5.6 | Steep Sheep

I have been climbing on the guest pass of a friend at Salt Pump for a while. We have a routine, we climb a few top rope routes, get pumped out and call it a day. I’m lead certified at evo Rock + Fitness but had never bothered to get lead certified elsewhere. Until today, when we decided it was time to take my lead test.

I haven’t been climbing lead in a while so I was a bit nervous that I was not going to finish the test. You see, when you test on lead, they often ask you to climb on a route above a specific grade. Since I’ve been rocking the 5.6 – 5.10 routes lately, I wasn’t too excited to test on a 5.11 lead route. Especially since 5.10 has been the extent of my top rope game so my lead ability has been around a 5.8.

When I asked to certify at the front desk, they said I would need to climb a 5.10a or harder to certify. That did not mean I would need to complete the route but I would need to get at least 3-5 clips in to the route before demonstrating a lead fall. I was not worried about failing the test if I could not finish, I was more worried that I would get 2 clips into a 5.10a and slip off a crimp and embarrass myself.

Lucky for me, they had just done a reset of most lead areas and almost none of the routes were graded. That eliminated a lot of over hanging routes with small holds. We ended up finding this nice green route, that may have been rated 5.8 or 5.9 but looked like a great start with a little over hang so I would have a nice fall. I stuck all the clips, took my fall, and then nailed the lead belay test.

After completing my lead test, I was now free to try any of the lead routes. I tried a 5.8 purple route with no over hang but a lot of corner work. I almost made the top out on the first try but missed it by a few holds. I will have to take my new beta and try again next time. Later we tried a blue route rated 5.8 with a feature that looked like a beach ball sized death star. I made it up to the second clip before I realized I had bit off more than I could chew. I ended up finding a fun yellow route where the main lead wall meets the center pillar. The staff said the yellow routes were ‘warm up’ routes, but that must be for the pro climbers. I made it three or so clips in and couldn’t commit to the next move. I had to leave it and live to climb another day.

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