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Ask Dr. Piton...About hero loops and tie offs
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addiroids


Dec 3, 2001, 7:28 PM
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Ask Dr. Piton...About hero loops and tie offs
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So, Great Loquacious One,

In 1000 words or less, could you please explain the difference between hero loops and tie offs??

Also, maybe you could give us a SHORT explanation on why they are called hero loops. And the hero loops I am speaking of are the ones used to tie off pins, not the ones on the top of the aiders.

TRADitionally yours,

Addiroids


passthepitonspete


Dec 24, 2001, 3:18 PM
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Ask Dr. Piton...About hero loops and tie offs [In reply to]
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The only Hero Loops I have ever heard of, are indeed the ones at the top of your aiders. These are named hero loops because it is very heroic to stand in these things! You are top-stepping to the MAX! This is exceptionally difficult as the rock gets steep, but not too bad to do when you are on a slab.

Hero Loops on aiders are really the grab loops at the top, which you can see on the top left of the aiders in this picture.. You can usually only get the tip of your shoe into the things. Note that only weenies and Frenchmen call aiders "etriers," by the way.

Now, if you are talking about tie-offs that are used to reduce the bending moment on pitons and tie them off short, I personally would not call these hero loops.

I would call them either "tie-offs" or "keepers".

A "keeper" is a long loop of 3mm cord that you put through the eye of a piton when you tie it off, so that if you pull the pin, you don't lose the pin. You can use 1/2" webbing if you like, but it's overkill.

If you tie your keeper loops out of 3mm cord, a piece about 70 cm long and tied with a double fisherman's knot should do the trick. It has to be long enough so that it is longer than your tie-off.

For a moderate aid climb, you should have about twenty. You will need one for every pin you place on a single pitch. If you think you will make more than twenty pin placements on a pitch, you had better bring more. Don't forget some spares.

To make a tie-off for a piton, start with 9/16" tubular webbing. Cut it into a 68 cm length. Trust me on this - I've made a ton of these things.

You have three ways that you can tie off a piton:

A girth hitch, clove hitch or slipknot.

Dr. Pee'd On highly recommends you use a slipknot. Should you choose to do this, please tie your tie-offs in a MOBIUS STRIP. This means you need to put a half-twist into the tie-off when you tie it. When you attach it to your piton with a slipknot, if you tie it correctly, the sling will lie flat with no twists. Clever, eh?

You will need more tie-offs than you will place pins on a given pitch because these things get FUBAR'd very quickly when you hammer them and funk them. Bring PLENTY of spares.

And when you tie your tie-offs, make damn sure the knot is TIGHT! You do NOT want your knot to untie. After you tie it, put the thing over the top corner of an open door, clip in your aiders, and gently bounce test to tighten the knot. Do not even think about climbing with these things until you have tightened the knot! How hard your bounce depends on how strong you figure your door hinges are!

It is worth noting that you will almost always attach your carabiner to a piton's tie-off loop and only rarely will you clip your carabiner directly into the eye of the pin, unless you have managed to drive it all the way in. If you do not know how hard to drive a piton, then you should ask Dr. Pee'd On. This is also an easy question to answer and one I will take care of immediately.

Sometimes I choose not to use a tie-off, even on pin placements that stick out of the rock. I sometimes prefer to clip the eye of the pin instead, in order to cause the pin to cam into its placement.

I would be interested in knowing if there have been any technical studies concerning whether you should tie off your pin, or clip the eye in order to torque it tighter.

This is kind of a "by guess and by golly" situation, kind of like knowing when to use a prusik knot on your lead line while soloing. If you ask me when you should use a tie-off, and when you should not, I will answer you the same way as if you ask me how you get to Carnegie Hall.


passthepitonspete


Jan 19, 2002, 7:08 PM
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Dear Uncle Stu,

The problem with tie-offs is that they get bashed to bits, not only when you are nailing, but also when you are funking. You therefore don't want to use an expensive runner unless you are made of money.

9/16" webbing is not the strongest stuff out there, but it is strong enough for piton tie-offs, at least in my experience. So far I have never cut one, but I haven't fallen very far on a tied-off pin. How strong is "strong enough"? According to Black Diamond, their 9/16" webbing is rated at 10.7 kN or 2405 lbf. Look for the 14mm tubular webbing near the bottom of the column on the right, about halfway down the page.

Remember that this breaking strength will decrease when you tie the sling, and also when you put the overhand slipknot around the pin when you tie it off.

I don't believe I'd bother with a beefier tie-off. If things were looking dire, I would add, as I often have, a Screamer which will begin to deploy around 900 lbs. I cannot believe you could possible cut a tie-off loop with a Screamer attached to it!

No sir. Clip your tie-off with a Screamer, and Stu's your uncle.


apollodorus


Feb 18, 2002, 8:06 PM
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Ask Dr. Piton...About hero loops and tie offs [In reply to]
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Geez. More sport climbers with NO respect for tradition.

Tie-off loops come in small tie-off size (about 4") and large tie-off size (about 8"). You need both sizes because Lost Arrows are small, but Bongs are big.

The big tie-offs are called HERO LOOPS because they double as top steps when you clip them to the piece you are on. And also because only a dork would say BIG TIE OFF LOOP and SMALL TIE OFF LOOP.


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