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wallhammer


Nov 12, 2001, 8:26 PM
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solo aid idea.
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Dr. Piton, since i have logged on to this board(thanks to addiroids) i have have faithfully followed your advise to save myself grief and misery. I even purchased a gri-gri, something that i have held out on for over 5 years(its a french thing) now you have started to stimulate my thinking process and i had an idea i would like to run by you and have you pick apart, modify, or down right dispose of. if i am solo aid climbing and finish a pitch, can i rap down my anchored haul bag line and clean the lead rope pitch on the way down. (to me cleaning going down is easier than cleaning going up) After i reach the bottom of the pitch , i jug up using your zed method (2 ascenders, gri-gri, pulley) and use the 2 to 1 advantage to carry the haul bag up with me on the final jug up? thanks


passthepitonspete


Nov 13, 2001, 11:34 PM
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Dear Hanschlorine, Camhead and Wigglestick,

I hope you will permit me the indulgence of letting Wallhammer jump the queue. I will have to answer Wigglestick's question next, because he tells me he is actually going climbing this weekend....what a novel concept for Dr. Piton, to actually go climbing. Dr. Piton has been spending too much time in front of his computer lately.

The good news is, although I haven't actually climbed myself lately, at least I haven't forgotten how! This is the advantage of being a big wall solo aid climber - accumulated experience allows you to solo big walls right off the couch. I might get spanked by a pumpy 5.9, but by golly I can get on those hooks any day of the week and float upwards with the falcons! I have, as they say, found my niche, and for that I am blessed. It is very comforting to know that I can still climb without the unnecessary burden of training.

Hanschlorine's questions are very very involved and I need probably four hours to write each, so please hang in there, it will be worth the wait!

I have held off on answering Camhead's post for reasons better explained in that post. It is now at least half-answered, but it is better not to make vast decisions based on half-vast information. This is the realm of Big Wall Theorists.

As for Wallhammer and the recent purchase of your new Gri-gri, Dr. Piton feels your pain! It was with great reluctance and inherent mistrust that Dr. Piton purchased one for the sole purpose of (shudder) being able to lead climb indoors on plastic. To confess this in a public forum pains me even more! Little did Dr. Piton realize the enormous benefit of the thing, and how absolutely indispensable it is on the big wall. Not only is a Gri-gri just "the shit" when used as an ascender during cleaning aid, but it allows you to doze off in the sunshine while your partner is into his sixth or eighth hour of his lead. It even allows your Big Wall Crab to belay in your stead. Cleaning a
Traverse
--- 4:1 Lower-Out You can also rappel
with them, and you can use them for a solo aid belay device.

Wallhammer, Dr. Piton applauds your way of thinking. It is important to remain creative. The Sin of Pride may cause you to believe you know everything there is to know about aid climbing, but this is never the case. In the world of big walls and aid climbing, there is always more to know! Dr. Piton is continuously gleaning new ideas, testing them on the walls, and rejecting or accepting them based on their merit. The new innovation on my last wall was the use of the Frost Draw in the Hauling Ratchet and was made at Chongo's behest.

On Sea of Dreams (I haven't written that one up yet) the innovation was a big wall air conditioner. [Aside: to turn anything into a Big Wall Anything, simply add a clip-in loop. For instance, a regular spoon becomes a Big Wall Spoon when you add a clip-in loop.] Now before you ask me how long of an extension cord I needed for that air conditioner, let me tell you that it ran off of two "AA" batteries. It was nothing more than a $4 plastic spray bottle from Wal-Mart with a small motor-driven propeller attached. The spray nozzle is in the centre of the propeller. When hot, you simply flip the switch to get the propeller going, point the thing at you and squeeze the handle. The spray is atomized and you enjoy the effects of evaporative cooling! On a hot day, this thing was just "the shit".

It is always important to pay attention to new ideas, but as previously mentioned, you must carefully scrutinize the credentials of the person offering the idea. That person could be a Big Wall Theorist in disguise! A couple of years ago I was in Camp 4, and had just demonstrated the 2:1 Hauling Ratchet for about the 99th time. This guy walks up and tells me he actually invented a 2:1 hauling system that has fewer components than mine, yet would still work. Now his design did come with the caveat that he had never tried it on a wall, nor had he ever done a wall. He made the thing up on a tree, and damn! It looked pretty good! He demonstrated its use and I had to admit that because the design was simpler and required fewer requisite components, it therefore appeared to be a better way.

But something didn't quite sit right.

So I thought about it, drew a few vector diagrams, and applied the two rules of physics that permit civil engineers to graduate: F = ma, and "you can't push on a rope". (At least, that's what we chemical engineering students used to say about the civies, among other things. We were too busy in the chemistry lab distilling various organic solvents...)

The conclusion that I arrived at was that buddy in Camp 4 had constructed a 1:2 haul! This is not the sort of mechanical disadvantage you would want to take on a big wall! This was Big Wall Theory at its finest.

Some new ideas really do work, and others do not. Which brings us to Wallhammers two ideas. Do they make sense and will they work? Since they are new ideas they definitely caught Dr. Piton's attention.

Firstly, Wallhammer suggests cleaning an aid line on rappel. This causes Dr. Piton to wonder how many aid lines Wallhammer has actually cleaned on rappel. I wonder if Wallhammer might really be a sport climbermasquerading as an aid climber who somehow snuck onto this page by dint of his very bitchin'-soundin' moniker. You see, aid routes are almost impossible to clean on rappel. They are usually overhanging, meaning you would have to down-aid to clean them, or they wander around too far out of plumb to reach on rappel. Sport climbs on the other hand, tend to run across straight across clean blank faces. Aid routes require busting your wrists when you funk out pitons, cursing and swearing as you battle inverted cams, and banging your knuckles while trying to remove offset nuts. These are the sort of intense interpersonal relations you really can't conduct when dangling off the end of the rope - you need to get up-close-and-personal, and that necessitates jugging the fixed lead line. [Aside: many interpersonal relations, like sex, are better performed up-close-and-personal. Sure, you can do it over the phone, but it ain't quite the same.....] Cleaning a sport route on rappel, on the other hand, even if it wanders a bit or is slightly overhanging, isn't that difficult because all you have to do is unclip draws from bolts.

So the first part of Wallhammer's question about cleaning an aid line on rappel is that this is next to impossible. It would be a rare aid line indeed where you could do this while dangling from a rope. Aid routes wander or are overhung, and you just can't attack the gear to clean it on toprope like you can while jugging.

The next question, which considers jugging with a haul bag, is a very good question, and one with which Dr. Piton is intimately familiar. In fact, Dr. Piton may be the most uniquely qualified person on the face of the planet to answer this question because he has done both caving and climbing to a significant degree. I don't know of any wall climbers who have my caving experience, and I don't know any cavers with my wall climbing experience. And cavers, you see, have climbers beat all to hell when it comes to jugging. While Dr. Piton watches wall climbers struggling and fighting with their jugs all over El Cap (but usually just on the first pitches before they give up and go home) cavers have nothing better to do than hang ropes under bridges where they hope they won't get arrested and practise their SRT (Single Rope Techniques). In university, Dr. Piton practised in a stairwell in the men's residence, and once rapped out of the 11th floor window of the women's residence during Frosh Week. He landed directly in the arms of Mac 5-0, the campus security. But I digress.

Back in 1981 I was with the McMaster University Caving and Climbing Club, then full of ex-patriot Brits allegedly studying uranium isotope decay and deuterium-hydrogen ratios in speleothems to get their Ph.D.'s in physics and the like. They used big words like that to justify staying in school and avoiding the Real World. There is something to be said for that. If you have read Dr. Piton's Ex-Wife's Rant, you will know how she felt about my caving and climbing mentor, Chas Yonge, who was a speleologist-cum-boy-who-wouldn't-grow-up. He was also my hero. At any rate, another ex-pat Brit named Steve Worthington, who had caved with the Euros on the Continent, and brought over the Euro style of caving. We explored to -827m in Sotano de Trinidad, making it at the time the fourth deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere. We used the Petzl Frog system with a basic ascender and croll ascender, and we used 9mm static line with multiple re-belays and deviations to prevent the rope from rubbing on the rock, rather than rope pads all over the place like the Merricans used. The problem with rope pads is they are easily misplaced, and you can die when you're jugging a skinny rope that rubs. Unlike the Euros, however, who spattered caves with bolts wherever they felt, Steve applied the traddest-of-the-trad British gritstone climber ethic and wouldn't let us drill. We explored the entire cave without drilling a single bolt! We used wire threads and slings through jugs, wired stoppers, even pitons. And not one damn bolt. It was the best style a deep cave had ever been explored in. I wonder if any cave anywhere else of similar depth has been explored without drilling.

During all this caving, we jugged with packs. During a ten-day trip to Mexico, I put in a Vertical Mile of SRT. That's 5280' of rapping, and 5280' of jugging. Sounds like a lot, eh? Well, consider this: When I solo El Cap I have to jug each pitch that I first lead in order to clean it. I am also fixing ropes partway up to begin with, and sometimes I will fix a pitch or two up high to all me to stay at a nicer campsite, rather than moving up. If I haul with a 2:1 haul, and I climb a 3000' high route, then just by cleaning alone, I've jugged El Cap once. The hauling on a 2:1, which I do by myself obviously, is the equivalent to jugging El Cap twice again. Add to that some jugging and fixing and so on, and I would probably average two Vertical Miles of jugging per solo of El Cap. That's a lot of jugging!

By the way, you can always recognize Dr. Piton while he is fixing pitches. He is the one cruising up the rope on the Petzl Frog system, screaming past the poor gumbies trying to jug on the stupid Yosemite System, which works OK on a slab but is brutal on vertical and even worse on free-hanging terrain. Generally I move three times as fast jugging a free-hanging rope as most of the other El Cap climbers I have observed, though while I was fixing on Native Son, I watched some poor bugger jugging up to the top of his fixed rope at the fourth belay of Tangerine Trip, and concluded that I was jugging five times as fast. Since I was, as almost always, climbing off of the couch, my speed had nothing to do with fitness, believe me! It had to do with having my systems dialled. And when it comes to jugging, baby, I've got it dialled.

I do intend to answer Hanschlorine's question about backup knots while jugging and again, because I am both a caver and climber of reasonable experience, I am as uniquely qualified to answer that question.

When we jugged and hauled out of the cave, we jugged with a bag, usually full of rope and caving tackle, and weighing about 40-50 pounds. Heavy enough. (Oh my gosh, I remember one time at -400m I was dragging this flippin' tackle bag that was so heavy, when it rolled off of the ledge I was traversing and fell into a neck-deep pool, it pulled me right off with it! Meanwhile, one of the other guys on our team who was "nervous" about being "so deep" and only took a mere ten or twenty pounds in HIS sack watched me fall in. Man, I was pissed! Twenty years later I still remember the string of expletives! I was extremely upset that my bag had picked up a few extra pounds of water). So we would routinely jug long distances with a light-ish pack, certainly not of pig
proportions, but heavy enough.

When I did my first wall in 1983, the Grade V West Face of the Leaning Tower in Yosemite Valley, I jugged with the pack while I cleaned rather than hauling. We didn't really know how to haul. That was silly, because on such an overhanging climb, hauling is a "piece of piss". But jugging with a load was what I was familiar with. Back then, we also had to climb on Warren Harding's original hangerless bolts. There was no such thing as rivet hangers - you just slipped a small wired nut over top.

.....continued.....
b

[ This Message was edited by: passthepitonspete on 2001-11-14 00:22 ]


passthepitonspete


Nov 13, 2001, 11:41 PM
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But when it comes to moving stuff up cliffs, there is a better way. There is almost always a better way. I am wondering if Wallhammer has struck upon it.

What he is describing is very similar to the Body Hoist, a method of ascending the rope after you have taken a lead fall when using a Gri-gri as a solo aid device. His question is, "is it better to jug with the pig using a 2:1 jug, rather than just jugging and then hauling?"

Now, there are times when this can happen, despite the fact that it would almost never happen where Wallhammer suggests. Where you would most likely find yourself jugging with a load, besides in a deep cave, would be when you are fixing pitches, and possibly breaking up your load and assembling it at an Advance
Base Camp.

In the topic called "How to Rappel with a very Heavy Load", we discussed Riding the Pig, and how this is very much better than hanging the pig from your harness. So the first thing I would suggest were I to attempt Wallhammer's proposed method would be to attach the pig to the Gri-gri, and then attach yourself to the pig, just like you do when you ride the pig. This is especially important when you have a set of bollocks like Mr. Addiroids' squirrel. And make no mistake about it: in order to solo a big wall, it is essential that you be equipped thusly.

You would then clip your jug onto the rope, put on a crab and pulley, put the free end of the rope through the pulley, attach your other jug below the pulley on the free end, and winch yourself up on the 2:1. Dr. Piton sees no reason at all why this would not work. But would it be the better way? Dr. Piton believes it would not be the better way for the following reasons:

1. You would need to do this on a static haul line, which is indeed what Wallhammer suggests. It wouldn't work on a dynamic rope because you'd be fighting too much rope stretch all the time. But it's scary being on a static line with a load. Believe me, I know! Read my Ascent of Native Son. Still though, if the load were not a really big
sow
, this might not be too bad. Especially if you were hanging from the sow and not vice versa.

2. You will end up hanging in space a long time while you jug.

3. You will necessarily be limited to very short steps (half as far as your maximum reach).

4. Somehow, it just doesn't "feel right". I make this last comment based on my personal experience and hunches. Personally, when it comes to jugging while fixing pitches, I will offload absolutely every excess piece of gear I don't need and leave it on the haul load so I can zip up that fixed rope quickly. How quickly? On Zenyatta I was jugging a hundred and fifty feet in just under four minutes. There is a hundred foot jug in Roppel Cave I do from time to time, but I wear a light pack, and that one also takes about four minutes. So personally I would jug up fast, get to the station, get out of my jugs, and just haul the damn thing.

That being said, somebody oughta go out and try this! Hell, it just might work! At one time, I refused to believe that it would be better to clean an aid pitch with a Gri-gri. "I'm a caver," I said to Chongo, "I know everything there is to know about jugging. blah blah blah" This is the Sin of Pride speaking here. But I relunctantly acceded, and it only took thirty or forty feet of cleaning to know that I'd never go back to the traditional way.

So it's probably worth a try, though Dr. Piton's hunch is that it's not worth the bother, and extra discomfort of hanging longer in the harness.

Cheers,

Dr. Piton


[ This Message was edited by: passthepitonspete on 2001-11-13 23:56 ]


wallhammer


Nov 14, 2001, 8:37 AM
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feel my pain!!!! a sport climber? that really hurts, its not quite below the belt, but it hurts. now thats one LESS beer im going to buy you when we finally meet. actually i will give it to addiroids who knows that i am not a sport climber. the majority of aid that i have done has been on 4 and 5 pitch walls. on those walls (far cry from the monsters at yosemite) pulling gear on the way down was easy, so pardon my ignorance. in THEORY it would seem that if the route was wandering or overhanging you woud clip a runner from your harness with a biner on the end clipped to your lead line that is still anchored to your lower start off point, this would keep you tight to route. i GUESS that you would need to anchor the lead on top also. I appreciate your response and will try not to bombard you with too many questions. As i have never had formal instruction with aid, but try and glean whatever info i can from others, (which is not always the correct or best way). your post have helped a great deal. oh ya, the tree idea isnt so bad either. its what i do immediatly after reading your post to see if i can correctly construct your blueprints. thanks again


passthepitonspete


Nov 15, 2001, 4:21 PM
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Dear Wallhammer,

Thank you for taking my little barb at you in the spirit in which it was intended to be - fun! Surely it was obvious to all who read my reply that you have spent some reasonable amount of time aid climbing. You could not have posed such a bitchin' question if you did not have substantial hands-on experience! Not for a second did I think you were a Sport Climber! (I do not hurl such insults without just cause....)

Supporters like you will always get my undying attention. You, like all my supporters, never have to apologize for asking questions. That's what I'm here for - I'm here to help. I will only ask your indulgence when I am unable to answer your questions in as timely a fashion as you might wish! I am currently in this situation. I have been occupied currently responding to detractors in another forum: The Calm Before The Storm

Those of you who are supporters and "get me" will be able to read between the lines to see the hidden message in the second part of the post linked above, the message which basically says, "watch out, you're about to get crucified." This is sure to be a good post. Rabid Dr. Piton fans will anticipate this response with foam-lipped gusto!

But before I respond, I intend to leave the worm dangle a little longer. The benefit of this is that I may hook a few more fish in the meantime. It is most fun to hook fish whom you have given ample opportunity to withdraw humbly in the face of what is certain to be their complete and utter annihilation.

As for your lack of formal aid climbing instruction, this is not surprising, for the simple reason that such instruction does not yet exist. It is my intention to change that, and thanks to your positive feedback (and that of my other supporters!) I am clearly making inroads in this area.

I am even better in person. I have done many many many Big Wall Mini-Tutorials in Camp 4, "Camp 5" which is the bear boxes in the Curry Village Parking Lot, and even more at either the base of El Cap or on its summmit. Some of my tutorials are even shouted across to climbers on neighbouring routes! Without exception, the people who have benefitted from these mini-tutorials have all thanked me for the enormous amounts of time and effort they saved on the wall!

Last fall, two climbers who benefitted from my shouted advice later came up to me at the Pizza Deck to thank me for my help. They arrived with beer-in-hand, by the way. The one chap was a bit dismayed that I took his Argentinian accent to be an Arnold-like Austrian one. (I'll blame the echo on that little gaffe...) At any rate, I feel really warm and fuzzy inside when I know that my advice and suggestions have made a difference, and have helped to enhance a new friend's big wall experience!

And that's the idea! An extremely wise Man for whom I have great respect and tremendous admiration once said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock at the door and it will be opened to you." I would like to be like that - my door is always open to help you, so please knock!

Now go "hit the tree"!

Cheers,

Dr. Piton



[ This Message was edited by: passthepitonspete on 2001-11-15 16:34 ]


wallhammer


Nov 17, 2001, 1:42 PM
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well, i tried the idea today, and can report that the theory did not work as planned. actually it worked, but it was too time consuming. the jugging was very slow due to the 2:1 pulley system. it was a very smooth jug , no bouncing and it would be very easy on a dicey placement, but it was soooo slow. doing the same pitch with one ascender and a gri- gri (a better way) was so fast that im sure i could have cleaned a pitch, set an anchor,hoisted a haulbag, and ate breakfast, before making it to the top with my "solo idea" method. I will try to put into practice any other "bitchen" ideas i have before i post em.


passthepitonspete


Nov 26, 2001, 11:03 PM
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I believe it is a great idea to think about things like this on the ground and try to determine if they will work or not. Aid climbing is all about trying new ideas and seeing what works. There is nothing particularly magic about most big wall techniques. They could have been invented long ago.

Some of my best ideas have come at home during those long cold winters when I dream of California sunshine. Think about it, figure it out, go try it. I might not work the first time, but maybe it can be modified.

I imagine you had a great learning experience. I am glad that you have found a better way to jug and clean aid pitches.

Were you soloing?


wigglestick


Nov 27, 2001, 8:25 AM
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Maybe I just don't "get it" but how do you jug a rope with only one ascender and a grigri? Can somebody explain the setup and the process to me. I have jugged with 2 ascenders and used the grigri as a backup, rather than tying knots, but can't imagine how to eliminate one ascender.


passthepitonspete


Nov 27, 2001, 1:05 PM
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You can read all about How to Clean an Aid Pitch with One Ascender and a Gri-gri in a previous post. This did appear in Dr. Piton's forum at one point, and I would ask you to ask my moderator Trevor that it be returned.

The trick is that not only are you using the Gri-gri as a moving backup, but you are using it as an ascender. You have it on an autolocking crab with smooth round corners attached directly to your harness. The "man" in the diagram goes up to your upper anchor, the "hand" is the free end.

You climb it using the Petzl Frog System which I will be answering shortly in my post about "using backup knots while jugging.

Try to imagine doing this. You have your "strong hand" on the one ascender and foot loop, you have your "weak hand" pulling the rope through the Gri-Gri. I am left-handed and do it in a mirror image of this, but if you are right-handed:

Put your right hand on the jug and foot loop. You have adjusted it to the perfect position with your adjustable daisy. You stand up and pull with your strong hand. As you stand you pull the slack part of the rope up and through the Gri-gri. As you pull up, you are lifting yourself with a 2:1 mechanical advantage. You need to practise to get the feel.

The benefit of this is when you are climbing really steep aid and the rope is diagonally through the gear above you at impossible angles under tension, you can LIFT your ascender over, crank up on your adjustable daisy or adjustable fifi, to take your weight on the upper ascender you just lifted over, then - here's the magic - you can release the Gri-Gri while it is under the tension of your body weight so you now hang only from the upper jug! You now longer have to fight trying to take your lower ascender off of the rope while your weight is on it!

Chongo told me about this trick, but said it was untried. I took it to the big wall on one of my solos (thus saving Chongo the trouble), and within ten or twenty metres of cleaning, I knew that it was indeed the better way.

I will be explaining the Petzl Frog System of jugging a free-hanging rope, a system which allows me to climb on average three times as fast up free-hanging ropes as your average Yosemite wall climber. I say this from many empirical observations replicated in a standardized wall environment. I remember jugging on my solo ascent of Native Son and watching a climber struggling on the long jug up to the fourth belay of Tangerine Trip. In this instance I was moving five times as fast, and this had nothing to do with my fitness! As per usual, I was soloing El Cap "off the couch" like I always do. The reason I can jug five times as fast is because I am a caver, and I know the better way, and this I will be talking about shortly right here as soon as I deal with one more outstanding issue.

[ This Message was edited by: passthepitonspete on 2001-11-30 19:49 ]


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