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Ask Dr. Dumped On ....... How hard should you drive a piton?
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passthepitonspete


Jan 20, 2002, 8:13 PM
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Ask Dr. Dumped On ....... How hard should you drive a piton?
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Dear Uncle Poo,

Firstly, thank you for my best damn laugh all week! Absorutery brirriant! Sank you! Sank you!

Question: What do trombones and pitons have in common?

Hint: Think "music".

Trombones and pitons both produce sound through vibration, and believe me when I tell you, there is nobody more qualified to speak about 'bones and pins together in the same post than Dr. Piton!

With a trombone, the vibration comes from Dr. P's "chops," and the sound waves are modified and amplified by the brass instrument. With a piton, the vibrations are produced by the deft application of Dr. P's hammer - note that the piton itself is doing the vibrating in this case - and the sound waves are modified by the rock that contacts the piton.

With any musical instrument, the pitch of the note is raised by causing the frequency of the vibration to increase. For instance, a violinist will make his instrument produce a higher note by running his fingers farther up the G-string. A virtuoso can thus make his instrument sing with glee through the skillful manipulations of his fingertips.

Note that the same virtuoso can have a similar effect on a woman wearing a G-string, and that the response of the woman, at least in the hands of a bona fide virtuoso, is not unlike that of the violin.

One way to raise the pitch of a brass instrument is to shorten the column of air passing through it. A trumpet has a series of valves which allows the length of the tube to be varied. There are seven possible valve combinations which produce the necessary chromatics, and these notes are arranged in tempered semi-tones.

What makes a trombone unique among brass instruments is its slide - the pitch is raised by shortening the tube by moving the slide, and like a violin, this allows an infinite range of tuning, unlike the measured tones of a valved instrument.

Whereas a trumpet player can simply press the appropriate valve combination to get a close approximation of the desired pitch (he might need to use his "chops" to "lip" the pitch a bit higher or lower) the trombonist can move the slide to the precise position to produce the exact note desired.

This means that every note the trombonist plays must be carefully tuned - and this requires a "good ear" for pitch. If you do not have a good ear for pitch, you will not last long as a trombone player! You may find a violinist's bow inserted into an orifice, something which neither the bow nor the orifice was designed.

When it comes to pitons, the problem is not so much in knowing how hard to drive it, because you can pound that m*therf*cker to kingdom come if you like!

[The]therapeutic benefits of nailing, incidentally, like ranting, cannot be understated.]

Rather the problem is knowing when to stop.

If you overdrive your pin, you are doing nothing more than making your cleaner's life miserable, and never will this be more evident than when you are soloing, and you are actually your own cleaner. There is nothing harder to funk out than an overdriven long knifeblade. Your wrists will hurt for days afterward.

Overdriving your pin won't make your gear placement any more solid - in fact it may be counterproductive and actually weaken your placement.

The key to knowing when to stop nailing your piton is by listening to the pitch of the note you produce!

As you drive the pin farther into the rock, the length of the piton left free to vibrate shortens, and hence the pitch goes up. The farther you nail, the higher the note. Each hit of the hammer will produce a slightly higher note.

As the pin approaches its optimum position, the change in pitch caused by each hit of the hammer will be less and less, and it is at this point that you must slow down your nailing, and really listen.

Do you have a "good ear"? If you are musical, you probably do. Note that you can have a "tin ear" and be incapable of carrying a tune in a rusty bucket, yet you could still be a bitchin' drummer or pianist.

When you are nearly finished your pin placement, pause between hits and listen very carefully. When you hear that the pitch does not change in two consecutive whacks, then you must immediately STOP! Two hits of the hammer that produce the same note, and you're DONE, baby!

No matter how tempted you may be, DO NOT HIT THAT PIN AGAIN! Big walls are festooned with fixed pins placed by climbers who could not resist the temptation to keep hitting it. Tie it off, clip it, bounce it, quit yer whinin', and git the heck on it. It's time to climb.



If you find yourself nailing up on El Cap sometime, and you hear some crazy bugger yell at you to stop overdriving your pins, be assured that he, and every other climber within a half-mile or so, heard you produce three or more notes of the same pitch.



I am Dr. Piton,

and I am a trombone player with a good ear.




P.S. I apologize, but I simply couldn't stomach this one:

Ok, how exactly does aiding work, I have never seen it done properly before, only on a toprope setup. I know what equipment is used, and how most of it works. But the thing that I don't know is, how if you are always using your gear to ascend, do you go higher than your last piece of pro, without climbing the rockface?

The bit about "I know what equipment is used" and the following question was just a bit too oxymoronic for my taste.


beyond_gravity


Jan 24, 2002, 2:46 PM
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If you want to be really persice, as I t-bone player myself I found out that in granite, a pin should Ring at a Gb. Thus, letting you know when to stop hammering. If anyone is bouldering at the U of C, and a guy with a trombone walking in, and starts groovin, that me!


Partner pianomahnn


Jan 24, 2002, 2:55 PM
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I wonder if Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto could be performed while climbing El Cap...


passthepitonspete


Jan 24, 2002, 7:07 PM
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...only if my pitons are tuned in C minor.


stroker


Feb 12, 2002, 6:23 AM
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Send it home! If not loop something around it.


apollodorus


Feb 20, 2002, 4:51 AM
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Nobody seems to say this:

You should pound in until you hear the creak, the groan, the agony of the wall itsef.

That's when you know you've just about gone too far, and the whole mess is about to come off the face (into YOUR FACE), and you need to back off.

Sometimes, the rock is so loose, you never get to hear that chiming, ringing sound of high altitude bells. THAT'S when you need to listen to what the rock is saying.


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