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Are pitons really necessary?
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wigglestick


Dec 4, 2001, 7:52 AM
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Are pitons really necessary?
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Ok, I am a big wall/aid climbing newbie. I have done a couple attempts at some clean routes but have yet to hammer any pitons. I am looking at some more routes to do in the future and the suggested rack includes LA's Knifeblades, etc. Call me an idiot but I just don't understand how these pitons would be absolutely necessary to succeed on the route. It seems to me that much of the modern equipment offset nuts, rp's, ballnuts, etc would work as well as a piton. And maybe a piton would be required for the first ascensionist but they would only leave a scar which could be used using camhooks, HB offsets. Can somebody articulate a situation where a piton is the only possible choice. I guess I am asking if I have to go and buy a pin rack in order to do all the A1 & A2 routes. Enlighten me please.


atg200


Dec 4, 2001, 9:55 AM
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Hi,

Yes pitons are occasionally absolutely necessary-but very rarely on A2ish routes. Pins often hold better in bad rock. Tied off pins in boxed out seams are sometimes the only possible gear. Knifeblades and beaks are thinner than rps, sliders, or micronuts. Some wierd blown out placements don't take much besides sawed off pins or stacks.

Push yourself, and go for hammerless ascents. The guidebook I have for Maverick on the Hindu called for a halfdozen pins, but it went very easily hammerless. I still carry an emergency kit of a half dozen pins even on clean routes just in case critical fixed pieces are gone. Learn to place pins and heads on the ground just in case.

Any route in particular you have in mind?

andrew



passthepitonspete


Dec 5, 2001, 7:34 PM
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The thing to note about aid routes that require nailing (as opposed to routes like the Nose and Salathe Wall which do go free, but are aided clean by most mortals) is that the route is constantly evolving.

Cracks that begin as rurp seams end up becoming big enough for cams before long at all! If you do not believe me, go check out The Shield. That crazy m*therf*cker Charlie Porter used 35 rurps in a row on the first ascent! [Now]s*ck, or what?!] These days you can fire in cams and sawed-offs and nuts. The route is a cakewalk and is considered one of the five El Cap nailing trade routes, the others of which are Lurking Fear, Mescalito, Tangerine Trip, and Zodiac.

If you are a very skilled practitioner or a very necky b*stard then you can get away with more cam hooks and fewer pins.
Note: I consider myself the former but not the latter. I am not prepared to turn an A2 pitch into an A4 pitch when I can whack in a Lost Arrow and relax.

Clean ascents are something of a fallacy anyway as I have explained here.

But I do believe that when it is reasonable to do so, you should always climb clean and try to save the rock, which is a precious non-renewable resource.

But there will be times on aid climbs, even on A2, where nothing but a pin will work.

Note: I may be lying there. Perhaps I should say, "nothing but a pin or a big frickin' long cheat stick."

As Andrew suggests, it is a good idea to check on the route before you climb it. Beware of your source of beta, and ensure that it is credible!. Sandbagging is especially prolific when newbies ask about aid routes. But if you believe you can trust your source, chances are you can figure out the pin rack you really think you need.

For aid routes in Yosemite Valley, a very excellent and up-to-date source of information is found at my friend Chris Mac's SuperTopo website. I - Dr. Pee'd On - highly recommend Chris Mac's book, which will tell you how many pins you need for most of the Valley routes you would ever consider climbing. Chris Mac's book is The Shit.

I have helped Chris edit his new book about Classic Yosemite Free Climbs and since I got to it before he published it this time, you can be assured that the English is good. [Aside: Steve Roper and I have been bitchin' at each other about a few things, though...]

The therapeutic benefits of nailing cannot be understated - it feels d*mn good to whack the H-E-double-hockey-stick out of a pin til that little m*f* rings like a railroad spike!
Sometimes when I'm up on the Captain, I can hear a "ringer" from half a mile away! Man, when you hear that sound, you know you can hang your grandmother and her pickup truck and her shotgun from that pin, and be pretty sure it'll hold her false teeth and her TV remote thingy too.

I am Dr. Pee'd On, and I am still here.

Somewhere....

I guess.....

Whatever.....


stroker


Dec 10, 2001, 7:27 AM
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Pins are sometimes the only option you have. Going clean is always the best "style," but that may take you decades to get up a nailing route. There is a simple, barbaric pleasure is pounding pins. You be the judge of what you want to pursue.


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