How To Big Wall Climb Book - Aid Gear

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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 6, 2009 - 09:10pm PT
NOTE: THIS IS AN OLD VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE - THE NEW UPDATED VERSION IS HERE: http://www.supertopo.com/a/How_To_Big_Wall_Climb_Gear_1_-_Essential_Aid_Climbing_Gear/a10535n.html






This is part of my How To Big Walls book project.

You can head about Hauling and Bivy Gear here


A NOTE ABOUT LINKS
The links go to outdoor retailers, and if you then buy something from that online retailer after clicking on one of those links, we get a little piece of the sale. If you are thinking about buying some of the gear mentioned in this article, we’d appreciate it if you’d click on one of the links before you buy; it won’t cost you anything extra, and it does help support this website. Thanks for keeping us in mind. Our affiliates are Altrec EMS Moosejaw Mountain Gear Mammoth Gear Backcountry Patagonia REI

I am not sponsored by any climbing companies nor do i receive any special compensation by recommending one product over another.

Click here to see what is currently on my El Capitan rack

BASIC AID GEAR
Two basic principles of good aid gear
• Use the best gear you can get. The right gear is essential. But buying brand new all at once would cost $5000. Don’t be discouraged. Borrow gear and improvise where possible until you fill out your rack with the best gear you can get. I was lucky that my aid mentor Mark Melvin basically let me borry his haulbag, portaldege, and rack for my first season in Yosemite. See Dirtbag Options below for ways to improvise.

• Use the lightest and simplest gear. I use the lightest gear possible as long as it does not compromise safety or functionality. Aid racks are heavy. If you compare the difference between a standard rack and a rack that uses lightweight biners, slings, the difference can be more than five pounds. Psychologically, I feel much better standing on marginal aid placements with a lighter rack. And when it comes time to free climb the Stovelegs and Pancake Flake on The Nose-5.9 can feel like 5.11 if you have a really heavy rack.

My exceptions to using the lightest gear possible are: ropes, cams, aiders, harness. Ill describe why later.

WARNING: while I encourage using what you can get at first. Never, use worn out gear: especially such critical equipment as a harness, daisy chain or rope. Todd Skinners death on the Leaning Tower reminded us all of how important it is to check your harness carefully and retire it if there is any question about its safety. You can read a memorial tribute to Todd Skinner here:

If you are new to wall climbing and want a definition of the gear here or here


AIDERS
There are three common types of aiders:

AID LADDER
My favorite type of aider for more aid-intensive walls like Zodiac, The Prow, or The Shield for three reasons:
1) they are much less prone to twists and "going inside out" than standard aiders.
2) you don’t have to orient the aider step to the correct side when you are stepping into it
3) because the steps are closer together at the top, you can often rest two feet in the aider at the same time. Make sure there is a plastic spreader bar at the top of aider. The downside the aid ladders is that they are a little heavier than standard aiders and generally have more material which means they are more likely to get stuck in the crack – which really sucks when moving from aid to free

Examples:
 Yates Big Wall Ladder - I have used these a lot after Ammon McNeely showed them to me – then gave me a pair (thanks Ammon!) I really like them and when teaching people to aid climb they seem the easiest to use. I have only used the 6 step length but really tall people or people doing really hard aid might consider the 7-step length.
 Metolius Aid Ladder – I have not used these and need to before I can recommend them. Their lack of plastic spreader bar may or may not be an issue
 Fish Ladder Aider Have not used them but they look great. The webbing is thinner on the steps (i think 1" instead of 2" like the Yates. So they are proabably a little less comfortable but also a less likely to get stuck in cracks).


STANDARD AIDERS AKA ETRIERS
The most common type of aider.I prefer these on walls with lots of free climbing (The Nose, Lurking Fear) over aid ladders because they are lighter weight and less bulky for when you clip them to you’re the side of your harness and free climb. The downside is they get twisted, the steps get turned inside out, and you always have to orient them properly (left foot into a step oriented left of center). That means more dealing and declustering time which adds up over the course of a wall and disrupts the “aid climbing flow.” Make sure there is a grab loop at the top. I prefer models where the top and second step have sub steps. The webbing should be at least one inch wide and have some type of reinforcement on the bottom of each step.

Examples:
  Petzl WallStep 7-Step Etrier - This is currently my favorite aider for a route like The Nose because it is lightweight but has reinforced steps that are relatively comfortable. I cut off the bottom step, but you might keep it if your either really tall or planning to do some hard aid. Downside is there is no top sub step.

 Fish Smart Aiders - I used these for my first dozen or so walls. Great solid aider and much cheaper than the others.

  Metolius 5-Step Aider I used these for a lot of big wall ascents. The vinyl reinforced steps definitely make them more comfortable and keep the steps open and easy to slide your foot into. The sub-steps on the second and top step are awesome for top-stepping. As Nanook mentioned, the steps do eventually blow out as the stitching gets worn away. not an issue if you do a wall or two a year. But if you aid climb a lot, you should consider finding someone to reinforce those points.


LIGHTWEIGHT AIDERS AKA ALPINE AIDERS
Best for mostly free routes where you occasionally need to use aiders. Very light weight but uncomfortable if you’re standing for more than a few minutes. If I’m doing The Nose in a day, I’ll usually bring one of these and one mid weight aider like the Petzl WallStep . Bad choice for learning to aid climb.

 Petzl Gradistep 5-step Etrier in Bag – These are great super light weight aiders because the fold up in their own bag. Great for mostly free routes with just a few sections of aid, like Northwest face of half dome. I have used them on one day Nose ascents, but would probably use something a little beefier on my next one days ascent. Great on alpine climbs where there might be just a little aid.

WHAT LENGTH TO BUY?
For easier aid or free climbing, I prefer aiders that come up to chest height. For harder aid, I prefer aiders that come up to eye height.

Shorter aiders are less bulky when you clip them to the side of your harness for free climbing. Longer aiders are good for harder aid because you have more options of where you body is when bounce testing.


OTHER AIDERS
 Russian Aiders – tried them, but never really got the hang of them. A few people swear by them but I have never met anyone who climbs quickly that uses them. The few people that swear by them usually are doing hard aid.
 Adjustable aiders – tried them once. Not great for leading. Good for following until you have to clean a horizontal traverse. If you bring them for following, it means you will probably end up managing multiple sets of aiders. that goes against what i believe is the key to having fun and succeeding at walls: keep the systems as simple as possible


DAISY CHAINS
There are two types of daisy chains: adjustable and Regular. I have always used regular daisy chains and most aid climbers prefer them. All daisy chains I have seen work, the most important thing is to get the length right. You don’t want the daisy chain to come tight before you get to your maximum reach. (photo showing the proper reach for a daisy chain)

When shopping in the store, put one end at belt level and hold the other end as high as you can above your head with fingers outstretched. There should be to 4 to 8 inches of extra daisy beyond your fingers. If between sizes, err on the size of being too long. If shopping online, then raise your hand, measure from your waist to the tip of your fingers, and add a few inches.

The point on the daisy chain that wear’s out first is the point that you clip to the biner that you then clip to the aider and piece your are standing on. If aid climbing a lot, buy a daisy chain that has this critical point reinforced like the Metolius Monster Daisy Chain

I always buy a spectra daisy chains because they are lighter than regular nylon daisy chain. However, the nylon stretches more than spectra and therefor will be more forgiving during a short daisy fall. How much more forgiving? I'll leave that to the physics geeks to calculate. I feel its not a big enough difference to sway me away from the spectra.

More about adjustable daisy chains. I have only used them a little so I can't give a detailed review. What I did find is that most of the adjustable daisy chains did not have very smooth one-handed extension. The one that does extend nicely is the Metolius Adjustable Daisy Chain. However, they are for bodyweight use only and I have heard they have broken during small falls. Even if Metolius fixed that issue I still find that overall the regular daisy chains are faster and require less management (with adjustable daisy chains you have to keep them untwisted or they don't slide as well).


ASCENDERS
The only widely available models are the Black Diamond nForce Ascender and the Petzl Ascension Ascender. I have used the old Petzl Ascender a lot and like it a lot. The movement up the rope is not as smooth as the original Jumar but it is light and overall works great. There is now a new version of this ascender that has a different teeth design that Petzl says is easier on the rope. It also claims to now have a more ergonomic handle. I have not tested this new model yet.

I have only used the Black Diamond nForce Ascenders on one wall so i can't give it a very detailed review. PROS: It is a much cooler looking ascender than the Petzl with fancier engineering in which the whole ascender is involved in the clamping motion. It also has a very big "clip in hole" that allows full range of rotation for locking biners. CONS: At first it was hard to efficiently get the ascender on and off the rope. However, I eventually figured it out and was able to put it on and off the rope about as fast as the Petzl. With more moving parts it is also heavier than the Petzl. The main issue I had with the nForce ascender is that it did not move up the rope as smoothely as the Petzl. Overall, both ascender work great but the Petzl is lighter and has smoother glide up the rope and for passing pieces so it gets my vote. They both retail for about $70 per ascender ($140 for the pair).


BELAY DEVICE
An autolocking belay device like the Petzl GriGri or Trango Cinch is mandatory on a wall. There are times when you need to take your break hand off the device to clear a rope snag or dig into the haul bag. Also, its just often hard to stay perfectly alert during a multi-hour belay. I have used the GriGri a lot and love it. I have not used the Trango Cinch much but it looks good and is lighter weight than the GriGri.


CARABINERS
I only climb with lightweight wire gate biners. With a big rack and hundreds of biners, using lightweight biners saves pounds of weight. My current favorite is the Black Diamond Oz but I also really like the Trango Superfly

Oval biners were the old aid climbing standby mainly because they don’t make the scary “biner shift” noise. But oval biners are heavy and the weakest biners out there. I don’t use them. FYI: the biner shift noise occurs when three biners are clipped to eachother and the load changes between biners. A biner can then shift position and make a noise eerily similar to a piece pulling out. If you are using the simple systems in this book biner shift wont happen much and is not a big deal when it does.

I like to have 4-8 locking carabiners. Again, light ones are best like the Trango Superfly Screwlock I also bring a few larger locking carabiners for attaching the haulbag to the haul line and using for the "master point" at the belay.


QUICKDRAWS
I prefer 4-6 inch spectra draws with light-weight biners. I currently use the Black Diamond Oz Quickdraw which is awesome. So light. But I am sure the other light weight draws out there like these are as good.


SLINGS
I bring 15 lightweight shoulder-length slings on a wall. The spectra ones are the best because they are so light. However, it can be nice to have a few nylon ones in case you need to bail and leave them.


HELMETS
Its especially important to wear ahelmet on a wall for two reasons: 1) If you get a bad head injury on a wall, rescue will be many hours away. 2) When bounce testing, pieces will pull and hit you squarely in the head.

Most helmets made by major manufacturers work. I use the lightest I can find with the condition it must allows me to attach a headlamp for night climbing. Two helmets I have used and like are the Petzl Elios and Black Diamond Half Dome

TIP: To avoid bad farmer’s tan and skin cancer, [image] wear a bandana under thehelmet so it covers your neck and ears. Or, for maximum ventilation, duct tape the bandana to the back of yourhelmet.


FIFI HOOK
There are a few different manufacturers of fifi hooks similar to the one shown here. The important thing is the length of the half-inch webbing that connects the FiFi hook to your harness. The length is usually shorter that you think - usually about 6 inches or just long enough to be able to girth hitch to your harness. If the FiFi hook comes with pre-sewn webbing like this one, you may need to cut off the webbing and tie on your own in order to get the right lenth.


HARNESS
Get a harness with decent padding that is well padded at the waist and leg loops. Because I don’t like heavy gear, I don’t wear the super beefy heavy wall harnesses like the Yates Big Wall Harness but a lot of people love ‘em. Make sure there are two beefy gear loops on each side. Before you commit to a beefy harness for a mostly free route like The Nose, make sure you are will to sacrifice the extra weight for comfort.

If i am going to spend multiple days on a wall, I will wear a "medium beefy" big harness like the Black Diamond Big Gun Harness or the Yates Astroman Harness or the Metolius Waldo Harness

Most of the time, especially on a one day ascent, I just wear a trad climbing harness because they are light. My three favorites right now are Arcteryx R320 or the Black Diamond Momentum Harness or the Petzl Sama Harness


GLOVES
I used to be a fan of the sturdy leather gloves like the Metolius belay gloves. They are beefy and probably the best option for serious nailing routes. However, they really only protect your palms. After days on a wall your fingers will be sore and black from handling biners and the rope. Then when you eat finger foods with those black fingers… You get the idea. I’m now a fan of full-finger Mountain Bike Gloves. They protect your entire hand, have great dexterity, and you can do easy free moves with them on. The downside is they are a little expensive considering they won’t last for a lot of walls. I would experiment with both types and see what you like best.


WALL SHOES
Walking up and down in aiders maybe the single most destructive activity to a pair of shoes. “What shoes to bring on a wall?” is still a question I grapple with on every climb. I have listed all the different type of footwear with their pros and cons below. I usually use climbing approach shoes but at the peak of my wall climbing activity I would by a cheap pair of hiking boots and cover the seams in Shoe Goo. You will have to try which ones work for you. As for shoe fit, I err on the side of wearing my wall shoes a little tight. That way they perform better when doing free moves (but bear in mind tight shoes will hurt a little more on the descent).


Climbing approach shoes like the Five Ten Camp Four
Pros:
• Great for moving from aid to free climbing.
• Generally low profile so they move in and out of aiders efficiently.
• What I usually use The Nose
Cons:
• Expensive.
• Will only last for a handful of wall climbs before blowing out—sometimes only for one wall.
• Painful for long A3-A5 leads.

Regular hiking boots like these
Pros:
• Reasonable support and durability
• Can be pretty cheap.
Cons:
• Not as precise for doing the occasional free move.
• Cheap versions can blow apart fast.

Heavy duty hiking boots like these"
Pros:
• Most durable option.
• Comfortable for long A3-A5 leads.
• Good for edging if fit tightly
Cons:
• Generally pretty expensive
• Can be clunky when you move around in aiders.
• Bad for smearing.

TIP: If you really want your boots to last as long as possible and don’t care if they’re ugly, liberally apply Shoe Goo. or equivalent product to the seams mostly likely to blow out (mainly the area around the toe).


BIG WALL FREE CLIMBING SHOES
For free climbing on a big wall, I bring shoes that are one size too big. Big shoes reduce performance a little but make the shoes WAY more comfortable – a worthy tradeoff. Wearing thin socks make them way for comfortable, especially when you have to haul. When climbing the nose in a day, I will wear a comfy pair of free shoes all day long. If climbing The Nose over multiple days I will wear free shoes on ALL of my leads but switch into approach shoes when cleaning. I prefer velcro shoes so that i can take them off at the belay's. Lately i have been using the Evolve Defy Shoe because its a pretty good value for its performance.


LEAD ROPE
You want a 10.2 to 10.5mm rope with a perfectly intact sheath. Anything smaller diameter will wear through too quickly and be scary to jumar on. 11mm ropes add an extra feeling of security but are really heavy. I like a 60m rope. A 50m rope is too short these days and won’t allow you to link pitches as easily. In general, a 70m rope is overkill and means you will have 30 extra feet of rope to manage at the belay on every pitch – which can lead to more rope clusters. I don't really have a favorite rope. I find the ones that are stiffer when new often have the most durable sheath. Lately i have been using TK this one

TIP: Always carry TK athletic tape on a wall. There is nothing worse than being half-way up an aid route and noticing a tiny bit of white core poking through the sheath of your rope. It’s a personal call as to when a rope is so damaged that you should not lead on it and need to bail. In most cases, if the core is not damaged, I will wrap the damaged spot in athletic tape and mainly use the “better half of the rope” the rest of the climb (this means switching ends of the rope every time you switch leaders).


DIRTBAG OPTIONS
When you start aid climbing you can improvise just about everything you need off a regular free climbing rack.

Aiders: Intertwine two shoulder-length slings or buy some one inch webbing and improvise an aider like they used to do in the olden days (show image)
helmet: Hard hat or bikehelmet from thrift store (NOT as safe as climbinghelmet but better than nothing)
fifi hook: Biner or quickdraw.
harness: Regular free climbing harness.
Shoes: Old pair of running shoes or hiking boots.

If you get serious about aid climbing, you will want to buy more specific aid climbing gear mentioned above


PANTS
The ideal pants are synthetic, have reinforced knees and are loose enough that you can roll them up to the below the knee if you get too hot. I never where shorts on a wall.


KNEE PADS
I don’t use them because they get in the way and make you sweat behind the knees. But a lot of aid climbers, especially beginners, seem to like ‘em. On the Nose or any free climbing wall they really get in the way when free climbing. If you are going to use them, i would use the lightest and most low profile ones you can like these knee pads One problem with more beefy knee pads like these is that they can get snagged in the aiders.

STOP [Damo drawing of stop sign] If you are just starting to aid climb, no need to read about the rest of this gear. Skip to the next chapter. You wont need to revisit this chapter until you get to Leading Placing gear and following cleaning gear





* * * CLEAN AID GEAR * * *

DONT NEED ANY OF THIS GEAR UNTIL CHAPTER 7

GEAR SLING
I use 3 different gear slings in three different wall situations:

For a mostly free route like The Nose or Half Dome, I just use a regular sing gear sling like the Metolius or Black Diamond. When you free climbing a chimney or corner, you want to be able to easily throw the rack to one side of your body or the other.

For a moderate aid climb that is C2 or harder, I carry a light weight double gear sling. Zodiac or Mescalito, I would use a lightweight double gear sling like the Fish, Metolius or Black Diamond.

For a A3 or harder wall, where i have a lot of nailing, I take heavy duty gear sling like the Yates


STOPPERS/NUTS
• I always try to place a cam first. If that doesn’t work, I place a stopper. Aid climbing is all about efficiency and camsare usually faster to place. Stoppers can take a long time to clean, especially if you bounce test them hard. When I climb The Nose, I usually place less than five stoppers and have climbed the route placing just one.
• In rare cases, stoppers are handy for a placement you can’t reach with a cam.
• The stopper should make as much surface contact with the rock as possible. If it’s just barely touching it is more like get fixed after you bounce test it. For example, on The Great Roof on The Nose, stoppers get stuck all the time because people don’t use the optimal size.
• Stoppers are less expensive than camsand don’t wear out as fast. If you are on a budget, you may want to use more stoppers. My first time up Lurking Fear I didn’t have a lot of cams so I would leap frog camsup the long 0.5-1” cracks and every 10-15 feet leave a stopper for pro.
* Make sure you have at least some stoppers where the part that contacts the rock can slide down the cable like the Black Diamond Stopper. This is important as an improvised rivet hanger.


OFFSET STOPPERS AND BRASS NUTS
A must have. They are almost always better than regular stoppers in Yosemite and Zion where there is often a minor or major pin scar. My favorite offset stopper is the DMM Peanut Offset brass nuts are even more crucial than offset stoppers because they are often the only clean placement that works in a thin pin scar. On a route like Desert Shield in Zion, where you can’t use cam hooks, I bring 3-4 sets of offset brass nuts for the crux pitches. Right now the HB Offset Brass Nuts might be the only ones available.


CAMMING UNITS
• I like camswith a big range because you are more likely to get a piece that works on your first try.

• I especially like to carry lots of small camsbecause, I don’t use stoppers that often. Because small camsare so light, I usually take 2-3 sets on most climbs and four sets on harder aid route that has long pitches.

• I only wall climb with small camsthat have a flexible single stem. This allows them to fit in the widest range of pin scars and shallow placements. (photo of narrow cams)

I have always thought the best combo of cams on a wall is Aliens up to 1.25 inches and Black Diamond Camalot C4 up from there.


SMALL CAMS
Aliens are the best for pin scars because of their narrow head profile and soft aluminum cams. The downside of the soft metal is that they wear out fast. So if you are like me, you often end up with a lot of Aliens that have "mushy cams" that need two hands or even my teeth to retract. Another downside to Aliens is that they have had reliability problems.

The Metolius Master Cams have a similar design to the Aliens but the harder metal they use for the cams means they dont hold as wall in flared pin scars. The upside is that they dont wear out as fast. However, the trigger cables are rumored to wear out pretty fast.

The Black Diamon Camalot C3 is another popular small cam. With only 3 cams, they walk a little easier than the Aliens and their more rigid stem does not work as well in contorted placements. However, they are a good option if you are scared about the quality control of the Aliens.

Overall, my recommendation is that if you are doing just a couple walls like The Nose or Half Dome, go with the Metolius or Black Diamond because those are cams you will want to have on your regular trad climbing rack. If you are doing a bunch of Yosemite walls, buy a couple sets of Aliens to augment what you currently have.

There is a good discussion on the best small cams to use here


BIG CAMS
For bigger cams, I like the Black Diamond Camalot C4 the best because of their wide range and quality. In general, single stem cams are the best for aid climbing because they hold better in contorted placements. That said, just about any larger cam will work. So this is a place where if you are looking to save money, I would just use whatever cams you currently have.


OFFSET CAMS
Hybrid Aliens hold better in pin scars than any other cam I have used. I consider two sets of Hybrid Aliens a "must have" on aid-intensive routes like the Zodiac or Shield. On a route like The Nose, it is still nice to have a set. They , especially in the smaller sizes (up to 1”). Again, their is the quality control issue to consider.


CAM HOOKS
Once you get over the initial terror of Cam Hook, they’re your best friend. They help you move quickly and are sometimes the only hammerless placement for a pin scar. There are four sizes of cam hooks. I carry the narrow and the wide. However, 90% of the time I just use the Narrow. The key with cam hooking is practice a lot on the ground. After making 50-100 practice cam hook placements, you will have an idea of which ones are bomber and which ones really bad. There is a great thread about the re-emergence of the cam hook here

NOTE: cam hooks are not appropriate for sandstone as the camming action blows out the edges of the crack. You fall, the rock is scarred forever. A lose/lose situation.

Hammering cam hooks: a gentle tap with a hammer can make a sketchy cam hook placement more bomber. I could recommend this practice if done rarely and very gently… but I am not going to. Too many people, including myself, hit the cam hook too hard with the hammer and it then becomes harder to clean than a piton. Its too embarassing to leave a fixed cam hook, so you will spend many minutes cursing, hitting the cam hook back and forth and cause damage to the rock, webbing and cam hook.


HOOKS
Most C2 and easier walls don't require any hooking. However, its a good idea to have a little familiarity. There are many types of hooks. In general, you only need three types: bat hook (I use Black Diamond Talon), standard hook (like the Black Diamond Cliffhanger Hook), and big hook like the Black Diamond Grappling Hook. One of each gets you by.

On harder routes, you might need a giant hook like the Fish hook. Also, sometime on harder routes there are drilled hooks where you will need a pointed cliffhanger.

Hooking is the spiciest part of aid climbing. Small hook moves are scary. Bomber hook placements are still scary because after you move off it you don’t have it as protection. Like cam hooking, the key with hooking is to make 50-100 practice placements just a few feet off the ground. Don’t hook on established boulder problems because you can break off holds.
Dr.Sprock

Boulder climber
Sprocketville
Jun 6, 2009 - 09:17pm PT
"make sure you are will to sacrifice the extra weight for comfort...."

s/b willing

(harness section)
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 6, 2009 - 09:58pm PT
Some quick notes:

What about tie-off loops? Will you be discussing nesting and stacking later?

Sometimes you use a possessive when you are conjugating: wears versus wear’s

Maybe more on ascenders, especially considering how detailed you are on aiders.


More detailed discussion about hooks, maybe some history, strategy, taping them on.

(I notice you leave out heads, chisels, and punches)

Are you going to leave out pitons altogether or deal with them later?

Do you want to mention bashies? Any historical stuff? Wood? wedges? some of the freaky old stuff?

Hauling devices needs more detail (later on?)

Poop tubes discussion I assume comes in an other chapter?

More strategy (later on?) dealing with pin scars?

Try to get into this more....

GDavis

Trad climber
Jun 6, 2009 - 10:51pm PT
A few times you mention what doesn't work and back it up with personal experience, which I really like because it adds a human element to the book a la Crofts 'Good, Great, Awesome.' However, sometimes it seems a little much. Realize that we are mere mortals and probably will place more than 5 nuts on The Nose, haha!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 6, 2009 - 11:13pm PT
thanks for the suggestions - keep em coming!

yeah, i dont say much about ascenders because so far i really only have experience with the petzl and the yellow Jumars. all the ascenders i have seen out there work. but it seems like just about everyone prefers the petzl ones these days. ill add more to that later

poop tube will be a part of the bivy chapter. great discussion on them here http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=65324

pitons, nailing etc wont be in the book. maybe ill do a future book on that. but before i do that, i want to really drive home how much you DONT need pitons these days. even routes thought of as big "nail ups" like Sea of Dreams or Zenyatta Mondatta can be done 90%+ clean if you have an arsenal of cam hooks, offset cams, nuts, rps, hooks, etc (and a lot of fixed heads in place)
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
a greasy pinscar near you
Jun 6, 2009 - 11:13pm PT
Pointy hook?
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 7, 2009 - 12:35am PT
Here are some more thoughts Christo,

Wires versus slinging.

Hardware slings: which, strategies. Rack plans on a route.

The way haul bags work or don't work and best ways to organize their internal composition. Their evolution briefly. (as in how awful they used to be!!)

Strategies in hauling, methods of descending (like simul), decisionmaking with weather, portaledge approaches.

The overarching principle that as many things as possible have multiple uses

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jun 7, 2009 - 12:55am PT
Careful Peter.
Chris will have you base jumping with your bivy gear,..
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
a greasy pinscar near you
Jun 7, 2009 - 01:14am PT
I like that you list Handi Wipes twice....you really can't have too many.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 7, 2009 - 01:18am PT
Piton, I know, I am always riding the wild surf aren't I. But Ron, have you basejumped yet? It looks so incredibly cool. Like maybe a person would just stop climbing altogether and do that. How would you ever resort to climbing after that experience?

Kind of like it was always amazing to me that Galen Rowell actually did get so much climbing in even after he got his Chevy Nomad so tricked out it had 12 forwards gears and something like 450 horsepower and could beat Sacherer to the Valley. And he had Corvettes similarly festooned as backups.
froodish

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jun 7, 2009 - 01:26am PT
"I make my cordalette by taking a 20-foot piece of 5.5 mil or 7 mil
spectra cord and the tie a figure eight at each end"

Should be obvious, but perhaps more precise:

"I make my cordalette by taking a 20-foot piece of 5.5 mil or 7 mil
spectra cord and the tie a figure eight on a bight at each end"

(added "on a bight")

GraemeK

Big Wall climber
Ontario
Jun 7, 2009 - 09:54am PT
Chris,

Very helpful for us new aid climbers. Unfortunately having a lack of experience I can't add anything that you may have missed, but what you have written makes perfect sense! Keep up the good work!
Prod

Trad climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Jun 7, 2009 - 11:51am PT
Chris,

Are you writing a book and previewing it here, or are you putting together an ebook? Just curious.

The stuf on youtube is very helpful, wish I'd of had that when I was figuring out the systems.

Prod.
Kupandamingi

Trad climber
Berkeley
Jun 7, 2009 - 12:31pm PT
It may be true that most aid climbers prefer regular daisy chains, but I would guess that most beginning/occasional aid climbers prefer adjustable daises just for the security (real or imagined) it provides. I've used both, know adjustables slow me down, but still prefer them. Some tips on their use (and abuse) would be useful. For example, I used to tighten/release on every step up, but now try and force myself to just keep stepping up until high enough above (2nd step?) to bring it taught. Anyway, my point would be that many new to aid will use/prefer adjustables such that it might make sense to have a section on their efficient use. If not written by you, perhaps by someone who has refined their use.
Haggis

Trad climber
Scotland
Jun 7, 2009 - 12:56pm PT
I didnt like the comment about the bike helmet as a cheap option for the real deal. as you said you are going to take some knocks and scrapes you should really have the right bit of head gear.

but hey .... i like my head
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 7, 2009 - 02:15pm PT
I think a short discussion of static versus dynamic haul rope is in order.

Most people have a semi-retired rope (free) they can use to haul. If the lead line gets damaged, a dynamic haul line can take over. If you are leading and fall, if the lead line should get cut over an edge, a dynamic haul line clipped into a full strength loop can save your life with hardly a scratch, where a static line might kill you.

Food for thought

peace

Karl
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 7, 2009 - 11:29pm PT
Thank you for the feedback. I am now realizing that I should have put more info into this article before posting it... so i am doing that over the next day. Please keep posting more suggestions if you have them
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 8, 2009 - 12:21am PT
Karl is hugely right just above here. And to carry it further, there really is a lot of worthwhile discussion to bring up about ropes, sizes, lengths, ratings, UIAA and so forth.

Listen Chris, your book ( I presume that is what you are toiling with here) has to have enough pages to print so it doesn't look like a slim little Hallmark card from mom, so fill all the subjects up, make it rich! I know one of your natural tendencies--- and it is a good one for sure--- is to Keep it Simple Make It Fun (KISMIF) but there are quite a few issues that wall climbers should be fluent with to be safe and progress. I don't know if you have to go to the extent that Jared does however.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Jun 8, 2009 - 02:01am PT
Chris,

Does it make sense generally to talk about older gear types that aren't available new anymore? e.g. I have clog ascenders, and if some poor sap picks these up used on ebay, it might be nice to know the pro or con to older gear types. Invariably some folks will buy older gear types used.

I don't know. Just something to think about I suppose.

M
John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Jun 9, 2009 - 12:37pm PT
Chris,

Looks good.

You could mention that a ski boot inner sole inside a pair of approach shoes like, five tennies makes a really nice wall shoe. You have the advantage of the sticky rubber with loads more foot support for longer/harder leeds...

Regarding hauling, I wouldn't rule out using a dynamic line. Maybe list the pros and cons... I've switched to only using dynamic and I know several other people have too.

Cheers

john




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