All Solo Aid Systems (feedback wanted from solo aid ninjas)

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MattF

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 21, 2013 - 12:12am PT
Ahoy all!

Alright, so I'm getting ready for my solo of the Muir Wall in late September. I want to make sure I've practiced everything and have all my systems down before I show up in the valley. Never soloed a wall before, so I'd love some feedback from you solo wall ninjas on all the systems that I've laid out here. I'm also putting this up here so anyone else who wants to learn how to solo a wall can have an easier time digesting the info.

I've put them down in chronological order of when the systems will be first needed. I'm ignoring the actual placing of gear and moving up on it part of solo aiding, since that is pretty much the same as with a partner, just you're belaying yourself instead. This is mostly drawn from here and rockclimbing.com, specifically lots of posts by Mark Hudon and Pete (thanks for all the info you guys have shared!). Hopefully this is helpful to others in the future too.

Specifically, what I'm looking for is if I've missed anything. Are there any other systems I should learn/practice? Also, what do you think of my proposed itinerary?

------------- Muir Wall --------


Pitches are based off: http://yosemitebigwall.com/muir-wall

Day 1: Fixing the first 6 pitches (two ropes reach to the ground from pitch 6). Systems needed:

Harness modifications and big wall racking: http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?topic=5012&forum=19&23 http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=60084#60084

Solo aid leading on a unmodified Grigri with backup knots: http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?mode=viewtopic&topic=2062&forum=40&start=0 http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?topic=7121&forum=19&4

Continuous loop solo tag leading and kleimheist rebelays: http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1659182/Solo-Aid-Questions-My-Sequence http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=239823 http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?topic=7647&forum=19&12

Upward pull anchors optimized with screamers to prevent factor-2 with no pig belayer: http://www.hudonpanos.com/Wall-Tips/Anchors.pdf http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1431135 http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=239823 http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?topic=6981&forum=19&4

Passing knots on rappel: http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?topic=6524&forum=19&24

Day 2: More fixing to Heart (pitch 10). Rap fixed lines from Heart, leave my ropes on first two raps off the ground. Same systems as Day 1.

Day 3: Rest day, pack bags, last minute prep. Additional systems needed:

Haul bag packing: http://www.hudonpanos.com/Wall-Tips/All-things-Haul-Bag.pdf http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?topic=12041&forum=19&8 http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?topic=12522&forum=19&8

Day 4: Shuttle loads to base, put pigs together, jug and haul to Heart (2 or 3 hauls? I have a 70m lead and a 63m haul, with a 12m 9mm cord extension), lead to Mammoth and haul to Mammoth. Additional systems needed:

2:1 ratchet hauling: http://www.hudonpanos.com/Wall-Tips/2-to-1-Hauling.pdf http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2132804&tn=0&mr=0 http://www.mountainproject.com/v/21-haul-setup---rate-my-rigging/107577488__1 http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_flat;post=20517;page=1;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25; http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_flat;post=115609

Hanging bags off fifi with slippery knot (to avoid jug, rap, jug, haul): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwWnye2RxbI

Haul bag docking tethers with load release: http://www.hudonpanos.com/Wall-Tips/All-things-Haul-Bag.pdf http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?topic=3765&forum=19&12

Haul bag suspension and far end hauling/lower out setup: http://www.hudonpanos.com/Wall-Tips/All-things-Haul-Bag.pdf http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=121528 http://www.rockclimbing.com/photos/Big_Wall/The_Far_End_Hauler_8346.html http://www.mountainproject.com/v/haul-bag-tricks-using-a-mini-or-micro-traxion/107786056#a_108084469

Solo lead anchor with haul bag belayer to absorb force: http://www.hudonpanos.com/Wall-Tips/Anchors.pdf http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1659182/Solo-Aid-Questions-My-Sequence

Day 5: Mammoth to Grey Ledges (pitch 14 - 3 long pitches from Mammoth), lead and haul. Portaledge bivy on Grey (?). Additional systems:

A vell organized bivy: http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?topic=12606&forum=19

Day 6: Grey to Pitch 18 (link to make 3 pitches), lead and haul. Portaledge bivy. No additional systems.

Day 7: Pitch 18 to 22 (link into 3 pitches), lead and haul. Portaledge bivy. No additional systems.

Day 8: Pitch 22 to 25 (link into 2 pitches), lead and haul. Portaledge bivy with nice ledge for chilling. No additional systems.

Day 9: Fix pitches 25 to 27 (or link 27 and 28), come back to 25 to bivy again. No additional systems.

Day 10: Jug and haul to 27 (or 28), lead and haul to 29. Portaledge bivy. No additional systems.

Day 11: Leave pigs on 29, lead to 31, one haul to 31. Top out! Kiss flat land. Bivy on top.

Day 12: Carry loads down. Jump in river. Eat pizza. Drink beer. Additional systems:

Riding the pig while rapping: http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=21375
T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
Aug 21, 2013 - 12:56am PT
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Aug 21, 2013 - 01:01am PT
The Aid Rant is so good!
MattF

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 21, 2013 - 02:10am PT
Not bad, not bad. I was sure the first reply was going to be someone telling me I'm going to DIE!!!!!111, but I'll take the aid rant. ;-)

Anyone have any more applicable feedback?
Rocky IV

Social climber
Aug 21, 2013 - 02:38am PT
carrying loads down by yourself will be the crux. prepare to suffer.

Make sure you haul enough beer, a 30 rack minimum.

Load your ipod up with This American Life podcasts.

Bring a journal

A few books

It'll be really scary the fist few days, don't bail.

Hauling is brutal for the first day or two, it'll get easier.

Send it
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Aug 21, 2013 - 10:23am PT
If you can get to Mammoth, solo, in two days, you'll do fine on the rest of the route. Even if it took you three or four, I wouldn't be bummed.
MattF

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 21, 2013 - 12:10pm PT
carrying loads down by yourself will be the crux. prepare to suffer.

Make sure you haul enough beer, a 30 rack minimum.

Load your ipod up with This American Life podcasts.

Bring a journal

A few books

It'll be really scary the fist few days, don't bail.

Hauling is brutal for the first day or two, it'll get easier.

Send it

Thanks for the advice Rocky.

Yep - definitely bringing Journal, kindle with 200 books on it, and music/podcasts.

I was thinking I would bring a few beers, but mostly a bottle of this stuff: http://www.bevmo.com/Shop/ProductDetail.aspx/Spirits/Other-Whiskeys/Hood-River-Distillers/Pendleton-Canadian-Whisky/_/R-4-17828

I'll have to transfer it to a metal container, but that should be fine.

And actually the part I am most fearing is the descent.

Anyone know what the going rate is for hiring people to meet me at the top to help hump loads down?
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Aug 21, 2013 - 12:23pm PT
$3 to $4 dollars per pound down from the top. Cheyne is the man to get a hold of.
Crack-N-Up

Big Wall climber
South of the Mason Dixon line
Aug 21, 2013 - 12:46pm PT
Using a clove hitch to connect yourself to the lead line works. Just loosen it up 5-6 feet at a time, or 10+ feet or more when free climbing. Trail a second rope tied off to the belay.
mawk

Big Wall climber
White Bear Lake, MN
Aug 21, 2013 - 12:56pm PT
RE: //Hanging bags off fifi with slippery knot (to avoid jug, rap, jug, haul)

If you are planning on hanging your haul bag(s) from a fifi, you might be misinterpreting Mark's video. His video refers to how he hangs his "tag bag" not his haul bag(s).

Of course I could be the one who's confused, if so sorry.

Mark W.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Aug 21, 2013 - 01:23pm PT
Make sure you are using a Petzl fif and not the one similar to the BD fifi. The Petzl one has a slot that allows the connecting Mallon to slide to the bottom of the fifi where, if it is weighted, will not rotate the fifi off of the anchor (I've actually jugged half a pitch anchored only by that hook and Mallon).

Now, take this with a grain of salt, I have hung a moderate bag on my quite overhung climbing wall at home and have shoved, kicked and swung that bag for all it was worth and I could NEVER get it to fall off of the anchor. Recently, when I solo hauled the gear Cheyne and I needed for Sunkist to Mammoth, I hung the bags on a fifi and didn't bother to safety them at all.

Mawk, it would serve the same purpose.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Aug 21, 2013 - 03:46pm PT
I love the clove hitch approach. Hitch around double, opposed, locking 'biners, and it'll "run" at around 1600 pounds, giving you a bit of a dynamic belay on a hard fall. Also, it's not as hard to loosen (after a fall) if you use double 'biners. Of course, tie backup knots further down rope! It's a very simple, foolproof setup, and you'll get very quick at feeding rope through the hitch.
Rocky IV

Social climber
Aug 21, 2013 - 05:21pm PT
I will be in the valley during that time and most likely available to help haul your kit down the east ledges. PM me. I carried everything down by myself when I soloed it last may and it was brutal
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Aug 21, 2013 - 05:57pm PT
I think I've used every solo aid system known to humanity except the Soloist, including that used by Robbins on his original Muir solo -- Jumars -- and the now-discredited Barnett System. I've taken falls on all, and none has failed me yet.

I'm piling on, but I'll say it anyway. Humping loads down is the worst. The technical details of the actual big wall solo techniques pale in comparison to the difficulty of the downward trudge when you're already exhausted. Not only that, but that's usually the point when your guard is lowest. I've almost bought it more than once in that state.

Best of luck to you.

John
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Aug 21, 2013 - 06:17pm PT
Careful not to try and use too much of the Canadian Assassin's manifesto from rc.com. Even he has distances himself from much of his early BS that was emphatically the "Better Way" a few short years before. Bear in mind that his goals often include mid-wall BBQ's, and moving several times as much freight as a typical team, and at a fraction of the pace. For a good long while he was a loud voice in a quiet room, it doesn't mean he was any more right than those he shouted down and ridiculed.

Take a look at other peoples systems and pick out a few things you want to try. Go to a local crag and try the sh#t out of them. A well practiced lame system is often less of a hazard and faster than the best snazzy system you deploy for the first time at the base of El Cap.

I like using an unmodified Gri-Gri on a medium sized quick-link to give me some hope at not cross loading a biner. I always got the snail eye and would rap, release bags, jug, then haul. Hanging bags on a fifi sounds great when spouting off online, and can fizzle fast once you are all alone getting the willies over every carabiner fart.
Prod

Trad climber
Aug 21, 2013 - 06:22pm PT
carabiner fart.

If you are talking about the moment when a biner shifts and drops you a nanometer when weighted, then that makes my heart skip a beat just thinking about it.

Prod.
MattF

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 21, 2013 - 06:36pm PT
Thanks for everyone's comments!

John, Madbolter, Crack-N-Up - I've been practicing with the grigri, its what I'm used to, and I'm pretty happy with it, but thanks for the tips on cloves. I'll have a backup grigri too, but just in case I drop both of them, the clove system is my backup-backup. ;-)

Mark W - yeah, the solo tag does live on a fifi/slippery, but I'm thinking of also leaving the bags on a fifi for when I haul to Heart to eliminate work. Once I start moving past Heart I won't leave the bags on a fifi anymore since I'll need to come down to the lower anchor to untie the lead line and clean anyway, but just for the jug/haul up to heart it makes sense to me to fifi the bags to save energy. Mark H. did it on his solo of Iron Hawk ( http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Iron-Hawk-Solo/t11586n.html ).

Mark H - thats actually something that is on my list to play around with and figure out how it all actually works. I have an extra BD fifi, but I was wondering about how it was going to work with that and whether I needed to get a petzl one. I was trying to scope your setup from the slippery knot youtube vid, but its too difficult to see. Any chance you have a good picture or another video demonstrating how you setup your petzl fifi to hang bags off? I assume you use the same setup on your tag rack too, right?

Moof - I'm curious if Pete will chime in and comment on what systems he no longer uses. Things like the double tagging/counterhauling while rapping back down seem too scary to me. Hanging bags off a fifi would only be for the hauls to heart, not where I'm leading off the anchor or anything. Would you still avoid it even in that scenario?

Seems like most of the other systems I listed are ones that others also use. Do you have any specific comments on them? As for grigri - I was thinking of either going with a burly quicklink, or getting one of those snazzy anti-crossload autolockers like this: http://blackdiamondequipment.com/en/climbing-carabiners-quickdraws/magnetron-gridlock-carabiner-BD2102880000ALL1.html#start=3&sz=24

Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Aug 21, 2013 - 06:48pm PT
Here ya go.

DO NOT USE ANY OTHER FIFI ASIDE FROM A PETZL FOR THIS TECHNIQUE!.

Credit: Mark Hudon

Yes, it's the same for my tag bag.

If you want to set up your Far End Hauling on that, simply clip your Micro-Trax onto the red biner. You could go almost tight to the haul bag from there, as a safety, but make sure you have some extra cord below that in case you have to actually do some far end hauling.
MattF

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 21, 2013 - 09:50pm PT
Mark - your advice is always very well thought out and tested, so I'll probably just end up buying a petzl fifi and setting up like you have it, but learning why other ways aren't as good is always useful, in case I ever need to improvise it. What do you (and others) think of this method I just thought up?

(Note: I would replace the thin sewn sling on the fifi with a quicklink or a much beefier piece of cord or something)

Line going up goes to next anchor.  Line going left is excess tail lef...
Line going up goes to next anchor. Line going left is excess tail left over (would be tied off as a backup knot to the protrax).
Credit: MattF
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Aug 22, 2013 - 12:13pm PT
First of all, throw that Pro Trax away, there are far better tools out there. Second, that would certainly work, although it doesn't mitigate the danger I've already mentioned.

Let me tell you a story.

I was on the crux pitch of Zenyatta Mondatta, maybe 15 or 20 feet out on that hooking traverse when the weight of my rope caused it to pull the remainder of the rope out of its rope bag. I sat there watching, knowing full well that I could never hook back to the anchor in time to get there before the end hit my tag bag and popped it off the anchor. I was confident that I would be okay since I was using a Petzl Fifi and that the eventual pull would be downward onto the bottom of the hook rather than on the top of the hook had it been a classic or BD style fifi. Sure enough, the weight of the rope hit the Slippery Knot, pulled that all through and hit the hook. The hook didn't move a bit. If it hadn't held the tag bag would have fallen the whole distance of the rope,170 feet, and would have surely pulled me off.
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