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VitaminGu

protecting exposed easy climbing

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you're climbing a long narrow ridge traverse that requires no more than 4th or even 3rd class climbing, but it drops off thousands of feet on either side. one slip and you're toast. the obvious protection strategy would be to set up full-on belays, but the ridge is half a mile long and you just don't have that much time. what's the strategy here, other than climbing unroped and hoping you don't fall?

 

does a running belay work in this sitation? i would think that it is safe only on steepish snow (if the lead climber falls, it's basically a normal lead belay situation; if the second falls, the leader can self-arrest). a running belay on a mostly horizontal rock ridge, though, seems impractical, because the second would not be able to use his body weight to stop a lead fall, and the leader can't arrest a second fall. i'm assuming the strategy of "if I fall off the left side of the ridge, you jump off the right side" is something that only works in movies and not in real life...

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1) one climber places pro and second climber takes it out so there is always a few pieces between you (standard simulclimbing practice); OR

 

2) unrope so one climber does not drag other off; OR

 

3) weave the rope around natural features such as horns and blocks to provide natural running belays. OR

 

4) back off!

 

One option NOT to consider.

 

5) BOLT THE HELL OUT OF IT. This option is NOT an option.

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dru's 1) is what I meant by running belay. 3) is interesting, but wouldn't this create hellacious rope drag?

 

[ 04-25-2002, 11:11 AM: Message edited by: VitaminGu ]

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Grow some balls and solo

 

or go play with your balls solo?????

 

[ 04-25-2002, 11:37 AM: Message edited by: specialed ]

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quote:

Originally posted by specialed:

Grow some balls and solo

I hope if your alpine rock climbing you've done some 5th class cragging in which case specialed's advice is correct. If you can't solo 3rd and 4th class stuff spend some more time at the crags or take up golf.

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Gu -

Generally, on the kind of terrain that you are talking about, I have had no rope drag problem created by weaving back and forth around natural features. Travelling on a half length of the rope would be one way to facilitate communication between the parties, and if the drag should become a problem, the leader may have to stop and belay for a bit.

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quote:

Originally posted by VitaminGu:

dru's 1) is what I meant by running belay. 3) is interesting, but wouldn't this create hellacious rope drag?

Safer than soloing but slower than soloing too. YOUR CALL.

 

3) only creates drag if you do it wrong. Works best when shortroped about 20m apart. In the PNW you can often use trees as well as rocks [Roll Eyes]

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Here is a way that I never had to practice:

 

If there is no place to set pro,

-weave the rope among the features of the ridge line as best possible

-keep the line reasonably snug while simul climbing

-be ready brace, or at worst to jump on the opposite side of the ridge line if partner drops down the other, then both find your way back up to the ridgeline (easier to manage for the follower - the follower is NEVER to fall anyway while simul climbing)

 

erden.

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You can use a running belay in this scenario, but, typically on that kind of terrain, it is just a mental reinforcement that if there was an earthquake you wouldn't fall to your death.

 

Exposure is a funny thing, never has bothered some people, really bothers others.

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100ft or 1000's of feet, you're still going to die. Learning to scramble with high exposure takes time but is very necessary as you progress to longer routes with big approaches. (Especially, I've discovered, if you are trying to match those estimated times in Putnam's Columbia Mountains books!) [hell no]

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A comment (not particularly applicable to the original question) on simu:

 

I hear so much about how simu is fast and how speed equates to safety. But something I think many peole don't consider is simply getting in shape is a good way to increase speed w/o compromising safety. I'm not saying simu isn't a valid technique, but if you're really interested in speed (safety), getting in shape is the first thing to do.

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quote:

Originally posted by max:

A comment (not particularly applicable to the original question) on simu:

 

I hear so much about how simu is fast and how speed equates to safety. But something I think many peole don't consider is simply getting in shape is a good way to increase speed w/o compromising safety. I'm not saying simu isn't a valid technique, but if you're really interested in speed (safety), getting in shape is the first thing to do.

if you are out of shape then you will be slow either belaying or simuling. what is your point? no matter how fit you are in most cases you will move faster soloing than simluing than belaying. like for example i can solo banana peel in 15 minutes, simul it in about 25, or pitch it all out and it takes an hour or two. the exception is where you are too scared to do the move soloing but crank it off first try with a rope on.

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Rock:

I think what alot of people forget is that in the alpine, the 3rd and 4th is often wet, making soloing or even simulclimbing distasteful. I readily belay anything that isnt dry, clean, and easy. There is no shame in it. That said, if the terrain is really that easy, you will find yourself climbing 30m, placing a cam, climbing another 30m and belaying. This is slow, but not *that* slow, and gives the party some idea that if someone slips on a wet spot, not all is lost.

 

Snow & Ice (in which case it isnt 3rd and 4th, its AI/WI2 or 3):

solo, as the self arrest wont happen before both of you are falling uncontrollably down into the abyss.

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I only solo when Dru dares me too. Other than that I rope up on all alpine terrain. Wet and easy you always need a belay [laf] Running belay is better than death fall.

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Alex-

How about heather? Some of those alp slopes can be class four, for sure.

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quote:

Originally posted by mattp:

Alex-

How about heather? Some of those alp slopes can be class four, for sure.

To get a belay or protection point on heather, use a long sling and thread it through a couple of whistle pig tunnels, kind of like one of those new-fangled V-thread ice anchors.

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Alpine K is right. If you can't solo 3rd and 4th class comfortably, you should be golfing not climbing. I would strongly suggest that you don't even simulclimb, because simmulclimbing is like soloing, it is a mandatory no fall situation.(unless an emergency came up, like you were off route)

 

I don't want to be the one to carry your ass off the mountain! So get comfortable climbing in your 3/4 or full shank boots at the crag, but don't ruin someone elses weekend, by belaying each pitch or having to be rescued because of a simulclimb fall!

 

Go simmulclimb Givlers Crack, but don't rain on my parade!

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spiderman - if simulclimbing is a mandatory no fall situation, why bother roping up? how does getting off route make it okay to fall?

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quote:

Originally posted by VitaminGu:

spiderman - if simulclimbing is a mandatory no fall situation, why bother roping up? how does getting off route make it okay to fall?

the main reason you might stay roped up while simuling w/o placing running pro, is because you will have to belay again soon on a hard pitch, and you are saving the time of untying, coiling, and uncoiling and retying. or maybe you just want to look cool in the parking lot. [Wink]

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This is an interesting topic with a number of interesting responses. Everybody's opinion on this topic is valid in one circumstance or another.

 

However, I would like to address a few things that have not yet been mentioned.

 

First: It has been stated that one should be closer to his partner when simul-climbing. This is true. Generally speaking you should do this by tying in short. To do this you must tie in as you normally would and then coil the rope over your shoulder until you have the desired length between you and your partner. Then tie off the coil with an overhand figure eight which should be clipped into two locking biners on your belay loop. This is reffered to as a Kiwi Coil. The cool thing about it is that if you get into a situation where you need a full rope, all you have to do is uncoil a bit and you're all set.

 

Second: On third or fourth class terrain a person is unlikely to take a true "whipper." More often than not the danger is slipping and sliding into a dangerous situation. In which case, simul-climbing makes a lot of sense. A rope can not only save one's life in this situation, but put one's mind more at ease while climbing this easy ground.

 

Third: On snow or ice, if it is steep enough that one has to simul-climb, the leader will not be able to self-arrest if the second falls. This is why you placed snow pro or ice screws to begin with.

 

Fourth: There's nothing wrong with belaying through a section that seems difficult. Even if it seems a bit ridiculous because it's fourth class. It's better to do a standard lead and not fall than to do something that feels dangerous and have someone get hurt. Generally speaking you won't clog up a route that is fourth class. Usually faster climbers will be able to find a way around you. If they can't find a way around and they do appear to be strong climbers, politely let them pass.

 

Lastly, it's generally thought to be better for the stronger climber to follow the weaker climber in a simul-climbing situation. However on third or fourth class terrain this may not always be the case. If the leader is a far superior climber, he may be able to constantly scramble ahead and provide hip belays, terrain belays, and the like. As stated above, people don't take "whippers" on this type of terrain and a slight tug can sometimes give a person the balance they need to avoid a fall when they are about to lose their balance.

 

Anyway, just a few things to think about.

 

Jason

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