Big Wall Climbers - what was your progression?

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Messages 1 - 20 of total 36 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Burchey

Mountain climber
San Diego
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 27, 2012 - 08:10am PT
I'm assuming most of these beasts climbing massive walls of granite didn't, one random day years ago, decide to spend thousands of dollars on aid gear on a whim for their first crack at climbing.

You probably started bouldering/cragging, worked up to some multipitch with gear, and so on and so on. Before you know it, you're crapping in a bag 12 pitches above the deck.

I'd be interested to hear some history on how you got into big wall, how long did it take you before you felt accomplished, etc?

I look up at these guys on the routes and I'm pretty darn sure I could never do it (dedication/skill/gear). I did think I'd never place a cam or nut back in the day, so you never know.
thekidcormier

Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
Dec 27, 2012 - 08:38am PT
Im farfrom honed but i started out usong my.first rack of cams and nuts and tricams which i bought used. Then bought a single etrier and borrowed a grigri.

http://thekidcormier.blogspot.ca/2011/10/ive-recently-became-interested-in-art.html?m=1
Ken

Trad climber
Arroyo Grande
Dec 27, 2012 - 08:39am PT
Wear out your free climbing boots to a debilitating point. Continually get hammered first at night only, but then by mid-morning on the Curry Deck as well. As the personal hygiene deteriorates to a homeostatic point you begin to see "natural lines" up there and start collecting bitchin' water bottles.



philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Dec 27, 2012 - 08:42am PT
WARNING: Typical smartass comment coming.
















































I started at the bottom and climbed toward the top.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 27, 2012 - 08:45am PT
Climbing aid is not a progression, it's a regression.

Stop while yer a head.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Dec 27, 2012 - 08:46am PT
Before the Game's a-foot.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Dec 27, 2012 - 08:51am PT
Let's see:
fallopian tube
first communion
losing virginity
army
first lead with goldline rope and kronhoffers
pilgrimage to yosemite
first grade 4
salathe wall

edit: did the nose the next year....end of big wall climbing and on to alpine
Burchey

Mountain climber
San Diego
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 27, 2012 - 09:04am PT
Interesting responses so far. Surprised that nobody reminded me that I'm gunna die.

I know I won't ever pull hard enough to free most, if not all, of the big routes in the Valley, etc. Not saying Aid is easy, but it would allow some of us lacking the free-ability to go up lines we couldn't otherwise.

I'm familiar with this water-bottle theory. I'm still on nalgene - noob status. The more duct tape, the better, yes?

I love the alpine stuff I'm already into, but I can see the draw of the 2,000 foot sheer face o' granite. Crazy exposure, views, etc. Commitment.

Thanks for the blog link, Kid. I'll check it out.
Onewhowalksonrocks

Mountain climber
portland, Maine
Dec 27, 2012 - 09:37am PT
When I started climbing I didn't think I was only going to climb one pitch, boulder or only free climb. I thought climbing as a way to get to the top of something using any tool needed. So, I learned how to free climb the same time I learned to aid climb.

So, to answer your question. Start small and go big. As you would do anything in your life.
Texplorer

Trad climber
Sacramento
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:40am PT
Year one
Top-roped
Led sport

Year two
Led trad
3 weeks at Indian Creek

Spent about 10 days in Zion doing these routes all in a day or less
Organasm
Touchstone
Spaceshot (2 times)
Moonlight Buttress

Then went straight to the valley for 5 weeks
South Face of column -2 days
Accepted that "I'm gonna die"
Salathe -4 days
Half dome -1 day

Then about an el cap route a year for next 10 years
Nose
NIAD
Mescalito
SS to PO
Zodiac -solo
Eagle's Way -2 day push
Shield
Salathe
Shortest Straw
NA

Prod

Trad climber
Dec 27, 2012 - 11:04am PT
Started climbing with Tarbuster in 1989.

Climbed a lot from 1989 to 1995.

Got job in Michigan, got out of climbing until 05ish.

Got interested in aid via this site sometime around.... 2007
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/366421/Never-done-a-lick-of-aid

Did my first wall in August 2008.
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/661935/So-youve-never-done-a-wall-Zodiac-TR-First-wall

Planned many since then, tried and failed once, way addicted and planning already for another one this spring....

Prod.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Dec 27, 2012 - 11:24am PT
You can't do walls unless you can be fast and efficient.

Progression:
Long free climbs
"Aid bouldering" for practice
Long free climbs with a little bit of aid
Grade V with easy aid
Grade VI walls

Climbing aid is not a progression, it's a regression.

I'm calling you outside, pal

People who make fun of aid have never done anything hard.
mechrist

Gym climber
South of Heaven
Dec 27, 2012 - 11:26am PT
+1 Warbler
BigWallchris

Trad climber
Boulder
Dec 27, 2012 - 12:32pm PT
The book "Freedom of the Hills" was very useful to me.
Vail
Eldorado Canyon
Moab
RMNP
Zion
Camp 4.
Michigan to Vail (Ski instruct)
Chick's dig it.
Penis Envy.
Another season in Vail (89 to 96)
Spring skiing at Snowbird
Bouldering little cottonwood canyon
climbing in Moab
Boulder (School)
Calypso.
Tagger.
Great Zot.
Stettners ledges.
Trip West.
Joshua Tree
Zion.
Another Road Trip West
Mount Baker
Rainer
Index
Liberty Bell
Worked Kids Camp.
Dunn-west Bay
Tombstone
Moonlight Buttress
Lunar X
Spaceshot
Swoomp Gimp
Prodigal son
To yosemite.
only Zodiac
Nose
Prow
Tangerine Trip and
Wet day Dream
Time to start Alpine Climbing.


1989-brought chalk bag, climbing shoes, roomates say "Chris your going to kill your self".

1990 spring-Brought lead rack of set of stoppers and hexes and 10 hand tied quickdraws and a rope. Roomates say "Chris you REALLY are going to kill yourself". Started setting up top rope anchors and top roping.

1990 summer lead a few 5.9's with my rack near Vail, not telling my belayer "This is my first lead watch me". and a few 5.9's in Eldo. People would give me weird looks when all i had was passive gear hanging from my rack in Eldo. ("your going to kill yourself") Tagger probably wasn't the best choice of leads with this gear. Young and didn't know the consequences of falling, was what kept me alive. the book "Freedom of the Hills" helped me a lot. roomates say ("Chris, You have not KILLED yourself YET!")

1990 later in summer. lied to a random more experience climber that I had been on a multipitch climb in Eldo before. Embarked on my first pitch of gear climbing more then a pitch off the ground. Took 1/2 hour to climb pitch. One hour to set up the belay. Random climber soloed the rest of route with me behind him. He was late for a wedding. Definitely a very good confident climber who i should not have lied to.

1990 winter- road trip to the desert and joshua tree. Figured we needed some active gear to use for the cracks. Brought 5 generic active gear "Things" from some where? We sent everything that we wanted to.

1991 winter- arrived in zion at night woke up and saw the walls. Too scared to climb anything more then a pitch off the ground.

1992 climbed stettner ledge's up near the Diamond in RMNP. We didn't moved fast enough bivied on mountain. Epic it was. I thought I was stettner himself with my wool knicker pants. First time in a alpine environment. A little rock helicoppered down on me at the start of the climb. I dove into a little nook like someone was throwing a hand granade at me. I still feel the energy up there.

1991 to 1995- Worked through the grades up to 5.11.

1996- the Diamond served as my First grade VI. A Constant struggle figuring out the tangles while leading. Luckly, had a very good experienced wall partner with me.

winter 1997- More walls in Zion. Got way faster and it started making sense.

1997-2003- Sport climbed.

2003- Camp 4 and easy trade walls in Yosemite. 05, 06, 07 more walls in yosemite. 09, 10, 11, serious injury. 2012 back to climbing.

next is Ice climbing
next mix Rock and Ice climbing
next AT skiing (Lucky, i am pretty good at this already).
next Alpine climbing putting all together in one push.
-Diamond in the winter
-Liberty Ridge
-Cassin Ridge
 Mount Foraker
 Mount Hunter
 Mooses tooth
 South America
 Himalaya's if i DARE.
Still wondering if i have the motivation for this?
other big walls in Remote places.

I guess a progression is: (some people fly through this progression in 3 years or less!) Some people take 20 years or more. Some people just stay at one type of climbing and love it.
1. Bouldering, shoes and chalk bag. Crash pad or just a piece of carpet to keep bottom of shoes clean.
2. Buy rope, gear when needed and start top roping, setting up natural anchors when needed.
3.Start lead climbing. Sport and Trad single pitch
4.Start multi pitch Sport and Trad.
5.Start aid climbing when you can't send that hard Trad pitch.
6.Clean Aid climbing
7.Aid climbing. Leaning to place Pitons, Heads, Rawl Drives/Spikes (Rivts), Bolts.
8.Wall climbing Aid climbing
9.Wall Climbing Free climbing.
10. Ice climbing
11. Mix climbing
12. Alpine Climbing on Big mountains/Big Walls!!!!

Edit: Burchery, Some people do go buy 3 Grand worth the gear and walk up and climb the nose on EL Capitan with little or no experience. Crazy stuff. Works for some people.


Josh Higgins

Trad climber
San Diego
Dec 27, 2012 - 12:38pm PT
I'm with Warbler, as well. I regressed for a while, and then realized that I'd much rather just train harder and free the same terrain. Now I'm back to progressing with my climbing. To me, aid climbing is purely a tool, but certainly not a goal. That said, big wall taught me a lot, and it's amazing to climb such massive features.

My progression was like many others. Trad climb, aid single pitch, practice systems, fail on a wall, succeed on a wall, free my first wall, NIAD, haven't slept on a wall since 2006, but I still climb at least one a year without aid.

Josh
Burchey

Mountain climber
San Diego
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 27, 2012 - 12:45pm PT
Guys - thanks for all the responses. Glad we're able to keep it away from arguing over what style of climbing is best. I've got a couple friends who climb BW in Yosemite, one has done several routes solo. Pretty impressive when you consider the time involved and all the gear you have to schlep.
Fossil climber

Trad climber
Atlin, B. C.
Dec 27, 2012 - 12:45pm PT
Mission Gorge

Tahquitz

Arrow tip w/ Gallwas

Various Yosemite fun stuff

Worst Error w/ Harding

Middle Cathedral w/Powell

Fell under the Rasputin-like influence of Hemming, Harding and Mountain Red,
and completely lost touch with reality.

The Nose

Back to reality.
deuce4

climber
Hobart, Australia
Dec 27, 2012 - 01:32pm PT
Started climbing.

Looked up in awe of big rock faces.

Read Royal Robbins Basic and Advanced Rockcraft 100 times.

Did as many multi-pitch routes whereever found on the East Coast.

1977--drove to Yosemite with John Ely--climbed East Buttress, S.Face of Washington's Column, then Half Dome. (Stage 1)

Second trip to Yosemite, climbed El Cap Nose with Steve Chardon (ran out of water day 2).

Stage 2--interest in "nailing" routes--this was tougher, as most experienced big wallers wanted to climb with someone with experience. Tried the Shield with Ted Johnson--failed at roof (big earthquake shattered Ted's confidence). Begged a number of climbers to team up for another try--no joy.

Soloed the Prow in two bivies. Started soloing the Zodiac, took a big fall and nearly died with a "yer gonna die" self-designed solo system. Lydia Bradey joins me for successful ascent.

Can't remember what was next, but there were a few false starts, but at least now had some experience to cajole fellow sufferers.

There wasn't much information back then on what to do, how to do it, what kind of gear, etc. Even collecting the requisite water containers--old anti-freeze one gallon containers were the only thing that didn't spontaneously blow up on the first haul (but tasted toxic)--was a challenge.

Back then, there was a lot of social pressure to stick to the clean and fast walls (like Salathe) and eschew the nailing. But I figured there were bigger challenges outside of Yosemite that would still require the nailing techniques...


EDIT: here's some info from my first couple years living in the dirt of Yosemite.

Credit: deuce4


This "Climbing Record" is what was required back then to join the American Alpine Club...

Credit: deuce4



Nilepoc

Boulder climber
Tx
Dec 27, 2012 - 02:32pm PT
I am far from a wall climber or hardman, but have managed two walls.

Started climbing in 1988
Box canyon NM trad sport and bouldering
Went to Hueco tanks for rope climbing as my first road trip

1989
Devils Tower climbs
Climbed all over the southwest slowly increasing multi pitch exposure

1990
first trip to the valley climbed nutcracker and then a bunch of routes in Tuolumne
continued climbing all over the southwest

1992
Did 30 feet of aid in box canyon NM and drove to the valley to climb the Nose
Went up 5 pitches partner bailed, found new partners and climbed it in five days on the same trip.

1994 to 2012
sport climbed a bit and then fell into the world of bouldering
Bouldered all over the planet but spent most of my time at my favorite crag, Hueco Tanks

2012
decided to do another wall
did the NA after only bouldering for the last 12 years. I certainly slowed my partner down, but we had a good epic and a good time. I cannot wait to do it again soon and have started collecting gear to make the next trip more fun.


Vegasclimber

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Dec 27, 2012 - 03:50pm PT
This is a good topic, I hope to see a lot more posts - so far they have been great.

I am not a wall climber, yet - I am firmly in the realm of "Big Wall Theorist" as some may say. With time, training and some luck, I will get there though. It's been a long process for me so far.

I got my introduction to roped climbing courtesy of the USMC when I was still in ROTC in Bridgeport, CA. Had a great time, but it didn't "take" at that point, so to speak.

Later on, I started to do some dumbass soloing, until I had a hold break and almost peeled off a cliff. Looked down, realized I was a moron, and stopped doing that.

Fast forward to 2002, I move to Vegas and start hanging out in Red Rock a lot. Hiking led to scrambling, scrambling led to me being 80ft up in a chimney and looking down and going "Wait, I said this was stupid. It's time to learn how to climb."

When I decide to get into something, it's usually full bore or not at all. So after a short time in the gym, I went and bought the standard sport stuff - draws, rope, etc. Not too bad, cost wise. Wasn't long after that, I see my first big wall story and start drooling over Yosemite. It would be 9 more years before I actually stepped into the Valley for the first time.

I was avoiding trad climbing like the plague due to my "full bore" mentality for a couple years, but then a friend took me out to Moderate Mecca one day. The first piece of gear that I cleaned, and I was hooked. This was awesome, I could see the placement, knew how long it had been there, and there was so much variety...not like unknown old bolts at all.

Fast forward 2 months after that, I have a pretty much a full double rack, and I am a month behind on my rent. Go figure.

So eventually, I came to a realization. I'm pretty lazy, and I don't have the desire or determination to train enough to climb "hard." I'm the most happy on 5.8 and 5.9, a good day is 5.10. And you aren't going to find a free big wall at that grade. So the thought of aid climbing started slipping into my head again, no matter how much I told myself that I wasn't going to spend money on all that damn aid and wall shite.

*Click* Full Bore Mode activated. Damnit!

Aiders, big wall harness, pins, ledge, sub bags, haul bags, bug the sh#t out of the Fish for gear, more pins, more gear, Chongo's Big Wall Book and How to be Bitchin book, tons of time on ST bugging Hudon, PTPP, poop tubes, jugging and setting the ledge up on the third floor porch, aiding dumb stuff, more aiding dumb stuff, more gear, more gear, bug PTPP and Hudon, etc etc. etc.

I used to laugh when people said their gear room was worth more then their car. They would just give me a sad look. Now I know why.

Anyways. so far I have managed a grand total of part of a pitch of New Dawn, which ended in a helicopter ride out of Yosemite and a break. Back to climbing, back to learning system, have a good climbing partner that's got it all down that's willing to teach me. Plans for Zion in the spring and maybe the Valley too. 10 years and counting, and I'm still not there yet. But I still wannabe ;)
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