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mellsbells

First trad climb

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iain said:

Moscow would require the construction of an anchor w/o supervision. Dunno if that's a concern for you.

 

oh yeah, I guess that wouldn't make a good first trad lead. This could lead to thread drift.. Question: should you know how to construct an anchor when you start trad leading?

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Lots of people worry about the construction of an anchor more than their placement of pro in the middle of a pitch, but I don't quite understand the concern. If you can place gear that you'd even remotely want to fall on, you can certainly place three pieces and tie yourself to all three of them when you get to the belay. If you don't equalize the anchor the best way or if you make a mess out of it when it could have been set up more cleanly, there will be no harm done. On the other hand, if you can't place pro adequately to catch a fall and you take a whipper, you might get hurt bad. It is hard for me to picture a scenario where one who can place gear for pro could not set an adequate anchor at a belay on any of the popular beginner's climbs that I know of.

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The only place I see this as an issue Matt, is if someone can't place pro well, makes it up a climb without falling, builds the anchor improperly, then has to hold a fall from the second climber and the pieces pull. But for the most part, you are right!

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Or in the case of a multi-pitch climb where an anchor has been built at the first stance and the leader takes off, falls and rips all his pieces AND those of the anchor.

 

Just ask those guys on Mt. Washington.

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bunglehead said:

Question: should you know how to construct an anchor when you start trad leading?

Most of the popular/easy trad leads have chains or trees to anchor from, letting one concentrate on learning to place gear. But you should definitely have a clue about building an anchor before it becomes necessary.

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rbw1966 said:

Or in the case of a multi-pitch climb where an anchor has been built at the first stance and the leader takes off, falls and rips all his pieces AND those of the anchor (again, this is assuming we are talking about relative simple belay situations as are found on nearly all popular easy climbs).

 

Just ask those guys on Mt. Washington.

 

Those guys were having a bad day. But I fear that had the leader fallen near the top of the first pitch he probably would have died, too (though perhaps not his partner). Your tale would seem to support, or at least I don't think it is a rebuttal of, my thesis: if you are competent to place pro, it is not all that hard to construct an adequate belay anchor -- on pretty much any popular moderate climb around.

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All good points, but equalizing even just 3 pieces takes some experience with finessing knots and runners, even with a cordalette. It is a little bit more involved than placing gear. And I think most of you guys would agree that even when you can build a good SRENE anchor, it takes a little bit of an eye to spy out the pimping placements, no?

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Absolutely, Bunglehead. What I am saying, though, is that you don't have to know how to equalize anchors and make a (whatever that is) SRENE anchor to set a safe belay on a popular moderate free climb at any crag that I know of. Popular moderate multipitch climbs pretty much all have roomy belay ledges in safe locations with easy-to-place pro right there (and, if not, at least one bolt or tree or something -- usually two).

 

In fact, the inexperienced anchor builder would likely place theirself and their partner in much greater danger trying to set a top-rope at some single-pitch choss heap like Vantage than they would setting a belay anchor on a 5.6 classic at Smith. Similarly, in terms of anchor-building only, they'd probably be in greater danger belaying their buddy on some 4th class summit pinncacle atop one of the Oregon volcano's or something.

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mattp said:

make a (whatever that is) SRENE anchor

 

From John Long:

Solid, Redundant, Equalized, No Extension

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wow, didn't think this would spark much discussion. I was just thinking of that Anna situation on whatever route that was that started the major bitch session on this board. Didn't she have trouble building a good anchor or something?

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Anna backed off a lead and left behind only one piece at her high point, removing all other as she descended (or maybe she was lowered). I think there was speculation about whether that one piece was any good. I think the point was not that she didn't know how to build an anchor so much as that she didn't know how to place gear.

 

I'm beating a dead horse, I know, but in reflecting on this thread I guess I should explain the background of where I am coming from here. I take the position that I do because when I learned to climb there was no John Long anchors book. There was Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. In the second edition, the one I used, there was no discussion of equalizing anchors, or of the desireability of not having chains of biners and draws and such in your anchor system. I don't think there was anything about directional anchors, either. I read that book and started climbing, and my first lead was on a three-pitch route in the Gunks, a gear-pitch with overhangs, and I took a leader fall. I climbed El Capitan before I ever learned anything like the sophistication that today's climbers think is necessary to master before they climb a route like Moscow. I'm not critical of someone who wants to learn skills, I'm simply saying that you can safely climb a moderate freeclimb at just about any crag around without knowing how to set up an official John - Long - approved anchor.

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I browsed those Long anchor books and felt that most were overly-complicated, but maybe others found them valuable.

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iain said:

I browsed those Long anchor books and felt that most were overly-complicated, but maybe others found them valuable.

 

Probably the most valuable part of the Long books is that he puts pictures of anchor set-ups, and then evaluates them. However, after looking at about four or five pictures, I realized, at least at the moderate level, placing gear and building anchors is common sense. I'm sure once you get into harder routes and less traveled environments that changes, but we are talking about first trad leads here.

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mattp said:

Lots of people worry about the construction of an anchor more than their placement of pro in the middle of a pitch, but I don't quite understand the concern. If you can place gear that you'd even remotely want to fall on, you can certainly place three pieces and tie yourself to all three of them when you get to the belay. If you don't equalize the anchor the best way or if you make a mess out of it when it could have been set up more cleanly, there will be no harm done. On the other hand, if you can't place pro adequately to catch a fall and you take a whipper, you might get hurt bad. It is hard for me to picture a scenario where one who can place gear for pro could not set an adequate anchor at a belay on any of the popular beginner's climbs that I know of.

Here is an example: Anchor Failure with Two Fatalities.

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Exactly. It is an example of exactly what I am talking about. Had they had a single "bomber" piece of gear anywhere in their system, they probably would not have fallen to the ground. I don't know whether these guys had read John Long or not, but there is very little chance that marginal pieces at the belay ledge would have held if they had been properly equalized, but failed because they were not.

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I can assure you that b-rock and shredmaximus have made sure that I can set a proper anchor, although I do need some practice placing gear, and I feel that the only way to get good and efficient at it is to actually do it, which is where this conversation started,

Where is there a good first trad climb...so that I may gain more experience in placing Gear, sorry, I am a typing disaster

I really have enjoyed the discussion here, it is nice to get some feedback with information to back it up.

Thank you!

Edited by mellsbells

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catbirdseat,

Thank you for the article, I am extremely paranoid about making sure that my gear is correct. I will take this to heart and learn to always make sure of what I am placing and triple check... I would not want to be responsible for the my or anothers death...

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at broughton giant's staircase? is a very simple trad climb that you can set a toprope on if you want to mock lead. Edges and Ledges and the Sickle also are nice, at I belive both 5.7. Same thing--can mock lead on top rope to practice placing gear. down at beacon rock, cruisin' it is a 5.7 that take gear great, but it is a little sparse on the eay traversing scramble to the anchors on the right. If you climb cruisin' it, make sure you have a 60 m rope.

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mellsbells said:

I can assure you that b-rock and shredmaximus have made sure that I can set a proper anchor, although I do need some practice placing gear, and I feel that the only way to get good and efficient at it is to actually do it, which is where this conversation started,

Where is there a good first trad climb...so that I may gain more experience in placing Gear, sorry, I am a typing disaster

I really have enjoyed the discussion here, it is nice to get some feedback with information to back it up.

Thank you!

 

I also suggest practicing on the ground. Use rainy days, or days you can't find a partner, and get out there and place some pro wherever you can. Another way to take advantage of rainy or solo days is to set up a rappel with a friction knot so that you can place pro on the way down. The friction knot will allow you to hang there to fool around with the placement. It is also a good idea to do it without the friction knot so that you are forced to place with one hand while the other is holding your weight. Yet another thing while you are on rappel is to set up a gear anchor below the anchor you are rapping off of and put all your weight on the gear anchor. This way if the gear is bad you are on rappel and still safe. It is a good way to test gear without having to risk your life (unless your rap anchor fails!).

 

Just a suggestion.

 

As you said, though, just getting out there and climbing some trad routes is probably the best way to go, and I would always choose this over heading out and gaping alone .

 

Have fun!

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Great,

Thanks a lot for the great info, now if only the weather would get a few degrees warmer for a day...and I will get out there...

wave.gif

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