Sunday, 15 March 2015

First Lead Climb

Back in January I set out to Birchen Edge with Chris (ElectronicMountainLeader) and Atko with the intention of doing my first lead climb on a smaller crag. We’d sat down the night before and decided my first lead was going to be on a climb called Stoker’s Wall graded Diff, to break me in gently. Upon arrival I spent a few minutes with them both practising gear placements, and waiting for some remote control car people who decided to carry out repairs right at the bottom of the crag to move.

 First gear placement

20 minutes later and off I went. I spent a few minutes at the bottom of the climb faffing with my first gear placement, not because I wasn’t happy with it, I was just trying to calm my nerves. Without realising, after the first move, I strayed left of the climb and straight onto Stoked which is graded at Severe 4a, which is the level I need to be climbing at for my SPA assessment.  I climbed pretty well up until the crux at the top of the climb; I just couldn’t get any grip with my right foot and was struggling to find a handhold to help me push up. At this point I was getting really frustrated with myself as I thought I was still on Stoker’s wall, and I didn’t like the idea of being defeated by a Diff as I knew id climbed much harder grades on Top Rope before. If I was struggling to finish a Diff how was I ever going to be able to complete my SPA? I didn’t really have much choice other than to top out or fall. I managed it, in the end I just had to trust my foot placement and maul my way over the top.

The crux

At the top of the climb

At the top I didn’t really feel a sense of pride, I just wanted to get away from the crag, as I was stood shivering and was starting to question my ability. The main problem I have with climbing is that I have poor circulation in my hands and feet which makes it really hard to grip sometimes, especially in the cold and windy weather. It was only on the way back in the car when we realised I’d actually climbed across onto Stoked that I felt an overwhelming sense of relief, and felt happy that I’d successfully completed my first lead climb. 

Packing up with numb hands

Video of my first lead climb


  1. Congratulations on your first lead climb! Pretty cool huh?

    1. Thanks :) yeah It's a great sense of freedom knowing that you're not relying on anything other than your own skill to get you to the top.

  2. Have you considered getting checked for something called Raynaud's disease? I also struggle with my circulation when climbing because of this, it means my hands and feet are always quite numb, especially in the Winter, not much that can be done about it sadly, but I'm glad to see there are other people who climb with poor circulation!

    1. I looked into it and spoke to my dr about it but he said he couldn't diagnose anything without seeing me with the symptoms of it. Which is pretty hard in a warm little village dr's surgery. Glad to know I'm not the only one out there too! :)