Cleaning the Kor Roof


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Big Wall climber
Yosemite, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - May 25, 2007 - 11:19am PT
I received this question today by email. I spent a bit of time on my response, so thought I would post it here for others planning Grade V routes in Yosemite this spring.

Question: Last May I went to climb the S Face of Wa Column and I got to follow the Kor Roof. I had a hell of a time cleaning the traverse, I was jugging and each time I cleaned a piece I went back down below the edge of the roof and I had to pass it, not one time, but like five, until I was able to put my feet on the upper wall. Is there any better way to do that?
Please give me your advice.

Answer: Here is my normal method for cleaning this type of traverse. Then, at the end I will mention some special issues for the Kor Roof.

First, as you jug, you must have your gri gri below your jumars as your backup. As you jug UP (ignoring the traverse problem for now) you have to feed rope through the gri gri to keep it tight.

Now, you come up to a traverse. Push both jugs as high as you can to the piece that you want to pass. Don't worry! Using this method, that will not cause them to get stuck.

So, push BOTH jugs up as far as you can to the piece. THEN, use the gri gri to tighten up on the rope, taking ALL YOUR WEIGHT onto the gri gri. Now, because all your weight is being held by the gri gri, the jugs are loose and able to be detached. Take off one jug and put it on the other side of the piece. Put a regular carabiner through the hole at the top of the jug, around the rope, so that it cannot pop off. For this first jug (For me, going right on the Kor Roof would be the blue one, tighten up your daisy chain so that is less than full length. Maybe only 12-14 inches. Now, also remove the other jumar, also put it on the other side of the piece, and depending on how far the lower out (not too far on the Kor roof so I wouldn't do this) put a biner again through the hole on the top of the jug to keep it from popping off.

Now, since both your jugs are on the other side of the piece, you are almost done. Start lowering yourself with the gri gri. I know, you want to go sideways, not down. And it will seem like you are going too far. But do it. Lower yourself on the gri gri until your jugs are pulling straight down on the next piece. You will be anywhere from 8 inches to a couple of feet or more below the next piece. Jug back up to the next piece. Reach back and grab the piece you just passed. Your rope is still through the last piece and can help you reach over to it if it is a tough reach.

This is called the gri gri lower out method. It is not used for "lower outs" across a long section where your partner left something for you to lower out on (Like a sling on fixed gear). But, it is used to lower away from pieces to clean.

This is also very helpful on straight up but steep cleaning, such as on the West Face of the Leaning Tower.

Finally, your partner can help you by leaving the correct amount of gear. On the WF of LT I clip EVERY BOLT. Otherwise the lower out from the wall to clean is way too far and strenous for the partner. On the Kor Roof I probably leave a piece every 2.5 to 3 feet.

Now, this process is tedious and time consuming, but I do it for almost all sideways traverse cleaning. However, on the Kor Roof, I cheat a little. Once I get past about the first piece, I get up on the edge of the roof. I am small, so this helps I am sure. For a few pieces, I "walk" along the roof, jugging and cleaning. If I was to lose my step, I would "fall" over the edge, which would be unpleasant. And, I usually can't do this for every piece because after awhile I think the angle of the face above me pushes out too far for me to be able to keep walking along the top of the roof. So, at some point I bite the bullet, lower myself over the edge of the roof, and continue with the process discussed above until I reach the corner.

HAVE FUN ON THE SOUTH FACE!! I recommend that first time people plan for three days, mostly because of traffic. Many people plan for two days and bail because they have unexpected difficulties and didn't bring enough stuff to stick around for three days.

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
May 25, 2007 - 12:06pm PT
When I did it (30 years ago) I just followed on aid and back cleaned. The hardest part was making the decision to gett off the jugs. Don't know if it was a safe or approved method but it seemed to work. It was my first aid route. When we got to the big ledge below the roof (Lunch--dinner?) Ken Nichols and Bruce Dicks were having a fist fight and threatening each other with their hammers. Ken bailed and Bruce finished the route with us.

Social climber
No Ut
May 25, 2007 - 12:30pm PT
Funny (sad) story, Mal. I almost always used to follow horizontal traverses by simply unclipping the aiders from the jugs and using them to aid and back clean, like you did. The juggs never leave the rope and are your protection. Faster, safer and simpler than any other method.

Isolated in El Portal and loving it
May 25, 2007 - 12:59pm PT
I've used the old way of aiding, and backcleaning on roof traverses, and the gringo. As for the speed of such, I've gotten pretty quick on passing the two jugs, slapping the gri gri, yanking the piece and moving on.
Holly! When I cleaned the kor roof, I was using a mini traction as my backup (NOOB!) ran my jugs up the first pin, couldn't get the mini traction off as it was tensioned, and had epic swings with each piece I passed because my partner had thought he was doing me a favor by back cleaning 3 out of every 4 placements on the traverse! We both learned a lot that day!
PS- Thanks for the ledge, we've got $ for you-didn't see you or Greg at Sals...:(

Trad climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
May 25, 2007 - 01:41pm PT
Every bolt on WFLT?!?!?!

Holy Schiza! That's like 52 draws on the P1-2 linkup pitch!

I've lead the first pitch twice, down aided it once, and cleaned it twice. I found that even on the steapest part every third bolt was plenty, and every fourth bolt or so on most of the less steap upper part was plenty. Lowering out and all that crap is slow and time consuming, so don't OVER do it.

Another comment is to clip a teather into the peice you are about to clean. If you partner was sadistic, or just really tall, you can yard on the tether to get back to the piece after lowering out. Usually it is no big deal to use the swing to unload the piece long enough to pull the triggers and pop the piece. The tether also makes it easier to not drop the piece when you are having to get pretty wild. If you are using the Canadian Assassin's 2:1 gri-gri rig for cleaning the traversing sections, then you should have a spare adjustable daisy left to use as a teather.

Lastly, if you are really down to inches, then clip clean. On horizontal cleaning the rope tension will pull the next piece at about 45 degrees away from the one you are cleaning, less so on less traversing clean jobs. A cam with short teather can be 10" long, and you'll lose about 5-6" of reach hanging on the rope. Clip and aider/daisy into it, and it will go back to plumb giving you back those inches you may need to clean a stubborn nut at the limit of your reach.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 25, 2007 - 01:53pm PT
Nice work, Holly. Here are two more details which may help:

 make sure the leader does not place the pro too far apart, or backclean the traversing section at the lip.
 when you move your jug(s) past the biner, shove the top one as far up the rope as possible. This will get your weight onto it much faster and you will not drop as far down.

I don't use a GriGri backup. This may be a good idea if you are soloing (as Pete has explained about jumaring back to the high point after a leader fall), but in my view it is an extra piece of gear that is not needed. So I move just the upper jug past the biner, with my weight on the lower jug. Then I release the lower jug by moving my weight onto the upper jug and then simply holding onto the rope below the lower jug. Straight out of Advanced Rockcraft. Of course, any time you take a jug off the rope, you will probably want a backup to be redundant. So I clip into an overhand loop in the rope, with enough slack so that I can lower out from the biner without running out of rope.

And speaking of the Kor Roof, you should have heard about the epics of just clipping Kor's original bolts through the roof - they were spaced very far apart. (I believe Kor was/is 6'5" or so). In the 80s it was retrobolted with shorter distances between the bolts.
My Name Is Drew

Big Wall climber
Dogtown, LosAngeles, CA.
May 25, 2007 - 02:09pm PT
BAH! I just free it no pro and let the git go for a major pendulum.
Loads of laffs! (j/k)

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
May 25, 2007 - 02:28pm PT
Good stuff Holly. Howz it going? I'm thinking of doing the leavenworth pasta thing again. Climb on.

Trad climber
May 25, 2007 - 03:21pm PT
Holly: I agree with Clint. Skipping the Gri Gri makes it simpler overall. Just make sure they are tied in short with a biner on their harness to keep them from hitting Dinner Ledge if their jug pops off. Passing the first jug and then lowering out with the second is pretty simple with a little practice.

I would recommend setting up a practice session so the person can give it a few tries closer to the ground. 10 minutes of familiarity will make all the difference. I spent 2 hours stuck behind a guy cleaning the Kor Roof once. Don't be that guy.
Scared Silly

Trad climber
May 25, 2007 - 03:41pm PT
Years ago I was following the Roof. I had jugged up to the roof and started working my way out. At the time I was not very far out from the wall so I was not back cleaning but lowering out and jugging up. This worked but then an old sling broke and I went flying out. The wind grabbed me I a started spinning around at about 15 rpm. I started jugging back up the rope but with wind blowing somehow another rope got twisted around it. I tried to free it but I was spinning too fast so I could not go up. So I tried to go down - samething the rope I was jugging up was a mess because of the wind. I would go down a few feet untangle a few feet go down a few feet untange a few feet all the while spinning like a Whirling Dervish. Mean while a party on the ledge started up to see if they could grab my rope and get me stabilized. After 10 minutes of spinning I was able to free enough rope that the party below could grab the rope and stop my spinning. A few minutes later I was back on the ledge. I was so dizzy it took another 20 minutes before I could stand up with falling over. Amazingly I never puked.

Big Wall climber
Fresno, CA
May 25, 2007 - 03:52pm PT
I'd like to point out, for the clarity of those reading to learn...

If you do not use the grigri, but instead use the method mentioned by Clint, it DOES matter how far up you push the jugs, especially the bottom jug at this point. If you push them up the to the piece, they will get sucked into it as you shift your weight. Just FYI.
Brutus of Wyde

Old Climbers' Home, Oakland CA
May 25, 2007 - 04:03pm PT
Like some of the others here, on big traverses I sometimes find it faster to re-aid than jug. depends. ymmv.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 25, 2007 - 04:14pm PT
Randy noted:
> If you do not use the grigri, but instead use the method mentioned by Clint, it DOES matter how far up you push the jugs, especially the bottom jug at this point. If you push them up the to the piece, they will get sucked into it as you shift your weight. Just FYI.

If you pull hard enough on the rope below the second jug, it will tension the rope between the biner and your upper jug, and the lower jug will no longer be sucked into that biner. That said, I bring up the lower Jumar until just below where it would touch the top Jumar. That does provide a little extra room to detension the rope.

Social climber
A prison of my own creation
May 25, 2007 - 04:55pm PT
I read about the Gri-Gri stuff and tried that before. Unless Im on a really hard traverse, I just do what Clint says. With a bit of technique its not too bad. The first few times I was cursing and smashing my delicate little fingers. After a while I actually got speedy at it.

On the really hard traverse, I just do what Brutus said above.

Oh yeah, I always tie in short. Don't want the big ride.

May 25, 2007 - 05:53pm PT
I don't know when you did the WF of Leaning Tower but prior to the new bolts I can tellya clipping them all(or what was left of them) seemed like a prudent thing to do. Clipping those old half dragged out bolts was more scarry than clipping tied off knife blade tips in a rurp crack.
My Name Is Drew

Big Wall climber
Dogtown, LosAngeles, CA.
May 25, 2007 - 07:06pm PT
I wish I could post pictures, I really do; because I've got some from 2 different ascents of the SFWC that are hysterically illustrative. One group taken from above the roof on lead, and the other taken following.
In the latter case my partner simply couldn't control his amusement as I struggled and swore like a longshoreman. My photograph of him taken from just above the roof has him grinning from ear to ear. lol
Bloody cheek.

Mountain climber
May 26, 2007 - 01:47am PT
One more opin on an overworked topic:
I almost always re-aid on traverses and use jug and/or gri-gri for belay only. If I'm short on gear for the lead and have to back-clean I've even been known to re-place the necessary pieces as I clean so I can always reach the previous one. Yea, sometimes you can fake your way around problem with a short little lower-out tether..

On original description above, I don't understand why you use two jugs plus a gri-gri? wouldn't one jug plus gri-gri do the job (it does for me anyway)? If I'm cleaning anything complicated I like the security of having the gri-gri as my second attachment. Its not going to pop off whatever happens.

Damn Kor, at 5'6" I come up a foot short. I always have my cheater stick at hand. I know, its cheating but I'm not doing this stuff for popular approval, only to tame the mind.

Social climber
The West
May 26, 2007 - 01:51am PT
We refered to our cheater stick as a 'Kor-Arm.'

Big Wall climber
Reno NV
May 26, 2007 - 02:10am PT
To quote Clint..."So I move just the upper jug past the biner, with my weight on the lower jug. Then I release the lower jug by moving my weight onto the upper jug and then simply holding onto the rope below the lower jug."

That's all I did and I had no problems...
of course I also lead the pitch,
so I didn't back clean too much and also kept the slings short.

I'm no big wall expert, so I thought I would have a harder time than I did given everything I've always heard about "the Kor Roof".

me cleaning.
Photo by Sean

Big Wall climber
Reno NV
May 26, 2007 - 02:21am PT
So Holly, when climbing WFLT you don't recommend doing what Mike. did to me as evidenced by this photo?
Note clipping every third bolt.

I just jugged up, passed the piece and instead of lowering out, I'd pull myself into the wall and unclip the bolt real quick while it was unweighted.
After a few swingouts that were farther than I thought they would be...I actually enjoyed the feeling of my heart leaping into my throat.
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