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gym to outdoors / top-rope to multipitch


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Regarding Condormorphine Addiction being a good/bad choice for a first multipitch climb, I think it's one of the best ones out there -- lots of bolts and single-rope rappels.


There have been other incidents lately regarding climbers who are strong in the gym but who may not have all the knowledge they need to do mountain stuff. A close call recently involved a climber anchored off a gear-loop who was ripped from the belay when the partner fell. Miraculously both did not fall far even though they were on 4th-class terrain.


How is a climber supposed to get the requisite knowledge to safely make the transition, aside from a mentor or a formal class (Mountaineers, Boealps, WAC, etc.)?

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In the "old" days there were no climbing gyms and hardly any bolted climbs, other than Peshastin. Most climbers needed to start out trad climbing if they were going to climb at all, maybe after some toproping at somewhere like Erie. People were happy to be doing climbs like Midway, Saber and Cat Burglar starting out and got familiar with basic techniques in lower risk situations. Now with gyms and so many bolted sport routes people can safely get to 5.9-5.10 difficulty level without learning trad techniques which can get them into trouble on similarly rated multipitch trad. So there may not be an easy answer to this, gyms and bolted climbs aren't going away and people are going to get into trouble and accidents will happen. Discussion of incidents on public forums like this is a useful warning and will undoubtedly help.

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I've been on CA a couple of times myself, once just a month ago, and it's a very straight forward climb, with a couple of 'well' bolted hard sections to help those who overestimated their ability. One single rope will get you back to earth, though two will get you down in three raps.


At the crags, i see many people lowering climbers on ropes close to the end without a knot in the belay end, and others rapping on ropes without knots in the ends. Tie them together, or tie a knot in each end. Doesn't it make more sense to spend the extra 20 seconds to tie, 20 seconds to make sure you untie it before you pull the knot side of the rappel, and another 20 seconds to tie after threading the chains for the next rappel? For 6 raps (Condorph Add.), that's 6 minutes extra.


Sadly and finally, as a teacher, she can help climbers learn this lesson.

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So what's the trade off between potential epic due to wind jamming knot into a crack and said knot saving a life if one has overestimated the length of the rappel or the location of the center of the rope? Also it is a good idea to use a prussik back up when rappeling. Takes a couple extra minutes but can also save a life.


Seems like tying a knot is a good idea and generally there are two climbers at each belay to help "remember" that there are knots that need to be untied. Also if you tie a butterfly or figure 8 knot in the rope at the end it may be less likely to lodge itself in a crack. In my experience if you do the same exact thing every time it will become habit and you will recall the steps when you are tired or rushing due to weather or some other hazzard. This is even more important when a person is new to a new aspect of climbing.


Eleven years ago I started out climbing trad, not sport and consciously chose this route because I had a some very good mentors who taught me that this was the way to become solid. My progress was slow because I only got out a few times a year before I moved up here and took a year off to climb and bum around a few years ago.


That year I nearly stepped off a belay ledge when I was stressed out after a climb and a disagreement with my partner. I had threaded my device and clipped my carabiner, but did not clip it to my harness. I was still somewhat new to multipitch climbs that required rappeling and thankfully my partner looked through my set up and grabbed my harness. It was a wakeup call that I needed a mantra to repeat to myself before I unclipped from the anchor and I now use this every time I rappel. And I now always use a prussik.

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Your rope gets stuck 500 feet above flat ground because you forgot to untie a knot. The face above you is blank. Your choices are sit and wait for help, with a bad storm brewing and no bivy gear, or prusik up the questionably stuck rope.


That sounds like DYING to me.

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Hmmm, lemme see, slender chance of an annoying (possibly epic) retreat, or moderate chance of DYING? So hard to choose....


Depends on the route. In Red Rocks, tying knots at the end will ensure an epic. You've got as good a chance dying while pussiking up a stuck rope that could just be the tape on the ends holding the thing in place as you do sliding off the ends.

I rarely tie knots in the ends since stuck ropes are more than just an annoyance, the can seriously fuck you over too.

The safest thing to do is to use an short autoblock, one end clipped to your leg loop or belay loop, the other tied around the rap line. To add more security, clip the rap decive to your daisy chain so it's even farther up the rope. The prussik goes below your rap device in this situation.

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I like to put the prussik above my device. Even if you feel the ends slip through your brake hand hellno3d.gif , a prussik above will still hold you. It's also a better setup if you have to pass a knot or somethin' and lets you make those big stretches down from a hanging end -of -rap to clip the next anchor below you if you're really screwed! And finally for those rap off the rope end and start downclimbing situations, it helps you to keep control of the ends so they don't bounce back up out of reach - like what it sounds might have happened to this mine shaft guy.

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A - Anchors: is it solid, is the rope properly connected? should it be backed up?

B - Buckles: is your harness properly done up - often rappelling is the first time on a climb you will ever actually weight your harness.

C - Carabiners: properly oriented and locked?

D - Device: Belay device properly threaded and attached? Should you use a prusik back up or similar?

E - Ends: Where are the ends of the rope? Are they even? Do they reach the next station or the ground? should you knot them? Should you carry them with you?


I don't always do the same thing for every rappel. But I try to always follow the same checklist.

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Dru is correct. A knot can get stuck in a crack when tossed on a windy day, and if you're tired, you can forget to untie the knots when you pull the rope.

...you can rap uncoiling your rope as you go...


Exactly! This also greatly reduces rope drag induced rock fall. IB climbers, take note of this...

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I too generally avoid tying knots in the ends of my rope because I don't want it to get stuck in cracks or bushes or whatever. However, on particularly steep terrain with an unknown destination anchor station, I generally do tie the knots.


On low angle terrain, if the anchors are bomber, it often helps to have two climbers rappel at the same time, with one managing the "right hand" rope and the other manageing the "left hand" rope.


I like Fern's checklist.

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How is a climber supposed to get the requisite knowledge to safely make the transition, aside from a mentor or a formal class?




We have a culture that expects that we can use systems of technology to ensure safety in almost any endeavour. People put their faith in poorly understood systems and expect the systems to keep them safe. Sometimes they don't. Oh well.

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The great thing is, we all make our own decisions in the mtns. I base my paradigm (tying knots unless these is a great reason not to) on simple statistics. Perusing the last 10-15 yrs of Accidents in NA Mtn makes it pretty clear where the problems usually arise. Yes, a stuck rope is a pain in the arse, and *might* lead to a bad situation. Rapping off the ends on the other hand....

But seriously, to each their own.

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you know, this is going to sound callous, and i've been hemming and hawing all day about whether to say this...


BUT SHIT HAPPENS and if you can't use the number one piece of gear you have (your brain) then you really shouldn't be a climber...maybe a librarian or sumpin' like that, but goddammit, there is a lot of potential energy when you are up in the air and if you fuck up it will kill you flat out...


I don't care whether or not you take a course or read some stupid book or have your "rad climbing buddy" tell you, any idiot ought to be able to equalize their ropes before rapping off...


do you really really think that it isn't painfully obvious that if you don't even the ropes, or you rap off the end, there is no good ending?????????? DO YOU NEED SOMEONE TO "INSTRUCT" YOU??????


PAY THE FUCK ATTENTION...its really that simple...and having said that shit still happens and gravity is always there...and if you get enough people involved in this activity there will be deaths and injuries...

Edited by RuMR
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For a long time I thought it was very bad (stupid even, based on what I read and was told) to rappel *withOUT* knots in the ends of the rope.


This year, I took a intermediate rock coarse and while we were rapping multipitch we got a rope stuck because of the end knots. It was a very good demonstration of why you have to *THINK* through situations in the mountains - not just blindly go off one particular fact, advice or senario.


I now *usually* DO NOT use knots in the ends (even remove the tape).


A method;

What I do is to back up the rappel with a small autoblock loop (5 mil cord, 3 raps around both strands below aka -on the break side of- the rappel device) clipped into a locker on my leg loop.


This method of backing up a rappel works extremely well should I lose control of the break side of the rope. Test it yourself in a safe place before trying it in the mnts.


A prussik hitch can also be used as an autoblock (is stronger) instead of simply rapping the loops around the rope, but prussiks are slightly more difficult to slide down the rope with.


Check, recheck, then check again, maybe check everthing once more to boot..Nice ABC list btw!



"How is a climber supposed to get the requisite knowledge...."


Research, get multiple opinions, ask, study, try, practice, get MORE experience and above all think think think, and thats the best way imho but Im just a work in progress myself.


PS leave the "sport climbing" competitive attitude out of the trad environment ..period. Amoung other things, Sport *mentality* is about getting to the top, while Trad mentality is about developing the safest possible practices to get there and back. Its important to learn how to distinguish these 2 mind sets when they are occurring.



Edited by dmuja
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