Tad's Birthday Weekend: Climbing at Lovers Leap, Lake Tahoe, CA

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Danielle: We're on Deception 5.6. Our guide Robert, from Epic Adventures runs his own company, and is the only guide. He took us here to warm up and determine our abilities. He was pleasantly surprised at the amount of climbing we've done, and took us on harder routes later on. Hes used to taking newbies, who complain about all the hiking you do to get to climbs, etc. Tad is below and hell clean up the gear as we proceed. This was our first pitch ever.

Tad: The routes to the top of the cliff were all three pitches long. A pitch is about one rope length, limited by the available ledges and places to build suitable anchors to belay the followers from.

For a multi pitch climb, this means the first climber, also known as the leader must climb before a rope is in place. The leader brings the rope up with him, and protects himself by placing protection such as cams and stoppers about every 10 feet or so as he climbs. These are to protect him in case he falls.

When the leader reaches the top of the pitch he sets up an anchor then belays the next person up to whatever tiny ledge he found. As you can imagine, the following climbers are placing themselves at less risk, because the rope is already in place. If a follower falls, the rope will catch them immediately, so they won't fall very far. Contrast this to a lead fall, where the leader will at a minimum fall twice the distance from the last piece of protection he placed. I say at a minimum, because if that last piece of protection pops out of the rock, the leader is in for a much longer fall.

Each following climber trails a rope for subsequent climbers to secure themselves to. When a climber reaches a piece of protection that the rope above them goes through, he un-clips the top rope from the protection, and clips the trailing rope in, then continues on up.

The last climber up doesn't trail a rope. He unclips the top rope from the protection, then removes the protection from whatever crack it is in, attaches it to his "gear sling", and climbs up.

When he arrives at the top of the pitch, he gives the gear to the climber which will be leading the next pitch. Mix, Stir, and repeat, and before we knew it, we were at the top of the climb. Of course, it would have been much quicker to just walk around the backside and hike up, but that takes all of the fun out of it!

Created: Thu Sep 12 20:33:46 PDT 2002 Slideshow Design: Danielle Valliere