Road to The Nose - Checklist of learning to aid


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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 16, 2009 - 01:40am PT

Social climber
No Ut
Feb 16, 2009 - 01:46am PT
Holy Sh#t, Chris, yur gunna make wall crawler machines out of 'em. They do all that and the Nose will hold no secrets!

Just joking, really. What an amazing program to jump-start a wall-climbing career.


Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Feb 16, 2009 - 04:31am PT
If possible,

14. Rescue and retreat
[ ] practice rappelling with a haulbag
[ ] learn the basics of self rescue, how to escape the belay etc (material not covered in this book)

If possible??? Self rescue should be required even if not in the book. I feel like I never know enough about how to save my own bacon. John Dill wrote a masterful section for guidebooks on staying alive so I figure it is pretty important.

Boulder climber
Livermore, Ca
Feb 16, 2009 - 04:33am PT
Thank you for posting this Chris. It could not have come at better time.

East Coast US
Feb 16, 2009 - 09:00am PT
It's scary to think how little prep we did before doing the Nose 15 years ago.

You gotta add "crapping in a bag and wrestling with a poop tube." Also, pee first, then poop. That helps or maybe that's just me.

Just trying to be helpful.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 16, 2009 - 11:15am PT
yes, the poop tube section will be in the book... but i am not sure there are any "training" items for that to add to the list.

this list is WAY more preparation that I used for the nose, but that is the point. Most people do way less training. But as Tom "Ansel" Evans guesses, at least 60% of them bail by pitch 16. The goal of the book is to have people more prepared so there is less bailing in the stovelegs. When you have so many people bailing, it's a bummer for the folks who are bailing. and its a bummer for all the folks waiting behind to pass who ARE prepared. and its a bummer for all the folks who show up really prepared to climb el cap but cant because there are 5 parties starting route (most of which are not prepared enough to finish the climb).

Trad climber
Feb 16, 2009 - 11:43am PT
Great training list, thank you for posting!

But I wonder how realistic is this: each session is 2-3 hours. Sessions 1 & 2 (basic leading) require a total of about 50 laps over the course of 2 days, so an average of 25 laps per session. Presumably, the person starting out has done very little aid beforehand. I think a realistic estimate is 2-3 hours for like 2 maybe 3 laps on a bolt ladder... not 25!
I know that from personal experience being a total aid gumby, which is much closer in time to present day than Chris's :-).

Then of course the whole point is that you get more proficient and faster, but you should have some words in there about stretching out sessions, or taking (way) more than 2 sessions if needed.

Josh Higgins

Trad climber
San Diego
Feb 16, 2009 - 12:09pm PT
I think that whole section is great in theory, but I honestly don't think that even 5% of people will do it. People are lazy and cocky. "I don't need to do that, that's for the other guy!"

Also, I agree that some of your time estimates are a little off. The less discouraging your program is, the more people will do it. Maybe at the beginning of the section stress HEAVILY that most people bail off The Nose due to lack of preparation. Real heavily, so that people have a larger incentive to do the training.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 16, 2009 - 02:35pm PT
good feedback. its a tricky balance: i want people to REALLY DIAL IN THE BASICS but I dont want the program to be so intimidating nobody follows it.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Feb 16, 2009 - 02:43pm PT
Do you have a date in mind for publishing yet?
I'll bet there's tons of interest. . .
I can add quite a few pounds to that interest. . .

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
Feb 16, 2009 - 03:06pm PT

Yes, very timely, I have found a solid partner and have been climbing 4 times since mid-January! There are extremely good elements in your approach! One comment that I had, besides self rescue being a MUST, is that possibly each climbing group set their own time-goal! I am hoping that the outcome of this would be that teams could set a long term goal, get the training in, and still maintain their relationships, or jobs!
I have found it difficult to train and climb together with a partner! My last failed attempt on El Cap went SLOW beacause Jedi was training (super-fit) in Virginia, while I was training in Idaho! Then we hit the wall out-of-sync. In retrospect, I think we should have done The Prow first, then tackle The Cap, but time was an issue! We both had jobs to get back to.
In conclusion, If teams are allowed to follow the program and modify it to their unique situation, I feel a great amount of success could be achieved.. ESPECIALLY efficient change overs, leading in blocks, grouping pro while cleaning, etc. This information is detailed in Hans Florine and Bill Wright's book, "Speed Climbing, How to Climb Faster and Better"!!!!

Does that help?

Trad climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Feb 16, 2009 - 03:11pm PT
Nice work.


Social climber
Los Angeles, CA
Feb 16, 2009 - 03:22pm PT
I seem to be having some difficulty with the "become a 5.10b leader" part.

Trad climber
Feb 16, 2009 - 04:17pm PT
I know, and that's _before_ you start the training program. :-)
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Feb 16, 2009 - 05:41pm PT
That is great advice (and a great detailed plan) Chris--dial in the mundane work to enjoy the climbing.

However, I think my plan, 35-40 years ago, was to complete half of step 15, start 16, and finish with 14.

Big Wall climber
Feb 16, 2009 - 08:18pm PT
Hi Chris,

This is really great information. Honestly, one poster mentioned people might not want to do this - I most certainly DO! Rather than El Cap being an immediate goal, just becoming proficient is an immediate goal. I think your angle at the book is great - although the current books give ideas for getting up these things they seem to miss the basics around training and building up to it... More of this would be welcome (unfortunately I have no partners this year, but I can see where I can transition this to top-rope solo and practice on single pitch climbs - which may actually benefit me, to be honest).

Keep up the good work.

Rgds, Graeme.

Trad climber
Feb 16, 2009 - 10:40pm PT
I'm not sure I have a pencil big enough for the checklist for NIAD.

Trad climber
Feb 16, 2009 - 11:22pm PT
Thanks Redwreck
ditto on the 5.10B part. I was happy to cry my way up one 5.8 last summer.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 16, 2009 - 11:24pm PT
think 5.10b french free leader....

Trad climber
Feb 17, 2009 - 09:13am PT
Ed, you're right, of course!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 17, 2009 - 08:38pm PT
I just added an image to the top that gives a visual of the process of getting up The Nose

Boulder climber
Livermore, Ca
Feb 17, 2009 - 08:58pm PT
Thanks for the diagram Chris! I'm somewhere towards the end of the first month on that chart! Just need to get out there. Snow sucks....
David Nelson

San Francisco
Feb 18, 2009 - 12:05am PT
Chris, lots of fun, should achieve your goal of less bailing.

I think that you should also put in that they read John Dill's Staying Alive essay and maybe the thread here on ST that we all put together after the sad death of the two Japanese climbers, analyzing what went wrong. There are facts there that just don't appear elsewhere, such as considering communication with a ground party (I say "considering" because some felt that such a safety line compromised the essence of committing yourself; personally, I don't agree, but I am not trying to tell anyone how to do their thing, just open their mind to things they might not have thought of) and the fact that Camp VI is a waterfall in a what elsewhere on the Captain is a slight drizzle.

Cheers. Glad to see you are thinking climbing, not base jumping or worse, wingsuiting!

Trad climber
Currently Nomadic
Apr 17, 2009 - 10:12pm PT
Hey chris (and others)

Do you have any rough guidelines for how fast is "fast" or "fast enough" (not talking hans/yuji speed here) for doing the nose at a nice clip (say 3 days)?

Eg roughly how many feet/min for leading c1, Following, etc.

How do I know when I'm going fast enough rather than just "faster than I used to go when I was slow". Obviously there are no hard and fast rules here but thoughts on ranges would be insteresting.

Thanks again for the inspiring roadmap - I think I may be somewhere around month 2.

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
Apr 17, 2009 - 10:32pm PT
Chris - You raise the bar on the genre.

Nice - I doubt I will ever get into aid climbing, but if I do, I'll know the first stop!

The guide books rock, too.

Maybe you should publish guides to other crags - held to your standards.
Jon Byers

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Apr 19, 2009 - 09:08pm PT
Hey David N.
Where is that thread you were referring to about the Japanese climbers?

Sport climber
La Crescenta, CA
Apr 15, 2010 - 09:30pm PT
You should add leading some trad pitches or aiding in the dark with a head lamp.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Apr 16, 2010 - 01:41pm PT

Holy Toledo -- you compressed my first six years of climbing into about six months! Nonetheless, it still looks like a good checklist (with the poop tube and French free comments).

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