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caughtinside


Jul 10, 2006, 10:32 AM
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Trad Climbing is Slow
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I was thinking about this the other day. Generally speaking, trad climbing is Much Slower than sport climbing, at least at about equivalent difficulty. It can take me a long time to lead a trad pitch. Some of it is gear, it just takes more time than clipping a bolt.

But I think a lot of it is that I have much more of a do not fall attitude. I hang out longer on rests, scope the ground ahead, look for pro, etc. If it looks hard, it can take me a long time.

Which can be counterintuitive! Hanging out for a long time, whether it be fiddling with pro (I had a hell of a time getting a thread on a roof saturday, and got my chewing gum all over my partner's sling, sorry about that!), or just clinging to a marginal stance, unsure about the next sequence, or not wanting to commit, then take flight, gets you pumped and tired!

Especially on harder (for me) trad climbs, where it actually gets steep, I think I am going to have to reevaluate what I'm doing, and climb faster.

I'd also like to plug sport climbing here, which I credit with helping my trad climbing in a couple key respects.

1. Looking for rests/stances. You have to do this all the time on sport to stay fresh, and it can be tricky as holds get small and the rock gets steep. When I first started climbing on gear, my biggest fear (which held me back) was that I wouldn't be able to get stances I could maintain long enough to get a piece in. Learning on sport climbing that I can milk stances on steep rock, and switch them up, switch hands, switch feet, gave me huge confidence.

2. Endurance. I can hang on a jug all day long if I have to. Again, big confidence for trad climbing.

3. Not fearing steep rock. Counterintuitive since steep rock has cleaner falls. But if all you do is trad climb, you won't see lots of overhangs/steeps on climbs under 5.10 (although I am sure someone will argue this. Yes, I am aware that there are exceptions.) Clipping the bolts on caves and roofs has helped me not to be intimidated by these same features on gear.

But back to my original point, Trad Climbing is Slow! Feel free to register your opinion here, or in my silly poll.


bill413


Jul 10, 2006, 10:50 AM
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"Trad Climbing is Slow" - well, yeah!

At times it can be amazingly slow.

You have more to think about & do than in sport climbing - the whole placing protection is going to make a trad route slower than a sport route of the same difficulty.

Add to that the break to eat ham sandwiches, and the time really mounts up.


caughtinside


Jul 10, 2006, 11:01 AM
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You have more to think about & do than in sport climbing - the whole placing protection is going to make a trad route slower than a sport route of the same difficulty.

Well yes. But even independent of the gear placement I climb slower! I wonder if it is the same for everyone else.


chanceboarder


Jul 10, 2006, 11:02 AM
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Yup trad climbing is slow. But remember this, when you fall, you fall at the same rate as a sport climber. You just may for a little longer though :twisted:

Jason


healyje


Jul 10, 2006, 11:08 AM
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Welcome to the real world.

It's a mirror - trad climbing is only as slow as you are. Skilled and experienced folks can think ahead, look once, grab the right piece the first time, place it immediately on the first try and do it fast and consistently and do it onsight. And "milking rests" did not get invented in sport climbing and neither did steep routes or roofs. Good trad climbers have been masters of resting, downclimbing, and steep climbing for decades.

Doing all of the above well while keeping all the second guessing, hesitation, and neural chatter down is the discipline and craft of trad climbing. As for not falling - that was always more of a philisophical/style discussion among trad climbers - some strived to never fall, some fell with wild abandon. My tribe was part of the latter; falling was how we knew we were having fun and pushing our limits. We also climbing a lot of roofs so winging it was unavoidable at times. I personally find it pretty damn wierd that a lot of the talk on RC among new trad climbers is about never falling being either the idea or that they are afraid of it. Prior to sport climbing trad was all there was and falling was as natural a part of the deal as it is today in sport climbing.

Anyway, good for you for getting on a bunch of trad routes. The bottom line is it's all about skill, craft, discipline, control, and hanging it out there and seeing what happens. Speed happens when you are able to put it all together well. Your are right, though, that a lot of sport skills can be brought to bear in when learning trad climbing, but you have to adopt a new worldview when trad climbing as it is a very different and expansive landscape up there and internally when there are no bolts.

P.S. Maybe that should have read "Welcome to 1974..."


sweetchuck


Jul 10, 2006, 11:32 AM
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I am a new leader, and I suppose I am from the Ďdonít freakiní fallí camp. At least on the easy cheesy 5.5 or so routes with menacing ledges ever 10 feet that are around here. It always seems that the gear is only there to keep my bloody pulp off the deck if I fall. I long for the day when I can climb hard trad routes that go straight up or are overhung and the fall is squeaky clean.
I am trying to get into lead climbing and can have a blast on 5.5 all day long. My girlfriend is into climbing hard and would rather top-rope 5.9-5.10 (thatís hard for us any way, OK). I feel so silly taking forever on a stupid 5.5 trad climb, and it being totally thrilling. She climbs behind me in like 5 minutes and yawns. We are going to the gunks next week and so we can do some easy trad for me and some hard TR at Peterís Kill for her. Yep, I am at the turtle pace stage in my lead climbing career. I have read a lot and learned a lot but itís still going to take a while to get my system dialed. One problem I have, in light of the whole fall from grace of the cordelette, is how to build a good anchor. Iíd just as soon build one with the rope, but I lead all of the pitches (for now) so thatís not a good option. I am still thinking about a system that works for me. I am thinking about using the cordelette without tying the knot so it will equalize better, then backing up a couple of the bomber pieces with slings. I just donít know. At least I have time up there to think about it, and take in the scenery, and feel good about the stout 5.5 I just onsighted, and, and, and oh yeah, ďOff Belay!!Ē.


keinangst


Jul 10, 2006, 11:40 AM
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I will counter this by submitting that toproping is REALLY slow. Seriously, unless you have at least 3 ropes going at once, that's about as dull as it gets. Especially if you're not using bolts/shuts for anchors (ie, getting creative with gear or trees). Yeah, trad can be slow, but it's rewarding.


jt512


Jul 10, 2006, 11:41 AM
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In reply to:
One problem I have, in light of the whole fall from grace of the cordelette, is how to build a good anchor. Iíd just as soon build one with the rope, but I lead all of the pitches (for now) so thatís not a good option. I am still thinking about a system that works for me. I am thinking about using the cordelette without tying the knot so it will equalize better, then backing up a couple of the bomber pieces with slings. I just donít know. At least I have time up there to think about it, and take in the scenery, and feel good about the stout 5.5 I just onsighted, and, and, and oh yeah, ďOff Belay!!Ē.

You don't have to reinvent the anchor. Study John Long's books, Climbing Anchors and More Climbing Anchors. Many non-cordelette methods are illustrated.

Jay


sweetchuck


Jul 10, 2006, 11:50 AM
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Yeah, I know Jay. I have read Climbing Anchors, but not the second book. It seems like of all the setups in the Climbing Anchors it generally says that the cordelette is the best, and I think the consensus on that has changed. Then there is using the rope which does not work well for me as the primary leader. Using slings seems hit or miss depending on where your placements are, and how much gear you have. Iíd love to find another way to use the cordelette in general. I followed the sliding x thread as best I could, and learned a bunch, but didnít fancy many of the crazy convoluted setups there. I look forward to getting John Longís new book, and I am going to spend a bunch more time standing around the base building anchors. Thanks for the advice though. I need all I can get!


caughtinside


Jul 10, 2006, 12:01 PM
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Doing all of the above well while keeping all the second guessing, hesitation, and neural chatter down is the discipline and craft of trad climbing.
Best part of your post, I agree completely.
In reply to:
P.S. Maybe that should have read "Welcome to 1974..."
:lol: Good one. I deserved that. 8^)


blueeyedclimber


Jul 10, 2006, 12:33 PM
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I think it's your grigri that's slowing you down. Man, is it HEAVY! :lol:


Partner csgambill


Jul 10, 2006, 12:39 PM
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Hell yeah trad climbing is slow when you first start out. Who wouldn't want to avoid falling on those shallow grade 5.5's and 5.6's. I feel more comfortable soloing those things.

There's no reason trad climbing should remain slow. After leading trad for a while you should be able to climb fairly quickly. The key to climbing quickly is not necessarily to climb faster, but to climb more efficiently. While you're climbing, look ahead of you and get an idea of what your next placement is going to be before you get there. Develop your eye for what pro will fit where and in what size crack so you don't have to spend five minutes fiddling around with each placement. This will make your climb much safer, you'll be off the climb faster, and your belayer much happier. It really sucks when you have to belay someone for an hour on a 60' climb that should take no more than five minutes.

Instead of complaining about how slow trad climbing is, why don't you try to improve your ability. I suggest you check out Hans Florine's book Speed Climbing. It is geared towards longer multi-pitch climbs, but if all you climb is single pitch climbs you will definitely be able to glean more than enough info to improve your technique and speed up those once slow trad climbs.

A big part of the reason trad climbing goes so slowly is because you think it's slow. You just need to break that mental block and learn to make your placements quicker, run it out when you can, and overall move more efficiently over the rock. Once you get into the mindset that trad climbing can be fast you'll be amazed at what you can pull off.


dingus


Jul 10, 2006, 12:46 PM
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Caughtinside, when comparing trad and sport routes of the same grade you're sort of stretching trad to the point (where sport climbing was invented to begin with).

So it makes sense to me, yes.

But trad holds elements that sport cannot... things like Crest Jewel or jeez, pretty much any long moderate trad route.

Consider this: East Butt of Middle Cathedral is 10-12 pitches, depending. Call it 1500 feet of 5th class climbing. Using trad simul-climbing techniques it can easily be done in less than 5 hours car to car.

Or another classic trad like example... Angus and I climbed through p5 of the Central Pillar of Frenzy one fine morning a few years back. By the time we got to the base the valley was getting furnace hot. So we jumped into the car, drove to the meadows and did the reg on Fairview.

Now my betters can do the same sort of things on 5.10 and up.

But the whole point is this... its sort of an apples and oranges comparison in a sense. The things that make sport 'sport' are the things that really slow down trad... difficult to place or non existant pro, demanding stances, R or X potential (the trad consequences).

But the things that make trad fast? Long routes, moderate climbing, quality partner, similar goals... do not a sport climb make.

Climbing quality sport routes at or near your working limit - how many routes over how many days to send 1500 of climbing? Compared to 3-4 hours on the East Butt. Again though, the comparison won't be fair (to either!)

To me, that East Buttress thing is one of the most pleasurable aspects of climbing. Not the route, the syle of swarming up moderate routes.

Cheers
DMT


dirtineye


Jul 10, 2006, 12:49 PM
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Slow is the new fast.


saxfiend


Jul 10, 2006, 12:50 PM
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In reply to:
But if all you do is trad climb, you won't see lots of overhangs/steeps on climbs under 5.10 (although I am sure someone will argue this. Yes, I am aware that there are exceptions.)
Like the Gunks? I'm sure you knew that! :)

I'm still new at trad (leading for a year now), but things are moving a lot more smoothly for me now than when I started. My first few leads, I thought "holy shit, this is taking forever" as I fumbled around with gear and un-tripling slings and such. These days, I find myself grabbing the right pro the first time most of the time, so that makes things go quicker.

Another consideration for me is whether or not to run things out. If I'm really confident in the climbing ahead; if I feel like stopping for pro will waste more energy than it's worth; and if I'm confident that falling won't cause me to deck or hit a ledge -- under those circumstances, I'm often willing to run it out. That'll make up for the slow stretches.

On the other hand, most of the time, I'm not in a big hurry anyway!

JL


bandycoot


Jul 10, 2006, 12:54 PM
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I completely disagree that it is slower. I've probably climbed more than twice the trad pitches in a day than I have sport pitches in a day.

My partner and I did Resolution Arete in roughly 8 hours. It's about 20 long pitches. We were climbing a pitch every 20-30 minutes including leading, building the anchor, following, switching gear over to whoever is leading, communicating, and whatever else needed to be done. We even stopped for lunch and that is included in the 8 hours!

I think that everyone is good at what they put their energy into. If you put your energy into trad climbing, you'd increase your efficiency quickly, as would anyone else.


boadman


Jul 10, 2006, 12:57 PM
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I was thinking about this the other day. Generally speaking, trad climbing is Much Slower than sport climbing, at least at about equivalent difficulty. It can take me a long time to lead a trad pitch.

I think what you meant to say was, "I'm slow at Trad climbing." A couple of guys linked Northern Lights into Freeway into the Grandwall for a total of over 30 pitches in 15 hours, including 3 1 to 1.5 hour descents last weekend. Nearly 5,000 feet of climbing (mostly 5.11, with a couple of pitches of 12) in 15 hours. When was the last time you did that sport climbing? How about freeing the nose in a day? That's a lot of rock in not much time.


tradmanclimbs


Jul 10, 2006, 1:36 PM
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trad climbing is only as slow as you are. my local crag i can lead any climb and bring my partner up in the ammount of time it takes most tools to set up a top rope. i can get slowed down on climbs i don't know an that are hard for me but the same thing happens with me on sport. how about when you read about some stick boy sending super climb on his 47th try. sounds pretty effing slow to me 8^)


c4c


Jul 10, 2006, 1:51 PM
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If you think trad is slow then you should try aid climbing. Now that is slow.


caughtinside


Jul 10, 2006, 2:00 PM
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Hmm, maybe I am just slow.

Some good responses from some people though. Dingus's in particular. I can climb 5.8 trad pretty quickly, w/o too much trouble.

I guess I had a particular climb in mind when I posted. I got spanked on a .10c on saturday, that I was on for a long time. Tricky flared crack where pro was a pain. I pulled the crux, and was at a stance with gear a little below my feet. I looked up, and couldn't see anything protectable for another 10-15 feet minium, with some hard looking moves in between.

So, I stood in that spot for a long time...

I would have gone right away, if I had any sort of protection available, but the run section really gave me pause for thought. And by pause I mean standstill. Didn't like the look of that fall one bit.


billl7


Jul 10, 2006, 2:23 PM
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So, I stood in that spot for a long time...
Savoring the moment at the expense of your belayer, eh? :wink:

That's a totally honest wink by the way.


tradmanclimbs


Jul 10, 2006, 2:34 PM
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so if the same climb was bolt protected but the runouts were the same would you have stopped and contemplared in the same spot? I bet i would have. I was out about 30 ft over a bolt last week. 5.9 friction. I contemplated one move for several min. I was not scared just aware that a mistake would = a sixty footer. jut one move to the next bolt but you didn't want to mess it up 8^) I slow right down in dangerous situations but if the climbing is straight forward and decent gear i can move fast. a tricky sequence and a preceved long distance to the next bolt and i can come to a screeching halt spurt climbing just like I would with a tricky move bad fall situation on trad..


billl7


Jul 10, 2006, 2:40 PM
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So, I stood in that spot for a long time...
Savoring the moment at the expense of your belayer, eh? :wink:

That's a totally honest wink by the way.


Partner bdplayer


Jul 10, 2006, 2:53 PM
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Well, trad may be grade for grade slower, true. That's kind of the beauty of it though. It's more about the journey than the accomplishment, although both styles have elements of both, just in differing proportions.

By same token, while it is slower grade for grade because the intricacies, placements of pro, and heavier load, it creates greater demands and greater climbers who just fly up some of the "easier" grades. Us "mere mortals" may not think so, but the "El Cap in a day" climbers find those trad routes easy enough to fly up. I don't think a sport climber who ticks consistent 5.13s or even 5.14s but never hits a trad route could knock that out near as easily if those same routes were zippered up with bolts the whole way.

Regardless of what standards we toss around, the most important one is the one that we carry with us to the cliffs. It's why we, you and I climb. Whether painstaking trad or gymnastic sport climbing, it's the great passion of our lives.


sweetchuck


Jul 10, 2006, 3:05 PM
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"Regardless of what standards we toss around, the most important one is the one that we carry with us to the cliffs. It's why we, you and I climb. Whether painstaking trad or gymnastic sport climbing, it's the great passion of our lives."

I think this is supposed to be spoken to The Star Spangled Banner

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