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Weekend Whipper: First-time Trad Leader Pulls 3 (out of 4) Pieces

This climber's first trad lead nearly ended in disaster.

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Readers, please send your Weekend Whipper videos, information, and any lessons learned to Anthony Walsh, awalsh@outsideinc.com.

When the first set of COVID lockdowns ended in the U.K. in 2020, many climbers were eager to get after it. At the time (and when this video was taken), Sam was a budding trad climber with a lot of post-lockdown stoke. He headed to the Hobson Moor Quarry, a crag near Manchester, and hopped on Crews Route (VS/5.7) for his first-ever trad lead.

“I didn’t own anything but a pair of shoes, harness, chalk bag, and rope so I rang my brother and borrowed his trad rack, which [was] just a set of old DMM nuts that had long been retired into his garden shed,” Sam wrote.

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Sam made it up most of the way up Crews Route, just below a spacious ledge, when he popped off. Much to his surprise, three out of his four nut placements blew and his top piece arrested the fall. As you’ll see in the clip, the belayer’s position away from the wall put an outward and upward strain on the nut placements, causing them to “zipper” out of the pitch. To learn more about nut placements, and to avoid a zipper like Sam’s, check out this extensive article on placing nuts.

Though thoroughly shaken after this fall, Sam got back on and sent the route second go. And in the two years since this near-miss, Sam is pleased to report he now owns a helmet, a trad rack, and some important gear-placing knowledge.

Happy Friday, and be safe out there this weekend. To watch the full library of Weekend Whippers, click here.