Forums: Climbing Disciplines: Big Wall and Aid Climbing:
Bounce testing gear in sandstone
RSS FeedRSS Feeds for Big Wall and Aid Climbing

Premier Sponsor:

 


epic_ed


May 7, 2003, 7:55 PM
Post #1 of 10 (1916 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jun 17, 2002
Posts: 4724

Bounce testing gear in sandstone
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Need some recommendations. Here's the scoop:

I've been aiding a line in Sedona for months trying to get the second ascent. As far as Sedona quality sandstone goes, this stuff isn't too bad, but like most formations in the area, you get a mix. Last weekend I started up the first pitch like I've done three times prior and got to where the thin stuff starts. It takes blades and LAs, and I've always felt each one was reasonably solid (especially the LAs). I've never blown a pin on this route. Until last weekend.

Everything I placed seemed like crap. It's possible that it had rained earlier in the week, but I don't think so. Regardless, it's not my imagination that the rock quality was softer on this pitch than the weeks prior. Case in point, my third pin placement went in solid -- drove a short bugaboo in to the eye. When I weighted it, no problem. Bounced lighty -- feels solid. Bounced harder -- BING! The rock fractured and spat my pin right back in my face. In addition (and probably more concerning) the blue alien I had just unclipped from before giving the pin a serious bounce test also failed. It was a bomber-looking placement set back about 2 inches from the lip of the crack and it was >%50 cammed. The damn thing tracked right out of the crack. I was caught by an LA. Not a bad ride, but what the F?! I looked at the Alien -- no problems with the cam. Looked at the crack -- none of the rock around the cam blew but there's a double scar about 3 in long on each side of the crack where the cam simply ripped out.

Two moves above that I blew another pin while bounce testing (no air time, though), and two above that I cracked another placement.

So my question to those of you who survive crappy sandstone aid climbs -- how rigerously do you bounce test pins in sandstone? Do you modify your testing techniques? Is it/should it be different in sandstone that is less than Wingate or Najavo quality? During the previous weeks up there my pins held everything I threw at them. Last week, it seemed I had some solid placements but I think I may have ruined them by bouncing too hard. If this is the case, and I should ease off, then how the F can I have any confidence which ones (if any) will hold a fall?

Thanks for your input.

Ed


tradkelly


May 7, 2003, 8:42 PM
Post #2 of 10 (1916 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 7, 2003
Posts: 278

Re: Bounce testing gear in sandstone [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

IMHO, bounce testing on any sandstone sounds like a bad idea. I climb frequently at Garden of the Gods (the scary place) and don't trust anything - pins, drilled baby angles, epoxied bolts, chocks, or especially cams. Climbing rock that turns to sand when you weight it is just stupid... so, I went there again today. Nope, it's not any better. Darn. I keep hoping... Maybe consider everything in sandstone to be A3 or higher? Body weight only... and completely directional.

I don't intentionally aid. Esp. on dirt-rock. You've got some cohones I'd like some days, man. :) Wish I could help more than suggesting not bouncing... I'll let you know when I finish the design for phase-pro, that sets into the rock directly and releases in another dimension. Good luck - I hope you get a usable answer. I'll be watching. Climb safe!


flamer


May 7, 2003, 9:49 PM
Post #3 of 10 (1916 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Oct 22, 2002
Posts: 2955

Re: Bounce testing gear in sandstone [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Ed a couple of things here.
YES, it's ok (and even recomended) to bounce in sandstone!
Now, you do need to consider teh difficulty/quality of the placements. Are they truly body weight only?
You said you'd tried this climb a couple of times...did you use the exact same placements everytime? You could have enlarged the scar's and it came back to haunt you!!
The only real answer here is to use your best judgement!! Look at what you've got and make a call....
Ok now on to the interesting stuff!! What route are you talking about????
I've only Climbed in Sedona once...and My buddy and I finished the first ascent of a route He'd been working on for awhile.
To my Knowledge it has not seen a second(it was almost exactly a year ago!!) and it is a truly EXPOSED, awesome, route. It's called All Systems Go!! And goes at 5.9 C2(+?) It's 4 pitch's long and an absolutly STELLAR line! My buddy Mark gets all the credit for it and I thank him for letting me come along for the final push.
All of the anchors are BOMBER and you rap the route.
I can tell you where to get a Topo for it if you want...Mark and I would both like to hear another opinion on this route...wow why don't I beg somebody to climb it!!
Good luck On your current project!!
josh


apollodorus


May 7, 2003, 10:05 PM
Post #4 of 10 (1916 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Feb 18, 2002
Posts: 2157

Re: Bounce testing gear in sandstone [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

This post reminds me of all the TRs I've read about the sandstone in the SW. One of the earliest was Chuck Pratt, writing about how the wind at night cleaned an entire aid pitch, except the top piton. Later, John Middendorf wrote of suspiciously similar conditions: John and Walt on Organ Rock

I guess my point is that the only way that stuff is even climbable is when the sun bakes it totally dry. And even then, it sounds pretty spooky. There should probably be a separate rating system for sandstone, to take into account its friable and chossy character.


epic_ed


May 7, 2003, 10:53 PM
Post #5 of 10 (1916 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jun 17, 2002
Posts: 4724

Re: Bounce testing gear in sandstone [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

The route is on Courthouse Butte; north face. It is one of two established aid lines on the formation. The first, Justice of the Peace, was put up in '99 by (?) John McDonald (I could be wrong) and a couple of other guys. That one is the most striking climb on the entire butte. He used to have the topo and TR posted on his website, but I haven't been able to locate it in nearly a year. It's 5 pitches and goes at 5.9 (mandatory)/A2+. I've done the first pitch of that one and ran out of daylight. In fact, that was the first time I ever pounded a pin. I will not be doing that thing again unless someone else leads through the loose tower of death and mandatory 5.9 OW that starts the route. The next two pitches of that route look absolutely incredible, though.

The route I'm trying was established by a guy named Glenn (can't recall his last name), Dale Stewart (AZ Hiking Shack), and some other dude whose name I forget. It's about 100 yds east of J of P and has a direct start and original start. Rating is unconfirmed, but Glenn feels it probably goes at A2+ or A3. It was all A1 until last weekend for me. I've made attempts with various partners and also tried to solo it -- made it as far as the top of 3. I'm heading back for more insanity this weekend.

Not sure what formation you guys climbed, but I think it must have been a different route. I definitely plan to continue bounce testing, but it's clear that testing on sandstone and testing on granite are two very different ballgames. On this stuff, you gotta be aware of the condition of the route that particular day and adjust accordingly. Looks like some days it's A1, other it's A3 at best. I was using the same pin scars and I've had to adjust my pieces accordingly. Some have gotten bigger with just a couple of times up the pitch. But I did pick the right size for the current placement. Slipped it in about 1/2 way and then started hammering. I was able to get most pins in to the eye; others I had to tie-off. It looks like in order to continue to make upward progress, it's best to just give most pieces a light bounce to confirm they'll hold body weight, and then move up hoping to sink something bomber before I'm looking at the reaper. The first ascentionist did a good job of protecting the climb -- bomber 1/2 epoxied bolts at all anchors, and glued-in drilled angles or 1/2 bolts at opportune times on each pitch. Glen wasn't interested in creating some A5 horror-fest, and the fixed gear on the route ensures it won't go at anything above A3. Still spicey enough for me.


epic_ed


May 7, 2003, 11:18 PM
Post #6 of 10 (1916 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jun 17, 2002
Posts: 4724

Re: Bounce testing gear in sandstone [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Tom -- yeah, I've read that TR. Absolutely insane. Fortunately I'm not climbing on anything even close to that loose. At least the damn belays are solid. Those guys have way more cajones that I'll ever have, but that ascent truely sounds nuts.

Ed


flamer


May 8, 2003, 7:35 AM
Post #7 of 10 (1916 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Oct 22, 2002
Posts: 2955

Re: Bounce testing gear in sandstone [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Ed,
Yeah I didn't think it was the same route. I'm not even sure what formation the route we did is on! I do know that it starts with the famous route Epitaph, and then after the first 30-40 ft goes left up and OUT THE HUGE ROOF!!! This thing is seriously exposed!! There is a topo for it at the climbing gym/shop in Flagstaff.
josh


alpinestylist


May 9, 2003, 9:39 AM
Post #8 of 10 (1916 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 193

!!! [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Hey guys...

While not vastly experienced with "not intentionally aiding" in the garden of the gods, I do have some thoughts on this stuff.

I have climbed some desert stuff, hard/easy whatever. Most of my desert nailing has been in the Fischer Towers. Maybe Sedona is worse, but its mildly manky there too.

I cannot imagine not bounce testing hammered hardware. Maybe one placement between tons of bomber clean gear you could skip the bounce testing. I did an early clean ascent of teh King Fischer and hand placed pins, I didn't bounce test those cuz they were really more like cam hooks.

Dudes though, for real I can't imagine being strung out on a string of jive not testing. YOur doomed! When the going gets tough I'm glad I'm fat and can bounce the crap out of those pieces.

Maybe there is a medium in between, but no testing at all is NOT the answer. Some placements are super manky and dicey and don't need to be tested. Welded LA's should not rip with body weight.

My cousin and I climbed DOAD in the Fishers and we were both bouncing EVERYTHING, beaks, heads, blades EVERYTHIng


epic_ed


May 9, 2003, 10:33 AM
Post #9 of 10 (1916 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jun 17, 2002
Posts: 4724

Re: !!! [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

BrentA, thanks for checking in, dude.

Yeah, I agree, but I guess I'm wondering if there are some pieces that I should skip in the name of getting up and off of a piece I know is mank -- hoping, of course, to get to something more solid above it. Preferably something I can at least bounce test.

On the harder aid stuff, I would think there are usually a number of placements you know are crap and know are body weight only, and you certainly aren't counting on them to hold a fall. How hard should you bounce stuff that you believe is body-weight only? I'm assuming you just give them a "body-weight" hang, maybe a jiggle, and move on up. Seems like if I bounce test everything on this route, I'm going to spend a lot of time blowing out corners and replacing another (yet equally crappy) pin.

Just a caveat -- this stuff probably isn't as mank as I'm making it sound. But there are sections of bad stuff (limestone layers and soft sandstone). The rest of it is reasonably solid. It's just that I've always considered the lower two pitches to be some of the more solid stuff on this route, and that's where I was blowing pins last weekend. We've had no rain up there this week, so I'm hoping for better conditions.

Ed


alpinestylist


May 9, 2003, 11:09 AM
Post #10 of 10 (1916 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 193

Re: !!! [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

so before I spout like I know, let me just say there are MANY other people, even PTPP, that have good beta and probably more experience than me.

There was a three year period of my life that I was really into hard aid. Like really into it. Blah blah spew spew

Anytime my body has been in danger I test like a muthafu&*er. Like all my weight jumping. There is a little mantra in my head "try to pull it out". on a string of junk I always do this.

You say you don't want to overtest marginal placements, and this comes from experience, but you still test to some degree. Hooks I don't hop on. You mentioned wasting time replacing blown pins after testing them, this is a lot better than wasting time on your couch with broken bones.

You are obviously on the right path and figuring things out, keep going, you mentioned wiggle testing and light bounces. All must be in you arsenal.

On my final exam I pasted 85 feet (really 85 feet) of crap heads (1s and 2s) in a nasty seam that wasn't really a seam. I reefed on everyone of them with everything I had for fear of not reefing, then pasting the next one and having it pop, blowing the string of untested junk below me.

Testing saves! Sorry to blather, just my thoughts


Forums : Climbing Disciplines : Big Wall and Aid Climbing

 


Search for (options)

Log In:

Username:
Password: Remember me:

Go Register
Go Lost Password?



Follow us on Twiter Become a Fan on Facebook