Technically my first ever lead was on eney at Wilton 3 a VDiff, but It was a route I had top roped many a time and knew well. It was picked mainly because the beginners rack held between Will Shaw and me, (1 set of wires and 10 quick draws) meant the choices where limited. Becasue I knew the route well it was a straightforward climb, but still a little nerve racking when I was on it. When Dereck text me on Sat night suggesting a trip over to Stanage. I was in, it would get me out of a family dinner and give me a bit more experience on the rock which I could take back to leading. As soon as Dereck heard I had got my first lead under my belt, the plans changed I was committed.
To get us off Derek lead a few climbs first off. A VDiff and an Severe to follow, both felt really nice except it was bloody freezing with the wind on us I could barely feel my hands. It was time for me to have a go. After a quick introduction to placing and retrieving friends (the rack between me and will at Wilton did not stretch to active protection). I was ready.
Derek passed me his rack. It didn’t look as shiny as the gear in the shop. He must have sensed by concern and he gave me a little pep talk before I set off about, how he has had some of the same gear since for over 20years, and how some of his best gear including his new hex had been found stuck in the rock on previous routes. Safe in the knowledge that the gear I was going to protect myself, was as robust as it looked. I set off. The route was a straight forward corner crack. And straightforward climbing. It felt a whole lot more committed knowing I was fully in charge and was struggling to keep my mind focused on the route rather than the floor at the bottom! It was this I think that made me drop the friend I was trying to put in at the crux. I composed myself stuck in another a friend and progressed to the top with a sense of elevation, which was shortly cut down as Derek followed with a word for missing some placements and my 50/50 belay. Nearly!?
The second route was a straight forward route a Vdiff with a simple climb bridging through a cave to the roof. I stuck some gear lower down while I poked around to see how I could protect myself going over the small roof. A nice crack to the right allowed me to stick in a friend. Heeding Derek’s advice from the last climb I backed it up with a smaller friend behind. With the gear solid, I moved up and over the crux and finished the rest of the climb with relative ease. At the top I set up a equalised belay with a hex and a cam and brought Dereck up. 3 down plenty more to go. I was now on the right path and hopefully with the change in the season I will get plenty of chance to crack on. Don’t get me wrong there is plenty more to learn but I am glad to be on the right path, and a thanks for Derek for getting on that path.