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thomaskeefer


Dec 28, 2003, 9:11 PM
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The learning process..
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Today on a bike ride with another RC.com person, we chatted about starting to lead trad routes and the learning process. He said his plan was to master the passive pro (while leading routes) to include hexes and then throw in some cams after a while... Seems right in line with the common sentiment on this and other climbing sites... WHY?
I have a fair (9years) of trad leading experience and think that this is horrible advice.. Why would you intentionally ignore the advances in technology that make the sport safer? Is there anything to be gained by learning this way? I would say that it is more dangerous. Why would you start to learn a skill with tools that are not what you are going to use in the long run. Obviously the best tool for learning is a good mentor but in the absence of that wouldnt it be wiser to climb learn with a good selection of passive and active right off the bat since that is what you will most likely be using when you are 'ready'?


Partner rrrADAM


Dec 28, 2003, 9:18 PM
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Building a base of protecting with passive pro will develope a keener eye at reading the rock, where as just plugging in cams will make one "cam dependant". I have climbed with many who have placed marginal cams in a place where a bomber stopper would have gone, simple because they never developed that "keen eye".


vegastradguy


Dec 28, 2003, 9:26 PM
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since i went against the 'learn passive first' conventional wisdom, i can see your view point.

it seems to be the thought that while cams are a good option, it takes some skill to use them, and this is very true. they are not as easy as they look, and can give the new trad leader false confidence. he may think he has a good placement and will not. so, this lends itself to start learning passive because it takes time to make a good placement, and a good stopper placement can be easier to evaluate than a cam. (course, this can be subject to debate...) hence, its safer.

another argument is that if you give yourself a full rack, you have too many choices and its harder to learn it all at once. so, you fumble with gear more making placements thus risking a fall. and, as many trad leaders will tell you, nothings better than a bomber nut, so learn those first, since they are easier to evaluate.

you know, it sort of makes sense, except that i can think of very few routes that i could climb with only stoppers. i think of Nutcracker being done with only nuts, and it blows my mind. i'm just now starting to really focus on stopper placement, trying to use an equal amount of passive and active. i also know climbers (rrradam comes to mind) who swear by stoppers and rarely use cams. which is better? who knows...probably a personal choice at the end of the day, since in my mind, a solid cam is as good as a solid nut all things being equal- the trick is being able to tell what is solid and what isn't.


smellyhippie


Dec 28, 2003, 9:39 PM
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I've gotten way too dependent on cams. I've started going back to easy routes I have wired and leading with only nuts and tricams to get that "keen eye" back.

As far as your friend goes, having a rule sounds a little silly. I wouldn't recommend any sort of dogmatic rule to a burgeoning (is that a word?) leader. He or she needs to develop an ability to select a rack for a particular climb, and limiting it because of a rule isn't going to make it any safer.

Having an experienced friend or (god I hate this word) mentor around to consult is probably the best way to go. Hopefully this is an option.
Nate


roughster


Dec 28, 2003, 10:07 PM
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roughster moved this thread from General to Trad Climbing.


Partner coldclimb


Dec 28, 2003, 10:21 PM
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In reply to:
Building a base of protecting with passive pro will develope a keener eye at reading the rock, where as just plugging in cams will make one "cam dependant". I have climbed with many who have placed marginal cams in a place where a bomber stopper would have gone, simple because they never developed that "keen eye".

Exactly. Personally, having limitted cam possibilities, I save my cams for only perfect placements that I can't pass up, or use one on my first placement to help make it bomber.


dirtineye


Dec 29, 2003, 11:29 AM
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In reply to:
Building a base of protecting with passive pro will develope a keener eye at reading the rock, where as just plugging in cams will make one "cam dependant". I have climbed with many who have placed marginal cams in a place where a bomber stopper would have gone, simple because they never developed that "keen eye".

Yep.

Placing marginal cams in very irregular spots where a tricam or nut would be perfect happens all the time. A friend took a very serious fall while trying to protect a "bomber nut" route with came, pulling some pieces and decking. He had two cams in, pulled em, but the route protects about every three feet with great nuts.

Don't be a camaholic!


thomaskeefer


Dec 29, 2003, 11:48 AM
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I guess it seems that I am a camaholic...
That is definitly not the case~ I would take a good nut over a cam any day and frequently arrive at the top of a pitch out of nuts (both types even) with all my cams still hanging there. My point really, is that it is pointless and dangerous to lead anything on only passive pro.. unless that is the end all of your efforts in that route which could be the case if you were trying to repeat a route in first ascent style or something..
My advice to someone who is trying to learn to lead is to spend some time repeating cragging routes with someone following. Then do those same routes with someone else following.. do this a few times to get different peoples opinion (instead of jut one 'mentor').
In the absence of someone who knows what they are doing (as was the case for myself and best friend learning to lead) read as many books as possible and practice on the ground then aid a route or two to see what hold and what doesnt.. only use a top rope so if you blow you are safe.. That is the best feedback you can get since you know it is 100% accurate and you are not just trusting in someone who may or may not know what they are talking about!


andypro


Dec 29, 2003, 12:19 PM
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I'ce porbably got 10 tiems as much passive pro as active, and my use is probably about the same. When I first started learning, I was a poor teenager, and coudln't afford cams. But..being a gearaholic, I had to buy SOMETHING. so I bout lotsa nuts, and hexes, and tri cams, and..and...

I usually feel better because I know the nut I placed will eihter hold or it wont. I'm not as confident with cams, although I've had them catch alot fo falls and hadn't had any that I didn't know were marginal to begin with pull on me.

I suppose it could go either way, but each has it's own pittfalls and caveats. Just beware what they are, and use whatever you feel msot comfortable with.


alpnclmbr1


Dec 29, 2003, 12:36 PM
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You can either learn to place stoppers or you can't. Whether or not you also have cams on your rack is beside the point.

One of the main reasons I don't advise learning on passive gear only is that it is relatively easy to tell if a stopper is good for a fall right above it. It is not so easy to see what will happen to it if you take a fall further up the route. Placing protection is not a one piece at a time type of thing, you're building a protection system and you have to be aware of how it will work as a whole. I don't know how many times I have seen someone take or fall and have their second to last piece, or more, pop out.

On stopper friendly routes you place many more stoppers then cams because that is what works best. On cam friendly routes you place more cams then stoppers. It is that simple and that is what you should base your choices on.


timstich


Jan 7, 2004, 9:57 PM
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Of the last six trad partners I've climbed with, which includes me, I've seen three nuts work themselves out of place and fall down the rope. One was placed by me. I've seen zero cams do this. Perhaps it's a function of the location I have been climbing, but that's what went down. On the other hand, I wouldn't write home about one cam I placed. At least it stayed put, however.


markc


Jan 8, 2004, 1:32 PM
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I didn't limit myself to passive protection when I started leading, but it was certainly my goal to place as much passive protection as I could. I also selected routes well within my ability. Doing so let me get focus on placing solid protection rather than worrying about the difficulty of the routes I was doing.

Selecting the proper nut was more difficult for me early on than picking the right cam. (And it still can be.) Becoming efficient at selecting and placing passive protection takes time and practice. If people are overly biased towards camming devises early on, they may never develop very good nutcraft. As others have pointed out, this can lead to skipping obvious and solid placements in favor of something quick but less secure.

That and financial constraints may be one reason for recommending starting with only passive gear. I'd just recommend selecting the proper piece for the proper place, as well as keeping an open eye and open mind. It can be interesting to reclimb routes and switch the pitches you lead with your partner. My partners sometimes find placements that I would never see, and visa-versa.

mark


ricardol


Jan 8, 2004, 1:44 PM
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probably neither method of learning is better than the other .. i learned to climb with gear by-myself, and i started with a full rack (passsive + active) .. and it was a fine way to learn.

though what rrrradam says is true .. you will pass up good nut placements unless you practice nut placements alot ..

.. i didn't develop a good sense for good nut placements until i did some aid .. -- in fact doing aid really helps you determine the quality of your placements ..

-- ricardo


trad_mike


Jan 8, 2004, 1:58 PM
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Of the last six trad partners I've climbed with, which includes me, I've seen three nuts work themselves out of place and fall down the rope. One was placed by me. I've seen zero cams do this. Perhaps it's a function of the location I have been climbing, but that's what went down. On the other hand, I wouldn't write home about one cam I placed. At least it stayed put, however.

This is very preventable. Use a runner long enough to prevent the rope from wiggling out the nut. Short stiff quickdraws on nuts will often work them out of position. Cams can be walked out or into an unsafe position as well.

This situation is not a function of the location. It's a function of the skill level of the person placing pro.


sticky_fingers


Jan 8, 2004, 2:14 PM
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Why would you start to learn a skill with tools that are not what you are going to use in the long run.

How can you, with 9 years of trad experience, think this? I don't have as many years leading trad as you do, but doubt I'll ever stop using nuts/passive pro. Some routes just don't lend themselves to small cams as easily as small nuts; some cracks aren't deep enough to accommodate cams, etc. I remember seeing a b/w pic of Leo Houlding (?) on some 13R/X route using nuts, I don't think anyone on here is gonna get that good and then go "Ahh I'm done with nuts"

I'd say learn them both at the same time (the way I did). I don't see the harm, or for that matter a significant difference, in learning this way.


davidji


Jan 8, 2004, 2:37 PM
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i think of Nutcracker being done with only nuts, and it blows my mind.
Remember that after RR climbed it clean, lots of people nailed it. Steve Roper had this to say in his 1971 Yosemite guide:
In reply to:
Subsequent use of pitons has destroyed many of the cracks and flakes, making both nut and piton placement much harder


Partner rrrADAM


Jan 8, 2004, 2:45 PM
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"In the long run..." ???

I still climb with mainly stoppers if possible, and if given the option will place a stopper over a cam any day, and I have 31 cams. Hell, I did a sustained .10d line next to Lower Yosemite Falls, and used only one cam. Just a personal preference, and I have taken many falls on both, including a couple 40+ footers. I generally save my active pieces for when I need a quick placement, but I have gotten pretty quick and even creative with my stopper placements.

Point is, one is not better than the other, but a well balanced knowledge of using both is better than only being proficient with one type. Both have thier place on a rack, and one should be proficient with both.


bubba


Jan 8, 2004, 5:01 PM
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Damn straight.


strongerthanyesterday


Jan 8, 2004, 5:33 PM
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alpnclmbr1, what do you suggest people first start leading on? I am about to buy a set of bd stoppers just to have around to practice with when I have no partner. I figured in spring when I can afford a crashpad i would go out, practice placements on boulders, low to the ground, and then fall onto the crashpad if the placements are bad. yes i've taken an anchors course but it was almost two years ago, i will take another when i can afford it. but a few people suggested i just go start practicing with stoppers and a crashpad. you are super experienced and i was wondering what your suggestion would be.


danielb


Jan 9, 2004, 4:49 AM
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A good way to do it, for learning gear placements is to take your gear, a screwgate biner and a 8 foot sling. Place the gear clip the sling in using the biner and slowly put your weight in the sling till your bascially standing in it.

A mat or spotter is always handy in case the pro blows out on you.

Climbing used to have a good tech tip on learning how to aid climb on top rope, so that you could place the sketchist pro you could and if it blew the top rope caught you.

http://www.climbing.com/techtips/

Danielb


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