Thursday night I joined Daniela for a bit of climbing at Salveo Gym in Sunbyberg. . At Daniela's urging, I tried lead climbing for the first time, on two different routes up the twenty-six meter high climbing wall. This was indoor sport climbing, because I clipped the rope into quickdraws attached to permanent anchors in the wall. So it's still not traditional climbing; that would involve putting protection devices into natural rock on the way up. But it still was a good way to get accustomed to some aspects of leading a route.
When leading a route, one pulls the rope up from below instead of simply following the rope up to an anchor point high above. This means that the lead climber must clip the rope into higher and higher anchor points as he ascends. To do this, the lead climber must have one hand free to grab slack in the rope and clip it into the next anchor point (usually a bolt hanger or a quickdraw). To clip the rope into a quickdraw, one must have a hand free; this usually entails hanging from the other hand, something that can be quite tiring.
Also, because the lead climber usually climbs a bit above the last bit of protection before clipping into t the next one, the distance he can fall if he looses his grip is somewhat farther than when climbing with a top-rope. For example, if one climbs a meter above the last place once clipped in, a potential fall of a bit more than two meters awaits if one looses one's grip.
The prospect of falling several meters is something that can be a bit scary at first, especially if one is accustomed to climbing with a top-rope. A couple of times during my two ascents, I was just about at the end of my endurance when I managed to clip the rope into the next quickdraw and put both hands back on the rock or lean back and put my weight on the rope. Exciting!