King Swing lowerout (very simple tutorial)


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Erik Sloan

Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 3, 2008 - 12:18pm PT
I'm going to shoot some video of this and get some more photos but wanted to try to explain it simply to see what people connect with and what parts need more work. So this is intended toward folks who have maybe climbed the Nose but struggled with the KS lowerout or who have some big wall experience and are looking forward to doing the Nose(so if you've never left Kansas and none of this makes any sense just bear with me--there'll be a more complete video soon:). Climbed the Nose last week so these are shots from the actual King Swing.

The goal: to do a giant lower-out, like on the King Swing, quickly and safely.

(For this sequence I'm not showing releasing the haul bag--it is pretty easy here as you just tie the bag in short and use the rest of the haul line as a long lower out line).

I'm standing on the belay ledge, belaying like normal: I"m clipped into the anchor with both my daisy chains and the lead rope is clipped through a draw on the anchor. I'm belaying with a Grigri.

After hearing "Off belay lines fixed", I untie from the end of the rope and pass it through the chains on the anchor. I'm still clipped in with both my daisy chains and the grigri is still on the rope as it was when I was belaying. All I've done is say "thank you", letting my partner know that I've heard his off belay command and am getting ready to lower out.

Now I've fed all of the rest of lead line through the lower out chains on the belay, so the fixed rope goes straight to my grigri, then up through the chains and down the Boot. The pitch is relatively short so most of the rope has been fed through the chains.

Next I put myself on rappel on the tail of the rope. So the rope goes through my grigri, up through the lower-out chains and down to my rappel device.

Now I unclip one of my daisy/jugs from the anchor and attach it to the rope. This is a very important because you can make your lower-out much shorter by pushing your jug further up the rope as you lower out.

I unclip my other daisy from the anchor(I just clip it to my harness because the two jugs tend to get in the way and make jugging sideways to shorten the lower out more difficult) and now I"m ready to lower down using my rappel device.

Clean and easy!

Advance thanks for all your feedback.

Sport climber
Meff-ferr, Oregon
Nov 3, 2008 - 01:18pm PT
Nice! Thanks for the pics. But what about the pig? Seems like part of the clusterfrag of doing the KS as a wall n00b is getting the bag across.
I did The Nose about a year ago as my first wall. The only things I knew about wall climbing were what I learned between the ground and the boot (that and the 4:1 lower-out, which I learned in the gym).
What we did, which I found to be pretty easy, was retie the bag to the middle of the haul-line. Then I lowered the bag on munter while the leader hauled. Once the bag was docked, I threaded the remainder of the haul line through those chains. Then rapped the tail of the haul line with my jugs and grigri on the lead line (as pictured above). No untieing required. There was plenty of line to rap until I was directly under the anchor at which point I let the haul line run through my ATC and I was able to jug up like normal.

But maybe I just remember it being simple because I had an experienced partner yelling me through the process and telling me to hurry the f#ck up.
Anyway, thanks for the tutorial. Definitely a worthy addition to the ole bag o' tricks.
Erik Sloan

Topic Author's Reply - Nov 3, 2008 - 03:59pm PT
Excellent question. I agree that you did the easiest thing by just tying the haulbag in in the middle of the line and lowering it off the anchor. Personally I just clip it into a biner and lower it with my rappel device because too many munters makes the ropes mega twisty.

The way I describe doing the King Swing you wouldn't have to wait for the bag to be hauled and docked before doing your lower out, which would be way faster. Also you wouldn't have to keep the haul line with you, so your lower out would be cleaner as you'd just have the lead line to deal with.

Because the second half of the pitch is usually aiding for the leader, I spend that time tying the bag in short and getting it all ready to lower out on my rappel device. So I'm able to get off the belay very quickly after lowering out the bag. This way my rappel device is all ready to go on my belay loop.

Big Wall climber
Stoney Point
Nov 3, 2008 - 04:27pm PT
Why not just not tie the rope directly to your harness and not use the Grigri? Seems safer?

Erik Sloan

Topic Author's Reply - Nov 3, 2008 - 04:42pm PT

Using the grigri really speeds things up because you've been using it to belay so you don't have to take it off the rope and tie in short. It is also better than a tie in when you are lowering out as you can use a jug to pull yourself over, or shorten your lower out, and the rope will automatically feed through the grigri instead of creating a loop if you're tied in(if you do the tie-in method you would need both of your jugs on the rope which gets messy).

which is safer?
Both are probably equally safe because if you tied into the middle of your lead line you would most likely do so by clipping a knot to your harness--same as the grigri. You have a jug on the rope too so you're always into two pieces.

A friends backyard with the neighbors wifi
Nov 3, 2008 - 06:04pm PT
nice walk through. made a lot of sense.

Big Wall climber
Stoney Point
Nov 4, 2008 - 04:33pm PT
I still think tying in short is safer than using a GriGri.

Am I wrong about this?

Ottawa Doug

Social climber
Ottawa, Canada
Nov 4, 2008 - 05:55pm PT
Nice description Erik. I struggled up the Nose in '83. We had 3 ropes so no biggy, but I'd like to do it again sometime so the info was great.

And Sbecker, good job on learning what you needed between the start of the route and the boot flake. Sometimes that's the best way to have an adventure.



Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 4, 2008 - 06:53pm PT
Scott, our way worked pretty good huh?

Erik, Scott didn't have to wait at all, as soon as my leadline was fixed and the pig was lowered out, he could rig his rappel while I was hauling cause he had all kinds of slack. He had his leadline seperate and ready for cleaning, and only had to deal with the slack of the haul rope for the rappel.

Sorry about the "Hurry the F-uck up!," but you remember our midle of the night epic to Camp IV!

RE Eriks method:
I'd probly use a backup knot below the Gri-Gri, but that's just me...

Also, rather then feeding the whole rope through the chains, I'd probly have the leader take up most of the slack and fix it short (so he can start short fixing). Then I'd feed my end through, tie to the end, then rap off the oppisite side. That way when you pull your rope you only pull about 80ft rather then 160. Less likely to get snagged below, or tangled in the wind.
Erik Sloan

Topic Author's Reply - Nov 4, 2008 - 07:11pm PT
Nice Lammy,
For sure there are always several ways that work on these endeavors. A few points about your suggestions:

While you probably don't need all of the lead line for the lowerout--We did have a rescue off the KS this year when someone pulled up too much slack and short fixed and his partner, having to cut loose, swung hard into the rock and got knocked unconscious. Those two were SAR members too, I think. So make sure you have enough rope.

The main reason why I don't agree with short fixing at that spot is the first 30 or so feet of the next pitch are easy 5.9 liebacking, which take all of a couple minutes to run up, so taking several extra minutes to set up a short fix might not be paying off in the long run there.

Good point on tying in short below the grigri--an easy way to make it supersafe (I guess I always remember DanO jumping off all those rocks onto the grigri so they seem pretty safe statically loaded and backed up((with a jug)) like that).

keep it comin!

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 4, 2008 - 07:33pm PT
"So make sure you have enough rope."

Good point. Critical.

With the hauline meathod it's a moot point because the haulbag should be only about 50ft below the haul anchor and the cleaner has 150ft or so of line to lower out on.

I use to not back up my gri-gri but on more then one occasion I have had my fi-fi hook get caught on the cam preventing it from opperating now I pretty mch always do now.

Sport climber
Meff-ferr, Oregon
Nov 4, 2008 - 08:52pm PT
"Scott, our way worked pretty good huh? "

I thought so! I'm keepin it in my brain for when I do it again.

"Sorry about the "Hurry the F-uck up!," but you remember our midle of the night epic to Camp IV"

That was an epic??? Could have fooled me... maybe I'm not remembering it right (don't remind me)... ;)
No worries at all about that. I can take it.

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Nov 4, 2008 - 09:08pm PT
Awesome post. i linked to it in the cleaning thread of the How To Big Wall Climb directory

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 4, 2008 - 09:20pm PT
well I was epicing anyway...remember getting lost in the dark freeing some sh#t off route...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 4, 2008 - 10:16pm PT
This probably doesn't concern many of you but it should. Why not simply double clip as short as possible into the lead line, hang your jugs on the down line and set up a normal rappel with the remainder to keep the sawing and wear on the Boot rings to a minimum?

Big Wall climber
Nov 4, 2008 - 10:18pm PT
Nice job with handling that nose for your first wall scotty. Hope to share a rope with you again soon. So eric, i guess that head cam worked out well. Talked to keving, was stoked you guys at least summited before the storm. Drop me a line, im back in the valley.
Peace blake
Erik Sloan

Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2008 - 01:17am PT
Thanks for all the feedback.

Steve, good to hear your voice here, but I don't agree that the sawing action of the weight of a 150-200lb climber lowering out through steel rings is going to produce noticeable wear. Heck, you could do the same lowerout through old 1/2"webbing and it probably wouldn't break. The same set of rings has been there for my nine Nose ascents over the last five years and they don't appear worn at all.

You do bring up a good point though, as many big wall climbers lazily build anchors by clipping into the rings on a belay instead of lifting them up and clipping directly into the bolts. In my experience on El Cap that is where you see wear starting to show up on the rings, not from some lightweight lowering out.

A friend told me recently of setting up an anchor by clipping into the rings only to have their partner point out that the rings weren't even steel, but newer thicker aluminum. So please save the rings for rappelling and lowering out.

(this reply might seem a little hypocritical as I'm clearly clipped into the rings with my daisies in these photos. here I'm referring to building an anchor and power point, not merely clipping in while standing on a ledge in which case the rings work great).

while Lambone did point up another way of doing the KS lower out that works pretty well--the lower out technique shown above is a gem because you can also use it when following a long pendulum mid pitch(where up won't have the haul line to play with).

Nov 5, 2008 - 01:49am PT
This is what caught my eye immediately.

Erik Sloan

Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2008 - 11:45am PT
Ha Werner, thanks, you always have a unique take on things.

Let's see:

clipped into the links?
I'm standing on a ledge, so both of my daisies(there are two) clipped into the links on the bolts are just back up.

rope clipped to top bolt?
The rope was clipped into the left bolt(to get the leader the farthest over for the swing) as well while I was belaying. So it was clipped into two bolts on anchor. The photo does look a little simplistic but when you take photos with multiple clipped in points, tie ins, ect, it starts looking very cluttered. For this tutorial I wanted to show the lower out technique cleanly. Most El Cap climbers know how to clip themselves/their rope into the anchors safely.

possible biner forced open?
Don't know if I understand your reasoning there. The quick draw is removed from the bolt and the rope is pulled tight on the grigri. During the lower out the rope is going through the chains so no possible biner snafus there. Please elaborate on this if I'm missing something.

Werner you're so old school--thanks for postin up!


Nov 5, 2008 - 12:07pm PT

There's really nothing wrong here except I don't like biner gates facing towards gear. I'd rather have that one biner gate facing out away from that petzl jumar. It's just the way I visualize potential scenarios that could go wrong before they ever could happen.

I've seen so many different scenarios over the years where small subtle differences caused problems and I naturally try to avoid them before they ever have a chance to take hold.

Nice tutorial by the way, thanks.
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