We left for another weekend in Yosemite on Friday evening, with our fingers crossed that Congress would come to a budget agreement so that the park would not shut down with the rest of the government shortly after we got there. Thankfully, they did.
I had a fantastic time, and I feel I made huge progress in gaining confidence leading trad (the type of climbing where the leader places protection such as cams and nuts into cracks and crevices along his way). I’m a pretty new trad climber—the couple of pitches I had previously led on trad gear were overwhelmed with feelings of angst, uncertainty about how well I had placed my gear, and an inability to think about anything other than the prospect of falling. In other words they had not been very fun, and I subsequently found myself always just following what the more experienced leaders had led with no motivation to push my own leading abilities. But somehow, at the base of Pat and Jack Pinnacle on Saturday morning, I felt a surge of confidence. Even though the first pitch of the route, “Golden Needles”, was a little wet and slippery, I actually felt excited about the prospect of leading it. And once I was on it, even though I took a long time carefully placing gear and thinking through each move, I enjoyed the whole thing.
My sudden eagerness to lead carried through the next day, and Matt “The Norg”, and I decided to do “Munginella”—a 5.6, three pitch, four-star route on Five Open Books. I led the first and third pitch, and felt totally psyched about the easy but sustained climbing. Being on lead now felt thrilling and liberating, rather than scary and inhibiting. And on the belay ledges I got to enjoy incredible views of Half Dome across the way.
Now it’s back to the books, while I scheme and dream about what I’ll lead next.