Guest Author: Protection Is Always a Good Idea
At the beginning of every climbing season, I tend to spend a couple days leading local moderates. The idea is to deemphasize the climbing difficulty, instead focusing on bomber gear placement, protecting the second, and efficient anchor building. The end result, ideally, is to get my head in the right mindset for what will hopefully be a good season of trad climbing.
After a long winter of indoor climbing, the Spadebug has been itching to get out. Not surprisingly then, I was able to convince the “ladies man” to spend a couple of days swapping leads at Rattlesnake Rocks and Quincy Quarry.
Of course, Mickey, in a zest to put some of his own scratches on his new, albeit secondhand, rack, was A.D.D.ing when I explained the intention of these outings. So instead, on his first lead of the season (and wearing his approach shoes because the route looked “too easy”), he charged up the climb’s initial 20 feet, not placing any gear. Having ignored the solid cracks below because he “didn’t need anything that low,” a suddenly freaked Spades was in a precarious situation, desperately trying to slot in a nut. To make matters worse, he’d forgotten his chalk.
Picture: Mickey, looking EXTREME with his “new” rack.
A couple days later, the Spadebug’s confidence again trumped prudence. This time, leading a corner arête at Quincy, he was again 20 feet off the deck, facing yet another unprotected fall. Eventually, he was able to fiddle one of his small nuts into a welcoming crack and press to safety, but not before an epic, 1/2 hour meltdown, portions of which I captured on video.
Video: Mickey experiencing an un-epic.
Although I got what I wanted out of these outings, it is unclear what, if anything, Mickey Spades learned from them. Hopefully though, “ladies man” Spades finally figured out one thing — that using protection from the start is always good idea, because you never know what the climb will give you.