King Swing lowerout (very simple tutorial)


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Trad climber
santa cruz, ca
Nov 5, 2008 - 12:16pm PT

Thanks Nanook,

This is a great method to add to your El Cap play book. It comes in real handy when short fixing and lowering out at the beginning of a pitch or on long penjis.

Yeah, the 4:1 method really bit our SAR friends in the ass this summer. The aftermath certainly didn't look like fun to deal with around camp. That bear locker is huge.
Erik Sloan

Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2008 - 12:26pm PT
Thanks Werner,
I appreciate your noticing and pointing out the little things like the biner facing the wrong way. You're definitely right that meticulous attention to the little details can prevent most epics/accidents. Doing the little lower out video and this tutorial has been great for me because I've got to see myself taking shortcuts/making moves that I know are less safe. It's always easier to do it right the first time. You're the man!
Scared Silly

Trad climber
Nov 5, 2008 - 12:43pm PT
As someone who has done a few lower outs but is typically scared silly I like to be tied into something. Juan notes tying in but as you noted if you jug over as you lower out a loop forms, thus the girigri. So how much do you save by jugging over while lowering out? My guess is only a few feet and not enough to be a significant time saver in most instances. There is always the exception like when the lower over might put you over an obstacle that you would rather not deal with.

So if you do want to tie in but use the grigri how best to do this? In your tutorial, which was pretty easy to follow, you did not mention tying back in after feeding the rope through the lower out rings. Not sure if this was on purpose or an oversight. So you could tie back into the end lead rope then tie short (but hopefully not too short).
Erik Sloan

Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2008 - 01:14pm PT
Excellent questions SS,

You're right that I left off at the end of the tutorial. I will add a line that after completing the lower out you pull the lead line through the chains and retie into the end. Thanks.

There would be no reduction of grigri benefits if you tied in short after pulling the grigri tight. And if you keep the grigri on the rope you will still be able to jug sideways and reduce your lower out. I think the sideways jugging, while intellectually trivial, adds up significantly in real time.

So I would encourage you to tie in below the grigri if that added level of safety is important to you. Excellent suggestion.

A word about this: folks like Chris Mac and I have done so much big wall climbing that we have lots of personal experience with concepts like the grigri and the jugs almost never coming off the rope or failing. So we usually(on normally lower outs) don't put a biner on top of the jug, or tie in short below the grigri as I've shown here. But I always teach beginners to do these things at first because it is important to learn from your actual experience, rather than just take someone's word for how safe something is. Believe it or not the way a jug is loaded has a lot to do with it's ability to slip or come off the rope, so having tons of experience jugging sideways does actually equate to being more skilled at lowering out; keeping the grigri weighted and in the locked-up position also helps prevent it from possibly moving limply around your harness where the cam might get hooked by your fifi, as Lambone pointed out, and "fail." So if it looks sometimes like pro big wall climbers take more risks know that there is also a balance of skill that helps to mitigate those risks. Always do what feels appropriately safe for you.
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
Yer gonna die fer sure, dude
Nov 8, 2008 - 07:07pm PT
sirloin of leisure

Gym climber
Nov 8, 2008 - 07:10pm PT
uncle johnny would agree

Trad climber
Nov 10, 2008 - 11:03pm PT
Can eliminate the jug and the gri gri. Follower clips a draw from his harness to the rope fixed to eagle and rappels almost straight to eagle, not straight down like in the photo. Follower stays tied in if the leader does the threading through the rings.

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Nov 10, 2008 - 11:15pm PT
kewl tip.

however, my first el cap venture was NIAD, 2nd was Salathe IAD. Partner, well, 1st and 2nd big wall.

And I lived in Kansas, I learned to take it personally with all the KS jokes but that was 15 years ago.

For me, this stuff look all so complicated versus simpley knowing how to climb at the requisite level.

Point is, these tricks are no substitute for knowing how to climb.

That aint saying this isnt a good thing to do, but for tose of you with goals of NIAD, learn how to climb first, this sh#t aint going to help you unless you know how to climb first.

For me, I like to KISS.

Big Wall climber
Nov 11, 2008 - 12:51am PT
Seems complicated

Easiest way: Leader fixes ropes on eagle ledge and you just rap to him with a quickdraw keeping you tight to the fixed line, pull the ropes and your done.

Trad climber
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Nov 11, 2008 - 01:06pm PT
Tiny point, I suppose, but I have always been under the belief that all 'biners should be flipped so the gate is out. REGARDLESS of whether it is "safe." So, while the 'biner issue Werner pointed out may not be an issue, what about the 'biner on the gold jug? Again, probably not a real safety issue, but have we moved away from flipping 'biners as a matter of habit?

Sorry... to many uses of the word "issue."

Gym climber
Otto, NC
Nov 11, 2008 - 02:44pm PT
Thinking way ahead there with that leader doing the threading. Might be a bit rope-draggy though.
Erik Sloan

Topic Author's Reply - Nov 11, 2008 - 03:57pm PT
Interesting posts. Thanks.

I feel it necessary to point out that these last several posts seem to suggest that stopping on Eagle ledge after doing the King Swing is routinely done or appropriate for most parties. For most of us it is faster and more convenient to lead a 5.10 or C1 pitch on toprop, instead of rappelling down and doing an extra pitch. Also, since most parties are hauling on the Nose stopping on Eagle ledge would mean lowering your haulbags down a long way, which goes against the grain of the ascent.

Don't know if I agree that these "tricks" are ever used as a substitute for climbing solidly. To me, most parties that make it to pitch 16 on the Nose now how to lead climb pretty well. What I see over and over on El Cap is competent parties spending
as long at the belay, or cleaning a pitch, as they do leading a pitch. That's the gravity accelerator, for sure.

weather's good, the granite waves are sparklin.....
AAAAiiiiiiiiiigh, the Captain calls!
Mike Schneiter

Big Wall climber
Glenwood Springs, CO
Dec 1, 2008 - 08:09pm PT
I wonder if many NIAD parties do as some of the recent posts suggest - having the leader stop at Eagle's Ledge and the follower rapping from the top of Boot to Eagle's Ledge.

On our NIAD this summer that's what we did because it was a good place to swap blocks, plus it was super quick to do it as thus: leader ran it out on the Boot, anchored themselves, short fixed to a grigri so they could lower the second and then the second went immediately into the King Swing. As soon as the second hit Eagle Ledge they anchored, and tied off their end to the anchor, from which the Boot Flake leader could rap off of with a grigri, the rope secured to the top of the Boot with a couple of biners and the leader being pulled in to Eagle's Ledge by a simple quickdraw on the harness and connected to the rope running from Eagle's to the Boot.

I like the photos though. Makes good sense to do it that way when climbing wall style.

Trad climber
Jun 15, 2009 - 12:01pm PT
Time to get on it!

Trad climber
Mar 14, 2010 - 01:46pm PT
Erik Sloan

Topic Author's Reply - Mar 14, 2010 - 02:21pm PT
The weather does look solid for a few, but the top of El Cap has been getting hammered with snow lately. So expect mucho runoff and ice pellets if you heading up there this week.


Trad climber
Central Coast, California
Feb 24, 2011 - 03:55pm PT
Did you ever finish this video?

Apr 26, 2011 - 09:30pm PT
First, Thanks for posting this. Question - I see that the lead rope goes straight from the new anchor that the leader set up to your belay atop the boot. I'm assuming the leader didn't place any gear between completing the KS and getting to the anchor? If so, would a fall be clean (I'm assuming he/she would penji back and hit the boot?) I've haven't climbed the Nose yet - so maybe this is a dumb question.


Trad climber
Conifer CO
May 6, 2011 - 05:23pm PT
Thanks for the tutorial. Im headed up salathe next week and think the pendulium going to the hallow flake is our only one,( i think) let me know if im worng. Also any work if fixed lines to mammoth are good? thanks again

May 8, 2011 - 10:23pm PT
I think I may have figured out the answer to my question - the leader just back-cleaned as he went up...
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