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D-Squared

Placement of Pro...?

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Getting tired of being limited to bolted routes/anchors.

Looking for info/web sites regarding proper placement of nuts, tricams, hex's and etc.

Looks like buried deep within a bottle necked crack is what is required.

Any thoughts and/or helpful tips?

Thanks,

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There are many books available on this. The historic texts are useful for nuts, such as both of Royal Robbins' Rockcraft books or the older versions of Freedom of the Hills. Now that clean protection devices have multiplied, it is a bit harder to find a one size fits all guide, but the newer books in the "How to Rock Climb" series are pretty good. John Long's stuff ("Climbing Anchors") is very helpful, as well.

Once your head is full of all the text, you should get out there and place a lot of gear, preferably whilst accompanying an experienced trad partner.

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First, read the books you can find. Then go do some aid climbing with clean gear. Just pick a crack that looks like it goes all the way to an anchor and start pluggin gear. Don't worry about style or grace. Put in a zillion pieces. If you think you are going to run out, place four or five pieces, weight them equally, and rap off and clean what's below you. Prussic or jumar back up and keep going. I have been climbing since the seventies and have helped a lot of people get started leading. IT IS THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME OF YOUR CLIMBING CARREER. Devote at least a few climbing days to aiding with a clean rack. Do a variety of routes. Wear old shoes, knee pads, and a helmet. You will want a fifi hook or at least a daisy chain. If you can find someone patient enough to belay, you are in fat city. If not, set up a top rope, or a fixed line and tie figure 8s as you climb and clip into them. Have 2 locking biners so you are clipped into one figure eight in the fixed line at all times. With a fixed line you can rap and prussic at will.After you have gotten bored with aiding and are ready to put your ass on the line, do something very easy so you don't have to worry about falling. Get used to the way leading flows. Establish a system you use at almost every placement--- establish a good stance where you can get a piece in, remove the piece from your rack, place it, test it, clip a runner or quik-draw to it, pull your rope up, clip in, test the rope running, screw up your courage and move to the next stance...............

Very few really ballsy climbers live to a ripe old age. At least not without injuries. Statistics catch up eventually. Be careful. Progress slowly. Focus on having fun, not on what other climbers might think about your style or abilities.

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Mr. Shultz is correct. If you climb A-1 cracks, you will get a lot of practice placing and removing gear. Standing on the prior placement, you will mostly be placing gear in a crack which you can clearly see, so you can visually inspect how the cams or edges of the nut may be seated, and you will then test every piece, at least with body weight if not the stress of an actual fall. You will probably also get yourself tangled up, and learn something about rope management in the process.

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Schultz,

Great advice, thanks! Where were you when I thought I was ready to start leading gear?!?!

Interestingly enough, when I wanted to start trad leading, the guys I hung out with never mentioned learning to aid climb as an option, and scoffed at the idea when I asked... I guess they all learned the hard way, on the sharp end, and felt that it was the only real way. I on the other hand am a conservative whimp, and prefer to learn under more controlled circumstances.

Oh well, every one is intitled to their own opinions.

D-squared, keep asking questions, and sooner or later you will get the answer you feel works for you the best. smile.gif" border="0

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One of my first gear leads was the first pitch of City Park(C1) at Index WA. 100' of bomber smallish nuts with a few small cam placements. Don't forget to bounce test them if you're not sure the placements are bomber.

nlunstrum

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You guys and gal are Great! wink.gif" border="0 Thanks for the good advise. I will look for the fore-mentioned books and see what I can find.

I was leaning towards learning aid climbing placement first, now I don't have to feel guilty about it!

My son (11 yrs) and I have been going up to Mt Erie and playing on the TR routes. Seems to be a good place for beginners, plus it is in a rain shadow (comparitively speaking to what falls in the Skagit valley). Hard to believe but true for W WA.

I like the idea of tieing in figure 8s to a top rope. My son is to light to belay me, there are several great "bottom end" anchor points where we have been climbing. I have been stuck to only rapping down the grades before sending him up. We have been having alot of fun.

So what do you-all think of the low cost ROBOT and OCUN Cams? Are they any good? I hear the ROBOTs are CE marked, at $29.95 ea the price is attractive. www.stoneageclimbing.com

Later, Don Stanwood, WA.

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I recommend reading different books and magazine articles available at most stores. Jon Long books are good I dont know if they cover basic crack climbing protection but if you are just minorly resourceful it will prove to be easy I bet wink.gif" border="0

Then go to Index and hang out this spring or summer and ask to follow people up climbing on the Great Northern Slab. Following will teach you more than you would think in my opinion. At least if you are following someone competent.

Post messages on this board and I bet there would be people willing to take you up some moderate short routes and explain some basic concepts. I am a sucky teacher so dont expect me to teach but I would certainly climb when available.

When learning from others you also learn pros and cons on what gear you might want to buy, forming your own opinons. I think that is key if you dont want to buy gear twice because you did not get quite what you wanted the first time. That is an expensive mistake.

Another tip is to climb with multiple partners of varying degrees of experience. I learn from more experienced and less experienced climbers all the time. Whether it is technique for pro placing or something else like new flashy gear I saw in a magazine in use.

Climbing A1 cracks may be a good idea but initially I think it would have made my mouth sour from all the long drawn out work that goes along with it. But it is an option I would not rule out and a good one if you have patience and a lot of gear already.

-Cpt

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i dunno about the aid climbing. once i saw a beginning leader aiding to learn how to place gear. he started leading up "kangaroo corner" at the smoke bluffs, his 6th piece pulled, he zippered the next two and stopped with his helmet touching the ground. oops. shocked.gif" border="0

i personally think the best thing to do is 1 0 borrow a huge rack of gear and go to the base of some crag with a wide variety of cracks on it like mtneerrs dome of whatever. then place every single piece of gear on the rack and attach webbing to it and try and get the gear to pull out by yarding on it.

then 2) lead a bunch (10 or so ) of super easy climbs like 5.4 and easier. it will probably be kinda boring but you should practice placing gear whenever you can like maybe 20 pieces on a 20 meter climb. sew the bastard up!

then just start leading stuff. try and push yourself into falling off on gear by leading a few climbs at your limit. nothing makes you trust your gear more than having it hold a fall.

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Another thing to try would be to try placing pro while top roping. That is simulate a true lead. Finding the right piece on your rack, finding the right place on the rock to place pro, and placing a piece all take on a different feel while actually free climbing.(as opposed to fiddling around on the ground or on aid) I would also suggest not being shy about placing alot of pieces.

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One thing I have found about beginners placing pro on TR is it does not mentally prepare them for being on the sharp end. i say its better to lead a 5.4 placing gear than to place gear on a 5.8 TR. unless you are a 5.4 top-roper that is.

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Good point to consider. It can also let people know, esp. gym hounds, how much easier things are to TR than lead without regard to the fear factor.

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I think Dru's right. While placing gear on toprope certainly won't kill you, I don't think it's a very efficient way to learn much either.You can hack away at some pieces near the ground (place test, place test). Then you can really lead a 5.(way lower than your toprope/bolted leading level) to get a feel for the mental challenge involved in setting gear while exposed to a fall. After you're done that, you can probably toprope of 5.(your bolted lead level) and just imagining what it would be like to be placing gear at certain spots will be instructive. Actually placing the gear is probably a bit superfluous. Placing gear and falling on it on toprope (with enough slack to hit the piece but not the ground) can be instructive and (if the gear holds) will ease a skeptical mind.

Caveman's suggestion to do some following is a great idea. There is a lot more to learn about leading and getting back down than placing gear correctly. Most of it seems obvious in hindsight but figuring it out on the fly in a tense situation can be somewhat rough. I'm not so sure picking up someone at the Slab is the best idea though. Could be blind leading the blind, could be a very good situation. If you're brand new to the sport, you might not be able to tell the difference.

John Long's books (something like "basic rock climbing" and "Climbing Anchors") are both good for getting the basics for placing gear and what to buy, and are fairly entertaining as well.

If you think you're gonna stay in the trad climbing game (I guess it's sorta impossible for you to know right now, but IF)Don't get cheap cams, and don't buy those stupid sporto (dogbone) draws. You'll be sorry.

One more thing, make sure you know HOW TO GET BACK DOWN , before you do your trad leading practice. You probably know this from bolted leads but I thought it was an important thing to add in here just in case. And I would also suggest getting helmets for you and your son if you don't have them already.

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yeah - learning how to make BELAY ANCHORS is as important, if not more important, than knowing how to place gear en route. especially for those times there is neither a large tree nor a pair of bolts on top of the route.

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Well there are many ways to skin a cat. I would just caution that bouncing around on pieces near the ground does not guarantee that you know how to place good pieces on lead. The fear factor is only one small aspect of traditional leading. Another aspect is strategic placement of pieces to minimize drag, outward pulls on pro or simply to reduce the size of your rack. Unfortunately this pretty much has to be learned (and relearned?) by direct experience. Buy, bring and use plenty of full length runners. Also consider the difference between the strength of a piece and how secure it is. A piece may be wonderful as long as the pull direction is in one direction but worthless if the pull is in another direction. Many times a “good” piece can be dislodged by the pull of the rope.

Try all these ideas and remember that the one consistent point of agreement is that you should start off with routes easier than you could TR or Sport lead.

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So after I made my recommendation sending this guy off to practice leading on lead, I tried to think of a good place to send him. I came up empty. I had the GNS in mind when I wrote my post but then thought about how difficult it is to get to the beginning of the easy stuff. The traverse in from the left is usually wet isn't it [i haven't done it but once many years ago] and is a traverse to boot, not a good thing to be recommending to a newbie leader and follower. The little chimney to the right is pretty hard if you don't know how to handjam, a skill that most newbie leaders probably have not mastered. Plus, the little ladder is not even there anymore.

I learned by doing in the Gunks, home of the steep exciting 5.2. Where could you send someone around here? Somewhere in the Icicle perhaps?

Chuck

[ 01-07-2002: Message edited by: chucK ]

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Darryl - i think that in order to place good gear on a route while leading you should have experimented with making placements while on the ground so you know the diference between good and bad. the skills you mention are definitely important and cannot really be learned well on the ground but i wouldnt advise jumping onto a lead without already knowing the mechanics of what makes a good nut, cam etc. placement and what doesnt.

one skill i think is often overlooked when starting gear leads is developing a racking system. coming up with a system, so when you reach a stance you know with what hand on which side of the body you need to reach for the gear you want to place, is as important to the beginner leader as knowing how to place gear and set up anchors.

definitely the beginning leader should be out there with a more experienced lead climber who can a) provide the huge rack to practice with and b) critique placements made by the novice and c) lead some routes for the novice to follow (as Capt. said) smile.gif" border="0

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my friend jose taught me a good lesson.

"first learn downclimb"

he relayed this lesson from a couple hundred feet up in a sequoia while enjoying a little muir hut hit.

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Dru - I agree about jumping out on the lead thats why I suggested that leading on TR can be very instructive. The factors I mentioned and your racking idea can all be experienced safely while on TR. Of course as soon as you shed the TR things will be a bit different. I think the best way would be to try to incorporate many of these ideas into a training plan.

I have got to get some work done.

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quote:

Originally posted by DCramer:

I have got to get some work done.

we all probably should!!!!!!

mr. 20 posts and climbing!!!

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Good suggestions all around. No doubt better than my learning method of taking a real fall on shoddy-placed gear at Index. I agree strongly with the suggestions to 'ground-school' by placing gear and building anchors at ground level, as well as following and cleaning as much as possible. Cleaning won't help the lead head, but it will give you ideas on a variety of gear placement positions, as well as placing stances - especially if you are 5'2" and your partner is 6'4". With respect to leading, I've had friends do 'fake' leads - that is, tied into a lead rope w/ a slack top-rope backup. Place gear. Move until feet are even with gear and take a jumper. If the gear is good, then the lead belay rope catches you. Otherwise, the TR belayer catches you and you learn a lesson with little more than a bruised ego and rushing heartrate. This will help your confidence and competence in your gear-placing abilities.

Oh, and remember to have fun.

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one last point. if the beginning leader is going to buy a cheap rack of mostly nuts and hexes, with only a few cams to start with, its better to work on nut and hex placements than place all your buddies cams, cause when you start leading on your own rack without the $$$ to buy cams you will be screwed and those robots and solid friends you dissed are gonna be looking mighty good.

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It's kinda funny because everything I would recommend doing to learn to lead trad is exactly the opposite of how I learned. I needed to get to the top of a cliffband to set up some TRs and with no other way to access the top I jumped on some line that was about 1 number grade below what I could consistently TR clean and sketched my way up it. I was pumped silly and gripped when I topped out, but I was also hooked and started leading (had been strictly TRing for a good year and a half or two years) regularly (at a much lower grade than that line!).

Everything said so far is great advice. I personally teach folks the peculiarites of specific gear (cams/nuts/tricams/etc) and rigging (EQing, cordelette, etc) and have them build a shit-load of multi-piece anchors as if they were going to TR off them. Then they get critiqued. After a few rounds of this (usually spend at least one full day doing this) I'll have them follow some routes to get the idea of what it feels like to hang out and mess with gear (usually getting them pumped silly) . Then move on to either some clean aid with a TR belay or "mock" leading with a TR belay. Next have them leading a load of super easy routes, don't discount the 4th class stuff it works just as well for this purpose as 5.3. By the time they've led 15 or 20 pitches of 5.easy they'll have it down and quickly figure out the rest on the sharp end.

As for texts, I think the two Long books (Climbing Anchors and More Climbing Anchors) are the best thing going.

Concerning the Robot Cams, they'll work fine, and will be safe, but you'll be better off grabbing a couple of buddies' racks with different brands or going to the local mtn shop and trying different cams out. Alot of the decision will be personal preference. They'll all hold your fall if placed properly in good rock, but you may grow to hate them (a specific brand) and wish you'd spent the extra dough. Robot cams are based on the same general design as Metolius, Trango, Wired bliss, DMM, HB, etc. I had a set of one brand of cams that I grew to hate and finally sold to replace with the brand I prefer. Some people swear by HB cams with the trigger ring...these people aren't climbing with gloves on! Some love TCUs, and these people probably aren't clean aiding on horizontal cracks much (or have perma-bends in their cables). The action is different on them all...some snappy, some silky, etc. The size of your hands will influence your choice, as will the type of climbing in your area. I've still got some original style rigid friends circa '83. They work fine and end up on the rack for the mtns...leave one behind, who cares?

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Regardless of which method you choose, make a few thousand placements somewhere anywhere, before you get on the sharp end. When you are to the point where you feel you know wether or not the piece is going to hold (in granite anyway)you can start leading. Before that you are just playing with your own head.

Index is steep and there are not many TR oportunities. But once you get to the point where you are ready to lead on aid, Index is crack city and the granite is bombproof.

If you can't get anywhere, send me a PM.

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Go to Tuolomne Meadows and learn on that friendly fun granite. That's where I learned to climb traditionally. It's not too hard to hook up with partners in the Valley too.

City of Rocks is good too. I don't recommend sandstone as a good start as far as learning is concerned.

Let's see if these smiley things work!?

[big Drink]

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