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jeb013

I was not prepared...

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I am sure many will blast me for this as being unprepared, but so be it. Don’t know how many of you made it to Smith over the weekend, but you may have noticed it a little more of a clusterf*ck than normal. I wanted to take a buddy of mine out for his first multi so we intended on getting there by 8 and be on the rock by 9. This gives us an hour to hike to the other side of the park.

 

We arrive at the parking lot at 8:10 to find a group of about 70 gathered around the back of a pick up while one person yelled names and what routes they were going to climb (and apparently tie up all day). This should have been the first sign. Noticing all the names taped to everyone’s helmet I knew exactly the club I was dealing with and their assault style tactics so we threw our packs on and hit the trail with high hopes.

 

At 9:15 we arrive to the base of the climb to find two teams of three roped up and ready to lead off. One person leading for each group of 3, the first of which saying it should only be an hour and a half to get all 6 up off the ground. I figure add a half hour or so before we start so we don’t climb right up their ass. I will say they were a pleasant group to talk with but in no way were they prepared for what they were doing. 2 ½ hours in and they still have 1 person on the ground and the one on the wall is obviously not comfortable with 5.7 climbing.

 

We bale, only to see every multi-pitch climb 5.8 and under having the same scenario that we just witnessed. The day was toast, by now the front side of the park is it’s normal zoo and I am no longer in good enough spirits to deal with it. Shut out at Smith Rock, didn’t think it possible.

 

So my suggestion to the club, when 50% of your class has no desire to climb on rock and are just there for the snow skills. So be it, tell them to stay home on the rock days or go to the damn gym where it’s normal to struggle for a half hour on 40 feet of easy climbing.

 

On a side note, at what point is it acceptable to ask to go in front of another party. I offer up routes to more experienced climbers all the time, but have never had someone ask to go first.

 

Jeremy

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I think the title of this post should rather read "I was late..". The other climbers did nothing wrong here, they just got up earlier than you.

 

Smith is a very large place. Coulda gone to the Marsupial crag or the Gorge or something that isn't as popular.

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This late in the season that group was probably forced to go to Smith. While rude, this tactic is pretty common, and happens more frequently than anybody is prepared for. WA has a law limiting group size, but many seem to ignore it anyway. It sucks that this happened to you. My guess is "Spiderman" from your post. You could have potentially done the variation start, and beat at least some of them to the first station. Or pushed a little harder and maybe tried "Trezlar" or "Zebra Zion", both popular climbs also. That small bump in grade seems to weed out many of the total gumbies, meaning if you do have to wait, you might not have to wait as long. I personally am pretty sick of this ethic, having arrived early many times to find some group has completely taken over. My personal pet peeve is with single pitch stuff, when they show up at the crack of dawn and string ropes on everything at the wall without leading any of it, then sit back and have a picnic teaching how to put on harnesses etc. Acting like they own these routes if asked for a quick run of 2 people.

In this situation it's always acceptable to ask to go first, but in my experience it's almost never granted.

That park is big, with many options. Next time head up to the Marsupials...

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You are correct Alex, I was late. They had every right to be there and I understand that. It's a pretty healthy hike from the backside to the marsupials, and I am pretty sure I would have found a crowd over there as well.

 

I have taken my lickings on this, I was shooting for an easy climb to bring someone new to multi-pitch. I will take my share of responsibility for my failure, but that doesn't take the sour taaste out.

 

jeb

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It's frustrating go climbing and find a crowd, but it happens. If it makes you feel better, the intermediate class of the club you mentioned only goes to Smith Rock 2 weekends per year (and they're done for the 2013-2014 year). Add to that the fact that their class/climbing/hiking schedules are publicly available on their website and one can plan their outdoor adventures accordingly.

 

For what it's worth, the club is aware of these complaints and is doing their best to work with others. If you'd asked them to start up the route beforehand, you probably would have been given permission. It doesn't hurt to ask.

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Next time I will most likely ask, I usually try to avoid it though. The part that gets me though, and I have seen it many times, is the number of people they will have in their group who genuinely have no desire to get better and don't want to be there. Whether it is rock or snow.

 

I am beginning to feel the club is out to train team members for their climbs, instead of trying to develop climbers who are capable on their own. At least untill the advanced classes.

 

jeb

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bummer, but dem's the breaks (and yup, i've seen the marsupial region just as rat-fucked) - meanwhile, i bet not a single party did the west face route on the monkey, which is the 5.easy equiavelent for aid-climbing - coulda been a good day to indulge in the dark side? :)

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Conga lines of climbers waiting for their turn to TR a multipitch route suck for sure but there are lots of other options in the park for easy multipitch. Havana (my personal fav), Sky Chimney, Rattle Snake Chimney (if you don't mind some pigeon poo) all jump to mind as being much more rarely laid seige to by the huge groups and Round River and Birds in a Rut are good options too as the hike tends to filter out the ones that are there primarily for the social aspect. Though I have seen a line in the marsupials its usually for the easy bolted stuff on the downhill side of Koala. Some fun adventure climbing over there too.

 

Spider man on a weekend is a crap shoot even if there isn't a bus load of newbness in the park.

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Actually there was a pair going up the west face direct route, and if I had any aid climbing skills I would have joined them in a heartbeat, they were moving quite efficiently over the free climbing terrain. I gaurantee the marsupials were loaded considering I could hear routes being called out as I was getting my pack out of the car. Too bad I didn't hear the route I was after.

 

We were actually after First Kiss, which is a little less frequented. I did have trad gear with me just in case, unfortunately never had the opportunity to use it.

 

Again I will say that we were late to the game, I have learned my lesson, and will make the necessary adjustments to my itenerary next time.

 

jeb

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If the group size was really 70 people I would say that the Park should be looking at group size limits. Even if they split up that is huge number of people coming. BITD when running classes for the ODP we limited our numbers to 20 people. Usually had less, except when we ran a trip to some hot springs.

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I will have to check out Havana. Never heard of it, making it a good one to put on the list. :D

 

Disclaimer: its doubtful that you'll find chalk on it and be prepared for a little bit of questionable rock down low on the first pitch. I sewed that crumbling crack damn near shut. A number 4 makes the second pitch finishing move quite a bit tamer. It's not that difficult but Watts described it as a layback. It was two thrashing moves of off width for me but I'm not a very good climber. Shares the same finishing ledge as Moscow but there's alway someplace to build an anchor up there. I know it gets done but in my 7 years of frequenting Smith I've never seen anyone on it. Enjoy the bats!

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I have trouble agreeing with " The part that gets me though...is the number of people they will have in their group who genuinely have no desire to get better and don't want to be there. Whether it is rock or snow."

 

Out of the ~40 intermediate students out there for a rock or snow weekend, I sincerely doubt that they do not want to be there. Granted, some are probably happier on rock than others (and the same will be true for snow weekends), but these students had to pass a rigorous skills test and meet several other criteria to get into the class in the first place.

 

Even with the skills test as a filter, many qualified students are turned away each year because there is a hard limit of how many students are accepted into the intermediate course.

 

I have no doubt that the club is interested in sustaining membership, but the stated goal of the intermediate class is to get students to a level where a group of four of them can work together to coordinate and lead an intermediate climb. This is agnostic of snow or rock.

 

Not all of the intermediate students will go on to climb exclusively with the club. Many will take their new found skills and go on to climb with people they've met through the climbing community in general.

 

I do believe the club is interested in fostering good relations with the climbing community in general. After all, when you get down to it, these are simply people who want to climb and enjoy the outdoors. I do not believe their enjoyment is linked to doing so at the cost of others. But these students have to learn these skills somewhere.

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I do believe the club is interested in fostering good relations with the climbing community in general.

 

It's hard to believe a climbing club is interested in "fostering good relations" or following LNT principles if:

 

They bring double-digit piles of new climbers to Smith Rock in primetime mid-October and dump them all on the most popular routes.

 

They repeatedly flirt with the wilderness group size limit of 12, sometimes splitting into "smaller" giant groups to work around it.

 

They let climb leaders lead trips that are barely below their own skill level, often with same group sizes.

 

Their climb leaders fix ropes along entire ridge lines of popular climbs, sometimes w/o any tangible improvement in safety, and stick scared climbers on them, effectively shutting the mountain down for the day.

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Well I do believe they have an interest in getting on as well as they can with other user(s)/groups. They try to give heads up at times, at times they'll try to let others pass/go in front.

 

But having an interest in being copacetic with everyone else and actually achieving it are not mutually exclusive. bettering/conserving 'the planet' is important to me. But I eat meat, drive to work daily and 3-6hrs almost every weekend for recreation, and make camp fires. I do recycle and we only have 1 car though, But by definition I'm failing miserably as far as reducing my footprint. Its important just not that important, apparently, eh?

 

they do some pretty decent trail work, and at times have come down with some weight on issues that benefit climbers.

 

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There are many things I think the club does well. I have learned many things from them as well as climb with many members regularly. Someone mentioned that the group going up monkey are club members and could have taught me to negotiate an easy A0 bolt ladder had I asked. Maybe I should have, but that would have just turned that route into a cluster as well. I understand that these students have to pass a skills test to get in, unfortunately I thought that part of those skills would have included negotiating a straight forward pitch of 5.7.

 

I understand how fast these forums can get ugly, obviously, since I came on here to whine like a little bitch. I feel slightly better and should probably move on now. I hope everyone has a good afternoon, and climb safe.

 

jeb

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Hah. A month ago it was so crowded due to a number of groups. I directly asked everyone around a sport route if the hanging rope was theirs, no one, then pulled it. We started climbing. It turned out the people were 100 feet away and I told them on a crowded day it isn't polite to leave a rope hanging so someone in their group can TR it at a later time. We were nice all around. No conflict.

 

On another note, the group you encountered are usually required to be back by 3 or something, so getting on a multi-pitch at noon is an option. I hit up Superslab at 1 pm this past Saturday, no one on it.

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Yes, "show up earlier" or "go elsewhere" is a common refrain. But I've seen these dynamics on the ground and while I agree that there is some effort being made to address the situation, let's be frank. This kind of stuff would never, ever be acceptable from a professional guide company using public land or, in fact, from any other instructional outfit that is charging its customers. Who else would even consider bringing 50-70 people to Smith Rock at one time? Nobody, because its poor form and teaches and reinforces bad habits in the students.

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If it makes you feel better, the intermediate class of the club you mentioned only goes to Smith Rock 2 weekends per year (and they're done for the 2013-2014 year). Add to that the fact that their class/climbing/hiking schedules are publicly available on their website and one can plan their outdoor adventures accordingly.

 

Uh...so....we should plan our adventures around YOUR group...after you announce that a herd is on its way. How about....NOT BRINGING A HERD AND THEN EXPECTING EVERYONE TO WORK AROUND YOU??????

 

If you'd asked them to start up the route beforehand, you probably would have been given permission. It doesn't hurt to ask.

 

Thank you, Sir Club-Master, for considering your gracious permission to allow others to climb...ON ROUTES MONOPOLIZED BY HOURS OF FUMBLING, OR DOMINATED BY SPORADICALLY UTILIZED TOP-ROPES. :rolleyes:

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If it makes you feel better, the intermediate class of the club you mentioned only goes to Smith Rock 2 weekends per year (and they're done for the 2013-2014 year). Add to that the fact that their class/climbing/hiking schedules are publicly available on their website and one can plan their outdoor adventures accordingly.

 

Uh...so....we should plan our adventures around YOUR group...after you announce that a herd is on its way. How about....NOT BRINGING A HERD AND THEN EXPECTING EVERYONE TO WORK AROUND YOU??????

 

If you'd asked them to start up the route beforehand, you probably would have been given permission. It doesn't hurt to ask.

 

Thank you, Sir Club-Master, for considering your gracious permission to allow others to climb...ON ROUTES MONOPOLIZED BY HOURS OF FUMBLING, OR DOMINATED BY SPORADICALLY UTILIZED TOP-ROPES. :rolleyes:

 

Lol do you even climb at smith, or is this thread just an irresistible chance for you to bitch and whine?

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There were a ton of people there this past weekend, not just the big club group. I know there were two vans full of uni kids, another climbing team van full of people, a boy scout troop, and two guided "classes". These were the ones I ran in to or chatted briefly with. I didn't even see the huge club group.

 

Other than 30 minutes or so on Zion at the 3rd belay to give the dudes in front of us some space, and the 15 minutes on Wartly's Revenge, we didn't have to wait on anyone the whole weekend despite the crowds.

 

Sucks that you got caught up in the midst of a busy weekend, but that's often the case for a lot of the easier routes, large "club" groups or no. Rarely will there be a day (especially on a weekend!) when there aren't newbies clawling their way up Spiderman, Super Slab, Moscow, or First Kiss. I don't understand all of the hate seen here for new climbers or clubs. Sometimes it's a great way for people to get a good intro into the sport. Some days are just busier than others and we all have to deal with it. Not sure about the club you mentioned though, as I don't know much about how their classes/club is run (if it's the one I'm thinking about).

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A growing part of me wishes someone would just drop a nuke on Smith, then turn it into a Walmart at this point. REALLY tired of reading non-TR bullshit about the place.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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Thanks for the input Tvash. Would you prefer that we clear all of our posts with you before submitting so that you're not torn away fom your very important food labeling thread? Sorry you were forced to read a thread that actually relates to climbing that made you feel icky.

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A couple of thoughts:

1) Yes, Smith is a busy place and you should arrive prepared with back-up options in case your route is a junk-show by the time you get to it, but it seems irresponsible to send large, slow teams to multiple classics in a given day. Hammering one of them and leaving others open for the rest of the climbers out that day makes a lot of sense to me. Maybe staggering the outings over multiple weekends so there aren't as many climbers all at once?

 

2) If you're a big group, it's not enough to be prepared to let others pass if/when they ask. You should OFFER to let them pass knowing that you're almost certainly the slowest.

 

3) To my knowledge, there is no group size limit at Smith. If so, it's not enforced at all. (Obviously. Stuff like this is commonplace) It's not a wilderness area.

 

4) It's interesting that people are distinguishing these groups from guided parties. While I agree that a distinction should be made, lets be honest. On many levels that's exactly what Fill in the Blank-Mountaineering Club is. People are paying money for instruction and risk management in exactly the same manner that they would a professional guide. (http://www.mountaineers.org/source/atrips/TripRegister.cfm?Event=36997)

 

This is what I think is most interesting. I don't know if the class I linked to is an example of the type of thing that was going on this past weekend. If it's at all similar, people are paying very real money for a trip with ridiculous instructor-student ratios and a crap-shoot when it comes to instructor qualification. I can't imagine that it would cost the people taking these classes much more money to just hire a qualified guide for a weekend of customized instruction. At 265/day, for one on one instruction with an AMGA accredited company, (or, if you want, you can request AMGA certified guide for no extra cost) I imagine that these people would be getting far more bang for their buck by going with this option instead of the climbing club.

 

5) In Europe, this is literally criminal. People can go to jail for guiding without certification. While, I'm sure the anti-regulation team out in web-land will disagree, in something like climbing and mountaineering instruction (where you're managing a significant level of risk, teaching others to manage that risk for themselves, and require a high level of training to do so competently) I think this makes complete sense when one person is paying another for this type of service. Obviously it's completely different when no money is changing hands and it's a mentorship situation.

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