The other day I took out an accomplished climber who had climbed so much in the gym and on boulders that he became very powerful and strong. His route climbing was still coming along too. It was his multipitch climbing that he had overlooked over his first few years as a climber.

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I took him out to climb on the second pitch of a new route that I was working on and immediately had flashbacks of other times that I had provided a first multipitch climbing experience.

Here is a list of a few things that I remember that about those times that I took new climbers out to experience the big wall.

  • I am very used to the exposure and others are not (I have seen many a person get completely freaked out at the top of a bigwall. A film maker a student , other self proclaimed “experienced” climbers, the works. It is amazing what 500 foot of overhanging terrain does to ones self confidence. I have found that being off the deck is a complete equalizer for most climbers.
  • It is easy to not trust everything that you know. (Every single time that I have taken someone out with me that has been new to being way up there, they have questioned everything about climbing. Their harness, their knot, the rope, the bolts/hangers or trad gear, the belay device, the rock and even themselves.
  •  People forget what they know. Like how to climb.
  • Really, you forgot how to walk? Often times just standing at the top of a wall is so intimidating that partners have nearly stumbled off. I have to make sure that I take extra care with those folks.
  • White knuckling becomes a way a life for some. Literally every hold, draw, hanger, rope and everything else that you can cling too becomes a life line.
  • I take for granted how good my main partners are . These folks have a total understanding and comfort level on the wall and that can not be understated. Not everyone feels like they are on the ground while on the wall.
  • Dropping things becomes normal. I have seen pretty much everything fall from someone’s hands while on the wall during their first time up. Glasses, clothing, shoes, backpacks, food, water, quick draws, cams, nuts and slings.
  • Did you really forget how to breath and belay and rappel too? Yes, there was once a time where someone rapped themselves stuck into a fixed line and I literally had to pull them out from where they were stuck. Their muscle seized and they couldn’t even move. It was quite the learning experience for me and rescuing someone from something that I didn’t ever thing needed rescuing.
  • Could you forget how to climb that much? Yes, they can. I had a 5.15 pro not be able to make it up a 5.12- pitch. It was insane!
  • And finally, lasts. Often time the experience of their first time on a big wall, lasts in their minds forever. It is always good taking someone out for the first time cause you know that it will be with them forever. Not everyday that you go climbing is like that and that is cool.

So let me know if you are looking to get out on something big for the first time. We can have a good time of it and learn some things to!