Solo aid climbing


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Social climber
Flatland, Ca
Jan 6, 2010 - 03:29pm PT
Just gotta love this post..

I think I needed the information as well, not that I'm gonna be climbing anything any times soon, but it's good to know for when I an get out to get some pictures....

But I think the best advice provided so far comes from:
healyje - Keep it simple!!!! BWAHAHAHAHH!!!
Cool cartoon.. was that drawn after someone watched PTPP ascend one of the many times he has ascended? LOL

Norwegian - becuase, again.. the guy is a guru/profit/wisdom provider for all!!!

Grand stuff

Jan 6, 2010 - 05:49pm PT
Just a quick question about the photo posted by Norwegian. Do you really clip the Silent Partner to the fixed loop on the swami (belt) part of the harness, rather than the belay loop. Wouldn't that take the leg loops out of the equation? Wouldn't that hurt in a fall? (Maybe I just can't see straight?)

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Jan 7, 2010 - 11:55am PT
my two locking caribiners catch both the swami belt and the leg loops.
it was suggested on another thread

that i clip the silent partner directly to the belay loop.

i prefer it the way shown in my picture.

thanks for the props. i don't hold such a high standing with most around here, or with my wife, but thanks.

Trad climber
Dodge Sprinter Dreaming
Jan 7, 2010 - 12:54pm PT
What you talking about Norwegian?

Everyone loves you, at least all of us that couunt. F*#k the rest of em!



Trad climber
Placerville, California
Jan 7, 2010 - 01:08pm PT
i don't know what im talking about prod.

i do feel well received, though i still feel the need to sulk,

i fumble with emotions when people extend compliments my way.

cheers to you as well.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jan 7, 2010 - 01:39pm PT
Quick reply:

I use the system as shown in my drawing linked above [thanks for doing that], except I do not use the Double Tagging, which is where the little piglet goes up as you rappel down. It works, but it's scary.

Everything else you see is the way I do it.

Best thing is to email me specific questions which I will answer, though it might cost you a few beers on the bridge in the spring. ;)

Gotta run!

Social climber
Flatland, Ca
Jan 8, 2010 - 12:42am PT
Hey PTPP - You gotta let me know the next time you plan on heading up El Cap....

I want to watch the beginning of that system being fabricated and put into use..... (If what you aid is true about that really being your system... WOW!)

That might be the most difficult system I've ever seen.

Here's a question: What would a fine tuned, completely slimmed down version of aid climbing system look like?

For instance, I can see about 7 layers of redundancy (for protection against a fall, of course), and that's not a bad thing.... But...

I guess what I wonder is if there is anyone who has really soloed (aid-solo) with no protection, like a true solo climber does...

Like would el cap be possible if a guy only had one rope, and one (possibly) small rack?

Aid-solo, without pro!!!!???

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jan 8, 2010 - 01:18pm PT

Yes, my system is complex, but it works for me and I consider it to be the Better Way. This being said, there are any number of systems a person can devise for soloing aid, and the Better Way is whatever works best for you.

I am certain that both the Zodiac on El Cap and the WFLT have been aid soloed ropeless. Russ Mitrovich did Zodiac this way, and I believe set the solo speed record doing so, and a guide who I met at Hans Florine's told me he climbed the WFLT this way.

Basically, what you do is aid solo the route using three or more daisy chains. In theory, this means that you are always attached to the rock in at least two places by your daisies. In practice, what this means is that you are setting yourself up for daisy chain falls, whereby you can generate HUGE impact forces on your only pieces of pro by making a near factor-two fall onto it with a non-elastic daisy. This might be one situation you would consider using John Yates' adjustable daisy with the built-in Screamer.

It's probably more dangerous than soloing a big wall with but a single piece of pro per pitch, because of the forces generated if you blow it.

I would consider the ropeless solo of the WFLT to be much more serious than that of Zodiac, if only for the super-scary move at the top of the fourth pitch to gain Guano Ledge, or the slippery free moves at the beginning of the sixth pitch. Got sweaty hands just thinking about that.

Russ hopped on Zodiac when it was fixed, and had been climbed by approximately one team every single day, meaning the fixed heads were probably all good and well tested. Balls of steel, that lad. Or no brains. Either way, a remarkable achievement!

Social climber
Flatland, Ca
Jan 8, 2010 - 03:19pm PT
PTPP - Great information, form a guy who would definitely be in the know!

Thanks bra!

Keep that crab flag flyin'!!!

See you at the bridge one of these days

Trad climber
the east
Jan 8, 2010 - 04:13pm PT
I'm new to the roped solo game. Been trying the Silent Partner. On the lead it is sweet. Not so much on the TR as mentioned.

So I have a question. I was considering getting a 10mm or perhaps 9.8mm for the SP (mostly to facilitate smoother TR's).

Any experience or opinions for this? I am aware of the literature, but looking for real work application.

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jan 8, 2010 - 08:02pm PT
Actually, Russ just hooked me up with a brand new double - my original finally packed it in after 391 nights on El Cap, plus a score of other nights on Grade V's. And I have not yet had the opportunity to sew my Crab-O-Flag onto the new ledge.

Russ has incorporated a couple of really cool design improvements, my favourite of which is the built-in daisy on the outside-underside of the ledge. Just reach over, and clip stuff in. Beauty! Killer idea!

Now I'm waiting for my coffee/beer holder. I'm sure he'll figure it out, he always does. See you on the bridge, Jingy - I'm there for a month and a half every spring and fall, without fail.

Boy - do some searches here on the Silent Partner. Its inventor, or at least his g/f, posts here.

Trad climber
Mexico City, Mx
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 9, 2010 - 12:24am PT
Great stuff!!

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 13, 2010 - 11:54am PT
There is another way that I've used for years, using an ATC, with 2 backups. Its a little complicated to explain.

Set up your ATC so you are going to belay someone, so the ATC is hanging down from the center of your harness with rope coming down from the left and right sides of the ATC. If you are right handed, you want the right side of the rope going down to the ground anchor (upward directional anchor) and the left side going down to the rope pile. As you climb, you will pull rope down with your right hand to give yourself slack and to clip into pro.

The trick is to use about 1 to 1.5 ft of 5 mil cord to create an auto-belay using that ATC. You will essentially tie 2 fisherman knots on either end of this cord with 1 loop knot going around the right side of the rope coming out of the ATC, and the other loop going around the left end of the rope coming out of the ATC. In between the 2 loops of the cord, it should go through your left leg loop of your harness. So the cord should be looped in a synching fisherman around the left rope (to the pile), then up through your left leg loop, then up and around the right rope (to the anchor and all pro) in a synching fisherman.

You'll have to mess around with the size of the loops and distance in between, but what should happen when you fall feet first is:
1. You fall
2. The right side of the rope becomes tight - upward toward a piece of pro
3. The right side of the rope moves upward - taking the the atc upward with it toward your belly
4. That pulls the 1 cord loop knot upward with it
5. That pulls on the other end of the cord, but it has to go down through you left leg loop
6. So the distance between the cord loops increases, pulling them apart
7. This causes the 2 fisherman knots to synch down on the rope
8. The 2 cord knots synch on the rope in opposite directions, 1 down on the left (brake, pile) side of the rope, and the other on the right side going up to the pro. The right side is inconsequenctial, just necessary to get the left side of the cord to synch down and pull downward on the brake side of the rope.
9. This engages the ATC as it is designed to be used, just as if your hand was pulling down on the brake side belaying yourself.

1. This only works when falling feet first, so the first backup is a 5 mil prussik knot around the right (anchor) rope, wrapped well below the fisherman knot so as to not interfere.
2. In case both these fail, you can tie in short every 15 feed. Gurth hitch a webbing loop on the back of your harness. Put on a locking beaner. Once you get up a bit, pull 10-15 feet of slack from the left side of the rope (pile side), tie a bite into an overhand loop knot and clip the loop into the locking beaner. As you climb 15 feet, you will run out of slack and have to redo this procedure.

1. The 5 mill cord is not stopping you from falling, it is not load bearing, only the ATC and the rope are. The cord is acting like a belayer's hand.
2. This only works falling feet first, so you need to at least use the prussik backup mentioned.
3. The size of the fisherman loops and distance between them matter a lot and have to be adjusted for each person
A. Too much cord and it will not engage - very bad!
B. Not enough distance between fisherman loop knots or knots too tight and the system can lock up while feeding rope

Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
May 13, 2010 - 12:55pm PT
How about a picture?

Oakland: what's not to love?
May 13, 2010 - 02:33pm PT
MarcusD, that sounds wild. I'd like to see a pic as well.

I've used an unmodified Gri Gri and a Solo-aid. In my experience they both shine (and stink) in different areas:

Solo-aid doesn't have the biner cross-loading fears associated with it, and feels really solid. It is the balls to free with, only a little better than cloves in that it's not as hard to pull slack out in a desperate "give me six more inches damnit" situation. More of a pain to rap with. Pretty uncomplicated design.

Gri Gri is much more versatile, also bad for freeing, has potential to crossload when falling. Maybe in the psychological depths of my mind not as sure to make the catch on any and every kind of fall as the Solo-aid. But that's what backups are for.

If you're going to dealing with wind, having your rope management dialed is huge.
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