My friend Jennilyn is afraid of crack climbing. The one time she tried it, she knew that her feet and/or hands would get stuck in the crack and break right off when she fell. Needless to say her first time crack climbing last year basically sealed the deal that this style of climbing was not for her - citing the fact that if she didn't break her hands or ankles off in the cracks, then for sure if she were to lead all of her gear would just fall out; leaving only the ground to catch her fall!
I had a different theory than hers. If you understand the movement of crack climbing and how to jam your hands and feet, then you'll progress upward in control, and as a result of being in control, you'll have a clear head to place solid, confidence boosting gear. The idea is - getting to the top of the route is a direct result of skill rather than happenstance or luck. Do it right or don't do it at all; climbing is dangerous...
We planned a trip to the City of Rocks this week where my idea was to get Jennilyn prepped to lead an easy traditional route before we left on Saturday. So, for several days we roamed the Granite formations at the City of Rocks chasing shade and climbing a variety of cracks.
Jennilyn is not a fan of lead climbing. I'm talking about sport routes! She's pretty gun shy and almost always prefers to top-rope a climb. As a result i can only think of one 5.11a that she has red pointed and just a handful of easy routes under 5.10 that she has lead. So for her the thought of lead climbing even one route that requires placing gear is about a realistic as her going to the moon.
I say if you wanna go to the moon, then GO TO THE MOON!
Well, my theory worked. And the result was her first ever gear lead. Now some of you have climbed at the City of Rocks and may be thinking that she chose to climb Wheat Thin 5.7, or Carols Crack 5.6, or any number of classic beginner routes. Well, i'm hear to tell you that my theory worked so well, Jennilyn lead in perfect style (calm, in control, deliberate, and placing correct gear) on the obscure Inner City route, Heartbreaker 5.10d! Only taking one fall at the crux; then sending the rest of the route with ease!
I shot some photos of the little braveheart leading her first ever gear route. Enjoy!