Since my brother Pat disembarked onto bigger and better adventures a year of world travel. I took on the responsibility of learning and seeking the opportunity to lead rock climb and meet new climbers. Out of my comfort zone of meeting new people which wasn’t bad after all most climbers are friendly! Time to develop a belaytionship. I went online on Meetup Denver Social Climb and joined one outdoor climb befriended guys, Hakon from Norway but he was only in Denver for a few weeks on business never got a chance to climb together. Second dude Ryan never returned my text…oh well. I tried Next Door App had one response but still to this day have yet to go climb with this other climber Ajay.
Wanted: Belaytionship my name is Rod I’ve been climbing for approximately 3 years have full outdoor climbing gear. Would like to get outdoors for the first time to lead climb. Looking for other climber with safety first attitude. Prefer a climber with experience lead climb, lead belay and an all around adventurer who loves the outdoors! Willing to train lead belay and any other climbing skills in my limited array of rock climbing knowledge. Lead Belay Requirements: When I Lead Climb “First Rule: Pay Attention – Don’t drop me I don’t want to die! Second Rule: Read the First Rule Carefully!”
Feeling a little dismayed I attempted to try Meetup again but schedule didn’t quite fit or the meetup was full. I tried coaxing co-workers to join me and luckily there was one taker my co-worker Juan. No experience in rock climbing as fresh as newly fallen virgin snow. Could I train Juan to become a lead belayer in addition this would be my first time outdoor lead climbing? Just great I thought my first outdoor lead climb attempt with Juan who has never rock climbed let alone belay. As a Lead belay my life would be in Juan’s hands I chuckled. Juan is a willing participant and if there is a will there is a way…. what the heck I need to attempt this!
I joined Denver Social Climb on Facebook out of all the post one stood out. A guy named John he was new to climbing was looking for other climbers to climb with. The next day I was to climb with Juan and I thought to myself I need one more person with some experience. I reached out and he accepted the offer to join us. We all met up in the morning at Earth Treks Gym headed to East Colfax Climbing Area with 24 routes a great place for beginner lead climbers. Up Clear Creek the 6th Tunnel park to the right. We made our way to the climbing area a bit busy but were early enough to snag a route. I just wasn’t sure the level of each rock face. The easiest routes were taken up and decided on the rock face with what appeared to be a bit more challenging a 5.6. As we geared up I soon discovered John had climbed 3 times indoors never outdoors and had never used a Grigri oh great I again thought to myself another virgin! Three virgins, one fresh, one semi fresh and me my first time climbing outdoors but luckily I had experience with indoor lead. Now first and foremost I don’t want to die on my first outdoor lead I better slowly go through the protocol of using a Grigri belay device!
I provided gear for Juan with basic climbing essentials, harness, grigri belay device, locking carabiner as well as shoes and chalk if he decided to try his hand at rock climbing. If your outdoors you gotta do it climb that is! For lead belay training I went through steps of setting up the Grigri to proper feeding and braking of the rope while the lead climber takes on the rock face. From safety check of climber and belayer to hand and voice signals. With that and practice between both newbies I felt it was time to give it a whirl. I went up 3 bolts see how they handle using the device, taking and feeding the rope. My brother Pat advised for extra protection keep my hand on the belay side of the rope in case I had to take myself. With that I confidently but carefully ascended the rock face and quick clipped the bolts made it safely to the top. Only one time did I see Juan take his hand off the brake….a big NO! NO! Overall both belayers did well for the first time using a Grigri Device. My first lead climb outdoors was a success!
Two weeks later John and I met again for a rock climb at East Colfax, my desire was to amp it up and climb a 5.8 for a second outdoor lead climb. We warmed up on a 5.5 which was pretty easy. I ascended the 5.8 rock face as I pulled myself using some climbing technique and clipping in each bolt I came to the Cruxe. Just above me only one bolt remained between me the anchor. As I tried to find the foothold or hand grip it was a puzzle trying to feel for the right hold. It came to mind if I slipped the slack from the last clip I would drop several feet. I had to make it to the next bolt somehow! I reached up and without warning I found myself falling! Almost like a slow moving dream I wasn’t scared but felt myself go upside down. Feeling the motion and drop of my body I said to myself “I hope John brakes and catches my fall! With that I felt a snap as the rope and my harness took hold! A jerk I felt my body slam against the rock as my left elbow and hip hit hard! I landed…did I break something, am I alive, can I make the rest of the climb, why did I have no fear. My elbow was bloody, but no broken anything, my energy was sapped but I was alive and well! I looked down at John and he up at me! He said are “Are you okay?” With that I put a thumbs up and yelled “You past the test I found a great lead belayer!” I finished the rest of the climb and John belayed me back down! He did an excellent job and he said to me “Now I know how that Grigri works!” Lead Belayer my life was in John’s hands I’m happy to have made it with just a bloody elbow and sore hip in addition the 5.8 turned out to be a 5.9 Tweety! We were both were able to top rope a 5.10- a full climbing day with many successes! Belaytionship are hard to find!