How To Big Wall Climb - Gear 3: Haulbags, Hauling and Bivy Gear

Sunday May 6, 2012
top left corner top right corner
Tommy Caldwell inside hanging out between burns on Mescalito, El Capit...
Tommy Caldwell inside hanging out between burns on Mescalito, El Capitan.
Credit: Chris McNamara
bottom left corner bottom right corner

How To Big Wall Climb: Hauling and Bivy Gear
This is part of my How To Big Wall Climb project. View the table of contents here. You can read about basic aid gear here.

A Note About Links
The links go to our Price Finder where you can see if we have a review for that gear and then search for the best price. If you then buy something from that online retailer after clicking on one of those links, we get a little piece of the sale. If you are thinking about buying some of the gear mentioned in this article, we would appreciate it if you would click on one of the links before you buy. It won’t cost you anything extra, and it does help support this website. Thanks for keeping us in mind. Our affiliates are Altrec, EMS, Moosejaw, Mountain Gear, Mammoth Gear, Backcountry, Patagonia, and REI.

Chris Mac Pick
I add (Chris Mac Pick) after any gear that is currently my favorite. Click here to see what is currently on my El Capitan rack.

Gear Reviews
You can see all our big wall gear reviews here

Haul Rope
The ideal haul rope depends on what climb you are doing. If I am doing The Nose or Half Dome in just one bivvy and have a relatively light bag, I take a 8mm 60m static line. For most two to three-day walls I take a 9.5mm static line because the bags will be heavier and the line will take more abuse. For massive loads, I would take a 10mm static line. A 10mm static is a little heavy if you are free climbing, so I usually also have a 50 to 100-foot 6mm tag line. For the first 100 feet of the pitch I just trail the line. At 100 feet the 10mm static is attached. Then when I get to the belay I pull up the tag line to get to the 10mm static. This involves a lot more rope management, but it makes leading more pleasant and means you can pull up gear all the way until you are 150 feet out from the belay.

Some folks like the option of hauling with a lead line. That way, if the lead line gets damaged you have the haul line to use as a backup. This is a reasonable strategy. However, I find it is so much nicer to use a static, especially a thin static, that it is worth the trade off. Also, in 100-plus walls I have never damaged the lead line to the point I had to retreat. Usually, when I damage the rope it happens close to one end. So I then make sure to lead off the good end (using the tip above about having athletic tape).

Tag Line
A tag line is not always necessary. They are necessary on a route like The Nose that has giant pendulums (there sometimes is not enough lead rope left to be able to follow the pendulum). They are also necessary if you have a heavy haul line (see above) or you want to be able to pull up gear. I usually use 6mm to 7mm accessory cord in a length ranging from 50 to 100 feet.

Lower-out Line
There are three lower-out lines I use:
 No lower out line. Instead, tie in the haul bag with my 60m haul line so that there is 10 to 20 extra feet. This amount can always be adjusted during the climb. If I am lazy, I usually go with this option because it doesn't require tracking down a lower-out line.
 A 20 to 30-foot piece of 8 mil cord: Just find an extra piece and you are good to go. This is a good option because you get to keep the full length of your haul line and it useful when tieing in the bag with the munter mule knot.
 A 50-plus-foot 8mm lower-out line. This is necessary on a route like The Nose where there are giant traverses and pendulums.

Cordalettes are your number one defense against bad belay clusters. They are mandatory for any wall with natural anchors. I use to make my cordalettes by taking a 20-foot piece of 7 nylon cord and then tie a figure-eight at each end. In general, you can equalize four pieces with this. Today, I would just buy 20 feet of the Mammut Pro Cord (Chris Mac Pick).

A lighter option is to use 5.5mm Spectra or Dyneema cord. The downside with spectra is that it does not stretch as much as nylon. Therefore, on a massive fall onto the belay there will be more force transferred to the pieces with spectra than with nylon. The downside to nylon is that it is going to be a lot more bulky and is harder to untie after loaded. I generally go with spectra but you will need to decide what your own priorities are: weight and ease of use or ability to reduce shock loading if there is a fall onto the belay. Check out our climbing sling review to read about the difference between Spectra/Dyneema and nylon.

There are also some pre-made cordalettes like the Trango Equalizer and the Metolius Equalizer. I have never used them so i can't give much of a review. They appear to be easy to use and convenient. However, they are also more bulky and heavy than just buying some cord and making your own.

Hauling Devices
Hauling devices like the Petzl Pro Traxion (Chris Mac Pick) are great because they are simple and efficient, unlike the old-school hauling method with a pulley, two Ascenders, and extra weights and slings. In general, you want to have a pulley that is at least one inch in diameter. If my bag is really light, I will bring the Petzl Mini Traxion (Chris Mac Pick) because it is lighter weight. If you have really heavy loads, you will want to buy a three-inch diameter pulley and set up the old fashioned hauling method with Ascenders. Check our our complete Hauling Device Review and our Hauling Device Buying Advice.
top left corner top right corner
The four main hauling device options.
The four main hauling device options.
bottom left corner bottom right corner

Haul Bags
Check out our article Haul Bag Buying Advice where we explain what is important to look for when buying a haul bag.

And we have a complete review of haul bags here titled Haul Bag Review - The Best Bags for Big Wall Climbing

I really miss the old A5 ledges. They were light and simple to set up.

The current offerings of the Black Diamond Cliff Cabana and Metolius Bomb Shelter Portaledge (Chris Mac Pick) are both great ledges but they are HEAVY. I also find them much harder to set up than the old A5. I have a friend who had to delay his El Cap ascent by a few months when he tweaked his shoulder trying to get the spreader bar on (I won't name which brand it was; both spreader bars are equally cantankerous in my experience). Those gripes aside, once these ledges are set up they are deluxe. Very comfy, very bomber.

What I am excited about are the new rain-flys that are bomber. You can read a review of the BD one here. I have not used the Metolius but I hear it is great, too.

If you are not in a rush, consider a Fish portaledge. They are made to order and wait times can be one to two months or more, but these ledges have many happy users and are much lighter than the BD or Metolius ledges. They are also hundreds of dollars less. I have never used one so I can't give a review.

I don't mention single portaledges because I have only used one on maybe three of 100 big wall ascents and always wished I had a double. The reasons: it is much easier to set up a bivvy with just one double portaledge and there there used to be a giant overall weight savings to bringing one double ledge instead of two single ledges. However, that was when the widely available double ledges were only slightly heavier than the single ledges. Today, double ledges are so heavy that it is not that much extra weight to bring two lighter weight single ledges. It's a personal call. I still prefer just one double ledge because overall you will save weight and it makes the bivvy setup much easier. But soloists and people that really want their own personal space may prefer a single ledge.

top left corner top right corner
Black Diamond Cliff Cabana Double Portaledge
Black Diamond Cliff Cabana Double Portaledge
bottom left corner bottom right corner

Sleeping Pads
The best option by far is the Therm-a-Rest Ridge Rest SOLite (Chris Mac Pick). I get the small (48" size) which fits in any portaledge. For low angle routes, I line the haul bag with it. The Therm-a-Rest Ridge Rest Solar is a warmer and beefier version of this pad. But because it does not come in a small size and is much thicker, it is hard to fit two of these in a haulbag and everything else you need to haul. For an overhanging route, an inflatable pad like the Therm-a-Rest Prolite is nice because it is easy to pack. At a hanging belay, it can be really tricky to line the haul bag with your foam sleeping pad every morning. However, on most walls I climb, a sleeping pad is not really mandatory. And if you need to camp on top of the wall for a night, a rain fly or haul bag will work great to insulate you from the ground. View our complete Best Sleeping Pad Review to see how top pads compare.

Sleeping Bag
A synthetic sleeping bag is mandatory for walls: never use down. If you are in a storm, being in a portaledge is one of the most wet and soaking experiences you can have. There is a 90 percent-plus chance your bag will get wet, even if you have a bivy sack and a bomber rain fly over the portaledge. If you have a down bag, it will quickly turn to mush and make you even colder. I have always used the North Face Cats Meow (Chris Mac Pick) because it is relatively light and durable. I have had mine for 15 years. That said, if i was buying a new bag, I would get the Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 15. It won our Editor Choice Award in our Best Sleeping Bag Review it has a unique half zip on either side. It is also just the warmest bag we tested. If you are on a budget, it is hard to go wrong with the Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20. It's only $80 and will get the job done.

Bivy Sack
A bivy sack is essential on a big wall if you think there is even a remote chance of being in a storm. Even if your rain fly is completely bomber and keeps all the outside weather out (and that is a big if), you are still likely to get wet from the moisture that condenses on the inside of the rain fly. If your rain fly is not bomber, then water will pool on the bed of your portaledge and make you even more wet. If you are climbing a wall without a portaledge, a bivy sack is even more important as it will likely be your only way to to stay dry (unless you also bring a rain fly). My favorite bivy sack is the Black Diamond Big Wall Bivy because it has a way to tie into a rope without having to untie.

Poop Tube
I go with the Metolius Waste Case (Chris Mac Pick) because it is simple and easy to use. However, there are many options out there, especially if you have time to make one yourself. There is guide to poop tubes in Chapter 15.

I never used to bring a stove on walls. I liked to keep things fast and light and didn't mind eating cold Spaghetti-O's and a Starbuck's Double Shot for my coffee fix. But that was when I was a teenager. Today, I like a cup of hot coffee in the morning and maybe some heated Tasty Bites or noodles for dinner. The best stove option I have found is the JetBoil Flash (Chris Mac Pick) combined with the JetBoil Hanging Kit. This set up is very light and ideal for boiling water. You can get buy without the Hanging Kit, but it is much more nerve racking because there is no easy way to clip your stove in. Also, the hanging kit frees up valuable real estate on the portaledge.

For making coffee, I use the Melitta Ready Set Joe Coffee Cone because it is easy to clean and makes a great and consistent cup of coffee, especially if your parter brings really finely ground coffee (which goes right through metal filters and french press attachments).

A lightweight rain jacket like the Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket - Men's (Chris Mac Pick) is essential for all times of year. In the winter, fall or spring, you may want a burlier rain shell. Might as well also throw in a pair of rain pants. I have never used them to keep water off me but they often come in handy when it's cold on the wall. Most big walls are exposed to high winds and shell pants go a long way to keeping you warm.

A synthetic belay jacket is almost always essential on a wall (as you probably get by now, down is almost always a bad idea on a wall). In the summer, I go with a lightweight insulated jacket like the Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody - Men's (Chris Mac Pick). In colder times, I take a heavier synthetic jacket like the Patagonia DAS Parka - Men's.

I am not super picky about what fleece jacket I bring. I usually wear the Patagonia R2 Jacket - Men's just because it is lighter and easy to climb in that a heavy duty fleece.

A good Headlamp-Review-Review-Review-Review-Review is essential. Even if you don't plan to climb at night, you almost always end up setting up a bivy at night. I like the Petzl Tikka XP 2 (Chris's Mac Pick) because it has a nice balance of being light and powerful. I also bring a Petzl E+Lite as a backup because it is so light it can always live in my belay jacket so I don't have to dig for it late at night. It is essential to bring spare batteries. If you planning to do a lot of night climbing, I would go with the much burlier and brighter Princeton Tec Apex Pro. It is the best Headlamp-Review-Review-Review-Review-Review for tricky route finding late at night.

Hydration Systems and Water Bottles
I like climbing with the Camelback Classic Pack on speed ascents because it is light and holds a few candy bars and a light rain shell. If you can find an even lighter hydration pack, go with that. However, if I am just swapping leads and not spending much time on lead, I will either not bring a hydration pack or will just bring a little 1 liter bottle.

I never duct tape water bottles. It's a waste!!! I have never broken a bottle on the wall. Instead, buy 2mm accessory cord, cut a 10-inch loop (made from a 22-inch piece), and girth hitch the top of your plastic water container. The easiest bottle to girth hitch are two-liter soda bottles. However, most water comes in gallon bottles that are harder to girth hitch. In this case, I might use a little duct tape at the top just to keep the string from sliding off. In a worst case scenario, you are allowed to use some extra pieces of duct tape to cover the bottle... but please please don't cover every square inch (as I all too often see on the wall).

Stuff Sacks
Stuff sacks with clip-in loops are awesome. The best ones are the Metolius Big Wall Stuff Sack (Chris Mac Pick) that come with two big and beefy clip-in points. The bag is beefy enough to be used as a rope bag or hung under the haul bag to haul. The alternative to this bag (just using a normal stuff sack on a wall) is not fun. You have to tie extra knots in your stuff sack draw cord and even then it can be a little nerve racking to hang valuable items off a little piece of drawstring.

Trekking Poles
I never even considered using trekking poles until a leg injury this year. I bought a pair and found they were well worth it. They are great for hiking big loads up to the base of El Cap. If you are doing an overhanging multi-day route, I would consider bring them if you have any leg or knee issues. You can clip them under the haul bag and use them for the descent. My favorite are the Black Diamond Trail Compact Trekking Poles because they collapse the smallest of any pole I know of, are light, and not that expensive.

Misc. Essential Wall Stuff
• Athletic tape like Metolius Climbing Tape. Mandatory to fix minor rope dings.
• Bandana. (Yosemite Style!!)
Duct tape. Just the end of a roll, about three feet. You can wrap a strip around a water bottle, not to jacket the bottle (a needless project) but as a way to carry some tape. Among the uses of duct tape: protect sharp edges, cover holes that form in a haul bag.
Wet One's Wipes.
• Lightweight Shell Jacket and pants.
Small Knife.

See what is currently on Chris McNamara's El Capitan rack.

Next Chapter: 14. Hauling, Managing the Belay, The Changeover

Take Me back to the Table of Contents

  Article Views: 48,789
Chris McNamara
About the Author
Climbing Magazine once computed that three percent of Chris McNamara’s life on Earth had been spent on the face of El Capitan–an accomplishment that has left friends and family pondering Chris’s sanity. He has climbed El Capitan more than 70 times and holds nine big wall speed climbing records. In 1998 Chris did the first Girdle Traverse of El Capitan, an epic 75-pitch route that begs the question, “Why?”

Outside Magazine has called Chris one of “the world’s finest aid climbers.” He is the winner of the 1999 Bates Award from the American Alpine Club and founder of the American Safe Climbing Association, a nonprofit group that has replaced more than 5000 dangerous anchor bolts. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley and serves on the board of the ASCA and the Rowell Legacy Committee. He has a rarely-updated adventure journal, maintains, and also runs a Lake Tahoe home rental business.

Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Jun 10, 2009 - 01:25am PT
So, am I like blackballed or what??? Definite lack of FISH representation in there.

This section will need some work.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Jun 10, 2009 - 01:34am PT
ill get you in there in the next fea days...i goytta heal my arm . right now typing with one hand
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Jun 10, 2009 - 02:03am PT
separated shoulder after a very low speed bicycle crash. after all those base jumps this is what gets me... x ray is scary looking but aparently its not the worst injury

  Jun 10, 2009 - 03:46am PT
bump climbing content

Trad climber
Provo, Ut
  Jun 10, 2009 - 06:37pm PT
hope you feel better soon.

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
  Jun 11, 2009 - 12:05pm PT
As someone whose newest piece of wall climbing gear other than a pair of Petzl ascenders is the ORIGINAL first edition Wall Hauler, and a prospective purchaser of a few new bits, I'd also like to see Fish gear compared with the other brands. It looks fantastic on the web site, is mostly much less expensive, and I'm always seeing posts about how bomber and functional it is. Tell us more!

Also, I vote for people to consider supporting your local climbing shop (no I don't work for one). Everyone loves to be able to actually check out the gear, but if you don't provide any income for the means of doing that, the opportunity will disappear along with a key piece of your local climbing community.

Big Wall climber
  Jun 11, 2009 - 12:09pm PT
Hi Chris,

As someone from outside of USA (Canada/UK) it is difficult to get hold of brands such as FISH without paying an extreme amount on import duties, shipping, etc - it would be great to hear more about the bigger global brands that might be easier for us to get hold of over here. :-)

Cheers, Graeme.
the Fet

  Jun 11, 2009 - 12:20pm PT
After reading about the flex cycle test here:

I ditched my 5.5mm spectra cordelletes. I would go with 7mm nylon for cordelettes, but I've just gone back to sliding-Xs with limiter knots since they actually equalize.
John Mac

Trad climber
Breckenridge, CO
  Jun 11, 2009 - 12:32pm PT
Sorry to hear that you separated your shoulder ... Make sure you take it easy and let it heal completly!

The paragraph about closure systems doesn't read quite right.I think you meant to say that it "does not have a perfect water tight closure....

"For a big haul bag, the Metolius El Cap Haul Bag carries well and is bomber. It has a does not have a perfect water tight closure: the bag needs to be filled just the right amount (4-6 inches over the top of the bag) for it to be water tight. But overall, the quality of this bag is excellent."

Looking forward to buying a copy one of these days!
Erik Sloan

Big Wall climber
Yosemite Big Wall
  Jun 11, 2009 - 12:35pm PT
Wow, thanks Chris. This is incredibly well written. much, much love.

This is exactly how I teach people to big wall climb.

Well, with one very minor exception:

Chris has gotten away from doing bivy style big wall ascents for almost a decade now so I don't agree with the suggestion to bring a 6mm tagline when running a 10mm static on a slower ascent. Chris would have never done that back when he was doing routes like that all the time. 10mm doesn't weigh that much. Keep your system streamlined--just climb with the haulline unless you're on an A4+ horror show in which case you won't be referring to this guide.

Russ: your gear is awesome. Each item seems to include a piece of your enthusiasm for the big stones. But it's hard to get. Really hard. But don't ever worry that small niche businessfolks like yourself will ever get eclipsed--especially in a small word-of-mouth kind of environment like the Yosemite big wall scene.

El Cap was so beautifully lit up gold with pastel storminess filling the valley behind as I drove done yesterday.

git sum!
love e

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
  Jun 11, 2009 - 12:43pm PT
Speedy-recovery Chris!

I really dig my USHBA Russian Titantium hauler, but
don't know what happened to the company? Maybe still
find them on e-bay. The only disadvantage is larger
diameter haul lines greater than 11mm the cam doesn't
lock down, scary.That being said,it is bomber on the
smaller diameters. All this points to a valuable
lesson in writing a difinative guide. Climbers are a
resourceful bunch and may buy some older device in
Camp 4 parking lot!

It would also be good to see some of the advanced 2:1 etc.
systems explained, I weigh 215 lbs and can space haul most
loads, but the guy I climb with weighs 135 lbs so he sets
up elaborate systems!

I should be on the wall, back to your program,

Fish Products = Rock Solid!!!

Trad climber
Louisville, CO
  Jun 11, 2009 - 12:56pm PT
when is pete going to show up to slag on the protraxion?

for a durable, not heavy haul line, i'm a huge fan of the 10.3 bluewater.

also, you made me think of it when you mentioned the lack of a drybag closure on the black diamond bags. i'm a huge proponent of using river bags to keep cloths, sleeping bags, and other essentials in.

no matter how hypothermic your partner is... don't let him pull his sleeping bag out of the drybag until AFTER you get the rainfly on... uhg.

isn't it always the dumb things that get you injured? two worst injuries over the last 5 years were both on my stairs... leaving to go climbing.... dumb.

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Jun 11, 2009 - 01:01pm PT
Thanks for the feedback!

ok, i guess i am over reacting on the 10mm haul line being so heavy. maybe i am thinking about 10.5 being too heavy. ill fix that section. but my favorite haul line is defeinitely in the 9-9.5mm range. maybe not appropriate for really big loads... but climbing with really big loads is no fun!

so far this is just a first draft so i will add in more products. but overall i am going to limit it to products that can be purchased (not out of production products). There are pros and cons to that, and believe me, i wish the a5 ledges were still around so i could review those. But ultimately its not that helpful for there to be a long review on something that gets you all psyched to buy it only to find out you cant.

but if there are some products that i have not listed here, that you can buy, please post em up. I cant review them right away but they will be on my radar. and maybe i just forgot to include them.

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
  Jun 11, 2009 - 01:05pm PT
These aid ladders have the coolest hourglass shape!


Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Jun 11, 2009 - 01:50pm PT
the buy Russ a beer paypal link is hilarous... i couldnt resist clicking on it
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Jun 11, 2009 - 02:04pm PT
Go with your urges! Don't fight them.....
Thanks Chris!

side note edit: HoldPlease Kate did a really good and thorough review of ledges a year or two ago..... never hit print since it got squashed by a giant corp whose product did not come out smelling as sweet as they wanted..... maybe she can forward that to you for some more background. It had all the dimensions, weights, materials, pros, cons, etc.
John Mac

Trad climber
Breckenridge, CO
  Jun 11, 2009 - 04:05pm PT

Is this what you are referring to:

Hello P:

Here it goes. In order of what matters to me, anyway, and who wins IMO -

This is like Goldilocks and the three bears...I find the FISH to be too small (shorter and more narrow) the BD to be a huge monster and the Metolius to be just right...

* Length - On the double ledges, the FISH ledge is 6 inches shorter, at 6.5 feet long, while Metolius and BD are 7 feet long.
* Width - Width is where these ledges vary dramatically. The fish is 3'6" wide, the Metolius Double Bombshelter is 5'9" wide, whopping *5'3"** wide. This width makes the BD VERY difficult to assemble alone.

Weight varies dramatically and FISH wins by a long shot for a double ledge...partly due to size, and partly due to using cromolly tubing which is smaller but just as sturdy.

* MEDIUM Metolius double with bag: 14lbs and 1oz, fly is 7lbs 5 oz (FLY IS BOMBER.)
* HEAVY BD double with bag: 19lbs and 13 OZ. But hey, it has cup holders. Simple fly weighs 5lbs, lighter material than Metolius but still good.
* SUPERLIGHT: FISH - 10lbs, fly 6lbs. Nice.

The key features on a ledge tells you what they cater to.

* FISH - Caters to function!!! With daisy chains on the straps and sides of higher end models, dual adjustment straps, ventallation ports on the fly, more fly floor coverage than other ledges, lock down straps for the fly, and bombproof materials, this ledge eliminates the fru-fru and simply functions well.
* METOLIUS - Caters to comfort!!! For the bigger (wider, longer) ledges, a spreader bar is nice. This key comfort feature has now been replicated by BD, though.
* BLACK DIAMOND - Caters to people who, perhaps, should be at home with servents serviing them breakfast in bed. It includes cup holders, a spreader bar, three separation fins, for a total of 9 straps to this portaledge!!! Wee Hoo! You could sleep seven comfortably. I have seen these things set up from a distance and they are massive luxury ships, to be sure. The true party ledge.

FISH is the only double ledge that doesn't require a spreader bar for stability. This is huge. Simply huge, in my opinion. Spreader bars are a PITA, but also a liekly necissity as the size of ledges has balooned over time. Metolius and BD are the same, but the BD is tougher if you are alone simply due to size. Both require insertion of a spreader bar which can be a bitch.

COST: For Ledge and Fly - FISH WINS

* BD - $950 new not many on ebay, as just came out this ear
* Metolius - $950, with many used available as they've been out for awhile

Of all the models, the FISH has seen the fewest changes overall, is nearly 10 pounds lighter than other models, and is perfect as a simple, single ledge. Additionally, you can lose the bells and whistles and get it EVEN CHEAPER! The design is tried and true. If I had to buy a ledge for me, for all purpose climbing, I'd chose the FISH double whammy for all my climbing.

But what do I own? Older style A5 single, Older style BD single, Newer BD single, Metolius Double Bombshelter, and a new BD single. (Don't ask how or why...)

So yes, I know my ledges, and have spenttime on all except for the A5 models from 8-10 years ago, and NO, I am not going to buy a fish...Well, maybe I'm not, not yet, anyway...)

Gearwhore, reporting. :)

Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Jun 11, 2009 - 04:11pm PT
Good find! That is probably the review, in shortened form.


Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
  Jun 13, 2009 - 01:10pm PT
Bump for climbing content!


Trad climber
Truckee, CA
  Jun 13, 2009 - 01:48pm PT
Regarding haul and tag lines, for those who have an issue with using a static haul line (which can't sub for a damaged lead line), you can get the thinnest available twin rope (like a BW ice floss) which are in the range of 7.5-8 mm, and use that for a tag line, which you use to haul up the static haul line, pulley, and your ascenders once the belay is established. Although I think the potential for lead line damage is pretty minimal if your cord is in reasonable shape at the start (see CM's comment!), this approach gives you a backup line which you can double up and lead on for 100 ft. Or with a really light load (2-3 day climb), just haul on this tag line; it's big enough to work in most devices.

Social climber
san jose ca.
  Jul 2, 2009 - 06:02pm PT
Fish i wondered why the important,fantastic,for every man or women big wall gear wasnt mentioned maybe black balled but chris is doing a good job 0n this topic also havent seen you sence east side party pictures on forum Grant Heskes wedding party rod san jose

Big Wall climber
Fort Collins Co
  Feb 25, 2010 - 06:29pm PT
Probably everyone knows this trick already.
I always attach gear in my haul bag to different colored etiers with biners and attach the etiers onto the inner ring webbing. That way if I need anything in the bottom I can just throw all the etier attached gear out of the haul bag, and since all items are attached, not worry about dropping anything down the face. Food bag on one etier, sleeping gear on another and emergency weather gear on another. Makes quick gear finding on hanging belays and especially at night when your a bit fuzzy or if all the sudden it goes from bluebird to black on half dome; never lost a thing working this way.
Since I am the turtle and not the hare, we always fill a camelbak in the morning and keep it in the top of the bag to nip on during the day at belays stations. That way I am not digging around for water while belaying my partner.

Trad climber
  Feb 26, 2010 - 08:10pm PT
i guess it's harder to get fish stuff if you're doing it at the very last second, but on 2 different occasions i've ordered a haul bag and a ledge and they both got to me pretty darn quick. yay fish.

Flagstaff, AZ
  Sep 24, 2013 - 01:51pm PT
instead of girth hitching a loop of cord to the neck of water bottles and taping in place, a clove hitch stays tight by itself.

Sport climber
  Apr 18, 2016 - 04:24pm PT
Hi Chris,

This was great information, thank you!
I am wondering about the amount of weight you aim to carry on your big wall multi-pitch climbs.
How much weight do you typically carry?
And of that weight, how much weight do you allot for food and water alone?

Many thanks,
Related Guidebooks
Related Climbing Routes
El Capitan - The Nose 5.14a or 5.9 C2 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
The Nose, 5.14a or 5.9 C2
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The Nose—the best rock climb in the world!
Washington Column - South Face C1 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
South Face, C1 5.8
Washington Column
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The South Face of Washington Column.