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Sherri

Gear placement--how soon, how much?

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Just to get my .02 worth.

 

Dru made a good comment on placing pro to protect for different reasons like from minor injury or for major injury/death. I find myself putting in pieces with that in mind all the time. Sometimes on a hard route I'm plugging gear just to reduce the fall that will most likely happen and other times Im up running up some easy pitch that doesn't really need pro but dumping something in every 20ft or whatever run out distance feels ok.

 

What I was going to mention though is while running it out on easy terrain is common you have to remember that if you place a piece every 20ft you should be 100% sure that its totally bomber. When guys like Chris Mac are running 40ft between gear to do the Nose in 6hrs with 10 cams I would bet that EVERY piece placed albeit run out would hold in the event of an 80ft whipper.

 

So... A good tip is to sometimes double up your gear at those infrequent intervals. Sometimes if I'm moving fast and going longer distance between gear I'll quickly sink two pieces next to one another if I don't think the one is 100% bomb proof. You would hate to protect for a big fall only to have the piece fail and instead go for a death fall since you're next piece is another 20+ ft down ;)

 

Now it's not to say you need 2 pieces if you run it out, just that is something a lot of new climbers may not have thought about. I was following a buddy a while ago and cleaned two marginal placements which were on run out terrain. I told them their 15-20ft whipper would have most likely been double or triple since the piece probably would have failed. Other thing is this... If you are running out an easy pitch you'll probably have the extra gear to dump anyway and then cleaning is usually still pretty quick since it's only a couple more movements to pull two pieces at the same stance.

 

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Thanks, that's good food for thought. :tup: Should be easy to keep that in mind on those easier pitches where I'm more tempted to forgo a placement due to how solid the climbing feels, but since I'm not struggling to fire a placement on a sketchy run, it's just as easy to put in two pieces for the price of one when I do stop. I like.

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Sometimes you should place gear just to get rid of it, like #4 Camalots.

 

I don't have one of those yet. :cry:

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I've ditched My #3 a few times, because I didn't want to carry it.

 

Re:Zippering I always try to make my first or second piece a cam. No zipper

 

I also often run it out a little more only to double up at a good rest. Small cam and a stopper is a nice combo. Also, why not slot a nut at a good rest if you can? your there anyway.

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Sherri,

I don't have the experience these guys have, I've only been working on trad leads for a couple of seasons, but I thought the book Traditional Lead Climbing, Surviving The Learning Years by Heidi Pesterfield had a lot of solid advice on the questions you're asking. Also I make a point of asking more experienced partners to evaluate my placements whenever I can.

 

The other things I've learned:

1. 5.8 at Vantage is not the same as 5.8 at Index or even Tieton.

2. There's no point in saving all your best gear until you top out.

3. When the last nut you placed slides down the rope and hits the previous piece, that's bad. Pretend you didn't see it and place another peice. :)

 

Good Luck!

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Sherri,

I don't have the experience these guys have, I've only been working on trad leads for a couple of seasons, but I thought the book Traditional Lead Climbing, Surviving The Learning Years by Heidi Pesterfield had a lot of solid advice on the questions you're asking. Also I make a point of asking more experienced partners to evaluate my placements whenever I can.

 

The other things I've learned:

1. 5.8 at Vantage is not the same as 5.8 at Index or even Tieton.

2. There's no point in saving all your best gear until you top out.

3. When the last nut you placed slides down the rope and hits the previous piece, that's bad. Pretend you didn't see it and place another peice. :)

Good Luck!

 

I just had that very thing happen on my last outing(a cam on my rack caught the sling and lifted the nut out as I stepped past it). Trying to pretend it didn't happen was futile, though, because the free-range nut was pointed out by both my belayer and another person on the ground. Nothing like having an attentive audience. :blush:

 

Cool, that book was also suggested by another cc.comer--I've ordered it and it's already on the way!

 

I'm going to be so smart. :moondance:

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My 2 cents......

For crag stuff especially...

 

I bought all this freakin, gear, I always seem to drag enough gear to the base to aid any single pitch climb anyway. Even after I trim out the stuff that obviously won't help, If I haven't been on the climb before, I'm sure to be paranoid and take doubles in anything I might need, and sometime tripples if it looks to be small gear only, to insure I have the right size pieces when I need them.

So I might as well place the damn things. I have no pride when it comes to gear placement so I sew stuff up as much as I can. That might make me weenie, but I sure like my ankles the way they are.

 

If I'm near my limit I start looking for another piece of gear when my last one is at my feet. If I have a reasonable stance I drop something in, if it's precarious but I can see a better stance I'll make a couple of moves and then place something. If it's precarious but doesn't look to have a rest soon, I fiddle something in fast.

 

My first piece is usually at about 8 or 9 ft, place when my feet are about 4ft off the ground, with a spot from my belayer. Second piece is at about 14 or 15, 3rd at about 20, and then I shoot for 6 to 8 ft spacing till I hit the anchors.

 

When I'm familiar with a climb, (warm up, redpoint, 3rd repeat), or climbing alpine where it's a few grades below my ability, the gear I take and spacing changes. But especially alpine, I always try and place my first piece before I leave the belay, or very quickly thereafter. :)

 

And yes, 5.8 at Vantage is not 5.8 at Tieton. Hell, 5.5 at Tieton isn't even 5.5 at Tieton.

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The nut thing happened to me too a couple weeks ago. I usually thing that's a good time to put in 2 pieces in short order. 1 might be good, but I like protecting in such a way that if my top piece pulls I should still be fine. :tup:

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re: where the second piece goes

The worst case scenario is if you blow the clip on the second piece. That is pull the slack up to clip, but then fall before you've clipped. If the clip you've blown is about at head height, then you've taken one body length out of your safety zone. What I mean is this: say you're 5 feet tall. You place your first piece at 10 feet, have the second one ready at 15 feet but you blow the clip and fall with the slack out. A purely static system would just save you, but rope stretch, imperfect belay and such will mean your feet are going to impact the ground.

 

The moral is, don't blow the clip on the second piece! Make sure you have a good clipping stance, and/or clip low (relative the to first piece and/or relative to your body). Often, pulling out that rope to clip is where you are in the biggest danger of injury.

 

Also, don't get too hung up on the zippering thing. The biggest importance of all that was basically Catbird and G-sporto trying to win an argument; i.e. technical minutiae. Just keep it in mind and make sure the belayer and first piece are lined up in a less-than-stupid way. This rarely has a chance of happening on a multipitch, but could happen if you're not paying attention on a dirt-level pitch.

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If the first piece has a short sling it will increase rope drag.

 

Rope drag by itself can pull a piece out.

 

Avoid rope drag as much as possible.

 

I second this.

I use runners on lots of pieces to prevent them from being pulled out and to prevent rope drag. The first piece is often the one with the most potential to cause rope drag.

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The worst case scenario is if you blow the clip on the second piece. That is pull the slack up to clip, but then fall before you've clipped.

 

Been there, done that. I slipped unexpectedly off a crappy foothold trying to clip the 2nd bolt on what would have been my hardest redpoint. My astute belayer reeled in an arms-length of rope and jumped back, catching me just as I hit the deck. I would have been fine except the ground was uneven. I sprained my ankle badly and limped away. The lesson I learned: sometimes instead of clipping as soon as the pro is within reach it's better to climb even or past the bolt/pro so you can clip from a better hold/stance. This also reduces wasted energy pulling the rope up to clip.

 

Regarding the rest of the thread, I'd say the best way to learn to lead is to follow. Find an experienced leader whose risk-taking profile is similar to yours and follow and clean trad pitches he/she leads. Look carefully at the placements as you clean. Heck, if this is a single-pitch outing you might even pull the rope, lead using the pre-placed pieces. Too easy? Then clean the pieces and place them all yourself on lead with the knowledge of which ones go where.

 

Lastly, the first few times you fall on your own gear placements and they hold your confidence will bump up. This will help quiet the voices in your head on future leads. The first time your gear blows out will have the opposite effect - hopefully you'll be thinking 'I knew that piece was sketchy'.

 

Be safe, have fun. :wave:

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Here's a cautionary tail. I had my first piece blow last December at Joshua Tree. My partner asked me, "do you want the beta for this?". I said, "sure I want the beta". He said, "there's an orange Alien placement in that pocket there".

 

Indeed there was an orange Alien placement, and I proceeded to stuff the cam in rather carelessly on this basis, rather than carefully examining the quality. The pocket flared on the inside and I had pushed the cam in too far. When I fell on it, it inverted and I decked.

 

So if someone gives you beta, use your own head and don't rely too much on the beta.

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how about putting in a directional for the belay?

one nut going up, one nut going down, and a runner joining the two, tie an over hand or figure eight on a bight, then clip a biner to that loop-voila! that way there is no chance, unless the nuts let go, that you will zipper from the belay. then protect your ass well on the way up. macho doesn't equal smart. remember that the only thing that makes you better than the rock you are climbing is you have a brain- so just make prudent decisions and be anal about pro placement. it is your life on the line.

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how about putting in a directional for the belay?

Great idea, unless you are at some chossy place like Vantage and you want your belayer to stand away from the base where he/she won't get nailed by falling rock.

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