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Jacob Smith

How to aid solo when there is no available anchor

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So I've had this problem on a couple aid climbs around the town walls, where I go to aid solo them but there's not much to anchor off at the base. At the ltw it seems like there are typically pods i can throw cams into but i was scouting below Golden Arch the other day and I couldn't find anything I would be terribly psyched about belaying myself off of.

The first pitches of Golden Arch and Abraxas looked like they were kind of game on from the get go so not much opportunity to just tie the first couple pieces together. What has occurred to me is to take up a haul bag and fill it full of rocks, although i am far from certain of the kN strength of the straps i would be attaching to.

Any input/beta?

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Don't find a partner, no one deserves the boredom that comes along with belaying someone on an aid pitch. Aid climbing is all problem solving, looking at what's in front of you and making it work. Here's a problem you have to solve before you can get off the ground.

 

There have to be some blocks below that you could lasso, and/or a tree. Look harder. Alternatively, you can place several pieces that would hold in an upward fall and clove the rope into them as you go, making that the anchor.

 

Using the haulbag as a "partner" is a handy trick when you want to have a softer catch, but don't rely on just the bag. Usually that technique involves the rope running off the anchor, down to the bag, and then back up to you. When you fall the bag gets yanked up, but stops once the rope comes tight on the anchor. In my experience it's kind of a pain to rig, and probably doesn't make enough of a difference to merit the work unless you're on some new wave A4 pitch.

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Don't risk your life on a bad anchor just cause you can't find a partner. The anchor is your main point of connection to LIFE! A series of cams in pods does not equal a good anchor. And belaying aid pitches is fun. I hate the old adage that everyone should aid alone cause belaying is so boring. Get my number from Ryan and a six pack of good IPA and I'll throw you on a gri gri and you can climb till your hearts content. Just don't ask "watch me" cause I won't. It hurts my neck. :grin:

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A couple things,

Historically speaking I have had trouble finding partners to aid climb, mostly because everyone I know would rather free climb if at all possible, and I'm not super into climbing with people I met on the internet (did an entire trip doing it, and the trip ended up being a lot shorter than expected because I trusted the wrong person).

Cams in pods on the ltw can awesome, or not. You can make a pretty bomber, fully equalized, anchor below city park with a couple largeish c4s, i was less excited about my anchor below stern farmer.

Regarding blocks, trees, etc. Sometimes they are there, sometimes they are not, and sometimes they just don't inspire much confidence (i.e. that block you can sling below Green Drag-on that, while huge, seems like it would have to move about 1cm for your anchor to fail.

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1) Dig down to bedrock

2) Place a bolt

3) Fill in your hole when done so nobody complains about finding your new bolted anchor

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I prefer to tie some slings(plural) around a BIG rock, or tree, than set a piece clove hitched at the start of the route so your gear doesn't zipper, maybe even two or three piece's at the start, of course there's nothing wrong with bringing a roto-hammer to set-some stealth anchor bolts.;-). P.S. If you do go with option B, send me a P.M., and let me know where there at, or hit me up for a partner, I love Aiding!!!!

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you can actually leave hooks as pro when aid soloing. Put a long prussik on the hook, so that there's tension on the rope from the bottom anchor, and then clip the rope into a scream-aid on the hook. If you whip there is enough movement in the prussik so that it won't come tight and increase your fall factor, and the tension from below will keep the hook from falling off after you climb above it.

 

If you're aid soloing you should put these prussiks on ever 50 or so feet, whenever you notice that your gri gri is backfeeding. It also makes cleaning safer, as any sharp edges the rope is running over will be isolated and not rub (if you plan the placement of the prussiks correctly).

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You can use a haul bag full of rocks, works great. Maybe a few pins and a hammer to back it all up, if you can't get anything else in. You can use the rope to rig a anchor off a big rock sometimes, or 30 feet of webbing works great.

When keenwesh talks about placing prusiks to keep the rope tensioned, I reccomend they be done with large rubber bands, so if you fall on them they break, but strong enough to hold the rope in place.

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1) Dig down to bedrock

2) Place a bolt

3) Fill in your hole when done so nobody complains about finding your new bolted anchor

 

This is genius

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Is it possible for you to "aid solo" your way up to a place to build a good anchor? If the aid is moderate I would not be super scared about climbing a bit with no clipping seeing as how you often climb a ways in free climbing before you get your first clip. Then you can build whatever equalized anchor you want and press on.

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Usually what I'll do for building and anchor system when there is no tree or Boulders to sling is, I will place two cams facing upward tie the rope in with lockers, than a third cam about two feet above that, facing down at a 45 degree angle or so, using a locker again clove hitch the upper piece, and cinch the rope in really tight so the upper piece can't rotate. That to me is a bomber set-up, I don't have any photo's on hand, but next time I build an anchor system I'll snap a couple photo's. Hope that's helpful.;-) cheers. B.

Edited by brian clark eber

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