The ladies practicing taking lead falls on an overhanging wall at Exit 38. 

The ladies practicing taking lead falls on an overhanging wall at Exit 38. 

Date: June 24th, 2017

Location: Exit 38, North Bend, WA

Author: Janessa Zucchetto

Clinic Host: Audrey Sniezek, Professional Rock Climbing

Climbing Type: Sport / Lead Climbing

Last month I was privileged to attend a NSM lead clinic at Exit 38 hosted by Audrey Sniezek. The clinic began with a short lesson on gearing up, instruction on clipping, and some critical details about lead belaying. Following our introduction, we completed two warm up climbs where we practiced leading from the safety of a top rope belay (each climber tied into two ropes). After an informative lunch break, we put our bravery to the test on a nice 5.9 that had a small but distinct roof about seven clips up. The mission: lead the first seven clips then take some falls. First a small fall—with the clip at your waist, then progressively larger falls. All the ladies challenged themselves to take falls a little bigger than they were confident to take, and worked to accomplish their individual goals. Throughout the clinic, Audrey answered our questions in detail—she shared with us her own preferences and philosophy on various aspects of climbing. For me, the clinic accomplished two things: 1) I took my first lead falls outside—this has made lead climbing significantly less scary for me. And 2) I acquired knowledge that allows me to belay with much more skill and confidence (something that I did not expect to get out of the clinic). I appreciated that Audrey was responsive to our concerns, and was patient in helping us work through fears of leading and falling. Audrey is extremely knowledgeable and puts a great emphasis safety. I would not hesitate to attend another one of her clinics!