How To Big Wall Climb Book - Leading (includes video)


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 15 of total 15 in this topic
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 28, 2008 - 07:05pm PT


Trad climber
Oct 28, 2008 - 07:47pm PT
Lookin good, I'll let you know more when I get home from work and have time to really check it out.

Oct 28, 2008 - 07:52pm PT
On hard A5 who spends only a minute on each placement?

Trad climber
Oct 29, 2008 - 01:21am PT
You definitely seem to want to push the 2 aider system!

The videos were a bit big, but thats OK. I would also recommend filming the video silent and doing a voiceover. Its easier in instructional to narrate because you can control the volume, i.e. you aren't facing away from the camera, facing towards, stopping to take a breath because you just climbed up some aiders, etc etc.

That is what I would call a chosspile! Reminds me of my local spots.

I love that you mentioned that Tom Frost climbed 4 el cap routes in the 90's. I didnt know that! Holy crud! Also, mentioning that climbers did more with less brings up an important ideal, and reaffirms climbers that, although it can seem that way, its not about the gear!
Andrew Barnes

Ice climber
Albany, NY
Oct 29, 2008 - 02:44am PT
Werner: "On hard A5 who spends only a minute on each placement?"

But maybe this is a key to the kingdom of efficient climbing.
I am slow, I am scared, the climbing looks hard, perhaps the
climbing is genuinely hard. But it does not help to spend more
time lounging in my aiders. Once the proper bounce test is done,
I gain nothing by lounging around.

Now the reality: I am slow, I am scared, the move looks hard,
the pitch looks long. I climb up one step, fiddle around (usually
I have plenty of unnecessary cluster to fiddle around with -
extra aiders being one of them), then think about the next piece
and eyeball the potential placement. Think a little bit about
what the next piece should be, and where it should be. Should
it be this nice bomber placement nearby or should it be this
less bomber thing that I can't see clearly, slightly higher.
Okay, maybe I need to take another step and "check out the
placement". But first, I need to sh*t my pants a bit. Finally
I decide to take a step up. Shorten the daisy "to get a bit
comfortable" before taking the step. Then engage in a three
step process to take one step: (1) step up with one leg in one
of the aiders, (2) immediately shorten the daisy and hang from
it (3) step up with the other leg in the other aider. Futz
around with the daisy chain. Check my pants to see if they are
soiled. ... etc.

I'm thinking that Chris' advice here is really cutting to the
heart of the matter. He is ostensibly teaching the mechanics of
climbing efficiently, but at the core of it he is probably
trying to teach a MENTAL game: somehow catharsizing the fear
into action (rather than sloth), somehow transcending the
mental barriers. And Chris is very well qualified to give this
kind of instruction; when a master of the craft talks, I will
certainly pay attention.

Andrew Barnes.
Andrew Barnes

Ice climber
Albany, NY
Oct 29, 2008 - 03:13am PT
This is awesome stuff. You are really advancing aid climbing
instruction in ways that nobody else has done. Nobody spills
the "secrets" so well. I have 3 books on aid/wall climbing,
and none of these get to the heart of the matter like this.
The videos are fantastic, and will propel your book (or
whatever combination of book/video the final product becomes)
to the top of the list.
So if writing this book seems hard, I want to provide moral
support and encouragement. It is always hard to do something
that is leaps and bounds better than anything else around,
and to really make a big jump forward. This book will be a
MAJOR ADVANCEMENT for its intended climbing audience, the
preview material is simply fantastic.

Andrew Barnes.
raymond phule

Oct 29, 2008 - 01:11pm PT
Nice explanations but here is a comment.

"2. Clip aider directly to piece. Never clip the biner attached to the piece because this shortens your reach to the next piece)."

I wouldn't say this necessary shortens the reach because the reach depend more on which step you use. What am trying to say, it is possibly to use a biner and get equally high if the steps on the aider is 2-3 inches higher up. Did I make any sense?

The reach also depends more on where you connect your fifi or biner compared to where you connect the ladder.

It makes a difference in top stepping though but the distance of an extra biner is still much less than the distance between the steps.

"7. Unclip your bottom aider and clip to the side of you harness.

8. Clip a quick draw to the bolt and clip the rope in."

The problem here is that you have a short time when you are not connected to the lower piece at all. Maybe not a big deal but could result in a long fall if you are unlucky.

Do you really lose something if you first connect a biner to the piece, attach the ladder to the biner and connect the rope earlier (when it is natural to do it)?

Trad climber
the beautiful Pacific NW
Nov 1, 2008 - 05:01pm PT

This will be a superb book! Thanks for your efforts.
I especially encourage you to keep it up with the videos.
Reading about a technique, then seeing a short video clip of it, can be a very beneficial learning method. Some learn better from reading, some from watching.

Maybe make the vid section it's own website, with a few free ones as teasers, then offer a cheap subscription where you could see them all if you paid a little.

I'd love to see a video clip of you climbing a bolt ladder as fast as possible. I understand your ideas on doing it, and it'd be exciting to see you really smoking up some bolts.

Thanks again!
mill valley johngo

Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Nov 1, 2008 - 05:15pm PT
Aid climbing can be such a pain, and I am glad that I have not had to do much, but that said, I do aspire to do more big walls to add to the meagre (overstatement or understatement?) I have done, so stuff like this is helpful.

I just wish I was good enough of free climber to dispense with the aid on most routes on my tick list.


Boulder climber
santa barbara, ca
Nov 1, 2008 - 05:48pm PT
Does Andrew Barnes know who Werner Braun is? jesus
Andrew Barnes

Ice climber
Albany, NY
Nov 1, 2008 - 10:44pm PT
Yes I do.

Werner is awesome.

Werner is a saviour of souls -- this is absolutely true, everyone
knows it, what higher encomium can I bestow?

Werner is able to free solo a route with a boombox in one
hand and a beer in the other (is that right - really miss
Ouch! now)

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Andrew Barnes.

Boulder climber
santa barbara, ca
Nov 2, 2008 - 12:06am PT
hehe well i was a bit confused with the

"Should it be this nice bomber placement nearby or should it be this less bomber thing that I can't see clearly, slightly higher."

statement in regard to Werner's A5 comment.

I have never done A5. But I have done A3 fine litttle line called Mescalito. Bomber is not the word that comes to mind on the hard parts. And i remember one part high up on the headwall where the last piece i had clipped to my rope was a 1/4 inch buttonhead that Porter himself had likely placed about 40 feet below. I hadn't clipped any of the intermediary pieces because they were either hooks or bad rivets that simply would not have held a fall and I didn't want to rip the line. For one, I certainly was spending far longer than a minute on each piece and for two, i wouldn't have bounce tested those pieces to save my life. Maybe I don't know much about aid, but my approach was as gentle and smooth and slow as a sloth. Call me timid, but in big head space, with room for big air, I am not a fan of the aggressive bounce test and quick movements.

But if Andrew Barnes or anyone else wants to tell me I should try the aggressive bounce test on the last three intact wires of a an old blown out rurp when I'm looking at a big fall and the wind is rippin on the upper part of the captain, then I respectfully admit that you are a bigger man than me.
Double D

Nov 2, 2008 - 01:08am PT
Nice work Chris. You've really hit the pin on the to speak. Can't say that I totally agree with you on the 2 aider thing...but then again on well-traveled routes with lots of straghtforward placements I totally agree that it's faster. Proly your best advice is the bounce testing sequence. Critical. If you don't know that a peice can hold a jolt then you're tread'n on thin ice...blind! I've only had one pitch ever that I stopped bounce testing on... "don't skate mate" and hence the name. Saw a 1/2 skid mark from a high-stepped, blindly placed hook about to rip over the edge, so I desperately found the next best placement possible. Unfortunately it was also a top-stepped blind hook and it did the same thing. This went on for about 1/2 the pitch and I vowed to never get in that situation without testing. You've got to know where you're at with each placement.

Besides, it's totally Biblical..."Test all things, and hold fast to what is good!" (1st Thess 5:21)

Good luck with the book, hopefully it will inspire and save some behinds in the process!

Trad climber
here to there, in no time
Nov 2, 2008 - 06:50pm PT
Yo, T-Bone,

"But if Andrew Barnes or anyone else wants to tell me I should try the aggressive bounce test on the last three intact wires of a an old blown out rurp when I'm looking at a big fall and the wind is rippin on the upper part of the captain, then I respectfully admit that you are a bigger man than me."

Chris has an 'exceptions' clause in the draft if you read close enough. I'm sure it will be more apparent in the final draft that he isn't advocating the aggro bounce in the above situation.

CMac, keep up the good work! I really enjoyed the first drafts of text / vids, (though they're still in need of some editing.) As a lowly free climber with no aid experience, I find your practical explanations and advice _exactly_ what I need. It's like I'm actually climbing with someone who knows what they're talking about, rather than reading the same crusty basics in different texts. Honestly, I've read the 'basic aid sequence' in several different texts, but they all say the same thing and result in me simply saying to myself, "sh#t...that's easy." without really going into specifics that one needs when they actually go out and practice (and subsequently realize how involved it actually is).

Anyway, thanks, and keep it up!

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 19, 2008 - 01:57pm PT
u just updated this with some new videos.
Messages 1 - 15 of total 15 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta