So, yesterday my brother Rod led his first route:
I like to train new climbers. Whereas some people take great joy in first ascents, or bolting new routes, I like it when a student of mine bags their firsts: First climbs, first leads, first clean, first multipitch, but especially first leads.
There’s something about seeing someone you’ve worked and trained with getting on their first lead, and when it’s your sibling, it’s even an even nicer feeling.
But I won’t teach just anyone to lead. The best present you can give a teacher is to be a good student: excited to learn, takes direction well, and enjoys the experience. Rod was all that.
When I first heard he wanted to climb, frankly I was a little reluctant to teach him. I had a gut check on safety, and exposing family to the safety systems of climbing gave me pause.
But, Rod was persistent, asking when we were going to climb next, asking what he would learn next.
There was a time, though, when he would only climb about every month (or once every two months), and after he saw the awesome photos of my trip to New Mexico, he said to tell him, that the next time I planned an away trip, to include him.
Time for his gut check.
‘You need to be more consistent in climbing. If you only climb once every 2 months you wouldn’t be able to climb the climbs we do,’ I told him.
‘Okay, don’t want to slow you guys down,’ he said
‘It’s not that, you would get frustrated at the routes we climb because you would get stopped out on them. Also, there’s a lot you can forget between sessions. I won’t be able to trust you to lead belay me if you only do this once every 2 months. If you want to be invited to the next away trip, you need to commit to climbing with me at least once per week.’
And he did.
Every week, we’d either meet at the climbing gym, or at a nearby crag, work on technique, and safety systems.
A couple months ago, I took him on his first multipitch, and we’ve done a few since then.
A couple weeks ago, I invited Rod to an away trip to Shelf Road:
He even wanted to do a night climb:
And just the other day, he performed his first lead:
I’m very proud of his achievement, that he took it upon himself to learn more about climbing, and to commit to a regular schedule of training in order to improve both his technique and his knowledge of the safety systems.
Be like Rod.
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