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Dec 2, 2001, 8:48 PM
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Ask Dr. Piton ... About a Typical Aid Rack.
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I have a very large free rack. What else do I need to go big with Aid?

[ This Message was edited by: talons05 on 2002-12-18 20:31 ]


Dec 2, 2001, 10:48 PM
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I've been thinking of publishing my Complete Big Wall Checklist. It is very huge and includes the whole list of everything you need to solo a very hard route on El Cap.

I'm not sure the forum is the right place - there may be somewhere on this website where I can just put in a Microsoft Word document of something(?)

Gimme a day or two to get my act in order, then I'll post a rack for easy trade routes, med nail ups, and desperate horror shows. You just keep adding more stuff.

Hint - buy Aliens!!!!

Stay tuned, eh?

Cheers, Pete


Dec 3, 2001, 7:42 AM
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3-5 sets of everything

and a poop tube.


Dec 3, 2001, 10:05 AM
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Where are you climbing?

Basics, any wall:

2 pairs Etriers(don't try to get by with 2 or 3
2 adjustable daisy chains
1 helmet
1 comfy harness(i dig the yates big wall harness)
1 double gear sling(bd zodiac sucks-i like the fish)
1 pair ascenders
1 gri-gri
1 pair kneepads
1 pair fingerless gloves
1 beefy nut tool(the pika one is awesome)
1 hammer and funkness is really nice even on clean walls
1 headlamp
1 sharp knife

For ropes, I use a 10.5 or 11 mm rope as the lead line, a 10.5 static line for the haul line(i get it thick for jugging-i hate jugging and rapping skinny ropes), and a 7 mm zip line.

For gear, a big free rack plus:

Hooks - a starter hook rack is a bd skyhook and talon, leeper bathook, and a big fishhook. you will buy many more, but this will see you through most A3s

Camhooks - fast and easy, get a few. i prefer the leepers to the pikas.

Aliens - awesome. i carry a set of tcu's, a set of offset aliens, and a double set of normal aliens. you need more or less depending on the wall

HB Bronze Offsets - i love these as much as the aliens, took a 35 footer onto the tiny #2. i carry 2 sets, these are far superior to any other micronuts.

Free ovals - At least 60.

Tieoffs - useful even on an easy wall. get thin diameter webbing for tieing off fixed pinds, etc.

Hero loops - a few are useful even on an easy wall. short tied supertape slings, useful for clipping into fixed pins.

Screamers - as many as you can get. Easy El Cap routes often have bad bolt ladders that have less teeth with screamers.

This is all dependent on where you are. If you are in Yosemite, you'll need a haulbag and a portaledge if you are on anything aside from the nose or the salathe. In zion, you'll need triple sets of cams but probably not a ledge or a bag if you move reasonably fast. Very few trade routes require pins or heads, but a few of each is nice in case a critical fixed piece blows.


Dec 3, 2001, 11:57 AM
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Well, I'll be......

See, if you rant long enough, someone comes along and answers my question while I'm ranting.

I'll have a look at the answer and provide comments tomorrow, but I ask you to first read my post below which appears to be directed at wigglestick but is really directed at all of you.

Re: wigglesticks comments above:




Have we not been talking about the BETTER FREAKING WAY???!!!"



Read buddy's lips:

Poop Tubes are obsolete technology.

Poop Tubes are inappropriate!

Poop Tubes are what Big Wall Theorists talk about in parking lots, and what people who don't know the better way carry off the summit of big walls!

Around here, we use cutting-edge Big Wall Technology that has been personally tested, verified and approved by your very own Dr. Piton.

Around here we use the Wall Flower.

This is a Wall Flower:

And while this animated smilie does not carry the same delightful country-fresh fragrance of morning dew alighting on the petals of an Irish pansy on a still and quiet April morning like a real wall flower does, you can use your imagination.

[Question: do pansies grow in Ireland? I am not sure - I just made it up because it sounded good. I have found many pansies in the climbing world, some even around here, but I have never found a pansy on a big wall]

At any rate, please click here to read about the Yosemite-Ranger-approved Wall Flower.

Now Matt, I apologize for that outburst above, and ask that you forgive me. I now have realized that many very bitchin' topics I have written are still lost in another forum!!!

When Dr. Piton was given his forum, a number of his best posts were moved over here from other forums in order to create a CENTRAL REPOSITORY OF INFORMATION. This is in no way like a suppository and I apologize if I implied this in any way whatsoever, which I didn't, but of course might have.

The posts were moved here because it was a GOOD IDEA, and Dr. Piton's forum is all about sharing good ideas.

At one time, the following posts were moved over here:

Missing Post #1

The post above contains fundamental beta on how to make a HOMEMADE FLY for your portaledge that won't leak and how to flag your portaledge.

Missing Post #2

The above post contains information on the WALL FLOWER.

Missing Post #3

The above post contains information on how to CLEAN AN AID TRAVERSE, one of the most fundamental yet least understood components of aid and big wall climbing.

Missing Post #4

The above post contains fundamental information on how to rope solo with a Gri-gri, and how to use long prusik slings along the way to make things safer and completely eliminate any and ALL wear and tear on your rope. The post even answers the question of someone who suggested this might increase the fall factor, which it won't.


I am about to make a LOGICAL ARGUMENT and I ask that you follow along with me because at the end, I have a FAVOUR to ask you my readers.

When Dr. Piton writes the word "LOGIC" you may wish to substitute the term "COMMON SENSE"

I am a very anal Professional Engineer, the I find logic to be very appealing, although there appear to be many people around here to whom it may not appeal, for instance people who do not know the difference between a snake and a fish>

If you have never read about the difference between a snake and a fish then I suggest you click this link about the difference between a snake and a fish.>

This very post is the REASON DR. PITON'S FORUM WAS BUSTED UP and is required reading in an Historical Context.

You will note in the snake and fish post that NOWHERE IN THE POST did I call anyone a name, or directly refer to any given person in the post, nor did I imply that I might be referring to any given person. Any reference to any person living or dead was purely co-incidental.

I do believe, however, that one person made a logical inference that I might be referring to HIM, when in fact I was referring to a specific category of person in general and he got angry and busted up my forum.

[Aside: to draw such a logical inference where one does not exist could well be the sign of a GUILTY CONSCIENCE.]

If you draw exception to the post above then I would ask you to reply in that post which already contains three pages of replies.


These posts were moved to Dr. Piton's Forum not because I started them or wrote them - they were moved over to Dr. Piton's forum because I did such a superb job of answering them!

They were moved to Dr. Piton's Forum because they are part and parcel of the complete set of big wall tricks and tips that I intend to set up for you here, not somewhere else.

They were moved to Dr. Piton's Forum because they are originally written for and they are damn good.

They were moved to Dr. Piton's Forum because it was a GOOD IDEA to move them here!!

[I'm ranting.]

And here is the fundamental premise of my LOGICAL ARGUMENT:

It was because of THESE VERY POSTS YOU SEE ABOVE that I was given my own forum!!

Please tell me you "GET IT".

Please tell me you feel these posts above should be RETURNED TO MY FORUM which is where they were before my forum was busted up.

[Aside: during those 48 hours when my forum was busted up and my posts were scattered hither and yon, I was starting to feel like a Mr. Potatoehead in the hands of some sick child with a warped sense of humour, or a Picasso painting.]

When my forum was reassembled, I requested that those posts, which had at one time been here, be returned to my forum because is was a GOOD FRICKING IDEA!

[I'm really ranting now!]

But for reasons I don't fully understand...


....these posts have NOT been returned to my Forum because the Powers That Be said they didn't belong here because

**I didn't start them**

**I only answered them**

**They belong in their original places**

Now, I believe that the so-called LOGIC of the three statements you read directly above is ILLOGICAL.

I believe it is Just Plain Dumb.

[Aside: If you want to read about when my old boss, Peckerhead, made a life-changing statement that is fully relevant to this topic of discussion, you will find the link at the bottom]

I believe that returning the posts above to the Dr. Piton forum would be a VERY GOOD IDEA.

I believe that returning those posts to the Central Reposity (not suppository) of Information would be a VERY GOOD IDEA

I believe it would be THE BETTER WAY.

This is what **I** believed, and this is what I have requested several times.

My requests have thus far fallen on deaf ears or ears whose logic is flawed.


IF you believe in the MERIT of my logical argument above

AND IF you believe that the posts above should be RETURNED to the Dr. Piton forum

BECAUSE this would be a GOOD IDEA

THEN I ask you to please contact the two people linked below and ASK THEM TO MOVE THOSE POSTS BACK TO THE DR. PITON FORUM

OR ELSE you will half to continue hunting over hell's half acre to find stuff that really BELONGS HERE.

This is called IF-THEN-ELSE LOGIC and if you have ever programmed a computer you will be familiar.

Even stupid machines can follow logic like that!!

IF I sound frustrated and I sound as though I have given up hope of ever seeing my posts returned to my forum where I believe they really belong

THEN you are ab-so-frickin'-lutely CO-RRECT! You are CO-RRECT!

OR ELSE you must think I am a STARK RAVING MAD LUNATIC! (sorry, I'm slobbering...)


[please wait while smilie below goes crazy, it takes a moment]

IF you want these posts returned, please

send a Private Message to this dude and ask him


send a Private Message to this dude and tell him that you asked the other dude above


I guarantee your voice will be heard.

One of those two people is an exceptionally good listener and hears every word I speak, as long as it is in bullet form.

When writing to these people I suggest that you too keep your request in bullet form,

which is short, concise, and the complete antithesis of a RANT and is far more effective in dealing with people who like to read stuff in bullet form which I have learned these people do.

Thank you for your help.

Please let me assure you that your voices will be heard.

The continuing existence of Dr. Piton's Forum is PROOF POSITIVE that YOUR VOICES ARE HEARD!

Now, go do it! RAH! RAH! RAH!


P.S. IF you want to read about how my ex-boss "Peckerhead" changed my life and also read a really cute story about how my MOM became friends with the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT MAN IN CANADIAN POLITICS,
THEN I would ask that you please click here and hit the "PgDn Button" FIVE times to get to the story which fills the bottom half of this page

OR ELSE you will miss out on a really fun tale!




Jan 19, 2002, 9:53 PM
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I believe Andrew is confused, and mistakenly refers to a "tie-off" as a Hero Loop. Please check out Stu's link in his post directly above.

As for a pin rack for a hard nailing route, the first thing you should do is consult the topo. Some hard routes might need extra beaks, whereas others might call for a few extra KB's in the mix. The amount of ascents a route sees will affect the pin rack. As the route gets more beat out, you will end up using bigger pins. For instance, the Knifeblade Traverse on Iron Hawk now takes tied-off LA's or fixed mank circleheads.

RURPs are particularly easy to fix. A route whose topo calls for half a dozen RURPs might only really need one or two since there are so many fixed ones. Try to talk to someone who has done the route recently, but still make sure you bring enough!

First of all, click here for a great reference page for pitons. I suggest you open it in a separate window for reference as you read this post.

Next, divide your pin rack into four categories:

Small pitons


Lost Arrows



For small pitons you would need to know if your thin crack is going vertically or horizontally. If the former, you will use beaks and peckers. If horizontally, you will use RURPs.

Beaks and peckers are interesting inventions - they are actually a pin and a hook in one! You will be amazed at how well a little beak will support your weight, and you will be horrified that you can often remove it with your bare hands!

Peckers used to be made in two sizes, but I am not sure if they still are.

Both Heavy Metal and Tinker Toys and Nightmare on California Street call for 20 beaks and 5 RURPs. You could mix a few peckers in with the beaks.


A hard route might call for as many as 20 knifeblades. Seldom do topos break down the exact number of each kind you need, so you usually have to guess a bit. Disorderly Conduct, which you'll find in the same link as Heavy Metal and Tinker Toys, calls for 30 blades!

Technically speaking, only sizes #1 and #2 are called Knifeblades by their distributor. Sizes #3, #4, #5 and #6 are called Bugaboos, but most climbers still call them KBs.

Blades are hard to tell apart on your rack! When you are racking up for a wall, you need to turn them edge on and hold them up against one another to compare thicknesses. It is not apparent at first glance. They are not all stamped with their number, either. A #2 and #3 look nearly identical - you really have to look carefully.

Sheesh, looking at their photo, they put them all on two crabs. Lemme go grab my blade rack, at least those which I have left and didn't sell last year.

OK, got 'em. "Jingle jingle"

Right, here is how you should consider them. Don't believe what the manufacturer calls them, it confuses the heck out of me. What the heck do they know, anyway?

Save yourself some heartache and use Dr. Piton's designations instead, which you see listed below. The number in front is the approximate quantity I would recommend for a hard nailing route, but it may vary depending on where you are. Some rock requires longer blades than other rock.

4 #1 Short/thin

4 #2 Med/thin

4 #3 Med/med

2 #4 Long/thin

4 #5 Med/thick

2 #6 Long/med

For a starter pin rack, I would buy:

1 #1
2 #2
2 #3
1 #5
1 #6

I always find it hard to say the exact number of which blade you should have.

The good news is, that when you're placing them, if you test it and it moves, you can just stack another in beside it! It is very common to
stack blades.


Even though I have to stare at a catalogue and go downstairs and grab my KB rack, I can do Lost Arrows from memory!

Here's what you'll need:

5 #1 short/thin

5 #2 short/med

5 #3 short/thick

1 #4 wedge

2 #5 long/thin

2 #6 long/med

0 #7 long/thick

0 #8 Long Dong

Chongo suggests in his book to saw off some #4 LA's as a nice fit between a #4 LA and a baby angle.

I sawed off three of the damn things, and I never use 'em! Man, I just about busted my arm sawing through three of those. Sheesh.


Although there are still a few routes that call for 1", 1 1/4" and 1 1/2" angles, I never bother bringing any. I think I have one of each gathering dust in my basement.

You will use a sawed-off 1" from time to time. Camming devices like Aliens and especially the Hybrid Aliens, have all but replaced the big angles.

Sawed-off angles are sometimes the only thing that will fit! On my recent solo of Zenyatta Mondatta, I was fortunate to have along three 3/4" sawed-offs. I was using those things again and again! You are more likely to need sawed-offs on routes that have seen lots of ascents and whose pin scars have widened substantially. By definition, hard nailing routes are also routes that have seen fewer ascents, so you are less likely to need sawed-offs on routes like that. But I would take them anyway, because as I said, sometimes they are the only things that will fit!

I can do this one from memory, too. Here's what you'll need:

2 1/2" Baby

2 1/2" Baby Sawed-off

2 5/8" Stubby

2 5/8" Stubby Sawed-off

1 3/4" Standard

2 3/4" Standard Sawed-off

1 1" Sawed-off

When you saw off a piton, cut off 40% of the blade. Use a file to smooth out the burrs or they will grab every piece of nylon on your rack!

If you are feeling energetic, you could make one extra baby and stubby "semi-sawed-off" where you remove only 25% or 30% of the blade.


I recently completed my Ultimate Big Wall Checklist, which is nineteen pages long counting the footnotes I added for readers.

Trevor and I are figuring out a way to publish it - it will probably appear in the form of an Article. I need to improve my HTML skills for this to happen.

If there is anyone out there who would volunteer to turn this Word document into HTML pages for this website, I would be happy to email you my list. Just contact me at

As soon as it is up and running, I will link it here.


Dr. Piton

[ This Message was edited by: passthepitonspete on 2002-12-17 15:19 ]


Mar 2, 2002, 9:22 AM
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What I refer to as hero loops(I got the name from the Long/Middendorf Big Walls book) are short tied slings made from supertape(not thin tie-off webbing).

They are very useful on some of the routes I've been on, and not at all on others. I sling them through the eyes of pitons much like you rig hooks. Really nice on mangled desert "bolt ladders" when the eye of the drilled angle is so beat to hell you can't clip a biner in it. Seems like it could save a lot of biners on a wall when you aren't soloing, though I haven't done enough nailing to have an informed opinion. Ever use anything like these Pete, or am I way off base?

[ This Message was edited by: atg200 on 2002-03-02 09:41 ]


Mar 7, 2002, 11:15 AM
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OK, I looked through this again, and I have a few more notes:

1. Beaks - also check out the Pika Auks. I carry a mix of Peckers, Beaks, and Auks.

2. Angles - the larger angles are indespensible in the desert. Lots of Fisher Towers pin racks call for 1" 1 1/4", 1 1/2" and Bongs, many sawed off. Consult the topo, especially when going to different areas.

3. Rivet hangers - these things are indespensible. Using stoppers with the but pulled down works, but not as well and rivet hangers are cheap. I carry about 10 rivet hangers(sometimes more depending on the route) and a Fish doubloon or two(never had to use them yet). I also carry Keyhole hangers and both 1/4" and 3/8" hex nuts for hangerless bolts and bolt studs.

4. Swivel - didn't see it on the list, but I always use them on haul bags. Petzl makes a good one.

5. Sharp knife. Most swiss army knife blades are too dull to be of much use. I carry a Spyderco.

6. Spare can opener - using a beak and hammer sucks.



Mar 15, 2002, 6:20 AM
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DR. PITON'S ULTIMATE BIG WALL CHECKLIST is now available for your perusal.

I have not yet gone in and started filling in the links, so be sure to PM me first before you ask a question.


Dr. Piton

[ This Message was edited by: passthepitonspete on 2002-12-17 15:23 ]


Apr 10, 2002, 9:12 PM
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Ask Dr. Piton ... About a Typical Aid Rack. [In reply to]
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You can click here to find out how to rack all your gear on your big wall lead rack.

Forums : Climbing Disciplines : Big Wall and Aid Climbing


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