The five stages of “backing-off” climbs.


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Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 23, 2010 - 10:47am PT
Karl backoff poem bump!

Boulder climber
Los Angeles
Oct 23, 2010 - 01:38pm PT
Awesome poems!

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 26, 2011 - 08:56pm PT
I need to bring this thread back. If you haven't read it, find Karl Baba's back-off poem and enjoy it.

Any good back-off epics in the last year?

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2012 - 12:09am PT
Nearly two years have gone by since the last post.

Any good back-off stories?

I am still agitating for a "Back-offer of the Year" Award!

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 6, 2012 - 01:04am PT
So here's the trick: bump something from the second page to push those oxpeckers down where they belong.

As for backing offf, I have been to Dinner ledge four times and have never topped out on the Column. That is really sucky.

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Nov 6, 2012 - 04:06pm PT
Bump for Karl's "THE CRAVEN" adaptation

I added another 10 pitch rap bail and a "failure to bail when I should have" in the last year or so. I still have a few more prime months in 2012 for perfect bailing conditions.

Nov 6, 2012 - 05:24pm PT
thanks for the bump -- the op is a clever observation = backing off is a grief process. very funny and enlightening to consider it that way.

although you get "do-overs" in climbing. when a person is gone, they stay gone.

and, with do-overs comes selective memory: a friend recently teased me because I could easily remember a clean ascent, but had conveniently forgotten a preceding back-off and not-so-clean ascent.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Nov 6, 2012 - 05:26pm PT
Selective memory is one of the important traits for serious climbing.


Trad climber
Josh, CA
Jun 11, 2014 - 02:43pm PT
First off, you guys have it all wrong. There's only thee stages of "backing-off" a climb.


If you want a prime example, read the following trip report:


Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Jun 11, 2014 - 06:01pm PT
I had a pretty decent ice season this year. I tend to bail from serious ice climbs that I have thought about climbing for a long time. usually go back and get them on the 2nd or 3rd try. The 1st time I backed off of Possitive Thinking WI5- @ Poko Moonshine was 2007 It was one of those single didget Farenhight days in the North East. The ice was bullet proof, thin and abused. I got a bottomed out stubby about 20ft up and then nothing forever. the pitch looks like it goes on forever and it gets steeper as it goes. I was at about 70ft withjust the one really bad stubby 50ft below me and the ice was brutaky thin and abused. It looked like I needed to climb10 more feet to get a 10cm screw in blob of ice that was peppered with old screw holes. Did not have the mojo to make the moves so i down climbed the whole thing. Safely on the ground I look at it and decide it really does not look that bad. Take two! I tip tap my way back to my previous high point and make one more move. Picks and front points in an inch of ice that is battered to the point of semi uslessness 70ft above the talus I chicken out and down climb again. people have been killed on this climb.. Again safely on the ground it does not look so bad. Take 3 gets me to the same spot and annother gripping downclimb. I give up and drag my poor frozen belayer up Waterfall. It is steep and fat and takes as many screws as I can fire into it:) My poor frozen belayer only manages to get 2/3rds of the way up the pitch before he falls out of is tools leaving his gloves stuck in the leashes.
My 2nd encounter with this climb was the following winter with Isa. the climb was fat and took screws right off the ground but I was scared silly from my previous encounter with this beast. I sucumbed to my PTSD and bailed the moment the sun came out and a few icicles fell down from up high. This winter I finally got back over there and basicly hiked it.I was bit scared on the 1st pitch but climbed well. As soon as I got to the belay on top of P1 I had slayed me demons and the rest of the climb was simply fun.

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 11, 2014 - 07:47pm PT
trademan! Woohoo! Glad to read that you kept coming back and enjoyed an ascent!

SLC, Utah
Jun 11, 2014 - 09:56pm PT
Thanks for bumping this. The OP was pure gold. Very clever.

Also, tradman, I am super jelly of your X-Dreams. They fight wars in my head with Cobras to win me over as my next ridiculous climbing purchase.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 12, 2014 - 12:30am PT
Thanks, Fritz, for starting this wonderful thread, and for all who bumped it. How could I, a master of the yellow point, have missed it all these years?

I was raised in the Vulgarian tradition, which viewed The Fiasco as one of the highest forms of climbing achievement.

That explains something I've always wondered about, having spent my entire climbing life on the west coast. My main climbing partner since the 1960's is an MIT grad, who seemed able to create the apotheosis of any fiasco.

He's rubbed off on me so much that whenever anything in life goes wrong for me (a common occurrence), the thing I'm most likely to say while it's happening is "Just think about what a great story this will make!"


Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Jun 12, 2014 - 02:47am PT
X Dreams seem to be about the best thin ice tool on the planet but are not as robust as Nomics.

Annother bail and then sucess story from this winter. i went and had a look at Repentance WI5 @ cathedral. the first try with Isa i managed to talk myself into thinking that P2 was too thin and abused for my skillset. Isa was comming down with the flue so she was eager to bail as well and did not give me her usual cheerleading boost. I came back the following week and sent in much worse conditions:) annother shot of the X Dreams this one @ the lake
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