First Trad Lead! Also, Mary Climbs Seneca!

We had a heck of a day recently.

I’ve been trying to learn how to trad lead.  For those who are not climbers, trad climbing is placing your own removable protection in the rock as you climb, thereby protecting yourself from falling too far if you slip.  Its a bit more technical and dangerous than sport leading, where you clip into bolts screwed into the wall because if you don’t place your protection correctly, it may pull out if you fall on it.

The issue wasn’t not knowing how to do it; the issue has been finding the time.  A couple weeks ago my dad and I managed to get a day off on the same day.  My younger sister Mary was able to join us as well.

We left Harrisonburg early; all our adventures seem to start this way.  We had our sights on Skyline Traverse, a three pitch 5.3 that would take us to Luncheon Ledge.  There, we would climb Old Ladies Route, another three pitch 5.3, that would take us to the summit ridge.  6 pitches and about 600 feet of climbing all told.

I led the first pitch of Skyline Traverse up a corner/gully system.  I focused on placing good protection and climbing well.  I did my very best not to look at the panorama behind me!  When I reached the belay ledge at the top of the first pitch, I built an anchor and brought Mary up.  Then we brought Dad up.

Dad led the second pitch, and then I led the third pitch to Luncheon Ledge.  I then led the first and second pitches of Old Ladies Route, and let dad take the final pitch up Windy Corner.  Getting to the summit felt all the better since I had helped lead.

It was also Mary’s first time on the South Summit.  So, all in all, a day of firsts for all of us!

Here are some pictures.  They turned out really well for having come from a point and shoot disposable camera.

Mary climbs the first pitch of Skyline Traverse.
Hanging out on the first belay ledge at the top of the first pitch.
She's thinking, "How did they talk me into this?!?"
Mary on the South Summit!
Mary and I on the South Summit.
Group shot!!!
I love the fall.

Now that I know I can lead, I intend to do it as much as possible.  Hopefully soon…







2 thoughts on “First Trad Lead! Also, Mary Climbs Seneca!

  1. layla mayes

    Hi, My name is Layla Mayes, I was on the rock climbing website and I saw that you were about 1 hour and 40 minutes away from where I lived so I thought about messaging you about partnering up if you were interested. I bought myself a beginners kit, I have been trying to look for partners in the area of harpersferry but I haven’t any luck with that. So if you are intersted in partnering up with a beginner, you can email me at
    Nice pictures, they are very nice:)

    1. Layla, great to hear from you! I’d be happy to climb with you. We’re a bit late in the season, so we may have to wait until spring though…while its possible to climb in late November, it tends to be a bit chilly…

      I will shoot you an email asap at your address. Also, glad you enjoyed the pictures! I can’t lie, my dad actually took them!

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