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Clean Aid Video with Ron Olevsky
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epic_ed


Jan 5, 2005, 3:05 PM
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Clean Aid Video with Ron Olevsky
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One of the hardest things I've had to learn as an aid climber is the benefit and necessity of getting as high as possible in my aid ladders on each and every placement. Intellectually, I know that doing so makes the route go faster, lets me places fewer pieces per pitch, and in some cases allows me to by-pass a marginal placement for something more bomber. Maybe some of you can relate, but I find that convincing myself to get in that top rung is a mental battle. I'm terrified of loosing my balance and falling over backward, shock loading my daisey, ripping the piece, breaking my daisey, or both, and going for a bit of a ride.

Now, I'll top step when needed and have done so frequently, but I'm still not comfortable making a habit out of it. A few months ago I had a conversation with "dangle" (Piton Ron, himself) and he had some valuable input about how he top steps and explained how to do it with less effort. It's not an easy technique to learn and it is difficult to just explain without having some sort of visual aid. Fortunately, Ron just recently completed a video about clean aid climbing and one of the highlights is a segement where he demonstrates how to top step the "Olevsky" way. He also explains why it can be a critical tool to help keep the hammer in the holster and preserve the routes as much as possible for future generations of climbers.

I've had a chance to see the video, and this most definitely is a plug. The info and insight Ron and other veteran climbers dispense about climbing as clean as possible is valuable material. If I had seen a video like this before my first trips up to Zion, there's a good chance I would have done a lot less damage during my "learning curve." For that reason alone, it's worth a watch.

This post is to serve as a Q&A type of thread where you can ask Ron about...well, just about anything. Questions about how in the hell he placed those angles so far apart on all the Zion trade routes? Want to know his perspective on how to maintain the viability of Zion trade routes for years to come? Got a question about the new video? Post up here.
We hope to be reviewing the video soon as part of our gear guide, and will have detailed input there about it. For now, please use this thread to exchange ideas with Ron and others about how to best approach and plan for wall climbing in places like Zion, in the desert towers, and elsewhere.

Ed


lambone


Jan 5, 2005, 3:14 PM
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sorry, don't have much to ask Ron, but i'll make my own comment if that's ok.

If it is vertical or more than, I think Top Stepping is over-rated, and kind of a waste of time and energy. You allways have to strain to get in position and fiddle with fifi's/daisies/ect. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get there...just doesn't seem worth it unless you have no other option.

I think the 2nd step is good enough usually. sometimes I get lazy and find myself in the thrid, ussually when I'm not in much of a rush...and when i'm soloing...without a partner to bitch at me.

Often I'd rather just "cam jug" up easy placements making short, but fast moves rather then spend the time and energy it takes to get high up in the top steps.

In order to motivate into the top steps I am ussualy either at the last resort stage, or in a big rush and not worried about the extra energy spent to do it quickly. I think that is the key ed. To get over the mental barrier of high stepping you need to feel the sense of urgency to finish the damn pitch as soon as possible. That's what it takes for me. Try doing a wall in a day and you'll get some good practice.

It's allways kind of exiting whe its along reach to the next move and top stepping is the only option. Just not something i look forward to on every move.

Then again, I am no fast climber by any means, i'd like to hear ammon chime in on this one.

the video sounds cool though, where can you get it?


dangle


Jan 7, 2005, 8:27 AM
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A few points;

The standard technique for topstepping on steep rock is to oppose forces, pulling up on the anchor with a daisy or other attachment while pushing down on the step. I have found this technique to be overly strenuous.
My technique uses novel footwork to create leverage to hold one's upper body into the wall without attaching to the anchor. Ed is right. This is very difficult to verbally describe. I considered writing an article with diagrams, but then Jeff Lowe approached me about doing a video. While I would like to see the video do well to benefit Jeff who now has a serious disability it really is about the best way to grasp this technique. (There are plenty of other benefits to the production as well. As far as I know this is the first climbing video with an alternate commentary track and I especially like Charlie Fowler's and Jim Donini's humorous additions.)

Why bother adding this technique to your repertoire?
1) Lengthening one's reach can be critical on some moves that DON'T have intermediate placements.
2) It enhances one's ability to bypass poor placements.
3) It might even permit one to reach a clean placement rather than using the hammer.
4) Because it is NOT strenuous or difficult it allows you to place less gear and so minimizes impact WITHOUT sketching you out, and conserving gear can enhance your potential on the rest of the pitch.
5) If you are on a route put up by a tall person (or someone using this technique) it might be mandatory.
6) Because this mitigates the "teetering over backwards" feeling it allows one to feel more comfortable which can make a critical difference in one's staying psyched up.

If it were up to me I would only teach this technique to short people. If tall people use it putting up routes then there is a possibility that shorter people could have great difficulty on them (so what else is new).
The people who HAVE learned this technique universally marvel at why they hadn't picked up this skill from the getgo.
Good luck to you all, let me know if you have questions,

Ron Olevsky


stick233


Jan 7, 2005, 8:53 AM
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Ron, thanks for taking the time to share with us. Appreciate it.

Ed... what kind of a plug doesn't have a link to where we can find the video?? If you were my PR guy I'd have to go Donald Trump on you..."you're fired"

Just kidding buddy. Thanks for bringing this up. I can only watch the Video Guide to Aid Climbing so much.

Rob


flamer


Jan 7, 2005, 8:55 AM
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The people who HAVE learned this technique universally marvel at why they hadn't picked up this skill from the getgo.

Ron showed me this technique in early 1999(i've posted about it before, but won't describe it again). I've got to say it works very well, and allows you to top step with ease.

In regards to moving quickly....sometimes topstepping is the way to go sometimes it's not, the key is to have your system's dialed and don't fiddle fuck around!

josh


Partner kimgraves


Jan 7, 2005, 9:32 AM
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If it is vertical or more than, I think Top Stepping is over-rated, and kind of a waste of time and energy. You allways have to strain to get in position and fiddle with fifi's/daisies/ect. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get there...just doesn't seem worth it unless you have no other option.

I think the 2nd step is good enough usually. sometimes I get lazy and find myself in the thrid...

I too really enjoyed Ron and Jeff Loweís DVD and recommend it. Iím just a beginner, but I can see a couple of important advantages in top stepping other than in increases your speed. The first is environmental Ė the fewer placements you make the less impact you have. This canít be a bad thing for all of us in the long run. The second reason is that the ability to get up higher gives you more options for a placement. The other day I made a placement 8 feet above my top step. Having eight feet of rock features to choose from might mean the difference between something easy and something hard. Or something that goes clean and something that doesnít. Standing high also allows better inspection of the next moves. For us old guys with failing eyesight, that's an advantage. Unfortunately, I'm not kidding here. :?

Being comfortable standing high is just another asset you bring to the problem. Putting it another way, would you rather be a leader who is comfortable getting in and standing in the top step, or one that isn't. For me, having more tools in the toolbox - tools that I'm comfortable using - is goodness.

Ronís method of top stepping makes it easy. Itís simply a variation on the traditional triangle formed by the feet to stay in balance. You stand in one aider and then cross the other foot in front of the weighted one forming the triangle with crossed feet. Iíve not tried it yet, but it seems that the advantage is that you use the shin of your weighted foot as a lever to keep you in balance and upright. Itís brilliantly obvious that it makes you wonder why itís not standard technique.

The technique is much easier shown than described. So I recommend the tape. You can get it from Mountain Gear.

Regards, Kim


robbiehirsch


Jan 7, 2005, 9:53 AM
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What's the name of the video and where can I get it?


Partner kimgraves


Jan 7, 2005, 10:04 AM
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In reply to:
What's the name of the video and where can I get it?

The name of the DVD is "Clean Walls." It's about sustainable clean aid techniques and issues specifically in sandstone. You can get it from Mountain Gear.


dangle


Jan 7, 2005, 11:17 AM
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Kim,

Thanks for the source info.

I have a question for you; eight feet? Granted you are reaching overhead so your reach can be greater than your height, but if your feet are only say 10" below your anchor that would mean you are over 6'6". If that's the case and you can use this skill well then you could put up routes that few people could repeat (I sure couldn't reach quite THAT far).

Ron


lambone


Jan 7, 2005, 11:23 AM
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so crossing your feet when top-stepping is a technique that Ron invented huh? hhhmmmm...interesting... :roll:

funny, I was out bouldering a few days ago and got a bit out of balance, so I swung one foot behind the other and pressed agains the rock. It helped stabilize me and make the next move SO much easier. I call my new technique "Flagging." Stay tuned for the video... :twisted:

I'd like to see this magic technique in action and try to comprehend how some fancy foot work can take the strain off your upperbody when top-stepping on overhanging terrain. sounds pretty cool...maybe I don't need to lose this beer gut after all!


forkliftdaddy


Jan 7, 2005, 11:39 AM
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Partner holdplease2


Jan 7, 2005, 11:53 AM
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Hey Lambone - what you are talking about is flagging...it comes to everyone naturally.

What Ron does is quite different. Whether or not he 'invented' it who knows, but it isn't intuitive. He calls it "t-ing off".

Here it is: You have one foot in the aider, and are standing on it. Normally, to high step with one aider, or even two, you'd have to have some sort of down/in pressure on your harness from your daisy so you don't fall over backwards...

Instead, Ron can get into his second steps, without a daisy, on vert or even over-vert terrain. He does this by stuffing the "free leg" in FRONT of the aidered leg, with his foot making a T in front of (or on top of) the aidered foot.

This seems to both push the aidered foot out from the wall, allowing you to push yourself into the wall with it, and give you a second balance point for the second foot, without use of a second aider.

Anyway, its different than anything I've seen, and may speed up climbing for me, as it can eliminate futzing with the "right length" of the daisy AND the need for a second aider for balance. In fact, ron doesn't use a daisy at all, but a chain of 3 biners, which is also unique. His aiders aren't connected to his body...one less cluster, unless you drop one.

Anyway, it looks really simple and low-strain vs crushing the crap out of my kidneys every time I want to hang out in the second step.

Anywho, it is way different from flagging, just for clarification.

The video is pretty good.

-Kate.


lambone


Jan 7, 2005, 12:06 PM
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yeah, but...like, I do it all time, doesn't everyone?

the flagging remark was just me being a smartass.

new techniques are cool and all, but I'm not giving up my daisies and fifi anytime soon.

I'm sure the video is good and worth the $, I'll try to borrow it someday. cheers


glockaroo


Jan 7, 2005, 12:11 PM
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In reply to:
so crossing your feet when top-stepping is a technique that Ron invented huh? hhhmmmm...interesting... :roll:

Did Linus Torvalds invent Unix? No, but he advanced it and now the world has Linux. Did Sergei Bubka invent the bendable vaulting pole? No, but he advanced the sport to the then-record level of 18 meters. Did Steve Jobs invent the computer? No, but he advanced the concept into the Apple and Mac platforms.

You've got a multi-page thread going about how bored you are on this forum, but now one of the better aid climbers around is contributing some good stuff and you're getting your flame on.

Quit being an arrogant young-buck and try to remain civil until you've seen the technique. I've ordered the Lowe DVD and will see for myself.


dangle


Jan 7, 2005, 12:16 PM
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lambone,

Still razzing me huh? Erden accused me of falsely claiming my knot because he'd seen it in '90. Ask him what he thinks now.

If it was as simple as crossing your feet then the video wouldn't be so helpful in describing it. But go ahead. You seem to think making instructional videos is easy...

While my technique does work on gently overhanging rock, it might not be as easy with a beer gut.

But no doubt you already knew that.

I was hoping that this thread would enlighten its readers and benefit a friend with MS by plugging his product. Perhaps there are other threads with greater need of sarcasm.


lambone


Jan 7, 2005, 1:04 PM
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In reply to:
I was hoping that this thread would enlighten its readers and benefit a friend with MS by plugging his product. Perhaps there are other threads with greater need of sarcasm.

it will, know doubt...keep posting, don't let me deter you. more experienced people posting to this board is exactly what it needs, which is I'm sure Ed's intention is starting this thread.

you guys are right, it's not fair for me to judge a technique without even seeing it first. I guess I just have a proplem with people marketing old ideas as their own, especialy for profit.

honestlly I don't know if what you are describing is the same thing I am thinking of. might not be, and if so I'll be the first to admit it.

For me, crossing one foot in front of the other, locking my knees and using presure from my calves to lever my upper body into the wall in a balanced position is just naturaly comfortable. I never even thought of it as a technique really, but more of just how you stand up in aiders...seemed to require less energy.

considering that you topstep on overhangs without daisies or fifi and not pulling up or out on the piece...I must be thinking of something else. but I have to be honest, trying to visualize it seems to me that it defys the laws of physics.

cheers, have fun!

by the way, what's this about a knot? and you are not refering to Erden Eruc are you?


Partner kimgraves


Jan 7, 2005, 4:03 PM
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In reply to:
Kim,
I have a question for you; eight feet? Granted you are reaching overhead so your reach can be greater than your height, but if your feet are only say 10" below your anchor that would mean you are over 6'6". If that's the case and you can use this skill well then you could put up routes that few people could repeat (I sure couldn't reach quite THAT far).
Ron

Hi Ron,

I know I owe you an e-mail - it's coming.

Re 8': I was in my top step with one of Tom Frost's long (12") sentinel nuts. I balanced on one foot and I reached up with the opposite hand and got a placement. I didn't actually measure it out on the rock. But when I got home I put the same nut in my hand and could reach our 8' dining room ceiling easily. So even if it wasn't 8' off the top step, it was close - and much farther than I expected I was capable of. I'm actually short (ish) 5'7-1/4" (thank you very much 8^) ) with a -1 ape index. So I was blown away that I could make that reach.

Best, Kim


lambone


Jan 7, 2005, 5:40 PM
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I'm still curious about this knot you are talking about dangle...what's it used for? is it in the video?


no_one


Jan 8, 2005, 7:50 PM
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As my user name says I'm no_one. But lambone must be really cool and stuff! I mean, can you imagine being at a point in climbing were there's nothing you don't know! I guess I would sit behind my computer and wait for some idiot to try and claim they new some technique before me. Then I would reply in a attempt to make them feel like shit for not contacting me first to ask if I already new the move. WOW, how would it be? But for the rest of us who still have space in their heads for continued learning, check out the video. I've seen it, and tried lambones, I mean Rons trick of Ting-Off. I was blown away by the advantage knowing this technique gave me! The video has also got some great footage of a FA that Jeff Lowe and friends did in Zion. :wink:


flamer


Jan 8, 2005, 9:56 PM
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In reply to:
I'm still curious about this knot you are talking about dangle...what's it used for? is it in the video?

It was published in "tech Tips" in one of the rags awhile ago....It was a finish to a figure eight, that's right isn't it Ron?


And to No_one...dude I know you're someone's alter ego....and I know Lambone can come off inflammatory sometimes(hell he does it to me!)...but chill bro! It's all good, and if anyone can take it- it's Ron!!

So back on track....After learning Ron's Top stepping technique several years ago I've found it works well....Ron's got plenty of other good info to share, not to mention stories to tell, So let's all get back to asking him stuff in this thread......

josh


dangle


Jan 8, 2005, 11:33 PM
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I can even take someone claiming to be my old buddy in order to add validation to erroneous claims. Or is your assumed name the truth.....

Thanks Josh, I suppose you're atoning but lambone WAS becoming very annoying. But hows this for strange I just got done endorsing something lambone said in the A5 aid fatality thread....


Questions anyone?

Ron Olevsky


lambone


Jan 9, 2005, 12:58 AM
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ok guys, sheesh...enough. I'm sure T-ing off is just the best thing since sliced bread!

I come in peace...

dangle, you ever use those Pika Malards for clean aiding? I bought two a while back and have pretty much carried them on every route since, but have'nt used them yet...

pretty funny...I leep telling myself I should use them, then I get to the top and say "oh well, next time"...and so on. one of these days it's gonna save my ass I know it!

Malards seem like a one of a kind clean aid peice, nothing much else out there like it. Any others?


Partner euroford


Jan 9, 2005, 7:47 AM
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http://tinypic.com/17pmb6

personally, those things look totally sketchy to me and i wouldn't even have bought them.

i'd sell them on ebay!


dangle


Jan 9, 2005, 7:48 AM
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"sliced bread" is still sarcasm but I'll grant that you do seem to be coming around so I'll take a shot. Donini has a theory that some people after a few drinks begin to reveal their true persona, maybe the same goes for a nom de plume (anonymity obviating inhibitions).

Pika Malards:
I think I know what you're refering to and might even have one or two given to me to evaluate.
Never used them. But then I'm not the only one am I.
Still I won't let ignorance prevent me from rendering an opinion (sound familiar?)

All of the beak type devices stem from the crack-n-up. Back in the seventies Tom and Yvon became very enthusiastic about the potential for clean climbing. They started making nuts for thinner and thinner cracks until it became difficult to slip even a thin cable INSIDE the crack into which
they were attempting a placement. Then in a moment of genius they externalized the "cable" by replacing it with a frame.

Either that or they ripped off the idea by looking at a boat anchor.

Anyway the prototypes were used to good effect in doing Half Dome clean, and soon enough they were on the market. That's when Bridwell got his hands on them.
Now I think that Jim is one of the most important players in climbing's history and that his athleticism and innovative nature have rarely been equalled.
That said I must also admit that he could have corrupted Mother Theresa. True to form he saw clean devices and figured out how to make them dirty again. As many know he sawed off one of the two "nut" extensions and ground a taper in the remaining one. He stuck a feather in his cap and called it......the birdbeak of course.
They may have been as dirty as poorly used poop tube but they proved to be most effective. Soon this idea too was commercially available, and size and shape modifications were not long in the offing.

In 1977 a young partner of mine had showed me something he made in his dad's garage like some Afghani gunsmith. It was a device of similar nature but greatly reduced in scale with a tiny pointed "beak" that could be punched into seams. I think he called them Tweekers, vernacular that could today be misleading.
Sadly however the young craftsman, Tony Yaniro, would never really distinguish himself as an aid climber. I think he did some other stuff though...

After I got my sweaty hands on some crack-n-ups I gave them a shot in Eldo and also on some local granite. Although I only put up some minor variants with them they worked absolutely brilliantly.
Soon however I was out in the desert where the rocks offered great solitude. They did not however offer the greatest of integrity and I soon found out the hard way (or should I say the soft way) that tiny devices tended to concentrate forces at levels the medium was often not able to support.

To put it less delicately they'd blow!

Concurrently I was discovering the process of constructive scarring and its potential to render such thin cracks a little more abuser friendly. Yeah I really said it, but don't forget the historical context. Sometimes people still placed pitons in free routes.

The only thing I didn't like about the little boat anchors was their similar behavior. Just as their bigger cousins were designed to catch on stuff they too would snag on everything when carried on a rack. This led to them being carried in a pocket.
Well ofcourse as you've probably noted the first step to using something is remembering that you have it. If you have a monstrous camming device on your rack its hard to forget its there, but not so with a pocket toy.
Nearly anything can be used as an anchor SOMEWHERE. The trick is to garner the most versatile devices so you have something to use everywhere.
Assembling a rack appropriate to the route is hardly a breakthrough yet it is something that still today often leads to problems when not done effectively. In fact on the video's alternate commentary track our aspiring pop psychologist, the aforementioned Donini, describes an occasion where despite the obviously innappropriate application another climber made just that error.

So there you have it, an ignoramous' evaluation of the Pika Malard. Use it if you dare, but perhaps just beforehand you might wish to honor a long held climbing tradition.

Yell down to your belayer,"Watch my ass!"


alpinestylist


Jan 9, 2005, 10:43 AM
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Re: Clean Aid Video with Ron Olevsky [In reply to]
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I've broken three mallards in action. I don't care for much of anything pika makes.

Same with their beaks, seem to be like soft metal pins, one placement only, leave em fixed. I've broken at least 4 of those.

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Forums : Climbing Disciplines : Big Wall and Aid Climbing

 


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