April 28 and May 19, 2013.
My climbing had taken a nose dive since moving away from Portland so in an attempt to get back into it, I signed up to assist new trad leaders on their Mazamas Advanced Rock practice weekends at Smith Rock. I chose to participate on just a couple of days so I’d have time to do my own climbing, too.
On April 28 I met my partner Kristin at the picnic tables near the parking lot. From there we talked about what she wanted to climb. We decided to take a walk down to the Lower Gorge to try out some moderates there. I was pretty familiar with that area so I was happy to head on out that way.
She was a strong climber and safe about placing protection, but she was a little nervous to be on lead. She led three climbs in the 5.7-5.8 range and called it a day.
On May 29, I repeated the drill: meet the group at the parking lot and get paired up with a new leader. Today I climbed with Andrea. We began on Friday’s Jinx (5.7), a two-pitch climb. She led the first pitch and then started the second. At the base of the dihedral, she decided to come back down. I picked it up from there. It was my first lead of the year and it felt good to have that behind me!
Next up, Andrea led Rabbit Stew, a fun 5.7 trad lead. It’s technically a crack but there are so many face holds it moves like a sport climb. I followed her lead and then had her toprope it so she could practice hanging on her gear. This hopefully helped her build up some confidence in her placements. The afternoon finished up with two quick leads: a trad 5.7 and a sport 5.8, before returning to the parking lot.
I was happy to have spent a couple days climbing with other women who were wrapping their heads around leading trad. This class did so much for me when I was a new leader and I enjoyed giving back to the program. It didn’t hurt that these were two fun, strong, capable women that were great to be around. I’ll take more opportunities to surround myself with these folks whenever I can.