae - his first 5.8 trad lead. He cruised it, placing bomber gear the entire way and finding great placements.

I then led the traverse pitch over to the bottom of the third pitch of the Wind Ridge and Derek led the roof to the top. We scrambled to the rappel anchors and did another simul-rappel.

We then ran into our friend John Black and headed over to the first pitch of the Bulge - a runout, serious 5.7 lead. I led up it first and Derek followed, checking out the placements and the climbing.

Derek leading the first pitch of the Bulge

Then Derek led the pitch and he looked super solid and got in even more gear than I had placed. Impressive. I followed and fixed a rope for John to climb on and then we descended back to the car for food and water.

We then drove up the canyon to the Supremacy area and I aided up Supremacy Crack, teaching Derek the techniques involved. I put in an anchor on top and lowered down. Then I had Derek follow the route on aiders, like he was leading an overhanging bolt ladder, except that he removed all the gear as he went.

I then lowered him down and he led the route, placing all his own gear, though I had him on a toprope, just in case. He did very well. He had one piece pop on him, but he suspected it was bad. He did swing off the route, though, as he never weighted the toprope. He fell onto the lower piece, which he was still clipped to.

Derek aiding up Supremacy Crack
He back cleaned all his gear as he went, which is a useful technique to know and it also allowed him to have all his gear available for each placement. That made the leading a bit easier, but it was only his first time aid leading on gear, so a good first step.

Oh, this crack leans left and overhangs significantly, so it is actually quite a difficult introduction into aid climbing. I couldn't think of a better alternative in Eldo that wouldn't be crowded. All while we were doing this two different parties were working on climbing The Web (13b) which is only 5-10 feet left of Supremacy Crack. Chad Greedy was up there with his girlfriend (Emily?) and she sent the route on her second try. That was impressive.

It was a great training day for us. I have Derek on a bit of a crash course, as we plan to climb El Cap in June.

1 comment:

Gayla Wright said...

Sounds like Derek is learning fast. Bill, you are an excellent teacher, but are you moving Derek along too fast? When are you going to El Cap? Is that at Half Dome? Will you bivwack overnight? I am, as always, concerned for all this adventuring. Love you both, Ñaña