You may not have noticed but I haven’t been on a lead route in more than a year. I’ve also never captured a clean climb on a lead route, ever! The sadness ends today with this 5.8 route at evo Rock + Fitness in Portland, aptly named ‘Rub the Belly.’
Today marks a milestone in the history of the figure8 Podcast because I have now climbed the first ever lead route clean (not to mention on sight) but more importantly it was climbed ‘squeaky clean’ which means there were no breaks and no hanging on the rope.
I really like this orange route for those making the transition from top rope or mock lead to full lead climbing because it is really approachable.
The first hold gives this route its name, Rub the Belly. The first hold looks a lot like a Buddha belly and the best start is to put two hands around the top of the belly.
Every clip has solid holds so you know your not going to take an embarrassing fall but it is also still challenging enough to make the top out feel like a victory. There is a small overhanging roof that is totally possible for most people but not so easy that you feel like your in the kids section on lead.
If you’re looking for some more lead practice, there are a few other routes set up at evo right now that are slightly out of range for an on sight lead but could be climbed on mock lead for some beta before attempting a lead climb. The clips for a mock lead are only ideal for adjacent routes so be mindful when you are on lead. If you are brave, just nail it first try or take the whipper, but if you are like me… maybe down climb a few holds to avoid a big swing.
In any case, if you want to get on the sharp end of a lead route, I would strongly recommend Rub the Belly to build up some confidence.
(Update: 04/10/2017 Rub the Belly is still set up but its days are numbered!)