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Hammocks: Way too ghetto?
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dirko


Mar 8, 2003, 10:27 PM
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Hammocks: Way too ghetto?
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I am headed out to the Valley in two months, where I plan to get on a couple of big walls. However, I have no ledge to speak of. On the South Face and Triple Direct, it wasn't a major problem, but sooner or later I am going to do a route where I can't sleep on natural ledges. There is no way I am going to have the spare cash to spring for a ledge, so I am thinking about getting my hands on a hammock.

What I want to know is, has anyone out there used these contraptions, and if you did, did you actually sleep at night? Should I even bother? Are there better hammock brands? And, has anyone ever made one themselves?

They seem pretty ghetto, but then again, so am I. Is a hammock worth $100, or should I just buy a pair of the blue/black Aliens intead and forget about it? Thanks for the beta!


apollodorus


Mar 8, 2003, 10:39 PM
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The three biggest complaints of using a hammock are that you need to have anchors that are 8 or 10 feet apart, and your shoulders get squashed, and you press up against the rock.

The first problem will occur at most big wall belays. The anchors are usually only a few feet apart. But, it you can get to a second crack, or there's a horizontal one, a hammock can be set up.

You can minimize the last two by bringing some plastic pipe, and using them as spreaders at each end. 1" or 1.5" PVC SCH 40 pipe, with slots cut into the ends, will work. You'll want to keep enough sag in the hammock, though, that you don't flip over in your sleep.

You should check out the Krusty Ledge, which cost less than $100 to make. The design incorporates the bent spreader bar across the middle, like the Metolius Bomb Shelter. Here are the instructions on how to make it:

http://www.rockclimbing.com/articles/view.php?ID=124


dirko


Mar 8, 2003, 10:58 PM
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Thanks, Tom. Also of interest: Is there any hope of managing your stuff while you are situated in one of these things? Are you totally clusterf*cked, or can you position yourself without alot of difficulty? Inquiring minds want to know.


bigdan


Mar 8, 2003, 11:21 PM
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hmmm... [In reply to]
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thanks for bringing that up. i've wondered the same thing. since i've never been able to afford a ledge, i do routes with ledges or go fast and lightweight so it goes in a day. but i've wondered how bad a hammock would be. the consensus seems to be that it's functional, but not nearly as restful as a ledge. still, i want to give it a whirl sometime just for the novelty of it.


apollodorus


Mar 8, 2003, 11:23 PM
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John Middendorf, on his bigwall website said it best: sew clip-in loops onto EVERYTHING. And Russ The Fish suggests lots of small bags (with loops) to organize the Pig. You can clip a bag, pull it out, hang it and dig further into the Pig. A ledge is the best thing to have, of course, but with lots of tethers on the hammock to clip bags and stuff to, you should be OK. And have lots of tethers tied into the Pig, too, so you can pull out a bag, and hang it right there. The newer Metolious Pigs have a loop inside for tying tethers to. Color-coded bags are nice, even if you have to use spray paint on them. You could use a skull and crossbones motif on your TP and kitty litter bag, for example. And speaking of which, crapping into a tube or a wallflower paper bag would be murder in a hammock. You'd have to adjust your timing to small rock ledges, or something.

The N.A. wall was first done with hammocks. Check out the late Galen Rowell's great book, The Vertical World of Yosemite", for the classic photo of Robbins, Pratt and Chouinard stacked like pancakes in their hammocks in the Black Cave. So, it's 100% possible to use them on many serious routes.

I would suggest figuring that your hanging bivis with a hammock need to be at specific spots, just as bivis on rock ledges are at specific spots. Either use the topo, or get beta about the feasibility of using a hammock. Good beta is going to be better than the topo. I just checked the topos of both El Cap walls I've done, and there were at least six places that you could use a hammock, but you wouldn't know it (for sure, anyway) from the topo.

Another thing, also due to John Middendorf, is the idea of hanging a hammock below a portaledge. One of his A5 designs is like that; I think it's a double, with a hammock below for a party of three. So, if you do a wall with someone with a ledge, you can hang below it. Of course, if your partner has a double ledge, they're designed for two people. Most teams on long walls prefer two ledges, but on a two or three day climb, it might not be an issue.

And, don't forget that if you flag a ledge above the Pig, you don't need to disassemble it. Commercial ledges are designed to be easy to take down and assemble on the wall. The first porta-ledges were adapted from existing stuff, including submarine bunks. So, you might be able to find an existing (and probably a bit heavy) bed to use. This starts looking more and more like BWT, though, and PTPP has continually reminded me of how awful my BWT ledge has been. I have carbon fiber tubing for it now, and will machine some really nice corners to match.


apollodorus


Mar 9, 2003, 12:15 AM
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I forgot to mention that army surplus stores often have hammocks pretty cheap, much cheaper than $100. I've also seen net-type hammocks for about $20 in regular sporting goods stores. These are typically made from "550" nylon parachute cord, which is like wimpy 5mm, but still pretty strong.

Royal Robbins in his Advanced Rockcraft book says that you can use a hammock at a single anchor by shortening one of the straps. Basically, you'll wind up with a chair with a back, and your legs hang off the edges (unless you're some sort of Cirque de Solei contortionist). You might be able to put your feet into a bag that hangs off the same anchor, but, again BWT. I have no idea if that'd work.

Russ the Fish sells a mini-ledge that he calls a One Night Stand.

www.fishproducts.com


Warren Harding came up with the Bat-Tent: a hammock with an integral fly. It saved him and Galen Rowell from freezing death on the first ascent of the South Face of Half Dome. If you use a hammock, think about some sort of rain gear.


aid312


Mar 9, 2003, 4:33 AM
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dirko,
If you are going to be out in the Valley, I think you can actually rent a ledge from the climbing shop right there.


mikeehartley


Mar 9, 2003, 9:37 AM
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Dirko,

I made a functional hammock years ago out of light nylon fabric, flat webbing, and a PVC spread bar. Very cheap and didn't weigh a thing. If I was going to solo a route where I'd only have one hanging bivy I might consider using it again, even though I own a portaledge, just because a ledge is so heavy and bulky. I would not expect to sleep hardly at all!!! Hammocks are god awful uncomfortable even in the best bivy spots, hell to get into and situated, and good luck hitting the poop-bag when you have to take a crap. True, the hardmen put up the early El Cap routes in hammocks but they also had 1" swamiis, 1" tied aiders, and other crude gear that most of us pampered folks these days wouldn't consider. Those folks weren't called hardmen for nothing!


johnhenry


Mar 9, 2003, 10:38 AM
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I think maybe some versions of hammocks have come a long ways. Especially, single point suspension types such as the Pika Parasite:

http://www.pikamtn.com/9bivouacgear.html

Cant be great, but gotta be better than sleeping in slings, eh amigo...
John


highcamp


Mar 9, 2003, 12:16 PM
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If you are going to go the way of the hammock, by all means avoid the fish net style $20 units you can get at any outdoor store. I tried this a few years back and it sucked unbelievably. Everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, gets caught in that fish net. Your harness, your shoes, your... damnit the list just goes on, believe me. If it wouldn't have had such a strong tensile strength I would have ripped the thing to shreds on the spot. Stupid hammock.

I CURSE YOU HAMMOCK!!! I WISH DIARRHEA ON YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY!!!

If you're looking to go cheap I'd say build your own ledge.... it'll be worth a good story if nothing else.


calpolyclimber


Mar 9, 2003, 12:42 PM
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Never climbed a big wall, but heres something I thought of:

1. Get/make a hammock that has spreader bars at both ends (or maybe just one at the head end to save weight?).
2. Get a piece of strong pipe (not sure if PVC would do it) about 7 feet long. Put a few loops of webbing on it to hook stuff to.
3. Extend the tie in loops at either end up, through some kind of loop at either end of the 7 foot pipe, and then together again for the tie in.

This would give you (if it worked) a hammock that could be hung from a single point and would have a handy "shelf" of loops for you to organize your gear.

Just thinking about t some more, I was trying to figure out how long the pipe would have to be so that the hammock would hang in a way that you could sleep in it... but who knows. Anyway, hope this helps somehow, haha.


bigwalling


Mar 9, 2003, 2:26 PM
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I climbed with a guy who said he used a hammock to do N.A. wall. Pretty crazy if you ask me.


mrhardgrit


Mar 9, 2003, 2:57 PM
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Here you can get rentals from here. I met the guy when he gave me a lift in the Valley last years - seemed pretty decent to me.

http://home.inreach.com/yorock1/

Tom


pywiak


Mar 9, 2003, 4:28 PM
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I used a borrowed Forrest hammock on my first wall (the Prow) in 1977. This taught me valuable real-world lessons about the design of a single-point hammock. I incorporated those lessons in the design and fabrication of a single point hammock I used for over forty bivy nights on more than a dozen walls. My hammock provided reasonable comfort without the use of a spreader bar.

The biggest problem with sleeping in a single point hammock is the difficulty in keeping your arms at your sides when lying on your back. The scoop of the hammock fabric tends to scrunch your shoulders and elbows, forcing your arms to be crossed all night long. One solution is a spreader bar between the straps, but this doesn't fully solve the problem, since the sides still pinch together at the middle straps. My solution was to cut low scoops in the fabric sides between the head and middle straps, so my elbows could comfortably hang over the sides. That was the key to a good nights rest.

Another important trick is to line the hammock with a foam pad (the same one you use to line the pig during the day). This helps spread the hammock, and insulates the side you're laying on from the cold stone and night air. (I do the same thing with my ledge).

Finally, I've found with my hammock design I'm not restricted to laying on my back all night long. I can curl up on either side and the hammock folds comfortably to match my position.

Of course, I prefer my ledge (a 1984 Gramicci), but I still have my hammock in the crate. I know it will provide a good night's sleep if needed, but I'd hate to ride out a storm in it.


elcapbuzz


Mar 9, 2003, 5:53 PM
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Whatever works.... [In reply to]
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Great topic and a ton of good advice.

I walked up to the base of El Cap in 1997 to climb my first big wall (the NA). I wasn't going to let ANYTHING stop me from climbing this wall. My last atempt on a wall was the South Face of Washington's Column, my partner bailed on me.

So, I decided that I was leaving my partners behind. I was going solo. I believed that by soloing, it was giving me the best chance to get up the wall.

Right before I launched Chongo asked me, "What kind of ledge do you have?"

"Ledge?, dude I can't afford a ledge."

"Wow, you're using a hammock?", Chongo asked.

"Uuuhhhh, no. I'm going to sleep in my harness", was my reply.

Chongo laughed and said, "DUDE!!! you're going to need a hammock".

He lent me a two point hammock in which I spent four nights in.

Yeah, they are less than desirable, BUT, it would have been worse without one. So, I say..... Whatever works, man. (Kluas' favorite saying)

Oh, and I got to attach my hammock exactly where Royal did in that famous picture that Paul was talking about.

Good luck!!!

Cheers, Ammon


venezuela


Mar 9, 2003, 6:22 PM
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I have never done a Big Wall, but if your asking about a hammock, you might want to check out Climbing mag, No. 214 (august), you'll find a report on a route in Venezuela, in the Autana "tepui". There you'll find the late Jose Luis Pereira on a hammock.
Besides that...I have friends that almost always use hammocks when doing walls. But maybe is just because, here in Venezuela, a hammock is a very traditional way to sleep, so I guess we are used to them: I even have one in my bedroom!!

Diego.


krustyklimber


Mar 9, 2003, 7:49 PM
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Hey you know, a guy by the name of Krustyklimber wrote and article on how to build your own ledge, dirt cheap...

Maybe it's here....

http://www.rockclimbing.com/articles/view.php?ID=124

Jeff http://pages.prodigy.net/.../emoticons/wave1.gif


iamthewallress


Mar 10, 2003, 10:40 AM
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I have a Pika parasite. It's smaller than a bivi sack. You can use it w/ a fly or a bivi sac. A friend of mine was soloing Lurking Fear and going super light w/ hers and ended up getting under it for a little rain shelter.


mikemachineco


Mar 10, 2003, 12:37 PM
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I have the Pika hammock and it doesn't work too bad, for a hammock. Compared to natural ledges or a portaledge it's very uncomfortable, but it's got a spreader bar and is easy to setup from one anchor or from anchors with some distance between them.

As far as hanging a hammock below another ledge, I was told that is a definite no-no unless you have the A5 Cliff Cabana. Correct me if I was misinformed, but I was told that all portaledges (minus the Cliff Cabana) are not weight rated to support a hammock suspended from the ledge.


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