How To Big Wall Climb: Table of Contents

Wednesday June 7, 2017
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Chris McNamara on pitch 6 of The Salathe on his way to a new speed rec...
Chris McNamara on pitch 6 of The Salathe on his way to a new speed record on Triple Direct, El Capitan.
Credit: Hans Florine
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This is the table of contents for the How to Big Wall Climb SuperTopo book. This is a preview of the book as well as a directory of the free technique videos. These videos illustrate key points of the book and are meant to be watched while reading the book. Buy the book here

See more articles and make suggestions for the 2nd Edition Here

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The first three chapters below are included in the free 55-page book download
 My Personal Aid Climbing History
 Master Checklist

Aid Climbing Skills
1. Get Psyched – Reading and Movie List
2. Gear 1: Essential Aid Gear
3. Leading 1: Low Angle Terrain
4. Following 1: Low Angle Terrain
5. Leading 2: Vertical and Overhanging Terrain
6. Following 2: Vertical and Overhanging Terrain
7. Gear 2: Clean Aid Protection
8. Leading 3: Placing Gear
9. Following 3: Cleaning Gear
10. Building Big Wall Anchors
11. Leading 4: Traversing Terrain
12. Following 4: Traversing Terrain
13. Gear 3: Haul Bags and Hauling and Bivvy Gear
14. Hauling, Managing the Belay, The Changeover
15. The Bivvy, Food and Water
16. Retreat, Bailing and Fear Management
17. Wall Strategy: Crowds, Passing, Teams of Three and More
18. Chris Mac's Current Big Wall Gear List

>> More Articles

Aid Practice Routes in Yosemite
 Big Wall Checklist

Here are some threads that are not chapters in the book:
First post asking for suggestions on how to get feedback
Suggest your other favorite how-to guidebooks
What is the best Aider to use?
Using brand names of devices vs. generic terms
Forum discussion on how to make a poop tube
Big Walls 3 - Low Impact Climbing, Wilderness and Ethics
Big Wall DIY Thread

10 Tips To Make Big Wall Climbing More Fun
The Best Yosemite Big Wall Climbing Rack and Gear List
Clean Climbing and Fixed Gear - Tips for Keeping El Capitan Garbage Free
5 Ways to Support SuperTopo

  Article Views: 132,726
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 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 over 5000 dangerous anchor bolts. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley and serves on the boards 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.

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Oct 13, 2008 - 03:10pm PT
just added how to build poop tube thread to list

Trad climber
  Oct 13, 2008 - 05:45pm PT
Good clean diagrams that relate to the task. this really separates good how to guides from cryptic bibles.

photos don't work as well as good line drawings.

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
  Oct 13, 2008 - 06:12pm PT
I think it's great you are making a new "how to" bigwall book. The other ones out there just aren't that good, and I know yours will be an improvement.

Couple things:
I would suggest putting in a section on advanced techniques that help people climb faster, like short-fixing, etc.

In your ethics section try to add something about Copperheads being a last resort form of pro. It seems there is an increasing trend to smash a head in a good pin scar that could take a pin or even clean pro. Also add that drilling bathook hole to bypass a tricky section is unacceptable. Even worse filling that hole with a head! Lot of that going on up there it seems.

I think you should show all the different types of equipment being used like Kong Block-Roll vs Pro Trax, Gri-Gri vs Silent Partner, etc.

Social climber
down south
  Oct 13, 2008 - 07:52pm PT

Hobart, Australia
  Oct 13, 2008 - 08:08pm PT
Some topic suggestions:

Tricks of the ultra-fast: how the heck do ya climb the Nose in 2:37?

Tricks of climbing "regular" fast on more aided climbs:, (egZodiac in a day), two person vs. three person, ropes, anchors, etc.

Application of Yosemite techniques to the remote mountains--fast, light, and lots of free.

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Oct 14, 2008 - 02:41pm PT
thanks guys... all the ideas and motivation are helping me chip away at this book. can't wait to get er done!

  Oct 14, 2008 - 03:07pm PT
A chapter on "Visualizing".

It's an extremely important subject matter that never gets mentioned. A lot of times these "how to books" turn people into instant robots.

Visualizing anchor layouts for efficiency in all it's varied dynamics. Visualizing scenarios that can create, efficiency, robustness, speed, along with eliminating potential dangerous problems that can cause reorganizing the anchor later.

In a nutshell, visualize a clean efficient layout, before making the huge clusterfuks I've seen parties make time and time again.

Social climber
The internet
  Oct 14, 2008 - 04:29pm PT
"Visualizing anchor layouts for efficiency in all it's varied dynamics."

I think this takes awhile to learn.

Along those lines, the important piece is to lay out the principles - ie, what kinds of loads are present, how hauling and such fits into the anchor, etc.

The only way anyone is going to be able to visualize anything is if they have a library of working pieces and requirments. I think the "robot" comment comes from trying to apply just a few ways of doing things to every situation, perhaps not understanding the fundamentals well enough to be able to invent on the fly, which is the goal.

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
  Oct 14, 2008 - 04:41pm PT
Thread Drift- n00bs need to spend more time visualizing the Send and not the Bail.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
  Oct 14, 2008 - 04:55pm PT

What type of book are you aiming to write? Long/Middendorf style basics to get started or something more Chongoesque in its breadth?

If you go the Chongo route w/ more advanced topics (and I hope you do), you might have some sort of icon/bullet system that differentiates between the most n00b-friendly way of doing things vs. slick tricks that work best on overhanging rock in the hands of experts.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Oct 15, 2008 - 10:53am PT
at first i just wanted to make a shorter book that was geared toward 90% of big walls ascents (which are C1 and C2 routes). but now its probably going to cover it all and have info on harder aid, soloing, etc.

the main focus of the book is going to be getting the essentials dialed and having streamlined, efficient systems.

hopefully i can keep it under 3 inches thick.

Jim E

  Oct 15, 2008 - 11:44am PT

Mountain climber
  Oct 15, 2008 - 12:16pm PT
A few other topics that should be included:

Rope management for both lead and haul ropes. A simple rope bag like what you can get from Fish is really nice for organization. It is also helpfull to visualize the lead rope as always next to the wall and the haul line as a seperate system that is away from the wall.

Tagging gear - simple topic, but it does not occur to some new climbers that they can use the haul line to send up gear from the belay until they are 100' out (assuming a 200' haul line).

Don't forget the obvious like:
 Ensolite pads lining the haul bag
 Pre-arranged rope signals for when you cannot verbally communicate
 Haul bags to one side to minimize the cluster at the belay
 Don't let the haul bags ever be in a position where they can knock rocks on your partner
 How to tie in for sleeping
 How much water to bring
 How to free a stuck haul bag
 Re-enforcing the toe of your aid shoes

I agree with the comment about line drawing being better than pictures.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Oct 15, 2008 - 01:42pm PT
this is great. the bullet point lists of things to cover are especially helpful

Big Wall climber
  Oct 15, 2008 - 02:39pm PT
Topics I see as being weak in the existing books:

1. Aid shoe strategies (boots vs approach shoes vs climbing shoes). I've wasted too much money on shoes that suck too badly on the approach, 5.easy freeing, and/or smashing toes/feet in aiders.

2. Soloing.

3. Good pictures and diagrams of mechanical advantage rigs for hauling. Bad hauling destroys morale faster than scary aid pitches.

4. Staying comfy on multi-hour belays.

5. Multi-bag rigging for hauling. I'm suprised by the arguments I get into at the base on this seemingly simple task.

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
  Oct 15, 2008 - 02:58pm PT
expando techniques

Trad climber
  Oct 15, 2008 - 03:08pm PT
I like Werner's post on "Visualization". For me actually getting on the wall is always the problem. Before launching off the ground the butterflies of doubt and fear creep in. Once on the wall, I always relax knowing that going up is usually easier than backing off. Once we start climbing the "fun" begins and the "focus" on the goal is razor sharp. It is the mental commitment that gets me up the wall.

I would also discuss how to "improvise". It seems you can never bring enough gear and water on a wall. At some point I am always taking gear or water out of the haul bag so we can actually reasonably manage to haul the bag.

Comfort and Preventative Hand Care:

My partner wears contacts and always brings "baby wipes". Two wipes at the end of a long day are great to remove the crud from your face and hands. It almost feels like a shower.

Cleaning your hands and applying a little moisture cream under your nails and in your cuticles avoids those painful cuticle splits and nail separation. There were times my finger tips were so sore from nail separations that I could not bear to touch anything. Cleaning and moisturizing my nails each day avoided this problem.

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
  Oct 15, 2008 - 04:37pm PT
photos of all the potentail types of Cam Hook placements that can work.

I think a lot of people need to 'see it to believe' what can be done with those things.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Oct 18, 2008 - 04:48pm PT
I just added the preface to the list above. or you can click on it here

black hills, south dakota
  Oct 18, 2008 - 05:08pm PT
It would be cool to have a photo section of different/tricky/unique ways of climbing clean----photos of cam hooks, inverted offset aliens, tricams, etc.

------kind of like the "Climbing Anchors" book by John Long.

Adv./Disadv. of different leading daisy setups, jugging systems, solo belay systems.

Speed/effeciency techniques.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
  Oct 18, 2008 - 06:42pm PT
For some of the more complex things that can be hard to visualize when reading and that would take many panels of drawings to show the step, you could have links to YouTube.
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California, now Ireland
  Oct 18, 2008 - 11:48pm PT
Sounds like a good book. I would like to get back into wall climbing and such a book would help. To date (in chronological order) WFLT (1975), WC South Face, WC Prow, bail on Salathe Wall (1976).

Not much, I know.

Trad climber
  Oct 19, 2008 - 01:51am PT
I'd definitely be psyched to see pictures of cam hooks and funky clean placements you can pull off in a book in writing. I think it would influence a lot of people actually, and be pretty cool.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Oct 28, 2008 - 05:51pm PT
I just added cleaning and following with video:

Social climber
  Oct 28, 2008 - 06:42pm PT

Wow! Chris

Get rid of that video now and show correct hookup/use of jumars. There is a reason for those holes on top of them.

It is for safety. Call it a backup.

Why is that every novice climber that I have seen never looks at the paper that comes when buying these?

Unless you are speed climbing which 99% of your audience will not be, they will learn the incorrect way from the beginning.

If you notice one of the carabiners is Chounard’s and the other Black Diamond with these pictures. Remember what happened to his company.

All it will take is that same attorney or another to see this and your ass is his and $$$$$.

Werner's post: “In a nutshell, visualize a clean efficient layout, before making the huge clusterfuks I've seen parties make time and time again.”

Do it. Can make a difference between a rescue, death or just got lucky this time.

Trad climber
Redwood City, CA
  Nov 1, 2008 - 01:46am PT
Have Mike Clelland do the illustrations. I don't know the man, but his contributions to Tech Tips in Climbing magazine has made many an article more entertaining and clear.
Jacqueline Florine

Trad climber
  Nov 4, 2008 - 04:26pm PT

I would like to add my two cents to the topic of wig wall soloing.
One of my favorite bits of gear is a Pika hammock.
It is nice and light, very easy to set up and break down, and allows me to bivy anywhere I can get in good gear. It is so comfy that I prefer to sleep in it instead of any stone ledge I may happen onto. I really appreciate being free of the pressure to get to a certain spot for rest. It is also super easy to sew your own hammock.

My opinion on your "how to" project is to write a beginner big wall book. Then publish a second on difficult aid. I feel the requirements are distinct enough to warrant 2 volumes.

Trad climber
  Nov 26, 2008 - 09:38am PT
Hauling Chapter

How about a look at the hauling chapter?
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California, now Ireland
  Nov 27, 2008 - 09:51am PT

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Nov 27, 2008 - 10:33am PT
I'd like to read about hauling - I'm excited about this book. Bump for MC's illustrations.
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California, now Ireland
  Dec 24, 2008 - 12:47pm PT
As a couple of others have mentioned a section or short (very short) chapter on food - solids and liquids - could be helpful, though I know that dietary requirements vary with individuals.

I started a thread recently on this subject and received some helpful tips from more experienced wall climbers.

Big Wall climber
  Dec 24, 2008 - 12:59pm PT
I remember when I was learning to aid... The things that were the hardest to find really good info on were:

Solo aiding - WTF? There's, like, NOTHING out there on solo aid.

Cleaning traverses and penjis - really not a lot out there for this either. Pics would probably make people happy.

Hauling - There's a ton of info out there about hauling and the different methods, etc... People jsut can't seem to get enough info about hauling tho.

These seem to be the thing I see the most requests for and the most bitching about the lack of info.

  Dec 24, 2008 - 01:02pm PT
My two cents: Go for the big book, don't skimp on details. If you must have only small books, do a "Big Wall Climbing" book and an "Advanced Big Wall Climbing" book. In the advanced, go all out.


Big Wall climber
  Dec 24, 2008 - 01:20pm PT
Sounds like a good plan, Hobo. Lot's of people just starting out would like to get hold of Chongo's book, as it seems to cover everything. Then they hear the price. And THEN they find out how hard it is to get hold of one...

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  Dec 24, 2008 - 02:49pm PT
JPL wrote: "The only way anyone is going to be able to visualize anything is if they have a library of working pieces and requirments. I think the "robot" comment comes from trying to apply just a few ways of doing things to every situation, perhaps not understanding the fundamentals well enough to be able to invent on the fly, which is the goal."

Agreed. What there is no consensus on is - what are the requirements, and what are the basic, standardized procedures. We can't even agree on whether a redirect is or is not wanted or needed at a belay anchor. People say there are too many variables to work out a standardized approach, but I disagree.


Ice climber
Candia, NH
  Dec 24, 2008 - 08:33pm PT
Thanks for the videos. I'm just starting to learn aiding and I'm finding them useful. I have big wall aspirations, so I'm pretty much your target audience.

This might seem trivial, but I'd suggest covering daisy chains a little more. I kept trying to to aid in the gym by just using my fifi or a quickdraw to clip into the grab loop on my aiders, which was hard on overhangs. Then a little light bulb went off in my head when I figured out I could just fifi into the pockets on my daisy. Total gumby move, I know, but mentioning it might make things more clear to a total aid beginner.

I really like how you're emphasizing efficiency. I'm using two ladder style aiders and I haven't really felt the need for more.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Feb 16, 2009 - 01:46am PT
just added a checklist to climbing the nose. this is a work in progress
Ryan Tetz

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
  Feb 16, 2009 - 04:30am PT
Nice Chris. Super cool. You are definitely the best guy for the job. I'd personally be interested in more info or short fixing/efficient aid techniques and also a section on harder aid leads, not a lot out there on that stuff. Go big brotha!


Mountain climber
  Mar 11, 2009 - 02:58pm PT
It occurs to me you should mention something about wearing out your tie-in loops, webbing, daisies, UV damage, etc.
Gear is cheap, replace it often.

Trad climber
Ventura, CA
  Mar 27, 2009 - 06:26am PT
Chris, first want to say that all your posts on How to Big Wall climb are awesome! As someone who aspires to climb Yosemite big walls i'm eating up any info I can get my hands on.
I was wondering how far along you were with your book or if you had a projected date for it. I'm sure from what I've seen thus far that it will be extremely helpful for guys like me. Thanks!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Mar 31, 2009 - 11:49am PT
i just updated the list with a discussion of best aiders to use

Big Wall climber
Kalispell, Montanagonia
  Mar 31, 2009 - 10:24pm PT
Bump. Just priming for wednesday, you know, bump day.

Good stuff, and yes, I do draw inspiration from Supertopo, and keep my stoke going when the weather just won't allow going up.
Brutus of Wyde

Old Climbers' Home, Oakland CA
  Apr 2, 2009 - 10:31am PT
Chris, a small section devoted to freeing a stuck haul-bag (i.e. "bouncing" the bag over roofs) might be worthwhile. A video of the hauler, then of the bag, would be best, but otherwise here's a short visual description:
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Apr 8, 2009 - 12:49pm PT
I just added the "Get Psyched Reading and Movie List"

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Apr 9, 2009 - 12:11pm PT
b u m P!!!111
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Aug 13, 2009 - 12:53pm PT
I just added this chapter to the list: Basic Leading on Vertical and Overhanging Terrain

  Aug 14, 2009 - 12:22am PT
Chris - great work.

Hey, I see tons of ways to arrange bags. Vertically, side by side, with catch lines etc. Something on this would/may help management which is difficult to "visualize". Nice stab at a complex picture.

Also, photos of anchors before the bags arrive - and then why they are placed to the left, right or center etc.


Trad climber
  Aug 31, 2009 - 02:21pm PT
Hey Chris - you might want to add a section about how to safely practice some of the more basic techniques without a partner. Unless you have a really patient partner, or a really cool girlfriend, it may be more convenient for many to practice aid stuff alone (at least it is for me), without someone belaying them from the ground.

Self-belay with a grigri on toprope has been the easiest way for me - my piece blows, the grigri catches me. Maybe explain the dynamics of this and/or any other methods that work.

Also, regarding gear - it would be a good idea to list which gear is the most essential to start out with, ie. daisies/aiders/jumars. If you have the essential gear first, it enables you to go do a wall with a more experienced friend who is more likely to have plenty of pro, but not two sets of daisies/aiders/jumars.

So far, what you've posted is invaluable information for the blossoming wall climber (me). Keep it coming!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Feb 27, 2010 - 02:00am PT
How about a chapter to help someone decide if they are really ready and able to climb a grade VI route? Will they be/create the cluster, be part of the cluster or be able to avoid the cluster? i.e. if you're freaked out at the idea of leading Texas Flake or Hollow Flake, then maybe you shouldn't really be considering those routes.
In this day and age, where there are clusterf*#ks up and down the popular routes, maybe there should be a discussion of truly being ready to climbing the route in considerate style and respecting everyone else who wants to climb the same route.

I would stress that all routes are not for all people.

Trad climber
  Mar 5, 2010 - 06:24am PT
the link for Following 4: Traversing Terrain goes to LEADING 4: Traversing Terrain.

nice job

Trad climber
Vancouver, BC
  May 4, 2010 - 10:04am PT
the following traverses link in the TOC is still wrong, the right one is this:

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  May 8, 2010 - 05:38pm PT
a bump from excitement for this book

Ice climber
City:Orlando, State:FL
  May 27, 2011 - 03:06am PT
wow,so high.

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
  Nov 8, 2011 - 06:55pm PT
Any idea what the expected completion time is for the book? I've really liked what you're putting together and I'm looking forward to buying the PDF!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Nov 8, 2011 - 08:51pm PT
I was actually just thinking about this book today realizing I have been sorta working on it for over a decade now... and still have not finished!

I feel like the text is 90% done.

Question is the illustration. I know there are a lot of great illustrators out there, but I just am having a hard time seeing how I want this illustrated.

I would prefer just to shoot a bunch of movies which are fast and maybe more helpful (i would make them much cleaner and better than the movies i have posted so far).

I could put those movies in an eBook... i think.

So I ask you to please vote for your favorite options:
1) Suck it up Chris Mac and figure out how to illustrate the book
2) Keep making the free online stuff better with illustrations and better vids... we don't need no stinkin book
3) Make an eBook that involves movies
4) Just publish the text without much illustration and refer in the text to movies that I post online
5) other ideas?

I appreciate all the encouragement to get this done. I wouldn't keep plodding away at this without it.

Trad climber
  Nov 8, 2011 - 08:02pm PT
suck it up make a book with illustration Or a quality video (DVD/download)

Trad climber
Erik O. Auburn, CA
  Nov 8, 2011 - 08:07pm PT
#1 Illustrations or photos(must have) and refer to videos.
I will buy the book and hope to see it soon!

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
  Nov 8, 2011 - 08:58pm PT
5)Incremental Releases:

Finish enough of the web project so that you can roll it into a nice e-book to get started. You can easily add photos & illustrations and fine-tune the book easily from user feedback (maybe you could have a paid web portal or something like that first? This would be a more complete & formal version of what you already have going on with the free sections). Once the fine tuning is done and you've done the slower part of making enough photos & illustrations to get readers by without videos, release a printed version for people who like pulp to carry to the crag & write on.

One thought it is that after you have a collection of videos and still photos, you can probably more easily determine what needs to be illustrated and what style would work well. This has been helpful to me in making graphics to illustrate concepts.

Illustrations are great for close study of the physical arrangement of things, but they fail to show movement, which is really key in climbing! You can also show and demonstrate a lot of little things much more expediently in one well planned video rather than making lots of drawings or a lot of descriptive text that might be hard to visualize. I've found your videos extremely helpful and unique from what I have read in print books. You could even include the videos on a CD to ship with the book, and reference the videos within the text.

So I think you should have some illustrations (or better yet, photos in most cases), but use videos extensively. I've really liked the PDF versions of SuperTopo and they allow more unique ways of making a books with hyperlinks & embedded videos. Exploit that niche!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Nov 8, 2011 - 11:53pm PT
Great stuff, guys. keep it coming! Any suggestions on the best eBook format? Is PDF just fine or is there something more fancy I should be doing?

Also, does anyone use Kindle for any climbing related how to books? I always wonder how useful Kindle is for anything with graphics. There is that new Kindle fire but it aint yet...

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
  Nov 11, 2011 - 07:59pm PT
PDF would still have my vote.

I'm not the savviest gadget user, but I've messed around with some smart tablets and am starting to buy e-books. I'm still wary of the e-book formats like the Kindle & the Nook, since they limit how you can view & move the file, so you'd lose versatility and increase the difficulty in accessing the book.

As for my limited experience so far:

I recently bought my first e-book from, so it came in a Kindle e-book format, and it required installing a special Kindle reader just to view the book on my computer. To read it on an I-Pad, I had to install a Kindle app there as well. I imagine I will have to do the same with a Nook-specific program if I ever buy e-books from Barnes & Noble. Grrr!

However, with PDFs, you can view them on any computer without installing a special reader, and the Kindle & Nook state they are PDF compatible, & the general I-Pad reader app that syncs with I-Tunes also is compatible with PDFs. For other smart tablets where you can drag & drop files instead of syncing, I imagine it is even easier to view a PDF and you wouldn't need to install an e-book format-specific app.

The only real downside I see for the PDF is that different distributors might require your e-book to be in their e-book format? However, if you sell the PDFs directly off of ST, that is a moot point.

Trad climber
Long Beach, CA
  Nov 27, 2011 - 10:28am PT
Have you thought of a smartphone app component (in addition to the e-book or hard copy)?
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Feb 12, 2012 - 09:06pm PT
Ok I am pushing ahead and just started laying out the book. I am taking your advice and doing the following:

1) laying out the book in next few weeks with what i have to make a draft
2) going and shooting How To movies on the key sections of the book
3) try using the screen shots from the movies to illustrate key points
4) where screen shots fail, use illustration
5) maybe make a dvd or digital download, or maybe just post lots of videos on the web for free, not sure. Anyone have experience with selling downloadable movies? Not sure I want to go the route of printing up many DVDs.
6) finally finish this thing and throw a party of some type! Hopefully September or earlier.

Need your advice on 3 points:
1) are DVD's dead yet? Can i just sell a digital download of the how to aid climb movie? Or maybe I just do zero editing and just post all the raw how to clips for free?

2) Any advice on what colors to wear to make it most clear what is going on? I was thinking light grey pants, black harness, and a lighter color shirt, maybe blue, that then contrasts against my black yates aiders. and a really bright rope!

3) Also, another option is after step 1 (above) I could start selling a Version 1 of the ebook soon (it would hardly have any illustrations, just text and photos). Anyone who buys Version 1 ebook would then get Version 2/Final Version of the ebook when it comes out in the fall and the print book. Thoughts?

Trad climber
Bay Area
  Feb 12, 2012 - 10:26pm PT
Need your advice on 3 points:
1) are DVD's dead yet? Can i just sell a digital download of the how to aid climb movie? Or maybe I just do zero editing and just post all the raw how to clips for free?

2) Any advice on what colors to wear to make it most clear what is going on? I was thinking light grey pants, black harness, and a lighter color shirt, maybe blue, that then contrasts against my black yates aiders. and a really bright rope!

3) Also, another option is after step 1 (above) I could start selling a Version 1 of the ebook soon (it would hardly have any illustrations, just text and photos). Anyone who buys Version 1 ebook would then get Version 2/Final Version of the ebook when it comes out in the fall and the print book. Thoughts?

#1: DVDs aren't dead (yet). Selling a digital download (iTunes?) sounds like a good idea. All the raw how-to clips also a good idea. In other words, I'd be interested in any of the options. Whatever is easier and cheaper for you.

#2 Advice for colors: Tom Evans is the best critic! See his photo reports and judge for yourself.

#3: I like this option best plus free how-to clips. When I buy the eBook, I'll print relevant sections of the eBook, mark them up and then would like to refer to specific online vids for those bits I don't fully understand.

Trad climber
  Feb 12, 2012 - 10:54pm PT
DVD's are dead! You could sell a book and have an access code for an exclusive video area on the ST site (that's what a lot of college text books are doing now). Also, I would by the first eBook if I got a hard copy later!
John Mac

Trad climber
Breckenridge, CO
  Feb 13, 2012 - 01:25pm PT

Great to hear you are moving forward with this huge project.

1. DVD's... I haven't brought a dvd in ages. Download is the way to go, or even better, have a secure portal on your site for registered purchases to access the online content. That way you can update it and manage it.

2. I think your color scheme would be fine.

3. Sure, I'd buy version 1, with the updates and also buy your book!

Thanks for all your work and sharing your knowledge.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Feb 13, 2012 - 01:41pm PT
Cool, I am leaning toward selling Version 1... maybe even in the coming weeks. And finally getting something out the door with this 10+ year project.

And sounds like some type of digital download is the way to go. Maybe a 1 hour tightly edited movie you can buy and then a stream of lots of unedited raw footage for free?
John Mac

Trad climber
Breckenridge, CO
  Feb 13, 2012 - 01:45pm PT
Check out

I buy training downloads from them and they have gone through the whole thing about whether to produce DVD's or not. In the end they decided the download model provided better value for everyone involved.
Steve Byrne

Trad climber
Flagstaff, AZ
  Feb 13, 2012 - 05:08pm PT
Hi Chris, and everyone else out there.

I've been thinking a bit lately, as I do from time to time, about throwing down my story. I'm the guy who invented TCU's and Ball nuts and started Wired Bliss. I've only done one big wall climb, but it was Mescalito, solo in winter and I got the full value out of it. I thought my experience might be relevant for what you're doing and I also want to see if I can write.

Is this the right place to unload?
dee ee

Mountain climber
Of THIS World (Planet Earth)
  Feb 13, 2012 - 05:19pm PT
Steve, lay it on us!

Start your own thread. Don't use this one.

Trad climber
  Feb 21, 2012 - 06:42pm PT
This is a great resource. I like how it is easy to search through it and find what i need. It is very well written and the videos are extremely helpful.
I also like how every chapter has its own gear list and how Chris focuses on efficiency.
I would be willing to help out with illustrations if you want.
Also There are several secure e book portals you could possibly install on the super topo servers which have integrated cart features so you could sell the e book and the buyers could get access to the videos.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
  Feb 21, 2012 - 04:34pm PT
This looks fantastic. I haven't had a chance to get too much into it, but make sure to stress freakin' practice! I didn't get up on a wall until I'd logged pitches with haul bags, practicing on a few short routes, jugging, hauling, the works. Too often noobs get up there and just screw themselves and the saps who get stuck behind them--like the multiple times I never got up the S. Face of the Column because of people who couldn't figure out how to jug a line (one guy took 45 min. to do a short pitch below Dinner Ledge) or do a simple change over at the belay (one dork team sat there for easily two stinkin' hours--and hadn't yet started leading the next pitch. We bailed). Practice, practice, practice. DON'T use the wall to figure out how to do stuff.


Trad climber
100% Canadian
  Mar 5, 2012 - 09:17pm PT
Having just bought a couple of your guides in PDF format, I like the idea of having a resource on my computer which is completely offline, so I can peruse it during a road trip far away from an internet connection.

I do like to be able to print diagrams which do not use a lot of ink.
I like to be able to print lists

Butterfly knots

Trad climber
Novato, CA
  Apr 10, 2012 - 02:56am PT
It's awesome that this is getting done! Definitely edited video with good explanation is the way to go in my opinion, and a downloadable version would be fine. I have watched your youtube "How to Big Wall Climb" videos more times than I can count, my wife can recognize the audio from the next room.
Aiding for the first time this weekend, I was watching my partner take one slow step at a time, doing just what you describe in the video. I'm thinking, "They're A1 placements! just walk all the way up and place the next piece!"
I was also reminded of how fast it feels like you're going on the hot end of the rope, and how slow it seems like you're going to your belay partner.

Sport climber
montreal, quebec
  Aug 10, 2012 - 11:37am PT

First thing, hats off! this is amazing! I'm spending so much at work reading this, it's absurde!

I was woundering, has Chris put together a paperback version of this? I might be late on this forum, but I would love to get my hands on a palpable version if it exists.

cheers and thanks

Boulder climber
  Sep 22, 2012 - 01:29pm PT
Can u possibly make the e-book usable on smartphones for folks lime me who dont have a computer, psyched for your book

  May 25, 2016 - 10:22pm PT
I just bought the book How to big wall climb and on page 17 it says go to this link to find videos...I haven't found any. Where are these mysterious illusive videos??
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Feb 22, 2018 - 07:40am PT
Oops, here are the videos
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