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aerili


Apr 25, 2007, 3:37 PM
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Would you agree with practicing placements in this manner?
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An acquaintance recently told me he aided up a 10b route at a local area (one that is stiff, btw) to practice his trad placements. He's mainly a canyoneer and sport climber, having only logged a handful of crack routes on toprope, to my knowledge.

He said his second (who was more experienced, although what that means per se I do not know) felt his placements were pretty good.

Hmmmm....Since I can't call myself a wizened old trad leader, I was wondering if this kind of thing is really a good idea? I have been leading cracks for about 9 months now and never once tried this method to "learn to place" and was never instructed to do so by any of my partners who had been placing pro for years. In fact, it seems less than brilliant.

First, he should be cleaning for at least a short while after experienced people, IMO. Then, he should be trying to lead only easy stuff to learn placements--stuff he may have already climbed on TR at least once perhaps, but at least a few grades below his normal capability regardless.

What say everyone else?


jgailor


Apr 25, 2007, 3:42 PM
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Actually, I've seen that recommended in numerous places. Long does in his book on Anchors, and several other articles have suggested this. Aiding on the placements usually gives you a good idea of how strongly they are set.

Following on second and cleaning is important, but not as important as actually setting pro on mock lead. Until you have to stand there jiggering gear around on two chips while your calves just keep getting more and more pumped, you just won't have the right perspective.

Another suggestion I've heard is when you are learning how to trad lead, find something that you feel like you could free solo, and then start leading it.

I've had some classes on settng trad pro, and they're all from guys who were pioneers in Yosemite climbing back in the 60's and 70's, and most of them just pull me aside at some point (most people take a trad lead class and realize they're not too into it) and say "Look, we didn't really know what we were doing. You had a basic understanding of mechanics, and you just used common sense."


alpinismo_flujo


Apr 25, 2007, 3:43 PM
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I agree with practicing placements. I have in the past...walked around a local crag with my rack handy and just practiced pulling the correct size the first time. It helped me quite a bit. - It's obviously way easier to practice "chock craft" while standing on the ground then aiding a route..safer too.

PS like you saying at the bottom Laugh but I'm not going to try it!


aerili


Apr 25, 2007, 3:48 PM
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jgailor wrote:
Actually, I've seen that recommended in numerous places. Long does in his book on Anchors, and several other articles have suggested this. Aiding on the placements usually gives you a good idea of how strongly they are set.

Following on second and cleaning is important, but not as important as actually setting pro on mock lead. Until you have to stand there jiggering gear around on two chips while your calves just keep getting more and more pumped, you just won't have the right perspective.

Another suggestion I've heard is when you are learning how to trad lead, find something that you feel like you could free solo, and then start leading it.

Well, you're already agreeing with me halfway (i.e. lead something way easy or mock lead [which I didn't say but I know is a good option]).

My point was that one should second and clean at least a few routes so one has some decent idea even HOW to place pro before one starts aiding to test one's so-called ability (I understand the aiding-to-test-soundness method, but on a stiff 10b with almost no trad experience beforehand? Seemed weird...).


caughtinside


Apr 25, 2007, 3:50 PM
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Aid climbing easy cracks is a great way to learn/practice gear placement. You get a lot of placements (and thus experience) in low mileage. Plus, you are actually testing your gear, so it's not just theory.

following other climbers is a good way too, but you're not actually placing gear, so you're seeing what someone did, you're not evaluating for yourself whether it's good or bad.

personally, I thought the 'mock leading' thing is kind of silly. If you just want to practice placing gear, do it on the ground. if you're not ready to lead, you're not ready to lead.


caughtinside


Apr 25, 2007, 3:52 PM
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aerili wrote:
My point was that one should second and clean at least a few routes so one has some decent idea even HOW to place pro before one starts aiding to test one's so-called ability (I understand the aiding-to-test-soundness method, but on a stiff 10b with almost no trad experience beforehand? Seemed weird...).

well, if the crack is a splitter, the free climbing grade is largely irrelevant, it's probably C1.

and seconding someone is a good idea, but it isn't mandatory. cams and nuts aren't exactly super complicated.

it's different strokes for different folks. some folks like the fuzzy feeling of expert instruction. others are born do-it-yourselfers. And others are destined to crater.


petsfed


Apr 25, 2007, 3:58 PM
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caughtinside wrote:
well, if the crack is a splitter, the free climbing grade is largely irrelevant, it's probably C1.

C2 if it pinches down in spots. I know what a good, bad, and irretrievable cam placement look like thanks to aiding. Just make sure your belayer has a gri-gri and something to read, or do it roped solo. Because it will take a while.

I didn't second except when my equal inexperienced partner led. This didn't hurt my ability to place so much as my lead head (and probably courted death waaaay too much). The only way to get good at placing gear is to place gear. You'll get good at recognizing good placements and extracting buried placements by seconding a lot, but you still won't know how to place them.


reno


Apr 25, 2007, 4:03 PM
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caughtinside wrote:
Aid climbing easy cracks is a great way to learn/practice gear placement. You get a lot of placements (and thus experience) in low mileage. Plus, you are actually testing your gear, so it's not just theory.

following other climbers is a good way too, but you're not actually placing gear, so you're seeing what someone did, you're not evaluating for yourself whether it's good or bad.

personally, I thought the 'mock leading' thing is kind of silly. If you just want to practice placing gear, do it on the ground. if you're not ready to lead, you're not ready to lead.

Agreed with the first two paragraphs.... doing the aid lead thing will give you a fast appreciation for what's good and what's not. You'll also be surprised what works and what doesn't.

Disagree with the third paragraph, though. I think such "mock" leads help build confidence slowly, which is key. Other folks feel differently, and that's fine.


caughtinside


Apr 25, 2007, 4:08 PM
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reno wrote:
caughtinside wrote:
Aid climbing easy cracks is a great way to learn/practice gear placement. You get a lot of placements (and thus experience) in low mileage. Plus, you are actually testing your gear, so it's not just theory.

following other climbers is a good way too, but you're not actually placing gear, so you're seeing what someone did, you're not evaluating for yourself whether it's good or bad.

personally, I thought the 'mock leading' thing is kind of silly. If you just want to practice placing gear, do it on the ground. if you're not ready to lead, you're not ready to lead.

Agreed with the first two paragraphs.... doing the aid lead thing will give you a fast appreciation for what's good and what's not. You'll also be surprised what works and what doesn't.

Disagree with the third paragraph, though. I think such "mock" leads help build confidence slowly, which is key. Other folks feel differently, and that's fine.

that is true. There are lots of ways to learn, which is good because people respond to different styles.

Myself, I practiced building a couple anchors on the ground. I led a dozen pitches before I ever followed one.


aerili


Apr 25, 2007, 4:09 PM
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petsfed wrote:
You'll get good at recognizing good placements and extracting buried placements by seconding a lot, but you still won't know how to place them.

Right, agreed, but if you never second an experienced partner a few times initially, how would you even know what a good placement looks like? I.e. how could you even have a concept of how to place correctly if you just go try it yourself with nothing else to go on but your imagination and/or verbal tutelage from people?

I started leading by seconding and cleaning after several different people who all favored different kinds of gear, then I started leading by climbing a few easy single pitch cracks I had never climbed before. In Tuolumne.


caughtinside


Apr 25, 2007, 4:11 PM
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well, I found john long's climbing anchors book quite helpful. good explanations and photos of good and bad gear, and the underlying rationale.


dingus


Apr 25, 2007, 4:20 PM
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aerili wrote:
First, he should be cleaning for at least a short while after experienced people, IMO. Then, he should be trying to lead only easy stuff to learn placements--stuff he may have already climbed on TR at least once perhaps, but at least a few grades below his normal capability regardless.

What say everyone else?

To each her own. Some people need rigid 'thou shalt follow the path EXPLICITLY' and never deviate from those instructions.

Others adopt a more exploratory mindset and seek out, rather than waiting to be instructed. Such folk are likely to read a book, for example, and then go practice what they read.

Climbing is a lot of things to a lot of people. But the self-starter aspect is very appealing to some of us. We feel fairly confident in our own judgements and ability to, for example, translate book reading into rock time.

By way of example, I read a how-to book on big wall climbing. Read it again. Memorized the systems. Encouraged a partner of mine to do the same.

We went up and did a 4 pitch aid route and next thing you know I have several walls underneath my belt.

Now that isn't the WAY for a lot of folks I understand that. Just trying to show you that your WAY isn't for everyone either.

For my part I am befuddled by people who 'wait for instruction.' Truly.

Cheers
DMT


zeke_sf


Apr 25, 2007, 4:22 PM
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caughtinside wrote:
following other climbers is a good way too, but you're not actually placing gear, so you're seeing what someone did, you're not evaluating for yourself whether it's good or bad.

I have to agree with you there, Mr. Inside. I don't know, I guess I learned what placements look like and what generally goes on from following, but I think it starts making a lot more sense once you get out on the sharp end and up the ante. I have had some good practice in anchor building on the ground though, since that art is a little more intensive than single placements. It all hinges on your comfort level and learning style, so do whatever makes sense to you because you're the one whose bacon is on the line up there.


tradrenn


Apr 25, 2007, 5:59 PM
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aerili wrote:
Right, agreed, but if you never second an experienced partner a few times initially, how would you even know what a good placement looks like?

You should know that some of us have what some people refer to us "photographic memory"

I'm one of them, I think I had 1 Saturday with a mentor ( a brother of my partner ) and that was it. Since then I have used my common sense and I read as much about trad as I could just so my knowledge increases, I needed to know as much as I could. ( I believe knowledge is the power ), then I try this and that to see if what I was trying to do was the right thing.

I would second CI and Dingus 100% on this.


joeforte


Apr 25, 2007, 6:35 PM
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aerili wrote:
petsfed wrote:
You'll get good at recognizing good placements and extracting buried placements by seconding a lot, but you still won't know how to place them.

Right, agreed, but if you never second an experienced partner a few times initially, how would you even know what a good placement looks like?

He'll know a good placement from a bad one by placing the gear, weighting it, and bouncing on it on aid. You don't do any of that when you second (clean). The way he is learning is safe. By the nature of aid, he is going to have a piece every 2-3 feet, that he has tested with his weight and a good bounce. The chances of him ripping every piece and hitting the ground are very slim. If he does blow something, he'll learn what doesn't work, and when a piece catches him, he'll learn what does work. This is first hand experience, not just what someone "tells" you is good.

He is learning creativity, speed, improvisation, and is propably getting some nerves worked out as well. Your compasion for his safety is a great quality to have in a friend, but I'd bet he's got it under control.

If you really want him to clean for a while first, ask him to follow you up some stuff! Wink


stymingersfink


Apr 25, 2007, 6:51 PM
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tradrenn wrote:

I would second CI and Dingus 100% on this.
third.

motion has been passed.


really it all comes down to what one feels comfortable with tackling, as well as how mechanically inclined someone is.

read, read, read. it provides the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.

do, do, do (not doo-doo) gear placements, at ground level, on climbs well below your comfort level, in your sleep, whatever. Aid climbing will do wonders for those serious about gear placement, as the number of placements will skyrocket.

get up on it!

climb as much as possible with people who have something you can learn from, build confidence, read and educate yourself, practice, practice, practice.

the bold smart ones will be within their limits for several seasons, learning the ins-n-outs of gear placement (aiding really helps in this department) while getting familiar with a new way of looking at the world. When they know, not just feel, but KNOW they got their shit together, they will naturally begin pushing their limits above gear.

OTOH, the bold dumb ones are self-selecting for injury, thereby shortening their career as "climbers". Don't be one of them, nor should you be near them when their time is "up."

Most people's sense of fear will keep them from harms way, while others are just too ignorant to know the difference. Try to avoid the latter type when selecting for partners.


rocknice2


Apr 25, 2007, 7:11 PM
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Aid can be a useful tool to learn about placements but it has its limitations. Bounce testing and a fall are very different as anyone who has done hard aid will tell you. There's stuff I would stand on but would for sure zipper with any fall.
Can one learn by themselves YES. Is it advisable NO. IMHO there is no sustitute for a leader class or a mentor. Just someone to point out the important things to look for in a sound placement. ie, contact area, rock quality, nut vs. cam, direction of pull, multidirection, etc.... Once a sound knowledge base is established tthen it's time to lead and by that I mean take it easy by climbing well below your capabilities. Remember only a fool pushes both grade and pro limits.


cintune


Apr 25, 2007, 7:30 PM
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jgailor wrote:
...most of them just pull me aside at some point ... and say "Look, we didn't really know what we were doing. You had a basic understanding of mechanics, and you just used common sense."

Yup. It's not exactly brain surgery, after all.


coastal_climber


Apr 26, 2007, 11:20 AM
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I've been talking to a experienced aid/trad climber and he recommended learning aid before trad, because you learn quality placements. With aid, however, you are not necessarily pressed for time while making placements. With trad, you are sometimes rushed to make a placement.

>Cam


reg


Apr 26, 2007, 12:08 PM
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aerili wrote:
jgailor wrote:
Actually, I've seen that recommended in numerous places. Long does in his book on Anchors, and several other articles have suggested this. Aiding on the placements usually gives you a good idea of how strongly they are set.

Following on second and cleaning is important, but not as important as actually setting pro on mock lead. Until you have to stand there jiggering gear around on two chips while your calves just keep getting more and more pumped, you just won't have the right perspective.

Another suggestion I've heard is when you are learning how to trad lead, find something that you feel like you could free solo, and then start leading it.

Well, you're already agreeing with me halfway (i.e. lead something way easy or mock lead [which I didn't say but I know is a good option]).

...).

IMHO mock leading is the safest way with a mentor coming 2nd to inspect - a new leader is in just as much danger (maybe more) by aiding - if you pull a piece you may pull them all whereas a new leader may not fall at all on poorly placed gear.


iamthewallress


Apr 26, 2007, 12:26 PM
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aerili wrote:
First, he should be cleaning for at least a short while after experienced people, IMO. Then, he should be trying to lead only easy stuff to learn placements--stuff he may have already climbed on TR at least once perhaps, but at least a few grades below his normal capability regardless.

What say everyone else?

If he was aid climbing, the 10b rating and its stiffness are totally irrellevant.

You learn more about the quality of your placements by doing everything that you can to rip them out of the wall and assessing what works and what doesn't than you do by cleaning up after someone else or leading over gear that may or may not be good on easy climbs.

Even if he'd never climbed a day in his life, I'd see no problem w/ him learning how to aid on the gear on day one if he was a smart, logical sort. It's not for everyone though. Assuming most of his placements were good, he probably had one in every few feet and was, therefore, much more redundantly protected than he would have been on a moderate free climb.


(This post was edited by iamthewallress on Apr 26, 2007, 12:28 PM)


petsfed


Apr 26, 2007, 12:27 PM
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reg wrote:
IMHO mock leading is the safest way with a mentor coming 2nd to inspect - a new leader is in just as much danger (maybe more) by aiding - if you pull a piece you may pull them all whereas a new leader may not fall at all on poorly placed gear.

I dunno. Cams are pretty easy to learn fast. Once you've got that dialed from the ground, you can start learning about things like proper slinging and things of that nature. To be certain, I wouldn't advice anyone learning to place pro on a climb that has good, if tricky, protection. That is, difficult nut placements and the like. Nuts are harder to figure out the true limits of, and its something that still gives me trouble these days. That and very small cams, but that's neither here nor there.


zealotnoob


Apr 26, 2007, 12:40 PM
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cintune wrote:
jgailor wrote:
...most of them just pull me aside at some point ... and say "Look, we didn't really know what we were doing. You had a basic understanding of mechanics, and you just used common sense."

Yup. It's not exactly brain surgery, after all.

Exactly...and if you really need your hand to be held, perhaps trad isn't the right thing...? Placing decent gear and creating an effective safety system just takes a little common sense and self-confidence. Doing it efficiently, on hard routes and with time constraints is where it gets dicey/interesting.


reg


Apr 26, 2007, 12:42 PM
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petsfed wrote:
reg wrote:
IMHO mock leading is the safest way with a mentor coming 2nd((added for clarification: "on TR") to inspect) - a new leader is in just as much danger (maybe more) by aiding - if you pull a piece you may pull them all whereas a new leader may not fall at all on poorly placed gear.

I dunno. Cams are pretty easy to learn fast. Once you've got that dialed from the ground, you can start learning about things like proper slinging and things of that nature. To be certain, I wouldn't advice anyone learning to place pro on a climb that has good, if tricky, protection. That is, difficult nut placements and the like. Nuts are harder to figure out the true limits of, and its something that still gives me trouble these days. That and very small cams, but that's neither here nor there.

cams are also some what forgiving as well esp. while aiding. quess my point was to not endanger ur life - have back up while learning- don't care how good one thinks they r


wanderlustmd


Apr 27, 2007, 6:12 AM
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dingus wrote:
aerili wrote:
First, he should be cleaning for at least a short while after experienced people, IMO. Then, he should be trying to lead only easy stuff to learn placements--stuff he may have already climbed on TR at least once perhaps, but at least a few grades below his normal capability regardless.

What say everyone else?

To each her own. Some people need rigid 'thou shalt follow the path EXPLICITLY' and never deviate from those instructions.

Others adopt a more exploratory mindset and seek out, rather than waiting to be instructed. Such folk are likely to read a book, for example, and then go practice what they read.

Climbing is a lot of things to a lot of people. But the self-starter aspect is very appealing to some of us. We feel fairly confident in our own judgements and ability to, for example, translate book reading into rock time.

By way of example, I read a how-to book on big wall climbing. Read it again. Memorized the systems. Encouraged a partner of mine to do the same.

We went up and did a 4 pitch aid route and next thing you know I have several walls underneath my belt.

Now that isn't the WAY for a lot of folks I understand that. Just trying to show you that your WAY isn't for everyone either.

For my part I am befuddled by people who 'wait for instruction.' Truly.

Cheers
DMT

I'm kind of a hybrid. I first got into climbing soloing my way up short cliffs, then decided I'd better learn what the hell I was doing if I wanted to go higher. So I read everything I could beg, borrow and steal on the subject, practiced and taught myself, then went out with a guide to "confirm" I was doing things correctly. And he showed me a few tricks along the way.

Good teachers, whether formal or informal, are invaluable IMO. They can save you a lot of the time/danger that can come from trying to figure the more complex things out for yourself. However, I've found that when I teach myself something, I learn faster since it's more "active learning" rather than "instruction." But self-learning opens itself up to a wrong interpretation, which in climbing can obviously be bad since trial and error usually isn't the healthiest way to approach things

To each his own...Smile

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