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nolanr

Ice climbing etiquette

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I'm new at ice climbing, just went out for the first time. But I've been rock climbing and mountain climbing for several years and would expect the etiquette to be about the same. Am I missing something? I was with a party of 4 at Banks Lake this weekend. After we'd been in an area for an hour or so, a party of 2 came along. They started climbing to our left, but quickly started angling right (towards us, in other words), and eventually were above us. The lead climber sent a barrage of ice right on top of our belay station, without a word of warning. We moved our belay several times, a total of 15 or 20 feet eventually. The other party did a multi pitch climb, eventually we couldn't see them at all. All was well for a while, but when they started coming down, they moved even further right and were right on top of us again. We couldn't move any further to our right. They sent a hellacious barrage of ice and rock down on us, and I never heard them yell "Rock!" or "Ice!" once. We eventually started hollering at them, they rapped down just about on top of our route. One of them acted slightly apolegetic, but also wanted to make it our fault somehow. The other guy wasn't interested in being diplomatic, he just wanted to get down to the road and brag to some buddies of his down there about what a great route he'd led.

So I'm thinking these guys were extremely rude and also subjected us to unnecessary danger. Naturally occuring objective dangers I can deal with. Unnecessary dangers from careless climbers hacks me off. If we'd started climbing underneath them, that would make us stupid. But since we were there first and they climbed directly above us, that would make it a faux pas on their part, right? Nobody was hurt, but there were some very near misses. If this sounds like you, try to think about what you're doing a little bit more next time you're out.

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I would have been pissed off if that was me. There is etiquette on ice, just like on rock. They should have asked if they could climb at the same time as you and then kept a separate line, being careful not to knock anything down on you guys. Most of the climbs there that are formed right now hardly have enough room for two parties and since the ice is poorly formed you know chunks will be falling down. What climb was this and what day was it? I saw two groups climbing a 4+ right off the road, not far from the "Banks Lake Reclimation" sign, on the right going north. I thought this was odd, especially on such a hard climb, was this you? Next time, let them know you don't want them above you, or if you don't mind, tell them to keep clear of your line.

[This message has been edited by dane (edited 01-22-2001).]

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miss manners replies: etiquette demands that you chop their ropes into manageable lengths, tie them up, beat them within an inch of their lives, urinate on them, then leave them to freeze while you slash their tires, break into their car, and steal all their booze.

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Hold on there, let me get this straight. Were you toproping? As far as I know the 'lead, follow or get out of the way' rule trumps all. Perhaps the party of two were pissed off that a party of four was bogarting the route and hacking it to pieces, destroying the route for real climbers (read: those with the ability to lead.

I don't necessarily believe this, just thought I would play devil's advocate. Many ice climbers that have been around the block for a while are a little angry that ice climbing has exploded in popularity. The climbs that they had to themselves just a year or two ago are swarming with all kinds of climbers with brand new, fancy gear. Kinda like rock climbing a few years ago.

That said, a simple "mind if we climb through?" would have been thoughtful.

[This message has been edited by danielpatricksmith (edited 01-23-2001).]

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Well said.

LEADING TRUMPS ALL.

Much to my dismay, I have noticed that ice climbing is taking off in popularity, yet it seems like so many people these days just TR, (Even som really strong climbers.) most of the time hacking the delicate flows to bits. Often the ice is so thin here it gets destroyed. I don't necessarily agree with the way the before mentioned team that climbed above the irate party went about climbing though.

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If you were toproping then the other party had the right of way. I live in Ouray and have seen Ice climing explode in poularity mainly with people with little or no experience. If people are tr-ing a section of a multi pitch climb then by all means other parties should be permitted to climb through. it sounds like there was fault on both sides. And if you dont want ice falling on you then dont climb ice.

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Right on Derek. It's part of the game and you must calculate the risks and decide if you are gonna take them. Granted they were there 1st but if they were Tr then too bad. Also going to a popular place like that what would you expect?..

-Ray

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I guess I'd expect that the other party would be considerate enough to ask if they could climb past and to call out when they knock shit loose. To just climb next to and then over another party without asking is rude and dangerous.

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I agree with CC.

It's one thing to come behind a party and make a decision to climb underneath them.

Quite another to be there first trying to have a good time, and then the next thing you know you're getting strafed with chunks of solid ice. Not fun, and can be terminal.

I think climbing over the top of someone else is bad etiquette, although sometimes unavoidable. It's a judgement call and can be donw with tact and concern for other parties.

Believe me, if you climb over the top of me with rude disregard for my safety, my 230lb rugby player body is going to brutally pummel your ass afterwards.

Try it and find out if you don't believe me. mad.gif

Mike http://alpinelite.com

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His post does not say he was top-roping, even if he was they still should have stated their intentions. I agree that leading always takes precedence over top-roping, but there is no reason to be such an ass. I hardly ever top-rope, but if I do it's on a small, flow that would not be worth leading. I plead to everyone climbing at Banks to please not top-rope climbs that are trying to form, this could easily ruin a persons chance of leading a great climb.

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Since when does Leading take have precidence over TopRoping? No one has more "right" to be there than another.

Communication would have fixed this problem.

chris

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In ice climbing, leading has always had priority over top roping. This ethic is often slightly different from many other types of climbing for a variety of reasons.

The main reason being that the medium that is being climbed can not in most cases sustain unlimited trafic as can rock or plastic.

 

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I'm glad to hear the strong opinions about leading over top roping. I came to same conclusion on my own and never really had anyone elses opinion until now! HOWEVER, if I showed up at a muti pitch climb where someone was toproping, I would certainly make them aware of my intentions to climb through and warn them "there's gonna be some shit coming down!" My personal experience in this matter is Provo Canyon in Utah. This is where I learned to climb and all through the 80's we had the place to ourselves. Ever since BD moved to SLC, the outdoor show in Jan. and the over all explosion of ice climbing in general, there is always a bunch of topropes on the first pitch of Stairway to Heaven. After not climbing it one too many times because of not wanting to knock shit down on top-ropers, I said "F-ck it!" I now, without any qualms tell the gummbies on TR that I'm here to climb this ROUTE and you should be aware there's gonna be some shit comming down!

PS: I think the Ice Park in Ouray is a delicate situation because it requires you to rap or lower in and climb out. Often it is quicker to keep the belayer on top and therefore doesn't occupy a route as long allowing for the next in line to get on it....also a form of etiquette. Also, if you both rap in and pull your rope to lead, some gummbie on top might just start lowering down your line knocking shit down while you're cranking hard 4 or 5 on lead!

PSS: I never did like zoos!!

DPP

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After a jab into my skull by MikeA I must rethink and add to what I said. It all depends on what routes you and they were climbing. Also if you were Tr then they should have been more polite and asked to climb through. Perhaps they were sympathetic but just did not show it. Who knows... Nobody likes being blasted by ice and rock and I personally would not have done what they did. I was not there and I think there are 2 sides to all stories though.

Mike maybe you should pound me in the head with your Grivels more often. smile.gif

-Ray

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These are the attitudes that are causing all the problems in the backcountry.

"I have more right to be here than you because I am leading (or tele or hikingor??) and you are only toproping (or snowshoing or bikingor??)"

The "holier than tho" stuff has got to stop. The backcountry is not that big of a place. I'm sure this won't change anyone, only get heated responces.

chris

ps Ouray has a trail to the base of the routes. I have done a few leads there myself. Can get a little crowded. But has always been "1st come 1st served".

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Chris,

In response to your question "Since when does Leading take have precidence over TopRoping?"

Since always. If you don't like it, don't climb.

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I think that there is a distiction between top-roping a climb and "hogging" one and/or doing laps on it.

There should also be a distiction made between politely taking the 'right of way' and being an outright asshole. Some of the opinions stated in this thread show exactly what kind of a climber some of you can be.

That said, I do think leading takes precedence over top-roping in SOME situations. If you are TRing a climb and someone comes up wanting to lead it all the way through, do your business and then get out of their way. If you are that party coming up to lead it, politely state your intentions and let them finish their business.

The Golden Rule always applies.

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Okay, I couldn't resist replying to this stream of nonsense. Clearly the wilderness is reserved for the people-- all people and one person has no right to claim his right over another. I cringe when I hear things like "leading takes precedence over TR-ing." Where is the logic in that statement? Just because one climber is better then another does that give him or her the right to claim the right to climb something? No, definitely not. If someone ever said that to me they'd better watch out for the sharp end of my ice tool. The fact remains that ice flows in the NW are limited and beginners can ruin a climb for others. I myself have done many climbs where I never sunk my picks into untouched ice-- all I could do was hook in other peoples holes.

A party TR-ing the first pitch of a multi-pitch ice climb should invite other climbers to climb through. If the TR-ers do not offer the invitation the leading party should state that they want to climb through and everyone nearby should check their helmets. We have to learn how to share our resources and self regulate our sport. If we don't, all climbers risk losing the right to climb. As more and more people venture out into the ice climbing world inevitably there will be more injuries and more public attention drawn to the sport. I fear this may lead to some government regulation as the case is in rock climbing today. The only way we as a climbing community can prevent the unwanted intervention of regulatory bodies is to police ourselves. This requires ice climbers of all levels to be curtious, respectful of others and most importantly, to climb safely at all times.

We are not alone. It is time climbers acted as such.

 

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Wow, that touched off some strong opinions. I think I left out a few details, so let me fill them in and you can see if it changes your opinion at all. At the time the other party arrived, we were leading. Albeit slowly, since we were not real experienced, but we were leading and we were already there. As far as I know, if you want to be guaranteed to get a certain route, you have to drag your ass out of bed early to make sure you are the first one there. They did not do this. We left Seattle around 6 am and made 2 seperate stops (Bellevue and Ellensburg) to meet up with other members of our party and get some groceries. So by the time we got out by Banks Lake, this would fit no one's definition of early, yet we found the route empty. If it matters at all, I think the formation was called Cable, it was just north of Absent Minded Professor.

They checked the route out from the side of the road for a while, then gathered their gear and came up. I think they got to lusting after this route pretty bad, decided they were going to do it, and to hell with us.

We switched leaders at one point, when the second guy up reached the previous high point, he began traversing to the right. He left a couple screws in to protect him from a fall. This was about when the other party's leader started. As I said before, their leader started angling right above us fairly quickly. Our lead climber was safe, but our belay station was getting pelted. This is why we moved it. This caused a bit of a zipper effect with our rope. Our first 2 screws were right in the middle of the fall out zone. Our leader eventually went around a corner, then up again. This was well clear of the line the other party was doing to top out on the formation. We definitely weren't "hogging the route." We set up a top rope and our leader lowered off. At this point we had to wait about 45 minutes because we couldn't safely have anyone second the route and clean up the screws we'd placed, due to ice fall from the other leader. When he finally stopped moving, their belayer immediately started heading up. We had a short conversation, I voiced some frustration, he offered to unclip our rope and pull the first 2 screws. We agreed to this.

Now we were able to safely take some laps on our top rope, we were clear of their line, and we had no problems for a while. When they came down, they weren't paying any attention to where they came down at, it was right on top of us, and as previously mentioned they sent a lot of rock and ice down at us, without any warning. I saw a huge chunk come down within less than a foot of my best friend. That scared me and pissed me off. This was when I let loose with some yelling and screaming. I'm sure they heard me, but they didn't respond at all.

That's about all of it. I realize climbing can be hazardous. No duh, to whichever person suggested I should stay home if I can't handle it. The next day we were at Devil's Punch Bowl dodging chunks of icicles formed under an overhung roof, that were breaking off due to warming temperatures. This is expected and acceptable. Careless climbers above me with no regard to the safety of me and my party is another issue. I find it unacceptable.

And I find it a little disgusting that some people seem to think less experienced climbers should feel it necessary to yield to better climbers. Everybody has to start somewhere. Climbing should be fun, it shouldn't be some kind of elitist snobby endeavor. No matter how good you are, somebody is going to be better.

Or maybe I'm completely wrong. Maybe the next time I'm rock climbing at some crags (which I'm more experienced and better at), I'll make sure to do some boulder trundling when I see some rookies come along, just to discourage them a little bit and introduce them to the hazards of the sport. And I won't yell "Rock!" because it is their responsbility to be alert and wary. Ok, enough said.

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Ok, I'm back again. If it is generally frowned upon to do top ropes on ice and take laps, and "real climbers" always do lead climbing, how the hell are you supposed to practice and get good enough and feel comfortable doing leads? It took me a while to be able lead on rock routes. You wouldn't expect anyone to do lead climbing from the day they start. Why is ice different? I guess the whole thing about there being a limited amount of it, and inexperienced climbers tear the route up, just isn't working for me. You were all beginners once, and you probably all sucked at first. So how did you manage to practice and get better without doing any TRing and without tearing up some routes to the chagrin of better climbers in the area? I'm guessing you didn't, so don't hold other beginning climbers to different standards than you held for yourself whenever you first started ice climbing.

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This discussion has brought up a lot of good points and reinforced the fact that ethics have been debated since the early days of climbing. The one thing I think we can all agree on is that safety is paramount and communication with other parties plays a major part in keeping us safe when climbing in crowded areas. With the proliferation of weekend warriors and sport climbers making their way into the mountains, it's getting to be a smaller and smaller world. This being said, Nolan is right that everyone started out as a beginner and that at one time we just sucked, however there are plenty of good top ropeable climbs in the region that can handle parties doing laps on it. If you're a beginner and want to practice, seek the routes that won't impede other climbers who would like to climb the entire route. You ask the question, "Why should ice climbing be any different (from rock climbing)." The answer is: it isn't - including the fact that no one top ropes the first pitch of a multi-pitch climb (very often). From your description of the incident, though, you were subject to a couple of dickhead climbers who just "don't get it". I'm not trying to elevate leaders over TR'rs. We're all part of the same community who love to run around in the woods, and as our numbers grow we have to be respectful of each other. Communicate intent, allow others to climb through, let someone get to a secure spot before climbing over them, and tiptoe on the rappel instead of swinging around like a monkey and knocking half the route down on those below.

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Now I'm back. Please don't think I think I have a "higher" right as a leader than a TR. I just think that a TR party needs to respect the desires of a leader party to climb a route. I only refer to this in the case of a TR party dominating the first 50 feet of a multi pitch climb. By no means does this mean a lead part should expect a tr party already set up to stand a side for a single pitch route. My example still stands in my opinion. Stairway to Heaven is a 5 pitch climb and considered one of the classics in Provo Canyon. The first step is popular for TRing. However anyone who arrives first and sets up a TR should not be upset if a party arrives to climb the route. In fact they should expect it and be prepared. They should not expect to say "hey, please don't climb this route because we're top-roping here." It's their choice to remain or go elsewhere, but we all know the shit is going to come down.

Oh, by the way, Ice climbing is A LOT different than rock climbing. In ice climbing you expect shit to come down. I've never gone TRing on rock and "expected" rock to come down.

The golden rule works. Personally, if I wanted to teach a novice to climb, I'd find a different place to set up a TR than on the first pitch of a multi pitch route. If it was all I could find, I'd be prepared to stand aside if a party came to climb the route.

Nolanr has a very valid point and it sounds like the other climbers could have been a lot more respectful. Lets all try to remember to be friends and not assholes. And no matter what, you should always yell "ice" if you know someone is beneath you and you knock some off.

DPP

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Here is my opinion on the subject. I feel that the early bird catches the worm, or the iceworm as the case may be. I guess the way I see it is that a route is like a rollercoaster...first come first served. You get to ride once, and if that is not enough, you gotta go to the back of the line. I'll pass on the right-of-way stuff. If I get snaked out of a route by anyone (badasses or beginners), I can only view that tragedy as my own fault for not getting up early enough or being too slow on the approach.

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Just some clarifications,

You were not on the Cable, that line doesnt have room for 2 parties and if you were leading it in its current conditions, people would be grovelling on the road at your greatness. You were likely on H202.

In ice climbing, leading always has precendence over TR'ing, and soloing always has precendence over leading; but this is STANDING ON THE GROUND at the same time. Once you are on a route, all normal forms of etiquette apply, and that includes that a second party who wants to lead either wait of go find something else.

One of the largest lapses of judgement I ever witnessed was a soloist on Weeping Wall left as he climbed under us for 2 pitches. We literally were forced to stop climbing, as anything we sent down was going to free fall 50m and smack right into him. We had right of way and he was an idiot, simple as that.

It cannot be overemphasized that in ice climbing, unlike rock climbing, when you climb above someone you put them in serious danger. We all know what its like to be almost dislodged by our own dinnerplates. Its something else again when that dinnerplate has had 100 feet of falling to accelerate.

If you are the cause of an accident, legal precendence is that you are responsible to effect their rescue.

In ice climbing, whether its at Banks, Lillooet or the Rockies, should you ever encounter another party on the route, the only three acceptable means of climbing the route safely are to lead and second side-by-side (only possible on a wider flow), or wait til they top out, or find something else.

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Yup David, you're right about ice climbing being different in terms of the amount of stuff coming down, but who has priority when climbing around other parties is the same. I was on R&D in the Can. Rocks when another party asked if they could climb next us. It was big enough for the two of us to climb next to each other, but while I was on lead, he edged ahead of me and started angling above me. I was about 8 feet over my last piece, thirty feet off the ground, and the best I could do was sink both tools, hug the wall, hang on and hope nothing too big hit my head or hands. I should've know better than to trust guys with French accents (just joking - nobody blast me for that!). Anyways, I think leaders get priority (not exclusive priviledge) and TR'rs should seek TR routes, and if they decide to pegboard the first pitch of a multi-pitch, expect to be climbed through by other parties.

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