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Jamin

Removing stoppers from rock

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I went climbing this past weekend and had to leave a stopper behind. It was wedged pretty deep into the crack the wrong way, and I couldn't get it out. I had fallen on it. Are there any techniques or special tools that you guys use to remove chocks once they are really, really stuck. I have had problems removing chocks from cracks previously, but I never lost one before.

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Agree with Dechristo! :)

Im assuming you had a nut tool.

If you have a larger size hex or a small rock you can use to tap on the top of the nut tool, that often helps.

Otherwise, be greatful if was a stopper rather than a cam and say goodbye, while wiping the tear from your eye.

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stick a cork (from a wine bottle) on the end of your nut tool. Slice the cork lengthwise so it sticks on the end, and tape it on real good.

 

Then you can put the cork end in your palm and punch the shit out of the nut.

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I have tapped the nut tool with a large locking biner. (if you don't have a big hex)

 

Sometimes I hook the nut tool behind the nut and pull out sideways which sometimes does the trick.

 

climb up a little and sit on the rope so you have two hands to work with.

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...be greatful if was a stopper rather than a cam and say goodbye, while wiping the tear from your eye.

 

Best advice so far.

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I second the question for what climb was this on? Wow, with all the pins and nuts that people are leaving you could restock your rack. Anyone see that rigid stem at the end of Angel Crack on Angels' Crest? I see a pretty sweet rack forming here.

 

 

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Think of the piece as a toll or entrance fee. Give it up to the gods as your offering. Now you know that your gear held, and placement were effective.

 

Think of the alternatives: had you not placed the gear and ran it out like a hero, what would the outcome have been; had you placed a poor piece and it blew, what would the outcome look like; had you placed a cam and had it fixed, what would your pocket book look like as an outcome; if you placed too small a cam and had it blow, what would the outcome be? I had a friend that was too heroic and miserly to place a piece and when he fell he broke an ankle. Reflect, you just gained a lesson.

 

 

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I was practicing lead climbing on Granite Point on the Snake River.

The routes there are all bolted, but I wanted to practice lead climbing on one of the easy routes where I knew I would not have problems placing pro.

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That makes sense. Practice is always good, once upon a time rainy days were designated for practice.

 

Adding padding to the end of your cleaning tool is a good way to apply more umph while palm striking it. Using a hammer to tap the end of the cleaning tool to loosen the nut helps.

 

Mostly, the best way to free stuck nuts is to watch how you place them. It is so easy to give into the grip and stuff any ol' piece of gear in to ease the nerves. Avoid the temptation, fear leads to the dark side, it is easier and more seductive. It is easier to place the nut as deep as possible to ease the nerves. Place them so that they do the task of arresting a fall and avert injury; but try to place them with the second in mind, and place them with removal in mind. Generally the placement that is easiest and looks like the photos in the books will be the best.

 

Also, I find it easier to slot them between eye to waist level. The psyche of having a mini top rope with a [nut] piece over head is nice, but once you resist the temptations of the dark side and adjust to having the gear a little lower you will notice that they go in faster, easier, with ease of motion. The improvemts this also creates are reduced muscles fatigue, so you are less likely to use that piece, and less rope paid out to add to the fall distance and up those forces in a slip.

 

If you really want to figure out effective, efficient and fluid nut placements try leading some cracks as clean aid pitches. Rap the pitche and clean your gear and you'll see how they are.

 

Try DMM Wallnuts, they seem to go better on many types of rock and under frozen conditions too. Short snub-nosed nuts tend to really stick.

 

...whats' that, ok, time for me to get off the soap box...

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you mentioned you fell on this piece, but you didn't say how far, or what size the stopper was - these are important details, because a hard fall onto a smaller-range stopper would tend to pretty much weld the sucker, and you'd likely destroy the rock, the stopper, or both in attempting to retrieve it. I've occasionally had to take a hammer to my nut tool to free stubborn chocks, but I've also had that technique result in a destroyed stopper, or an even-more-fixed placement. What I'm sayin' is, if the placement was deep, and you fell any real distance on it, there was probably no hope for it anyway. It did its job, and every piece that does that is a bargain. The most expensive cam out there costs less than an ER visit...

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I was practicing lead climbing at Granite Point

Generally when one is "practicing" lead climbing, it is done on top rope. The "leader" places gear and clip a line that you are trailing into that gear, all while protected from decking by the top rope. Without a top rope, you are actually lead climbing--with all of the potential for accidents/injury/death that come along with leading.

 

The only trad route that anyone does at Granite is Layback Crack, which goes at 5.6 and primarily takes 2-3" gear...the exception being the topout which can take a decent size stopper. Was this it J-dawg? Did you get some rock shoes or what?

 

oh, be sure to practice placing lots of gear on the ground (or on top rope) and bounce test them to get the idea if your gear will actually hold. I would also recommend finding someone who is willing to let you follow lots of pitches (with a nut tool and something to hammer on it with) to let you get more experience retrieving gear. There is a small blasted outcrop near the big paved pullout at Granite that has some decent cracks to practice on or walk up the hill to the decent basalt (10 minutes) and set some in the cracks you'll find up there.

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Thanks for the info Kurt. I was practicing an easy pitch that I would rate at about 5.2. It was only about 20-25 feet high. No, I didn't have a toprope. I fell on the chock to test my belayer, who I had never met before. I think that I sort of know where layback crack is, but I didn't have any gear for that.

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....I fell on the chock to test my belayer, who I had never met before.....

 

ready, aim....

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ready, aim....

 

Yikes!!!!! :eek:

Even if your belayer passed the test, Im suprised you didnt get hurt considering the grade. Though I dont know the climb, falling on a 5.2 sounds like a good way to hit a ledge, or hit large outcropping of rock.

 

I dont know if that was something you asessed when deciding to take the fall. But, often times the lower the grade the more damaging the fall can be, even if your gear and belayer stay spot on. Just something to think about, in case you didnt know. And if you did,well....as ericb said, "ready...aim...."

Edited by carolyn

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hawk a nice sticky green lugy on the nut before trying to extract it. phlegm, snot and spit make for excellent lubricators.

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Jamin, get yourself a copy of Heidi Pesterfield's "Traditional Lead Climbing: Surviving the Learning Years" and read it cover-to-cover.

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