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Ask Dr. Piton - How do you Rap Severly Overhung and Traversi
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Feb 2, 2003, 6:45 PM
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Ask Dr. Piton - How do you Rap Severly Overhung and Traversi
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Dr. Piton,

I was reading through your list of ascents in your profile, and I noticed that your first solo ascent of El Cap was on Iron Hawk (A4). Was that your first solo big wall period?

Now aside from being a pretty damn stout route up El Cap, Iorn Hawk is known for being an overhung, and especially a Traversing Nightmare. Take a look HERE at route #22. With a partner, you shouldn't have to rap the route, but how do you manage solo without aiding the whole thing back down?

How can you rap back to the begining of a route to lower out the bags, and start to clean when the lower anchor is directly 150' to the side of you? Hell, even on pitches such as THIS rapping would put you 50' horizontally from your lower anchor.

And once you are there, do you have enough rope to lower your bags out without having to carry a designated lowerout line. (I'm trying to avoid designated line for this at all costs. It would probably weigh as much as a 6-pack of beer, and given the choice between the two...)

You've got me stumped on this one, I've got to know. What was your cure for this big wall illness?

Oh, And Lost Arrow Pitons driven 1/4 inch and tied off?. I wouldn't hang a nice hat on one of those. Why in the (spoken in my southern drawl)HAIL did you pick this as your first solo?

Not even a BWT yet, but a graduated Big Tree Gumbie

[ This Message was edited by: tenn_dawg on 2003-02-02 19:09 ]


Feb 2, 2003, 7:27 PM
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Registered: Feb 18, 2002
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Ask Dr. Piton - How do you Rap Severly Overhung and Traversi [In reply to]
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30m of 7mm lower out line = 2 OE800 16oz. cans.


Feb 2, 2003, 7:28 PM
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Ask Dr. Piton - How do you Rap Severly Overhung and Traversi [In reply to]
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Now ya just gotta love it when someone puts such swell links into his post. Good on ya, mate!

Iron Hawk was my first ever big wall solo, and the only route longer than a hundred feet I had ever climbed alone. The cliff there is two thousand feet high, but Iron Hawk traverses more than any other route on El Cap as far as I am aware, except of course for Chris Mac's Girdle Traverse! There could be damn near three thousand feet of climbing.

It was probably the second solo ascent of the route. Odd Roar Wiik told me that Xavier Bongard had soloed it first.

I chose this route for a number of reasons. First of all, I wanted adventure. I wanted something longer and harder than I had ever climbed. Up until then, that had been P.O. Wall. So I chose it because I wanted to up the ante.

I had no beta whatsoever, except the Reid guidebook. Warren Hollinger had told me it was a nice route. Warren climbed it with this guy named Burt who had a very cool tattoo of a baby angle seemingly hammered into his arm and with blood dripping out.

[I would love such a tattoo, but I am too much of a chickensh*t. However, I find hotties with tattoos to be a very huge turnon. You see, I have this Dr. Piton Theory About Hotties With Tattoos. Now, if you are curious about my theory [Ahem - voice of Anne Elk] you can Ask Dr. Piton. But I don't believe it warrants its own post. You can merely ask below on this one, thus bringing it to the top of the forum. I believe such a question would best be asked by a hottie with tattoos, so if you happen to know one, please direct her attention here.

I digress. Hotties have that effect on me from time to time. It's a weakness, it might even kill me some day. But at least I'll die with a smile on my face.]

The other reason I wanted to climb Iron Hawk was because it traverses so. I figured if I could solve the ropework problems on Iron Hawk, I could solve them anywhere.

I was right.

It's all about the Continuous Loop. Let's forget about the Solo Tag Rack for now. It's there, but I ain't really gonna talk about it. You need a two-hundred foot haul line, a two-hundred foot lead line, and in this scenario, a fifty-foot lower-out line might be nice.

This is also the only El Cap route I have soloed where I brought a spare lead rope. Although you do not need a third rope, I am going to explain to you why you might want a spare rope. You are going to want a third two-hundred foot rope, which can be either static or dynamic. You only have to rappel it, just so ya know.

Note: Never for a moment would I advocate leaving behind beer because of the weight of the extra rope. I would bring the beer and the extra rope. Why? Because I can.

But for now, you can leave that third rope coiled with your pig.

So you lead the Knifeblade Traverse. It's a hundred and fifty feet more or less dead horizontal moving from left to right. It overhangs a bit of course, too. You are climbing from left to right, so your "lower station" is at left, and your "upper station" is at right.

At the end of the pitch, you tie your lead rope in at the hundred-and-fifty-foot point. You have fifty feet left over. If you are smart enough and rich enough to have a Kong Block Roll, you will put your lead rope through this, leaving maybe three feet of slack so you can begin hauling. But if you're soloing El Cap, you have your 2:1 Hauling Ratchet with you, so you can lift the weighted haul line into your compound pulley later if you want.

You tie the top end of the haul line to the end of your lead rope. Now, before you do anything, make sure that you pull all the haul line out of its bag! If you don't, then you could be in for a wicked surprise which is what happened to me in the dark when I attempted to solo Native Son.

If you are climbing the Better Way, then you will use the Dr. Piton Secret Knot, which is the figure-of-8 within the butterfly to join the two ropes. Incidentally, this knot was tied by a hottie. If you know which hottie, then you win the Dr. Piton Daffodil Award.

So you now have a big U-shaped loop that is two hundred and fifty feet long hanging between the Power Point of the right [upper] station and the Power Point of the left [lower] station. And this is your nylon highway home.

Your Continuous Loop begins and ends at the left [bottom] station.

You are soloing, so naturally you have your jugs with you. Or at least one of them, since you have your Grigri. But since you knew you were going to have to cross a knot, you probably brought both jugs. And you sure know how to make a Klemheist from any piece of nylon you have with you.

You rappel your lead line 50 feet to the knot using your Grigri.

You cross the knot, which is the trickiest rope maneuver you may ever do, but since you have tied your knot the Better Way, then no worries. [If you are soloing El Cap, this stuff should be second nature, anyway]

Continue rapping down into the U. As you weight it, it may start to become a V. At some point, you will stick one jug onto the haul line and begin pulling yourself towards the lower station, which is above and left of you. You are now hanging spectacularly in space! You are beneath the big roofs, four or five hundred feet off the deck, and damn near a hundred feet from the wall.

Let out a squeal as your balls shrivel in terror!

Keep pulling yourself over towards the lower

station, as you continue letting yourself down a bit on the Grigri.

Aren't you glad you have a locking rappel device like the Grigri instead of a Sticht-like device like an ATC? Sure you are! You know stuff.

Eventually, you will put both ascenders on the rope leading up to the lower

station, and you'll be there. The Continuous Loop terminates at the lower

station Power Point at the "bottom end" of the haul line.

No fuss, no hassle. No downclimbing, no problems.

If the overhang or the traverse is not so severe, you will find that you can pull yourself in a tremendous distance with nothing more than one hand. It takes practice. I've done it well over a hundred times. This is the correct way to get back, and you can disregard the BWT you see in the post below.

Now, in this example, it's time to cut loose the pig. Attach it to the haul line at the midpoint so there is no slack between you and the right [upper] station. Use an alpine butterfly knot, of course. Not a figure-of-8 on a bight which will roll like hell and be very difficult to untie.

So between your pig and the upper right station, you have one hundred feet of haul line and fifty feet of lead rope joined by your Secret Dr. Piton Knot.

You now have one hundred feet of excess haul line which becomes your lower-out line. [You have disconnected the lower end of the haul line from the left Power Point.]

You put the excess haul line through a munter on the Power Point, and you're ready to go. Be sure to use a locker for your munter! Or you could be one sorry bugger if your munter pops its gate, as munters are known to do.

You untie the load release knot on your docking tether and away she goes. You lower her out, at least for a hundred feet.

She'll nearly be plumb, but you're still fifty feet short. That's where the extra fifty feet of lower-out line comes in handy. If you are doing this, then you will figure
out a way to pass the knot in your lower-out line.

Or since you can see it's overhanging, you just might let that pig fly the last fifty feet!

But there actually is a Better Way. There is almost ALWAYS a Better Way, and this is one of those times.

Voice of Ahnold:

"Remembah vhen I told you to cut your pig free? I lied."

Now, here is the Better Way to deal with the KB Traverse on Iron Hawk. [If you ever use this Dr. Piton Beta, then you owe him a beer. Two beers, actually. You can find him at Dr. Piton's Yosemite Branch Office, the bear boxes in the middle of the Curry Village parking lot. I'll leave my answering machine turned on - a piece of paper with a rock on top. You never know, I might even have a hottie sexrectary. This has been known to happen from time to time, much to my delight]

The Better Way is to not cut the pig free. Leave the bottom end of the haul line attached to the lower

Power Point. Instead of lowering out the pig, clean the pitch as you normally would. It's a traverse, so you'll have to aid it with your aiders as you clean, but you use your Grigri as backup.

You will also need to bring your third rope over to the right [upper] belay station. You might have to carry it with you when you clean. You figure it out. I'm not going to tell you everything.

When you finish, you stack the lead rope at the right belay, and get ready to lead the next pitch. Next, you fix the haul line to the right belay with no slack to blow around, and coil the exra fifty feet. And there it stays while you climb the next pitch.

You climb the next pitch up and left, heading almost directly back over top of the station on the left side of the KB Traverse.

[Now, if you are a Dr. Piton aficionado, and if you are "getting it", then you should be nodding right about now and thinking, "aaaah, I think I get it, I think I get it!"]

See, you're going to bypass hauling to the station at right, and you are going to haul straight up to the station above!

Clever, eh?

You do this because you know that a two-hundred-foot haul line will just barely reach. You know this the same way as I knew this - your Wall Doctor told you so.

So you use your third line as your rappel line, and tag it up behind you on the next pitch as though it were your haul line, by attaching its top to the bottom of your Solo Tag Rack. Its bottom is of course attached to your now-lower

belay. You climb up and left.

You lead the pitch - it's The Spoon. Save your 1" and 1 1/2" cams for the top. It traverses, and you sure as hell don't want to backclean. [Doing so could make you your own worst enemy.]

Now rap your [third] rap line back to the lower

station. Grab the haul line at the 150' point to keep it from dangling too much, and start cleaning, bringing the top of the haul line with you. As you clean, you will have to let out the haul line a bit. Eventually you will reach the top station, and you can then put the very top of your haul line through your compound pulley.

But you do not rap your haul line! You rap your lead line. [You have coiled your third line and put it away] However, you will need to clip one of your aiders into your haul line so you can make it to you lower belay. So rap down your lead line. Normally, I do not put a knot in the end of my rap rope, but this is one of those times when I sure as hell would! But at least I'm attached to the haul line with my aider.

Anyway, you're back where you need to be at the left side of the KB traverse, along with your beloved pig. Now you can now shorten up on your haul line [not that you'll need to do so much, since it's nearly a full two-hundred-foot haul], and attach your pig with your alpine butterfly knot, and let her go. You won't need any lower-out line, cuz when you cut it free, she's going straight into space.


Voice of the Redneck in Deliverance:

"Wha don't you lean over yonder log and squeal lahk a pig, boy?"

[Actually, I have to tell you this funny story. I just remembered it. My friend and partner John Kaandorp was driving to work once in Toronto, and there standing on the corner was none other than Ned Beatty! They make a lot of films in Toronto - they pull out the U.S. Mailboxes and stick 'em on the corner, but things like Royal Bank or Canada Trust on the buildings kinda give it away, eh? Anyway, John rolls down the window and says, "Hey Ned! Can you squeal like a pig?!"

And Ned just looks over at Kaandorp, and saying not a word, slowly and deliberately gives John the finger!]

OK, the pig is free. Now you can clean your lower station, and jug on up your lead rope to haul the pig. This will require you to do one extra 200' jug, but it will save you hauling the pig 150'.

I am Dr. Piton,

and I can jug two hundred free-hanging feet in under four minutes right off the couch every damn time

P.S. If you feel confused, consider yourself lucky you have me to [try] explain it to you. I had to figure this stuff out when I was up there by myself!

[ This Message was edited by: passthepitonspete on 2003-02-03 19:10 ]


Feb 2, 2003, 7:51 PM
Post #4 of 5 (3330 views)

Registered: Feb 18, 2002
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Ask Dr. Piton - How do you Rap Severly Overhung and Traversi [In reply to]
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You tie off the lead rope with some slack in it (about ten feet), and rap down that. The lower end will be already secured, because you soloed up. You unclip pieces as you get to them, and reclip after you pass by. If the pitch is nearly horizontal, it'll be easier to down-aid while on a rappel self belay (Gri-Gri), but you still want to reclip the pieces as you move past them.

Once down, you lower the pig out, and clean the pitch.

[ This Message was edited by: apollodorus on 2003-02-02 23:40 ]

Partner philbox

Feb 2, 2003, 10:14 PM
Post #5 of 5 (3330 views)

Registered: Jun 26, 2002
Posts: 13105

Ask Dr. Piton - How do you Rap Severly Overhung and Traversi [In reply to]
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So here I am just stepping out of Dr. P`s surgery and I see this poor unfortunate soul waiting in line to see the good Dr. I couldn`t help myself but to offer a little advice of my own (knowing how long the line is to see the Doc).

You ask how to get back to the anchors on a severely overhung or traversing pitch.
Answer, Jumar horizontally along the tied off end of the rope once you abseil down to the aproximate level of the anchors or even a little lower as the arc you will describe will take you back up to the anchors. If you are level with the anchors when you start the horizontal jug then you will end up too high.

Okay, back to sauntering out of the waiting room with chest puffed out to impress the dishy blond receptioniste, trips over carpet and runs into door head first.


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