First Ascent Tactics


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Trad climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 4, 2013 - 07:48pm PT
What are yours? regarding developing a new area? camping nearby? stashing gear? trail building? mitigating loose rock? Preparations for retreat? Tag line pros and cons? Tips and techniques? anything else i should know? This area is in a National forest if you know any laws regarding camping and climbing in these areas or a reference to those laws please inform me. I am a novice developing an area for the first time and would like to learn by experiences, yours and mine. Thank you for your input.

-B. McIntosh

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Sep 4, 2013 - 07:52pm PT
Beware of Locals

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Sep 4, 2013 - 08:13pm PT
For development at the Riverside Quarry, we would bring along our good friend, Dave (aka: Super Dave), who would obligingly clear away loose rock by belching mightily at the cliff face.

We could climb on whatever was left after the dust had settled.

After we had picked ourselves up off the ground and removed our ear protection.

Social climber
san joser
Sep 4, 2013 - 08:29pm PT
Resist the urge to buy a power drill.

It is the path to the dark side...

Go out there and have yourself an adventure!

Sep 4, 2013 - 08:43pm PT
What kind of rock?

Style of routes?

This thread is useless without pics! Show us the freshies!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Sep 4, 2013 - 11:02pm PT
Usually I bring two things just in case. One is a power drill in case I get scared, and tow is my boxer buddy in case the locals show up. lol

My real strategy is to avoid learning how to bolt so I do not have to listen to people bitch, and to have a lot of fun with my friends.

If area is overhanging choss it probably is good for sport climbing. If there are cracks and it protects than it is probably a good place for ground up trad. If it is a slab and you are first to discover the area I think it is your call if you want to rap bolt or go ground up. Whatever keeps you happy.
The Warbler

the edge of America
Sep 4, 2013 - 11:30pm PT
Carefully choose one climbing partner, and keep the place and your activities secret for as long as you can.
Rivet hanger

Trad climber
Sep 5, 2013 - 11:24am PT
Do a FA that takes me at least 60 days (not climbing on Sabbath), write a tedious book claiming it's the only real A5 ratted route on that wall and explaining the troubles I had with local climbers. Then, wait for 30 years to find out it's just A3+...

Trad climber
Alta Loma, CA
Sep 5, 2013 - 11:31am PT
Just always remember that......



mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Sep 5, 2013 - 11:38am PT
Get there, first.

Get there first, second.

And when you get back home, thank the Lord and spray.

Big Wall climber
Classroom to crag to summer camp
Sep 5, 2013 - 11:38am PT
I don't think RH will ever understand new wave versus old wave aid ratings.

I also doubt RH reads the same book most of us read.

Do you get too distracted by the twinkle of trenched lead heads and the brittle cracking of wooden pegs around you when you read and just sort of fill in the blanks with whatever weird ramblings are happening in your head RH?

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 5, 2013 - 11:42am PT
Don't promise an FA on Denali to a client if he is gonna go blab to the
Canadians at loose ends camped nearby. Jess sayin'...

Trad climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 5, 2013 - 11:48am PT
thanks for the replys and i'll try to get some pics up soon. This area has vast potential for trad, sport, and bouldering. So far we have developed one trad route and a slew of boulders. (i wish it was the other way around because my arms feel shot with minor injuries and we only had one awesome trad day) It has been real fun nonetheless. The trad route has a mellow walk off and approach. we stash our gear out there near the campsite in 5 gal buckets along with some food, beer and water. as far as trail building goes we only built cairns and developed a path from walking over the same path to get to different areas. we will bring a small hand saw to aid in this aspect of developing. I bring gear to bail such as rap rings, pro and slings. I don't own a tag line but am considering purchasing one for it's uses with bailing and self rescue. I am a novice and am just learning on my own so i thought i could consult the vast knowledge held captive by supertopo users. Thank You Guys.
I really started this thread to hear about YOUR experiences with developing areas or routes. I thought if we all came together to offer our insight into this realm of climbing there would be a plethora of tips and techniques from various situations to help aid each one of us in our unique pursuit of happiness. Thanks again.

-Bruce McIntosh
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 5, 2013 - 11:51am PT
I think the thread title in inauspicious, I don't view an FA as a battle requiring tactics with a winner and a looser... it's not a combat against the cliff or mountain.

When you view it in a different light the "tactics" become a lot clearer...

Rivet hanger

Trad climber
Sep 5, 2013 - 11:52am PT
The same book, dude! Thank Lord only exists one edition of this literature pearl (makes Lionel Terray look like a pre-school student!). The birds, the storms, Sabbath, bad angry boys in the Valley, prays, hooks (used in both new wave and old school I guess), and so on...
By the way, very funny you still don't undestand the use of wood wedges and the pitons! Needless to talk about physics properties of lead...

A long way from where I started
Sep 5, 2013 - 12:17pm PT
I don't view an FA as a battle requiring tactics with a winner and a looser... it's not a combat against the cliff or mountain.

Now there's a Californian point of view if there ever was one. Come up to the PNW one of these days Ed, and we'll show you some fierce FA battlegrounds.

Entering the combat zone
Entering the combat zone
Credit: Ghost

Flying into battle
Flying into battle
Credit: Ghost

Hand-to-hand combat
Hand-to-hand combat
Credit: Ghost

Sep 5, 2013 - 12:21pm PT

Trad climber
Sep 5, 2013 - 12:33pm PT
Your first ascent tactics should respect all USFS and NPS regulations. I believe hacking local flora is illegal. Stashing 5 gallon buckets of gear in a National Forest is probably ok as far as I know. I hate when people use the term "develop" when talking about putting up routes, because it sounds like you are building a city or something. Trail building is not legal, so keep it small. LEO's read this forum.

Social climber
Sep 5, 2013 - 12:55pm PT
What rincon said.

Around here the Forest Service have prosecuted "developers" on occasion. Not for bolting, which is usually legal and legit everywhere, but for damage to vegetation, construction of staging areas and trail building.

When folks do get busted, it's a big bummer, it all gets real ugly for everyone. Developing a new crag is thankless at best, it hurts bad to get prosecuted after all the hard work.

Best to do a bit of research (internet search? Phone call?) first to figure out what regulations there are in the particular forest you are interested in.

Sep 5, 2013 - 01:01pm PT
My FA tactics have always been the same:
Pick a line.
Climb it on lead.
Drill no holes.
Leave no tat.
Go home.
Tell no one.
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