Deep breath, stop shaking pull yourself together.  This is what went threw my mind every single time I tried to lead trad in the beginning.  I knew how to place protection, but I still doubted my placements and was terrified to climb above my gear.  I was trapped in a mental block and I was shutting myself down before I even touched the rock.

Before I started plugging gear, I climbed sport routes regularly and was very confident in my leading abilities.  I always felt free and loved the exhilarating rush of trying your maximum effort on the wall.  However, when I started to lead trad it was the opposite.  I felt scared and didn’t want to trust gear and certainly didn't want to fall.  I was so frustrated at myself but still couldn’t push thew my mental block.  

I was just about ready to give up on my hopes of trad climbing when I began climbing with a new partner, Nathan.  He knew I was scared but also knew I could get over this fear.  Nathan knew I was strong enough and helped me break threw my anxiety of trad climbing.  It was by no means an easy battle but little by little I got more comfortable on gear.


As my confidence grew so did my adventure and hunger for trad.  Once I felt decent leading single pitch Nathan and I threw ourself into multi pitch climbing.  I was pretty nervous to start venturing into multi pitch and honestly didn’t know if I was going to like it.  I told myself I was going to try it once and if I hated it I would never have to do it again.  I was okay with the height aspect of single pitch climbing but when you add hundreds and even thousands of feet to that you never know how you are going to react until you are in that situation.  However as it turned out I absolutely loved multi pitch climbing.  The views you see and experience are breathtaking and the adrenaline from topping out a big rock face is indescribable.

Before I knew it Nathan and I found ourselves in North Carolina, Colorado, Kentucky, and even Squamish British Columbia climbing multi pitch trad.  We’ve climbed routes from three hundred feet to fifteen hundred feet and this is all within one year.  I saw myself grow from a terrified climber who couldn’t even lead single pitch to a confident multi pitch trad climber.  Trad climbing has opened my eyes to a whole new world and brought me out of my comfort zone as a climber.  I am so appreciative to this new form of climbing and want anyone who is struggling with trad to please not give up.  It is scary and can be very dangerous but it is also beautiful and rewarding in so many ways.  Trust me friends if I can get over my fear of plugging gear so can anyone who has the determination and heart for adventure.  So please everyone get out there find a mentor and enjoy the crazy amazing ride of trad climbing, and please please don’t forget to take a few minutes on every climb and take in the spectacular views, it will change your life I promise.


Cheers, Shell