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pcg

passive pro at Smith

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My son and I are beginning trad climbers and have never been to Smith Rocks. I have Alan Watts’ climbing guide, but was hoping someone could recommend some easy trad climbs (5.7 and under, multi or single pitch) that can be protected with passive pro only. I have a full rack of nuts and hexes and some tricams.

Given that we are learning I’d like to stay away from really crappy rock and run-out routes.

Any suggestions?

 

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a couple cams would open up your options a great deal.

So if you were going to buy just two cams to augment a rack of otherwise passive pro, what would you buy?

I know to some extent that depends on where you want to climb, but I'm looking for a general purpose answer that I understand won't work in all situations. We're interested in technically easy alpine routes - Ingalls Peak, Whitney East Buttress, Long's Peak Keiner's, etc.

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Its a bit of a trek for such a short climb, but First Ascent Crack on Spiderman Buttress eats nuts real nicely. I have done Spiderman on passive pro only, but I wouldn't recommend it if you are new; its a little heady and not the easiest pro.

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If you're only going to buy a couple of cams, check out the Link cams, because they have a much larger range then anything else on the market. They're popular for covering a larger range with fewer units on alpine routes. Otherwise, I'd go with the BD #1 and 2. A .75 is a good option as well but FWIW I think you're more likely to be able to find passive pro at a .75 size than a #2.

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I'd second the #1 / #2 Camalot sizes (thin hands to hands), but any cam manufacturer is fine (BD, WC, DMM, etc.)

 

Link Cams are good but $$ and heavy. They also have some limitations that you want to be aware of and don't perform as well in less than ideal placements like bottoming cracks, they also strike me as a little less robust. IMHO they're a good piece to add after you've built up your basic rack (I have one and wouldn't mind a secon). But if you really only are planning on easy-ish alpine stuff the might be a good piece as they are very flexible. I've just seen some new climbers go out and buy a rack's worth without understanding them which makes me nervous.

 

Cinamon Slab at Smith is also good. Get's wide at the top but the climbing is very secure. It's down near the Beard. I think the first time I climbed Super Slab I only had 3 or 4 cams, but I don't doubt that it could be led entirely on passive gear either.

 

my 2 cents..

Have fun!

 

 

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old testament is a really nice 5.7ish climb, and it's rarely busy. Has an exciting traverse. Make sure you don't cross lines with someone doing a sport route below. You can do all the crack climbs at Smith with passive pro. That's all we had back in 1977. And we climbed there for about 5 years before we started seeing cams.

 

But my favorite cam is the 2 or 3 camalot (yellow, blue).

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If you're only going to buy a couple of cams, check out the Link cams, because they have a much larger range then anything else on the market.

 

There's enough stories of broken Link Cams leading to accidents and even fatalities out there I wouldn't recommend them to anyone but an enemy.

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What failures? I've been using them for several years now without incident. I know they had a recall a while back, but haven't heard anything about recent issues. Is your info current?

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If you're only going to buy a couple of cams, check out the Link cams, because they have a much larger range then anything else on the market.

 

Or for the price of 2 link cams you could probably buy 4 regular cams :smirk:

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What failures? I've been using them for several years now without incident. I know they had a recall a while back, but haven't heard anything about recent issues. Is your info current?

 

Run a Google search and check some of the images. A good specialty piece, but they are more fragile than other cams. More moving parts, more joints, more things to go wrong. If you can't get good alignment with the direction of pull in case of a fall, or any of the lobes are pressing against the rock sideways against the face of the lobe, then they run a larger risk of breaking than other designs.

 

A totally separate issue from the recall and tied to the geometry of the cam itself.

 

As I said above, a reasonably good addition to a rack to add lots of coverage for 1 or 2 pieces, but IMHO they aren't a go-to, workhorse piece in the way that other cams are.

 

 

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I'd second the #1 / #2 Camalot sizes (thin hands to hands), but any cam manufacturer is fine (BD, WC, DMM, etc.)

 

 

I think the first time I climbed Super Slab I only had 3 or 4 cams, but I don't doubt that it could be led entirely on passive gear either.

 

Third that.

 

Did SS once only placing one cam and I could have easily put a hex in right near where I put that. There is also a bolt line just to the left of the first and last pitch that are just as moderate iffens your gear is doing it for you. The bolt line next to the first pitch has some fun moves and is pretty darn chill. A #2 is nice for the airy traverse pitch of SS, but again, not totally necessary. Be sure to bring two ropes with you! The ten feet of down climb on the first rap isn't hard, but it ain't fun either. You can actually rap the anchors on the top of SS to a station climbers left of the route if there is a lot fo traffic on the route.

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I recommend C4 #1 and 2 first (or equivalent range, other brand), then #1 and #2 master cams. If you still have $$, then back to C4's, .75, 3, then .5

 

 

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I did a all day guided trip out at smith with David potter and smith rock guides when I first got into trad. It was worth every penny and he supplies the gear. He showed me a lot of areas around smith I've never been and I picked up a ton of knowledge on proper gear placement. Just another option.

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My son and I are beginning trad climbers and have never been to Smith Rocks. I have Alan Watts’ climbing guide, but was hoping someone could recommend some easy trad climbs (5.7 and under, multi or single pitch) that can be protected with passive pro only. I have a full rack of nuts and hexes and some tricams.

Given that we are learning I’d like to stay away from really crappy rock and run-out routes.

Any suggestions?

 

Why not buy a couple cams? Yes, nutcraft is important but having a couple cams would greatly simplify things. A friend (B.C.) showed me the light with his use of hexes on Smith tuff (specifically New Testament). Still, I don't find them to be very useful on basalt (Portlander). I'm rambling. Anyway, you can do well with what you've got but a #.75 to #2 C4 will go long way. Then again, if Shoes of A Fisherman and I Almost Died can be freed on nuts and hexes then it stands that just about anything else can.

 

Rabbit Stew fits your request just about perfectly. I think it takes passive pro better than neighboring Lycopodophyda. Fun climb too.

 

 

 

Chad

 

p.s. Pass on the link cams.

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buy some cams. keep placing nuts. when you start pushing your limit, or a rock goes sailing by your head and frightens you- look at your cams, select the right one, stuff it in the crack and yell take. now you can relax, gather your thoughts and keep truckin. its a good piece of mind - especially when you're just learning.

Edited by Nate J

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Super Slab, you can protect the 2nd pitch traverse with a brown tricam if I remember right.

 

Left and right side of The Beard is a great idea. Bomber nuts, and left side will take some hexes as well. Be sure to wave to the fixed #8 Metolious cam while you're there.

 

Cinnamon Slab is fun hex'n and you can get smaller gear in the horizontal midway up. Pink tricam is your friend if I remember right. I haven't done the second pitch on all passive yet, but it looks doable.

 

Prom Night takes small gear, bit fiddly but doable and a short pitch. Much stouter if you don't stem, and the bouldering start turns some people off. This route is easily toproped by rapping in from the rim. The Textbooks are always a good time.

 

Lycopodophyta takes great gear, mostly nuts. Bookworm and Rabbit Stew take good passive gear as well. I'm speaking to the first pitches here.

 

Pumpkin Patch,Jurassic Park, and Winnie the Pooh on the Northern Point are 5.4-5.6, protect decently and are topropable. Full range of gear, and easy retreat if you aren't feeling it.

 

Round River is a fun 5.4 mixed route with a great view, 3rd pitch is all gear and way easy. Link the first 2 pitches with a 60m rope. Placements are a bit hidden and/or fiddly for some peoples taste, it takes nuts and tricams. It gets an R rating in Watts guidebook, so might be worth saving this route for later.

 

 

I hope you have fun, make sure to bang your hexes together for good luck. If I hear them I'll give a holler.

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Cinnamon Slab, Bookworm, Old Testament were all popular learners routes before the age of cams...

 

bump up to solid 5.8,and routes like Spiderman & White Satin were popular in those days too

 

most of the old crack climbs go perfectly well on passive pro. even more challenging classics, e.g. Moonshine Dihedral, Zebra. Shoes of the Fisherman, Wartley's Revenge saw considerable action before cams were invented.

 

and there were face-climbs, before the bolting craze hit, that required tri-cams even after active camming devices came along -- tricams would fit in holes & pockets where the length of its axle prevented using an active cam.

 

I agree that if you decide you really like trad climbing, that you'll want to invest in a rack of cams, but as you're starting out, I wouldn't be in any great hurry to spend the money. The newer curved-sided hexes introduced by Wild Country work incredibly well - a significant improvement over the classic straight-sided version; and even today most of the trad climbers I know (younger ones included)carry some version of stoppers for cracks thinner than an inch.

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There is also a bolt line just to the left of the first and last pitch that are just as moderate iffens your gear is doing it for you.

 

IMO that pitch is certainly not just as moderate. Theres a couple of tricky moves 5.8ish near the beginning of the pitch and some decent run outs(even with retro bolting). The book makes it sound way easier and more friendly than I've ever found it to be. I know the first time I did it I was somewhat surprised. Maybe I'm a wuss tho.

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"I, for one, have never advocated passive anything."

 

- Fucking Gandhi

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Think I saw you out at Farside on Sunday... good place to learn the art. Lowering not advised; top belay and rap much better for you and your rope...

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I will 2nd that, the beginning of that last pitch is pretty stout for shorter folks. And pretty big run out on moderate terrain up above that.

There is also a bolt line just to the left of the first and last pitch that are just as moderate iffens your gear is doing it for you.

 

IMO that pitch is certainly not just as moderate. Theres a couple of tricky moves 5.8ish near the beginning of the pitch and some decent run outs(even with retro bolting). The book makes it sound way easier and more friendly than I've ever found it to be. I know the first time I did it I was somewhat surprised. Maybe I'm a wuss tho.

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