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Old 10-24-2008, 04:18 AM   #81
pico23
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Kevin,

if your leading you should be able to build multi directional first piece anchor. even using 2 nuts in opposition using cloves to tighten them will usually work. secondly, the first piece should always be bomber because it protects the main anchor from a high factor fall.

I have to disagree with the SLCD vs. nut statement. I've climbed hundreds of pitches on nuts and tricams alone. Actually my most recent partner, now a Phd candidate at UC Berkley and a MIT grad (background to the fact he's a fairly bright guy, even if I'm not), didn't own SLCDs prior to his second year leading. We both had much more faith in a solid nut placement, or even a tricam placement in either active or passive mode. Truthfully, we often used SLCDs at belays and passive gear on route.

So with that said, I'm not sure what you've been reading for gear placement 101 that says SLCDs are better/safer than passive gear, because it's highly wrong. Safety in all gear placements comes from the rock quality and the placement quality. An SLCD placed behind a bottleneck on a horizontal crack in the gunks is obviously bomber assuming the gear itself doesn't fail (unlikely but possible). But an SLCD placed in a upward flared crack with the idea of a downward only force is far less bomber than a well set nut in that same crack. The reason is obvious but the cam can walk up the crack, and the nut isn't going to walk from rope drag when well set. Using a long sling will also help keep your gear from moving.

The problem with micro cams is that they are EXTREMELY hard to place properly. The difference between well placed and poorly placed (under cammed and over cammed, as well as other factors such as walking among many others) is so small that even while cleaning these pieces I'd often wonder if they were properly placed while uncamming them. A 22KN BD camalot isn't a 22KN camalot at all cam angles, and a 8KN green alien isn't 8KN at all angles.

that of course is NOT to say they cannot be properly placed, or they cannot hold a fall, just that they were not truly intended to be fallen on in less than perfect conditions.

Chris Hairstom from BD used to post on rec.climbing in the days of newsgroups. He would post quite thoughtful articles on many subjects of the dynamics of falling, and the strength of gear. Everything from wet ropes, and frozen ropes, to BD specific gear and how it was tested.

Some of the things he spoke of were the fact that 1) gear is never designed to not fail, even when properly used 2) use of gear is a judgement thing just because it's produced and they slap a Kn rating doesn't mean it's intended for the purpose you use it for 2a) just because a piece of gear is 3 Sigma rated to XKN or XXKn doesn't mean it can handle a fall of any sort. For instance, nuts under the size of a BD/SMileys #4 are usually intended for aiding only. Although the 2 or 4KN rating of some of the smaller nuts leads people to believe they are good for a 4KN fall. However, they have been and will continue to occasionally hold a leader fall, just like those micro cams. Often though when these are used they are as part of an equalized anchor, and/or with a screamer attached, and/or in conjuction with skinny double ropes which reduce impact on the gear.

I'm assuming the two aliens you bought are the black and green (or is it black and blue the smallest??). These aliens are largely meant for aid climbing, as are the micro camalots. Can they hold a leader fall? Absolutely, but they must be placed well.

Further (at least my early 2000s aliens) don't have cam stops. This never bothered me but it does create a problem with an under cammed alien being inverted and pulling out.

Cams have their own problems, not all cam placements are multi directional, and cams tend to walk.

A nut on the other hand, when well placed, and set tends to not walk. My partners and I always set the nuts deep in cracks, and gave them a significant tug to set the nut. This did create problems for the second at times, BUT the second can call take, has a nut tool, and in the worst case can certainly find a rock or use a large hex to tap it out while they hang on the rope (obviously traverses make this difficult). The leaders safety always comes first but we very rarely lost a nut because we set it.

Finally, it's always better to place the best gear you can at every opportunity. I've never been a fan of placing bad pieces "just in case" because what happens is the top piece uses most of the impact absorbtion of your rope system (which takes some time to return to the rope, if ever in a high fall factor fall). Studies have shown that just in case pieces often lead to lower pieces of the system failing. You might remember the climber that cycled to the 7 summits (I think) he died in a ground fall where it was believed that his cam actually exploded from the force after his top piece blew out. For this reason, every piece needs to be carefuly placed, and often! It's easier to downclimb 5ft to a good placement to rest/hang than it it's to climb up 15ft to an unknown placement that might not exist, or could be more difficult to place good gear than the last.
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:58 AM   #82
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Awesome post Pico!

By my comment about not climbing routes we can't protect first with a cam, I meant that as novice climbers with a lot of possibilities, we have the choice not to climb such a route. Directional nut placement is very effective and both Val and I have already had the opportunity to use this (she used it the day before on Afternoon Delight). Do I prefer it? No. I guess I just feel safer with a decent sized cam when given the option. We carry a large Hex too, and it has come in handy a few times. But those placements are few and far between and I find myself using more mid sized cams than any other gear. So far none of our cams have walked, but we have had a nut work its way out after the climber passed (unrelated climb to the one this thread is about). I'm also a big fan of throwing slings around stuff along the way wherever possible .

I also know from many conversations with experienced climbers that there's a couple schools of pro placement out there. People like myself who lean heavily on cams, and others who actually choose (as it sounds like you do) to use them as infrequently as possible. Tricams, I have been told, should not be used if the same size spring loaded cam can be used instead. I will not likely ever own a tricam just because I bring duplicate spring loaded cams in the most-used range of sizes and don't see/know how a tricam would outperform a spring loaded cam in most situations where I would use it.

As beginning lead climbers everything we're doing has good protection starting the moment we leave the ground/belay station. It's a luxury I'm sure we won't be afforded as the routes we climb become more difficult. With that being said, it's our current levle of ability that dictataes not just what gear we have but how we use it. As we're presented with new challenges and obsticles I'm sure we'll be forced to adapt, in the same way going from purely top-roping to leading has forced us to review our needs and replace gear accordingly.

Last edited by Kevin; 10-24-2008 at 10:15 AM..
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Old 10-24-2008, 10:33 AM   #83
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out of curiosity - how many pieces were placed before she took the fall? from what I've read sounds like only 1?
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Old 10-24-2008, 11:14 AM   #84
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out of curiosity - how many pieces were placed before she took the fall? from what I've read sounds like only 1?
Four pieces and a bolt maybe, I'd have to check my rack to see whats missing to be certain but I think 2 cams and 2 stoppers. As a beginner I probably place more pro than is needed

FWIW...I don't prefer cams to nuts or visa versa. Either may work better in some situations than the other. I look at each placement with an open mind. I have used two multi-directional nuts as a first piece. Sometimes, a cam just doesn't work as a first piece.
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Old 10-24-2008, 08:03 PM   #85
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Val, have you thought about the nut placement that blew out, and have you come up with a way that might have prevented it, or an alternative pc. of gear that would have worked in/near the same spot and been better?
I like to analyze these sorts of question, because they make us better climbers. We don't reiterate mistakes if we come up with better alternatives ahead of time.
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Old 10-26-2008, 11:16 AM   #86
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Val, have you thought about the nut placement that blew out, and have you come up with a way that might have prevented it, or an alternative pc. of gear that would have worked in/near the same spot and been better?
I like to analyze these sorts of question, because they make us better climbers. We don't reiterate mistakes if we come up with better alternatives ahead of time.
I've thought about it a lot. I think that maybe it wasn't a good spot to place a piece and that perhaps I shouldn't have even of been there(off-route?) I once thought that I would never do that route again. Now I'm hoping that next year a more experienced friend of mine will lead that route for me so that I can see how its done.
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:57 AM   #87
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Each climber will take a diferent approach to protecting a pitch, and the same climber may take a different approach to protecting the same pitch on different days.

I've been up the sword a zillion times in about every style imaginable (I have not climbed it at night, or in the rain...). But I have followed it; led it many times, sometimes with lots of gear, sometimes with less; and free soloed it a few times.

We sometimes climb the grubby pitch from the ground up to the dirt ledge; other times we rap in from the top.

The usual line that most people take is to climb around to the left past the overhangs to get onto the arete; up the arete sort of on the right about as far as the bolt; after the bolt the best holds are on the left side for a couple moves; and then it's back to the arete, with the easiest finish being back around to the right side for the last few feet. So it's sort of a back and forth thing, like lots of climbs. But as far as being "off route," you can climb on either side and be on route, as long as you are in contact with the arete somehow. If you find yourself far enough to the right or left so that the arete is completely out of reach, then you might be off route. Too far to the right and you'll be climbing the neighboring route, Coors Corner. Too far to the left, and you'll be in the bushes.

Most of the time when I lead it now, my gear is as follows (this is just one sample, as I said; others may do it differently): after the overhangs, at the nice stance before you begin climbing the arete proper, I get a good nut the fissure right at the bottom of the arete. The next gear is the bolt. (I think from everything I've read here that you clipped the bolt, and the bolt is what caught your fall. I also saw a runner on the bolt when I looked down from the top that day.) Above the bolt, which protects the crux moves, there aren't really any more good placements (hence the PG rating). I've never tried to place anything above the bolt, because the climbing gets easier toward the top, but looking at the pitch in my mind's eye, I can't see any really good gear there. The horizontal breaks in the arete that form those big handholds seem kind of flaring and untrustworthy for gear.

But, as I said, others will do it differently, and just because I didn't find any good placements there doesn't mean there aren't any...

Tom
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Old 10-27-2008, 09:23 AM   #88
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Good analyses. Sometimes, y'just gotta run it out.
If I could ask for more details, what did you think of the pc. when you placed it? Were you confident in it, or did you wonder about it?
There's all sorts of for/against arguments regarding questionable placements; in the end, anyone can question any placement, so the academic discussion is pretty worthless. It's where the rubber hits the road - in situ - that the question becomes paramount. If you're looking at a long runout and have pro options that you are not confident with, then it's questionable pro and you, personally, will have to calculate the potential risks vs. rewards.
I believe it boils down to a leader understanding that climbing past questionable placements is effectively free-soloing; i.e. the rope is no longer helping. One of the most common causes of serious injury is leading far above pro on "easy" ground. Even good pro in such circumstances is suspect, and falls tend to be deadly serious.
I've spoken with several guidebook authors (present ones included) and found that their parameters for "G" vs. "PG" vs. "R" were quite different from mine. These folks have as much or more experience and skill as I have, but their climbing style, or cleverness, or maybe even their rack, are different. I recommend sticking to "G" terrain until you are well-versed in leading, say two or three years of frequent leading (min. four or five full days/month during the season). Start by leading only routes you have TR'd or followed, preferably with the thought of leading them in mind. Ask more experienced friends who know you and your ability level to recommend routes...and listen to their judgment. Finally, be stoutly conservative at crunch time: the go-for-it mentality is better on harder routes when you've developed more stamina and the angle is steeper (less chance of injury that way) than on training runs.
Using such guidelines, you are less likely to find yourself on a heinous runout w/questionable pro underfoot early on. Of course, that may just mean you're there later on (Hour of Prayer on Huckleberry being my favorite mistake!).
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Old 10-29-2008, 10:37 AM   #89
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Old 10-29-2008, 04:21 PM   #90
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Val,

I am sorry to hear about your accident. I am just reading this now for the first time. I do not check this part of the forum out much but glad I did. Take care and hang in there. I am sure by next spring you will be ready to try out your new ankle
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Old 10-29-2008, 08:54 PM   #91
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I'm a little slow on the uptake since I'm not on the forum as much as before. I didn't know this string was about Val. I am so sorry to hear about your accident and appologise for being so late to say so. I hope you mend well. Let me know if there is anything, anything!, I can do.
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Old 10-29-2008, 09:02 PM   #92
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Old 10-31-2008, 01:41 PM   #93
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Old 11-09-2008, 01:59 PM   #94
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I haven't been on the forums much lately so just reading this now. Val, I'm so glad you are ok and "on the mend". Nice avatar too!
I'm also glad that Ranger Jim and company were not too busy arguing with somebody over regulations like "lean-to sharing" or " appropriate winter gear" to do the more important parts of their jobs.
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Old 11-09-2008, 02:45 PM   #95
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I haven't been on the forums much lately so just reading this now. Val, I'm so glad you are ok and "on the mend". Nice avatar too!
I'm also glad that Ranger Jim and company were not too busy arguing with somebody over regulations like "lean-to sharing" or " appropriate winter gear" to do the more important parts of their jobs.
See the service we serve by settling that here so that the rangers are free to do other duties? By the people being informed, it lessens the chances of them having to be rescued by rangers or being involved in a dispute that might require them.

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Old 11-09-2008, 06:24 PM   #96
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See the service we serve by settling that here so that the rangers are free to do other duties? By the people being informed, it lessens the chances of them having to be rescued by rangers or being involved in a dispute that might require them.

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Old 01-04-2009, 02:10 AM   #97
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OMG Now I finally read it three months later. I don't go to this part of the Forums either.
I used to Rock Climb for a couple of years and familiar with the Beer Walls and the Sword. If I remember correctly, the Sword, you are lowered down and then climb back up? It was a very difficult climb and one had to make sure of knowing the next move before doing it. I can't imagine falling on this pitch.
I enjoyed top roping to an extent but once we got into multi pitching like the Chapel Pond Slab and over on Hurricane Crag, that was enough for me and I hung up the shoes. I didn't enjoy it so much anymore.
Sounds like you will have the "Bionic Foot," once it is healed. Hope no limitations to the foot with the plate and screws. Again I wish you the best of luck in healing and getting back to climbing. Just keep thinking, "you will and you will do it." Determination goes a long way.
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Old 01-08-2009, 11:03 AM   #98
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Marta, you can most definitely do The Sword as a top rope but we were lead climbing that day. It's a intermediate level lead climb (rated PG in the guide). We were new to leading and it may have been a bit out of our comfort zone. Now that I know where the top of the route is I hope to top rope it someday (we did not know where, at the top of the cliffs, the route ended otherwise we might have top roped it before attempting to lead it).

The final analysis of the situation is that Val got tired placing protection in a spot where the route was a little run out (no protection available for longer than what was warranted), which is why the route gets a PG rating. Once she did find a small crack on the side of the route and placed her pro (nut) in it, she was tapped of energy and the next moves she needed to do to continue to ascend were more than her body had left. I've had this happen to me when early into climbing (top roping). The brain says "up" but the body wants to nap. That feeling of having all the energy sapped from your arms and legs is pretty scary. In that condition even a 5.6 route that we should be able to do when 100% becomes too much. I can't imagine how any of this felt to Val, especialy that moment her body gave out and she started to fall (and not stop for that many feet).

I'm still holding out hope that Val can have a full physical recovery, and her fears of climbing again will be trumped by her passion for the sport. She may not lead for a while, and I'm not sure I'll be doing anything above 5.5 or 5.6 "G" rated leading anytime soon. I'm taking the advice in this thread (to follow more) to heart. My passion for climbing and abilities are in line, but I need to gain the experience placing protection. Lead climbing is a whole new ballgame and I'm in no hurry to die learning it.

BTW, does anyone present that day have pictures of the helicopter rescue?
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Old 01-12-2009, 12:19 AM   #99
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Glad you're ok

Glad to hear you are okay and wish you a fast recovery.

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