How To Big Walls Book - brand names of devices vs. generic


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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 8, 2008 - 02:34pm PT
in writing the How To Big Walls Book, i have so far been using common brand names. for example, just about everyone climbing walls uses a GriGri so i just use the term GriGri. I guess I could also say "auto-locking belay device" but that seems a little more clumsy and to avoid confusion I feel like i would probably have to write "auto-locking belay device - such as a GriGri."

another example: "you can practice these techniques using a mini-traxion" vs. use "you can practice these techniques using a toprope self-belay device (such as a mini-traxion)"

thoughts on this?


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Trad climber
Oct 8, 2008 - 02:48pm PT
this has always been one of my gripes re: bigwall refrence books.

most techniques and setups are best described using specific products. in a detail oriented approach, the differences between different manufacturers products make a difference.

so yes, please be specific. it will be a better end product.


Big Wall climber
somewhere without avatars.........
Oct 8, 2008 - 02:50pm PT
You might use a one-time blurb about the fact that the "gear used for the techniques listed is the most common practice. However, there are others, blah, blah, blah..." Other than that, keep it specific for the book, itself. GriGri rahter than Auto-locking Belay Device, etc...

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Oct 8, 2008 - 02:53pm PT
Anybody that can't figure out that they can subsitute another device, doesn't belong on a wall.

I've always written jumaring even though I've always used cmi ascenders.

Trad climber
San Diego, CA.
Oct 8, 2008 - 02:53pm PT

I definitely encourage you to use specific products and specific brand names. If someone is getting ready to climb a wall, they should hopefully have a good amount of knowledge already on gear and the basic uses of it.

Another reason to used specific product names is because some techniques are only going to work with specific products. For instance, the Trango Cinch works differently than a GriGri, and thus should not always be used in the same way.

Hope my feedback helps?


Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Oct 8, 2008 - 02:59pm PT
be specific.

Big Wall climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Oct 8, 2008 - 03:02pm PT
Keep it specific please. Overly obtuse descriptions grate badly, and reak of political correctness (or gear manufacturer intimidation).

A seperate front end chapter that talks about the pros and cons of the most obvious options for common gear (gri-gri vs cinch vs eddy for example) would serve well for those that have different gear. A paragraph each for the top 3 of each of the most common pieces of gear, such as jumars, pulleys/haulers, pigs, harnesses, gri-gris, shoes, ledges, poop tubes/bags/horrors, cam hooks, offset nuts, cams for pin scars (if you like to start religious debates), etc would be an excellent referece. It would also quiet the discent/pestering of those who make or own the alternatives.

Social climber
Flatland, Ca
Oct 8, 2008 - 03:25pm PT
Chris Mac - I would bump the book into the 21st Century by using the brand name items. If you don't know what these things are before heading to the Big Walls.. You're probably in over your head!

Standard Brand names.. Not the long winded explanations of what these things are.

I understand that, as the author, you want all to have access to the book and you don't want some noob walking around asking everyone "What's a Gri-Gri?", but then again... might that just save a life or two?
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 8, 2008 - 03:31pm PT
SLCD (spring-loaded camming device) never really did catch on - everyone still calls them Friends, or perhaps cams.

ALBD (auto-locking belay device) seems even less likely.

Both, of course, are just as good as a Xerox™.

Trad climber
Oct 8, 2008 - 03:35pm PT
Use brands but allow for future, yet-to-be-invented brands to not be left out (i.e. Use an auto-locking locking belay device, like a grigri VS use a grigri. You never know, Russ could invent a better one or something.)
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 8, 2008 - 03:46pm PT
thanks for the feedback. that just reminds me of another question:

so far i have been using the term ascenders to describe jumars/ascenders but have been using the term "jumaring" to describe the technique of ascending a rope with ascenders.

is that confusing?

i could just use jumar and jumaring

but I use the term ascenders instead of jumars because i dont know if jumars even are sold anymore.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 8, 2008 - 03:50pm PT
It would be a nice touch if you could use some of Sheridan Anderson's classic illustrations in the book. Some may still accurately depict best practices.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 8, 2008 - 03:53pm PT
oh yeah, jug and jugging. could just use those terms

Big Wall climber
somewhere without avatars.........
Oct 8, 2008 - 04:05pm PT
I kind of agree with others' sentiments above, Chris. Most will know the difference between jugs, jumars and ascenders. Or, rather, that they are all the same. I also know writing a tech manual, for anything really, is a tough thing to do.

What about taking care of some of this stuff in a Glossary or in footnotes of some sort?

"jugs" and "jugging" works well though, for sure and is proabbly the most commonly used term in the aid circle.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 8, 2008 - 04:25pm PT
here's what I would recommend...

you describe the principles of the technique without reference to specific devices

then use specific examples implementing the technique, some of which involve specific devices.

I believe that if the reader understands the principles, they are a lot better off in situations where they find themselves without the device... I agree that people should be capable of understanding that sort of thing, but if everyone understands all of this, why write a book.

Hauling is a ripe area of description, was it Lauria telling us at that epic FaceLift slide show (600 slides?) that the weight of stuff they carried on the 2nd ascent of the NAWall was limited to how much they could haul hand over hand! That's bad ass no doubt, but actually got me thinking, "gee, there might be situations where that is the fastest way to haul stuff, if it is light..."

Those sorts of stories would also have some utility in the book, just 'cause it was done BITD doesn't mean its obsolete, could mean that its just out of fashion...


Trad climber
Lost Wages
Oct 8, 2008 - 04:39pm PT
The American way is to use the brand name of the highest bidder
Might add another revenue stream to this book business
Greatest results from
FISH ledges $$$$$$$
BLUEWATER ropes $$$$$
ACOPA shoes $$$$$$
YATES harness $$$$$$

etc etc


Big Wall climber
33° 45' N 117° 52' W
Oct 8, 2008 - 05:08pm PT

Hard climbing has so much to do with the right equipment. When I was learining how to climb, most of the time I was learning what I needed to get. It can make or break a climb. If you specify what is the best to use you will be giving a more complete analysis on how walls are climbed. You could say self locking pulley and I'll go out and buy a Protrax, use it and have it break, or you can say Kong, and I'll get it and climb the walls like I know what I am doing. Sure it's almost like a gear review but knowing how to climb is knowing what tools to have and there is some gear that will outperform all the rest by far. People need to know that and gear manufacturers will strive to make better gear.



Boulder climber
Portland, OR
Oct 8, 2008 - 05:13pm PT
In response to an above post:

In my experience the word "cam" has totally supplanted "friend". I have never called SLCDs (yep, awkward acronym) "friends" and in my 12 years of climbing none of my partners have either. For what it's worth, I'm 27 years old.

My partners and I also use Camalots (or Aliens/TCUs for smaller stuff) to describe crack sizes rather than Friends.
Jerry Dodrill

Sebastopol, CA
Oct 8, 2008 - 05:24pm PT
You might explore the origin of the phrase "jugs" and "jugging." Where did that term come from, specifically? Though I of course know what it means, and use it, the only jugs I take climbing are my water bottles. I'd be reluctant to commit to using, or assuming knowldge of slang terminology.

"ALBD" doesn't work for me.

With the grigri, you are referring to a specific tool in most cases. You don't GriGri up or down the rope, you belay and rappel, etc. with it. I'd use "GriGri in that case.

I'd try to use "ascenders" not "Jumars" as a generic reference to the tools used for "jugging."

Big Wall climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Oct 8, 2008 - 06:08pm PT
Ascender is just fine, Jug is more fun.

Jugging, Jumaring are also both in common use, with jugging seemingly the more popular term amongst the kids...
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