Valley Giant Cams. Ya dig?

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Brian Boyd

Trad climber
Scottsdale, AZ
Feb 16, 2009 - 09:39pm PT
VG's are awesome. I've named each of mine. Here is Tiny in action:

AllezAllez510

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 16, 2009 - 09:48pm PT
Tom, that's awesome. Ever fallen on the #16? Cam lobes look similar to Wild Country (or, dare I say it...Trango cams?).
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Feb 17, 2009 - 01:58am PT
When WVB said that a photo of my cams was obscene, I thought back to the time when Harding called Robbins on his Tis-Sa-Ack bolt ladders:

A man with a six-inch implement is conventional, and accepted. But, a man with nine or twelve-inch equipment is somehow obscene, out of the norm, and is not accepted.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Redlands
Feb 17, 2009 - 11:37am PT
"In the old days you'd follow a wide master around, seconding up a lot of wide problems, get your technique dialed and then be able to fire the leads with confidence"

Still the method of choice.

Lydia

Trad climber
Tempe, AZ
Feb 17, 2009 - 12:08pm PT
Valley Giants are awesome. Like Brian, my #9 cam has a name. "Squeaky" came out to play yesterday during a siege of "Hades" at Pinnacle Peak.

I'm totally impressed with the VG16s!
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Feb 17, 2009 - 02:04pm PT

"My name is Steve Gerberding, and I endorse the #16 Valley Giant Cam, even if it is made of plywood."
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Feb 17, 2009 - 02:06pm PT
This is about Valley Giants but also the tactic of sliding protection

No doubt the Valley Giants are very cool pieces of equipment and a discussion about them every now and then is good; itís also partly a broader talk about modern protection strategies in offwidths. Many either hate or fear wide cracks largely because of protection issues. There is a myth that offwidths involve enormous runouts compared to other categories of climbing; itís not really true even though they usually look impossible. I think that since cam devices in general were established, wide cracks have rejoined the family, so to speak and tons of people are getting permanently excited about climbing these very beautiful features instead of thinking they could ignore an important part of the larger spectrum of climbing. You donít ever want to get yourself thinking this way. It is like thinking you canít turn left as well as you can turn right while skiing and all the time playing this mantra to yourself as you ski. Just self-defeating, self-limiting and not even necessary.

Somehow for decades we managed without these Valley monsters. And regular cams such as BDís #6 goes out to 7.68Ē...that means your knee has been in there and you should usually be hugely in control. I can only think of a few Valley climbs that really would be better with even bigger hardware but which of course were free climbed without it....climbs so relentless in size or just so featured that there is nothing but really wide spots where you have to protect. So as always, you might admire the hardware, would love owning some of these beauties, you will certainly be fine without them nearly completely. I think they are specialized and probably find their true use in big wall situations.

I would also point out that placing really big cams while liebacking is not going to happen usually so mostly we are talking about jamming here. Walt S. tried to protect his 1980ís FA attempt of Lightning Crack in the Broderick-Liberty Cap valley with them and they werenít really working for him as he fought his way up that enormous mother of an overhanging wide lieback. The things were falling out, he was screaming, it was terrible. Werner talks about this. Walt had to come back and bolt it on aid to make the eventual FA. Back in 1973 I was on that line way before cams and there was no way to get the route done without nailing it first like Walt ended doing, so big cams didnít prove to be the secret weapon there. Giant cams are even more limited in use actually unless you use them superfluously or playfully.

I like that Ed H. stresses along with others that you can shove pro (Valley Giants or any other cam) up with you some of the time but clearly will have to be prepared to fire out sections without that modern trick when you canít get the pro to fit anymore or you are just too far above the last pieces and most important perhaps when the climbing is just too intense. Active cams are not exactly stone jumars you know and the rock is never so simple thank heavens.

The strategy of sliding the junk up all the time can sometimes be really boring and a lame distraction as opposed to just facing reality and climbing the feature, getting on with the business and enjoyment of the situation and the day. Kind of like clipping bolts every 3-4ft. And the fact that you can end up way too far above the previous piece of protection as you fiddle your shove-piece upwards in more or significantly less effective fashion is a very important part of the discussion. You may be denying yourself really good potential placements just below you when you slide that hardware into higher parts of the feature that canít offer that level of security---maybe problematic flares, too big, too small, weird rock etc--- and now you are way the hell out from the last good stuff factually in a worse situation than someone climbing it planfully 30-40 years ago would have been. In short you have to have a valid strategy and make it work.

There is not that much difference between a 4 foot fall and a 25-30 foot fall a lot of the time; itís more a psychological issue than a material or safety concern. Above all, offwidths require a certain rhythm which is hard to avail oneself of if you are constantly messing with the equipment having to lose your armbar or wing all the time, breaking concentration and wastefully playing with devices that may not actually be needed if truth be told. If you are climbing mid 5.10 and harder wide cracks you should be able to run out a few feet just like you do on face, just like you do on smaller cracks. Some offwidths are so hard that you will absolutely just have to climb them directly in the older manner of specific placements rather than dynamic ones.
Willoughby

Social climber
Truckee, CA
Feb 17, 2009 - 02:24pm PT
Another issue with pushing a piece in front of you, is the opportunity to get fouled up in your gear. When all of that stuff (cam, rope, 'biners, long sling, knot, etc.) is in front of you, in the crack, it's often in the way. Sometimes I even find that the rope or sling or knot or whatever has gotten integrated into, or trapped below, my lower "jam," often under a knee lock, and therefore impeding upward progress. I love it when that happens.
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Feb 17, 2009 - 02:50pm PT
Hmmm... Lots to comment on here.

First off, pushing a cam in front of you isn't crack jumarring. If you're free climbing, you're not weighting the cam.

WC Tech Friends are far superior to the BD cams. BD cams tend to twist out of the crack and move around a lot, in general. WC Friends are lighter than BD (and others') cams, have stiffer springs, and the most important thing - they are wider, thus more stable.

I think the arguments "against" VG's are kind of silly. They are no different than using a Big Bro, except that VG's actually work and are tons easier to use. Not to mention, you can actually trust them as pro. Tom makes an awesome product and puts a lot of care into what he does.

And you are not finished needing gear, after you get your knee in, by any means. I've been on climbs where I cannot get my body/chest in and was damn happy to have #9 VGS for protection every 30' or so... Why should anything be my protection other than good, solid pro, unless it has to?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 17, 2009 - 04:01pm PT
I find that as I master crack climbing, and wide crack climbing, that I am not so tangled up in the rope and anchors as I used to be. This is because I am more experienced and can deal with the lead situation a lot better than when I started out and desperately placed gear in suboptimal conditions and locations.

But that's the whole point, I think, that you are learning. If you don't practice, you don't learn. I can fully see how very good crack climbers don't require as much protection as those who are just starting out. And the frequency with which modern climbers in the Valley practice offwidth is pretty low, they are far from expert in the technique.

This is, in part, due to the plethora of high qualities climbs in the Valley that are not crack climbs, a climber can avoid the unpleasant business of learning a specialized technique, offwidth, and still do some very challenging stuff. But back in time to the 60s and early 70s, it was not so specialized as the climbs being done at the time had offwidth on them, so opportunities to practice were greater, and people were better at it.

Modern gear, at least, allows the relative novice the ability to go and learn on their own, in the event that they don't know anyone that is expert in OW. Eventually one reaches the point where some of the modern conveniences are just that.

As Peter says, a lot of unlearning has to be done, too, like not taking too much gear as it can clearly reduce your likelihood of a successful lead to take doubles in every size through the VG#16. Reducing your rack requires you to use what you have, makes you more observant of protection possibilities and probably does require you to tough it out through some sections of the lead.

I'm still learning to do this stuff after years of avoiding it... what I've found is that a lot of the climbs I'd like to do will be a lot more doable if I can master the technique, at least at the 5.10 level. And I'm finding now that confronting difficult sections of climbs I'd climbed in the past are absolutely straight forward with the practice I've put into learning. This happened a few weekends ago when we did a lap on toprope of Reed's Direct, the last bit of that crack was relatively trivial, I remember it being horrendous years ago, the dreaded "OW" section that kicks you one more time. Not so much an issue now.

All the gear has a place. But courage is still best found in the heart, not in the rucksack.
rwedgee

Ice climber
canyon country,CA
Feb 17, 2009 - 04:03pm PT
Oh no, not another "You didn't do it in my style" chest pounding thread.

VG's ROCK!! Who else here could go & whip up cams in their garage? Maybe of few of you(weirdos), but you didn't. Tom DID! Some Koreans(?) made some monsters and almost bagged some FA's. This should be the Tom & Valley Giant Appreciation Thread!!!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 17, 2009 - 04:06pm PT
You're missing the point, and some very good advice, if you read the preceeding posts as chest beating displays...
...thinking about what was said will actually make you better faster, not that there is a rush, or anything.


Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Feb 17, 2009 - 04:39pm PT
Wedgee, breathe for christís sake. We all think VGís are great and that Tom is very cool also!

Itís more about, do most climbers need such really wide hardware; should the original poster (AllezAllez510) as he gets into offwidth and is working his way through his tick list, now go out and buy VGís just in order to do his training list of starter OW.

And I couldnít agree more with Nefarius. Why place anything crummy unless you have to. And do place stuff whenever you feel you want it.

Just donít let the activity become most of what you are doing.

I guess my meta-point is, with offwidth climbing a protection strategy is crucial; they canít just be attacked---I have seen this approach a lot and would suggest instead always having a deeper idea of how the climb is going to play out in detail if in fact you want to succeed.

Using a slider (just as you would a jumar on a toprope soloing something from a fixed line) is clever and effective but could be seductive to some who donít have a true and fast grip on whatís coming up and maybe arenít seeing troublesome fluctuations. Ed and I are just trying to underline the fact that sliding hardware is great but it still requires just as much attention to detail as everything else you are trying to get done and that it has a couple serious perils we all watch out for. Newbies might want to really take these points to heart.
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Feb 17, 2009 - 05:39pm PT
"Just donít let the activity become most of what you are doing."

Definitely. Like all of what you said in that last post, Peter.

Willoughby

Social climber
Truckee, CA
Feb 17, 2009 - 07:04pm PT
"I find that as I master crack climbing, and wide crack climbing, that I am not so tangled up in the rope and anchors as I used to be. This is because I am more experienced and can deal with the lead situation a lot better than when I started out and desperately placed gear in suboptimal conditions and locations."

What'd you call me, Ed?!?!?

Seriously though, when I'm pushing a piece above me, all of that aforementioned stuff tends to be in the crack in front of me, and therefore often in my way (all mastery and desperation aside).
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 17, 2009 - 07:05pm PT
I didn't call you anything, I'm just talking about myself...
Russ Walling

Social climber
Upper Fupa, North Dakota
Feb 17, 2009 - 08:14pm PT
If you are going to push... get a WideFetish Pusher:


Besides that..... sometimes I push and sometimes I don't. Usually don't. When I do push, it is most often in long continuous wide things that are sorta easy. That may sound counter intuitive, but, if it is easy, I have time to push and run it way out. If it is hard, I'm either in no position to push, or will pro once I get past the hard part.

Oh... and if done right, pushing is not a clusterfuk. Rope on the outside of the crack, Pusher on the inside. Push high.... do three moves..... pull piece when at your waist and push high.... do three moves....... repeat. There is really nothing for it to get tangled on.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Feb 19, 2009 - 01:12am PT
Tom, that's awesome. Ever fallen on the #16? Cam lobes look similar to Wild Country (or, dare I say it...Trango cams?).

My OW style doesn't include falling . . . I crack-jumar everything. The VG16 is for aid only, but I made that aluminum VG16 for Gavin with the idea that it could hold a fall. How big a fall? I like to explain that crack pro strength follows a bell curve, with the strongest pieces in the middle, with tiny wires and big cams at either end. The biggest issue with that aluminum VG16 was balancing the spring tension to keep it secure, but not so difficult to pull the trigger bar.


The spoked design of the WC and Trango cams is obvious, when working from a design concept of having a rim at the rock, a hub at the axle, and some way to connect the two. There is probably some sort of calculus of variations way to optimize the lobes, but my HP 15c calculator is over twenty years old, and I don't want to push the buttons so hard it blows a fuse.


EDIT: Here is the lightweight Holy Grail of monster pusher pieces. This thing has magnesium lobes, a hollow stainless steel tube axle, thinner and lighter brass cable fittings, and RP-size cable (3/32", half the usual 3/16" VG cable) that has been silver soldered along its entire length to provide stiffness against the trigger pull. It weighs about the same as an older BD #5 (what they call the #6 now). It's a one-off MVG12, and spans from a bit less than the WC6/BD6 to 12 inches.

Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Redlands
Feb 19, 2009 - 01:48am PT
One tip that makes pushing/perpetual toprope work better:

Clip the piece to a daisy chain or FISHô Pusher that is hitched to your harness, and DON'T clip the rope to it until you plan to climb past it/stop pushing it.

It's a PITA and extra clusterfunk with the rope running up to the piece and back down to your harness...you've got twice the stands to deal with and the drag/weight of the rope when pushing otherwise.

Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Feb 19, 2009 - 02:12am PT
I concur with Elcapinyoazz: use a strong (double?) daisy, and let the lead rope run down, out of the way.

If you're crack-jugging, I've found that duct-taping your aiders to your shoes is not only completely wall ghetto, it makes sense. I figured that one out partway up the ninth pitch of PTPP's and my ascent of Excalibur, which from the ground, looked like a circus.
Messages 21 - 40 of total 108 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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