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Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:03pm PT
Thanks in advance for anyone's time and effort in answering one or more of these questions.

you have no idea how long this is going to take... best thing would be, once your shoulder is good, just come on out and spend some time in the Valley... maybe we could arrange a sort of tour, the "Wall Rats and Hang Dogs" tour visiting sites mentioned in the book, interspersed with climbing tidbits, first hand recitations of climber tales, re-enact a party, and perhaps have a few old men hang around...



TradIsGood

Trad climber
Gunks end of country
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:13pm PT
OK.

Just in case she doesn't get out there, I will take number 4.

In order: yes, air brakes, insufficient padding, and no they do not hit the wall while falling, they only hit the wall when bouncing.
Matt

Trad climber
places you shouldn't talk about in polite company
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:22pm PT
terrible effort kodos, i am sorely unimpressed



edit- read lynn hill's book, "climb high", or "climb free" (?), it is written well for the layperson to get a clue. long may not have had you in mind, dr.
dryfly

Trad climber
utah
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:22pm PT
Longs recent article was in Rock and Ice issue 152 (july)
landcruiserbob

Trad climber
the ville, colorado
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:25pm PT
LEB, camp 4 sucks. It's dirty & the EURO's & drunks piss on the trees. The parking sucks, & never get caught sleeping in your vehicle there.Go climbing with Karl or Werner for the day & that will probably answer all of your questions.rg
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand, Man.....
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:25pm PT
LEB: I suggest reading a book called "How do they get the rope up there anyway" or something like that. It was written by our own Miss Blinny....

From the title it might just be what you need.
dirtineye

Trad climber
the south
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:27pm PT
Lois isn't Kodos, Lois is Lynn Hill's troll, she's laughing her ass off nearly every day over it too.

I felt a shift in the force, that's how I know this is true.
Matt

Trad climber
places you shouldn't talk about in polite company
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:29pm PT
lois: yawn

see my edit above
why not read one book on politics or world history for every book on climbing? i'll just start holding my breath...
pc

climber
East of Seattle
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:31pm PT
Did I miss something?

LEB = Kodos?

If not, why does she know him? F*#k this place is wierd sometimes.
Gary

climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:33pm PT
Lois,
Jody is right. Here's a link to that video. It is quite an excellent introduction to climbing, entertaining, too. And if you buy it there, you can help out good ol' Bob Gaines.
SammyLee

Trad climber
Memphis
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:42pm PT
Lois, I know you don't intend to be but you're very funny. And I mean no disrespect here at all. It's like a kid walking up to a group of Hell's Angels and saying, "Gee, what's making all that noise!?"

I'll take one for you. Wall Rats are climbers but not all climbers are Wall Rats. Wall Rats are the climbers who specialize in big walls that take days to climb. Often it is hard, fearful, painful, lonesome and desperate. Also apt to fail. John was/is a climber who sometimes ventured into Wall Rat activities, though he often had to be talked into it.

You bet, some here are Wall Rats. Pass the Piton Pete for example. He takes vacations on the big walls, sometimes solo sometimes not. Most of us here are not Wall Rats but most of us are climbers.
happiegrrrl

Trad climber
New York, NY
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:43pm PT
Lois - The secrets of the club are revealed on a need to know basis. You already have all the information you need to know. If more is desired by you, you must use the key of action to unlock the mysteries.

Or, has been said many times before:

Sh#t, or get off the rock!

Edit : Actually....I would give anyone a lifetime supply of Acopa shoes(if I could afford to) to the person who can prove my claim that Lois is NOT Michael Reardon, as I jokingl;y suggested a few weeks ago, but
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noneother than
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the rattiest of all rats
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the doggiest of all dogs
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the best at keeping the joke up WAAAAAY past it's bedtime
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the largest of the large
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tallest of the tall-tale tellers
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our very own
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Well, you know who that might be.
landcruiserbob

Trad climber
the ville, colorado
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:47pm PT
lurking as always
SammyLee

Trad climber
Memphis
Aug 3, 2006 - 04:30pm PT
Lois, I'm just killing time until I get to go pick up Sir Robert the Bruce from the dog hospital. Can't wait. So I'll jump on number one too.

"Am I correct in concluding that the “leader” of a climb goes up “unprotected” from possible falls and hazards to a specified point (per his judgement) and then fixes some bolt or something in the wall. Meanwhile, his partners cheer him on encouraging him to go higher and take yet more risk? Could this interpretation possibly be correct? If so, with friends like that, who needs enemies?"

Yep, this is almost exactly correct. However, partners may or may not be cheer you on. They may say things like, "You're gonna fall." "Bad ledge below you, might kill your ass if you hit it." "Want some advice? Climb harder!" "Please don't fall, it'll ruin the day and I don't feel like dragging your ass outa here." Sometimes we do encourge each other to "take a risk" because sometimes we are just in our own way. Committ, make the move and be glad.

The "something" that protects the fall is either a bolt with a hanger(usually) that has been pre-placed by someone or "Trad" gear, like cams and nuts and hexes. I'm not sure if anyone has ever explained that leading or being "on the sharp end of the rope" is like twice as scary, no ten times as scary, as following a leader or being on top rope. Leader falls can really hurt you.
G_Gnome

Social climber
Tendonitis City
Aug 3, 2006 - 04:36pm PT
Ok Richard, errr, I mean Lois, Here is an answer to #3.

'3. What precisely is a “route” and who passes the final judgement on whether xyz person or persons has forged said route? How do we *know* that someone has not climbed in that particular way before? Does it get “reported” to someone or some organization so that the pioneers, as it were, get credit?'

A route is a particular path up a rock wall. If you are following a crack where you can place your own protection and have your second take it out on his/her way up then you should leave no mark of your passage other than a little chalk. If you think you are the first people to climb that path then you contact the guide book author for that area and let them know what you have accomplished. If they have no other reports of anyone else doing that climb then you get the credit until someone else does step forward to claim an earlier ascent. It is all the honor system.

If you are climbing a face route there will be no place to put protection into the rock and so you will stop every so often and drill a hole and hammer/wrench a bolt into the hole. This becomes a permanent fixture so it is easy to know if anyone has gone before. Again, if you care to be recognised you can call the local guide book author and let them know that this new route is yours. Again, it is the honor system and if you really cheated and didn't climb the route in the style that you reported you are only cheating yourself. And if the route seems unclimbable, or unreasonable for the grade you suggested, you just might get accused of lying. Then we all get to have a big internet sh#t fight about it for years.
G_Gnome

Social climber
Tendonitis City
Aug 3, 2006 - 04:49pm PT
And since I am bored today, here is an answer to #1 and #4 since they are really the same question.

'4. I don’t understand this whole fall from ropes business. Can someone try to explain this better? Long speaks of falling 80 feet, 50 feet, falling past the first this to the second that or whatever. I read it a few times but did not still do not “get it” What exactly is breaking these falls and why do the people get so banged up? Are they banging against the rock wall as they fall?'

Only the leader can really fall any distance. To answer question 1, as the leader goes up they have a rope tied to their harness. Every so often (somewhere between every 3 feet and every 50 feet) they stop and hook the rope to a piece of gear that is attached to the rock in some way that it hopefully won't come out. If the leader then climbs 10 feet above his last point of attachment to the rock and falls he will fall 20+ feet. If you hold a pencil straight up by the eraser end, the tip of the pencil is the climber. Now if you rotate the pencil but keep the eraser in exactly the same position you will see that the tip of the pencil is now 2 pencil lengths below where it started. That is how you fall 20 feet when you are only 10 feet above your last protection point. Now add in a little slack, some rope stretch, and your second moving in your direction a little as they take your falling weight and you get 20+ feet. How big that + is can be quite important depending on if you will hit anything if you fall more than 20 feet that you wouldn't hit if you only fell 20 feet.

The rope is only there for one purpose and that is to let your belayer (second) catch you if you fall. When everything works correctly you never need the rope. Once you have climbed most of the length of the rope you will stop and put some extra protection into the rock and then keep the rope snug as your second climbs the route that you have just climbed. If they fall they only have that + part to worry about. In otherwords, there is usually no risk for the second.

If the leader does fall, depending on the angle of the rock, he either slides, bangs, rolls, or flies to the end of his rope. If he makes contact with anything on the way down the chances are good that he will get hurt. After all you fall at 32'/second/second which means you accelerate really f#cking fast.
dirtineye

Trad climber
the south
Aug 3, 2006 - 04:53pm PT
Short timer, tell the woman the whole truth:

If you say ANYTHING on a climbing site, sooner or later SOMONE will claim it is a lie, and demand eye witnesses, photos, videos, sworn affidavits, a notarized statement from the repsonsible parties written in the blood of their first born, a bonded and sizable sum held in escrow at Fort Knox, payable in gold bullion to whomsoever provides even the tiniest hint that the claims are not at least 99.999% absolutely correct and set in stone, and a few other things some little nerd is paid to think up in case all the others are taken care of.
SammyLee

Trad climber
Memphis
Aug 3, 2006 - 04:58pm PT
Lois, you ask

"Now the "leader" never has much protection or is this true of only the first try? Am I correct in saying that a "cautious" leader or one more given to safety would only climb up a relatively shorter distance versus a more daring one. If said leader fell on the "shorter" distance perhaps he would not get as hurt as if the leader fell on a more daring attempt wherein he went up a great distance before securing a safety rope. Is this correct?"

The leader may have great protection or none. It depends on where she put the gear or where the bolt is. I've often clipped the rope above where I am standing. At that moment, I am safe completely. Once I climb past that, I am at more risk. I will fall twice the distance between me and my last pro. I will fall, go past it until the slack in the rope is taken. Then the rope will stretch, maybe about 8%. If the leader is very good, and or the route is easy, she may not put much pro in. She feels confident that she will not fall.

What do you mean "leader falls really hurt you" You mean physically or emotionally?

Hmm, never thought about emotionally. Nope, it's all physical for me. Hitting a ledge, bouncing of the side of the cliff, sudden stop at the end, "decking" are all hurtful.

Is the same person the leader for the whole trip or do the people switch off?

Their choice. Switching is often called "swinging leads"

Once the leader goes up and puts in the bolt or whatever, does he then he fix a rope to it so the other people in the group have the safety factor of climbing with a rope? Is that correct?

Yes.

Is one "allowed" to use the rope to get up. For example say the leader is a better climber and the next person can't quite get to where he is suppose to go. Can he use the rope as an aid to getting up to the next stopping point?"

Not with good ethics but sometimes it happens. Better to try to make the move and take the fall. After all, at that point you are on top rope. You ain't going far. Some exceptions to this but as a rule... Now, about Hang Dogs....
G_Gnome

Social climber
Tendonitis City
Aug 3, 2006 - 05:58pm PT
'Also if he is standing somewhere holding a rope, how come there are all these places for him to stand? Meaning, I can't imagine that El cap has all these ledges conveniently located so that people can "belay" one another. It simply can't be that way. What does one do when in sections where no such convenient place exists. Is THAT what is meant by fixing one's self to the wall? Is that what is meant by stating whether one's belays are or are not "safe?' Does one tie one's self in somewhere so he can have a defacto ledge or resting spot? Is that correct? If so, what does one tie one's self in with?'

You are mostly correct except that in reality most climbing in done in one pitch (rope length) and so the belayer is standing/sitting on the ground holding the rope and the leader gets to the top of the cliff and belays the second up from there then everyone walks back to the bottom of the cliff and after a brief respite another climb is chosen and the process is repeated.

Now, on multi-pitch routes the leader will need to stop when he gets to the end of the rope or sooner. He will either need to place some protection pieces into the rock or tie into ones that are already there (generally pre-placed bolts). If there is a ledge to stand or sit on then he gets to be comfortable. If there isn't he hangs in his harness for an hour or so wiggling this way and that way to relieve the pressure of the harenss on his legs and back in various ways. Ledges are very much preferable but not always available. Often the ledges determine how long a pitch is because the party that established the route would have stopped at the nice ledges to belay even if they were only half way thru the length of rope.

Then there is the whole notion of 'wall rats' and I am definitely not among that crowd. A wall rat like PTPP will generally be aiding a climb. Aiding means that he is actually hanging on the pieces of gear he attaches to the rock, while free climbers like me are only allowed to use our hands and feet to climb up the rock. So hanging on anything other than the rock is aid, and if you were trying to free climb the route and hung on the rope or any of your protection you have failed. Some small allowance is made for hanging from your gear if you fall, so the rule is pretty much about using anything other than the rock to make upward progress. Anyway, back to wall rats. Since they are using accessories to move up the rock, they need to place many pieces as you can only really reach up so far to place the next piece while hanging on the last one.

Since the whole point of climbing is to ascend harder and harder walls, aid placements get worse and worse and scarier to hang on. This all takes a long time to get right so some of these guys can hang on a wall for many days at a time. Now days though, the belayer is generally quite comfortable because they have this huge nylon ledge to sit/lie on that Russ made for them. The leader though is standing in these little webbing ladder dealybobs for hours at a time though so it really isn't much fun. Also because you are there for many days you need to haul all the food, water, and waste storage devices that you will need for that time with you. Plus you are using so much gear to climb on that it weighs a ton too. So much of the effort of climbing a big wall is hauling your sh#t up with you. So these are the wall rats that like to hang out and get disgustingly filthy for days on end or endlessly toil in order to do a climb that a free climber would do a few hours.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Aug 3, 2006 - 06:05pm PT
LEB: I'll provide some general comments that may help, although it quickly gets into static and dynamic physics.

Climbing ropes are very stretchy. They absorb most of the force from falls by stretching. A typical single (lead) rope stretches about 6% simply under an 80 kg static load, and may stretch 50% of its length before failing. It will probably stretch quite a lot under even a moderate fall. This is why, if the leader is X distance above her last secure protection, she'll fall 2X plus 10, 15 or even 20% further. Higher force = more stretch.

The belayer (second) is securely anchored at the belay, tied to the other end of the rope, and paying attention. She secures the rope to the leader through a metal device attached to her harness, that allows her to pay out rope as progress is made, but to quickly "lock off" the rope and hold the leader if she falls. There is usually some give in the belay/tie in/belayer. (Part of the second's job is managing the rope that isn't being actively used, but soon will be.)

A short fall can be more severe than a long one, depending on the fall factor. Think rubber bands, or bungy jumping. A long one will stretch a lot more than a short one under the same force. This is called fall factor, essentially the force generated. The maximum possible fall factor is 2 - the leader can never fall more than twice the distance of rope between her and belayer, assuming the rope doesn't break (highly improbable), and the belay and belayer are reliable (usually). So if the leader is 20 metres above the belayer, she can fall a maximum of 40 metres, plus rope stretch and system give. Fall factor is 40 divided by 20 = 2. If the leader has placed no protection, a fall factor 2 is always possible, regardless how far she is from the belay, or how close. A seeming paradox - shorter fall, same force.

Falls closer to the belay, even where there is protection, usually generate higher forces - if the leader has climbed 10 metres, and placed reliable protection at five metres, then falls, the fall factor is 1 - ten metres fall, divided by 10 metres of rope out. If the leader has climbed 40 metres, placing protection every five metres, and then falls, the fall factor is 0.25 - ten metres fallen, divided by 40.

The steepness of the rock also matters - usually a low angle fall is less severe (on the rope), because the leader bumps and scrapes on the way down. Falls on vertical and overhanging rock appear scarier, but have lower likelihood of limb smashing collisions. Of course the further you fall, regardless of fall factor, the more likely it is that you'll hit something and get hurt.

Climbing without a rope is called free soloing. We all do it, within our tolerances. Some people free solo very hard climbs. Most will only free solo climbs that are much easier than those they can lead.

Climbing equipment must generally meet standards set by the CE in Europe. IF USED PROPERLY, it generally must not break at less than about 22 kilonewtons force. The testing of all climbing equipment for strength and quality control is quite rigorous. Almost always, when equipment fails it is a result of wear or misuse. Hence the consternation on ST when a rope failed at a climbing gym in Sacramento - very controlled environment, hard to understand. The human body will likely suffer internal injuries from a fall generating more than 10 kN (usually caused by sudden deceleration, i.e. hitting something), but there's the usual engineering safety factors just in case.

In answer to your other questions, the climbing community may seem somewhat anarchic to outsiders, but there are very strong mores and ethos. Perhaps less universal than in the past, and always the subject of vigorous debate, but still there. A lot of the things you ask about simply aren't written down, though.

And, of course, there's the secret password and decoder ring, and the arcane initiation ceremony - did we mention those?

Anders
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